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Day 308 - D is for DETERMINED

Friday, November 04, 2011

"A determined soul will do more with a rusty monkey wrench than a loafer will accomplish with all the tools in a machine shop." --Robert Hughes

I was once an academic snob.

Hard to believe, I know.

In my salad days I worked at a very upscale private college. It didn't take me long to pick up on some of the faculty attitudes about who was ahead in the pack. The professors who had gone to Ivy League universities, the students who had graduated from posh private schools, were somehow better educated, had more academic skills and were obviously 'smarter.'

I had my eyes opened after an interesting conversation with one of my bosses - a full professor complete with Ph.D. He was an excellent teacher, brilliant writer, with outstanding qualities in every respect, the total academician. I greatly admired the man, and had assumed he was a product of The Ivy League.

A short-term appointment was available in the department. One of my jobs was to vet incoming applications for the faculty to review. I mentioned to this professor, in a somewhat contemptuous manner (yes, I could be pretty snotty, but I was 22, so I can perhaps be excused), that 'Such-and-such applicant started at a community college and finished at the University of _____.' He said 'You know, if it hadn't been for the GI Bill, I don't think I would be here today.'

How so? I asked. He said that after he got out of the Navy, post-Korean War, he was at loose ends, not quite knowing what he wanted to do. There was no encouragement or support from his family toward higher education. But having served entitled him to the financial funding of the GI Bill, and he chose to spend his stipend on college.

He went to a state university, and despite the assistance from the Bill, still struggled to meet his living expenses and the cost of materials. But he was determined to finish, to end up with at least a bachelor's degree, so he persevered.

It had taken him six years, rather than the standard four, to get that degree, but afterwards, there was no stopping him. He found a job teaching at a high school, then went on to get his master's. During the day, September through June, he was a high-school English teacher - and at night, he went back to school. It took years, but after the master's he earned his Ph.D., eventually finding a position at the college and then working his way up to become the Department Chair.

I was impressed, and said so. He replied, 'The person who graduates from the state university with As, who spends extra time in the library and reads beyond the assignments, has a much better education than the lazy student who earns a diploma from Harvard - with barely passing marks and a minimum of effort.'

You can see I learned a lot from that job, and not just academically, either.

What does this have to do with SparkPeople, or dieting, or healthy lifestyle, I hear you ask.

It's a perfect example of the determined spirit, to my mind. First, after some thought, a decision of what to do and a considered plan to achieve it. Second, if an opportunity doesn't present itself, making an opportunity. Third, seeing it through, DETERMINED to complete the chosen task.

If I lose the resolve, the strength, to continue on this journey to health, I will not succeed. While I may not always follow the straightest path - there will be obstacles, problems, unforeseen circumstances, that may deter or delay me - I am still determined to get there. How long it takes doesn't matter, so long as I don't allow the distractions and self-doubts to overwhelm me.

What I need to remember is the quality of my long-term goal - health - and the fleeting, momentary enjoyment of the temporary lapses, like overindulgence and skipping the exercise 'just for this one day.'

What I need to do is keep out of my own way.

"All limits are self-imposed." --Icarus
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Great blog! You are certainly on a roll my friend. Keep em coming.
    3408 days ago
    Wow, I think I really need to take the time to read your blog every single day. It truly hit home for me. Namaste, Mary Ann
    3409 days ago
    What a wake-up call for a young 22-year-old, yes? Few of life's best lessons are found in the classroom or between the pages of a book. What a wonderful extracurricular lesson you received from this professor! Definitely something to think about. Thank you for sharing, Kasey.
    3409 days ago
    Yes, you are determined Kasey and have reached your goal because of it---- I hold you up -----Great interesting blog--and true!--Lynda--where we are sttringing Xmas lights before the coldness! emoticon
    3409 days ago
    Brilliant blog...thankyou....certainly thought provoking
    3409 days ago
    Good analogy! I think weight loss is harder, though, because of the nuances of individual systems, and unplanned setbacks. The setbacks occur during the education period, for sure, but at least much of the time victory will be had by chosing True or False, or A, B, C, or D correctly.

    I had to smile at your exchange with the professor. We sure get to eats lots of crow as we go through life, especially during the younger years!
    3409 days ago
    You get out what you put in. Determination is a great D!
    3410 days ago
    3410 days ago
    You are one determined lady. Great blog.
    3410 days ago
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    3410 days ago
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    All limits ARE self-imposed. Oh the games we can play with ourselves. The justifying and conveniently forgetting. Followed by denial and guilt. If determination was closely related to stubbornness, well then this Old German would be well on her way to goal by now. But alas, that's not how it works, is it?
    3410 days ago
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