Seize the Day

grenville-phillips

Submitted by Grenville Phillips II, Leader of Solutions Barbados

Since we were alive yesterday, and expect to be alive tomorrow, being alive is something that we normally take for granted.

There are many opportunities of being alive. Taking life for granted increases the risk that we will delay taking advantage of these opportunities. When we see others moving forward, we may be tempted to compare ourselves with them. This can lead to us becoming comfortable in complaining and doing very little.

The typical complaint of someone intending to do nothing, is that they would do something if only they had more money. The greatest tragedy of being alive is for people to be convinced that they lack opportunities because of their circumstances. A lack of money does not limit anyone’s access to the benefits or opportunities of being alive.

Consider the activities of a billionaire and someone living hand-to-mouth or in poverty. Both of them have the same 24-hour period to take advantage of life’s opportunities.

We start the day after waking. Whether we slept in a $100,000 a night hotel room, or in a small shack on a foam mattress, we received the same benefit from the 7 or 8 hours we spent sleeping. We normally sleep oblivious to our surroundings, and wake rested. The only difference is that the billionaire spent a lot of money for the same benefit.

We normally experience similar feelings of pleasure when eating fruit. Whether a person picks fruit from a tree, or employs a chef to peel and place it in a golden bowl with a silver spoon, the benefits of eating will be similar. The billionaire just paid more for its preparation.

Water provides the same feelings of refreshment, whether one drinks it from a standpipe or a crystal goblet. When it is time to eliminate waste, people have the same beneficial feelings of relief whether they use a pit toilet or a golden toilet with a padded seat.

As humans, we improve with practise. Once we have achieved about 10,000 hours of practice, we normally operate at an expert level. We must all submit to the same discipline of intense practise if we want to improve, regardless of how much money we may have.

In addition to sleeping, eating, drinking, eliminating, and practising, we interact with other people. All people can have this wonderful opportunity to experience the fulfilment of being kind and helpful. Billionaires can obviously give more. However, the benefits of helping others are similar.

Therefore, having less money does not stop a person from benefiting from the opportunities of being alive. One of the greatest benefits of being alive is that we can start moving forward at anytime and at any age. We just have to stop complaining and start doing something responsible.

Of course, life is also full of failed expectations and disappointments for everyone, including billionaires. Money cannot buy happiness. It only buys more fun. But the benefits of fun are similar regardless of how much you spent on it. Being alive gives us the opportunity to correct our mistakes. If we treated someone badly yesterday, then we can treat them better today.

If we dwell on our failures, then we can get discouraged. This is when we need a friend to encourage us to start looking for opportunities. Otherwise, we can delay our progress by thinking that life is hard, rather than a wonderful gift of multiple daily opportunities.

Those who are discouraged at leaving school with neither certificates nor marketable skills, can start practising something that they can market. Those who have been laid off can use the Internet to develop a new skill, and keep practising. Everyone gets better with diligent practise, so why delay moving forward?

Those who have the most interaction opportunities are front-line employees. They include cashiers, bank tellers, receptionists, and nurses. They normally interact with hundreds of persons daily who are in a hurry to leave. The current austerity only increases frustration all around, since less staff means longer wait times.

Customers may have waited for a long time, either for a bus, or in the line. By the time they are served, they may not be in a happy mood. An overworked and discouraged front-line staff interacting with a frustrated and impatient customer may not end well. Someone needs to seize the opportunity to be kind and patient. May it be you.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

43 comments

  • Vincent Codrington

    Seize the opportunity. There are so many opportunities in life. Some we see .Others have to be pointed out.

    Like

  • Very well argued except for one point, increased numbers don’t necessarily deliver prompt and efficient service.
    Before retrenchment, service was no better as a few were carrying many slackers in tow and that seemingly hasn’t changed.
    It will only change when everyone does a measurable decent days work for a day’s pay.

    Liked by 2 people

  • Hi Sidboyce:

    Increased tellers at the banks, and cashiers at the BRA, and nurses in the QEH should reduce wait times.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Well said Grenville for such thinking has allowed me to improve my life while providing greater opportunities for my kids. Unfortunately, our soci democratic governance model punishes the ambitious while rewarding mediocrity to guarantee votes from the weak among us.

    Dale Carnegie once said “ the best way to help a man is to give him an education” while absolute leaders use the dependency syndrome and mendicancy to create weak generations.

    Liked by 1 person

  • @Greenville , failure is not final and can be your best friend. Those who become rich solve problems and the bigger the problems to be solved the richer the possibility

    Liked by 1 person

  • Thoughtful post with one caveat: how to employ (“There are many opportunities”) in the Barbadian context ?

    Like

  • ONWARD AND UPWARD…

    GP11, as usual the Article is a Good one and as usual you have brought your Understanding and Wisdom to bear to help people to Improve themselves and not Blame External Factors but see to Develop the Talents and Abilities of each individual that have been given life… This Article has been as close to your Guiding Principles as I’ve heard you Articulate.

    Like

  • Vincent Codrington

    Robert Lucas.

    Even in the Barbadian context, we make choices ,including the opportunity to join Pity Parties. Most Barbadians of our generation avoided them like the plague. The worse thing to tell a Barbadian of our generation was :” Poor you! “.

    Like

  • robert lucas
    October 23, 2019 6:30 AM

    Thoughtful post with one caveat: how to employ (“There are many opportunities”) in the Barbadian context ?

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Plenty of agricultural land that is waiting to be cut up to grow properties that may be water free for much of the year!!

    Why not clear and replant with crops that can withstand the drought!!

    Address the obesity, reduce the health care costs and get back to basics.

    Like

  • “As humans, we improve with practise. Once we have achieved about 10,000 hours of practice, we normally operate at an expert level”

    I disagree, one can practice bad habits over and over, after 10,000 hrs one will not improve or be an expert. With all the practice in the world I could never have been Sir Gary.
    The skill needs to be there first then there needs to be some form of objective external assessment/feedback or a mechanism to measure performance.

    Like

  • REDGUARD

    SKILL AND TALENT ARE NOT QUITE THE SAME

    SKILLS CAN BE LEARNED

    TALENT IS INATE AND GOD GIVEN

    Liked by 1 person

  • @ Redguard

    I see you are on to Malcolm Gladwell’s theory. Let us say you are a car mechanic working a 40 hour week, after a year, that would be about 2000 working hours; after ten years that would be over 20000 hours, so, according to this theory, you will be an expert at your job.
    But that is not true in Barbados. Unless you are a B or D you are not only inexpert, don’t you don’t know what you are talking about, a liar, and any other number of expletives.
    Of course, if you have a PhD (about 16000 hours of study) or a lawyer (about 3000 study hours) then you are a genius. We do not value experience.

    Like

  • True GP, but my point is there still needs to be objective feedback or performance measurement, how else will one know one is improving or where one needs to improve. Gary had coaches and other players giving him feedback, he also had his performances against the competition.

    Though I believe guys like Gary and Bradman were so good they didn’t need the external feedback and just practice made them experts. They are the rare examples of Grenville’s statement

    Like

  • I AGREE WITH YOU SIR
    TALENT WITHOUT PRACTICE AND OTHER MEANS OF ENHANCEMENT THEREOF IS USELESS

    Like

  • Redguard:

    There are various levels of competence, including amateur and expert. Once you have practised for 10,000 hours, then you normally operate at an expert level. Most people can achieve that in about 10 years.

    As a keyboardist (musical) I have about 3,000 hours (from playing part time). I am sufficiently competent to make money with it. However, I know that I am not an expert – although I can play some pieces like an expert. Once I reach 10,000 hours, then I will likely be able to play anything at an expert level.

    Therefore, there is no formal feedback and performance appraisal required. All that is required is diligent practise.

    Like

  • Hal October 23, 2019 9:50 AM

    You have answered the question I posed.

    Like

  • A very thought provoking post-required reading for all

    “Opportunities lost are hardly ever regained”

    Like

  • @ charles skeeteOctober 23, 2019 11:34 AM

    a most profound thought that used to be taught in primary school before even the days of common entrance

    Like

  • @Grenville

    That definition of expert only really applies in the academic world. As an engineer don’t you need the external assessment/feedback of charter exams to be recognised as an expert in your field

    Liked by 1 person

  • Malcom Gladwell’s Outlier theory is not to be taken as the gospel according to Mark. It is a guide to support the point that practicing ones craft should lead to improvement. Why not focus on the uplifting aspect of the submission instead of becoming mired in what is not possible.

    Like

  • As a keyboardist (musical) I have about 3,000 hours (from playing part time). I am sufficiently competent to make money with it. However, I know that I am not an expert – although I can play some pieces like an expert. Once I reach 10,000 hours, then I will likely be able to play anything at an expert level.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    If you have 3,000 hours after 50 odd years, we might need to wait a century before we get to hear another Stevie Wonder!!

    Most things for which you have an aptitude (talent) are easy and don’t need much practice.

    I was driving a car when I was 11 and tractors shortly thereafter once I could reach the pedal.

    It makes sense to seize the day rather than wait to accumulate 10,000 hours of practice to become a so called expert.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Most opportunities you create yourself from the choices you make.

    You only need to recognize when they arise and strike hard.

    Liked by 1 person

  • … and fast

    Liked by 1 person

  • How can 10000 hours make you an expert at anything? By that argument we have civil servants that retired and never worked a full day in their life in any true productive manner, are they experts then based solely on the years they drew a salary?

    Picasso painted with many others who were the same age as him and would of put in the same hours. At 56 he painted Guernica what did the rest who had 10,000 hours paint?

    This argument therefore does not hold up to scrutiny.

    Like

  • peterlawrencethompson

    Malcolm Gladwell Explains What Everyone Gets Wrong About His Famous ‘10,000 Hour Rule’
    https://www.businessinsider.com/malcolm-gladwell-explains-the-10000-hour-rule-2014-6

    Like

  • peterlawrencethompson

    New Study Destroys Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Hour Rule
    https://www.businessinsider.com/new-study-destroys-malcolm-gladwells-10000-rule-2014-7

    Like

  • @Vincent Codrington October 23, 2019 8:54 AM

    You have also answered the question I posed.

    Like

  • Redguard:

    Not at all academic. Engineers and other professionals study for 4 to 8 years and get a degree. They may even get a Masters or a doctorate. That only provides them with the tools of their trade and does not count towards the 10,000 hours.

    Engineers (even those with doctorates) must then train under a senior Engineer for a minimum of 4 years before they can even apply to be called an Engineer. Those 4 years count towards the 10,000 hours. However, you will rarely be trusted to be a partner in a firm (where other partners are personally liable for your mistakes) unless you have reached an expert level – about 10 years.

    So academic work does not count, unless it is post graduate research conducted after some work experience, or while working – not post graduate right after undergraduate with no work experience.

    With academic work, a 90% exam result is celebrated by professors. In practise, 90% can have fatal consequences, and is cause for much distress among a firm’s partners. In practise, anything less than 100% is a fail. That is why you need 10,000 hours of practise, so that your work is 100% correct 100% of the time – an expert level of operation. I hope you understand this now.

    Like

  • PLT: I am not talking about outliers or exceptional performers. I am saying that to do something 100% correct 100% of the time takes practise. Once you achieve that level, you are an expert. To operate at an expert level takes about 10 years or 10,000 hours of practise. That is obvious to most professionals who never heard of this Gladwell fellow that you are introducing and then criticising. Who is this Gladwell?

    When advertising for senior professional posts, 10 years of experience is a typical standard. Why? Because they are expected to operate at an expert level.

    Like

  • John:

    I started playing late – in my late 30s. I did music theory in first form and never got to touch an instrument. I can only remember ‘Every Good Boy Deserves Food’ from first form, and I still do not know what that means.

    As I wrote, I play part time, including at Church. I play ‘by ear’ – which allows me to play any song in any key, and compose music.

    Like

  • David:

    You wrote “Outlier theory is not to be taken as the gospel according to Mark.”

    That reminded me of the Gospel according to Matthew: “Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” (Jesus, the Messiah to whom we must all be held accountable whether we want to be or not – Matt 23:24)

    Like

  • It is my humble opinion that everyone has been blessed with a talent that can be used for the benefit of self and the world. Our problem is that we overvalue some talents and undervalue others.

    All that needs to be done is to help the young people to identify their talents, show them the value of these talents and help them to develop these talents into skills.

    Then people will stop trying to fit into round holes when they would be much more productive and fulfilled in square ones.
    .
    Instead we have a heap of people who count themselves as failures from the age of eleven and stumble wounded through life not having a clue how to seize any day.

    It’s going to take much more than a pep talk to reverse this problem

    Like

  • Vincent Codrington

    @ Grenville II

    We must cultivate a sense of what is important. We are in danger of becoming a society which focuses on the granular but fails to see the full picture. On this trajectory, we shall reap the consequences of the blind leading the blind.

    Like

  • peterlawrencethompson

    @Grenville
    “Who is this Gladwell?”
    ++++++++++++++++
    Malcolm Gladwell is a Canadian nonfiction writer of Jamaican heritage who is widely credited for popularizing the 10,000 hour rule in his 2008 book “Outliers: The Story of Success.”

    Liked by 1 person

  • Vincent Codrington

    @ GP II

    It is interesting that you have chosen, on this occasion, to cite the most political of the four gospels. It is also my favourite.

    Like

  • SirSimpleSimonPresidentForLife

    @John AOctober 23, 2019 12:13 PM “we have civil servants that retired and never worked a full day in their life in any true productive manner, are they experts then based solely on the years they drew a salary?”

    Yes they are experts at drawing a salary. Lolll!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  • nextparty246
    October 23, 2019 4:21 PM

    John:
    I started playing late – in my late 30s. I did music theory in first form and never got to touch an instrument.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    I was only having a little fun!!

    I thought you were generalizing for all skills but I have to agree there are some that require an awful lot of practice before anyone can claim to be an expert.

    Talent is important but for some skills, you have to do the time.

    Engineering, medicine, the law all require diligent study before anyone can claim to be an expert.

    I got interested in genealogy from 1994, so, also late 30’s.

    It took me 15 years before I realized that there was a constant recurring theme in all the Barbadian families I investigated.

    Now, I would say I am an expert!!

    I have no idea about how many hours I spent because while I spent a lot of time at the Archives and on the internet, much of my time I spent thinking.

    Could be 10,000 hours or less … or more!!

    What I know is I can change the thinking of people, some of them heavyweights in their fields because I became an expert by putting in the time and have reduced volumes of data into a few simple rules.

    Driving a car doesn’t need 10,000 hours to become an expert but it is true to say the more you drive the better you become.

    Like

  • .. and if you play by ear you have a fantastic skill!!

    I only knew one person in my life who could.

    Like

  • Driving a car doesn’t need 10,000 hours to become an expert but it is true to say the more you drive the better you become.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++

    … but of course there are exceptions!!

    Like

  • John:

    There comes a time after practising driving that you essentially become one with the car. It is like an extension of your self. That is when you operate at an expert level, and 10,000 hours of practise can do that for you.

    Like

  • Driving a car on the road requires two skills.

    One skill determines how you control the car.

    The other determines whether you are a Road Hog or not.

    How many Road Hogs do you meet on a day?

    Practicing one skill just makes you an expert Road Hog!!

    Like

  • There are two skills to master in law.

    One is technical the other is ethical.

    Just like driving.

    At 11 I could drive a car but no way was my family going to loose me on the road!!

    Like

  • So who would you say spends the most time driving their vehicles in Barbados?

    The PSV drivers, these may be at one with their vehicle but they are at odds with everybody else’s vehicles on the road!!

    Like

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