Procrastination or Live Life Like a Buffalo?
On Procrastination, Laziness versus Living Like a Buffalo.
Reilly was born bone lazy.
It was only fifty-odd years later, as he was sorting out his Mothers belongings after she passed that he discovered just how profoundly his lack of discipline had affected her. There, in a blue valise beneath her bed, and bound neatly with a large rubber band was a series of letters and reports containing the evidence of his truancy.
The years couldn’t alter the contents. The abiding and enduring comment on each report was ‘Reilly lacks discipline.’
Reillys’ Mother, being a true disciple of the school of hard work, took decisive and peremptory action. Reilly was summarily dispatched to boarding school to the Cistercians in Roscrea. She was assured they had both a reputation for pig-headed discipline and hard work.
His penchant for truancy followed him effortlessly to Roscrea. Within the first week, he’d been assigned the moniker of ‘Doing Nothing’ by Dan Smith, the biology teacher.
If he was itself, he was equalled and bested by one other classmate called Jimmy Walshe, who earned the sobriquet ‘Doing Nothing At All’. Mrs Reillys’ uncle Stiofáin was an avid traveller. Each year he’d visit his brother in America and together they’d explore the vast plains and mountains of that massive nation.
And on his return, he’d fill Reilly up with tales and stories of that great land. This particular year they’d been to Colorado and he was explaining to Reilly that this is one of the few places in the world where cattle and buffalo roam together.
He described to Reilly the similarities between these two animals and how one is much more intelligent than the other.
‘When a storm approaches, both animals can sense it in their being but are programmed to respond to it differently.
Knowing that the prevailing winds come from the west instinctively head east, in order to outrun the storm. But as you know, cattle are slow and awkward and are rapidly overhauled by the speed of the storm. And instead of actually outrunning the storm, they simply end up running with it.
On the other hand, wait until the storm is at its height, and then proceed to charge head-on into it. To be sure, it’s difficult and frightening, to begin with, but very quickly they emerge from the far side of the storm. They sensibly end up minimising their exposure to it.
And so it is with people
‘Many flee their problems hoping to avoid the pain and suffering involved in confronting them. In so doing they ironically maximise their exposure to misery and hardship.’
‘Clever people, however, realise that problems are part and parcel of life and that the quicker and harder they charge at them, the quicker they are resolved and overcome.’
‘Reilly, you may think a time will come when all is rosy and you’ll be problem free. The reality is that you’ll always have problems. And while this sounds negative, it doesn’t have to be. The day you realise that by charging head-on at your greatest challenges, is the day you become free because that’s the day you realise you have the solution to overcoming your cares and worries.’
Life is a series of problems.
We have a choice. We can hope they solve themselves or we can choose to proactively solve them. One is a cow mentality. The other is a buffalo mindset.
One of the great disciplines in life is delaying gratification.
The process of scheduling the pain and pleasure of life in such a way as to enhance the pleasure by meeting and experiencing the pain first and getting it over with is what Delaying Gratification means.
According to M. Scott Peck in the book The Road Less Travelled, ‘It is the only decent way to live.’ Think of it this way. Many people begin their working day by putting off or procrastinating on activities they know they should do but don’t like doing. They then proceed to worry and stress about those procrastinations right throughout the day. Wouldn’t it be preferable to get them over with early in the day?
Mark Twain had a metaphor for getting hard things done: if you have to eat a live frog, do it right away and everything after that will be easier by comparison. ‘Eat That Frog’ is a great metaphor for life. The obstacle is the way.
‘The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.’
What frogs will you eat this week?
If you’ve been procrastinating on eating important frogs such as clarifying your real purpose in business you could do worse than check out an online programme called The Smacht Edge that Padraic Ó Maille is running in conjunction with Galway Executive Skillnet. It begins this Wednesday and it certainly will help you reflect; refocus, and recharge.