Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas San Diego, Ca. March 2012

Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas San Diego, Ca. March 2012
Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas at Luche Libre Taco Shop in San Diego, March 2012

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fairly Simple & Glaringly Obvious

There is a difference, so I'm told, between introspection and self-evaluation. The difference is lost on me, however. 

Self-evaluation is defined as a person's ability to apprise their own abilities, limits of control, and the like. It is a fundamental element of one's self-esteem.

Introspection is defined as a person's ability to observe and evaluate one's own mental or spiritual state, put their own thoughts under a microscope of sorts.

Both self-evaluation and introspection sound a lot like self-examination to me. 

Whatever the case, for most of my life the need to sit back and take stock of where I am mentally, emotionally, physically, where I've been in the aforementioned states, and where I want to be vs. where I should be (according to one authority or another's idea of where I should be, that is), has been almost a constant.

For years it was somewhat of a bother, as it involved unrealistic expectations of what I should and what I could be doing with my life. While I believed strongly that nearly everything one aspired to could be accomplished, I wasn't acutely aware of the need for one's aspirations to be rooted in reality - i.e., no matter how much one aspires to be the starting center for the Los Angeles Lakers, if you're 5'3", it's just not going to happen, ever. I was doing the Walter Mitty shuffle for a long time.

It took awhile for me to come to terms with the very real limitations that my genetic make-up, my environment, and my immediate resources imposed upon me. 

Then, in my mid-twenties, I stumbled upon a modification of something Theodore Roosevelt said. President Roosevelt had stated "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are," and I had read "Do the best you can with what you have where you are right now."

Those words, the rewrite that is, were very freeing. Revelationary and revolutionary in fact.

It was after reading those words that I came to the conclusion that living life trying to live up to expectations beyond one's control was not only unrealistic, but actually counter-productive. 

The trick, I realized, is discovering what it was that one could do that was not only satisfying and worthy of the effort, but also within the range of one's limitations. 

That may read as fairly simple and glaringly obvious to some, but it was not to me. For years I wanted to be and do several hundred different things that just were not grounded in reality. It's been a few years since I've had that baggage to deal with, and I'll tell you what, I've never been happier.

The epiphany came somewhat late in life, when I was in my early thirties, and it has taken a lot of trial and error to fully grasp - mistakes have been made along the way - but the thing is, once I understood that somethings were just not meant for me, distractions were discarded and I've been able to dedicate much more time, energy, and effort to what is actually within the range of my abilities.

Which does not mean that I've stopped trying new things - on the contrary, I'm constantly trying to expand my horizons. It means, rather, that I've become far more efficient in my ability to size up what I can and cannot do.

For example: I work in retail, and years ago I realized that there are three basic types of managerial traits necessary in retail; the ability to manage people, manage organizations, or manage things. 

The best managers can combine aspects of all of those traits - they know how to properly train, motivate, and maintain the morale of their people, they know what is needed to keep an organization running smoothly, and they can keep inventory levels under control effortlessly.

Knowing that, I have made a conscious and consistent effort to learn and ingrain those managerial traits. I have two out of the three down, primarily because it has been my good fortune to work for people who have all of those traits down and basically, I strive to mimic them.

That's an example of both what I can and cannot do - I can mimic the positive traits of others until they become part of me (the whole "fake it until you make it" dealio) and I cannot simply wish a trait into existence - I have to work at it.

Yes, I know, fairly obvious and glaringly simple, but again, not to my dumb ass.

So, whatever label you prefer to slap on it, introspection or self-evaluation, it is something I highly recommend. In the short term in may seem a bit hokie and maybe a little too narcissistic, but in the long run, well, in the long run you just might improve yourself and the world you live in considerably, or at least be less prone to flopping about feeling directionless.

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