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The Complete Gentleman, Issue #006
June 30, 2015
Well, for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, summer is upon us and the rising mercury is a constant reminder that the “heat is on”. I take this as a metaphor for the unending battle we must do, not just to get through life but to create our piece of a worthwhile life, well lived. It reminds me of a great quote by the legendary sports coach Vince Lombardi: “I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour – his greatest fulfillment to all he holds dear…is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.”
I’m not talking about a constant struggle for self-improvement one can feel obliged to follow because a society might demand it of us. It’s the real you, the part of you that people will remember long after you have gone. Often we have no idea what this is, it may be less than we think or more than we deserve…who really knows…we should aim to be what we can be and work towards this. This shouldn’t be forced but created from what is in us naturally.
“You are a piece of the puzzle of someone else’s life. You may never know where you fit, but others will fill the holes in their lives with pieces of you.” – Bonnie Arbor.
Although this is not a call to simply sit back and let things happen. Just as plants can be nurtured and grow best when provided with a good environment, sufficient amounts of water and proper nutrients so too do we need to cultivate ourselves. As an encourager, consider this the focus on what I’ll call the three “P’s” – Patience, Perseverance and Perspective.
Gin ReviewsSince the last newsletter I’ve added a post listing other Gin Reviewers that can be found online , and I’ve also added a few more of my own Gins Reviews to the website for:
Seagram’s Extra Dry ; Chilton Damson Gin ; Chilton Seville Orange Gin ; Hotel Chocolat Cocoa Gin ; and Conker Spirit Dorset Dry Gin .
This makes a grand total of 378 the most Gin reviews found in one location any where in the English speaking world (if not the world). This has taken a lot of work, over two years, writing a review every other day, with each review taking an average of 8 hours to complete. However, when you consider there are over 1600 Gins in the world (that I am aware of it), these reviews only represent about a quarter of all the Gin out there.
Gin CategoriesWhen I first started writing about Gin I began by trying to define the different categories of Gin. This was harder than I thought it would be and ended up with brief overview descriptions, some of which I posted on the website. Today I have a better understanding of these categories and have commenced work on updating the descriptions, with the following recently added to the website:
Barrel Aged Gin ; Borovička ; Compound Gin ; and Flavored Gin .
This is certainly a “fail” now being corrected and to keep my motivation up I remind myself of the words by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.”
Book: The Complete ConnoisseurTalking of “fails” a few months ago I announced my first book and how I was intending to complete this for June. Well, after 10 months of spending an average of 35 hours a week working on it…it’s not complete yet…and still has a ways to go. It’s easy to be disheartened especially when you haven’t met a scheduled time frame.
Shared PurposeBesides highlighting new posts to the website, why have I shared these other bits of information? It is not meant to extol my virtues or to play a game of “hey, look at me” by showing how great (or bad) I am. The reason for sharing this is to demonstrate through real examples how much patience, perseverance and perspective is required in our endeavors. To coin a phrase from the movie Gladiator: “Whatever we choose to do in life, echoes throughout eternity.” However, my experience tells me: Whatever we choose to do in life, requires constant patience, perseverance and perspective…in order for it to echo throughout eternity.
PatienceIt is extremely rare an endeavor is achieved overnight. Overnight successes are often preceded by years of work, building to a given moment in time. Being a great son, husband or father is not just one act but a constant stream of acts spanning decades. Becoming a craftsman or building a career is achieved through the continuous development of knowledge & experience across years. Many people today expect instant recognition, status and acknowledgement from the world around them without necessarily putting in the work. I have worked at adding Gin Reviews to the website at a pace I can just about manage and while I am impatient to add more (and for other drinks too) I am but one person.
Seeing as I seem to be in movie quote mode, let’s go to Star Wars and Yoda for: “Patience you must have my young padawan,” although this works just as well for “older jedi’s” too. There’s a certain amount of “Zen” or a sanguine approach that is required while an endeavor is built up to! Whatever you are endeavoring to do, time and patience is necessary to ensure a level of sanity is maintained. When scaling heights it is a good idea not to look down but to concentrate on what you are doing, it also helps not to look at others who may be ahead of you. Focus on the here and now and what you can do.
PerseveranceThere’s an adage oft touted “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again.” Some have amended this to “If at first you don’t succeed, give up”, or “If at first you don’t succeed, blame someone else”. While this is humorous, it is perhaps indicative of what we see in life, some decide not to do anything for fear of failing, some give up too easily when facing difficulties and some blame everyone else around them if things do not work out how they expect. However, there is another adage “If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.” None of us are perfect and we all fail at times, but if the endeavor is worth it then we must keep going, to move forward. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the enormity of an endeavor.
I could easily be disheartened by the fact I have 6 years ahead of me, taking 4 hours a day writing Gin reviews before I get close to having reviewed nearly every Gin in the world. I could be frustrated by the fact I still haven’t finished my first book, particularly because I thought I would be able to “knock it out” in 3-4 months. However, while I do feel these things I always recall what was told to me as a young executive, in the form of a question: “How do you eat an elephant?” This refers to tackling a large seemingly insurmountable project, the answer is: “One slice at a time.”
Just as a constant drip of water can erode stone, then an endeavor is achieved by constant regular manageable effort over time. Instead of telling your self “Why bother?” or “I can’t do this” try “Slow and steady wins the race.” The best thing to remember comes from Confucius: “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” We only compete against our selves, not the rest of the world.
PerspectivePatience and perseverance are the main tools in moving forward with an endeavor, creating a “dogged” effort in what we do. Sometimes however the endeavor is such a big one we struggle to keep going, despite all our good intentions. Then there are all the obstacles that come our way, seeking to stop us and prevent us from achieving our goals. These come in many disguises and may even be generated by our selves to create reasons to give up. These are the times to pause and take stock of where you are. Ask yourself if the endeavor is the right thing and if the answer is still “Yes”, then work out what you need to do next to move forward.
I like to compare any endeavor to undertaking a long walk, run or bicycle ride. If you think about the whole journey it could be enough to put you off completely but once you start the journey you might find you begin to enjoy it. However the reverse situation may also ring true where the journey might be exciting enough to fill you with boundless enthusiasm, that soon dissipates once you start. Either way, at some point during a long journey you can find yourself losing heart. This is where perspective can be used to good advantage. Aiming for shorter interim goals is a good tactic…just need to make it to the top of that hill, must get to the next town, the next post etc.
Until 3 years ago, I’d never had my own website let alone built one. Until 2 years ago I had never written reviews before. Until 1 year ago I had never written a book. Now I have a website that is ranked in the top 10% in the world, I have more Gin reviews than anyone in the world and I am getting close to completing my first book. Sure, these things are not as good as they could be: I’d like the website to be in the top 1%, I’d like to have every Gin reviewed and I’d like to have my book finished. However on balance, where I am, is not “too shabby”.
Perspective is important in maintaining motivation, in order to keep moving forward. Sometimes you need to look at where you are and how far you have come to gain more momentum to continue. It may not be far along the road, which can spur you on, or it may be far along the road and this can confirm you are on the right track and keep you heading in the right direction.
Your EndeavorWhat would you like to do but haven’t got around to, yet? What are you doing that has perhaps stagnated? What are you currently working on? It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you believe it is important enough to undertake. It doesn’t matter how hard it is or what difficulties you are encountering. It doesn’t matter where you are on your journey. What matters is the patience, perseverance you put into it and the perspective you apply to keep going. These are some of the attributes of a great character, helping to make a complete gentleman.
Not About MeI really dislike reading “ego trips” people have written and I hope this newsletter doesn’t read like one of them. That is not my style. However, just in case it does (my apologies) listen to the story of Alexander Bruce. My son, like millions of other teenagers, is an avid video gamer and he highlighted this You Tube Clip. At just over 50 minutes it’s fairly long but it tells us about his struggles to develop and bring to market a psychological puzzle game called “Antichamber”. Even if you do not follow or like video games this is an interesting story, you can feel all the frustrations along the way and how it seems to have token every ounce of his fiber to achieve its launch.
“It’s a struggle to become the man that you want to be, It’s harder than you want, it’s longer than you want and It takes more out of you than you expect it should.” - Director Leon Vance (played by actor Rocky Carroll) from the TV Show, NCIS.
It really is a case of the journey being more important to building a man of character, than the destination. People may remember you for your achievements but those closest will best remember you for your character. Gentlemen, I’ll leave you with a toast, “To the three P’s, and a life well lived”.
David “Woody” Schofield,
President and Founder, The Complete Gentleman LLC.
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