Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Best Life Lesson My Mother Ever Taught Me

The year is 1966 and we are living in the Philippines at Clark Air Force Base.  It was a very interesting time and an incredibly interesting place to live.  My father was stationed there and spent a lot of time going back and forth to Vietnam.  He had already done one tour of duty and would do another year tour in the early 1970s.

It is my second grade in 1966 and it is the Christmas break.  My teacher gave us one assignment which was to read 19 chapters in this small paper book and answer the questions at the end of each chapter.  Each chapter was maybe 3 pages at most and there was an average of 4 questions at the end of each chapter.

I came home and was freaking out over the assignment.  I said I was going to have to spend the ENTIRE last day of my vacation working on this.

My mother went through the following with me.

"David, there are two ways you could do this.  You could wait until the day before you go back to school and then spend all day doing it, or you could do a little bit every day.   Here is what you should do when you have a big problem - divide the problem into smaller pieces and do enough so that you get everything done when it is due. "

She then took me through it in a very logical fashion.

First, you look at when you need to finish, divide what you need to do into smaller pieces and do just a little bit every day. 
  1. This 19 Chapter book is due your first day back to school.
  2. Between now and your first day back there are 21 days.
  3. If you do one chapter per day starting tomorrow, you will be done the day before your vacation break ends.  After breakfast, read a chapter, answer the questions and then go have fun on your break.
I followed her instructions and got it done just as she told me to.  Every since then, it was a lesson I never forgot.  

As a side note, in Latin this is called "divide et impera".