Be Determined

On Being a Modern Gentleman:

Guideline 4: Be Determined

Earth in 2014, particularly the U.S., is filled with shiftless, bewildered, floundering individuals. Young adults, like steel bearings upon a pinball field, bounce about between various degrees and dead-end jobs, while adults lead by example and are unable to remain settled in place, love, or career.

Why? It seems like previous U.S. generations had their acts together. What has caused Gen X, the Millennials, and the new Gen Z to lose their way?

Well, a large swath of the population suffers from a lack of determination, and in many this condition is exacerbated by a lack of purpose. In order to be a modern gentlemen, you must have both.

It seems that determination is composed of two parts, a greater and a lesser, if you will. The lesser of the two is demonstrated almost daily in the lives of most individuals, e.g., you strive to complete the report for your boss, report cards are completed on time even though it means you must stay late at school, and though you’re exhausted, you fix dinner for your family. While this lesser form of determination (exchangeable with perseverance, or persistence) is laudable, it, arguably, will not improve your life by any great measure. The second form, greater determination, is something we should all strive towards.

To be determined, or to have determination, as in to be firm of mind or purpose, is a 17th century connotation added to the French determiner, itself born from the Latin dētermināre. Greater determination is dependent upon purpose. Shiftlessness, ennui, and indecisiveness are rooted in lack thereof. Charles Henry Parkhurst, in 1897, argued that the solution to society’s ills and to mankind’s ethical rot was purpose:

Purpose at once suggests the notion that the person whom it actuates is in motion toward an end; and a person moving toward an end, like a rifle-ball toward a target, is less easily managed and directed than when he is standing still. Indeed, the more rapid its motion the more difficult it is to change its direction, and the less effect influences that happen to lie along its route will have upon it.

This April, make a point to choose a goal, a purpose, and stick to it. Decide what you want out of your professional, romantic, or personal life, and become determined to see it to fruition. Be the rifle-ball. It’s the gentlemanly thing to do.

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