Sunday, 18 November 2012

The August Lessons of 2012

I always try to update a personal journal of lessons learnt. This year, few days after my birthday in August, I wrote a couple of lessons for the month and thought I should share some of them here with Africa and our friends from other continents.

We never know it all
Knowledge is always evolving and what we need to know keeps increasing everyday. If we choose to stop learning at any point, we are prone to miss out the details. There is always a tendency to think that because we belong to a kind of profession and have read and heard a lot about a particular subject, we know everything about it. For instance, if you took time to considerably study the subject of youth lifestyle five years ago, what you read back then might not be reasonably applicable today. The least we should do is check again or review the previous study. Probe to know more, do not just assume.

Understand where people are coming from
The experience of other people matters. It is a major determinant of who you see in them. The kind of upbringing they had, friends they keep and decisions they have made all contribute to the definition of their personalities. As a person, the next set of goals shapes my persona. Beyond that, my experiences, the churches I have attended and lessons learnt from other people and various books influence most of my decisions today. For someone else, it could be primarily their childhood experiences or a counsellor’s advice that inform their decisions and form their personae. Take time to observe people and discover where they are coming from before forming solid impressions about them.

When to keep it short & simple
When having formal conversations, try to keep it short. Mention the details in a brief and effective way. Except for a few compulsory cases, people do not have the time to read short stories, in your formal memo or internal communiqué. When communicating informally with people whose behaviour has not been ascertained (people who do not know you beyond the radius of a small social circumference), avoid big talk. Keep your grammar and divulgence simple. Flow with the communication structure of the group. Even if the sanguine part of you wants to create verbosity, try your best to cut it short. If you are not comfortable with it, change your group.
Try to keep your sentences short and simple. These days, people can be relatively self-seeking and silently critical. Those who need to read what you write or hear what you say usually ignore it. They either think they do not need it or simply prefer to engage in other entertainment activities.”

Kindly confrontation works
When people do something that you think they should not do, correct them kindly or at least, ask them why they do it in a respectful way. It always pays to find out why rather than just judge people. Unless your job description says you should decry people, do not engage in open or absolute criticism as a problem-solving tool. Nobody likes it and really, it hardly works. Spare the allocation of blames for the jobless and turn your focus to problem resolution. Attack issues not persons.

Assess yourself & your friendships
Evaluate your performance within the context of your plans and justify your progress. If you have had principles about the way you welcome intimate friends into your life and it is working for you, do not stop it. If you do, it might just create a BIG MESS. However, you may seek ways of improving the process and enlarge your network. Screen everybody with the same measure regardless of their status. But, be sure to act humbly. Probe to know why they are getting so close. Do not compromise unnecessarily; human beings are nothing more than who they really are –imperfect creatures consistently seeking perfection through imperfection. Define and regulate your friendships; it is a means of regulating yourself too. As humans, we need upholding structures in our lives. Given the right circumstances, anybody can become a devil.

Confidence is not pride
CONFIDENCE is not equal to PRIDE. Really, I do not know how else to explain this. If you are a confident and meek person, let people see both sides of you and make their choice. If convinced that you are a good person, do not always try to be who you are not because you want to please people. If you do so too often, you will have regrets. Besides, in formal settings, people increase their perception of your efficiency when you exhibit panache and aplomb. No one wants to entrust resources into the hands of a person that cannot wordlessly convince them about their ability to deliver.

Family members should knit
Everybody needs family. Asides friends whom you have tested and truly trust, family is all you can ever trust. If your family does not knit, talk about it and do something about it yourself. Take the initiative. But, if all efforts fail, create a family amongst your good friends. You will always need backup emotionally, socially or financially. If the devil has a family of demons, principalities and the rest and Jesus had a clique of James, Peter and John, then having one or a combo of family and friends is not a bad idea.

Another door will open
If a door you deeply need (not want) to keep open is closing, try your very best to prevent the closure. If the door eventually closes, cry like a baby if you will. Wail like a child if it helps. But, do not do either action forever because time is against you. Time does not understand the meaning of pain; it expects you to heal as early as you can. So, sit up & get over it. Outgrow it and pour your energy into something else. Many times, something much better is always ahead. So, forge ahead. If you don’t, you may lose your chance to find something better. There is always something better ahead. Try to regain your confidence and move on. Let time fade it out.

Give your friends time
As a regular practice, I criticise my closest friends constructively but I never do so without a clear objective. You may be good at something and bad at something else. You do not know everything yourself so, do not put the weight of perfection on someone else. Sometimes, people make promises and break them repeatedly until it becomes a habit. As a friend, it is your job to ensure that your friends are doing what they should do. The job description of friendship includes watching out for other people. Sometimes, friends do what they do not want to do. Be understanding. Challenge them to become better through example. Do not put on your friends, the kind of weight you know they cannot bear. Instead, inspire them. Everyone has a learning curve to undergo. Give them time to outgrow the initial challenges. One day, when they realise your worth, they will thank you for it.

You reap what you sow
Do unto others what you would have them do to you. If you have not been in a person’s situation before, you might judge them wrongly. One size does not usually fit all; everyone has their own size. So, if you seek commitment from others, be a committed person too. You will mainly reap what you sow. When you sow mangoes, do not expect to harvest potatoes. If you sow sex before marriage, you should not be surprised if your spouse gives you a harvest of infidelity later on. When you loot public funds, do not be surprised if in future, theft and robbery consistently befalls some of your offspring. The sow-and-reap theory applies to almost every situation. Oftentimes than not, people reap fruits after the nature of what they sow. Be careful of what you do to affect other people.