The Important Question Is, Why?

Understanding Can Influence Performance

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Image by Evelyn Olorunfemi

 

When the reason for a task, assignment, or activity, is not clearly understood, there is a tendency for it to be undervalued, overvalued or not valued at all. This can come into play for individuals or in team situations. It is possible for a person to be lazy at getting a particular task done, until the reason for that task is expounded to that person, and a new appreciation of the importance of that task dawns on the individual. With understanding can come motivation to not only complete the task but complete it with excellence.

In my earlier years in school, there was the question about how useful certain subjects and courses were to my career. There are some classes students are happier attending just because the point is clear.

Sometimes we don’t take some things as seriously, because we just don’t see the point. Some of us do not exactly understand why we are to do certain things. I have discovered that not having an answer to the question, Why? can sometimes hinder having answers to other questions like What? When? and How?

 

Not Perfect? So, What’s New?

Handling Not Being Perfect

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Image by Evelyn Olorunfemi

A lot of us would love to think of ourselves as alright, upstanding, and at least agreeable. When we’ve got the basics of good behavior down, it can seem like an achievement. We may even appear ‘qualified’ to give advice to some around us. That’s a good place to be. A place where we can be good examples, and even inspire those around us to do better and be better. But, have you ever been put in a situation where your character is being put to the test. The pressure is on and you’re sort of pushed to the wall. And it’s taking every ounce of discipline to hold your tongue or control your temper? I’d say a lot, if not all of us have. There have been times when we have failed such tests and times when we have passed them. Sometimes we have been so embarrassed at our own reactions and handling of situations.

 So what do we do when it dawns on us that we are not perfect?

We accept it and take it in stride. That’s what we do. The first thing that being aware that we are not perfect should do for us is take away pride. Being aware that we are not perfect should bring us to a place of learning where we begin to learn from and through the situations we find ourselves in.

Not being perfect is certainly not an excuse to be lazy about things, whether it’s relationships, family, marriage, school, work, business and so on. It should simply be a motivation to improve. Remember that old saying, There’s always room for improvement? Well, that room can always be furnished by learning. We should be learners. The more room there is for improvement, the more we need to learn.

The more room there is for improvement, the more we need to learn.

Love’s Twenty-Twenty Vision

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   Image by Evelyn Olorunfemi 

How do we handle the faults we see in those we love? 

So much can be said and has been said about love. Many songs, movies and stories exist concerning the subject. Love has been qualified as many things, seeing as it comes into play in families, friendships, dating and so on. There have been times when love has been described as unable to see the faults of it object. Yes, it has a way of making us see the best in the ones we love. Even so, I also believe that love sees the ones we love very clearly.

In fact, love for a person can make us notice details about them that we would normally not notice. There are relationships that have lasted ages, within which almost every conceivable fault of the parties involved has been revealed. Yet these relationships are going strong.

I don’t believe that lasting relationships happen just because the people involved can’t see the wrongs of the other person. I believe we can see what’s wrong as well as what’s right. I believe that a real relationship has transparency and honesty. If that person we love needs correction, we give it. If we need correction, they give it. We don’t pretend that wrong is right just because someone we love is doing it. We are blessed when we are surrounded by people who can be honest with us. If nobody can look at us when we’re wrong and say ‘That wasn’t cool, ‘ then that can’t be good for us or the people we love. And that relationship may end up being one sided and full of underlying resentment.

Even in one sided relationships, where one person is giving 70% and the other is giving 30%. If real love is propelling the person giving 70%, then that person is showing love inspite of what he or she can see. True love doesn’t act because it can’t see. True love acts inspite of what it can see.

On the other hand. What can we learn by observing the relationships of people whom we may say are in unhealthy relationships? Relationships in which all signs pointed to the fact that it was leading to something really bad. Blaming love for not seeing what was wrong, might not always be a viable reason. This is because sometimes the signs can be quite clear. Adequate attention may not have been paid to the signs at the time. Maybe it was wrong advice. Maybe the relationship was too much fun. Maybe there was the fear of letting go. Maybe the person was fleeing from lonliness. Many reasons contribute to rushed and carelessly entered relationships.

Love sees the truth. If we truly love that person, we will see both the good and the bad side of them. Love may choose to overlook some things. But it definitely sees them.

Love may choose to overlook some things, but it definitely sees them.

Organizing People

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Image by Evelyn Olorunfemi

Can we become too organized for our own good?

Being organized has always been a welcome trait in any sphere of life. Organization benefits us in the workplace, at school, in the home, in relationships, and so on. It puts you one up on others who are not as organized, or who are outrightly disorganized. There are perks that come with being organized, such as: saving time, using your energy in more productive ways instead of just being busy, being able to invest more of your time into things that truly matter, like your family, and the list goes on.

Being disorganized has cost some people a lot in different ways. It has cost people jobs, business opportunities, relationship opportunities, money, friendships, marriages etc. So there are definitely important emotional, physical and even spiritual gains to be enjoyed from being organized.

However, what happens when one becomes too organized? And is there such a thing? I believe there is such a thing. And here’s what I believe happens when one becomes too organized.

In this modernized and busy world that we live in, everything seems  to need organizing. Even relationships seem to need it because we have technology helping us connect with so many people and so many opportunities at one time. We need to prioritize our relationships, to know which ones need more of our attention and which ones need less. With all we have to deal with, it is possible to get carried away and become obsessive about organization.

If we become  too organized, there’s almost no room for the imperfect. Everything has to fit in like a perfectly arranged jigsaw puzzle. Everyone and everything has got to fit in our nice little mold. And anyone who doesn’t, we organize right out of our lives. There are sometimes when a person in our lives ought to be there  but we don’t allow them because we have allowed excessive organization. There are some people who work with us but we stifle their creativity and input because of our organization.

We even make the mistake of keeping out the people who should be in and bringing in people who should be out. We take someone who ought to be here and place them way over there. And while we feel we are putting things in their proper order, in the long run such moves don’t profit us and possibly hurt the other person.

Sometimes too much organization can keep people from expressing themselves freely to us. Sometimes just approaching us can be a major issue. Should we be so organized that we keep certain people from being who they should to be in our lives, whether it’s family, friends, colleagues, employees, employers and even mentors? We can be organized. But we should avoid being so organized that we miss the whole point.

 

So Charming: Charisma vs. Character

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 Picture Illustration by Eric Olorunfemi

 

From interacting with different people over the years, I have discovered the reason some heartbreaks happen. See, there’s a tendency to fall for the charm, that oomph, the allure that makes a person so attractive and fun to be around. It’s that thing that makes us say, ‘there’s just something special about that person.’ Another word for it is charisma. It’s when a person has that special something that attracts people to them.

Most of the time, people with charisma need not exert too much effort to attract people to themselves. It’s a blessing, a gift. The problem comes when there’s no good character to back that gift up. As a result, being around that person may be entertaining, exciting, a total blast, but when it comes to the part of the relationship that truly matters, the person almost always disappoints. This covers all kinds of relationships, from work, to friends, to romantic relationships.

I believe that charisma is a gift from God. I also believe it should be laid on a foundation of good character so we don’t attract people just to hurt them. Charisma may attract the people, but it’s the old and tested, sometimes boring, elements of good character (like integrity, reliability, trustworthiness) that will keep the people with you. We must never assume that charisma makes up for bad character. It is true that we are not perfect and we must learn to give room for those imperfections. However, imperfection should also not be used as a license to be careless with the feelings of others.

I have interacted with people who possess both charisma and good character and find it refreshingly different from those who rely solely on charm and wit. Relating with the latter can be full of inconsistency which leads to disappointment, which leads to frustration, which leads to resentment, which leads to anger, which leads to heartbreak.

A very important lesson I’ve learned is that I am not an island and interacting with people is essential on this journey. Since we must interact with people, we must do it with wisdom. We must calmly observe the person so we can tell if we are being taken on a meaningless joyride or this person is genuinely there for us.

A Social Life

I recently experienced something that sent me on a path of meditation which brought about this post.

In my interactions with people, I have made some interesting findings. I have discovered that there are intricacies and dynamics that come with this thing we call a social life. In observing this social life, I have come to find out that the ol’ saying ‘No man is an island,’ is actually true. Whether you’re an introverted person or an extrovert, whether you’re the life of the party, or you’re the one who hides in the corner watching everybody else. We need people in our lives. We need people to keep us company. We need people to help us with accomplishing our goals. We need people to buy our products.  We need people to build a family with. We just need people.

Even if you are the shyest, most timid person, you can’t escape people because, let’s face it—people are everywhere. So the sooner we find a way to deal with people, the better. If you are the sensitive, introverted type, then it takes extra effort to build a social life that you are at least comfortable with.

In my quest to build a social life, I have discovered that people expect certain things. For one thing, they want me to be interested. You can’t be the one who sits away from everybody else and expect people to be endeared to you. Sitting in my own corner all the time makes others feel like I am exempting myself from whatever everybody else is sharing and enjoying together.

Another thing I discovered is that I have to be able to take a joke, to laugh at myself sometimes. People love a good laugh. Taking things so seriously all the time ain’t gonna cut it.

Also in times like ours, a smartphone with all the social platforms on it will go a long way, since there seems to have been a replacement for face to face conversations with messages on the phone.  If you don’t want to be completely cut off, you gotta get the hang of that too.  And the list goes on.

But in all these dynamics; the messaging, the blending, the joking and laughing, I believe we need to understand the motive behind what we are doing. Are we building true relationships and friendships, or are we building ‘a social life’? We have people who laugh with us and sometimes even chat on the phone with us, but that’s where it stops. It just doesn’t feel real. Sometimes, in the name of having a social life, we pretend to be what we are not, we even pretend to like what we don’t, just so we can have a certain person around us. That means the other person’s befriending the wrong person. Are we building true friendships where we can really be honest with each other in a respectful way?

I have come to see that there are times when the so called social life can get really superficial, and does not impact our lives in a true way. It only keeps us busy. In this life, we need to have people who have truly got our back, not just someone to exchange messages with on the phone. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with chatting on the phone. I’ve had to learn that too. Sometimes chatting helps cover the distance when your friend is staying far from you. So you don’t feel like they’re so far away. I only mean that If I’m chatting with my friend on the phone, I’d  like to be sure that I am chatting with my actual friend. I want the one I am chatting with to be a friend I am already building a real friendship with. Shouldn’t the technology be an aid, and not the centre of our relationships?  Which do we want more? A social life or genuine relationships?

I don’t care what people think… Or do I?

Hi everyone! Been a long while. Permit me to use that expression. But it really has been a while. Great to share with you again. And here is the subject of my attention.
It is obvious that being different stands you out from the crowd. It makes you stick out like a red rose standing up from among green leaves. But as a result you are separated from the rest of the pack. It can be lonely when you are so glaringly different from others. When everyone else understands each other and you seem to be struggling to be understood and to understand others.

We are not designed to be alone. We want to enjoy the company of other people. Since being different separates us from others, some try to blend in. Like a shape-shifter, changing color and shape to suit the environment.
While some have resorted to blending in, some have resorted to what I’d like to call the ‘I don’t care’ mode. It is a self-assuring, esteem-boosting stance assumed by those who have refused to blend in. It is about being, and not letting anyone keep you from being. You see, the ‘I don’t care’ mode goes like this; ‘This is who I am. This is how I do things. Take it or leave it. I will not change for you. I will not stop because of you. Who do you think you are? Who are you to judge me? I don’t care what you have to say. Your opinion does not matter.’ You get the picture.

I have come to realize though that the ‘I don’t care’ phrase is used in a variety of ways. For some, it is a shield, a wall to keep other people from knowing the effect they have. For some it is an excuse to misbehave and anyone who seems to be standing in the way of this semblance of freedom is seen as an obstacle, a kill joy, a thorn in the side. And some really do not care. There are several ways to use this phrase.

This causes me to wonder. I know that it is important for me to be confident and not be swayed by the whims of others. I know that there are different motivations behind the opinions people give. Some opinions are expressed out of fear, some out of envy, and some out of one form of insecurity or the other. But I have come to also realize that some opinions actually come from a place of honesty and genuine love. Therefore, when I listen to people’s opinions and advice, regardless of the source or motive, I need to be able to objectively decide whether I want to receive it or discard it. We sometimes look for excuses not to listen to that opinion because it is true. Can’t they say it nicely? Can’t it be done with tact and grace? Newsflash, some of the things we really need to listen to are not spoken with tact at all. In fact, that person might be the rudest person you ever encountered.

So here’s the deal. I don’t have to be intimidated by an opinion, whether the person is right or wrong. Everyone is entitled to his or hers. Instead, I can use the opinions to my advantage. The one that helps me improve as a person, I can accept. The one of no use to me whatsoever, can remain with the one who has it. Opinions do not need to be worshiped. They just need to be handled objectively.

We can’t put our focus on the opinions of others or we become people-pleasers. However, if nobody but you understands what you are doing all of the time, there might be need to balance it out. Fighting all the time to prove that we don’t care might just be proof that we do care.