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Where is it ?

Do you ever feel incomplete? Like something is missing? It could be in relationships, career-wise, financially, and so on. Is that a good or a bad thing? As it happens it depends on perspective. If viewed like loss inducing it is undesirable. If viewed like a growth demand most desirable. How would you want to view it? Interestingly one has to discover for themselves what the gaps mean. Most times we just go through the motions of living and it is so much easier to label the missing gap and move on. The label would most likely be undesirable and it would most likely be centered on the other person. If it is trouble in the relationship the label would be something like they are insensitive to your needs. They are the problem. The more difficult thing is to see it as a growth opportunity. Question is, what am I growing into? It is much harder to appropriately unwrap this question. If it manifests as trouble in a relationship one would ask themselves why they are unable to connect well with the other person. The question would be what am I lacking to meaningfully participate in this relationship. I am moving away from the easy way of living and hopefully adopting the way few use that yields great returns. We are all endowed with means to experience the missing gaps in our lives and I find it intriguing that the experience is rarely pleasant. Envy, jealousy, lust, anger, hatred, fear, confusion, etc Are these feelings good or bad? It all depends on you. However, if perceived as good then one can move to the next step. What can I learn from this? What do I need to grow into? Assuming it is envy. You check someone’s social media update and observe a picture of them at a tropical holiday destination with envy. ‘It should be me on holiday,’ you tell yourself. All this could be revealing to you that traveling is something you like doing. What is stopping you from traveling? That is what you need to grow out of and make your desire a reality. How can one tell if the orientation to make a decision is good? It has to meet only 2 criteria. It satisfies your desire as well as promotes the well being of another person. So yes, the means are as important as the end. If by solving your quest for ‘it’ meets these criteria that is adequate. Short disclaimer here, we are always growing so the quest for ‘it’ is never-ending. Just when you settle down to enjoy ‘it’ then you feel the pull to grow. The demand for each pull is different and the skill set to progress may be different. What one needs is the perspective that when we feel empty, lonely, etc it is an opportunity to establish what it means so that we introduce the appropriate solution.

Slavery

Slavery is a word we easily associate with the past. It seems like something that was happening a long time ago. What defines a slave? The noun meaning is (especially in the past) a person who is the legal property of another and is forced to obey them. The verb means work excessively hard. When one gets into a job and signs a contract what does it mean? Largely signing away one’s rights with stipulated conditions. Accepting to become legally accountable to the employer and in so doing work excessively hard. What bell is this ringing? If it sounds like an alarm it could be the right one. Who does not want to be in control of their financial life sustainably? We all want to, but for some reason have to rely on someone/thing else for this. It seems so hard to get out of this dependence. Interestingly slavery as we know it continues in some countries either covertly or overtly. However, it also goes under the guise of being employed. This is a sanitized form of slavery. It does not seem like slavery but it is. If life cannot continue as it is without it, it is what it is. The bulk of humanity is stuck in this rut and realizing this becomes the first step to getting out of it.

The barriers come down

We are all at crossroads. As an individual and as institutions we are faced with choices we need to make to go forward. Some easy, some not so. What is clear is how much we need each other on all levels. COVID has forced us to think about things we would normally have ignored. With no job or income and the normal life demands requiring resources, what does one do? Some of us are turning to our relatives or even neighbors. Others are turning to the government or other well-placed institutions depending. Some have taken the issue into their own hands and yes petty crime is at an all-time high. There is a good number stuck at home wondering what to do as they have no one they can go to for help. Where are the churches, mosques, and temples? They are nearby and addressing the presented needs regardless of a persons religion. We had real and imagined barriers that have limited what we can access before COVID. Believe it or not the barriers are ‘coming’ down as we watch. People are opening doors to their siblings and or neighbors. Institutions are by and large addressing the needs being presented by those knocking their doors. When we are all affected, humans easily set aside social barriers to cater to the very pressing needs of the other. Your neighbor may be the best option to seek help from at this time. Most creditors to whom we owe money have revealed their human face and given relief in cash and or kind. We cannot thank all these people enough. We all hope the COVID pressure will reduce as it seems the situation is not sustainable. Fortunately, the givers also know it is only a matter of time before they too need something. One may not be in need financially but humans need various things like being part of a community, family, friends, purpose and the list is endless. There are people one could never have imagined having a conversation with yet it is now happening. We all need reassurance that it will pass and we will be fine. We do not care about who the reassurance is coming from. So either the barriers are coming down or we are finding ways past them. These barriers are a minor limitation to accessing what we need for today and thank God they are going. We are enjoying resources we would not have imagined before. There are so many things to be thankful for. That is what is living is all about. With no barriers, we can access each other’s resources as everyone has more than they need.

By their fruit

There are issues we are socialized to avoid as they easily polarize and irreparably fracture relationships. Humans have a way of wanting to be associated with certain things and this could present in various ways. Religion, politics, nationality, age, music, fashion, and the list is endless. Religion could easily be at the top of the list depending on where you come from. What makes a human most attractive to others is how well they meet or even surpass the needs of those around them. This without undue influence of course. It does not matter whether the human is like ‘us’ or not. James was a friend to people of different religions. He was welcome in their homes and he too opened his home to their families. James saw deep into the person beyond religion and found they are all the same inside. We thrive in a love laden environment. Regardless of religion, love is at the core of being human. What love produces draws humans to each other. Love promotes all the good things. Friendship, generosity, concern, and provision to others and so on. What religion believes otherwise? Religion most times tends to promote human interests, focused on the group. Love has a way of overlooking differences and recognizes how similar human needs are. Religion is superficial, love however is deep. Love keeps producing that which is freely shared. This then begs the question, in most religions are there people that love? The obvious answer is yes. Some people draw others to themselves because they are drawn to others by love. Love transcends religion and is the good ground via which good fruit is borne.

Without effort

Eric was good at what he did. He was a dancer that moved without struggling and made it look so easy yet so beautiful. He mainly danced to hip hop music but was also great at the modern dance. A wonder to behold as he moved to the rhythm performing fantastic moves defying gravity and imagination. When dancing his face revealed both peace and joy. How did Eric get to such a fantastic level of prowess? Eric first interacted with dance when he watched a dance competition on TV which completely blew his mind. He had never seen such dancing before in his life. His mum noted he was spending time trying to imitate the dancers. She enrolled him in a dance school for teens to study modern dance. He was overjoyed and took it up wholeheartedly. It was not long before he was being offered small parts in the school’s dance presentations every year despite being so new at it. Dancing became a big item in Erics’ life. It is all he ever wanted to do and he shone at it. He was a dancer long before he saw the dance competition and the school only enabled him to get in touch with the person inside. He was able to tirelessly dance the whole day. He has since become a well sought out dancer as well as a dance teacher. Which begs the question, why are many unable to lead such an enchanted life? We see Eric identifying his passion early. This may not be so for most people, who drift through life without knowing. Passion is what keeps the fire of life going, ensuring one does not burn out. We also see him learning the art, which in the real sense was the process of purifying the dancer in him. So to some extent, it is important to undertake training, to go to school, become an apprentice, etc to allow the inner man to emerge. That inner man is the real you, unashamed to be. Being yourself is the easiest way to live and that without effort. The real you brings peace and joy to those around you. People will be inspired to be themselves when they encounter the real you.

Destination to Journey

When Andy was young the outcome seemed to be the goal. What he did in between in the quest to achieve seemed unimportant. I guess that is why he usually felt out of time, not good enough, among many negative aspects. If the outcome was not as per expectation the heat coming from his parents, his teachers or even peers made him feel like literally burying his head in the sand. This formed the basis for analyzing success. The outcome has to be as per expectations, however high. This led to him believing that the end does justify the means. Getting to the destination is more important than the journey that moves the person toward the goal. This outlook caused him to ignore key aspects of the process that give it value almost equal to the destination. In the beginning one knows very little about the goal but gradually increases knowledge, understanding and hopefully achieves mastery toward the end. The process allows one to interact with various interesting people that make the process pleasant or otherwise. The environment of the journey can be awesome if one takes time to observe. The time it takes from the beginning varies depending on the value we attach to either the journey or destination. Those that value both get to the end of the journey feeling pleased with it all. When Andy focused on the destination he would achieve and still feel empty. When he began to enjoy the process he discovered when he achieved the goal he was quite fulfilled. Incidentally, there were times he did not get to the goal, but because he drew value from the process he was able to learn what he required to reconfigure his next approach for a better outcome. For there to be a wholesome appreciation of the achievement process is key. Andy discovered this with time. It is not apparent when one starts but becomes so as one interacts with the journey elements. One can get there faster by closely working with those elements available on the journey. Andy found that people were very good at enabling one to rest, provide provisions for the journey, point one in the right direction, and even as travel companions. Before he would just whiz past them as he went toward the goal. The available resources used wisely are great enablers. Imagine starting a journey with money with no intention of spending any. How far will you go? By using money well one can achieve much. Andy is very persuasive and with this was able to get people to help him for free to get to where he wanted. That is a resource. As one puts resources to work one begins to see their real value. It is better to use your resources to progress than to stay stuck with the imagination that one has stored value. Yes, getting to the desired destination is great, and equally great is a well-walked journey.

Power

Life has its ups and downs. The downs can be unpleasant. Picture Andy who has been working in a large international blue-chip corporation as a mid-level manager for 7 years. He joined in an entry-level management role and 2 years later was promoted to the present level. At this point, he feels as if his income is inadequate and promotion is not forthcoming. Seemingly the working days are long and dreary. Andy puts in the hours and goes out of his way to do more and deliver superb work to no avail. The years’ appraisal rates him highly but this does not translate to more money or point to an opportunity for promotion. He has reached his apex as far as career is concerned. What does one do when life seems so bleak? Perspective has a way of determining what possibilities are visible. It is possible to seem like there are no options other than persevere in dark times. Yet we know that this story can have a different ending. How does one change their perspective? There are many ways of doing it. Andy feels powerless about the circumstances around his life. He feels like he is being taken for a ride in which he is uncomfortable. He needs to step aside and observe his life as it plods along. He sees what is happening and asks himself whether this is all there is to it. He notices that there are other institutions where he could offer his services and wonders why he has never thought of doing so? He also notes some colleagues have small ventures they run to complement their employment. Others have gone back to school to increase their capacity and possibly position themselves for different opportunities. Andy explored why he had not thought of these before, in the process he discovered it was fear. Fear of casting his net into the unknown, fear of the implications of producing less work, and so on. He was unable to see things from a different perspective because of fear. Fear caused him to shed the power he had to take responsibility for his life. He took stock of his situation and saw it was grim but was now aware that there was something he could do to make it better. They said where there is a will there is a way for a reason. Andy wanted to be applied at a higher level, awareness was seeping in that fear was his main hurdle to getting to where he wanted. Fear had taken his power. To get his power back he had to take fear by the horns. Andy decided to start applying for other job opportunities and thus his power started to return. Andy became aware that he is responsible for the destination of his life’s journey and if he is stuck he has the power to take action. What has taken your power, or are we just content to lead a life of complaining, anxiety, and frustration?

Me?Money?

Money is an important part of life. So much so that it is easy to want more of it. Is the pursuit of money a worthwhile endeavor? In the beginning, it looks like it is. If you want to establish the truth find out from those at the other end. Those that succeeded in the journey making loads of it. When did you see people giving away money (philanthropy)? Why spend your life making it only to give it away? I want to bet this is because as one grows older the thought of death becomes quite prominent. Imagine dying only to leave all that wealth in a bank account. It will indeed have been a meaningless quest. Yes, money is important up to a certain point, beyond which it becomes pointless. For as long as money enables us to positively impact oneself as well as others it is important. After that, it can be a burden if one is not careful. How can you tell someone loving, caring, and so on? By how they use their money. Do you ever get people requesting you to lend them money? It is not possible to be loving and caring, then withhold your money in the same breath. There are people with a lot of money who do not get borrowers. Essentially money accentuates who we are. If you are wise, foolish, caring, industrious and so on, this will be made even more clear by the direction you give money. The amount of money one has does not need to determine the life one leads. Some people live a charmed life, they use what ‘little’ money they have to express who they are. An artist at heart will use the money they have to improve their craft. Even without money, they will find a way to solve the challenges they face along the way. They derive such pleasure from this pursuit that making money from their craft is a by-product. The key goal is to craft. I have heard it said if you find something you love doing you will never work a day in your life. This translates to ensuring you know yourself and apply your talents wherever you find yourself. Many people are afraid of being themselves. This means the impact you have around you is minimal. Can I be myself where I am (you ask)? Why are you there then? That is hell on earth if you stifle the real you. Wisdom dictates that there is a space given wherever you are to be you. It may be small in the beginning but may well expand as you go along. It will be interesting to see where else being you can be of value. For a long time, the corporate world did not tolerate fun. Some people are hilarious and this was hell for them while working. However, some dared to ‘improve’ their presentations, putting together reports that were informative but also quite funny. People have begun to look forward to meetings and even training. Corporate meetings and training can drain the life out of someone if no life is injected into them. Would you believe some people are still employed because they contribute to the tranquility in the workplace and not just because of the great work they are doing. Ever worked in a war zone office? It is disastrous to the psyche. Stress and anxiety can exacerbate any human condition you can think of. Having lots of money won’t make it easier. That is why people work in toxic environments believing money earned is worth the risk. If you wisely get out of the closet and begin to be yourself any environment can slowly begin to be enjoyable. This is because you have something people need and this is what enables you to WOW people. In other words, being yourself enables people to enjoy more of the value that exists in you. We all have value and it may present differently. There is minimal awareness around this precious aspect of the human. It is probably because it is not visible the way money is. We have value in us that outstrips any money and that is what miraculously transforms our lives, something money cannot do.

Love

The present COVID 19 pandemic has pressed the juices out of our systems. Whatever is inside has come out. Those with love have brought it out. Those with fear have brought it out. It is human to contain either of the two. However, those with dark things like fear have a harder time. If we allow fear to roam we shall destroy each other. Fear envelopes everything and allows it to be seen as a sinister thing. Where or how does one get rid of the fear? It starts by acknowledging that it resides inside and being aware when it rears its head. Through different circumstances, fear may have been established inside but it is not a legitimate resident but alien. However, it feels like it is part of the environment. Inside the place that fear resides exists love which is covered and most times cannot be seen. If love were to manifest it would cause fear to disappear. We need to allow the love of others into our lives as well as allow the love that already exists inside to manifest. This can take time to happen but it is possible if we are looking out for it. Giving promotes the love process out/in. When someone appreciates what you have done, it can light up the darkness inside or can allow the light of love inside to shine or both. I guess that is why people who are always giving from the heart just keep giving. Hence the love keeps growing. We have a choice, to nurture fear or work for love. So I have fear inside flowing out, I need to ask myself the question. Which of the two has sustainable benefits? It is now up to you to choose. I hope you choose the more difficult but marvelous option. Love conquers all. Imagine being a conqueror!

The jigsaw life

Life is like a jigsaw puzzle. Every bit is necessary, though not every bit is important. Before starting the puzzle, it is not possible to figure out what it is. Most come with a picture to clue you in. In the beginning, it is still hard to tell that the pieces and bits will form the picture. As you fit the bits and pieces it slowly starts to resemble the picture. Assuming we are talking about a 3,000 piece jigsaw, the progress can be slow. However, people that keep doing the puzzles keep getting better at it. There are mental hurdles one has to learn to overcome to be jigsawing consistently. They are as follows:-

1. Are all the bits and pieces all here?

2. Will I be able to finish this particular puzzle?

3. Will it look as beautiful as the picture?

Once it gets embedded in the mind that the answer is yes to all the questions above, the puzzle challenge will never end. This is how life is:-

  1. Do I have all I need?
  2. Will I achieve what I need to?
  3. Will it be amazing?

Yes is the answer to all the questions. Remember it takes a little time to get to this space. We are encouraged to keep the jigsawing process going, no matter what. With time everything is important and since you take it as such we enjoy the benefit of the faith. Do you ever look back and wish you had listened to so and so when they told you to wake up early to get hot water in the shower? There are so many things we look down on that we later realize too late after messing up. If we saw life as a jigsaw we would value every bit. This includes the process. What with the clues, discoveries and incremental progress. Can get quite interesting. So it is one jigsaw after the other. Just when you have grasped how to put one together, you need to move to another one that looks pretty hard. With the learned principles to jump the hurdles by saying yes, every jigsaw is finished. Sometimes some jigsaws need another person to help you finish. Sometimes you can finish a jigsaw on your own. We should not get hung on a particular process. All we need to know is that the jigsaw is complete, possible to finish, and will be marvelous once it is done. How this will happen should not be a deal-breaker. Have you seen old folks confronted with a problem? They know it is solvable, so they do not burst veins being anxious or upset. It is usually a matter of when not if. These are jigsaw puzzle solvers. Life is a series of jigsaws, keep doing it and you will get good at it.

Break the glass ceiling

When I got employed years ago one of my goals was career progression, not to make friends. I positioned myself accordingly. My focus was business production so I ensured everything was going to enable achievement of goals. I quickly rose in rank and assigned a critical role. After work, I ensured distance from colleagues by living in a different location. Socializing after work was out of the question. I only attended company functions. In retrospect, it is such a miserable way to live one’s life. The most transient thing in the equation is also the most important. People. The company was there and would be there long after the people have gone. For some reason focus is placed on all the wrong things. Is being promoted is more important than the boss or a colleague? Could achieving a KPI have a higher priority than a neighbor in need? A career progression training having more value than being there for a sick spouse. I have since learned we are here for a very short time. The people are of more value than anything else. They are also the same that will give us access to the most wonderful time whether it is at work or elsewhere. Imagine being with people for most of the day and they add no value to it. Quite unfortunate. Rodney worked at an advertising agency until he resigned. By the time he was leaving he was still in a rented house. He quickly exhausted his employment retirement package. So at an advanced age what was he to do? Meanwhile, most of his former colleagues had their own homes and one or two rental properties at the time of his retirement. The reason was one among them was quite conversant about saving and investment. The colleagues walked the journey together and got to achieve together. Unfortunately, Rodney did not see the value of interacting outside the work front. After all what value were his colleagues able to provide? Regardless of the environment, you may be, the people around you are without a doubt the most important. Yes, more than the institution as at now. The institution will outlive the people, but the people need to take care of themselves before they transit elsewhere. No one remains in the institution. Go out of your way for your boss. Be there for a colleague. Get involved in the varied activities that go on. They may just be the ones that will open doors that you would never have imagined. What would you prefer, break through the glass ceiling, or be invited into the room by people that look forward to your participation and contribution?