BusinessDay

Celebrate yourself

It is important we celebrate our small wins in life as they contribute tremendously to our happiness and do our self-esteem a whole lot of good. There are few things which conduce more to our sense of well-being. Most of us have some so-called “friends” who always find a way to minimize our wins and make them look insignificant. You know, those people who have a penchant for making us feel foolish for making our achievements look like a big deal. My advice to you? Stay clear of such friends. Trust me; you really do not need them. Those who never see anything good in what you do and refuse to allow you to feel good about yourself are not friends. By all means, go ahead and bask in the euphoria of your little victories because consistent small wins will eventually lead to big wins as your confidence to strive for more, higher and bigger, continues to grow. It is instructive to note that at times, all you need to do to achieve these small wins is to be disciplined, consistent and focused; doing the right things at the right time; going for that evening jog even when you do not feel like it; turning that television off and studying for your exams instead. The mere fact that you exercised the will to do that makes you feel good and it boosts your self-confidence. The part self-discipline plays in building up one’s self-esteem cannot be overemphasized. Learning to discipline yourself to do the right thing even when it is not convenient, appealing or expedient, strengthens your character and reinforces your belief in your abilities. For you, your small win could be the first order you get in your newly established business. It may not mean much to a Dangote but for you, it could be a significant step that assures you that you’re moving in the right direction. It may just be the tonic you need.

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I know that for many of us there have been times when we pleasantly surprised ourselves. I remember the first time I was asked to give a talk at a school on Transformational Leadership and the considerable role character plays in achieving good success in life. Anyone who knew me prior to that experience would readily tell you that I’m the last person who would ever volunteer to speak before a large group of people. Like my late dad liked to call himself, with obvious reference to his career path as a civil servant (ubiquitously felt but not seen), I’ve always been more of a “backroom boy” by nature. I’m in my element when left to write; putting my thoughts down in writing and attracting as little attention to myself as possible. But as God would have it, after getting up with much trepidation to deliver my talk on that day, I quickly found myself flowing with the moment. Perhaps made easier because of my intense interest in the topic and my desire to do my bit in guiding our future leaders down the right path, nerves quickly gave way to passion. Even more so, each time I noticed how the faces of the pupils lit up when a point made struck a chord within them. The excitement that comes with gaining new understanding is difficult to describe but it was clearly written all over their faces as they put their hands up, competing to air their newfound knowledge. To put it simply, I totally loved the experience. That was indeed a small but significant win for me as it boosts my confidence to speak publicly to no end. I was chuffed to bits. The last thing I would have wanted at that moment as I celebrated my little victory would have been for a “friend” to minimize my achievement by telling me it’s no big deal. After all, barely a week before then, he was invited to speak before a whole stadium of people and he did so without breaking a sweat, so why am I making noise?

Learning to discipline yourself to do the right thing even when it is not convenient, appealing or expedient, strengthens your character and reinforces your belief in your abilities.

Not all small wins are positive though. Some may make us feel good even while our actions actually destroy the fabrics of decency that should hold our society together. But what, may I ask, is society anyway? The Merriam Webster dictionary provides several definitions of society. One says, “it is an enduring and cooperating social group whose members have developed organized patterns of relationships through interactions with one another.” Of note here is the word “cooperating”. But how cooperative is a community where the next person is always trying to get one up on you? Constantly looking to “chance” you? And that little “victory” of “chancing” someone is what defines his day as a good one! Like someone rightly said, society must include a system of giving and taking relationships, which create reciprocal roles in human life. He went further to insist that there is a difference between a society and a mere aggregate of people. One exemplifies cooperation and harmony which can only lead to progress when it works well but the other is a representation of disparate interests that may never coincide or overlap. The result is chaos, scant regard for the rule of law oftentimes, a “me only” attitude and retarded progress as a group. Even when each individual by his ominous antics believes he is moving ahead, at what cost? Because our behaviour is so perfectly mimicked by others, the only logical result is that we will spend far more time as victims of such behaviour than as victors. The sooner we come to that realization the better because, in an environment where anything goes for one to get ahead, where guile and aggression have been elevated to virtues worthy of celebration, all indeed suffer. Each selfish act ebbs away our fragile sense of humanity while it unravels yet another thread of the civility which should fasten us together; until it can no longer hold. And here we are. Big ups to Edmund Burke who lends me a perfect quote with which to close this discussion: “Society is indeed a contract…it becomes a partnership not only between those who are living but between those who are living, those who are dead and those who are to be born.” If it is only one thing you take away from this article, please let it be this; our actions cannot but have consequences. And at times, it can be a deluge of consequences.

Changing the nation…one mind at a time.

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