Thursday, 19 May 2016

Let go of the steam - Forgive!

Resentment is like a glass of poison that a man drinks; then he sits down and waits for his enemy to die.

“To err is human but to forgive divine” and you probably believe it is true just like I do. It can either be taken to mean it is normal for a man to err but to forgive means operating in the divine or only the divine can forgive. I may not know what it exactly means but I do know that children have it and we need it.

Some days back, on a sunny afternoon, as I walked down the road that leads to my house, I came by two boys, roughly the age of seven. Both had locally made toys in the form of cars which they pulled with a string behind them. One boy’s toy car lost a wheel and he struggled to fix it. The other in a bid to keep their fun rolling decided to give a helping hand. The first refused and pushed him away. “Ah, what a naughty boy”, I thought, “He deserves no help!” The second boy felt the same (or so I thought) and began to walk away. The boy with the broken toy tried futilely to fix the wheel. It did not take long for him to realize that he needed help. He apologized immediately and asked for help – the same help he had earlier rejected. “No way!” the judge in my head gave verdict, “here is the chance for full pay back.” But to my shame, the first boy who was by now quite a distance away, turned and helped repair the broken wheel of his friend.

I really could not believe it. With kids it seems there will always be a “happily ever after” end to a story. How was it so easy for this kid to forgive and forget? As much as my experience has shown me, it is a difficult thing to forgive. Forgetting is a completely different ballgame. That seven-year-old taught me otherwise.

Forgiveness is a beautiful virtue that the world no longer teaches. Rarely will you hear a public speaker say things like forgive your neighbor. It is one of the virtues that tag people as “weak”. And who wants to be weak? We don’t want to forgive when wronged and funny enough no one is even asking for forgiveness. No one cares if you forgive or not. It is a wild world we live in, a world of vendettas (bloody or not). Consider the words of George Herbert, “He who cannot forgive breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass.” If peradventure you want to exercise this virtue here are some tips:

·        Make room for people to fail. Human beings will always be human beings and part of being a human is that we will never be perfect. Since we will wrong each other, it is important that we learn to give each other that room to fail. After all, we are humans!

·        Let go of your pride. Some times we don't forgive because we feel to proud to be on the losing side of an argument or a business deal or even of a simple decision. This winner-loser mindset robs us of our enjoyment of life and increases our pride quotient. Let go of some pride. You, yes YOU can lose at somethings. If you'll keep this in mind you'll suddenly realize that there wasn't any reason to fear losing in the first place.

·        Don’t deny the hurt. Sometimes we simply deny that we have been hurt by someone else and that is the reason we remain hurt. You must learn to accept the fact that you have been hurt if you will forgive. Think about it, what is there to forgive if you say you weren't hurt? Accept and admit being hurt if you really want to forgive the person that hurt you.

·        Learn to forgive yourself also. Sometimes the person that needs forgiveness from me is ME. We exhibit unforgiveness towards ourselves even as much as we exhibit it towards others. You really want to learn to forgive? begin with yourself. Forgive yourself for doing things you promised you would never do again. 

t      The fact is that every single one of us can forgive if we follow the steps outlined above. 

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

How to Get Out Of Debt

I received a question that said: Hello Yusuf, I work with the state government and my salary is 30,000 monthly. The problem is that I am always in debt. At the moment I owe over 200,000. I have been embarrassed several times and I usually simply borrow from one person to pay the other. Please help me. - John B.

My answer was: 

Debt is a very difficult situation to find yourself in. I have battled with debt and paying off many times and so I connect with what you are passing through. Many times I felt like a slave to the people I owed because even when I earn something little I remember that I was owing someone. In my situation I followed some simple steps that I hope will help you also just as they helped me to get out of debt. By the way, I use the acronym GOOD to help me remember. It simply means; Get Out Of Debt. G for get, O for Out, another O for Of, and D for debt. So whenever you forget remember to do the GOOD thing and get out of debt!

The steps are simple. 

1. I made a firm commitment to get out of debt. I didn’t just want to be debt free or even say I will be debt free but I made a commitment to it. A commitment is greater than mere desire to be debt free. It was a desperate craving for me. Being debt free was like a river of flowing water in the middle of a desert for me. So, make a commitment and write it down as a goal. Remember that a goal must be realistic. This means that you must be able to believe you can achieve it. For example, don’t say you will pay off your debt in one month. In your case that will not be realistic because as you said you earn 30,000. Also, ensure your goal has a timeframe. State clearly when you will be debt free. If you say you will be debt free one day you may never be debt free. But when you set a realistic timeframe then you will stand higher chances of attaining your goal.

2. Spend less than you want to spend. I had to take the difficult step of spending less than I desired to spend. Our tendency is usually to spend more than we can or everything we can. Both of these is a very bad thing to do if you will be debt free. When I have one thousand Naira with me I make sure I never spend it all. When you begin this it will be difficult but after some time you will adjust.

3. don’t buy brand new things. This will sound funny to some people but I often resort to this when I need to pay off debts. I don’t buy what I cannot afford even if I have the money to do it. technically, when I have money but am in debt I actually don’t have the money because it belongs to someone else. So instead of buying a phone for 30,000 I will buy the fairly used for 15,000. This way I save 15,000. Rather than buy a shirt for 5,000 I will buy a fairly used one for 2,000. All this is to buy me time until I pay off my debt.

4. buy things off season. What I mean by this is that you should not buy things when they are HOT in sale. Buy them when no other person wants to buy them. Delay buying an air conditioner or fan until the harmattan season. For example, a small room warmer, which normally costs 2,500 during the hot season, costs 9.000 during harmattan. So, delay until it is off the season it is desperately needed then take some money and buy it cheap.

5. don’t buy under pressure. Whenever something suddenly comes on you and requires that you pay immediately, practice stepping out of the environment and ask for some time. Simply say you want to think or that you don’t have the money with you at the moment to pay. This technique will save you thousands of naira if you use it. most spending decisions we make under pressure are the wrong decisions. Some time ago some health officers came to my work place and made a tremendous big deal over Hepatitis B and C and how it can be contracted by sharing clippers. They concluded by presenting us with clippers for sale at 4,000. Although they were right with their information, they took advantage of the duress they placed us in. under the pressure of not wanting to contract Hepatitis and eventually die I coughed out 4,000 from money that didn’t belong to me and bought the clipper. When I got home I realized that the market value of the clipper was actually 1,900. When my wife asked how much I bought it I told her we it was given to us for free. I felt duped but only had myself to blame because I knew that I shouldn’t have bought under pressure.

6. call your debtors and explain. This is one step many people fail in. the truth is that the pressure you are under because of your debts will be greatly reduced when you know your lenders aren’t angry with you. What most people do when they are in debt is stay as far away as possible from their lenders but when you keep in touch you are helping yourself. On the one hand your lender will know you have not forgotten and are willing to pay. On the other hand you buy yourself the much needed time to settle and pay gradually.

7. create a spending plan. Ok, so the “b” word has to fit in at some point. In truth, a budget is just a spending plan. It will help you stay on the straight and narrow with your current debt payments, or your new accelerated payments. A spending plan is something you lay out to make sure that you are spending less than you earn.
Some people say that they don’t like budgets, but have these people ever tried one? Better yet, if you've lived all this time without a budget, how do you know you won't like having one? After trying a realistic budget on for size, most people agree that the alternative—being in debt—is much worse.
The sooner you start dealing with your debt, the sooner you'll have it paid off. The next few years will pass whether you pay it off or not, so start by trying at least one or two of these strategies. You've really got nothing to lose!
If you need help getting started with a plan, or if you're not sure if your budget is realistic, contact me for a confidential appointment. My appointments are either over the phone or preferably through emails. I will review your whole situation with you and then suggest options to help you reach your goals. The earlier you contact me, the more options you'll have. 

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

First Step to Learning from YOUR Failings

The first step towards learning from a failing is to acknowledge it and take responsibility for it. This sounds like the most logical thing to do when you have failed, simply acknowledge and take responsibility, but the reverse in the case in society. Have you met a student who passed an examination with flying colours? He typically will say of his result when he is asked that, “I scored 5 As and 3 Bs!” more often than not he will speak with a zest that tells you he is proud of his accomplishment. In the same vein ask a student who performed woefully in the same examination and you will hear something like, “They gave me 3 Ds and 4 Fs.” I want you to note the choice and usage of words here. The student who did well takes responsibility for his performance but the other who failed deflects responsibility and attaches it to the examination body. They failed him! This is a simplistic example but goes to buttress the point.

What is your attitude towards your failings? Do you quickly acknowledge that you have failed and take responsibility for it or do you deflect it to just about anybody who you can deflect it to? If you search for such escape routes you will find many – your spouse, children, religion, school, economy, environment, the weather, or even God. The problem with taking these escape routes is that they ensure you do not leave your condition. You will continue to remain in the rot because if it isn’t your fault that you failed then you will wait for the person or circumstance whose fault it is to correct itself or the condition for you.

If on the other hand you are set on a progressive course in life, you will acknowledge that YOU failed and take full responsibility for YOUR failing. Do not underestimate the importance of taking responsibility when it comes to your failings. As in all cases of taking responsibility, you suddenly feel empowered to succeed when next you do the same venture. Taking responsibility gives you the following advantages:

·        Shows you and people around you that you and you alone is in control of your life.
·        Impresses upon people that you are a responsible person.
·        Increases public opinion of you.
·        Enhances your personal sense of self worth.
·        Reduces fear of failing in the same and other ventures.
·        Makes you confident of the fact that you aren’t a passive failure
·        Increases your confidence of trying the same thing again and even trying other things.
·        Increases your chances of success in life.

Never be afraid of taking responsibility for your failings. Imagine losing these benefits simply because you aren’t able to acknowledge a failing and accept responsibility for it. 

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Second Step to Learning from Your Failings

The second and final step towards learning from your failings is the art of scrutinizing the reasons for failing deeply. I call it an art because I really consider it to be such. To explain my statement I’ll like to teach you about a method of questioning invented by the Japanese. It is called the “Five Whys Method.” It is a question-asking technique used to explore the cause and effect relationships underlying a particular problem. The primary goal of the technique is to determine the root cause of a defect or problem. It is important to remember that the answer to each question then forms the basis of the next question. Let me give you an example.

Assuming you have identified a nagging problem that although you perform satisfactorily in your examinations, you don't score higher than a C. 

You then ask yourself:
Why don't score better grades than Cs?” This is the first why. It may have an answer that goes thus: Because my tests and assignment scores are always low.

Then you proceed to the second why:
Why are my test and assignment scores always low?”
To this question your answer may be:
Because I don't take my academics seriously until a few weeks to the examinations.

And then the third why:
Why don't I take my academics seriously until a few weeks to the examinations?”
Because I perpetually resume late to school.

Fourth why:
Why do I perpetually resume late?
Because I depend on my poor mother for pocket money.

Why do I depend on my mother for pocket money?
Because, unlike other folks my age, I don't work during the holidays.

Now, note that the Fifth why is the root cause. At this point you stop and earmark a counter-measure. A counter-measure for this example may be: “I need to ensure that I take up a part-time job during the next holiday so I can earn and save some pocket money for school.

If you follow this simple technique it will most certainly help you probe your way to the root cause of any problem.

I hope I succeeded in showing you ways to learn from every failing. Remember, failing is a natural happening in the path of success. A failure is a person who sits back and accepts a failing as his final destination!

Fear of Failing

Many of us are afraid of failing, at least some of the time. But atychiphobia, which is fear of failure, is when we allow that fear to stop us doing the things that can move us forward to achieve our goals.
Fear of failure can be linked to many causes. For instance, I remember running away from a debate competition which I was one of the favorites to clinch in primary school because my father was not supportive of the idea. At that time – for some reason I couldn’t explain – he felt I didn’t have what it takes to deliver in a competitive debate. Because of his reaction, I developed a grave fear of failure attached to any opportunity to speak in front of a crowd. I carried those negative feelings into adulthood but was lucky enough to overcome them.
Experiencing a traumatic event at some point in your life can also be a cause. For example, say that several years ago you gave an important presentation in front of a large group, and you did very poorly. The experience might have been so terrible that you became afraid of failing in other things. And you carry that fear even now, years later.
Some signs that you are afraid to fail in your endeavors and in life include:
·        A reluctance to leave your comfort zone and try new things. (explain briefly)
·     Self-sabotage – for example, procrastination, excessive anxiety, or a failure to follow through with goals.
·    Low self-esteem – commonly using negative statements such as "I'll never be good enough to make the examination," or "I'm not smart enough to get on that team," are proves that you have low self esteem.
·    Perfectionism – A willingness to try only those things that you know you'll finish perfectly and successfully. Also it shows in an attitude that isn’t willing to accept any error or imperfection in your activities.

It's almost impossible to go through life without experiencing some kind of failure. People who dare to live failure-free lives live so cautiously that they amount to nothing. In effect, they're not really living at all.
The wonderful thing about failure is that it's entirely up to us to decide how to look at it.

We can choose to see failure as "the end of the world," or as proof of just how inadequate we are. Or, we can look at failure as the incredible learning experience that it often is. Every time we fail at something, we can choose to look for the lesson we're meant to learn. These lessons are very important; they're how we grow, and how we keep from making that same mistake again. Failures stop us only if we let them.