Utilizing Your Skills

I had a friend who had German and Spanish parents. They both spoke their different languages to their families and friends. My friend experienced this while growing up and as impressive as it was that he understood both languages, he had difficulty speaking them. He had acquired the knowledge but did not give himself the opportunity to utilize it hence his inability to speak languages he was used to.

Utilization simply means to make practical and effective use of something. It is the ability to use one’s knowledge, skills, talents, expertise effectively and readily in execution or performance. Utilization is important because it equals action, and action is the universal language of success.
Utilization helps you put to practice and master the skills, abilities, or information you already have.

“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do”

While the majority of people have skills, talents, abilities that they developed over time, just a few of them utilize it. In reality, people have information they do not use, skills they are ignorant of, and talents they trivialize. We have people who know a bit of everything but never really a master of anything. This is because they put more effort into acquiring knowledge than they utilize the knowledge they already have one at a time.
Too much information you have these days and still acquire without putting the ones you have to use is a futile effort that materializes to being a jack of all trades, master of none. A term used to reference a person who has dabbled in many skills, rather than gaining expertise by focusing on one.
Success is the maximum utilization of the ability that you have. It is less about how much you know and more about how well you use what you know.

Have you identified your skill, talents, and abilities? How well do you utilize them?
Each of us has unique skills and abilities to contribute to humanity. Despite knowing this, it can be difficult to realize what those skills are and how to use them well. Whether you’re a numbers whiz, you do embroidery, or you excel socially, there are ways to put your skills to use rather than pile them and let them become a waste. Diamonds are attractive because of their appearance and the value they carry. If one discovers acres of diamonds, the person can vastly accumulate great wealth.

The great thing is that we all can find diamonds. They exist everywhere. The surprising thing is that most of the time, they are just close to us. We don’t get to see them because we ignore their existence.
You will need to find out how to find your diamonds that can offer you the wealth you desire. Provided you find the right one, and act on different ways to increase its value. It seems like it’s common knowledge for all of us to use our strengths or talents, but the sad thing is, lots of people still set them aside. They do not see the need to build on any of these skills; rather they go on and acquire little knowledge about other skills. We must realize that knowledge becomes power only if we put it to use.

As we approach 2021, you need to be intentional about utilizing your skills and knowledge. There are skills you have that others are willing to pay for,
information you have that can be impactful to others if shared. These skills and information are such that you can leverage to give yourself a better life.
All the information and skills you have acquired needs to be put to good use.

To be able to utilize your skills, you need to first recognize the skills that you have. Start by creating a list on a piece of paper of what you believe you are good at. Do this by reviewing your current and previous jobs or tasks you have done before that people commended you for including things you naturally excel at. You can have many types of skills and not even know it. Skills aren’t just knowledge but are ways of relating to information and people. Skill types can include technical, transferable, and personal skills. Technical skills are the “how-to’s”, such as fixing or creating things, and administering or following protocols, such as being a mechanic, nurse, or artist. Transferable skills are skills that can help in many situations, such as organization, customer service, teamwork, and leadership, and can be helpful across many professions or activities. Personal skills include being reliable, having initiative, listening to your gut/intuition, and being self-motivated. Reflect on your skills and recognize that you have many skills. Remember how your skills have helped you in the past and brainstorm ways to use your skills.

Secondly, identify which skill you excel more at and passionate about. Identifying your strength, weaknesses, and passion helps you determine which skill -out of your skill box- you could easily build on. Knowing your strengths can be a game-changer for your life and career. Your biggest personal strength would be something that comes very easily for you. Take some time and think about what comes naturally to you. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses gives you a better understanding of yourself and how you function.
Understanding your strengths keeps you ahead in a lot of things. For instance, if you are looking at career options, you would be able to narrow down specific job scopes based on the things you know you are good at.
Knowing what you can excel at enables you to aim higher and achieve much more. Identifying your weaknesses gives you a clearer understanding of things that may be holding you back, and you can then work around finding ways to not let your weaknesses pull you behind.

Also, build a platform where you can express these skills, display the talent, or share the information you excel at. To utilize your skills, you need to create platforms that are easiest for you to share your knowledge with the world. One such platform that can be created at no cost is Social media. Social media is important because it allows you to reach, nurture, and engages with your target audience -no matter their location. When a business can use social media to connect with its audience, it can use social media to generate brand awareness, leads, sales, and revenue. It could give you global recognition for what you do. Leveraging your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms to showcase a piece of art, a song you wrote, a dress you sew, a poem, or content you developed can expose your talent to your community and a global audience.

Acquiring skills and information you do not use is a wasted effort, and anything that is a wasted effort represents wasted time. The best management of our time thus becomes inseparably linked with the best utilization of our efforts.

On Being A Less Judgmental Person

There lived a man by himself who couldn’t see. He was blind. Yet, he carried a lighted lamp with him whenever he went out at night.
One night as he was coming home after having dinner outside, he came across a group of young travelers. They saw that he was blind, yet carrying a lighted lamp. They started passing comments on him and made fun of him. One of them asked him, “Hey Man! You are blind and can’t see anything! Why do you carry the lamp then?!”

The blind man replied, “Yes, unfortunately, I am blind and I can’t see anything but a lighted lamp which I am carrying is for the people like you who can see. You may not see the blind man coming and end up pushing me. That is why I carry a lighted lamp”. The group of travelers felt ashamed and apologized for their behaviors.

Just like these groups of travelers, the majority of people in the world today are judgmental. It is human nature to be. We form lots of harsh and critical opinions about other people and judge them based on that. “Judgmental” is a negative word to describe someone who often rushes to judgment without reason. Mostly, these people operate on opinions and not facts. They make snap decisions about people based on their looks, race, nationality, wealth, job, fame, and even small choices like choosing what to wear.

Being a judgmental person essentially means thinking, speaking, or behaving in a manner that reflects a critical and condemnatory point of view. When we are judgmental, we are critically nitpicking and finding fault with another person, group of people, idea, or situation. In a nutshell, we are seeing through the filter of our black/white beliefs, condemning something or someone as “bad, stupid, unworthy.

There is a big difference between making judgments and being judgmental. Making judgments comes from a balanced and neutral mind. On the other hand, judgmentalism comes from an imbalanced and reactive mind that is seeking to protect itself from being hurt by others. We could, therefore, say that judgmentalism is a defense mechanism.
People are usually judgmental as a defense mechanism to gain and protect their self-worth. They judge people, entertain gossip, and make downward social comparisons to give themselves an ego boost. Judgmental people feel the need to be regarded highly and respected so they will tear everyone else down to push themselves up. It stems from narrow-mindedness.

In Nigeria, judgmentalism is a way of life. Like a culture, we feel it is in our right to judge others based on religion, tribe, sex orientation, and even appearance. For instance, women who wear revealing dresses or can afford a comfortable lifestyle are judged to be prostitutes. Men who keep full or dyed hair are termed a never-do-well. When you appear to be too successful, you are easily misjudged as a fraudster, and when you are having trouble conceiving, it is because you ruptured your womb in abortion during your university days. That is how quickly we make false judgments concerning others in this society.

Think about it for a second: we see someone, and based on their looks or actions, we pass judgment on them. Not good judgment, either. Usually without even knowing the person. And that’s it — that’s usually the extent of our interaction with that person. We don’t make an effort to get to know the person, or understand them, or see whether our judgment was right or not.
And let’s consider what happens when we pass judgment on people we do know. We see something they do, and get angry at it, or disappointed in the person, or think worse of them. We judge, without understanding. And that’s the end of it — we don’t try to find out more, and through communication begin to understand, and through understanding begin to build a bridge between two human beings.

We find it interesting when we make up these baseless opinions about people and it gets better when we can convince others to share in that unrealistic opinion. But, ironically, when you judge another, you don’t define them, you define yourself.

When you judge someone, it affects you more than the other person. It says more about you than the other person. You convey how you perceive the world. It shows the pre-conceptions your mind has. People are judgmental because whatever quality they see in someone else speaks to how they feel about themselves in some way. To a great extent, judgmental actions are a projection of our insecurities.

Judgmental people are very unforgiving. If someone makes a mistake, they will hold them to their mistake forever! Even when the person makes amends, they will never be able to view that person separate from their mistakes. Judgmental people also have amnesia to their own past mistakes and faults. They are delusional and the only thing they care to do is build themselves up by tearing other people down. The journey to being less judgmental is a gradual one. No one wakes up and stops being judgmental overnight, however, there are ways to restrict ourselves from making up opinions about others. First, try to understand people rather than judging them first off. When we judge others, we tend to do so quickly as a result of our beliefs and misconceptions. But jumping to conclusions blinds us, causing us to quickly shut off and ignore the complexity of others. For example, people who are mean, cruel, shallow, untrustworthy, or unfriendly almost always act from some kind of inner pain – usually fear or sadness. By looking beneath the facade and immediate appearance of a person, we often find very human and tragic struggles. This, in turn, helps us to show compassion.

Secondly, practice self-acceptance. Since judgmental actions are a projection of our insecurities, we need to learn to accept ourselves for the good, bad, and ugly that we are. That way, we will become less critical of others as well. Self-acceptance is about honoring and allowing space for all that it means to be human. Instead of putting yourself up to high standards, self-acceptance is about realistically looking at yourself, understanding why you are the way you are, and embracing who you are at a core level. This way, you can easily accept others without judging them as well.

Also, Notice when you are judging others. If you find yourself being judgmental, stop yourself. This takes a greater awareness than we usually have, so the first step (and an important one) is to observe your thoughts for a few days, trying to notice when you’re being judgmental. This can be a difficult step. Remind yourself to observe. Once you’re more aware, you can then stop yourself when you feel yourself being judgmental. Rather than being judgmental, always stay curious.

Managing Workplace Politics

Sarah walked into the conference room with her report. Her boss had praised the strategy she had developed for the brand she was working on. It was the flagship brand of the agency and she took pride that he approved it without edits. The room was packed with the creative team and the boss’s boss. She took her seat and before she could begin, her boss took over and began discussing her strategy. As he spoke, she found his tone changing. He was picking holes in it. Sarah was shocked. Perplexed. What’s going on? Last evening, he was filled with praises. What happened between then and now? The creative team sniggered and laughed. The boss’s boss felt that time was wasted. She looked at her boss, enquiringly. She tried to interject, however, he wouldn’t let her speak. She realized she was being annihilated. Her thinking process ridiculed, her understanding, belittled.

When the meeting concluded, she found herself shuddering with pain and the tears flowed, relentlessly. She sat back and reflected, My boss had never quite liked me. It was evident from the first day of the interview. And, at the meeting, he found the opportune time to hit me with all he had. She put a call to her friend and explained the situation to her. What could I have done? She asked. “It’s workplace politics. You need to be political. Politics is everywhere, degrees vary. There will be people who hate your guts. There will be people who hate your confidence. There will be people who want to be like you, they can’t, so they detest you for who you are. There will be people who hate the fact that you have it all. More so, if they perceive you have had it easy, you are an easy game. There will be people who will hate your affluence or the way you connect so easily with people you meet. There will be those who will be affected by your ‘attractiveness’. You will be picked because of your gender. You will be picked because you’re ‘luckier’ or because you are from a different tribe. And, you’ll have to deal with them and the games they play to maraud you and your self-esteem. It doesn’t matter whether your organization is big or small. When there are two or more people, the power struggles will emerge”

Office politics are actions and behaviours involving competition for status or power in the workplace. It arises when employees tend to misuse their power to gain undue attention and popularity at the workplace. Employees mostly indulge in work politics simply to tarnish their colleague’s reputation to obtain advantages and come in the good books of their superiors. This may occur by criticizing the co-worker, talking down about him/her to the superior, or taking credit for their work.Workplace Politics reduces the productivity of individuals and eventually the organization is at a loss. People tend to spend their maximum time in pulling each other down and playing nasty mind games. It increases stress as corporate politics yields a thousand times more stress than a healthy workplace culture. It majorly affects the relationship amongst the individuals. Friends turn foes due to politics. People stop helping and most importantly trusting each other. Office politics also increase conflicts and tensions in the workplace.

Although it is grossly unhealthy, workplace politics is inevitable. The reality is that every organization in one form or another will deal with workplace, office, or what is generally called “corporate politics.” It is a byproduct of efforts to develop a sustainable company culture.You cannot avoid office politics. It’s a fact of life. You may have negative feelings about it, or think you’re taking the high road by ignoring it. However, your lack of attention to what’s happening in the workplace can be extremely dangerous. Avoiding office politics can sabotage your career because in reality, it takes both great performance and political savvy to get ahead, especially in a complex competitive workplace. Due to the negative connotations associated with office politics, many people see it as something to swerve. Yet, it’s no secret that if someone learns how to play their part well and utilizes office politics without hindering their peers – then they will be in a much stronger position to advance their career. You need to be politically savvy. And the good news is that political savvy is a skill that can be learned. You will apply this skill in such a way you don’t need to compromise your integrity and principles. To manage workplace politics, you need to be in awareness of what is going on in your workplace. You need to understand the culture, power, and influence, the rules and system of the organization.

Understanding the work culture will help you know if the culture is conservative, innovative, or hierarchical. Does the work culture encourage patriarchy? Are there gendered roles and stereotypes? Also, is the company aligned with its said values and do these values align with yours? What are the rules, and most importantly, what are the unwritten rules? Does your company have unwritten rules? What are they and how do they affect you? You need to know these things to better plan your political strategies. Understanding power and influence helps you know who has power and influence over your career. Who makes the key decisions about your future in that company? Who influences those decisions? Is it your boss? If so, who is in their circle of influence? Power and influence are constantly shifting so make sure you stay tuned into the dynamics in the office and create visibility with the influencers.

Secondly, develop your people skills. Politics is all about people, so strong interpersonal skills will stand you in good stead when it comes to building and maintaining your network. Reflect on your emotions, what prompts them, and how you handle them. If you can learn to self-regulate, you’ll be able to think before you act. This kind of emotional intelligence helps you to pick up on other people’s emotions, too, and to understand what kind of approach they like or dislike. Also, don’t be that staff who always take sides or play favorites. Be mostly focused on the business objectives and don’t take sides with colleagues who are at loggerheads over a task – even if you like one better than the other. Rather than take sides that could affect you in a long run, place them on a common communication platform and ensure open communications among all parties, so that no one blames you for anything.

By not taking sides, you’ll help to direct conflict resolution in an objective manner. You’ll also build trust with both parties. That’ll help to keep the engagements constructive and focus on business objectives.

The Best Preparation For Tomorrow

A man who lived a long time ago believed that he could read the future in the stars. He called himself an Astrologer and spent his time at night gazing at the sky. He was always busy worrying about the future and villagers often came to him, hoping to know what their future holds.

One evening he was walking along the open road outside the village. His eyes were fixed on the stars. He thought he saw there that the end of the world was near. As he was looking at the stars, he kept walking without looking down. Suddenly, he fell into a ditch full of mud and water.

He was sinking in the muddy water, and madly trying to claw at the slippery sides of the hole in his effort to climb out. He was unable to crawl out and fearing for his life, he started screaming for help. His cries for help soon brought the villagers running.

As they pulled him out of the mud, one of them said, “You pretend to read the future in the stars, and yet you fail to see what is at your feet! This may teach you to pay more attention to what is right in front of you, and let the future take care of itself.”
“What use is it,” said another, “to read the stars, when you can’t see what’s right here on the earth?”

Just like this man, many of us spend too much of our time, focusing on our future, meticulously planning it to the last detail, and sacrificing the present moment for some illusory sense of happiness instead of appreciating and balancing the focus with our present. We have a blueprint of the perfect life we want for our future, but constantly rather than best prepare for that future with every day that passes, we neglect today. Doing nothing with it other than hope for that obscure future we want.

We all get worried about our futures, then spend a huge amount of time every day thinking about it. Many of us fear thinking about uncertainty while others just imagine living the bright tomorrow. But is there anyone who thinks of taking the steps today to improve the future?

Probably very few people are there who are putting an effort today for the better tomorrow. These kinds of people grow in the future while the rest remain in the same place with the same thoughts of improving the future.

The world is full of dreamers and doers. The daydreamers sit down and think about the perfect life they could have, the great places they could go in the future, but never follow through with actions that will help them achieve those feet. A dreamer is a person who spends a lot of time thinking about or planning enjoyable events that are not likely to happen. They like the idea of perfection and mostly live in the fantasy of it with every day that passes than they live for the reality of it with the actions they take each day.

There are writers who constantly talk about how they want to write the next big film or book, or have an idea that will revolutionize the world. As time goes by, the only thing they still have is that dream of being a New York Times bestseller, but in the real-life, they are not putting efforts to write anything. They are always at the same point in life as they were before: the “I have an idea…” stage.

Dreamers have their feet in the air and their heads in the clouds. They are people who live with the idea of having a perfect future whilst they can’t see clearly their present. They live each day pursuing the idea of tomorrow than they are working for the reality of it. And, that is how most people live their lives in constant pursuit of the future they do not prepare for today.

“Every action today will define the future”

We need to understand that there are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to mostly live and do all you can to achieve the tomorrow we desire. We all want our future to be bright and happy, but the time doesn’t stop for anyone. Each tomorrow turns into today, your present is also a part of your future. There is always a tomorrow to look forward to and improve, but you can’t go back to yesterday. So, maintain the balance of your present life while you work for a better tomorrow.

In actuality, the best preparation for tomorrow starts from the day before tomorrow. It simply means if one needs to improve its future, he/she must have to take the best reasonable efforts today. An effort that is directly or indirectly related to your future goals.

To best prepare for a successful tomorrow, we need to give our best effort today rather than only worrying about the uncertain tomorrow. First, you need to write down your short term goals and take action. The difference between the dreamers and achievers is “action”

It is superficial to think that long term goals (future) will be achieved at once without short term goals to keep us on track. Short-term goals also minimize procrastination. They lay down a clear and defined path to success, allowing you to focus on one thing at a time. This focus will not only help you stay motivated, but it will also help your productivity and have you achieving your long-term goal quicker.

Secondly, ask yourself questions to be in the present. Remind yourself of where you are by asking yourself, ‘Is this what I should be doing right now?, ‘Am I feeling happy doing this thing?’, ‘What is the one thing I can do to make today count?’ Become self-aware and listen to your present feeling. By doing this, you are not conscious of the present, not only being roped in the feelings of the future.

Also, practice gratitude. Take time out to appreciate the things going well in your life, or the things you take for granted. Gratitude is a powerful catalyst for happiness, and rather than only being focused on future fulfillment, gratitude keeps us appreciative of the present moments that could eventually lead to that desired future. You will need to find the good in every situation and look for miracles in the mundane.

Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make now the primary focus of your life.

“Yesterday is gone, tomorrow has yet to come we have only today, let us begin” – Mother Teresa

The False Human Belief

As a man was passing the elephants, he suddenly stopped confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at any time can break away from their bonds but for some reason, they did not.

He saw a trainer nearby and asked why these animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. “Well,” trainer said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size of rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.”

The man was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were.

Like the elephants, many of us go through life hanging onto a self-limiting belief that has conditioned us to think that we cannot do something simply because we have failed at it once, or others said it was impossible. Self-limiting beliefs are assumptions or perceptions that you’ve got about yourself and about the way the world works. These assumptions are “self-limiting” because in some way they’re holding you back from achieving what you are capable of.

A self-limiting belief could make you feel stuck in the rut, or dissatisfied with your life but then believe there is little to nothing you can do to change that. It makes you conform to stagnancy and create the illusion that success is the end product of mediocrity, hence can be achieved with a closed mind.

These beliefs include thinking you are too inexperienced for a job, believing you shouldn’t take a risk because you’ll fail, thinking it is too late to try anything, thinking you don’t need more money because you are merely comfortable, or not trying relationships anymore because you think it’s not worth it since the last one sucked anyway. When you think about the possible negative outcome of everything and become discouraged to take any new action based on that negative assumption, you are operating within your own self-limiting beliefs, and may never discover the extent of success you can achieve in life.

Beliefs are the lens through which you view the world. They can influence your perceptions, define for you what is good, bad, true, real, and possible, skew your perspective in positive or negative ways, direct and/or limit the actions you take, shape your character, and establish a specific course you will follow, and for these reasons, we need to be careful that the belief we carry is positively influencing us.

If you always put a limit on everything you do, physical or anything else, It will spread into your work and your entire life. And, if we would only see that all limitations are self-imposed and chosen out of fear, we would learn to leap at once.

People create a ceiling above their dreams so these dreams will always seem impossible. You begin to fly when you let go of self-limiting beliefs and allow your mind and aspirations to rise to greater heights. When we have empowering beliefs, our achievements can feel almost effortless. If we have self-limiting beliefs, however, then it can often feel like we are pushing a big rock up a steep hill.

Success is not birthed by limitation because the most successful people were able to live beyond boxes of the average man’s imagination and mind. Self-limiting beliefs can shrink your goals, impair your skills, blind you to your purpose, and deteriorate your confidence. Also, the problem with some people is that they mentally limit themselves in life, but then turn around and become very envious of those who aren’t willing to settle for less.

Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve.
When it comes to building an incredible life, there is no limit to what you can do. The only thing keeping you from reaching your potential is a lack of self-belief.
No matter what shape you want your life to take, knowing you can have all the things you see in your mind is the first step. This power of visualization primes us for step two: casting your dreams and desires into the universe with daily, life-changing actions.

If you have any self-limiting beliefs about achieving your goals, start feeding your imagination with positive truths―because if your imagination has no limits, then neither should you. To overcome your self-limiting beliefs, you need to acknowledge that you have these beliefs and be honest with yourself. What limiting beliefs do you think you have? Take a piece of paper and write down the self-limiting beliefs that you know are hindering your personal growth. These beliefs could include anything from fear, excuses, experience, etc. for example; I can’t talk in front of large audiences, I can’t smile/interact with strangers, I can’t open my heart and love someone.

Next, find the core reasons for those beliefs. After you list all of those self-limiting beliefs that you have, try to understand the reasons why you have those beliefs. These reasons could be various, but usually, it’s because of your childhood experience/societal programming. For example, I can’t open my heart and love someone because I’ve been deeply hurt in the past, I can’t talk in front of large audiences because those audiences are judging me and my every move. I can’t smile/interact with strangers because it’s creepy.

Lastly, arm yourself with new, empowering beliefs. The next step to take after acknowledging that those beliefs you held are simply not true, is to form new beliefs. Use this time of epiphany to form new beliefs that serve you. Choose your new beliefs carefully, because these new beliefs will manifest in your life. After changing all of those limiting beliefs with new, empowering, and positive ones, start acting as if. Start acting like you are the new person that has all of these positive beliefs inside of them. It might be hard to change (It might take weeks or months), but with proper dedication, you will get there.

Taking Accountability For Your Life

One day all the employees reached the office and they saw a big note on the door on which it was written: “Yesterday the person who has been hindering your growth in this company passed away. We invite you to join the funeral in the room that has been prepared in the gym”.

In the beginning, they all got sad for the death of one of their colleagues, but after a while, they started getting curious to know who it was that hindered the growth of his colleagues and the company itself.
The excitement in the gym was such that security agents were ordered to control the crowd within the room.

The more people reached the coffin, the more the excitement heated up. Everyone thought: “Who is this guy who was hindering my progress? Well, at least he died!”

One by one the thrilled employees got closer to the coffin, and when they looked inside they suddenly became speechless. They stood nearby the coffin, shocked and in silence as if someone had touched the deepest part of their soul. There was a mirror inside the coffin: everyone who looked inside it could see himself.

There was also a sign next to the mirror that said: “There is only one person who is capable of setting limits to your growth: it is YOU.”

Accountability refers to an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility for one’s actions. If you take responsibility for your own actions, you show accountability. When individuals are accountable, they understand and accept the consequences of their actions for the areas in which they assume responsibility.

In the workplace, an example of accountability is when an employee admits an error she made on a project likewise an example of accountability in life generally is when we take ownership of our mistakes and failures without pointing fingers at the next available person. It is admitting that you, more than any other person has the powers to shape your life and whatever wreck or success you have made out of yourself is entirely your making.

Accountability is a statement of personal promise, both to yourself and to the people around you, to deliver specific results, and when you do not deliver such results, you need to hold yourself responsible. In our world, majority of people use the blame game as a sort of defense mechanism to protect their ego and to avoid confronting their inadequacies. They rather not take responsibility for anything.

When they fail a test, it is their friend’s fault for not reminding them on time about the test, When they make a bad presentation, it is the fault of a colleague who did not stop smiling during the meeting, and even when they make an error in a document, they could go ahead and blame Microsoft. They barely take a moment to analyze the situation and see how they have contributed to a problem.

Taking accountability for your life means that you are in total control and have the power to influence your life. It means that you refuse to make excuses or blame others for anything in your life that you are not happy about. Whilst blaming others is easy and could be soothing at first, you need to understand that the only person who can revolutionize your life. You are the only person who can influence your happiness, your realization, and your success. You are the only person who can help yourself. Your life does not change when your boss changes, when your friends change, when your partner changes, or when your company changes. Your life changes when YOU change. When you go beyond your limiting beliefs, and when you realize that you are the only one responsible for your life.

Taking accountability is essential for personal growth as well as team growth. How can you improve when you are never wrong? If you do not admit a mistake and take responsibility for it, you are bound to make the same mistake. When you take responsibility for your life, it is easier to have your life in order. You are able to see what mistakes you make, what your weaknesses really are, and areas your flourish at. You are able to escape the victim mentality and not come across as toxic to people around you as no one wants to be around anyone who blames them for all their problems.

Accountability is the difference between success and failure because when people don’t take accountability and things start to go awry -as they don’t feel ownership- they go into spectator mode and watch as things fail. If they thought it would fail from the outset it’s even worse; they go into “I told you so” mode, which nearly always becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Whereas when people take ownership if things start to go wrong, they step into solution mode and start to figure out what’s going wrong and fix it.

To cultivate the attitude of taking account of your life, you will need to stop playing the victim. Playing a victim is like creating a storm and getting upset when it rains. It is only when you stop victimizing yourself that you can accept that there is a real problem you need to solve. That is when you can admit that you have a hand in a problem. Stop being a victim of your circumstances and start taking action towards the life you want.

Secondly, you will need to stop in your tracks and ask yourself, “How am I contributing to this problem?” Instead of thinking that your current challenges are all about what someone else is doing or factors outside your control, accept that you’re 50% of this situation. What are you doing, thinking, and saying that is sustaining this problem? How can you shift your behavior (and do something VERY different from what you normally do) to intervene in this chronic pattern of conflict? It’s been said that if you’re unhappy about a situation, you have only two choices: Change the situation, or change your feelings and thoughts about the situation. It’s time to change what is happening by recognizing your role in it.

Lastly, seek solutions on how to solve the problem or correct the mistake you have already made. By seeking a solution to a problem, it means you have taken total responsibility enough to retrace your steps. For instance, if a school girl is always punished in school for coming late, maybe her mother has a role in her lateness by making her do morning chores that take up her time, but then again, she could see that she would have been able to do the majority of those chores the night before instead of watching late-night TV programs. Once she is able to ferret out how she is contributing to the problem, she must adjust and take corrective steps into producing better results.

Accountability equals responsibility equals ownership. And a sense of ownership is the most powerful weapon a person, team, or organization can have. At the end of the day, we are accountable to ourselves-our success is a result of what we do.

Practicing Delayed Gratification

In the early 1970s, an experiment was carried out to test children’s ability to delay gratification. In this experiment, a researcher offered hundreds of children a choice. Each child could have one marshmallow now or 2 marshmallows if the child could wait for 15 minutes. The researcher left each child alone in the room with one marshmallow on a tray whilst filming the child with a secret video camera. Most of the children couldn’t wait and soon ate the marshmallow.

However, about 30% were able to delay gratification and get the second marshmallow. Interestingly, the children were tested for the next 30 years, and guess what? The ones who could wait for the second marshmallow were more successful later in life! They got higher test scores in school. They had fewer problems with drugs. They were much more likely to go to college. They had lower body fat, and they made more money as adults.

The ability to delay the impulse for an immediate reward to receive a more favorable reward at a later time is a standard definition of delayed gratification.

Without delayed gratification, goals are not achieved and objectives do not get accomplished. For instance, ever had someone try to lose weight, yet cannot delay gratification on junk foods? They fill up your plate with fattening goodies that derail their diet for instant gratification. But, if they had managed to resist and eat salad or munching on carrot sticks, then they will presumably receive an even greater reward down the line—shedding those unwanted pounds and being able to fit into your favorite pair of skinny jeans.

You have people complain about not having enough money or being in debt, yet they will not resist the temptation of buying a new iPhone, a new car, or fashion accessories. What these people have done is choose a long-term reward over immediate gratification which will eventually pose a major challenge in many areas of their lives.
As humans, we have wants that we are desperate to satisfy, like buying designer clothes, the luxurious car, the big mansion, the latest gadgets, etc. We have things we want to do simply because they give us certain gratification, even though they are not so beneficial, like our television time, games time, social media time, party time, and other frivolities. Whilst it is only human to have these wants and hunger to indulge, recognizing when to practice discipline; choosing between what you want now and what you want most is ultimate for success.

From avoiding a slice of chocolate cake when we are trying to lose weight to staying home to study instead of going out to a party with friends, the ability to delay gratification can mean the difference between achieving our goals or not.

Do you have the ability to resist and receive a later—but even better—reward?

Practicing self-control and self-regulation in the short term to enjoy greater rewards in the long term, is the indispensable prerequisite for success. Success usually comes down to choosing the pain of discipline over the ease of distraction. And that’s exactly what delayed gratification is all about.

Right now when you’re younger, you have more time and energy to sacrifice and put in the work. Choosing to Invest and putting off spending now to receive something better in the future. Putting in the time, struggle and effort now can pay huge dividends for the rest of your life ensuring your long-term financial freedom and security.

Delayed gratification is critical for success in life and if you look around you, you will see this playing out everywhere.

• If you delay the gratification of watching television and get your homework done now, then you’ll learn more and get better grades.

• If you delay the gratification of buying the fancy and expensive stuff people your age group is buying, you will save more.

• If you delay the gratification of buying desserts and chips at the store, then you’ll eat healthier when you get home.

• If you delay the gratification of finishing your workout early and put in a few more reps, then you’ll be stronger.

If you want to succeed at something, at some point you will need to find the ability to be disciplined and take action instead of becoming distracted and doing what’s easy. Success in nearly every field requires you to ignore doing something easier (delaying gratification) in favor of doing something harder. If you don’t feel like you’re good at delaying gratification now, you can train yourself to become better simply by making a few small improvements. To become better, you will need to set realistic deadlines. When trying to achieve a goal, such as losing weight, people are sometimes prone to setting either unrealistic deadlines or benchmarks.

For example, a person trying to lose weight will set himself up for failure if he makes a completely unrealistic goal of losing 10 pounds per week. When he fails to lose those first 10 pounds, he might then give up and give in to temptation. A more realistic goal of one pound per week would allow him to see the real results of his efforts.

Secondly, get yourself an accountability partner. An accountability partner is a person who helps another person keep a commitment. You can find an accountability partner in almost any context. At work, you have colleagues. If you go to church, you sit next to someone who can encourage you to attend sermons. If you have a goal to lose weight, your friend can be your accountability partner where you share your weight loss goal with them, agree on consequences in case you slip up, and ask them to hold you accountable.

Lastly, Reward yourself. Delaying gratification can be hard-work. Depending on what you want to achieve, it may take weeks, months, years, and sometimes even decades. Breaking down your goals and rewarding yourself along the way can remind yourself that delaying gratification is leading you to where you want to go.

The Modern man is conditioned to expect instant gratification, but any success or triumph realized quickly, with only marginal effort, is necessarily shallow. Meaningful achievement takes time, hard work, persistence, patience, proper intent, and self-awareness. The path to success is punctuated by failure, consolidated, renewed effort, and deferred gratification.

Embracing Empathy

One day, a young student was taking a walk with a professor who was commonly called the students’ friend because of his kindness. As they went along, they saw a pair of old shoes lying along the path, which they supposed to belong to a poor man who was employed in a field close by, and who had nearly finished his day’s work. The student turned to the professor, saying: “Let us play the man a trick: we will hide his shoes, and conceal ourselves behind those bushes, and wait to see his perplexity when he cannot find them.” “My friend” answered the professor, “we should never amuse ourselves at the expense of the poor. But you are rich and may give yourself a much greater pleasure using the poor man. Put a coin into each shoe, and then we will hide and watch how the discovery affects him.”

The student did so, and they both placed themselves behind the bushes close by. The poor man soon finished his work and came across the field to the path where he had left his coat and shoes. While putting on his coat he slipped his foot into one of his shoes; but feeling something hard, he stooped down to feel what it was, and found the coin. Astonishment and wonder were seen upon his countenance. He gazed upon the coin, turned it around, and looked at it again and again. He then looked around him on all sides, but no person was to be seen. He now put the money into his pocket and proceeded to put on the other shoe, but his surprise was doubled on finding the other coin. His feelings overcame him; he fell upon his knees, looked up to heaven and uttered aloud a fervent thanksgiving in which he spoke of his wife, sick and helpless, and his children without bread whom the timely bounty, from some unknown hand, would save from perishing.

The student stood there deeply affected, and his eyes filled with tears. “Now,” he said to the professor, “are you not much better pleased than if you had played your intended trick?” The Professor replied, “You have taught me a lesson which I will never forget. I feel now the truth of those words, which I never understood before: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”

The above story is one that highlights the power of empathy, and how great we can make others feel when we put ourselves in their moccasin without judgment or criticism, bearing in mind that it could have been us. Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, that is, the capacity to place oneself in another’s situation. It involves complete identification with another.

Often, we see people pass through pain, trauma, abuse, failure, or other bad times, and whilst we may not have in our hands, the solution to their problem, a little empathy could go a long way in helping them heal and feel better. This is because feeling heard and understood is a human need. If you have ever had one of those days when you just needed someone to talk to, someone to get how you were feeling without misunderstanding or judging you? Well, you were more than likely to need a dose of empathy.

Without empathy, people tend to go about life without considering how other people feel or what they may be thinking. Each of us have differing perspectives, and we are so limited when we only see our perspective. If there is anyone secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from his angle as well as your own. When we do not take a moment to assess another’s feelings, it is easy to make assumptions and jump to conclusions. This often leads to misunderstandings, bad feelings, conflict, poor morale, and even divorce. In the absence of empathy, we could live and work side-by-side with other people, and remain as clueless about their inner selves and feelings.

Although both words are mostly used interchangeably, sympathy and empathy are, in fact, different. You can be sympathetic to someone’s situation while being completely clueless about his feelings and thoughts. Sympathy is feeling for someone; empathy involves feeling with them.
In the workplace, empathy can show deep respect for co-workers and show that you care, as opposed to just going by rules and regulations. An empathic leadership style can make everyone feel like a team and increase productivity, morale, and loyalty. Empathy is a powerful tool in the leadership belt of a well-liked and respected executive. As leaders, our role is simple -deal empathetically with our team and watch them build a strong and prosperous organization. Do not be the CEO who doesn’t care about his employees’ perspectives or feelings, or that colleague that is barely affected if the problem doesn’t concern them.

Empathy can be incorporated in a professional setting by; Establishing rapport with colleagues, showing reasonable concern and support for colleagues in every way possible to help them perform and grow, Practicing active listening without interrupting and reflective listening by paraphrasing, avoiding quick judgment, using appropriate non-verbal cues; and validating the other people’s perspective (this does not mean agreement, but simply that you understand where they are coming from)

Empathy is a skill like any other human skill. If you get a chance to practice, you can get better at it. When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems. Ultimately, developing your powers of empathy and imagination makes the whole world open up to you.
Learn to stand in somebody else’s shoes, to see through their eyes, that’s how peace begins. And it’s up to you to make that happen. Empathy is the quality of character that can change the world” –Barack Obama.

Practicing Self-Compassion

Self-compassion is extending compassion to one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering. It is nurturing yourself with kindness and the love you would shower someone you love. To a great extent, we are guilty of self-criticism more than we are of self-compassion.

When people experience a setback in their personal or career lives whether it’s a bad sales quarter, being overlooked for a promotion, or an interpersonal conflict with a colleague—it’s common to respond in one of two ways. Either we become defensive and blame others, or we berate ourselves. Unfortunately, neither response is especially helpful. Whilst blaming other people may alleviate the sting of failure at the expense of learning, self-flagellation, on the other hand, can lead to an inaccurately gloomy assessment of one’s potential, which undermines personal development and crushes self-confidence. Self-criticism comes at a price: It makes us anxious, dissatisfied with our life, and even depressed.
Compassion for others begins with kindness to ourselves.

A water-bearer carries two large pots on a yoke across his shoulders up the hill from the river to his master’s house each day. One has a crack and leaks half its water out each day before arriving at the house. The other pot is perfect and always delivered a full portion of water after the long walk from the river.
Finally, after years of arriving half-empty and feeling guilty, the cracked pot apologized to the water-bearer. It was miserable. “I’m sorry that I couldn’t accomplish what the perfect pot did.” The water-bearer says, “What do you have to apologize for?”
“After all this time, I still only deliver half my load of water. I make more work for you because of my flaw.”
The man smiled and told the pot. “Take note of all the lovely flowers growing on the side of the path where I carried you. The flowers grew so lovely because of the water you leaked. There are no flowers on the perfect pot’s side.”

The above story is a tangible example of how guilt, shame, self-doubt, or self-criticism lures us into taking into account only certain pieces of narratives or information about ourselves and working them to judge ourselves unfairly. The cracked pot in this story was filled with self-guilt and criticism that all it saw was its imperfection, and unconsciously ignored the fact that the plants by the road blossomed because it could water it. The perfect pot grew no flowers.

It is inevitable not to make mistakes or fail at something. Failure is a universal language that everyone can speak. The most important thing, however, is not how many times we made mistakes or failed at something, but how we treat ourselves each time we meet setbacks. What words are we telling ourselves? How injudicious are we in judging our competence and skills? Are we are compassionate to ourselves as we are to close friends when they meet setbacks. As much as we can easily encourage friends and loved ones to take it easy on themselves when they are a dark place, we should be that mindful of ourselves. When you are self-critical, stop for a minute and ask yourself, “Would I say this to a child or a friend?” if the answer is no, then don’t say it to yourself.

How much we let our inner critic condemn us on our failures will hugely affect our level of productivity, self-esteem, and confidence. Self-criticism works if only it leads to self-correction, not self-destruction. It is like a self-administered brain surgery that is perhaps not a good idea. Ultimately, self-compassion is a more effective motivator because its driving force is love, not fear nor anxiety.

To cultivate self-compassion, you will need to learn to forgive yourself for your mistakes and reevaluate your self-talk. Forgiveness is vital for self-compassion. We all make mistakes, but not all of us forgive ourselves. Depending on the mistake, forgiveness can be a very daunting task, but keep in mind that dwelling on past mistakes you have made only allows those decisions to keep defining you, so you will need to forgive yourself if you must move on. Work towards recognizing when you’re participating in negative self-talk and make an effort to change your internal dialogue. Instead of focusing on the negative, celebrate yourself, and how far you’ve come.

Secondly, practice mindfulness; a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. Mindfulness has been found to have a positive impact on self-compassion, as it tends to lessen self-judgment. Strive to always be in the moment and to be aware of what is happening right now, without judgment and labeling. Allow what you think or feel to have its moment; don’t give it the microphone or hide it in the corner. Allow it to come, and then, without attachment, let it go.

Lastly, adopt an attitude of gratitude. Your mindset determines your reality. If you have a negative outlook and believe that the world is out to get you, you will attract that energy into your life. Conversely, if you believe that the Universe wants you to thrive, it will be much easier for you to find the resources that are needed to achieve your goals. Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.”

We can’t practice compassion with others if we can’t treat ourselves kindly. If a man is going down into a river, swollen and swiftly flowing, is carried away by the current- how can he help others across?

Remember, you’ve been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.

Living A Life Of Integrity

A successful businessman was growing old and knew it was time to choose a successor to take over the business. Instead of choosing one of his Directors or his children, he called all the young executives in his company together.
He said, “It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO. I have decided to choose one of you.” The young executives were shocked, but the boss continued, “I am going to give each one of you a seed today – one very special seed. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from the seed. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next CEO.”

One man, named Jim, was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly, told his wife the story. She helped him get a pot, soil, and compost and he planted the seed.
Although Jim watered his seed daily, nothing ever grew. Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing. By now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn’t have a plant and he felt like a failure.

A year went by and the CEO asked the young executives to bring their plants to work for inspection. When Jim told his wife that he wasn’t going to take an empty pot, she asked him to be honest about what happened. Jim felt sick to his stomach, it was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right. He took his empty pot to the board room.
When Jim arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other executives. They were beautiful – in all shapes and sizes. Jim put his empty pot on the floor and many of his colleagues laughed, a few felt sorry for him!
When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young executives. Jim just tried to hide in the back. “My, what great plants, trees, and flowers you have grown,” said the CEO. “Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!”
All of a sudden, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot. He asked Jim to come to the front of the room. The CEO asked him what had happened to his seed & Jim told him the story. The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Jim. He looked at Jim, and then announced to the young executives, “Behold your next Chief Executive Officer — Jim!”
Jim couldn’t believe it. “How could he be the new CEO?” the others said.
Then the CEO said, “One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds; they were dead – they couldn’t grow. All of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new Chief Executive Officer!”

Even though Jim, unlike his colleagues, had no flourishing plant to show to the CEO as regarding this story, he had something that earned him the CEO position, and that is a character of integrity.
Integrity is the practice of being honest and showing consistent and uncompromising adherence to strong moral and ethical principles and values.

In today’s world, people mostly choose their thoughts and actions based on personal gain. It is not bad enough that we have people who have no set principles and values and so have no defined way of life, we also have those with supposed strong moral ethics, but who defy it at their convenience to soothe their interest. The world is filled with people who say what they do not do, claim to be who they are not, or know people they do not know. Put simply, we have more people who prefer to be a corrupt success than those who will rather be an honest failure.

As you progress in life, you’d come face to face with situations that will test your integrity. It could be that time in your office where you wholeheartedly accepted accolades for a task a subordinate had done or that time in your business you double-crossed a partner to get a deal or being dishonest about a skill just to get hired for a job. The problem with dishonesty, however, is that it may take care of the present, but has no future.

Integrity is the seed for achievement, and successful people are highly integrious. They say what they do and they do what they say. They are trusted by those whom they interact with and can build healthy relationships with consummate ease.

When you live with integrity, you influence, inspire, and motivate others; not just with your words but with your actions too.

Honesty and integrity are essential for success in life, and the good news is that we can develop both if we only choose to. Whilst you worry about your self-esteem and other things you want to build, be most concerned about your character. Integrity is its own reward. Choose to be honest than impressive because when you can maintain your own highest standard of integrity –regardless of what others may do- you are destined for greatness.