In my country there is a tribe that eats bullfrogs. The frogs are a delicacy, so people from that tribe have mastered a way to cook them in water without the amphibians escaping. As we all know, frogs have powerful limbs, yet these wise people, using indigenous knowledge, have figured a way to trap them.
The members of this tribe cook the frogs by slowly boiling them in water. To prevent the frogs from jumping out of the pot, they put them in cold water where they are comfortable, then turn the lid of the pot upside down, fill it with heavy stones and turn up the heat. That way, when the frog starts feeling the heat, it cannot jump out of the pot and eventually dies.
Sometimes in life we feel trapped, a bit like the frog with the heat being applied from beneath and the weight of the stones keeping us down. I have been feeling that way lately. Recently, through some ill advice, I made a career mistake and took up job that was some steps below my previous position. Instead of moving forward, I took some steps backwards and instead of moving up, I took some steps down. Naturally, it’s an uncomfortable place and becomes increasingly uncomfortable the longer I stay, a bit like the heat being turned up on the frog while being unable to jump out.
Nonetheless, it has not all been a total waste. I have learnt some lessons from this experience and the chief ones are:
- No matter how well-meaning people are, you are the only person who knows what’s best for you. People can make all the noble plans for you and pour out all the best, but at the end of the day you are the chief architect of your life. You have lived with yourself all your life and you understand – more than anyone else – what the best solution for your situation is. Just remember, what people know about you is just a fraction of your life or who you are and no one can make an informed decision with partial information. It is highly likely that most of what people think they know about you is limited to assumptions based on their background and experiences – most of which you do not relate with. Consequently, the risk of becoming a victim of people’s assumptions is very high, so, never abdicate the role of making decisions concerning your life to anyone no matter how well-meaning or wise they seem. Further, people will always have interests and advise you based on their interests, not yours. Don’t become a victim of other people’s interests at the expense of your own.
- Never ever make a passive decision and hope things will turn out well. Every decision you make, whether actively or passively, has consequences and you will live with those consequences, whether you like it or not. Therefore, make conscious decisions and be prepared for the consequences.
- It is perfectly fine to say NO! It is alright to turn down “opportunities” that you are not happy about, regardless of what other people think. Just as opportunities can be disguised as misfortunes, sometimes our worst experiences also come dressed up as opportunities. Trust your instincts, if you feel something is not worth it, proceed based on your judgement regardless of any other opinion. In the case of this particular job, I disregarded my instincts and lived to regret it. Don’t ever give anyone the opportunity to play savior in your life because no one can save you but yourself.
- People treat you according to how they perceive you. If you rank lowly in their opinion, believe me they will dish out lowly things and assume they have done you a favour. I am reminded of a time when a child who lived on the streets asked my friends and I for money. As students, we did not have much but gave him the dollar that we had. He threw it back at us and asked us – “what can you buy with this?” Indeed, the dollar couldn’t buy much but we thought since he had nothing he would be grateful. Sometimes people treat us the same way, they dole out worthless treats and expect us to be grateful. Don’t let anyone convince you that just because they have gone out of their way to “help” you, you should accept it. You have standards and a right to stick to them, particularly in cases where you have not even asked for any favours. Go for what you know you deserve according to what you believe is best for you.
- Don’t bow to pressure. Weigh every situation based on its merits and demerits then make an informed decision. Silence every other voice and separate every other party from yourself, then focus solely on yourself and what’s best for you and you will certainly make the right decision.
Thankfully though, all is not lost. Sometimes we gamble with our lives and make a few losses but there is always room to rise again. Such is life and its lessons, we all learn from our mistakes. There are qualities that no-one can ever take away from us and with these we can emerge victorious from any situation, no matter how adverse it seems.
- Self-belief – no matter how hard you fall or how hopeless a situation may be, as long as you are confident and believe in yourself, you will rise. Negative situations are there to teach us lessons, but certainly, “you can’t keep a good man down.” Human beings were born with the inherent desire to succeed and the ability to rise above circumstances. Sooner or later, that desire for something bigger, something better and something more in our lives, will emerge and propel us to fight for what we believe in, thereby ushering in the change we need.
- Gifts – someone once told me the reason babies are born with clenched fists is because they will be holding their gifts. We all have gifts and talents that we are born with. Whether or not we use them is entirely up to us. However, no one can take them away. That uniqueness will always distinguish us from the next person and make people notice us. We can use our gifts to come out of any circumstance.
- Opportunities – these will always come, no matter what happens. In life, doors open and doors close. Just as the sun rises and sets, so opportunities come and go. Sometimes we take a wrong turn and miss an opportunity, but inevitably, a fresh opportunity will arise and when that happens, hopefully we will be wise enough not to miss it.
- Hope – that feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen, that expectation of a positive outcome, that inexplicable belief that all will turn out well. I believe even the worst pessimist has some modicum of hope. Somehow as long as there is hope, we can get out of any situation and change our lives.
Having learnt these lessons in 2015, I look forward to wiser decision making in 2016 and beyond and hope you do too!
Here’s to better a better year and a wiser you in 2016!
Related posts: Let’s face it, not all advice is good for you http://bit.ly/1QX3vDO