Overthinking kills

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As humans, we think all the time, consciously and subconsciously. Thinking is a wonderful tool for education. It helps us generate information that can motivate and inspire us.

However, sometimes we get stuck worrying about something that happened or something that will happen. Some are constantly worrying about posting the perfect picture on social media, analyzing people’s statuses, spend much time thinking about to tweet or wondering why someone just unfollowed them on Instagram.

We all over-think in one way or another. Whether it is general worries about the future, self-worth, decisions or regrets, we are often overwhelmed by our own thoughts as we try to analyse our steps from every angle imaginable.

As we over-think, we become stuck in our heads; we fear being wrong. We become rooted in fear, doubt and uncertainty. The human mind abhors uncertainty.

Uncertainty implies danger so we try to take cover and protect ourselves. Over-thinking often comes with paranoia. Everything seems more dangerous than it actually is.

For instance, you have a crush on someone but you are afraid to make the move because you are uncertain of what his/her response would be. So you over-think approaching the person and making your feelings known and in the end, convince yourself it is best not to say anything.

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Also, when one is diagnosed with certain ailments or has certain symptoms, s/he over-thinks and believes the wall is closing in on him/her. One fears the uncertainty surrounding his/her future because of the sickness. As a result, over-thinking kills faster than the sickness itself.

When we over-think, we focus on what if instead of what is and this can have  a devastating effect on our health. We become engrossed in our own thoughts and emotions that we zone out and become numb to people, places, and things around us. We lose our identity; we forget who we are.

Knowledge is a wonderful tool but too much of it can make one over-think and paranoid. When faced with difficult decisions, we try to acquire information from our environment, friends and family. We generate many possible solutions to a particular problem that we succumb to over-thinking.

Over-thinking gets you nowhere. It can kill your happiness. If you are over-thinking an experience, limiting the number of people you talk with can help you think soundly. The best thing you can do if/when you over-think is take action and take a step forward.

Everybody is going to over-think and over-analyse once in a while but it is best to minimise these thoughts and make them productive.

Are you an over-thinker?

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Pay Attention To Your Feedback

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As a Nigerian, I have come to realise that one of the things we, as a people, are often afraid of is people’s criticisms/negative feedback. No one likes to be criticised so we tend to develop strong resistance and reluctance to it.

Critiques often trigger strong emotions in us all. We tend to get bitter, angry or try to hurt people who have offered their critiques. We create a defensive stance to protect our self-worth which we feel is under vicious attack.

As a result, we try to disconnect from our social environment and prefer to live in our heads or associate with people who share our ideas and values. We develop an intemperate dislike for other people’s values/opinions and grow insensitive to people’s differences.

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Our environment encompasses people from different cultures and backgrounds who we interact with on a daily basis. We fail to understand that paying attention to our environment is necessary for human survival.

Almost everything we do is for the public – large or small. For instance, an entrepreneur develops his/her products for public consumption, a teacher/lecturer does his job for his students (public), the students do their school work to impress their teachers (public), the public office holders serve the poor masses etc. Thus, no matter what you do, we depend on people’s feedback to forge ahead.

Your ideas/work may seem brilliant to you but without feedback from people, our ideas/endeavours become especial and illusions. Hear American Rapper 50 Cent, “The public is never wrong. When people don’t respond to what you do, they are telling you something loud and clear. You’re just not listening.

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I remember when I presented a scientific paper about a year ago. In my head, I did pretty Ok amid the response from the audience but the examiners thought otherwise. Although they commended my delivery, they critiqued the information. I was disappointed at first but after meeting with them privately, areas of the presentation that were flawed and needed to be worked on became magnified/clearer to me. 

Just as I had thought, we often deceive ourselves into thinking we have an insight into how the public feels about us/our work but this information is often tainted and false. This is because we prefer to surround ourselves with friends/family or sycophants who may envy or praise our every move thereby creating a distance between us and the real information out there (the public).

For example, our politicians/leaders/public office holders distance themselves from the people they represent, lecturers distance themselves from the students they teach, employers/superiors distance themselves from the employees/subordinates thereby creating a huge communication gap and thence false feedback from the public. Distancing yourself from the public can be tragic because feedback is so crucial to success. By bridging this gap, we encourage direct interaction with the public and allow them to voice their criticisms and feedback.

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It is impossible to please everyone or control what other people will say, whether they’ll approve or share their opinions but the strength of interacting with the public does not come from the quantity but the quality of your feedback. If you have little or no access to the public, then how do you learn from your mistakes? How do you improve? How do you know you are ignorant? How do you know what the people want?

Criticisms and critiques are never easy to receive/accept but they give you an idea how people see you. Pay attention to your feedback, the most important information in the world, and transform it into an opportunity for personal growth, emotional development, time efficiency, improved relationships, and self-confidence.

Thank you for making out time to read this article. If you have enjoyed it, please comment and share your views on this issue. Also, do like, share and follow the blog.

The Past Does Matter

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Everyday I hear people say, “the past is the past. It doesn’t matter; just leave it there.” This always gives me a wry smile because anyone going on about how the past doesn’t matter has shown his/her hand.

Does the past really matter? Yes it does! If the past doesn’t matter, why do we still see people the way they were back in Secondary School or University (until proven otherwise)? Why does your doctor always take your medical/clinical history when you visit the hospital? Why do your potential employers check your track record during an interview? Why do people cling to their culture/tradition? Why do African parents insist on investigating their potential in-law’s family history? I could go on and on but I am pretty sure you get my point now.

This may sound harsh or judgmental to many reading this but this is just me embracing reality here. Personally, I don’t judge people by their pasts anymore but it gives me an idea of what to expect from you and prepare myself for it.

This is not a “fun” topic; people are often torn between digging into their potential partner’s past and leaving the past where it belongs. Paranoia grips us when people try to find out certain information about us that we don’t want them finding out, and dealing with disrespect, distrust and uncertainty.

Most people would ask, “what’s the essence of asking about one’s past when s/he will definitely lie? After all, people do change you know” Yes! People do change but our past must have had a huge factor in triggering this change.

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Life is about events, which can either have positive or negative effects on us. Also, these events have a tendency to reoccur so taking history of these events prepare us better to face such things when they reoccur.

For instance, our immune systems spring into action when pathogens (viruses, bacteria and other microbes) invade our body and try to get rid of these foreign invaders. Afterwards, our immune systems make a memory for them and subsequent responses to these antigens are quicker and more effective than those that occurred after the first exposure.

Your past is your story; we are not proud of the wrong choices and mistakes we’ve made but these mistakes often embolden us in all ramifications. We build/develop ourselves based on past events and experiences.

For instance, apostle Paul/Saul went about persecuting Christians with zeal until he was arrested by God on his way to Damascus and was converted to Christianity. He preached the Gospel of Christ with the same zeal he used in killing Christians back in the day until he was martyred.

Life is about patterns; some we carry with us whilst we acquire others as we go along. However, sometimes we let these patterns go unnoticed and this can have a drastic effect on our perceptions of logic, and cause and effect. A good understanding of these patterns allows one to have a different outlook on life as well as the insight to embrace the truths unfolding around us.

Finding out the truth about your new partner’s past is often hard to take, especially for the broken-hearted and faith departed but it is better to know the truth and be prepared for the worst; it saves one from so many things s/he probably could have easily avoided. The past also helps the future generations to act from the mistakes of their predecessors.

Nonetheless, it is also possible to ignore the past and still have happy and fruitful personal relationships with people. In everything, there’s always an outlier.

Thank you for making out time to read this article. If you have enjoyed it, please comment and share your views on this issue. Also, do like, share and follow the blog.

Self-Respect, Yes; Self-Obsession, Nay

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I had an epiphany recently; I have come to accept that everyone (whether male or female, young or old) in this world of ours is in sales business. We are all trying to sell something; whether it is oneself, a product or service.

Irrespective of your age or occupation, you have to sell yourself to move ahead in life. You have to overwhelm the opposite sex to win their love/affection, impress your teachers during assessments to pass, convince your potential employer that you are the next best thing after party Jollof rice during a job interview or market your product/service to attract customers.

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Sales business is all about the buyers and sellers who are emotional beings. Buyers need to be convinced of you as a person, your product or service to be interested in what you have to offer. Hence, a seller requires emotional intelligence (empathy) as well as self-respect, self-awareness, self-motivation, ability to listen, integrity and honesty to successfully deliver his/her pitch and make a sale.

The Igbos often say “Otu isi kposa ka aga esi goru” which simply means what/how you sell is what/how people will buy. Buyers don’t care or want to know how great you are until they understand how great you think they are. Infact, there is a myth that boastful and loquacious sellers have little or nothing to offer. Hear Frank Underwood (a fictional character in the TV series House of Cards), “Pay more attention to the print it is far more important than the selling price.”

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A seller that can control his/her words exudes confidence and self-respect. A strong sense of self-respect helps one fulfill his/her potential, develop healthy relationships with buyers and make them see you as a person worthy of respect. Absurdum est ut alios regat, qui seipsum regere nescit. Robert Greene once wrote, “A person that cannot control his words shows he cannot control himself, and is unworthy of respect.”

Nevertheless, there is a thin line between self-respect and self-obsession. In a desperate attempt to raise our self-respect, many cross this line and succumb to narcissism or self-obsession. While there is little or no doubt that people with low self-respect are often depressed, jealous and lack motivation, self-obsession can also be a conundrum. Richard Boyatiz, a Professor of Organizational Behavior, Psychology, and Cognitive Science at Case Western Reserve University, once said in a lecture, “To large extent, our strengths and weaknesses are like a yin yang. They are in the context of each other. Any strength taken to extreme can become a weakness.”

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Self-obsessed individuals or narcissists are overconfident and have an unquenchable thirst to be perceived as the most important person in the room even if it means saying ill things or putting others down to feel good (a trait they share with individuals with low self-respect). It makes them feel significant hence they derive their sense of self from being good at something.

Self-obsession has more in common with low self-respect than we perceive; just with a different expression. Just like individuals with low self-respect, narcissists tend to get angry and aggressive towards those who make innocuous comments that irk their ego and make them feel bad about themselves.

Furthermore, they are often killjoys, flaunt and strut their accomplishments, compare a lot and hang out with people they feel are on their level. Human beings rarely accept their own feedbacks and narcissists are no different. However, facts are stubborn things and paying close attention to your own feedback (the most important information in this our sales world) will help you become a healthier, smarter and happier sales professional.

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Having a healthy respect for others is crucial and cannot be overemphasised. Strive Masiyiwa, one of Africa’s richest business men and most generous humanitarians, wrote on his Facebook page, “Being business minded requires you to approach things with humility and respect.” These two leadership traits will help you interact with your buyer(s) in a way that makes them feel valued and appreciated. Consequently, building longlasting partnership/relationship with your buyer(s). Always remember, a seller is nothing without his/her buyer(s) and individuals don’t need to be  important to be a potential buyer. Hear Bishop T.D. Jakes, “Take your time to enjoy your relationships. Nature teaches us, there’s no fruit without relationships..you need people. Surround yourself with good ones.”

The need for self-respect in sales (life) have led many to turn a blind eye to their shortcomings and flaws thereby developing a quasi-understanding of themselves. If you are in pursuit of self-respect, then you must have to accept yourself (including your limitations) and work everyday on becoming better. Investing in yourself is the best investment you can/will ever make. A good sales professional invests in his/her education, development and personal motivation; these are prerequisite tools.

Are you a good salesman?

Game of Thrones: Lessons

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As the season 5 of the popular TV show, Game of Thrones (GOT) comes to an end, let’s look at the possible lessons we have learnt so far.

1. GOT has completely changed how we view Mondays. New episodes are often released every Monday hence making the often dreaded Monday a day to look forward to. Thanks to GOT, “Oh God! I hate Mondays” is now “Thank God it’s Monday.”

2. Wisdom is better than strength.
“Wisdom oft comes from the mouth of babes”

Tyrion “dwarf” Lannister had little or nothing to match Stannis Baratheon’s army during the latter’s invasion of King’s Landing but he had a good head on his shoulders and a chemical that could kill thousands. With combination of these, he was able to defeat Stannis.

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3. Family is everything.
“Whatever you may believe of me, Lady Stark, I promise you this – I never bet against my family.” – Tyrion Lannister
“It is the family name that lives on. Not your personal glory, not your honour..but family” -Tywin Lannister

GOT depicts how powerful (the names of) families can be. The Lannisters, Starks, Tyrells, Martells, Targaryerens, Boltons all fought to protect their families and married each other to form an alliance and strengthen their authority over the 7 Kingdoms.

4. Think before you make a promise.
“A Lannister always pays his debts” – Tyrion Lannister

A promise is like a bond; don’t take it lightly. One of the quickest ways to lose respect and power is to make promises you can’t keep. Going back on your promise can result in unexpected situations. Walder Frey never forgave Rob Stark for not honouring his promise and slaughtered him, mother, wife and unborn child at the Red Wedding.

5. Knowledge is power.
“A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge” – Tyrion Lannister
“Knowledge is a weapon, Jon. Arm yourself well before you ride forth to battle.” -Maester Aemon to Jon Snow

Lord Varys and Tyrion knew their weaknesses and focused on acquiring knowledge. In this information age, knowledge is everything. We are lucky to have abundance of information at our disposal, thanks to Internet. Knowledge, wisdom and a broad perspective are just some of the things one can gain from reading. These help one see to the world more objectively.

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6. Learn from your experience.
“A bruise is a lesson…and each lesson makes us better” – Arya Stark

Everyday we experience things that change us. Bad experiences, whether mental, physical or emotional, teach us more. The scars definitely hurt but don’t dwell on them rather focus on the lessons.

7. Winter is always coming and usually defines your character.
“Chaos isn’t a pit, chaos is a ladder. Many try to climb, fail and never try again. The fall breaks them.” – Lord Baelish
“Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?” Brann Stark asked; the father Ned replied “That is the only time a man can be brave.”

Everybody maintains his composure when the going is good but it takes a person of character to rise above obstacles against all odds. There’s always some form of evil lurking in the dark. Tough times reveal the true strength of every individual; effective leaders keep their heads up and never give up. Pray for the best but prepare for the worst.

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8. Never appear desperate.
“A true man does what he will, not what he must.” – Cersei Lannister

You make yourself an easy prey when you appear desperate. Stannis was desperate to take control of the 7 kingdoms and sought the help of God of light (religion). He ended up killing his brother, Renly and burning his only daughter. The wife committed suicide afterwards. Lest I forget, Stannis still didn’t get the Iron Throne.

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9. Friendzone sucks.
This is just to reiterate what we already know, getting stuck in the friendzone fucks you up big time. Just ask Ser Jorah.

10. Life is not a straight-line graph.
“Every man must die Jon Snow. But first he must live.” – Ygrette

GOT, unlike other fairytales, seem more realistic because in reality you can’t predict what life will serve you the next minute. Life is unfair and full of twists & turns; bad things happen to good people all the time. The only thing certain in this life of uncertainty is that all men must die. VALAR MORGHULIS 

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11. Be modest; let others praise you.
“Any man who must say I am king is no true king” – Tywin Lannister

There are five things that can make one arrogant: fame, beauty, affluence, intelligence, and talent. If you possess any of these, it is important to maintain a cool head and let others praise you.

12. First impressions are often shallow and wrong
“When Jon Arry named you master of coins no one cared. Always been a grumby job, why not let a grumby man do it.”

Sometimes what we hate end up being the best things that ever happened to us. Many hated the title, “Master of Coins” but Lord Baelish yielded more power as master of coins than he/others expected and ensured Joffrey assumed the throne.
The best love story in GOT remains the one between Khal Drogo and Khalessi however many forget the beautiful story started with a forced marriage and rape.

13. Everybody wants you to do well but not better than them.
Listen to this convo between Lord Baelish and Lord Varys.
Lord Baelish: “It is flattering really..you feeling such dread at the prospect of me getting what I want.”
Lord Varys: “Thwarting you has never been my primary ambition, I promise you. Although who doesn’t like to see their friend fail now and then.”
Need I say more? Ok! Maybe one more.
“It is not those foes who curse you to your face that you must fear, but those who smile when you are looking and sharpen their knives when you turn your back.” – Melisandre

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14. Power intoxicates like wine.
“Power resides where men believe it resides. No more and no less.” – Lord Varys

Power is something everybody yearns for however being power-drunk, like Joffrey, or lust for power, like Cersei, are recipes for disaster and discontentment respectively.

15. Self-belief/self-pride, not self-obsession, is required for success.
“Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like an armour and it can never be used to hurt you.” – Tyrion to Jon Snow

If you do not believe in yourself, how do you expect others to do? Never underestimate yourself. Our minds and brains are like transmitters, people pick up what you transmit. Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses, and work hard to develop/magnify the former and diminsh the latter. Despite the famous saying, “you know nothing Jon Snow” he grew to be the leader of the Night’s Watch.

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16. Love is powerful.
“The thing we love destroy us everytime lad. Remember that.” – Jeor Mormont to Jon Snow
“Love is poison. A sweet poison, yes, but it will kill you all the same.” – Cersei Lannister

Everybody longs to love and be loved. Love makes everything beautiful and gives humans drive and purpose. Virtually every character in the show is driven by love. Khal Drogo lost his life and power cos of his love for his wife and never born child. Theon Greyjoy’s infamous love for the female genitalia was his undoing.

17. Listen to elderly people, they know the short-cut to life.
If Brandon Stark had listened to the mother, he wouldn’t have been thrown off a cliff by Jaime, which led to his father,Ned, travelling to King’s Landing to seek justice and ended up losing his leg and subsequently his head.

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18. Everybody wants something; don’t be afraid to take a risk.
“Everybody wants something and when you know what a man wants, you know who he is and how to move him.” – Lord Baelish

Give and it shall be given to you. One must be willing to give in order to take. You don’t always receive when you ask; people aren’t God but you increase your chances when you offer help to others.
Cersei and Tywin Lannister wanted Tyrion to pay for Joffrey’s death at all costs, Tyrion took a huge risk and demanded trial by combat even when all odds were against him. Take risks, you might surprise everyone including yourself.

19. Don’t get too attached; learn to let go.
Humans often grow intemperate likeness for people and things, including TV shows. GOT teaches one that all good things come to an end. Do not, I repeat, do not get attached to a character in GOT lest he/she may end up dead.

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20. If a woman asks you if she’s the most beautiful girl in the world. Just say Yes, your life might depend on it. Never trust anyone especially someone who loves your partner; just look at Ned Stark and Lord Baelish. Your child may end up like Joffrey, a king, if you decide to give him everything. No woman born of a woman is immune to flattery; flatter that lady today. The street is military and only the strong survive; all hail Lords Baelish and Varys. Never believe anything anyone says before a but...”you know my brother once told me nothing someone says before the word “but” really counts” – Benjen Stark to Tyrion on the wall.

What have you learnt from the series that I omitted? Please do tell.