Opinions and Attention

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Naturally, I am not attracted to groups so I try not to join any but life has presented me with different reasons, at different stages and on different occasions, to do so. Right from an early age, I had to join the Bible, quiz and football clubs to hone my academic and soccer abilities. This continued as I grew older and I proceeded to join a research team as a post-graduate student.

There are several reasons why one may benefit from group inclusion. Just like me, many join groups for purposes of social, spiritual, educational and political change. These groups afford us the chance to meet up and have different interactions with others.

However, there is something about groups I abhor. Groups tend to promote crowd mentality amongst their members. And this doesn’t align with my belief. I believe one has the right to think freely on his/her own. According to Mark Twain, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority. It is time to pause and reflect.”

Groups often infiltrate the minds of their members thereby making them see themselves in a positive way and others (opponents & people dissimilar to them) in a negative way. For example, back in secondary school, it was deemed wrong/degrading for members of certain groups to relate with members of other groups. As a consequence, social distance is created.

Social distance is based on the concepts of race, ethnicity, class and status. It reflects the degree to which people are willing to accept or reject social intercourse with others with different social characteristics.

Social distance succinctly explains why we disregard the opinions of those we feel are below us e.g our gatemen etc because their ideas and dreams seem bare and ordinary to us. So we only bother ourselves with opinions of those we feel are above us or on the same level with us.

In every organisation or institution, low-rank individuals often pay attention to the affairs of high-rank individuals. This explains why rich people pay little attention to those below them. Daniel Goleman in his article “Rich People Just Care Less” published in the New York Times, wrote “The more powerful pay less attention to us than we do to them, in other situations we are relatively higher on the totem pole of status — and we, too, tend to pay less attention to those a rung or two down.”

Think about this: when a rich/successful (wo)man says something, whether it sounds smart or stupid, people are awed. In contrast, many might turn a blind eye to a well-thought analysis offered by a poor wise man. No wonder King Solomon, who many believe to be the wisest man that ever lived, said in Ecclesiastes 9 vs 16, “Wisdom is better than strength, those who are wise will be despised if they are poor. What they say will not be appreciated for long.”

In this information age, your long-term success depends on winning the attention of others. According to Steve Rubel of Edelman, “Attention is the most important currency that anybody can give you. It’s worth more than money, possessions or things.” It’s not easy to gain people’s attention. It requires hard work, determination and time.

Nobody pays attention to someone who shares a common opinion (only famous people are an exception to this). We rather turn our attention to people who we deem threats, superior or have uncommon opinions.

Therefore, to leave your mark and make a difference, you have to focus your attention inward and be bold enough to challenge the status quo. Only then will people pay attention to you.

Blame It On Me

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I just saw the recent disheartening video footage of Matthew Ajibade, the Nigerian student who died mysteriously in police custody in the United States earlier in the year, being shocked by police officers while handcuffed to a restraining chair and writhing in pain.

Ajibade, who was only 21 years old at the time of his death, was found dead in jail in the US on New Year’s day. He had been arrested the previous day after his girlfriend put a distress call to 911 for an ambulance following an episode of his bipolar disorder which made him strike her. The police showed up instead and arrested Ajibade despite the girlfriend making it clear he needed medical attention.

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This has become a norm in the United States where young innocent harmless black men are more likely to be gunned down by the police than they would a white. Their only crime is being black. Black people are generally presumed to be dangerous, a threat and always guilty until proven innocent. According to promoters of the Black Lives Matter movement, a black man, woman, or child is murdered by police or vigilante law enforcement every twenty-eight hours.

In light of the recent extrajudicial killings of black people, I reaffirm my stance as an unapologetic Black man and throw my weight behind the Black Lives Matter movement. However, I hate the fact that black people blame everything wrong in their lives on racism.

Black music artistes are often quick to cite/blame racism for their failure to get nominations or win music awards. If American actor Leonardo DiCaprio was black, maybe he’d have taken the same route and blamed his failure to win an Oscar, despite mesmeric performances in a number of movies, on his race. Or the likes of Larry Bird, Jason Kidd, Steven Nash and Dirk Nowitski would have pinned Michael Jordan’s recognition as the greatest basketballer of all time on race.

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I do not know if blaming everything on racism makes some of my black brothers and sisters feel better about themselves but it is about time we took some of the blame for some of the things happening to us. There’s a saying that “no one can make you inferior without your consent.” Magnifying our self-esteem issues by seeking sympathy from the world for being black will give others the power to use us as pawns.

I do not seek sympathy from anyone for being black. Being black is not a plague/curse. Back in Nigeria, being black is becoming a bad thing too. It requires painstaking effort to discern a Nigerian from the crowd these days. We have adopted foreign accents and sound more American and British than the Americans and British people themselves.

You are automatically proclaimed intelligent once you speak well with a foreign accent. Perhaps that’s why it has become a “taboo” for anyone, especially those going into media or entertainment industry, to have a Nigerian accent. Listen to the radio and TV stations now, and you ask yourself “why the struggle to sound white?”

The same Nigerian accent we deride was recently ranked 6th sexiest accent by CNN, higher than the the American accent and a spot below the Queens English accent. However, have you ever seen whites  “killing” themselves to have a Nigerian accent? The essence of language is to communicate but it is also an integral part of a people’s culture. It is one of the things that sets one apart.

Accents define us and grant others information about our lives – where we are from, our history and identity as a people/ race. Our accents depict the richness of our cultural heritage and diversity. You don’t need need a foreign accent to have a high self-esteem rather forcing a foreign accent enhances your inferiority complex.

You are a representative of the Black Community; stop making our kids feel being Black and having a Nigerian accent is a bad thing. So instead of blurting out “Don’t Blame it on me” like John Newman, take the blame today like George Ezra and be proud of who you are. Be made of black!

Is everybody an addict?

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I was listening to the song John Doe, performed by B.O.B and Priscilla, last night and some lines from the song go like this.

Errybody’s addicted to something
Errybody gotta grip onto something
Even if it’s just to feel the response of appeal
Maybe once, maybe twice
Maybe hundreds of times, hundreds of times

This got my mind racing; is everyone really addicted to something? Is addiction part of our make up as humans? Does it help one to fight his/her inner demons?

To answer these questions; yes I think everybody is addicted to something or capable of being an addict and addiction is a part of human condition. However I don’t know if it helps us crush our inner demons.

Whether it is drugs, sex, violence, alcohol, porn, nicotine, food, gambling, coffee, shopping or something seemingly innocuous like gossiping, exercise, power, religion, love, attention, TV series, music, looks or obsession to work, every individual has addictive tendencies. So, it is left for one to acknowledge that particular bane of his/her life.

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Our world encourages and demands addiction. Just like Oliver Twist, we yearn for more – more money, more power, more knowledge, more success, more status, more gadgets, more cars, more happiness.

Boredom is directly proportional to addiction. Most people can’t handle boredom. To be fair, nobody likes being bored. Once we are bored, we look for things to keep ourselves busy until we cross that fine line between loving or using something a lot, and being addicted. You know what they a say, an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.

In the end, it is safe to presume that everybody is addicted to something and everybody is an addict but we can channel our addictive tendencies into something positive.

What are you addicted to?

Information is everything

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Last weekend, I sat down to tinker with my thoughts; to evaluate how the past month went. After a while, I discovered that every important decision I made was dependent on the information I had at the time.

Information is the lifeblood of every decision. It is at the root of everything. We depend on information to make decisions, solve problems and resolve uncertainty.

In this Information Age, information is ubiquitous and more accessible to virtually everyone. We are overwhelmed by the abundance of information at our disposal.

Everything that informs our world – music, writing, movies, news etc – can be described as information. According to Business Dictionary, Information is described as data that is accurate and timely, specific and organized for a purpose, presented within a context that gives it meaning and relevance, and can lead to an increase in understanding and decrease in uncertainty.

For instance, if you don’t read the instructions on your exam paper (information given by the examiners) before proceeding to answer the questions, you are likely to misunderstand the questions.

Information is an integral part of our lives; it can affect a behaviour or an outcome. Those with accurate, reliable and timely information have an advantage over others.

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Scientifically, information defines who we are. Every individual possesses a genetic code, which is the biochemical basis of heredity. This genetic code serves as biochemical instructions that translates the genetic information in one’s DNA or messenger RNA sequences into amino acids for synthesis of protein. Pardon my use of medical jargon.

Information can be facts, opinions and/or assertions. Our relationships, including marriage, is based on facts and/or opinions. It is hard to know everything about an individual so one tries to make a smart judgement based on facts and opinions and not a risky one based only on opinions.

Information provides knowledge. Knowledge is a prequisite for success and power. I am yet to see a rich man that doesn’t have information/knowledge. By sharing his/her knowledge, he acquires more wealth and power.

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However, information can be disastrous when there is an overload. Differentiating between good and bad information requires skill, patience and practice.

In this school of life, everybody is a researcher and every researcher is in dire need of information for his/her research to be successful. When you find this information, evaluate if it is good information. Successful research is based on having good information and then using it to make the right decisions.

Information is everywhere; the challenge is to make good use of it.

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

Desperation

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Every football fan looks forward to transfer deadline day as varied teams make last-ditch efforts to save their season. European clubs scamper to get certain deals over the line before midnight of September 1 (this year the times varied).

The transfer deadline day gives one a practical insight into desperation. Fans/managers are desperate to see new players walk through the door at their respective clubs.

This year, we saw Manchester United break the transfer record for a teenager as they coughed out £36m (which could rise to €58m) for 19-year-old Anthony Martial from AS Monaco. This may sound like a calculated risk to the management of Manchester United due to the huge potential of young Martial but the truth is that he is a panic buy, purchased to solve United’s striking problem – an act of desperation.

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Desperation is marked by despair and a strong desire. It is unattractive to most people..maybe everyone. It is easy to decipher; it can be spotted from miles away.

Once you appear desperate, you become an easy prey. Desperation often impairs one’s rational and critical thoughts hence affecting his/her judgement. No wonder the Irish describe ‘desperate’ as something very bad.

To be fair, it is hard for one not to be desperate in this clime after some period of anguish and despair. Our economy is in a worrisome state; corruption rules the day, unemployment is at all-time high and most of the employed ones are underemployed and underpaid.

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For example, you just married the love of your life and have a baby on the way but you have no job because you were sacked from your last job. You have bills to pay, responsibilities to meet but you don’t have money to pay or meet them. Let’s be honest, who wouldn’t get desperate after a while?

Also, just like job search, quest for true love can often result in desperation. It is that time for you to settle down so you attend every wedding and register on every dating site till you give into desperation. Being too eager and needy can backfire and creep people out.

Desperation often leads to self-destruction. Desperate people rarely make good decisions. They lower their value in the eyes of others and tend to settle for anything.

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Desperation is never a good negotiating tactic. It makes one over-react and over-price a product or service just like Manchester United. It is okay to be desperate for a job/love/product/service – whatever it may be – but it is important to maintain your cool. You don’t have to act like you are.

Tottenham Hotspur supremo David Levy is known for his calm and collected approach to transfer negotiations. In the end, his counterparts become frustrated and buy his players at an inflated price.

On the contrary, desperation can also be a good thing – like a springboard to productivity. This may sound weird to many but believe it. Some people develop overnight courage and spring to action when they are desperate. After all, you know what they say “desperate times call for desperate measures.”

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About 3,000 Syrian migrants have already died this year in the Mediterranean as they try to escape the violence in Syria but that hasn’t stopped others from migrating to Europe. When you are desperate, you leave your comfort zone and embrace your last resort.

Nothing matters to you other than this moment. You can’t second guess yourself when you have run out of options. This can give one a certain kind of power. It shows us who we really are; whether we are complacent or willing to go far. Hear Evan Esar, “Success is the good fortune that comes from aspiration, DESPERATION, perspiration, and inspiration.”

It is good to be full of zing but moderation is key. Once you act cool and collected, your confidence will rub off on people hence making you attractive. Desperation is like a dirt on the wall – cover it up with paint and it’s all good!

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