I have always said that Knowledge is a critical resource for victory at any level. Knowledge is the foundation of intelligence. And intelligence is required for any level of warfare regardless of the kind. Knowledge is more than important. It takes you beyond where you can ever imagine, it reduces your error rate, it keeps you safe and helps you maximize your greatest potential. Knowledge is the take off point of any kind of value. In the 2000s, knowledge is the essential tool for managing complexities. Because when complexities are intensified, there is always a greater and greater demand on knowledge. Equally, the greatest challenge of society is the family institution. And the family institution has suffered consistently all through history simply because the children of yesterday who lacked adequate upbringing are now the adults of today and will create the children of today and the adults of tomorrow, and the vicious cycle continues.
So, ignorance is the common ingredient all through generations. But note that this ignorance is not the ignorance of all things but the ignorance of key things. Just as we do not need a bunch of keys to open a door but the right key, so we do not need the knowledge of all things to organize the society. Instead, we need the knowledge of key things; and the family is key. The crisis of the family is the crisis of the nation and the crisis of the nation is the crisis of the family. And if there is any tool that weakens the potential to build great families, it is the place of correction. If you ask me, what is the one thing that if you can learn, can increase your capacity and potential for success in building a great family? What can increase your success potential by almost 70% as far as building a family is concerned? I believe the answer will be: correction. You see, misbehavior is a constant and error is nature. Perfect behaviour eludes humanity so much that even you as a full blown adult sometimes still misbehaves and makes clear mistakes. Our individual and collective peace must not; I repeat must not be tied to perfect behaviour since none of us can be perfect. If this is true, correction also becomes critical to manage a reality as constant as imperfect behaviour. If you lack the skill to administer correction, you will be miserable, frustrated and depressed.
All through history, families have never been destroyed until they get the correction skill wrong. Now, there is this terrible assumption that punishment is correction. Punishment is never correction. Correction is a skill while punishment is an imbalance in nature in that any fool can punish. You don’t need formal training to know how to punish, you only need to be born; but you need education and training for you to know how to correct; it is not a gift of nature. It is a skill that must be learnt. While everybody can sleep for example and anyone can determinedly wake up at a particular time, to perform surgery, you need more than determination. Determination without skill in the surgery theatre is murder…clean murder and an honest and sincere jail term. Determination to correct without skill in the home is a vice. The goal of punishment is to acknowledge your hurt and to share the pain of your hurt with the offender. It does not by any means transform. On the other hand, the goal of correction is to bring the offender to a human state of acknowledgement of error, remorse, and to govern behaviour in a way that transforms the offender and blesses both his immediate environment and society at large.
Studies have shown that over 90% of parents never correct in their lifetime, they only punish. The reason they don’t correct is simply that they don’t know how.. See, “The plaster should be no wider than the sore.” It’s as simple as that. Punishment never fits the offense and never governs behaviour. To achieve that, actions must be carefully thought out before they are stated or applied, and even then it will be necessary to modify and refine them as they are being used. That’s correction and that takes learning. In the following example, I illustrate how correction and consequences should be selected, applied, and enforced, and describe the principles of behaviour upon which the procedure is based.
Correction demands that we make the decision of whether we want to be right or we want to progress. Punishment underscores how right you are, but correction creates transformation and progress. Now, a 10-year-old boy has been leaving his bike lying in the driveway. His parents frequently have to stop their car, get out and move the bike, then get back in the car and drive into the garage. Not only is this annoying, but a less careful or alert driver might hit or run over the bike. A punisher will give the boy a piece of his mind, a good scolding, a heavy dose of logic, a spanking, and the pronouncement that “If I ever see that bike lying in the driveway again, you won’t see it for a month—if you ever see it again!”. See, this action is obviously worse behaviour than leaving the bike in the driveway.The better way is to decide in advance exactly what the boy is expected to do with his bike. This is correction. It might be as simple as having him put his bike on the lawn, against the house, beside the porch, or out of the way in the garage. This then becomes the expectation of the boy’s behavior. Knowing in advance the expectations of his behavior is fair and is of primary importance.
Next, the parents must decide how to state their expectation to the boy so he fully understands it, and can demonstrate that he understands it! This is best accomplished in a simulation or role playing exercise. But on this altar of punishment, families have been ruined, children wrongly programmed to become malfunctioning adults and society is always the victim. I hope i’ve helped a bit.
The wisdom in human exchange is to understand that all relationships require work. Peace has a price. And prejudice has a cost. But those who must see and experience value must know that harmony and cohesion does not just occur. They take time, patience, and two people who are willing to put in the effort. Today, I want to share the things I believe your marriage and your family needs from you. Note that I’m not talking to a couple now. No. I’m talking to you alone. You are enough to create a turnaround in your home. I’m talking to you as the husband or the wife. Then, I’m also talking to those hoping to occupy either of these two offices soon. I’m talking to you alone.
Victory is personal, and once your part is played, you have the right to expect the energy of life to reorganize situations and circumstances to begin to work in the direction of your dominant expectations. It’s nature. It’s the design of life, and it works. For me, these things are debts that you owe. In the best marriage, pain and disappointments do exist, but a resolve must also exist such that no matter how demanding it is, you will also focus more on the parts of it that bring joy, meaning and fulfillment.
Top on the list of what you owe your marriage is ATTENTION. You owe your relationships, and indeed your marriage and your family the attention their individuality deserves. Attention by the way is the creative and passionate use of your time, energy and resources in the direction of those you consider valuable. And neglect based on lack of attention damages marriages far more often than malicious abuse. There’s nothing more vital to the bond you share with your spouse than simply being there.When we pay attention to each other, we breathe new life into each other. With frequent attention and affection,marriages flourish, and the individuals grow stronger. This is the side effect of a good relationship – we help heal each other’s wounds and support each other’s strengths.Marriage is worth the extra effort. And it’s wise not to wait for your spouse to do what you like before you share your time, energy and resources.
Next is TRUST.The entire fabric of our society – people working, living and breathing together – relies on the positive beliefs we have about each other – a subtle, inherent trust. This trust is the glue that holds every peaceful civilization together. Which is why trust is the greatest compliment you can give a person.The only way to build this trust, or find out if someone is trustworthy, is to trust them. When you do this in marriage, without a doubt, you’ll automatically get two results: A friend for life or a lesson for life. Either way, the outcome is positive.
Next is HONESTY. When your intentions are good and your cause is just, honesty will always help you. When your heart is open to love and truth, your lips will not utter lies that haunt you. When couples are honest with each other up front, the truth may hurt sooner, but the suffering always dies faster, and out of this suffering comes growth and blessings.Be honest about what’s right, as well as what needs to be changed. Be honest about what you want in a marriage and how you want to be treated. The bottom line is that marriages don’t hurt. Lying, cheating and twisting reality until it screws with someone’s emotions is what hurts. Never mess with someone’s feelings just because you’re unsure of your own. If you are unsure in any way, be sure to say so. Always be open and honest.
Next is LOYALTY. Stand by those you care about in their darkest moments. Brave the shadows alongside them until they’re able to find the light. You can’t promise to be there for someone for the rest of their life, but you can sincerely be there for them for the rest of yours. When it comes to marriage, remaining faithful is never an option, but a priority.
Next is TEAMWORK. The most important trip you will ever take in life is meeting others half way. You will achieve far more by working with people, rather than working alone or against them.That’s what healthy relationships are all about – teamwork. The strength of every marriage depends on the strength of its members, and the strength of each member depends on the quality of their relationships.Anyone who helps you to make your half-hearted attempts more whole-hearted through passion, love and teamwork, is a precious friend and teacher. You can be such a person for your spouse. Connect with him or her, and conquer the world together. This is a great gift in marriage.
Next is ACCEPTANCE. There’s no such thing as a perfect relationship. Even if it seems perfect now, it won’t always be. Imperfection, however, is real and beautiful. It’s how two people accept and deal with the imperfections of a relationship that make it ideal.Since perfect behaviour does not exist in any human, our best love cannot and must not be earned by perfect behaviour. The quality of the happiness between two people grows in direct proportion to their acceptance, and in inverse proportion to their intolerance and expectations. They must appreciate their similarities and respect their differences. Then, Forgiveness is one of the greatest virtues to which you should always seek. Imagine if everyone you knew was willing both to apologize and to accept an apology. Is there any problem that you all would not be able to solve?The willingness to admit that we are all human, and to forgive sincerely, is a sign of your emotional strength and maturity. Ultimately, this forgiveness is for you. It sets you free from the shackles of the past so you can take the future in stride.If it is true that not one of us is perfect, then ignoring to forgive must be a silly choice. All I have shared here is nature. It’s the design of life, and it works.
Finally, I want you to know that after over a decade of marriage, my best lessons are that God is faithful, love is a choice, peace is always within reach and marriage is science. I hope I’ve helped a bit. I wish you well. I wish your marriage well. Stay rooted…
I want to share with you an encounter I had with a very successful old man in his early seventies. He is happily married, a father and grandfather with a successful career as a trainer on communication for change with many reputable non-governmental organization and various organs of the United Nations.
In my custom of observing and asking questions when I’m with wise elders, I asked him, “Sir, what would you do differently if you were to start your life all over again.” He sighed deeply and responded, “You have asked a very hard question….but to tell you the most important of all, I will take my relationships more seriously.” He continued, “There are some people I met in my life who saw my potential and gave me access to their wealth of wisdom and connection as a young man, obviously willing to help develop me. I did not use the opportunities and that is the sad story. I allowed them to slip through my fingers.”
In what I would like to call lessons from failure, he continued “As a young man, I was very charismatic and eager to give expression to my difference and this audacious attitude drew me to the bad, the good and the ugly. I did not have the wisdom as a young man to sieve out the bad from the ugly and the good. I had superiority complex……It robbed me of the need to embrace interdependence as a gift of nature, a vehicle to help us achieve our God-ordained destiny….”
The old man concludes, “Though it is a painful discovery which cost me a lot, I have no regrets, I only have lessons. My unalloyed commitment is to communicate these lessons first to my children which I faithfully take time to do and any other wise man or woman who ask me as you have done today. My dear friend, I believe relationship is power.”
Hmmn! I have always had this thought or philosophy but I didn’t grasp its full import until my conversation with this old man and it is this – No man is self made, we are all products of influences. It is wise to understand that relationships are important to our advancement.
I think the number one business any man should be involved in is people business. It is an investment whose dividends are priceless and invaluable. It sad our world today doesn’t recognize clearly its importance in stamping our influence on the sands of time.
Accomplishments, no matter how great, are not a factor in defining meaning and fulfillment. Let me say this – if you are not in the people business, you are not in any business and you cannot give expression to the best of your potential. I’m not referring here to parasitic or careless relationships. I’m not talking about relationships of individuals who are not comfortable in their own skin or in being alone and are always seeking the validation of others in the name of relationships.
The relationships I’m talking about are those carefully cultivated in pursuit of one’s destiny. Relationships of this nature are cultivated in 3 critical categories
Relationships with people you look up to.
This may include your parents, your mentors, teachers and all. You must learn to respect, submit and reason with them, not argue with them. These people have the knowledge, experience, professionalism and spirituality to guide and to pace you. More importantly, you are able to access them and if you can’t, pursue it
These include friends and colleagues at work. You usually get support from them through mutual respect and humility but you can’t lord things over them. You are called to support one another
Those who look up to you.
These include your children, immediate family members, younger minds and younger voices in society and protégés. You enjoy this uncommon blessing by providing direction through your lifestyle and principles. You cannot afford to let them down because that is like letting many generations down.
This is the truth – some people are so poor all they have is money. The greatest poverty in life is to lack meaningful relationships. The greatest bankruptcy a man will not quickly recover from is when there is no deposit in his or her relationship banks to draw from in critical times of destiny.
You and I are very familiar with the reflection, enthusiasm, planning, goal setting and resolutions that attend a new year. And this is necessary. Even philosophers and scientist agree that we have the opportunity to set a trajectory for our entire year by how we navigate the beginning.
The interesting thing about Beginnings is that they come laden with potential. It offers just that opportunity to close the chapter on our past failures and to proceed to rewrite our history on a new slate. Beginnings afford us the opportunity to stand on the foundation of past successes and to build something better. Beginning is an opportunity to start again. In it, we can disallow the past, its successes or failure, from creating impediments in the future.
You know the best way to begin again? Start by letting go of what was so that you can focus on what you would like to experience instead. Release yourself from resentments, past mistakes, fear, hurt, sadness, guilt and disappointment. This will help you cultivate the renewed awareness and expansive feelings needed for a fresh start.
The essence of today’s post is that these heightened feeling of enthusiasm, optimism, vision, and resolution that we begin a new year with need not die in the first few weeks. It must be cultivated and sustained anew every single day of the year. We must begin again daily, all through the year like it’s the start of the New Year.
Why do I say this? I have come to understand as a fact of life that there will be series of events, starting from the first few weeks that will seek to deflate your optimism by running contrary to your aspirations. Things will not always go as we planned. The difference maker then will be how we harness the power of new beginnings and deploy it all year round. The present is all you have and where real life happens. The present creates a new path and defines the content of the future.
Since every new day is steeped in the opportunities and power of beginnings, how then can we harness the power of daily beginnings?
1. Make a radical commitment to wonder
No matter what you have been through or currently going through, try to Imagine the world through the eyes of a child. Joseph pears says it succinctly “The more we can live in constant astonishment, the more we can harness a new dawn in every moment.” Choose to pause, observe and marvel. This makes life more satisfying and connected. It will help you remember that the minor sparks and hiccups, the things we all encounter everyday and often defined as stressors, are totally trivial after all.
2. Keep track of your perceptions
The power of beginnings hinges on the power of own perception. A chaplain once spoke with a soldier in a hospital bed, “You have lost an arm in a great cause.” “No”, said the Soldier. “I didn’t lose it, I gave it.” Profound! Between your choice and your perception lies your reality. We must keep track of the inner workings of our minds in harnessing our new beginnings.
3. Keep a journal
One great way to keep track of the inner workings of our mind is journalling. Get a small diary, jot down a few notes at the end of the day. What was the mood, tone, texture of the day? You can include a few details of the outward circumstances that made an impression on you. Focus on what happened inwards and record it. This will offer you a retrospective guide as you go through the rest of the year. You just mind find clues to understand yourself more as other impressions come along through the year.
All great things have come because of one initial decision to honour that single moment and to make it a new beginning. The beginning of anything has within it the seeds of the totality of that thing. So, begin the year on a great note. BEGIN EACH YEAR EVERYDAY
Amidst all the eulogies that have poured forth on Nelson Mandela, I’m not quick to forget that the best lessons in a man’s life are not usually in his strengths and triumphs but in his weaknesses and failures. For this reason, I’m studying his regrets as a deliberate attempt to manage my times better and drawing crucial life lessons from those who have gone ahead of me.
Mandela chose a noble path to follow but nonetheless it came at the expense of one of the greatest joys of human experience – the joy of a rich family life. In his book ‘A long Walk to Freedom’, He described how his first marriage to his first wife which was blessed with four children disintegrated and led to a total break up. He described further that the breakup of a marriage is traumatic especially for the children. “Our marriage was no exception and all of our children were wounded by the separation”, wrote Mandela. He described how Makato, gentle child, a natural peace maker tried to bring about some sort of reconciliation between him and his wife, the emotional reaction of his last child and how Thembi stop studying and became withdrawn and would frequently wear his clothes in reminiscence and longing for his father’s presence.
Mandela described a painful break up with his long term wife Winnie Mandela who stood by him in his years of incarceration, who at age 55 got involved in a relationship with a young lawyer, who already had a child with another woman. On April 13, 1992 announced in a press conference his separation from Winnie. In the book, he mentioned that he and his comrade Monzamo had contracted their marriage at a critical time in the struggle for the liberation of their people. He said “owing to the pressure of our shared commitment to the ANC struggle to end apartheid we were unable to enjoy a normal family life”.
He lamented how his role blinded him to fulfilling his responsibilities to his wife and children. He mentioned at his daughter Zindi’s wedding “It seems to be the destiny of freedom fighters to have unstable personal lives. When your life is in the struggle like mine was, there is little room left for family. This has always been my greatest regret and the most painful aspect of the choice I made. We watched our children grow without our guidance.”
He also mentioned his children saying after his release from prison, “We thought we had a father and one day he will come back. But to our dismay, our father came back and he left us alone because he has now become the father of the nation. To be the father of nation is a great honour but to be the father of a family is a greater joy. But it was a joy I had far little of.”
Mandela is a noble man in admitting his failures despite a saintly accord by the world. He communicated the truth that above all things, family is king. He refused to celebrate a lie, bringing home a lesson that no height of human achievement can make up for failure in the family. He knew this clear in his conscience and if he could live his life over again, he would do things differently.
To repeat his own words, “To be the father of nation is a great honour but to be the father of a family is a greater joy. But it was a joy I had far little of.”