December 2021 marks exactly 20 years since I got married. (I started sharing some lessons and guidance for a happier marriage than you could imagine in my presentation titled: Holy orgasm; you may click here to see that later.) Getting married marked one of the major turning points in my life but it wasn’t the most significant. The most significant turning point occurred two years after getting married.
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The most significant turning point in my life, and how that should be your story too!
A year before getting married, I relocated to a different part of town and joined a church in that new location. I then joined the youth fellowship and along the line got elected to lead the fellowship; I soon reckoned that I really needed to learn ‘Leadership’ otherwise it was going to be very difficult leading the highly heterogeneous group it was; comprising people with vastly different orientations, some highly educated graduates and others having little or no formal education, and inbetween.
It is worth noting that I had been a student leader throughout school; primary school I moved through cupboard monitor, class captain to school prefect; secondary school I became a house captain, and during university years I moved through group leader, publicity secretary, projects leader, and organising secretary for the graduate (postgraduate) students association. However, through all those stages not once was I (or were we) taken through the principles of good or true and effective leadership, and not once had I read any book on leadership; let me confess that I once came across a book titled ‘How to lead’ but there was no desire to read it because, as is the case with most people, I thought I was okay in my leadership; that attitude of: “what could possibly be different in that book that I didn’t already know, and what would I even lose not knowing what was in the book.” In that sense I was suffering from the number one problem with the educated: unconscious incompetence, i.e. not knowing what one does not know and thus being comfortable and confident while ignorant. Possibly, the closest to a semblance of leadership training I had (or we had) were character studies from the Bible; woefully insufficient. Sad!
So I headed to my favourite bookshop and got leadership books; while there, some general self-help books caught my attention so I got them as well. I read those books diligently (I read a lot of them 3 to 5 times, underlining key portions and making notes as though I was going to write exams) and that was the beginning of an unforgettable experience; it was as though I was receiving education afresh! I can boldly say that the education I received from reading those books was as valuable as the education I had received in my 6 years of university education, and in some cases even more valuable! For the first time I became aware of the statistically proven fact that of all the people that go to work, only 18 percent truly feel good about going to work, the remaining 82 percent wish that they did not have to go to work; that means if you randomly select 100 people and ask about their work life, 82 of them (i.e. a whopping 82 percent of people) will not be enjoying their work life, and so I needed to take steps to be part of the few who would truly enjoy working life. I came across the 4 popular, very surprising and easily avoidable habits that make life difficult, and so many valuable principles for living a meaningful and a truly fulfilling life, no matter the sphere of life or endeavour one finds himself or herself in; truly amazing principles!
I encountered the 5 stages of leadership for the first time, and I became conscious of the fact that I had mostly performed at the low stages, just like most leaders and that there were tried and tested leadership principles for growing from one stage of leadership to the higher stages where ‘magic’ happens, and that being either laissez-faire, or democratic leader, or otherwise autocratic leader was like being a half leader and not a full leader. For the first time, I encountered principles for managing emotions effectively, and with that I could avoid stress and also get people around to be more productive and more fulfilled. I encountered very powerful time-management techniques; truly revolutionary techniques to get more done in a week than most people get done in a month; life became more interesting! For the first time I encountered the 8-step creative thinking process, and with that I could come up with amazing ideas, and powerful or creative solutions to problems or difficulties around me. That is why I agree with Brian Sher that, indeed, “When you know the right things, the boundaries around your life suddenly disappear!” Life became so much more interesting and amazingly more meaningful for me. Indeed life can be so much easier, less stressful, and more fulfilling than you may think.
Particularly on the issue of learning to manage emotions effectively, I was so happy when the World Economic Forum (in 2016) ranked Emotional Intelligence (EI) as one of the top 10 skills employees needed by 2020 to succeed in the workplace; at the same time I was sad because the World Economic Forum (WEF) was very late, in that, EI did not suddenly become important, it had always been important since time immemorial and I knew that the very moment I chanced upon that almost 10 years earlier. There are a lot of other principles or skills that are so important but that which may not find its way on the World Economic Forum list anytime soon, if at all. I share most of them in Zing4Life!
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