Motivational messages and trends, building a healthy and developed lifestyle
LEADERSHIP FOR FRUITFUL SERVICE
[Delivered at Young Christian Students (YCS) Congress in Kumasi, 1979/Updated in December, 2017]
There is a very popular paraphrase of a statement, with Biblical sources, that “…He who must lead should be prepared to serve…” Another critical idea emanates from the theme, i.e. the fact that, leaders should render services that are relevant to the needs of those they lead.
LEADERSHIP is a rather slippery terminology that has attracted several definitions. For our purpose, however, we shall consider it as the ability to influence others to achieve group objectives, at the same time as satisfying their individual self-set goals. Leadership is therefore a social phenomenon that emerges and develops in inter-personal relationships. For leadership to facilitate provision of service to one’s neighbour, it should be open, democratic or shared. Rendition of services has always been a natural sequence to awareness or consciousness of a situation whereby one finds him/herself vis-à-vis another person or group in obviously disadvantaged positions. Leadership, of necessity then, is a product of observation, analysis and understanding of the problem.
Three types of Leadership styles have been identified, namely,
- Democratic: Open, democratic or shared Leadership promotes service to the community, because it enables the members to develop their full potentials, with the least inhibitions and hindrance. It is said to be ‘democratic’ because there is the possibility for all members to participate in the decision-making process, right from the formulation or planning to the implementation of policies and projects. Authority is diffused, and not concentrated in only one person (as in “authoritarian” or “dictatorial” leadership). Rather, effective leadership is shared between all the sections of the group. Thus, there is a capacity to direct one’s behaviour toward organizational goals.
- Autocratic: Such leadership style does not consider the ideas and efforts of other members of the group. This is characterized by arbitrary decisions and ‘one-man shows’ and arrogant, inconsiderate attitudes. Autocratic leaders lord it on their followers.
- Laissez faire: Just as the meaning of the term, leaders hardly exert their influence. They follow every suggestion without adequate and critical assessment of situations.
Individuals demonstrate one dominant style, but sometimes, circumstances may demand that a leader must put his/her foot down and take decisions, or let things take their own course, in the interest of the group. A good, balanced leadership will be inclined to be flexible and on top of situations. Such leaders see themselves as ‘the first among equals’ (primus inter pares). They are not superior over the other members.
YOUTH LEADERSSHIP FOR SERVICE must have its roots in a process of awareness-creation, what Fr. Paolo Freire, a renowned Brazilian Catholic Priest, has termed Conscientization. Such a leadership role involves working through small groups, both in and out of school. The central concern is the process of discovery of self and others, in a way which enables people to proceed to action to implement their insights, or to improve upon the status quo. The concept may be simplified as “a synthesis of professionalism and goodwill and a sharing of knowledge rather than its imposition.”
To attain a desirable level of awareness and understanding of the problems of one’s milieu (beit a household, an institutional campus, a workplace, or an association), one needs to be involved in the operations of the group. Put differently, young people cannot be mobilized on empty foundations; there must be motivation, as well as some form of organization and opportunities for analysing problems, to facilitate finding appropriate solutions to them. Such essential structures and logistic arrangements include, for instance:
- Leadership Development: This is an important avenue for providing non-formal or informal educational opportunities. Various Youth Associations have sprouted in almost every nook and corner of the country, following the establishment of the National Youth Council (NYC), by NRCD 241, in 1974. The members should. The leadership need to take advantage of the existing facilities and structures of the now National Youth Authority (NYA) for Leadership Development. These include a number of Youth Leadership Training Institutes in some regions, and with plans to establish one in each administrative region in the country.
Youth groups should be able to identify members who exhibit traits of Leadership, for them to nurture and promote the development of such potentials. The youth, in turn, should respond positively to opportunities to channel their energies into creative and viable ventures. These include organizing and participating in in voluntary communal work programmes or projects, teaching in Vacation classes for local JHS and SHS pupils and students.
Relying on available Role Models in their communities as Adult Volunteers, Youth groups can also involve District Secretariats of the NYA should encourage and facilitate the organization of periodic Leadership Training Seminars and Workshops in their jurisdictions. They should be knowledgeable and abreast with the relevant subjects and issues that will enable youth leaders to run their Associations and projects effectively. Other Resource Person can be found from the staff of institutions located in the nearby Decentralized Departments of the Metropolitan/Municipal/District Assemblies.
In order for leadership to succeed in stimulating the support of the membership, the following attributes or qualities, or a combination thereof, are very essential:
- Dynamism/organizational abilities;
- Approachable/affable (ability to get along with almost everybody in the group);
- Confident/stable self-esteem;
- Well-informed and open-minded;
- Readiness to sacrifice (time, other resources)/Selfless;
- Innovative (able to generate new ideas and insights into problems on hand);
- Good communicator (ability to express ideas in ways that can convince the followers or others;
- Pragmatic/proactive (able to stretch his/her imagination);
- Fair and firm in judgement and decision-making;
- Tolerant/Respect for the opinions of others;
- Responsible and of proven integrity/trustworthiness.
Communication: For leadership to be effective and generate involvement, there should be a two-way communication channel. Through the ‘Bottom up’ approach, the leader must respect the opinion of every member of the group, irrespective of any considerations. The leadership should promote a climate of initiative and creativity and inclusiveness in the organization or group.
In practical terms, the young intellectuals of this country have a special part to play in helping the ordinary people to regain their personality, and faith in their own abilities, through self-discovery. The youth can do this better if they are convinced that they have been able to discover themselves, with the help of their education. The curriculum should not be confined only to classroom or theoretical knowledge. The young people of Ghana must continue to be given every facility to integrate themselves profoundly in the life of the people, since an effective way of learning is by doing.
In the past, our educational institutions ran a kind of academic ‘obstacle race’ at the end of which their qualifications, in the form of degrees and titles, conferred definite prestige. Their products constituted a class or an élite group. Today, our institutions should become workshops where students increase their potentialities and sharpen their patriotic duty. Young people should arm themselves to play leading roles in fighting social injustice in Ghana in the near future.
SERVICE: The National Service Scheme is a typical example of out-of-school institutions through which our youth are enabled to render relevant and vital direct service to the Nation. The Scheme should be sustained to spearhead the attempts in bridging the gap of rural poverty and urban affluence. By the involvement of students from our higher institutions, life shall be gradually made more bearable for the rural folk.
This concern for the plight of the ordinary man exemplifies a fruitful service that the leadership of the educated youth can help to bring about. Students should act as the spokesmen/women of their peoples by vocalizing their afflictions and sufferings. The silent majority of rural people should not be quite simply sacrificed by and for the minority made up of urbanized youth. Among the expected positive output should include an exposure of the young people to the world of work.
Again, LEADERSHIP FOR FRUITFUL SERVICE implies a ‘commitment.’ The young intellectual or student commits him/herself to a pattern of ethical behaviour, a way of life which leads out of moral choices. Such commitment is directed towards Humanity and is pre-supposed in the things the individual does, and in the manner in which they are done.
The implications for young opinion leaders are that the kind of Community Improvement Projects (CIPs) they decide to undertake, for example, should satisfy the immediate or real felt-needs of the people. Top priority must be given to programmes and projects which will contribute to combat unemployment, promote socio-political emancipation or empowerment and, most importantly, enhance spiritual upliftment of the community concerned. Those in leadership positions should thereby deem themselves as challenged, and face the situation with honesty, devotion, zeal, courage and selflessness.
It has always been believed that given the necessary guidance, encouragement and example, the youth of this Nation can realize any such objectives through which the overall National goals and aspirations can be achieved. This calls for relevant Policies, Legislation and programmes which are derived from the overall National Principles and objectives. Herein lies the rationale and justification for the existence of a Ministry of Youth Affairs. The youth can be guided by such legal and official framework to take advantage of any opportunities that have been offered them. Such progressive instruments will prepare the young people for their future tasks in Society.
Institutions of higher learning are hereby called upon to perform a third and equally important role, that of Extension, in addition to their traditional functions of Instruction and Research. These institutions are required to ‘come down’, to reach out to share, or to associate themselves the more with the people of the communities of which they are a part. It is a major function of such institutions to widen the options available in the solution of community problems and in the improvement of the quality of life of the people in their locations.
Our rural folks need enlightened and pragmatic leadership, encouragement, a change in attitude, with organization and effort to meet their own needs, and with the help of others in meeting some specific needs. The ideal situation in the development of a community is that development should start from within, devoid of any interference from outside. Unfortunately, this does not normally happen, unless there is some intervention from outside, as Technical Assistance or moral back-up.
Our youth, in their Associations and other groupings should, therefore, catalyse and encourage the initiation of Self-Help Programmes/Projects (SHPs) of community development in which the people are active participants. They should strengthen the people’s capability to solve their problems and to manage their own programmes and projects. This calls for planning and clear communication of job descriptions or unambiguous assignments. (Numbers 4:19 “…assign to each man his work and what he is to carry…”
The model for all time is the “Suffering Servant’ in Mt. 23:11-12 “…he who is greatest among you shall be your servant” The kind of Leadership Jesus approves for adoption by leaders of God’s people. Paul sums up, in 1Thes.2:7-9, for leaders to live unassumingly…work with unsparing energy, slaving day and night…so as not to be a burden on any one…” He advises further, in Rm.12:5-16, on the use of the different gifts and talents, that we should devote ourselves to practical service and work (for the Lord) “not half-heartedly, but with conscientiousness and an eager spirit …”
Leadership teams should therefore serve with a single heart and eye to the glory of the Lord. Such faithful service and whatever we do should be carried out “with all (our) hearts, as working for the Lord…” (Col.3:23). Peter corroborates this statement by saying that, “if anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ…” (1Pt.4:11). The positive attitude of a faithful servant towards the tasks that are assigned is a measure of the way we honour God. We should appreciate the importance of any responsibilities given to us and do them well.
The Christian youth, in a challenging world, must be comforted by the fact that “all goes well for one who is honest in all his dealings…” (Ps.112:8). Thus, in my opinion, the essence of YOUTH LEADERSHIP FOR FRUITFUL SERVICE should be a preparation for adult life, in Religious Affairs, Politics, Traditional Rule, Business and general Social relationships.
CHRISTMAS: A SEASON OF GOODWILL
In the middle of the Harmattan winds blowing from the North to the South, and the accompanying haze, there comes a joyful season, between late December and the commencement of a New Year in January, Elsewhere on the globe, this is the “bleak mid-Winter” when snow lies on snow all over the place.
Christmas is typically a Christian celebration. In the same breath, it is a very important universal landmark for both Believers and non-Believers on the birth of the Holy Infant, Jesus Christ, after whom the day is named.
In the Christian tradition, the first four weeks of the Harmattan period nearly coincides with Advent which heralds the Christmas-tide. This is a period of patient anticipation of the fulfillment of the promise of Christ’s coming. It is a period for preparing our hearts for the great Gift of God’s only begotten Son.
Waiting for something pleasant to happen, or expecting the arrival of someone on an appointed date or time, can be a tedious experience marked by excitement and suspense. The anticipated event may or may not happen after all. Fortunately, the Nativity was a real occurrence 2012 years ago.
Since the First Nowell, a joyful mood characterizes the Season of Goodwill. This is in conformity to a normal situation for people put aside their affairs and take time to mark important events, by special ceremonies and general merry-making. Children are usually at the centre of the ceremonies.
As far as their means may allow, people may go to certain excesses in expressing their joy. Parties and family-gatherings are usually organized. Exchange of gifts and other symbolic actions including special greetings take place. However, as people observe such significant events, they sometimes tend to take for granted the real meaning of their joyous exuberance.
During the Season of Goodwill, as elsewhere, the Ghanaian winds down for a while. Often there is a lot to eat and drink. We make fun, sing and dance in relaxed ambiance with family members and friends. While we do so this Christmas season, let us continue to portray our cherished ideals by remembering the least-endowed in our communities. Let us share with them the serenity of the birth of Prince of Peace, who gave us the gift of His life and brought light to those who lived in darkness.
It is also common for people to make Resolutions around this time. The need for a fresh start is a natural human value to turn a new leave. The search for a new surge of energy, a rejuvenation or renewal is always at the back of our minds. Reconciliation with oneself and self-acceptance make life more meaningful in the final count, and lifts the individual to a higher, deeper level.
Hence, an objective stock-taking, introspection or self-examination should be undertaken before putting down the broad outlines of any Resolutions. Remember what Socrates, a Greek philosopher, said: “…The unexamined life is not worth living…” This has stood the test of time as far back as over 400 years before Christ was born. In a world where we are encompassed by daily doubts, challenges and anxieties, the Christmas period could be a new start for self-determination.
We celebrate in diverse ways at Christmas but we should not lose sight of the real essence of the occasion, That is, Love came down as a baby. “…The Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” (Jn 1:14). We therefore thank God for all the good things and even sad ones which came our way in the past 365 days. We equally ask for Divine guidance and mercies in the forthcoming years, in the fulfillment of His plans in our lives. Throughout the feasting and merry-making, we should for a sincere prayer for a peaceful, prosperous future in our national affairs. Most importantly, Christian charity and moderation must permeate the Season of Goodwill.
Finally, to make this Christmas really meaningful, we are enjoined by a popular hymn to “…gladden all who meet (us) ; …fill their hearts with hope and courage…spread the peace and joy of Christ around… and make God known and loved…”
PEACE ON EARTH AND TO MEN (AND WOMEN) OF GOODWILL…
“..FOR BEAUTIFUL GHANA…”
The local Hi-life song entitled WORK AND HAPPINESS was quite a hit at the onset of the Independence era some three score years or so ago. Its popularity was enhanced when it was adopted as a signature tune on the official Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) programme for mass mobilization. Thus, it assumed some political significance alongside its normal use at social functions.
At the weekends, most Dance Halls and Drinking Spots were filled to capacity. They put up musical programmes meant to help people relax after a week’s work commitments. The then only GBC/TV produced a show that featured its house Dance Band, for fans to enjoy live performances in its studios. A lot of people found jobs to do in both the public and private sectors and public morale was quite high. The refrain to the song began with the words ‘Work and Happiness’ and called on people (Ghanaians and other Africans) to do or contribute their best towards the building of a Beautiful Ghana.
The song seemed to tie in with the establishment of a chain of industries or factories, State Farms, shops, and the erstwhile Builders/Workers Brigade. A sizeable number of people imbibed the idea, directlyor indirectly, that whatever they did at their workplaces, on the farms and the markets, was important and counted in national growth. The song upheld the dignity of labour.
‘Work and Happiness’ remains evergreen because it hammers on an aspiration or issue that has relevance for all time, just as nation-building is an on-going process. The phrase ‘beautiful Ghana’ is a loaded concept but, sadly, it has hardly been taken beyond the surface.
WORK is an integral part of life. It involves what people usually do to earn some form of reward, wages, and salary, in cash or kind. It is an opportunity to use one’s skills and talents for some gains. Work comprises various activities in different domains at diverse locations, in the markets, workshops, farms and offices, educational institutions, hospitals, on the land, sea, rivers, lakes and in the air space. Where people work at occupations and disciplines they know best, and of their own choice, they derive a lot of happiness. That calls for serene environment, safe practices and, of course, satisfactory remunerations as well as security of tenure.
Whereas all entrepreneurs expect to make profits, the welfare of the workforce can sometimes be compromised. Even then, money, per se, may not be the ultimate or definitive objective to work. Where certain factors are taken into consideration, such as non-fiscal perquisites or incentives, workers are known to put in their maximum performance and respond positively to the institutional objectives, as their individual concerns are met.
When farmers and fishermen ‘do their best’, there is bound to be plenty of food on the market. So also do all other workers who diligently do their share of the tasks in their factories and offices, etc., contribute to the cash in-flows, where their motivation is high.
HAPPINESS is an evasive or slippery phenomenon. The condition of feeling or expressing pleasure, contentment and joy may vary from person to person. Serenity and feeling satisfied with one’s conditions are usually premised on diverse factors. A happy workforce will exhibit positive attributes including the tendency to work without grumbling, and with very little supervision. In a nutshell, a well-motivated worker is a conscientious, well-organized and dependable person who avoids waste.
Happiness derived from one’s work is usually consequent upon the assurance of money in the pocket at a given time, to be able to satisfy basic needs, namely, accommodation, food and clothing. For some, there is also the obligation of children’s education and care of other dependents.
BEAUTY, on the other hand, is a quality or an attribute of an object or action to be very attractive and pleasant to look at, or listen to. It implies responsibility, goodness, in thought, word and action. Thus, “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder” who assesses what the other does. Just as a song may have two important elements, lyrics or words, and melody or tune, so also Beauty has a dual perspective, physical and non-physical or intangible dimensions.
Physical beauty or aesthetics is a fleeting phenomenon on account of change and deterioration. The beauty of a new building deteriorates with time when no steps are taken to maintain the structure. Inner beauty involves strength of character and willpower. Decent behaviour is as commendable as diligence in assigned tasks, integrity or honesty in dealing with others or assigned tasks. Doing what is right at the right time, and in the right place depicts a disciplined personality which attracts appreciation and commendation. Apostle Paul, in his Letter to the Philippians (chapter 4) gives a whole catalogue of admirable, acceptable behavioral patterns that enhance peaceful and harmonious relationships.
GHANA has recently turned 60 years as an independent Nation-State. Previously known as the Gold Coast, the country is endowed with numerous natural resources, assorted minerals, forest products and water bodies. The name is reminiscent of an ancient Empire in the sub-region which was very prosperous some centuries earlier. It is observed that our forebears migrated southwards from that vicinity. The characteristics of that historic Empire can be associated with our heritage in terms of rich natural resources, cultural endowments including traces of language patterns.
A nostalgic look back on the past 60 years exposes some painful observations. Numerical statistics may not necessarily be reliable indices of advancement in certain aspects. The population has multiplied several folds, from about five million at Independence to approximately twenty-five million currently. It has been a generally checkered history and the plusses, unfortunately, seem to be few.
As a nation we have wiped away, and continue to waste, some of the essential resources we inherited at independence. We need to accept the fact that we have been bad managers, custodians or stewards of our environment. The plush forests are virtually gone and the rivers polluted by inconsiderate gold diggers. The lands in some areas have been rendered unusable for growing the basic staple food items we need for survival. People in various places have to cope with supplies from beyond their jurisdictions and the resultant exorbitant prices and hardships.
The notion of ‘Independence’ seems to have been misinterpreted for ‘Indiscipline’, such that lawlessness has gained an upper hand in many of our attitudes and activities. As a result, filth has engulfed us which brings in its train diseases and flooding at the least incidence of rains.
Sometimes one wonders why there is so much chaos in many respects and that the laws seem not to work as they should, in some cases. People have remarked that Ghanaians are ungovernable, in situations where the system is apparently not on top of situations, as desired.
The catalogue of objectionable behaviours is quite vast, including and not limited to the following:
- Total disregard for Motor Traffic Regulations by motorcyclists who jump the red light at intersections;
- Driving or riding against the traffic flow or direction, and driving on the aprons on main roads;
- Selling anywhere and everywhere, including pavements for pedestrians and cyclists;
- Drains are used as refuse dump sites; and breeding grounds for pests and pestilence;
- Noisy surroundings, unnecessary hooting of vehicle horns, loudspeaker use all over the place for diverse purposes;
- Willfully building in waterways;
- Assault on innocent people and use of brutal f
- Uncollected refuse made to become mountains orce;
- Poor culture of maintenance;
- Misuse of public property and funds;
- Taking the law into own hands, resulting in mob injustice, forced entry into Security areas including Police Stations and even Courts;
- Disregard for human dignity and blood-thirstiness (murdering others at the least provocation, if any, and for rituals);
- Get-rich-quick mentality leading to fraud and related malpractices;
- Disrespect for seniority, authority and elderly; etc., etc.
Our markets are flooded with smuggled goods, and our cocoa ends up in Côte d’Ivoire, due in part, to porous land borders and despite the operations of the Preventive Division of the Customs and Immigration Services at the Ports and other entry points. Items supposed to be banned, or listed as high risk goods or dangerous, sell conspicuously almost everywhere. Foreigners freely indulge in economic activities inconsistent with the status of their residence.
One of the things that remain beautiful for Ghana is our survival as a unified State, despite numerous internal squabbles over various issues, some trivial and insignificant. The relative peace notwithstanding, the trend has regrettably been downhill in many respects. The indebtedness of Ghana keeps escalating and over-reliance on external support to run our economy is enormous. We clamour for Self-Reliance while we import so indiscriminately, for instance, rice and bamboo tooth-picks from the Far East.
The popular cry for change is generally welcome. It should be made to be considered as a mere political gimmick or slogan. Rather, it should be deemed very relevant for all intents and purposes, starting from personal approaches to daily situations. We should demonstrate that there is genuine awareness of the abysmal scarified state of affairs that must be put right. Change cannot be imposed from above; it should start at personal or individual levels. Taking a leaf from the lead singer in the song, ‘Work and Happiness’. “…I will do my best, you will do your best...for beautiful Ghana…” we need to guarantee a healthy environment for our homes, workplaces, institutions and surroundings.
Beautiful Ghana is a ‘work-in-progress’. All facets of our National life are at stake. We need to tackle the task holistically, on all fronts, to restore Mother Ghana to its glorious past and aspire after a desirable future. Bad habits are difficult to break, much like restoring the landscape destroyed by illegal small-scale mining and deforestation. However, if our focus and persistence prevail, we can make reasonable headway. Our isolated commitments and contributions will add up to positively impact on the overall outlook of our common good and heritage, a Beautiful Ghana.
Appreciation Can Change a Life
We all lead busy lives. Our time fills up pretty quickly with work, school, friends, family, sports, hobbies, fitness, sleeping, eating and much more. There are things that we know we probably should be doing, but we just keep making excuses and putting them off. What we don’t realize is there are quick and easy ways to do and say the little things that make a big difference.
There is not enough appreciation in our world. We don’t say thank you, give compliments, draw attention to someone’s hard work, or tell people how much they mean to us, as much as we should. I believe in the importance of appreciation, and I’m also pushing and adding up to the mission to urge others to appreciate. If others had the chance to share their thoughts on appreciation, some would write from a business perspective, some from personal experience, but I know all of them would have something valuable to share.
Also, appreciate what you have before it turns into what you had. Be with people who know your worth. You don’t need too many people to be happy, just a few real ones who appreciate you for who you are.
You may think that you don’t need to appreciate people. They already know how you feel, someone else will recognize them for their hard work, you’ll thank them the next time you see them. The truth is, you never know what tomorrow will bring. Remember, it only takes a minute to say thank you, or send a quick note expressing your admiration.
Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary—Margaret Cousins
It’s always down to you and the choices you make. Work on the things you can change and never dwell on the things you can’t. You choose--‘results’ or ‘excuses’, it’s always down to you. No one has ever given their BEST and regretted it. GO HARD, NO EXCUSES.”
No one said this would be easy, just know that nothing beats the feeling of accomplishment
Turn those dreams into ACTION--action turns into results. Sooner or later you will be living the dream
There’s no substitute for consistency
Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit--KEEP GOING HARD!!
Hard work can out-do genetics!!
Whatever doesn’t kill me, had better start running.
Our fears don’t stop death, they stop life
Do it now! Sometimes ‘later’ becomes ‘never
Kick yourself in the ass, or someone else will
The pain of discipline is far less than the pain of regret
I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy--I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it
Tears will get you sympathy, sweat will get you results.
~ Kafui Amanfu
Believe In Yourself--Things Will Get Better
There may be days when you are up in the morning and things aren’t the way you had hoped they would be.
That’s when you have to tell yourself that things will get better.
There are times when people disappoint you and let you down.
But those are the times when you must remind yourself to trust your own judgments and opinions, to keep your life focused on believing in yourself.
There will be challenges to face and changes to make in your life, and it is up to you to accept them.
Constantly keep yourself headed in the right direction for you.
It may not be easy at times, but in those times of struggle you will find a stronger sense of who you are.
So when the days come that are filled with frustration and unexpected responsibilities, remember to believe in yourself and all you want your life to be. Because the challenges and changes will only help you to find the goals that you know are meant to come true for you. If you really put a small value upon yourself, rest assured that the world will not raise your price.
“Believe in yourself, and the rest will fall into place. Have faith in your own abilities, work hard, and there is nothing you cannot accomplish”
~ Brad Henry
I'm not old enough to play baseball or football. I'm not eight yet. My mom told me when you start baseball, you aren't going to be able to run that fast because you had an operation. I told Mom I wouldn't need to run that fast. When I play baseball, I'll just hit them out of the park. Then I'll be able to walk.
~Edward J. McGrath, Jr., "An Exceptional View of Life" quoted in Chicken Soup for the Soul by Jack Canfield & Mark Victor Hansen, 1993
Aggor Yorm is a film maker, writer and the producer of Mercedes Benz African Fashion Festival.
She is very Ghanaian and seeks to promote patriotism, lifestyle and creative writing amongst the youth; ladies especially, by addressing everyday relatable Ghanaian issues and experiences.
Change is Inevitable--Embrace It
As humans, we desire to live in comfort than to adapt to change, but happy people demonstrate they adapt fast and well to new situations. They offer and request help and are free to embrace what's positive in life's inevitable alterations. Things change constantly. Loved ones die; jobs and relationships end; people get promoted, couples bond in marriage, and babies are born. The positive changes can be as tough to adapt to as the negative ones. Nonetheless, change is inevitable.
Pretending change doesn't exist, which is even more pointless can make us cruel. New situations although may be unwelcoming, demands some level of embrace than resistance. As we grow, situations change. Life never remains static. Activities therein are forever subject to alterations and no matter the difficulties, must be accepted as we have less options.
How do we fight change other than acclimatizing? Don’t we realize resisting changing situations make living chaotic? People encouraged to fear change may only pursue it when their situation is already savage, possibly reassured by some of those eternal beliefs. The fiercer the situation, the easier it is to offer equally savage solutions—but then is that so reasonable?
Change resistance produces a nightmare, and our fear of change can still lead us astray. In all situations, if we believe "our way of life" is changing without our control, maybe our fear won't be yoked by opportunist politicians. Instead, we may simply embrace magical thinking, an old, failed strategy, to wish change away.
Wishing change away is a misfit. Change must happen. In our situation as Africans, Ghanaians for that matter, we have seen varied changing angles of development, individually, economically and politically. Thereby, bold steps must be taken and addressed in making close to good decisions in adapting to change. I believe that, we must allow changing situations to unfold and learn from the misgivings. Adapting situations may come with all the mistakes, which enriches the learning curve.
“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” ~ George Bernard Shaw
Do we resist change because of fear? The FEAR of being nothing, achieving nothing and becoming nothing should be way bigger than the fear of making mistakes. It is said that, not making mistakes is the BIGGEST mistake. Adapting to change is a journey of discovery, which involves mistakes. With every mistake that we make we discover more and more about ourselves, about systems, about our limits, about our capabilities, about what we can and cannot do. Mistakes help us to grow and evolve.
Instead of fighting change with resistance, we can “fight” it by embracing with passion to meet a positive need, getting results, having solutions—continued vision. If that change in your way doesn’t happen, then backwardness and poverty is assured. As mentioned earlier, happy people embrace change and move on. They make mistakes. In making mistakes, you gain confidence, courage, and experience every time you make a new mistake in a very narrow field or disturbing situation, and this develops you to get better and better at the things you love to do.
However, all the above doesn’t bluntly mean we should make senseless mistakes, as one may think. Many success stories begin with mistakes and failures--those embarrassing first or second or third reasonable efforts targeted at realizing a goal. I call it the radical change of direction. The Wright Brothers in the invention of the aeroplane; Thomas Edison working on the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and the long-lasting, practical electric light bulb, and many more are just to tell us how important it is to accept mistakes on the journey of any change in situation whatsoever. Be it divorce, losing or changing jobs, relocating, losing a dear one to the cold hands of death, government interventions, etc., embrace the change and be happy.
Change is constant. It is going to happen in your life one way or another, good or not so good, do what you can to just roll with it—it is a process, not an event.
It is another crusade!
Exchange Pride for Humility and Wisdom
True wisdom eludes us, and we become fools. However, because we are now deceived, we believe we are wise--rejecting truth, we embrace lies. Extend love and grace, instead of pushing the ego and arrogance, and exchange pride for humility and wisdom.
We distort, twist and alter truth in order to hand-craft our own image of God and habits. This false image of God then becomes our personal religion, our belief, our philosophy of life, and guides our decisions and choices. Similarly, such habits take a direct control of our daily lives in a large way. We are culprits of deceit.
The corruption of the truth in our hearts and minds is mirrored by corruption in our behavior, as various forms of negative thoughts and mindsets, and impurity begin to be accepted, practiced, and embraced as lifestyle habits. These acts of impurity themselves bear witness and give evidence to the impurity that has already taken place in the heart and mind through the rejection of truth and acceptance of lies and false ideas in place of truth—Politics; life in our workplaces, businesses and homes; all aspects of life.
God, in His mercy, gives people over to the lusts of their own hearts, unfiltered thoughts, allowing them the freedom to experience the destructive consequences of their choices of thoughts and actions. If people come to the realization that the paths they have chosen will only lead them to destruction; if they humble themselves, cry out to God for mercy; seek wisdom and understanding, and turn away from their lifestyles and the pride that led them to reject truth, the degenerative process can be reversed.
It gets much worse if the downward degenerative consequences--that began with an independent attitude of pride--are allowed to progress. What if we did things a bit differently, and the right way?—with the little effort.
You can’t afford to allow pride into your life. Exchange pride for humility and wisdom.
If you allow your heart and mind to entertain an attitude of pride about yourself and your accomplishments, it can lead you down a very dark path. Among other consequences, one thing is guaranteed--you will fall. That is one of the sure consequences of pride.
Shame comes to the prideful; Wisdom--glory, or honor--comes to the humble. Give up your pride and still retain your dignity.
Hugh Hefner the Playboy--Rest in Peace
Growing up, one of the most common brands and inscriptions or drawings on t-shirts was “playboy”, as well as tattoos. Yes, and I chanced on some magazines too. I remember having a couple of playboy t-shirts but had no idea the story behind the playboy inscription or logo.
Would Playboy magazine eventually become the most successful men’s magazine in the world and an iconic symbol in the 60s sexual revolution?
But why is no one is saying #HughHefner is in a better place right now? Is it to do with his love for sex or something else… or just that people do not seem to care about the sex freak either ways.
In a comment captured on twitter, similar to many others, “RIP #HughHeffner Would love to say he's gone to a better place but that seems highly unlikely...”
For many men, he lived the dream that many could never be responsible for. Was he really the game changer in the publishing business, and clubs back in the days, lasting till date--with all the playboy banners? Was #HughHefner a risk taker? And can we name the number of women who have had careers out of his “style”?—power to them.
Hugh Marston Hefner (April 9, 1926 – September 27, 2017) was an American publisher and playboy. He was best known as the editor-in-chief of Playboy magazine, which he founded in 1953, and as chief creative officer of Playboy Enterprises, the publishing group that operates the magazine. An advocate of sexual liberation and freedom of expression, Hefner was a political activist and philanthropist in several other causes and public issues.
Hefner, the creator and curator of the Playboy Empire died at his home in Holmby Hills, Los Angeles, California, on September 27, 2017, at the age of 91.
Playboy Enterprises, Inc., together with its subsidiaries, engages in the development and distribution of content, products and high-profile events that embody both “eroticism and fine art.” The Playboy rabbit logo is one of the most widely recognized and popular brands in the world.
Amongst the many divisions of Playboy Entertainment were the Publishing Group: Playboy magazine and Playboy Newsstand Specials.
The magazine has a long history of publishing short stories by notable novelists, and with a regular display of full-page color cartoons, it became a showcase for notable cartoonists. Playboy features monthly interviews of notable public figures, such as artists, architects, economists, composers, conductors, film directors, journalists, novelists, playwrights, religious figures, politicians, athletes and race car drivers. The magazine generally reflects a liberal editorial stance, although it often interviews conservative celebrities.
Hefner also published Trump Magazine.
Notable for its centerfolds of nude and semi-nude models, Playboy played an important role in the sexual revolution and remains one of the world's best-known brands. After a year-long removal of most nude photos in Playboy magazine, the March-April 2017 issue brought back nudity.
Playboy Special Editions (formerly known as flats, then Newsstand Specials) are supplement series of Playboy magazine containing glamour and softcore nude photographs. The initially infrequent and later semi-regular editions ran from 1964 until the publication of the final issues in 2012.
Hefner said he created the magazine with the goal of featuring “the girl next door.” For some – like Jenny McCarthy and Anna Nicole Smith – becoming a Playboy Playmate was the starting point of a celebrity career. By the 1980s, already famous actresses and entertainers including Bo Derek, Madonna and Drew Barrymore viewed appearing nude in Playboy as a way to promote, rather than hinder, their careers. “Power to them”.
Playboy Online (or Playboy.com) is the internet business segment of Playboy Enterprises, Inc. It falls within the Playboy Entertainment business segment, which is the largest of the company's three business segments. Playboy Online is the fastest growing revenue line item in Playboy Enterprises, accounting for 15% of corporate revenue. Its revenue comes from both online subscriptions to Playboy Cyber Club and from E-commerce, including internet advertising.
Available online since 1994, Playboy Online produces original content that mostly differs from the print editions of the publications produced by Playboy Publishing.
The Licensing segment licenses the Playboy name, the Rabbit Head design and other images, trademarks, and artwork to “appear on a wide range of consumer products including apparel, accessories, footwear, lingerie, jewelry, fragrances and home fashions.” Its licensed products generate “more than $1 billion in global retail sales in more than 150 countries and territories.” Spirits and vapor products are among Playboy’s latest licensing ventures.
The Company's trademarks and copyrights are critical to the success and potential growth of its business as “Playboy is one of the most recognized, celebrated and popular consumer brands in the world.” In 2013, Playboy ranked number 56 among the Top 150 Global Licensors by License! Global magazine. Currently the Licensing division accounts for about 50% of the revenue of Playboy Enterprises.
As many businesses have their turn in holdups and financial crises, Hugh Hefner was selling tickets to his celebrity-filled parties to offset his cash-flow problems due to setbacks Playboy Enterprises had suffered, including decreasing Playboy circulation, decreasing stock value, and ventures that have yet to turn a profit.
Christie Hefner (daughter of Hugh Hefner, was the President from 1982, and Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer from 1988, until she left the company in 2009) released a memo to employees about her efforts to streamline the company's operations, including eliminating its DVD division and laying off staff.
Should Playboy magazine become the most successful men’s magazine in the world and an iconic symbol over ages, it’s no surprise that Hugh Hefner accumulated a large sum of money over the course of his accomplished life. Reportedly, he had an estimated net worth of about $50 million at the time of his death.
Hefner came from humble beginnings. As a boy, he filled his time illustrating cartoons and writing. In 1944, after graduating high school, Hefner served as a writer for a military newspaper in the US Army. He graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign in 1949 with a BA in Psychology and a double minor in creative writing and art.
Despite the lifestyle, would #HughHeffner be recognized as an accomplished business man? It’s a YES for me.
“Life is too short to be living somebody else’s dream." ~HUGH M. HEFNER
Mediocrity as an Element of Poverty
You may agree or not that we as Africans are saddled with poverty at its highest level, and remains an undeniable fact that needs the attention of all in this country including those affected by its social and related misfortunes. Many will blame political leadership or rulers for our level of poverty, while others believe it’s as aspect of laziness engulfed with situational comfort and unwillingness to do more.
Although I believe partly that leadership and rulers of the land have pivotal parts to play in fighting poverty, I am of the view that the path to a prosperous future lies in hard work, creativity, knowledge and equity. Leadership creates the enabling environment, and we as individuals fight positively and defying all the odds to make things right. In this sense, hard work limits or eliminates mediocrity. Hard work unearths good results and success. With success, quality becomes a focal point.
In Ghana, as we know it, getting good things done and to be acknowledged is like finding your way out of the lion’s den. On the other hand, for all the wrong reasons, questionable “things” are highly and quickly celebrated. Getting all the wrong things done is cladded with all the glitterati. Well-meaning deeds are left to die; good projects are left to sink; great initiatives are “killed”. Are we building a nation without conscience and morals? Why are we finding it tough to build better foundations for prosperity? After 1957 independence, fast forward to 2017, we have rather retrogressed, compared to other nations.
Poverty is a mindset. Believe it or not--thoughts that limit your ability to succeed. Low life, less quality associations, weak links. We glorify so much mediocrity that we aren’t challenged to go for more and fight harder for quality. How do we succeed without considering quality?
Our airwaves have been occupied by all manner of personalities without control. Uncensored voices and viewing at the expense of quality—the quest for riches devouring sanity. It wouldn’t be bad should we embark on a crusade to abandon these networks or block viewing on our TV sets. But like already mentioned, many of us are very accustomed to irrelevant stuff, full of irrational sensation.
A society that thrives on irregularities is that which is digging its grave, no matter the timing. We must as a people be challenged to permeate society with sanity and some appreciable amount of conscience. Existence is just not enough, but we ought to push beyond survival and comfort in building a structured mindset in order to outgrow mediocrity. As a country, we have sadly ignored our rich principles and structures—a problem we see from leadership to the commoner.
Have we really chosen to live a mediocre life, and how do we tackle this serious issue?
Choosing to live a mediocre life is simply abysmal. Many people believe living an easy life is the way to happiness. Do you agree also? Well, I don’t.
Even a baby doesn’t go through easy steps before its first walk. I bet we all envy the great people in society—they never had it easy.
Living an “easy” life is the fastest way to mediocrity. If only it were that easy, we wouldn’t be discussing poverty by now. Choosing an easy road consistently (as we have done in Africa, with all the ills) will never make an enviable life—if it was that easy, we wouldn’t be poor. Poor in thoughts and in understanding; poor in standards and in application--poor even though we are endowed with all the wealthy resources. Is it then coming to mind that God doesn’t reward mediocrity? Let’s simply look around the world. I will leave you to make your own wild imaginations and form your judgements. But would entreat you to start a journey of a renewed mindset, and ask a loved one to follow on this all important journey. Play your part as an individual and all shall fall in place, without a doubt.
It must be a crusade!
I’m not afraid of counting years, each year is a new myth exploded.
I’m not afraid of wrinkles and gray hair, this body is how I navigate through the cosmos, so I try to love it and be kind.
I’m not afraid of death, it is only the final myth to unravel.
I’m not even afraid of the devil, because it is our adversary who gives us life’s most precious gifts.
In my prime, lost things are coming back.
Bits of shattered faith discovered in between the cracks of the couch and under the edges of the carpet that I’m piecing together into a mosaic.
New things arrive every day too.
New love, and hope. New stories spinning out of my brain.
A new sense of my place in life.
New meaning in the old struggle for peace.
Each year is a new crossroads.
Shape That Character
Character is a raw material of life
A chisel of life that helps to grow
Character is developed and built
Charisma is inspirational, and character gives substance.
Charisma without character is a disgrace
Character gives you loyalty
Character shapes you
Character builds reputation.
Protect your reputation!
Character shapes responsibility
Guard it with all you can, and be responsible for your actions
Being responsible, shapes your maturity
Take responsibility for your life and future
That's character, shape it!
Competence without character, is a menace – a menace to society.
Successful People Stay Positive
Stay positive even when it feels like your whole world is falling apart.
Success never comes in a day. It takes super hard work, persistence, determination, conviction, just to mention a few. Irrespective of how old you are, where you live, or what your career goals are, it's likely your ultimate goals in life are to be happy and successful. To be successful goes beyond just having money and making your mark. It means chasing your passions, living purposefully, and enjoying the present moment.
Staying positive is a switch that turns and keep you going at all odds. Worrying and hopelessness are killers of positive spirit. They eat into the inner tissues, distracting focus. Remain alive and fired up with that positive spirit. Think positive. Feel and feed positive. Feel encouraged and challenged to move on with great thoughts, NOT laziness -- Sluggishness, is a KILLER. It is no friend of success. Persevere, crush the odd thoughts and be fired up.
Take that great daring dream or risk. DON’T remain comfortable. Take that daring step and it might turn out good. What if it doesn’t? Never be disturbed nor lose focus. You wouldn’t be the first ever failing. Move on. Failure is never a finality. It's more of a reason to get on your feet to get it done again. Mind you, TRYING isn’t the watch word here but DOING is. DO or DO NOT. NO TRYING.
It seems that failure tends to be more communal than success. Or at least that’s what we perceive it to be. We fret it, we try to avoid it, and we question ourselves every time we have unconventional ideas. But the simple truth is – no great success was ever achieved without failure.
"Failure isn't fatal, but failure to change might be" - John Wooden
"Everything you want is on the other side of fear." - Jack Canfield
“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” - Robert F. Kennedy
Many great men have succeeded after either one epic or series of failures. But never remained shattered. One step at a time. Take that risk with focus. If your dream doesn’t scare you much, it might not be BIG enough. Dream big!
“When failure comes your way, make changes and keep moving with focus” ~ Kafui Amanfu
Teams Don’t Work Without Teamwork
The impact of collaboration or teamwork cannot be discounted. It is a more good reason for efficiency and effectiveness. There is an adage that talks about how effective and efficient it is to unite in strength. It comes with a spirit of DOING – “Prayɛ, sɛ woyi baako a na ebu; wokabomu a emmu”, Akan proverb -- literally, when you remove one broomstick it breaks but when you put them together they do not break -- Similar to the English proverb, “In unity lies strength.”
The combined action of a group, especially when effective and efficient – teamwork. The process of working collaboratively with a group of people in order to achieve a goal.
Teamwork is a crucial part of business. Implying that people will attempt to cooperate, using their individual skills and providing beneficial reaction, despite any personal conflict between individuals – something we lack as Ghanaians. In our daily works, limited number of persons are able to detach their personal skirmishes from daily role/works – affecting entire teamwork. More often, there are instances where we carry our personal hurts onto work. We do not see how essential it is to keep it detached, and its consequent negative effect on teamwork as a whole.
It’s one thing to join a team, and another to perform as a team member. Finding yourself in a team demands that you perform as expected to achieve the set goals. Any sluggishness cuts back the total impact or essence of the team -- teams don’t work without teamwork.
Teamwork is the glue which keeps a team together, a bond which promotes strength, unity, reliability and support -- esprit de corps (the spirit of the body). This means a sense of unity, of enthusiasm for common interests and responsibilities, as developed among a group of persons closely associated in a task, cause, enterprise, etc.
Teamwork fosters flexibility and responsiveness; promotes flatter and leaner structures; promotes the sense of achievement, equity and companionship; and entirely a better way to work!
It’s a more synergized way of working, where the sum is greater than the parts. With proper management, teamwork maximizes strengths, and brings out the best in each team member, and then complimented by the strengths of others, or of the team as a unit.
“The Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts” -- Aristotle, defines the modern concept of synergy.
Being part of the whole -- Any one modern invention is nice, but a phone without electricity isn’t good for very long. In human terms, the quote is about being more by being part of a group. One person can do a lot, but more people can devote themselves to different tasks. Of course that doesn’t mean becoming part of a group blindly.
For the quote to be true, not only does the group have to benefit, but so do you. If you add your ability and your talents, you should do at least a little better than you were before, and the group should also be doing better. This is usually due to specialization, as no one person has to do everything anymore.
The quote doesn’t insist we must always be part of the whole, and I realize more than most the value of solitude and reflection. But there are times for each activity in our lives, and sharing our knowledge, our skills, our experience and our emotion with others is important, as we work with the rest of our friends, with the whole.
*Many hands make light work. ~ Haya (Tanzania) proverb
*If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. ~ African proverb