Standard Setters

He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harms.

I guess that statement covers it and I don’t need to re-emphasise the importance of good choice regards companions.

I’ve got a friend named Alex. He’s a master at time management. Spending time with him inevitably put me in a position where I had to look at myself and, once I saw the gulf in productivity, desire to change. In fact, when we hung out a lot I could actually see said changes in my lifestyle. The man would always be early to whatever event we were going to. That is when I noticed how lax I was when it came to being early. He had playtime of course, like any sane aspiring engineer has to have, but he didn’t give himself hits of dopamine without reason. It was all calculated, the important, everlasting things were prioritised and were allocated more time from his day; the instant, self-gratifying things were at the bottom of the list and were often saved for a few hours at the end of the day… sometimes a few minutes even. It felt like – like he could stretch out time. His minutes were what hours are to the regular Joe. Around someone who seemingly has their life together in a way most don’t, it’s easy to become enamoured and sooner or later, to be placed between a rock and a hard place. The place where you were before no longer being enough.

A word of caution: don’t run. It’s easy to see a bar a friend has raised and think it’s too high; due to laziness or the fear of failure you may start to withdraw. Don’t do that. Let positive peer pressure do its job instead. If you stick with good friends long enough – you’ll find yourself thanking God for them.

See you tomorrow.

Friends That Criticise

Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be destroyed beyond recovery.

In my opinion, we’re really overdoing this whole political correctness thing and overrating being nice to the point of elevating preserving someone’s feelings above doing what is right or speaking the truth. Can a good friend criticise me? Or should they accept me for who I am with flaws and all? Who said it has to be either or?

A good friend should 100% criticise you, when you set goals that are too small to target, when you don’t put in your all or don’t do what you said you would do. That right there is a template for a good friend; iron that sharpens iron to a point where it can achieve its intended purpose. The act of accepting is in being your friend in spite of your flaws and helping you work through them.

The fault then will never lie with the friend that tells you, “This is wrong!” but with you… if you can’t take it on the chin.

Does this come off as a tad too harsh? Perhaps this is the criticism that will help you get out of it. If this hurts, there’s a simple solution to help it burn less.

Change.

See you tomorrow!

The “I” In Friends Is For…

Approx 2 min read

The “I” in friends stands for influence. No clickbait… here we get right to the point. The power of positive association cannot be overstated. I plan to illustrate this with three anecdotes.

The power of positive association cannot be overstated.

I have a friend called Bomi, one you could regard as my best friend at a young age. He had this tremendous fascination with children. I hated them. To me they were a bunch of entitled nobodies that cried for the attention they didn’t deserve but inevitably got. His love and desire to associate himself with anyone significantly younger than himself sparked a curiosity in myself. So I decided to study his interaction with all manner of toddlers and babies, to see what it was that got him so high. When I saw it, I was intrigued. Being the reason one without the ability to construct full sentences smile is not yet classified as a drug but it should be. I dedicate at least on Sunday morning every month to play with kids now – and it all started by seeing a good friend enjoying kids in my presence.

I’d always grown up knowing and understanding that honesty is the best policy but I never truly lived it out. I had a “gift”, I still do but I don’t use it anymore, to be able to concoct all manner of believable excuses for not doing something I was supposed to do. I’m not joking. Whenever I was caught doing something wrong or messed up, my impromptu stats would ratchet up to the maximum (100) and for that brief period my creative skills were unparalleled. I was ok with that because it got me out of trouble. I for example have never been in a fight because my intelligent mouth preserves me from being in trouble or being picked on. Yet Niki and Len helped shape my penchant for dishonesty or, for the sake of euphemism, curb my spontaneous creative ability. They were honest to a fault. “You stink, maybe change your deo.” “Those clothes don’t match you.” “You should work harder.” “Why do you eat so much crap?” I used to think preserving someone’s feelings superior to telling them the truth. Spending time with the twins made me value honesty over being “nice”. In the long run, people are more trusting of my words now because they know I will not twist them for any agenda.

Lastly, my good friend Salman let me in on a little project he was working on which led me to pursue my own ambitions of writing a collection of short stories. If I hadn’t seen Salman work on something diligently and behind the scenes, I might not have had the impetus to do what I knew needed to be done. Unrealistically Plausible Short Stories would not be a thing. But it was, it is, all because I came into contact with someone that inspired the right ideas at the right time.

What is it that you want to achieve? Do you know someone who already has that in their locker? I challenge you to spend time with them and see what change you’ll experience in your life.

Take care!

Birds of A Feather

Approx 1 min read

“I hate my friends!”

Well then, you hate yourself. Birds of a feather flock together. That ain’t no smooth rhyming joke; that’s a fact, a truth, a reality. Unlike family you choose your friends. Why then would you choose someone who will antagonise you? Quick answer: you wouldn’t – at least not instinctively.

You don’t like the things your friends do? Here’s a tip, change the way you behave first. You wouldn’t have become friends if there weren’t similarities.

“No, but we’re different.”

Sure you are. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made but even then there are ideas and behaviours that we latch on to. Others who latch on to those become our friends – the people who we look for in a crowd… and unless you’re crazy, you don’t go looking for conflict in a crowd – you go looking for comfort, and one thing that makes comfort comfort is familiarity. 

In short – why are you drawn to be friends with the people you are friends with? Because there is a sense of familiarity between them and yourself. A sense of… belonging. Now use that knowledge as you will.

Stay awesome!

See you tomorrow.

Grounded Roots

Approx 1 min read

In this, the final chapter of our communication series I would like to discuss something that flies under the radar but is all important. This is the spreading of rumours and the peddling of unfounded information as if it is fact.

I fell into this category for a long time. Because I was gullible (and evidently lazy to actually research and find out the real truth) I would pass on information I had heard as fact, without ever ascertaining if it was so. This came to a head when I was told by someone that the star of ‘My Wife and Kids’, Damon Wayans, had passed away. They said he had cancer, hence the bald head. I believed it – it made sense and that was enough for me. For years I would tell anyone that listened that bit of information as if it was fact. It wasn’t. In fact it was disproven by someone I had brainwashed to believe it, my little sister. She says she found out when someone from her class brought it up and when she checked on the internet – Damon Wayans was alive and well… years after I had claimed he was dead. So, whenever I said something, she would no longer believe it as readily as she used to.

This is the crux of the issue. Never communicate things you do not know to be true, lest you lose trust over spewing falsehoods, unintentionally or otherwise. Do your research – then speak.

Get excited. Tomorrow we start a new series entitled: Friends.

Stay awesome!

Reciprocity

Approx 1.5 min read

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

It’s a wonderful command, one which if followed would drastically change the way we live, for the better. This is especially true in relationships. Relationships function using the principle of reciprocity. They have to. A relationship (one where you choose to enter as opposed to one that’s forced upon you) is at its most healthy when both parties work in tandem. When there is too much conflict it often breaks apart. Why? Well given the choice the majority of people would pick peace over conflict. By extension it means that if you’re a source of peace you’ll probably be attractive. If you’re a conflict generator you’ll probably repel more people. It’s another reason why like-minded people stick together. There’s less conflict where there is lots of agreement. This is just by definition.

So why all the talk of conflict and reciprocity? Where does it come in regards communication? Well another source of conflict is where expectation and reality fail to coexist. You expect one thing and you see something else. 

Case study:

“Why haven’t you done dishes?”

Uh-oh.

This then makes it imperative that we govern our speech in accordance to what we listed at the very beginning. To modify it for our topic today: relate with others (communicate) the way you would like to be related with.

If you don’t want someone swearing at you, don’t swear at them. If you don’t like sound effects like scoffing, don’t scoff back. If you don’t like someone rolling their eyes at you, don’t roll your eyes at them. Because if you do any of the things you don’t want done to you all you’ve done is open the door… allowing reciprocity to kick in.

Have a great day!

Stay awesome.

The “How” Of Communication

Approx 2 min read

During this communication series one of the major points I have made an effort to emphasize is the importance of the how. That is acknowledging the spirit with which we communicate, with the knowledge that the person on the other end most likely does not have any telepathic superpowers. Ridiculous right? What do I mean by that? Well, the people we interact with can’t read our minds. They can’t scrutinise our hearts… they’re just not built that way. It has got its perks. At the same time it has moments when it sucks especially when we realise that we aren’t built that way either. We aren’t telepaths. (Sorry wannabe Jean Grey, Professor X.) So what’s the big deal? Well there is a big deal. Our intentions are always up in the air to be assumed by the person on the other end of the conversation and this is done based on the way we communicate. Words matter. 100%. Calling someone fat is different from saying they are plus size. Calling someone skinny sounds several times more negative than saying they are slim. Even positive statements like gorgeous and sexy have vastly different connotations, so the words we use matter… but underneath that is the ever important fabric of the how.

To simplify this concept I’ll focus on gifts. Everyone loves gifts. Or at least they should. Gifts are a form of communication. They communicate affection. They express love. However the manner in which the gift is given is often more important than the gift. Think about the gift of a car. A car is a lovely gift. Expensive, easy to show off, practical and often necessary. 

Consider this scenario:

“Son – we wanted to do this for you because we know that you are incredibly responsible and trustworthy. You’ve displayed wonderful traits to your younger sibling and we know you’ll always make the right choice. So it is our pleasure to gladly present you with this…”

“What?”

Voilà. Car keys in a box. Maybe a letter and someone taking photos of your reaction. You’re at your favourite restaurant and it was totally unexpected.

Or…

You feel a sharp pain on your forehead. It’s six in the morning. What was that? You look on the floor. There’s a tangle of keys, most which you recognise and one which doesn’t look familiar except it has a popular logo belonging to a certain vehicle manufacturer. 

“Don’t lose the keys or eff up the car.”

The gift is the same. Perhaps the joy of the gift remains but significant value is lost in the second way of expression compared to the first.

The way things are done can be the more memorable thing. That’s why “the way he proposed” is so important. The effort and the time taken to understand the person you’re proposing to and to adequately display your affection for her is just as important as the ring… but that’s a story for a different day.

My apologies for the unannounced hiatus. I hope this rams home one of my very recent posts to do with – unannounced hiatuses 😂🙌🏾

See you tomorrow.

Stay awesome.