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Are you willing?

November 26, 2013

The other day I met someone who surprised me by his way of thinking. He is married to a housewife but it seems he wants her to get a job. So every time he sees me, the one question he keeps asking me is whether I have managed to get a job for his wife. The funniest thing is, I don’t even know the wife, I don’t know what kind of a job she would be interested in and whether she even wants a job in the first place. But the husband has been so insistent that I became convinced that she wants a job. So I asked the man what kind of a job the wife is looking for, and the answer I got is what got me thinking.

You see, the man doesn’t even know what the wife wants. He hasn’t asked her whether she is interested in working. And how did I figure this out? Because when I asked him what kind of a job she wants, the man simply said, “I don’t know. You get her anything as long as she is working somewhere”. This is not the response I had expected. I had expected him to tell me something like “she is a qualified accountant so SHE would like a job that suits her field”.  Unfortunately this is not what I heard and when I asked him whether the wife had actually asked him to get her a job, he said no, confirming my fears.

The man may be having very good intentions, looking out for his wife’s welfare by trying to get her a job. However, he was doing it wrong, and I told him so, much to his surprise. He should not have assumed that the wife wants a job but instead, he should have asked her whether she would be interested in being a working mum, then from there he would have been well informed. To me, it felt like he was making a decision for her like she didn’t have a brain of her own, or like she didn’t have the capacity and ability to charter a course for her life. He was treating her like she was his daughter, and not his wife….big mistake. In fact, even kids nowadays have a mind of their own.

This reminded me of an old adage I once read that said, “you can take a donkey to the river to take water but if it doesn’t want the water, you cannot force it to drink from the river”. If a donkey knows what it wants, why was this man treating his wife like she doesn’t know what she wants? I’d like to think she is smarter than a donkey…

This story reminded me of my experiences in the last ten days. Sometimes I think I’m in the wrong business especially when I see certain businesses so busy minting money. Take for instance the hotel industry, especially the established hotels. Is there a day that goes by that they don’t make money especially from conferences? It seems like every other day there’s a conference, a workshop, a meeting, a training, etc. Whatever the case, I believe the hotel owners laugh all the way to the bank whenever these gatherings occur. Sorry, I digress.

So as I was saying, in the last ten days I have been a statistic of such gatherings in two different hotels. The first time I was a participant, meaning I was the one being trained on how to make choices that enable me to manage my time more effectively. The second time I was a trainer, training on how organizations can use Social Media to offer great customer service.  The one thing I noticed in both instances is that participants are always so enthusiastic during the training leaving your mind with no doubt that whatever you have discussed will actually be implemented. So what happens when they get out of the workshop? I bet you they go home with their notepads and books and once they place them on the nearest shelf, the books are likely to stay there till the next workshop happens. They become a dust collection point.

The question I would like to ask today is this, whenever the management of any organization puts together an in-house training for its staff members, or pays for a selected few members to participate in a public workshop what motivates them to do this? Do they impose this on the participants, or do they first discuss internally and agree with the participants that it is important for them to attend the workshops?

On the other hand, you as the participant, do you attend the workshops because;

  1. They offer an opportunity for you to get out of the office and away from your monotonous job,
  2. It is a great opportunity for you to make some money through per diem, especially if the workshop is out of town, or you are working in the government or a government agency, or
  3. You genuinely want to develop yourself and you see this as an opportunity to do so?

Depending on what your motivation is, the outcome of the workshop would soon be seen.

Just like this man who has been looking for a job for his wife, his intentions may be very noble, very right and very focused, but if the woman is not interested in a job, all his actions would be futile. Similarly, the organizations may spend a whole load of money training its staff members, but unless the people being trained are willing to learn and implement what they are taught, the money spent on them would be a total waste. In short, it all depends on an individual. You cannot make a decision for someone else without first of all knowing whether they agree with that decision. Like I said, if a donkey knows what it wants, why not a human being?

This applies to all areas of our lives, not just at the office. I remember there’s once I wrote an article and said that going to church every Sunday won’t make you a Christian, just like sitting in the garage all day won’t make you a car. You have to be willing to pay the price, the price of changing your lifestyle in order be called a Christian. This will not happen by being a seat-filler in church, or by being good, kind, “holy” and patient only on Sundays. Christianity is a lifestyle, a way of life that one has to work hard at maintaining. I believe the same goes for any other religion; it requires a personal decision and commitment to walk this path.

The same case applies to our relationships. We must be willing to do what is necessary to make them healthy and fulfilling relationships. Everyone involved needs to play their part in order to make them work, otherwise, the relationship becomes a bother instead of a blessing. You must be willing to know what irks your mate and what lights them up, then do more of the latter and less or none of the former. You must be willing to sacrifice your ego, for ego and love cannot sail in the same ship. If you really love someone, then your ego is not greater than they are; you will do whatever it takes to swallow your ego and your pride for the sake of your relationship.

In conclusion I will say this: in order for a person to change they must be WILLING to change themselves. We all know how hard it is to implement change in our own lives, so we cannot always expect for people to change because we want them to. The habits and the actions we commit are influenced by others at times, but are ultimately a result of our own desires, our own decisions and our own choices. We can only pray, and reach out to those that we feel need a change, but trying to force someone to change never works, people must be willing to change on their own accord.

As we start a new week I’d like to throw a spanner in the works; are you doing whatever you are doing today and will be doing for this whole week because you have purposed to, or because someone told you to do so? Are your actions coming from a point of willingness, or from a point of being pushed by someone else? Are your motives for your actions right?

It is never easy to change, but where there is a will, there’s always a way. May your willingness spur you on this week.

PS: Article published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 24th November, 2013, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words"

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