If you have been reading my column for some time, you might have observed that each month I generally focus on one topic broken down for the month.
Yet once in a while, I will make a slight digression and not follow any particular sequence. So for this month of July, I have chosen to write about lessons I have learnt from things happening around me.
I think that every experience in life, whether personal or from others, can somehow be taken as a lesson. Every experience is an opportunity to learn. So what is the topic for today and what is the lesson?
On my way out of a bank, I witnessed a heated argument going on between two people. As words were being thrown around angrily, I heard one person ask the other, “Do you know who I am?”
The first question that came to mind was “who are you and what does it have to do with anything”? Of course, it was not my place to get involved in something that had nothing to do with me, so off I went, minding my own business.
Though I can’t help but admit that I was a little curious and would have liked to know ‘who’ in the question was supposed to be.
I am well aware of the fact that sometimes there are instances where it pays off to project one’s status or name drop. I have seen many doors open, so to speak, just because ‘a name’ was mentioned.
Now, while we can easily understand and empathise with this temptation to exert authority, we need to focus on not falling into the trap of using it at the wrong time and place.
It is one thing to use your position or status to obtain certain privileges and another to bring it up in an argument or when you are on the wrong side.
Getting into any kind of brawl or argument is embarrassing enough without drawing attention to yourself. I would have thought anonymity was a better option. And the way I see it, walking away is the best option.
What is it that will make one person believe that they are better or higher than another? Me ‘big shot’, you ‘nobody’ is not valid in an argument.
Rather than letting your mouth tell others who you are and what you can do, let your actions do the talking. Somewhere along the line, I am sure we have all been taught that it is impolite and even to the point of being obnoxious, to talk about yourself all the time or to relay some kind of information to let others know how great, smart, better, richer, highly educated or what not you are more than everyone else around.
There are a few exceptions and one of those is in a job interview. Then of course, blow the horn and let your potential employer know what a great asset you are.
Everyone needs a healthy dose of self-confidence. However, there is a fine line between self-confidence and having an inflated ego.
Some of us, if not most, are familiar with the Akan proverb, anhwennee pa nkasa (good beads do not speak) which means ‘quality talks for itself’.
For those not familiar, it has to do with the belief that it is preferable to let quality promote itself. People who have class do not have to go around telling people about their status, class, qualifications or accomplishments, it will speak for itself. Class is not a fashion or political statement, it is a part of your lifestyle. Let people acknowledge your ‘greatness’.
In this light, the incident I witnessed is a reminder that one must be mindful of the fact that everyone is important. No one is less than another.
And then, well, perhaps, in a society where who you are matters a great deal, we will continue hearing comments like this once in a while so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised when I do.
There are three lessons we can take from this incident. The first is that a truly great person does not have to remind people of their superiority. It will be obvious to all in the way they carry themselves.
Quality stands out all the time, no matter the environment. Third lesson, when you have to ask a question, “do you know who I am?” or any variation thereof, then it’s a good indicator that probably you are not as famous as you thought you were.
So, which kind of bead do you want to be or be identified with? Remember, good beads do not talk. It is a good reminder when you are tempted to tell others how great you are. Instead of telling, show them. Rise to the occasion and let them see the kind of value you have.
By Barbara Sai Djangmah
The writer is a Lifestyle Coach & Author of ‘The Seduction of Food’