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There is so much good in the worst of us, And so much bad in the best of us, That it hardly behooves any of us
To talk about the rest of us. – Edward Wallis Hoch

We all fall into the trap of jumping into conclusions even when we don’t have all the facts, we conclude using limited data. We jump into conclusions using various strategies such as Mind Reading, Labelling, Fortune Telling, Mislabelling, among other things. Like Mark Twain once quipped, it is not what we don’t know that get us into trouble, it is what we think we know for sure that ain’t so.

Jumping to conclusions is a psychological term referring to a communication obstacle where one “judge[s] or decide[s] something without having all the facts; to reach unwarranted conclusions. In other words, “when I fail to distinguish between what I observed first hand from what I have only inferred or assumed”. Because it involves making decisions without having enough information to be sure that one is right, this can give rise to poor or rash decisions that often cause more harm to something than good.

Imagine yelling at a stranger at a park because they are not responding to you, only to discover they are deaf, Many relationships have been ruined as a result of jumping into conclusions, your husband is talking to a male friend named kiki but you assume he is having an affair, your friend did not return your email or phone call and you conclude he is ignoring you but on further investigation, he just lost his mum or he died last week,

Desire hath no rest, is infinite in itself, endless, and as one calls it, a perpetual rack, or horse-mill.

Making more money, getting married, buying a new car, giving birth to a child, moving into your house, all these are great achievements, but they would not make you happy. When we get what we want eventually, we ask ourselves, is this all there is? We overestimate how happy we would become when we achieve some of these goals and aspirations. The reason for this tendency is called Hedonic Treadmill/Adaptation.

Hedonic Treadmill is the observed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes. Human desire is insatiable; we are always reaching for something, a new car, more money, a destination which, when we eventually get there, we realize it is a journey and not a destination. We say to ourselves, If and when I get that job, that car, that pay raise, buy that house, we would be happy, but unfortunately we don’t get that happiness we think we should get.

Hedonic Treadmill is the observed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes.

If I can’t have it, neither can you.

The Crab in the barrel mentality is a metaphor derived from a pattern of behavior noted in crabs when they are trapped in a bucket. While anyone Crab could easily escape, its efforts will be undermined by others, ensuring the group’s collective demise. It is a way of thinking that says If I can’t have it, get it or do it, then neither can you, and if you try, then I would go out of my way to bring you down.

The Crab in the barrel mentality can be observed everywhere, such as the workplace, families, friends, and places of worship. The moment you try to leave the stereotype or comfort zone, the crabs in the barrel are always there to bring you down to their level. It is not a great place to be in as you naturally expect people in your clan to be happy for you, but they usually are not.

They begin to call you names such as you are a sell-out, you sold your soul to the devil, you have changed (seriously how are you not supposed to change? ), that is the hallmark of growth. This behavior eventually leads to envy, jealousy, hatred, and other harmful actions against the successful individual. It can be exceedingly hurtful as you notice the behavior from people very close to you, your family members, and friends. They smile in your face but backstab, gossip and insult you in your absence

A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.- John A. Shedd

Author Steve Pressfield, in his very great book, The War of Art, share some very great insight about the crab in the barrel mentality:

Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.

The Law is as absolute as the law of gravity: What you sow is what you reap. If you sow hard work, you realize the result of your hard work – Success; If you sow laziness, you reap the outcome of your inactivity – failure. Garbage In, Garbage Out. What you give is what you get. You cannot get out of life what you are not willing to put into it. If you want more affection, give affection more affection. If you want to succeed, help others achieve greater results.

For Example: You want to start a business today and become Bill Gates tomorrow; it does not usually happen like that; it involves sowing the habits of persistence, perseverance, consistency, good routine, hard work, grit, and an element of LUCK (Labouring Under Correct Knowledge) and you would eventually reap the reward of fame, success, stardom, and fulfilment.

If you work hard, what is hard would eventually work, but if you take shortcuts, you would be cut short.

 The moment you understand the law of cause and effect, sowing and reaping, you just need to do your best always, work hard, and let the universe take care of the rest. If you work hard, what is hard would eventually work, but if you take shortcuts, you would be cut short. It can be extremely hard at times when you give your all, but you don’t get the result, keep pushing, the result would eventually come.

One of the reasons people don’t achieve their dreams is that they desire to change their results without changing their thinking. But that’s never going to work. If you expect to reap corn when you planted nettles, you’re not going to get corn—no matter how much time you spend watering, fertilizing, or cultivating your plants. If you don’t like the crop you are reaping, you need to change the seed you are sowing!

Here are some great insights on the law of causation: What you sow is what you reap.

There are no solutions. There are only trade-offs.- Thomas Sowell

Life is a fight for territory; we are always trading off something for yet another thing: your Work or Your Marriage, Your Mental Health, or Mindless scrolling on social media. Unfortunately, there is always a trade-off. The question is not if you are trading off something; instead, the question is, what are you trading off?

Take, for instance, you run a not-for-profit organization, but you are attending conferences all year round, all over the world. The trade-off would probably be less time working on your project. Another example is social media/instant messaging, picking up your phone every 15 minutes to check the latest updates for the dopamine rush. Still, the trade-off is either having less face to face conversations or having less time to work on your goals. You get the drift, most times you cannot have it all.

trade-off /ˈtrād ˌôf/ noun : a balance achieved between two desirable but incompatible features; a compromise.

In her 2014 Dartmouth Commencement Speech, Shonda Rhimes delivers a very compelling speech on trade-offs:

Focus is a matter of deciding what things you’re not going to do.—John Carmac

Learning to say NO to our friends, colleagues, and family is one of the hardest decisions we are faced with on an ongoing basis. It is usually extremely hard for a lot of us to say NO because of our upbringing, it is kind of not culturally accepted to say NO, you hear words like you are been selfish. We are trained to be courteous and polite.

Anytime you say: “yes” to one request you might have to defend it over time with 100 NOs, there is always a trade-off. If you say yes to mindless social media scrolling or picking up your phone to check WhatsApp messages every 15 minutes, you are saying NO invariably to your dream of writing a book or a blog post article. A lot of us find it hard to say NO to peoples requests because we do not have clear goals, values, priorities, and boundaries.

The key to saying NO is to say it graciously and with utmost sincerity. You can say something like: Thank you for the offer/invitation but due to my other commitments, I can not do this right now. Honesty is the best policy, mean what you say and say what you mean. No need to promise people what you know you are not going to do, this eventually leads to resentment and loss of trust in the relationship.

Setting boundaries with people can be very hard but it is one of the keys to having a fulfilled life. We often are apt to help our loved ones but at times they need to learn from the experience. I am not advocating not helping each other but there are some scenarios where we need to let someone learn from their issue/problem. When we allow people to make their problem our problem, we are not helping them but we are just enabling them.

Once we take their problem for them, all we’re doing is taking away their ability to solve it.

The man who complains about the way the ball bounces is likely the one who dropped it. – LOU HOLTZ

Taking full responsibility for your life, your actions, your failures, your successes, is one of the major keys to success. It involves quitting the blame game, quit blaming the government, your spouse, your parents, your frenemies, your enemies, internet trolls et al. Whatever would go wrong usually would go wrong (Murphy’s Law) but when things go wrong like they often do, do not go wrong with it or blame anyone.  It is easy to stay positive when things are going right, the challenge is how you would react when things don’t go the way you want it to happen.

The Blame Game precedes you and I as it was said to have started in the Garden of Eden, Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the snake but the snake did not have a leg to stand on.

The concept of sin in most religions enables blaming as the doctrine goes: Whenever you do something wrong, you would be punished, commit a sin and the consequence is punishment. Hence this leads to people blaming others for their actions in other to avoid punishment. The number one culprit we blame for our irresponsible action is satan(devil), you hear the familiar word: ” It is the work of Devil “.

Until you accept responsibility for your life, someone else runs your life – orin Woodward

Taking full responsibility is not an easy task especially when you have not been brought up/groomed like that. We are in a world where we are constantly comparing ourselves to each other, in a social media age where it is always green at the other side, The day that changes your life is when you take 100% (Full) responsibility for your life.

There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you. – J.K.Rowling

To help you navigate the 100% responsibility journey, here are some great insights from top minds:

In the Seasons of Life, Jim Rohn share the following insight:

I would be experimenting with going 21 days without complaining, the challenge is inspired by Will Bowen, a Kansas City minister who wrote the book: A Complaint Free World: How to Stop Complaining and Start Enjoying the Life You Always Wanted. I have ordered the complaint-free bracelet and I know it is not going to be easy, as I have become more conscious of my complaining tendency after reading the book.

It is going to be a roller coaster ride and am taking some measures to make the challenge easier such as making a list of the people I complain to the most, start noting things I complain most about, triggers for complaining, limit time on social media, avoid chronic complainers, find a complaint-free buddy et al.

It is not complaining to speak directly and only to the person who can resolve an issue

The Complaint Free Challenge

Putting a purple silicone bracelet on your wrist and then switching it from wrist to wrist every time you complained, until you completed twenty-one consecutive days without complaining, criticizing, or gossiping. In so doing, you would have formed a new habit. By becoming conscious of and changing their words, they have changed your thoughts and begun to create your live by design.

Never make excuses. Your friends don’t need them and your foes won’t believe them. ―John Wooden

We all fall into the trap at one point or the other blaming, complaining, and making excuses. Most times we are not even aware we are doing it, we say we are venting, sharing our frustrations, “a problem shared is a problem halved“. Most of the times, the people we are complaining to can not really do anything about our problems but we still share it with them, guess at times it feels good but most times after sharing the problem with them, it either gets worst with their ill given advice or you still don’t have the solution.

Most of the time, we do complain about the things we can change such as a toxic work environment, a bad relationship, money problems, to people who can not really do anything about it. We hardly complain about for example gravity because we have accepted it: whatever goes up must come down. Life happens to all of us but the only way to change any situation is to DO something about it: Fix It, Solve it. Where Energy goes attention goes, what you focus on expands.

Never tell your problems to anyone…20don’t care and the other 80% are glad you have them. – Lou Holtz Jr.

Author Will Bowen. in his book, A Complaint Free World, shares the following story:

There is an old story of two construction workers sitting down to eat lunch together. The first worker opens his lunch box and complains, “Yech! A meatloaf sandwich.… I hate meatloaf sandwiches.” His friend says nothing. The following day, the two meet up again for lunch. Again the first man opens his lunch box, looks inside, and, this time more agitated, says, “Another meatloaf sandwich?

Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.― C.G. Jung

There is a story about a man who was passing the elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at anytime, break away from their bonds but for some reason, they did not.

He saw a trainer nearby and asked why these animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. “Well,” trainer said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.

Elephants never forget

Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering. —Don Miguel Ruiz

On your path to greatness, there will always be detractors, doubters and naysayers. The distractions come from everywhere and every form you can imagine: Family Members, Friends, Monitoring Spirits, Online Tolls. As Mahatma Gandhi once said “First they ignore youthen they laugh at youthen they fight youthen you win“. When these distractions come, you have to see the end in mind, ignore the naysayers, focus on your goals, and EXECUTE

Your Results would cancel the Insults.

When these detractors come around like they often do, remember the words of  Theodore Roosevelt’s Man in the Arena:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Steve Jobs, ex-CEO of Apple Computer & Pixar Animation Studios, on June 12, 2005, delivered one of the most inspiring commencement speech at Stanford University.

If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid – Epictetus

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish excerpt from the 2005 Steve Jobs Commencement Speech

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors and Polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: It was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

If you wish to improve, be content to appear clueless or stupid in extraneous matters. Don’t wish to seem knowledgeable, and if some regard you as important, distrust yourself ~Epictetus.

William Gladstone, four time Prime Minister of Great Britain was an avid reader of books. He loved books so much that he wrote a book “On Books and the Housing of Them” on how best to house them. He personally amassed 32,000 books in his home at Hawarden Castle, which he had transferred to a public library during his old age.

Today, Gladstone’s Library is a tourist attraction situated at Hawarden in Flintshire, Wales. Together with its historical affinity with the British Prime Minister, the library is active in the local community, making much of its collection available to the public for perusal within the building and lending. The instructions found in this essay influence to this day the management of Gladstone’s book collection. Gladstone’s Library is the UK’s only residential library

remind myself every morningNothing I say this day will teach me anythingSo if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening. – Larry King

I am not the best of listener, it is a weakness am taking conscious effort in trying to remedy. It is a constant battle for me to stay silent when someone is speaking. It is a life long journey, just like any habit. You can Learn and Unlearn any thing you put your mind into.

I am committing to Listening for a change. Here are some thoughts and insights on Listening that could help:

In the Contranian’s Guide to Leadership, Steven B. Sample wrote :The average person suffers from three delusions:

  • That he is a good driver
  • That he has a good sense of humor
  • That he is a good listener

The biggest mistake you can make in trying to talk convincingly is to put your highest priority on expressing your ideas and feelings. What most people really want is to be listened to, respected, and understood. The moment people see that they are being understood, they become more motivated to understand your point of view. – David D. Burns (Psychiatrist and Author)

John Maxwell in his Book, the leaders greatest return, shares a joke about listening:

We hear half of what what is being said, listen to half of what we hear, understand half of that, believe half of that, and remember only half of that. If you translate those assumptions into an eight hour workday, here is what what would mean:

  • You spend about four hours listening
  • You hear about two hour of what is said
  • You actually listen to an hour of that
  • You understand only thirty minutes of that
  • You believe only fifteen minutes of that
  • And you remember only seven and a half minutes of it.