By Debbie Olujobi
The world is a story, interwoven,inter connected, the tale of one; the story of all. The scientists have their explanations and so do all the religions but whatever tale or theory it still follows the evolution or should I say the story of man. The stories are similar and even when locations are vastly different; the heartache of the rich is eerily similar to that of the poor.
The common thread of all our stories combined is the search of fulfilment; that search defines all our lives and is the collective tale of all.
A couple of years ago, a young reader of the column got in touch and sought out a mentoring relationship. She seemed very impressionable and full of life. I was flattered by the request though I respectfully declined; life has taught me that only fools claim to be wise and knowledge can only be gleaned through experience. The longer I live the more convinced I am that the scripts of our lives are already written and what will be will eventually be. I believe being mentored is actually delegating the responsibility of choice to others and no good should be expected from it. I should clarify that seeking counsel and getting advice on the other hand is priceless. Seeking counsel is wise, it is asking to hear and learn from other people’s experience while mentoring is asking to avoid the heat of light by living in other people’s shadows!
The greatest disservice any supposedly successful person does is to perpetuate an “all glory” myth. The truth for everyone without exception is the reality of continuous struggle on every level. Sharing the struggle is where the value is; that is the place of preparation. The fame, the houses, the cars and whatever trappings of life we acquire over time are barely punctuations in the story that is life; so choosing to be mentored by anyone because of those trappings is foolishness and, if truth be told, greed. I don’t despise any program that motivates or builds up but I have been disappointed countless times by people who claim to want mentoring but are not willing to pay their dues in sweat and perseverance. The greatest motivator is lack and wanting to go from foundation to penthouse is no way to achieve wealth; even if by chance you achieve it; the challenge is sustaining it.
A very successful person I know is fond of saying the following: “Any fool can get rich; success however is for the wise”. In the search for fulfilment most of us get lost in the acquisition of things and it is easy to get stuck in unnecessary competition. Success is achievement fuelled by the satisfaction of accomplishment. At this moment in the history of the world no one defines success more than Nelson Mandela, an icon of freedom and justice who sought the end of apartheid and was willing to pay for his quest with his life. A peculiar trait of successful people is the admission that they are still seeking success. Mandela always felt he was always trying to be better and was uncomfortable being boxed into a straitjacket of greatness. He admitted his flaws and showed true remorse for his mistakes. Many people in the world want to be as great as Mandela but few are willing to pay the price.
A few weeks ago I got a text from the same reader I mentioned earlier and this time I purposed to call. She sounded like she was now in the process of living and needed to unload. I found out the rose coloured glasses she once wore with pride had been shattered. She was now a young mother, abandoned by the father of her child and seeking to build from the ground she found herself. She felt damaged and hopeless and I knew she was ready for counsel. Only idealists seek mentorship; realists seek counsel; they seek encouragement. Her story is a human one, told in many lives, and will be told in time to come. So many of us are discouraged and disillusioned; it’s not an exclusive club; it’s one open for all.
At this time of the year, most people make resolutions; we aspire to lofty goals, some realistic others borderline ludicrous! There is absolutely nothing wrong with resolutions but the end of one year or beginning of another has no bearing on the reality of who we are and the challenges we face. What you owe on the 31st December 2013 you still owe 1st of January 2014. What we need for the year is not a mentor but hope; we need to believe that if we keep trying, we can turn it around. That is the human tale! The human story will be told and it will feature a beginning and an end; the in-between is where we strive to find fulfilment and achieve success. From the Biblical Adam to modern day you and I, we all face the same issues. You are born, you hopefully find yourself a wife/husband, like Adam and Eve; you have children. Hopefully your children won’t kill one another but through life you will laugh, you will cry and strive to achieve what you perceive to be success by whatever means. It’s the same story being told in different languages and locations around the world. This year I wish you hope, the grace to try, to strive; like my young friend I wish you the energy to pick yourself up from every disappointment and keep trying. Not trying is death, and that’s where the story may end but trying again and again keeps the story going; it’s the human story; a tale that is as ancient as it is new.