Saturday, March 20, 2010

Much ado about nothing... the story of the zazu dress

I hardly write about very personal things and events but this is too hilarious to pass. It was Thursday night about 11.30pm when husband handed me a package. I opened it, and saw a print fabric of very funny unusual color of lemon and purple. I am a black and white person so little colors blind me. I immediate asked what for and he said it is the uniform outfit (aso-ebi) for the reception he sent me the invitation sms earlier in the day. I said “Oh the one I replied saying that I did not know the family or the sender”. He proceeded to tell me the history and the connection with his family how they all grew up together. Compelling story! This reception is for the 40th day remembrance of their father’s death.
All said, I reminded him that it is Thursday night and that the reception is on Saturday afternoon barely 36 hours to the event. I asked how come we are just getting the fabric and how on earth are we going to get it ready and wear it to the event by Saturday? Husband reminded me that there is something called express service by tailor. I said ok. Come morning, I quickly called the only fashion designer/dress maker I know and she said it is doable and gave me one ridiculous price. In my mind, I said, no way!! But not wanting to make light of the importance of this event, I headed out.
Measurement taken, styled discussed and agreed, I left. Next day (am) which is the event day, dress maker called to say dress is ready and will be delivered within the hour. I thanked her profusely in addition to the exorbitant price I was going to pay. True to her word, the dress arrived, as I held it up, I knew there was problem. I quickly tried it on; it was at least two sizes bigger. The waistline was right on top of my bum (you can figure where the end of the dress will be and it is a floor length dress). My older son could not stop laughing. Too late, I have to wear it to the event so everyone had suggestions. At last we all agreed that I should use a big belt to hold the middle of the dress to my waistline (get the picture??). Tried out two belts and we settled for one. With the belt holding the middle of the dress, the two shoulders were drooping and neck changed from u to w. But somehow I can wear it so I called the dressmaker and told her that the dress is not mine but I will have to wear it to the event. I twisted, turned in front of the mirror over and over again to see if there is a way that I can accept it and not feel conscious of it, I found none. The only thing that came to my mind was that it looked like the zazu dress I read in a book a long time ago.
It was about mid-day by now and the hours sped by. I had to read the sms again and it said reception was starting at 2pm. Husband was hunched over laptop and making calls on and off. I was busy with my usual activities, school work with the children, lunch and stuff. I finally settled on my laptop to get some work done. About 3.40pm, husband announces that we should be leaving in another 30 minutes.
I quickly went to change and I even put on two eye shadow colors to compliment the colors of the dress… so was my enthusiasm to make this dress work. We headed out about 4.15pm. 15 to 20 minutes into the traffic which will take at least another 15 to 20 minutes to go through, my sister in-law calls to find out where we were. We told her we were on our way and she said not to bother because the party is almost over and will be very over by the time we get there.
I thought “how great!” Said nothing. Felt nothing. Picked up my pen and wrote this story… so much ado about nothing!!!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The case for mentoring

There is quite a bit being said these days and a number of stuff flying around the whole place on mentoring. I was talking with a fellow parent in school a couple of days ago and she wanted to know what I do. I said that I am an HR professional but currently involved with career and life coaching and that I also train groups and organizations on leadership and managerial effectiveness as well as coaching and mentoring in workplace.
She said that a lady had approached her in church to ask her to mentor her as she is getting into business. She asked me if I have a coach. I said I needed a coach when I was making the transition from 8 -9 as internal consultant to independent service provider. Anyway, she has always worked for herself so this lady wanted her to coach her as she begins the arduous journey of self employment.
On my way home from this meeting, I was reviewing all the conversations and even the meeting we went for (something that I learnt to do over the years) Now I do not even think of it… once I leave a meeting or had a conversation, my mind automatically goes into a debrief mood. It occurred to me that people choose mentors without consideration. I do believe that a successful person will be flocked around by people wanting to know how he or she did it but mentoring goes beyond that.
What do you consider before you choose someone as your mentor? What do you want to get out of the relationship? When you go to someone and say, “please I want you to mentor me”, what exactly do you want this person to do for you? What about this person did you see, hear, read or encounter that convinces you that he or she could be your mentor.
There are structured organizational coaching and mentoring programs which is somewhat different from what I am writing about here. In this type of program, there is a schedule to follow, the results and activities are monitored and measured. It is part of a wider development program or succession planning.
When someone comes to you and asks if you can ‘mentor’ him or her, what exactly is that person asking of you? Is there a general understanding of what and how and result? Before you say yes to a mentoring request, please seek to understand what is being asked. Ask yourself whether you will be able to give what is being asked? First and most importantly, do you have anything to offer? Do you have the time to provide mentoring? Do you have the resources to guide and support the required development of the mentor seeker?
When we are approached by someone asking that we mentor them, it is beyond the ‘feel good’ feeling we get. It is tasking. It is time consuming. So before you rattle out the next yes to such request, ask yourself if you have anything within because you cannot give what you do not have.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Dealing with the pain of job loss

No doubt there are a lot of angry and bitter people out there now following the recent waves of job losses blowing around the country, the globe and across sectors. Recent wave of job losses have been either from early retirement, retrenchment, severance, reduction … no matter what term is being used, losing a job hurts and it hurts real bad. Job loss has been credited as one of the highest ranking stress inducers of our time. Each story you hear seem to be worse than the previous one… all very pathetic.
Like every other loss, time is a good healer; the only problem with the loss of a job is that the victims have no time. Let me explain, if you have recently lost your job or in the process of losing it (because the exercise will continue until there is a major turnaround in the economy and there are no predictions that it will be soon), you have no time to mop and cry and feel sorry for yourself, you need to get up and get going. You need to ask yourself a number of self evaluator questions or seek the help of a life coach to help you through the process. However, no matter what you want to do, you have to first deal with the anger and resentment that you feel in the inside about losing your job.
Understanding why you were laid is primary to dealing with the anger and bitterness of severance. If you are not totally clear as to why your company laid you off or why you were asked to leave, then it will be a lot more difficult dealing with the anger. However, No matter how it was explained to you, the result is the same. Job loss can have a profound effect on your emotional well being. There is a typical cycle that most people experience. This cycle includes denial, anger, frustration, self pity and eventually adaptation. Because people are identified with what they do, a job loss looks like their identity have been taken away from them and self doubt is the first thing that sets in.
Let it sink in… accept it! Do not live in denial and do not go on with the blame game.
Talk about it… share the burden. Find someone you trust and if you have mentor, this is a good time to get together with the person. Get a life coach. Talk to someone who will listen.
Being laid off can be a trigger for something good to happen to you. It is important for you to see that it could be an opportunity for you to pursue your dreams that you have been putting on hold simply because you were comfortable with a monthly salary. This is the time to get back inside and use the strengths you have to do something.
Before you do anything, make sure you have resolved the anger within you about being laid off, forgiven anyone and everyone (if you think you have been victimized) or else it continue to hunt you and become a barrier for moving forward.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Showing a little kindness to strangers and to all

Most cultures have a history of showing kindness to foreigners and strangers. The African culture boasts of kindness to strangers and some nations such as Nigeria lists hospitality as one of its strengths and a major factor in tourism attraction. I guess that was before the Niger Delta militants started its kidnapping and abducting spree and also before Abdul Multallab decided to blow up a plane full of innocent strangers and for some inexplicable reason such evil has become the face of Nigeria. Whatever happened to our kindness and hospitality? Even within us as a nation, we are weary of showing kindness because of the horror stories and events. ..
The bible is full of admonitions and instructions about treating strangers and foreigners with kindness. It was with amazement that I read that God remanded the Israelites to be kind to foreigners and strangers because they were once strangers in the land of Egypt before He showed them mercy. He even instructed them not to pick up grains that fall down in the fields during harvest and to purposely leave some crops unharvested so that strangers and foreigners passing through can have something to eat.
Most of us travel to other countries on vacations, adventures, business, you name it and we never quite forget any genuine act of kindness that we are shown on our journeys whether it is a kind man or woman giving a helping hand with kids or luggage or helping someone navigate the streets of an unknown city.
I recently read of an American lady travelling alone through Jordan and Jerusalem who took ill and was gravely sick in the bus and a singular act of kindness from an old woman who disrupted her own destination to take the sick lady to a convent saved the tourist’s life.
The stories and the people who take advantage of peoples’ acts of kindness abound and these are the reason for the seemingly insensitivity of people these days towards the needy and strangers. People set out to target and exploit others who show kindness and compassion. I will never forget one mid-say coming back from a meeting, I saw a young woman in her late 20s or early 30s carrying a mid-sized plastic basin crying and wailing on the street. I wondered what could make such healthy woman and by all indication not crazy crying so openly. I asked the driver to stop and we had gone past a little bit, I insisted that he reversed; I got out of the car and asked the lady what the problem was. She cried even louder and told me how all the egg she was asked to go and deliver had all broken when she tripped and fell. I asked who she was delivering for and she said her aunt and how her aunt will definitely make a minced meat out of her and will not pay her for several months. I asked her how much the egg was and she said something like N7,000 and coincidentally I had some cash on me that day clearly for a payment because I never really carry lose cash as I operate tightly on budget but this day I had cash so I went back into the car, counted the money and gave this lady. I headed back to the office not even thinking about it again.
You can imagine my shock when the very next week and I mean the next week, I saw this same lady in another part of the city in the same act. I got out of the car and quietly got to her and said “how many eggs have you broken today” anger and disappointment obviously showing in my voice. There were a few people around and when she recognized me, she took off with such speed that the onlookers thought I was some kind of law enforcement agent. I stood there for what seemed like forever even though it was for a few brief minutes, shook my head and walked away.
Should we then stop showing compassion and kindness one may ask? No! Life’s journey is about giving and kindness we show to each other as we trod along.