In a nation of paranoid schizophrenics…

Pointing out obstacles is helpful but pointing out solutions is far better. Anyone can point out the boulder blocking the path but the true and humble heroes are those who roll up their sleeves, bend down, and keep pushing until the path is clear for all. But there is more to it…It’s about the processes and about doing everything right. Sometimes it involves much more than brute force. It may take a finer finesse and elegance to examine, explain, and educate. In other words, teams of leaders with good characters and diverse competencies must lead others so that they can think, learn, and do the right things and do things in the right ways.

We all remember our growing up years. A bunch of kids from varied backgrounds, full of boundless energy with the whole of life’s journeys ahead of them, yet to be explored. In this diverse group of people, the collective mattered a great deal for there was only one purpose in life, not school, not brilliance, not wealth, just fun. The diversity of the collective was such that there were clear indications, looking back, of those who would end up in what you may term Adult Psychological Sects as a result of their experiences. However, no one was looking that far ahead. As raving lunatics who brought down the neighbourhood for the heck of it, there were the rich kids who seemingly had everything including the latest bikes and went abroad every summer; there were the not-so-rich kids, who had some things and went abroad once in a while but did not get the latest updates in the bike-owning world and then there were the not-rich kids who may get to see the airport once in a blue moon and always waited on the kerb for a ride on someone’s bike. The poorer kids just did not stand a chance because they sat around, hoped, wished and waited. Someday their redemption would come.

Regardless of these diverse groupings, there remained the common goal of having as much fun as was legally possible whilst pushing the boundaries of what your parents could accept or afford. For many it did not matter who you were or what you had. The memories of such innocence remain today but with a slight shake of the head and a wry smile. Acceptance was important to all the kids in any group. It was a sign of a validation of who you were and what others thought of you. Remember the rich kids who kept insisting everyone gather at his or her house every time? Remember the smart kid who constantly offered to, and so ended up, do everyone’s homework? Remember the not-so-rich kid who always wanted to be at the frontline of the help queue and would readily offer help where none was required? The wittiest and funniest kid whom everyone loved to have around because he or she almost always made everyone’s day full of laughter and smiles? Then there were the pretty and good-looking ones whom the opposite sex just wanted to be within a risky radius of and bask in their glow? The not-so-pretty or good-looking ones would make sure they were always upfront and in your face, craving acknowledgement.

Well, I remember them all and my brother, Dr. Bimbo would be smiling as he reads this now. He has the memory of an elephant but he is not that old! Early decisions about who we would want to be when we grew up were made, sometimes unconsciously, during these times. Every kid used whatever their best contributions to the group could be to win over others. It was important to know you belonged. The psychological problems carried forward into adulthood were as a result of whether you succeeded in being accepted or not despite your efforts. Whatever spurs you on today is firmly rooted in our formative years and your experiences therein.

Further to the group issues were the effects of background and home. The main source of childhood stability was as important as the impressions we got regarding our acceptances or rejections in the groups we ‘belonged’ to. If there was instability or indeed stability, there was almost certainly going to be degrees of variation to our projections and the overall theory. A child who knows nothing but rejection shall almost certainly grow into one that rejects constantly or is constantly rejected as an adult. A child who grew up enveloped in love and acceptance will almost certainly always love and accept regardless of how he or she turns out. These are the basic rules of who we are today and it is transferable to the next generation and the next. Misery will always find company to cloud delusions borne out of denial.

Today.

There are adults who constantly seek admiration, acceptance and validation. There are adults who, however, do not have issues of self-loathing, insecurities and constantly reinforce their self-beliefs from within and with a smile each time. Life will bring challenges. That is not a Eureka moment but a fact. The hurdles before each one are not unique or special as the frequency of occurrence in everyone’s life proves. The real question is,  are you grounded enough to handle it effectively without losing the essence of your being?

The rich kid may not have been the smartest so he or she grows up using wealth to buy his or her shortcomings. The poorer kid may not have had but has resolved to be rich at all cost to ‘payback’ those who did not accept him or her. The not-so-rich kid may not have been the most disliked of the lot but will today use whatever natural advantages to move forward through adulthood. The prettiest and best-looking may not have been rich or poor but will continue the battle for ‘acceptance’ way into old age. Whichever one grew up as and the capacity to handle hurdles today, in a way that speaks well of one’s background and upbringing, remains firmly rooted in background, upbringing and the psychological scales in between. When the world takes over, with its own rules and standards of measure, the pressure builds and the balanced and the imbalanced show their hands. In Nigeria we do not measure the psychological effects of anything in our lives hence we tend to see Mental Disorder only in the nakedness of the wandering, garbage-hauling person on the street.

Remember the one who slept around with everyone in the delusion that he or she was liked or that it would get others to do things for them? They are still standing under lampposts today waiting for someone to pay their way in life. Or the one who stole everything in sight to sell so that he or she could have money to spend and be admired for doing so by the group? May have turned out to be a politician, I am not sure. Remember the one who constantly gave out everything and shared his or her last food? Remember the one who constantly looked, green in the eyes, at what material things and ‘freedoms’ everyone seemingly had? Guess what they turned out to be today. Much of the same only physically larger.

‘Mummy, I want to be a mean bitchy nasty bastard BUT remembered when I grow up!’ said the little kid.

Why?’ asked Mommy.

The little kid said, in a rambling but consistent show of early age insecurities,

‘Because THEY must accept me, think highly of me, show my face and name in every media platform available to humanity, clap for me and shout my name every time I show up, whisper about me with jealousy in their eyes, say that I am good-looking and nice, ask and beg me for help every day, while I get the opportunity to ‘payback’ for what anyone did or said to me as a kid! I will not respect any of them and I will do whatever it takes to make sure it happens!!!’ Mommy was aghast, in pretentious concern, and turned running and screaming into the living room ‘Daddy! What have you bred? Or was it me?’ but the room was either empty or Daddy simply smiled at her, proud of the result of their efforts.

If today as a full-grown adult we are craving acceptance and constantly offering rejection or indeed are accepted and constantly offering love and care without having to rely on money, houses, cars, designer clothes, invitations to social events, appearances in rag-tag media, awards from work and standing ovations, it is a function deeply rooted in what and who we are, and were, growing up. It is easily recognizable and will always show through.

Want everyone to know your name? Go open a bar called ‘Cheers’.

There are those, however, who turn such ‘disadvantages, growing up into positive and enjoyable lives. We are who we are but have the individual strengths to decide who we want to be while fighting the impact of what our experiences have instilled in us. If acceptance or rejection was not part of our growing up, not much will change whatever we do, unless we make a conscious effort to remedy the effects of that which remain transferable. In a nation of paranoid schizophrenic masked as happy, joyous, successful, pained, depressed and insecure adults, we must be careful what we transfer unto our children, if we have any, and the world around us. When we begin to understand this, then we can begin to understand why our neighbour is as is. Intellectual opinions welcomed as always, unless the side-effects of paranoia creep in.

Have a good weekend everyone!

Babatope Ajayi

 

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A glance at Global Health; 2012

In recent years, governments, the private sector, philanthropic foundations and individuals, have donated money and demonstrated an immense commitment to the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases. The creation of new institutions such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, was specifically dedicated to that task. This has worked well, and despite the progress being made so far, public health experts have expressed that there are more challenges ahead.  Amanda Glassman, [the Director of Global Health Policy] described the 2012 global health legacy as a year of increased commitments to health but continuing low-level budgets from donors. This is because donors are already cutting down their health aid budgets.

 

In July 2012, the UK government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) and other partner agencies hosted an initiative summit. This was aimed at mobilising global policy, financing, commodity, and service delivery commitments. Further supporting the rights of an additional 120 million women and girls in the world’s poorest countries to get access to contraceptive information, services and supplies, without coercion or discrimination, by 2020.

“We are talking about giving women the power to save their own lives and their children’s lives – and to give their families the best possible future.”– Melinda Gates

In its end of year results for 2012, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria revealed substantial increase in the number of people being treated for HIV and in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of the virus with 4.2 million people on antiretroviral (ARV) treatment. Important progress was also reported to have been made against Tuberculosis and Malaria. By the end of 2012, 9.7 million cases of TB have been treated and 310 million nets have been distributed. However, according to Robert Newman [Director, WHO’s Global Malaria Programme];

“The World Malaria Report 2012 brings together data from 104 malaria-endemic countries and reveals both success stories and a set of difficult challenges.”

Newman emphasised preventive measures and concluded that the last decade has shown just how powerful our collective efforts are at saving lives. Our challenge now is to sustain and extend those gains to ensure that everyone at risk has access to prevention, diagnostic testing, and treatment. Perhaps, it is time to check the world’s approach to public health. New ways of thinking about the problem are needed, both because chronic diseases require continuous treatment, and because many of the answers to the question “how can people in the 21st century have healthier lives?” are not strictly medical at all.

Similarly, a recent CNN article on ‘Global report: Obesity bigger health crisis than hunger’, written by Danielle Dellorto, shares the view that there is a massive shift in global health trends, “for the first time, noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes, stroke and heart disease top the list of leading causes of years spent sick or injured.” The article cited the Global Burden of Disease report, which compared health data between 1990 and 2010.  The report showed that “every country, with the exception of those in sub-Saharan Africa, faces alarming obesity rates — an increase of 82% globally in the past two decades. Middle Eastern countries are more obese than ever, seeing a 100% increase since 1990.”

Indeed, so much work still needs to be done but this offers a good glimpse of how health care needs are rapidly shifting. It seems that more resources need to be allocated towards prevention rather than treatment. Although, organisations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Global Fund remain focused on infectious disease and perinatal care for good reason. Malaria, tuberculosis, HIV, and maternal and childhood death remain the top problems in the poorest countries, particularly those of sub-Saharan Africa. However, in developed parts of the world what is now of concern is disease caused by overindulgence in food, substance misuse, injuries caused by rapidly growing traffic and, in some places a culture of violence.

In his response to the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), 2012 press release,  Christopher Murray shares the view that whether you are highly educated, male or female, or living in a wealthy or resource-limited setting, people evaluate different types of health outcomes in very similar ways. Having said this, it is worth mentioning that this article is just a brief reflection and may not necessarily portray the entire progress made in global health. While it is appropriate to applaud the efforts and commitments of governments, organisations, donors and researchers who continuously strive to make the world a better place; it is hoped that the leaders and other keen observers alike, whose priorities are in the contrary, will be bold enough to take the bull by the horns. No doubt, we have a long way to go, but we will get there.

Babatope Ajayi

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December 22, 2012 · 2:04 PM

60 seconds Barnardo’s #LifeStory

Believe in children – visit http://www.barnardos.org.uk

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December 18, 2012 · 1:01 PM

A quote for the moment

“In times of grief and sorrow I will hold you and rock you and take your grief and make it my own. When you cry I cry and when you hurt I hurt. And together we will try to hold back the floods to tears and despair and make it through the potholed street of life”
Nicholas SparksThe Notebook

 

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Gun Law Debate in the face of Grief, Shock and Questions.

I did not plan to write this article. I was however surprised and at the same time motivated by the comments made by people who strongly believe that the “right” to use gun for self-defense should be applauded. According to a CNN report, the gunman has no criminal record and authorities simply did not know why he did it. So what could have provoked him to turn his gun to the innocent children? Why did he blast his way into the Connecticut school? Does access to weapons like the one that the young man used in Connecticut make it easier for a mass shooting to occur? Of course, “NO”, we can all say that in chorus. However, I keep wondering, the pertinent issue is not gun control but the fact that no one in his or her right state of mind should be so devilish.

An article in the New York Times Sunday review by Nicholas Kristof entitled “Do We Have the Courage to Stop This?”, asked another pertinent questions. He said; “Why can’t we regulate guns as seriously as we do cars?” He suggests that the fundamental reason kids are dying in massacres like this one is not that everyone is lunatic or criminal, all countries have them, but that the United States suffer from a political failure to regulate guns. I strongly agreed with him, he stated the obvious; the root and the genesis of the problem, but should we question the mental health state of this young man?

                       “There are estimated  270 million guns in the hands of civilians in the United States.” – CNN

There is an argument for those supporting the use of guns for self-defense in a civilized society. Can you please highlight any self-defense in the “Connecticut school shooting” context?  Does the right to bear arms translate to unfettered access to weapons for mass killings? The self-defense reason for owning a gun is totally wrong. I’ll explain, all it does is encourage intruders to get guns and then break in with the intent of shooting the first thing that moves. If consequences and fear of harm were deterrents to crime, countries and states with profound and effective judicial system would be crime free. All guns do is increase the likelihood of gun violence, because it increases the likelihood of using a gun at the slightest provocation at the first instance.

The right of self-defense as a legal justification for the use of force in times of danger is available in many jurisdictions, but the interpretation varies widely. Without any iota of doubt, we are all responsible to protect our family and property; but carrying a gun is absolutely wrong, let us get it right please. You can lessen deaths or homicide by firearms substantially by limiting the number of guns and the kinds of guns on the street. Deaths by firearms are much lower in Canada, England, Australia, New Zealand, Holland, Switzerland, Denmark, Germany, France, Italy, Austria, Norway, and Sweden; arguably due to the restrictions on firearms.

Having said these, it can be argued that even if firearms were restricted, it does not prevent people from committing murder or homicide. There is access to other types of weapons, and it can be said that if a person is in the mindset of committing murder then it will happen regardless of access to means. A gun as a weapon of choice has relevance to the individual choosing it, a firearm is instant, impulsive and can serve in easing the conscience in comparison to a weapon such as a knife. The gun is a quick and effective weapon glamourised by movies and desensitised by common use in the Police force and gangs.

In a tearful and very emotional statement, President Obama said “We’ve endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years,” I felt his pain, and yes, we live in an unfair world. A world full of pain, hatred, starvation, violence, crime, war, health crises, natural disasters – more of things we have no control over, but how long are we going to continue to mourn innocent souls? I would not blame the President for delaying the talk on the issue of gun control legislation until a day that a small town and a nation was shattered to the core. Perhaps, if the US government fail to act, we can then conclude that the government is violating the constitutional duty to protect the lives of its citizens.

As I mourn with the families of the innocent children, I ask, why are there stricter laws requiring getting a driver’s license or university loan than getting a gun? Why not talk about an early intervention and mental health screening or assessment for children from difficult families? Why not do things that put government in the role of helping citizens than allowing free access to ammunitions?

Babatope Ajayi

 

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The ‘Generous Heart’… will live to give a priceless smile.

Generosity is a guiding principle for many registered charities, foundations and non-profit organizations. When it comes to generosity, many people stop at nothing. I will never forget the sayings of one my favorite Uncles. This is simply because, he was so philosophical and would speak to assert that everyday is a learning opportunity. One of his sayings that I still find very useful and applicable to everything I do is; “givers never lack”. Coming from a Christian background, Sunday school taught me, God blesses those who are kind to the poor. He helps them out of their troubles (See Psalm 41:1).

Honestly speaking, I struggle to speak about my faith and know many others do too. Here  are some thoughts on it; at times we give too much weight and power to the people who would not agree with our core values and beliefs. Whereas, we forget to think about those who might share similar views. Indeed, being generous surpasses all beliefs, and there are  no limitations to the act of being generous to others. Have you ever thought of what it means to spend time with people who are confined to their bed, home, hospital or a wheelchair because of illness or disability? Can you imagine writing a non-judgemental and inspiring letter to a prisoner who has been abandoned by close relatives and much of society?

Historically, generosity literarily means open–handedness, and liberality in the act of giving money and possessions to others. Over the last five centuries in the English-speaking world, “generosity” developed from being primarily the description of an ascribed status. To the elites, it is a noble idea of an achieved mark of admirable personal quality and action,  capable of being exercised in theory by any person who had learned virtue and noble character.

Arguably, being generous is not all about giving money to the needy. Generosity includes praying for the helpless, caring for the elderly, spending time with the homeless, visiting the orphanages, counseling the bereaved, and so on. Generosity is the habit of giving without expecting anything in return. It may involve offering time, assets or talents to aid someone in need. Often equated with charity as a virtue, generosity is widely accepted in society as a desirable trait. According to Elizabeth Gilbert,

 “In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.”

It is worth mentioning that although the term generosity often goes together with charity, and many people in the public eye want recognition for their good deeds. Likewise, there is no doubt that donations are needed to support organizations and committees, however, generosity should not be limited to times of great need such as natural disasters and extreme situations. Generosity can also be spending time, money, or labor, for others, without being rewarded in return.

33 million have died from HIV/AIDS and 34 million are living with it now. You can be generous and give your time. You can volunteer and campaign at the grassroots and inform the people en masse about the prevention and the symptoms. Interact with the single mothers and inspire them. Give them hope.

Money can buy happiness when you use it to help others. Why else do you think Oprah, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Michelle Obama, Alicia Keys, Paul McCartney, Bill Clinton, Brad Pitt and many more are involved in charity work?

You may be criticized for taking an older person for a walk or for acting as a mentor for the jobless youths in your neighbourhood, please do not respond to such illegitimate critics. Because If you do, you will let them control your motives and the message you intend to pass with your ‘caring heart.’

Some inspirational thinkers have said:

 “You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” – John Bunyan

 “Give yourself entirely to those around you. Be generous with your blessings. A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.” – Steve Maraboli

 “There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” – John Holmes

 “For it is in giving that we receive.” – St. Francis of Assisi

Most people focus on their own everyday comfort and pleasure. Change agents sacrifice these for a greater purpose. Forthcoming is the Christmas Season, why not wrap some gifts and give joyfully to the homeless? Perhaps, you may want to consider spending an hour or 24 hours out of the 12 calendar months in 2013 to put a smile onto someone else’s face. Making somebody smile is priceless.

 Babatope Ajayi

 

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Organizations are only human

Organizational behavior is an academic study of organization. It is described as the study as well as the application of how people and groups act in various organizations or business organizations. It relates to the field of sociology as well as psychology. Organizational behavior is important because it allows us to understand the relationship that exist among the different people in an organization.

Moreover, organizations share many characteristics with the people who populate them. Organizations are born, they mature, they age, and they die. The life expectancy of most is about 15 years and only 5% last longer than 50 years. They begin with an innovative idea—even developing beyond all expectations—but eventually they begin to show signs of ageing. Claudio Feser writes in Serial Innovators, “Some firms become blinded by success and begin to resist external views and challenges. Some are locked into mental models and become driven by habits. Some lose the sense of purpose that pervaded them in the early days. Some become bureaucratic. Some have processes and incentive systems that have put them on an autopilot, leading in a dangerous direction. Some develop dysfunctional organizational cultures.”

Occasionally, some organizations resist these all too human tendencies and thrive. They continually reinvent themselves. They confront rigidity. They become serial innovators. We create over time, our own and our organization’s rigidity. Individually, we develop rigidity in the form of biases, lack of self-confidence, and habits. The human mind is quite adept at this to create efficiencies. We can only process so much. Organizationally, we create rigidities like structures, performance management and reward systems, supporting cultures and capabilities that while necessary to some degree, often prevent us from adapting rapidly. Worse still, we add complexities to existing structures, processes, values and norms, without ever rethinking and possibly eliminating obsolete ideas and rules. All of this can cause entropy and our demise.

Rigidities are not going to go away, but we can learn to manage them better. Feser says that organizations that want to become serial innovators must do the following:

  1. Cultivate the organizations members’ desire to make a difference.
  2. Build a team of learners at the top.
  3. Frame the organization’s vision and strategy positively.
  4. Build on self-managed performance cells.
  5. Promote the organization’s members’ drive to perform and grow.
  6. Invest in capabilities to quickly develop new assets and skills.
  7. Cultivate a culture that fosters execution and promotes challenge.

Again, it is a leadership issue with a leadership solution.

If company leaders do not accept challenge and diverging views, neither will the organization.

If company leaders do not show self-confidence, do not have a positive mindset, and do not role-model resilience, the organization will not develop the confidence to adapt to ever-changing and dynamic markets.

If company leaders do not change their behavior when confronted with new situations, the company will run on autopilot.

If company leaders do not clearly define the structure of the organisation and fight organisational complexity, complexity will creep throughout the organization.

If leaders do not thoughtfully review and reward performance, behaviors fostering collaboration and innovation will become rare and–over time—disappear.

After all, organizations are only human.

Babatope Ajayi

 

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