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The Best Teacher

Pain and Challenges teach the most valuable lessons from the most unexpected events.

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The best Teacher- Leonard Lebere

There is a great reality to pain. The funny thing about it is that when you are experiencing it, it sometimes feels like the end of the world, but when we look back we say, “It was not that bad.” By writing this blog I wanted to share about how pain is not the worst thing that can happen to us. The only question is, like athletes, how do we turn pain into gain?

A month ago my dad passed away and it was the bitterest feeling in this universe, words can’t explain how that experience affected me over the past few weeks. When I heard the news over the phone,  reality pulled a slow motion stunt on me: I couldn’t think clearly, pay attention long or even do things I would consider routine like time management, running or even reading. As painful as that experience was, even from the support I got from friends and family, I couldn’t help but realise that good management of a bad experience leads to growth! This is one of the things I have always told myself in tough times,

“Only a good management of a bad experience leads to growth.”

This blog is not limited to my dad’s passing but I have had some great achievements and diamond-deep failures over the past few years. I can’t help but think of John McDonnell who said,

“Every problem introduces a person to himself.”

In 2016 while doing my first year as a first generation university student, a lot did not go my way and it was difficult navigating through all those challenges with the great need of focusing on my academics. I did a lot to avoid the reality I was faced with, from over-committing to student associations to starting a lot of projects I would not have the desire to finish off. Pascal, Pensées observed,

“I have often said that the sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room… What people want is not the easy peaceful life that allows us to think about hour unhappy condition, nor the dangers of war, nor the burdens of the office, but the agitation that takes our mind off it and diverts us. That is why we prefer the hunt to the capture. That is why men are so fond of hustle and bustle; that is why prison is such a fearful punishment; that is why the pleasures of solitude are incomprehensible.”

If you don’t understand what that means, I challenge you to read it again and again. The reality of it is that as human beings we will do anything that takes our eyes off the reality before us. It’s not that we don’t care, we just don’t enjoy thinking about it.

The real differences between people who thrive and people who survive is in how they deal with their problems and challenges. By writing this blog, I’m definitely not trying be insensitive to pain many have felt; we always have to find something positive in the tragedy that we face. Cheryl McGuinnes, who lost her husband in the 9/11 attacks that struck America, wrote a book a few years later reflecting on how that event impacted her entire life. She wrote,

“As unfair, unreasonable, and impossible as it seems, we still have work to do after a tragedy occurs. We still have roles to fill. We still have responsibilities to family and others. The stuff of life may pause for a while, but it doesn’t stop. Fair or not, that is reality.”

What I like about Cheryl is that she allowed her loss to become the gain of others, it was a bold step to write the book Beyond the Ashes reflecting on that experience. As people we don’t love problems and challenges, but at times our greatest gains can come from our pain.

The thing about pain is that everyone experiences it.

“Expecting the world to treat you fairly just because you are a good person is a little like expecting the bull not to charge you because you are vegetarian.”

Dennis Wholey. We don’t  really like painful experiences and few people make bad experiences positive lessons. A bad experience will either make us better or bitter.

While reading the 15 Laws of Invaluable Growth, I came across a common misconceptions among us as millennials. Frank Hughes said,

“Experience isn’t really the best teacher but it sure does serve as the best excuse for not trying to do the same silly thing again.”

Experience can only be the best teacher when take time to reflect on it and allow those lessons to turn into insights. I guess sometimes we just need to allow our discomfort to be a catalyst for growth.

“Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s the way it is. The way you cope with it is the difference.” Virginia Satir.

What I really wanted to point out in this blog is that facing difficulties is inevitable, learning from them is optional. Personal development requires a bias towards action. A bend at the end of the road is not the end of the road, unless you fail to make the turn. My desire is that this blog will help you understand that sometimes pain is not the worst thing that can ever happen to us, pain can be the reason we make eminent changes that will bring a great deal of success in our lives.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article, there are links below for other blogs that I have written and if you would like to receive these blogs via email, please leave your email [here] and I’ll be sure to notify you when a new article is up.

Leonard Lebere

 

6 Quotes That Made 2017 Great- Leonard Leber

Words can convict us, inspire us, encourage us, build us up or break us down and a better understanding of words can help us navigate our surroundings.

Leonard Lebere

I my recent reflection of 2017, I can’t help but realise how powerful words are. There so many words we use for different situations and the words we use reveal what we have been thinking about all along. Words can convict us, inspire us, encourage us, build us up or break us down and a better understanding of words can help us navigate our surroundings.
I have taken time to share a reflection on quotes I believe shaped my 2017. I had to make sure that the quotes covered as many aspects of everyday life and I hope you’ll relate and learn from my reflection. If you want to know more about the importance of reflection, you can read the other article I wrote on the topic of Reflection.

1. “If you don’t create the future, you must endure the future you get.” John C Maxwell

I read this quote from, The 15 Laws of invaluable growth, John C Maxwell. The idea of getting older made this quote more relevant to me. I thought about many old people who have to endure their futures because they never took time to work on their own futures. I started living with a mind-set that thinks more about who I am ‘becoming’ and I had to develop certain disciplines based on where I see myself in the next 10-20 years. I made an observation in my diary,

“Everything we do brings us closer to our destinies or pulls us further away from it.”

The purpose of this observation was to make myself conscious of my everyday decisions. My question to you is, “Are you enduring or are you creating your future?”

2. “People are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves, they therefore remain bound.” James Allen

We all want to improve the state of our circumstances, in one way or another we want more from what we do. This quote which I wrote about in the Growth article helped me realise how powerful I am as individual. It shaped how I view leadership,

“You cannot change the circumstance if you don’t equip the people.”

This quickly became my new mantra as a leader. After realising how insightful James Allen was being with this quote, I worked on myself like never before. I dug into a ton of content that would equip me to become a better Leonard. I later became a better friend, better leader, better content producer and I eventually became a more in control individual because I understood the power I had. If you are going through a circumstantial challenge, then just know that YOU are the answer to the challenge; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

3. “When we establish a vision, it becomes our responsibility to see it come to pass.” Shawn Nortje

We had our weekly leaders meeting when I wrote this down in notebook, I couldn’t stop thinking about the intensity and focus a vision brings. The thing that made me remember this was not just what was said, but the individual who said it. Pastor Shawn, was my youth Pastor at the time and he is probably one of the most intelligent and passionate people I have ever met. His life was ministry in itself and I always enjoyed meeting up with him. I was encouraged to write down the things I wanted to see happen in my life and I later took responsibility for the actual due-process involved. This briefly reminded me that,

“There is no unrealistic goal, but there is an unrealistic deadline.”

And this is what made understanding the importance of vision so great. A vision is long term and it simplifies your life, I encourage you to take time to think about the life and impact you really want.

4. “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seed that you sow.” Robert Louis Stevenson

This quote introduced a different aspect of patience to me, an aspect that explains the law of seed time and harvest in a new way. I learned that we live in seasons. Sometimes we are reaping, but for the days when we are not reaping, we should be well positioned to sow. Like many people, I would get frustrated for not seeing immediate results in the great effort I put into certain projects. I soon learned that,

“In the end, the harvest will come.”

So I live my life seed conscious, from every book I read, every event I attend, I blog I write and many other activities that keep my life afloat. I know that it might not be now, but one day I will surely reap a well-deserved harvest. Like Gary Vaynerchuck would say, “Deploy patience for everything that you do.”

5. “Set your goals at your own pace in your own time.” Hubert Barlow

I wrote about this in my previous blog about Finishing strong. I asked this question out of concern for what would happen to me if all my friends would achieve everything they wanted to and I would have to be the only one playing catch-up. Mr Hubert gave me an answer that stuck with me to this day. I have learned to celebrate the achievements of my friends as if they are mine because I know that one day, I’ll be the one they celebrate. So if you are facing a similar dilemma about goal setting just remember that our journey is more of a marathon than it is a sprint. Own goals, own pace.

6. “Compared to others we are so far ahead, but compared to ourselves, we are far behind.” Leonard Lebere

It’s maybe strange quoting myself, but this is an observation I made when I was at a birthday party and an older individual tried to make me feel small. It was strange for me, the idea that someone would try to discredit me for some form of self-gratification. This guy was probably 10 years older than me and I realised that he was struggling with stuff I got over when I was 15 years of age. This is when I realised that the moment we compare ourselves to others, we will always be ahead or better in some way or another, but when we ‘compare ourselves to ourselves’, we easily realise that we are not where we are supposed to be. We have the potential to do great things like writing a book in my case, but somehow we never get there because we look to other people to see where they are and we forget about our potential.

I had to cut the quotes down to six because I think the ones I provided are broad enough to help with everyday challenges, if I had to write more it would be a chapter for a book. My room is filled with important quotes and sayings that I think are going to carry me through for a long-long-time. Words are really important to me and I try my best to articulate them well, this is why I try my best to write these blogs and I am in the ideation phase of a new book… Details will follow.

Thank you once more for reading this blog, I hope that I added value to your time and I will stay as consistent as I can be with these blogs. Feel free to comment on what quotes or sayings you have been living by.
Leonard Lebere

Finishing Strong- Leonard Lebere

A blog about why the finish is really more important than the start.

We have all heard the saying, “It’s not about how you start but how you finish.” I was a big fan of this statement because it would always justify my mid-year complacency, but I never fully understood what it meant. My goal with this blog is to answer ‘WHY’ we must finish strong.

I was inspired to write this blog while I was reflecting (intentionally looking back to make required changes) on 2017 and somehow while doing so I subconsciously thought, “Yeah, Yeah, like they always say, ‘it’s not about how you start it’s about how you finish.” Moments later I found myself perplexed by this train of thought and I asked myself (in the context of having 365 days in a year) WHY is this important. My conclusion was fairly simply,

“Finishing strong gives you MOMENTUM for the restart.”

The restart could literally be anything from a new year to a new term. Momentum you may think, is it really that simple?

I’ll share my short story of 2017. After going through a really challenging year in 2016, I never really had the courage or conviction to reflect or even think about everything that happened in that year. So when 2017 started I was ‘floating’- had no goals for 2017 and no vision for how I wanted to start the year. It took me 3 MONTHS to realise that I needed to have goals for the year and I needed to get my act together or else I would lose and regret an entire year. The real reason why it took me so long to wise-up was because I was building momentum during that time. I had a very low and discouraging finish to 2016, hence it took me 3 months to get my confidence back and remember who I really am. This momentum building time-period consisted of: reading a lot, exercising, reflecting on 2016 (which was really difficult), having difficult conversations with my close friends and really just praying a lot. If you think about it, in a year of 12 months- I only fully lived my life for 9 months, because I had no momentum from 2016. I write this article so that you don’t have to start on the back foot like I did and I wish that you’ll fully live the 12 months of the year.

My desire for you who is reading this is that you will think about 2018 in a different way.

“A new year is more in what you think and do than what it is on an annual Calendar.”

If you think about the 80/20 rule you will realise that,

“Success is 80% Psychology and 20% Mechanics”

Your thought life then becomes really important for making this New Year work. So think about finishing strong, because when we Finish-Strong; we ultimately Start-Strong.

“Our calendar is not like in sports. There is no off season for us, when we finish- we are back to the start.”

If you are anxious about this New Year, I have chosen 3 things you can do now (regardless of when you are reading this article) to help you build the momentum going into this New Year.

  1. Set your goals now!

This journey of life is extremely long, the last thing you need is not having direction. After my 3 months of momentum-building, on the 7th of April 2017, I sat down with Mr Hubert Barlow (former MD of Barloworld and a very influential leader) to ask him many questions I had been asking myself. One question I asked was, “How does one deal with the mental disposition of seeing your friends achieving stuff while you have not done much personally.” I remembered his response till this day because I really had to think about what it meant for me. He said

“Set your goals at your own pace in your own time.”- Hubert Barlow

And this statement set me free from comparing my life to many of my peers and it favoured the idea that I had a lot of time on my side. So don’t delay setting your goals because of what people close to you are doing, just remember like Mr Barlow said, “Set your goals at your pace in your own time.”

  1. Reflect and Review 2017

“When we reflect, what we reflect upon changes into insight.”

Nothing is as frustrating as repeating the same mistake twice. Taking time to think about how 2017 was for you will help you escape this common trap that has ensnared many people over the years. This is literally thinking about all your achievements, how you managed to grow personally in the process, goals that you never reached, activities that you missed out on, money management that could have been better, literally everything. If you would like to know ‘How to Reflect’, then you can read my blog on Reflection. Like Noah Kogan said,

“If you didn’t measure it, it did not happen.”- Noah Kogan

Don’t discredit an entire year by not reflecting; take time to do this very important step.

  1. 66 Days to from a habit.

I shared a post on Facebook about thinking about this New Year of 2018,

“If you are not convicted to act ‘now’, a new year will not change your attitude.”

It is important to understand that a new year’s resolution won’t change how you have been thinking or your habits. Whatever you want to start doing in 2018, start now already, don’t deceive yourself by waiting for a new year. If you want to start running, reading more books, starting a blog, then you REALLY have to start now. I learned that there is no such thing as a perfect start. This journey is a marathon and unless we start, we will constantly be looking at people cross the finish line.

I hope that you’re inspired to view this New Year differently and I believe that 2018 is going to be a greater year for you.

Please share this link with those you think really need to read something like this. I write these article to the few that I can reach, but you can really help many make 2018 a great year. Remember, “It’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish.” You can also leave your comments below.

Leonard Lebere

Environment- The Growth Agent

Leonard Lebere- Environment

Have you ever thought about the intricacies of how a seed actually grows when it is in the right environment? Think about a seed planted in a cold place like Alaska, then we decide to take the same seed and replicate to bear fruit in a country near the equator. What are the chances of us seeing fruit from a seed built for the cold, but planted in the hottest places in the world? The answer to this is in understanding that, “Growth thrives in conducive environments.”

I am fully convinced that because you chose to read this article, there is a part of you that has a desire to grow. How important is our environment for growth? Mark Caine writes,

“The first step towards success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment you find yourself in.”

Back in High School, I loved reading and I remember reading on Goal Setting and High Achievers. There was a specific line I read that made me really uncomfortable at the time as I found myself excelling beyond measure in a few areas of my High School life, what I remember reading was,

“If you are constantly at the top of the class, then you are in the wrong class.”

I quickly realised that the best place to learn is where others are constantly ahead of you. John Maxwell asks this question, “Is growth equal to change?” In the same breath he gave an answer saying, “It is possible to change without growing, but we can’t grow without changing.” So what is the role of your environment in growth.

Businessman Nido Qubein wrote,

“Whether you are a success or a failure in life has little to with your circumstances; it has more to do with your choices.”

The most imperative trait we have as human beings is, “Free will- the ability to choose.” Like many people I have experienced challenges growing up, from living in vision-deprived neighbourhoods to growing up with the presence of a single parent. One thing I remember deciding was not to be dictated by the circumstance I found myself in. I always convinced myself that, “People who are born to change the world won’t find life easy. Their circumstances are there to propel them!” And this is what I believed about any form of challenges I have faced. The first conscious step in growing in any environment is changing your attitude about the environment. A change in attitude gives room for growth that necessary.

If you desire to grow in your environment, here are 6 practical things you need to do:

  1. Assess your current environment

For growth to occur, there has to be a high degree of honesty and self-accountability about where you are. The reality is you cannot out-perform how you see yourself, so your attempt to move forward and grow won’t happen until you come to terms with where you are.

What I normally do is I journal and I ask myself a lot of question in relation to where I would like to be. I can share a few questions I adopted from John Maxwell’s 15 Laws of Invaluable growth:

What does my current environment value? =Thinking big

What is my biggest asset? = My Attitude

What is my biggest liability? =Poor planning

What topic comes up the most in my environment? =Relationships

What is my most worthwhile emotion? =Love

What is my least worthwhile emotion? =Self-pity

What is my best habit? =Management

What is my worst habit? =Inconsistency

What is most fulfilling to me? =The Kingdom

What do I prize most highly? = People

  1. Change yourself and your environment.

For this happen, you have to desire it first. Take this parallel to understand:

“Change yourself but not your environment—growth will be slow and difficult;

Change your environment but not yourself—growth will be slow and less difficult;

Change your environment and yourself—growth will be faster and more successful.”

  1. Change who you spend your time with.

Jim Rohn said,

“You are the average of the 5 people you spend your time with.”

Often our biggest propellers or draggers are people we mostly spend time with. These people are important because they determine whether you grow or stay in a place of no-growth.

I am fortunately surrounded by people who are way ahead of me, leaders who impact people, friends who read a lot of books andhave great insight. I had to determine what kind of life I wanted before I could determine the kind of people I wanted to keep in my immediate circle. Besides my normal circle, I always take time to have lunch or coffee with older people who have seen life for what it is, I learn a different lesson from my encounters with these people.

  1. Challenge yourself in your environment.

The people who surround you are not going to be in the position where they will constantly need to remind you of your goals and challenge you to grow. That, you have to desire and do yourself. Try to discover what  activities can challenge you to grow and be more.

What I normally do is I listen to a lot of online content: interviews, podcasts, TEDx Talks and keynote speeches. Doing this pushes me to work a bit harder and to be more focused on the task at hand. My friends and I also take time to attend seminars in our city, I love seminars because there is always an opportunity to ask questions and learn even more from the person presenting the seminar. This is how I challenge myself to do more! And reading is the most important thing I do.

  1. Focus on the moment

Like many people, there is this tension about where you are and where you want to be. The reality is where you want to be will come from what you choose to do with where you are now in this hour, this day and this week. Your state of mind for everyday should be, “This is the best moment of my life, because I am experiencing it now!” Mother Teresa said,

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We only have today. Let us begin.”

So for everything you want in the future, begin now.

  1. Move forward despite criticism.

This is so important because I think that this is where many people stop, when the criticism comes. Not everyone will understand your desire to grow, hence not everyone will be in a position to support what you want to achieve. Author of The Science of Getting Rich Wallace Wattles writes, “Do not wait for a change of environment before you act. Cause a change of environment through action. You can act upon your present environment so as to cause yourself to be transferred to a better environment.” People will always have an opinion about whether you can or can’t do something, the question is,“Will you believe them?”

Poet Ralph Waldo Emerson observed,

“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a plan of action and follow it to the end requires some of the same courage which a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men to win them.”

Your environment is an important part of your growth. The right environment will lead you to grow in ways you never thought possible. I challenge to find the right environment for your personal growth, it does exist, you just have to make time to find it. Hope you enjoyed this Blog, feel free to share your comments.

Leonard Lebere

 

10 Quotes to help you review your progress in 2017

I bet the first 7 Months of this year were very busy, so busy that you haven’t had time to think about all the areas of your life. Your attention- just like mine- might have been towards one or two areas of your life and all the other areas were neglected without intention. As it is just past the middle of the year, we need to review and reflect on what we have been up to this year.

Reflection 1

We are always learning and we are always thinking too. When we don’t reflect, the rate at which we are growing could cause us to implode when we are not taking the baby steps in learning and doing.

Reflection 2

I firmly believe that we have learned a few lessons in the past 6 month. I realised that we can add more value to people when we share insights through reflection.

Reflection 2

A full year is very long, so long that we can sometimes face the same challenges and fail every time we get to that cross road. I was someone who felt pressure when I had big tasks awaiting me during the week. This was so bad if I had 5 tasks, I would choose the best 2 tasks that would really pay-off. After doing a lot of reflection, I soon learned the power of time management and now I can say that I am better off.

Reflection 4

This year has been quite challenging for me, but I can say that I have learned a lot from the events that took in my life this year. One thing I really learned from reflecting on this year, “A good management of a bad experience leads to growth.”

Reflection 5

A swimmer’s technique is very unique, knowing when to poke your head out of the water to catch a critical breath is important for swimmers; this is how some win and some come 2nd best. Many of people are in school and need good grades, many people work for big companies that have big goals, but the reality is that just like the swimmers, when we don’t take time to catch our breaths we will eventually drown if our focus is just on finishing the race.

Reflection 6

We should have the confidence to live our lives like we are being filmed for one of the biggest Documentaries ever. Where at the end of the day, they would play back your time usage, the books you read, the meeting you attended, just so you can see if you are really being efficient and effective.

Reflection 7

 

We can sometimes confuse our needs in specific seasons. The funny thing is that we know when something is just not right. In that time, we don’t need to be on YouTube searching for Les Brown to give us a 50 min motivation, we need to apply the brakes of our busyness and sit down to reflect. ‘

Reflection 8

I think that we have all been at a place where we happened to ask ourselves, “How does he do it?” or “How does she do it?” I discovered that somehow the people who are top achievers just happen to ask themselves better questions. The athletes asks, “How can I increase the efficiency of workouts.” The business man asks, “How can I grow my business using Social Media.” Above all, the questions we ask ourselves make a big difference.

Reflection 9

The scientific process has a very important part that involves investigations. The greatest discoveries in the field of science happened because someone was willing to do that very impossible investigation. What will you be doing over the next 5 months.

Reflection 10

After having reviewed our last 7 months, we should come up with a plan to make the last 5 months better than the former. Write down what you would like to see in the last five months and unlike your first 7 months, broaden the spectrum of your goals by setting:
1. Spiritual goals.
2. Professional goals.
3. Relational goals.
4. Physical goals.
5. Mental goals.
6. Financial goals.
7. Leisure goals.

May you finish this year stronger that you have ever finished. Hope you enjoyed this article, feel free to leave your comments and don’t forget to check out our Facebook Page: TheCommonLine100

Leonard Lebere

6 Reasons why people struggle to say no.

As much as we love people, there are challenges with saying no to those we love. This article gives the six reasons why we struggle to say no to those we love.

Having people in our lives is one of the most important need we have as a human species. There are some activities we do subconsciously to make sure that we keep the people in our lives at all cost. The series’ and movies we watch have sold us a perverted image about the nature of relationships; this has made decision making and commitment difficult for many people because of the images that are embedded in our minds. Additionally, people cannot say no to those they love because in all honesty they can’t picture the ramifications of that simple word, “no”.

Is it bad to say to say no to those you love?

I am not a perfect being nor am I a relationship expert, but I can say that there are some truths that I have learned about saying no to those you love. One of the truth is that saying no is not always bad. The key to understanding that short statement is in understanding why people actually want to say no to someone.

We all have values, some of these values we know well and most of these values we are not aware of, because they are normally subconscious. The easiest way to realise the difference between the values we know and the values we don’t know is by answering these questions: 1. What are your values? 2. What makes you happy and what makes you angry? These 2 questions are important because they are often the foundation for why we want to say no.

We don’t say no, just to say no to people. We say no because there are values we are always trying to protect. Like two children who are ready to fight, we are forever drawing a line hoping that people will not dare to cross the line. This is one of the main reason why most people just feel uneasy with agreeing to something they were asked to do, because in that moment that line could have been crossed. So we say no because we want to protect our values from being overthrown; we also say no because we don’t want to be taken advantage of. Remember that abuse is inevitable when there is no sense of responsibility in any given relationship, so in the end we say no because we want people to act responsibly towards us.

With all this this in mind, saying no is still not easy. Here are some of the reasons we find it difficult to say no:

  1. Fear being abandoned.

I remember a few years back, this was my biggest struggle with saying no. I had a friend who was like family and by family I mean this person was like my mother’s child who was born to just complement me in most areas of life. But I could never say no to this person because I feared that they would end the relationship and I would be stranded trying to find a new friend. So, without being aware, I compromised so much that my character started changing in unhealthy ways.

 

This is common in many relationships, where people are willing to let values be overthrown because they fear losing this person. This false motive of being appreciated if one of the reasons people struggle to say no to those they love or those that simply do a lot for them. They trade their values for love and simply feel a sense of abandonment if they don’t sense the love being given back to them. In very few words this is among many reasons why many High School students struggle with peer pressure. In the end, people are not willing to fight for their values because they fear being lonely.

 

  1. Fear the anger of those they love.

In all honesty, I don’t like conflict in a relationship. If I could have my way, I would pay people not be angry at me. This was one of my struggles as a leader. I failed to set limits to people I was leading with because of how everyone reacted the last time I said no and set a limit. Surprisingly, this was one of the main reason I never wanted to say no to my mom while growing up. I mean, I would do pointless things just to make sure that there is no conflict between my mom and I. Every time I would say yes –when I really wanted to say no- I would get the fastest flashback of how my mom can be when she is unhappy with something. A lot has changed now and I’ll be sure to write an article about all the changes and how they came about.

 

So, the pictures that we have of people being mad at us, make us very careful when it comes to saying no to those people. So people struggle to say no because they can’t stand the anger expressed by those they love towards them. And once again, they would trade their values so that they don’t see the other side of an individual.

 

  1. Fear being seen as selfish.

“You are so, so selfish.” These words are the words I never wanted to hear from someone I love. It’s like they come at you like a fiery dart piercing the heart and most of the time we never expect these words.

 

Like I said in the opening statement, we are created to survive this thing called life with relationships present in our lives. We always out to protect our values and in doing so it does not make sense to say something like, “I really love you and I would like to, but I’m going to have to say no to that.” Many people then think that because we love people so much, we must always say yes to them and their needs. And when people don’t say yes, they label them as selfish.

 

  1. Feeling guilty

I always thought about what it would be like saying no to someone and then the person cries on the spot or seeing the person emotionally withdrawn from the environment we would be sharing then. This was always tormenting. I soon realised that the amount of power we give people often affects in ways we can actually control. And this helped me get over feeling guilty about saying no because I could not determine how much power people gave me in their lives. The sad truth is that, “We are the captains of our own ships.”

 

Many people are motivated by this guilt feeling. In their eyes, it’s the most negative emotion they could ever feel and will literally avoid saying no because they don’t want to feel bad afterwards. It’s like in all their actions they are simply trying to earn a sense of goodness towards those they love. They keep saying yes to avoid the possible feeling of guilt.

 

  1. Payback time.

I love the legal drama Suits. I was subconsciously affected by it, because every time I would help out a friend there was always clichéd disclaimer saying, Just remember that now you owe me one.” I enjoyed this until I noticed how I didn’t like it when people said it to me, because most of the time people would want a repayment of their favours at really awkward and difficult times. I could only imagine how others felt when I did the same to them.

 

Most people struggled to say no to people who have done them good at a certain time. When they receive their favours, there is normally a guilt message attached to it. These guilt messages come up in words like, “We need to square out that favour.” Or “Don’t forget, you owe me one.” As honest as these words sound, they make it difficult for people to say no because they feel the need to pay back their debts. This can also come from parents saying words like, “Back in the days, I never had things as easy as you do now.”

 

  1. See other people’s problems as really big.  

Growing up, there were many problems that I never dealt with and every time someone had a challenge in the area I never dealt with, I would always try and be the biggest help in that person’s life. Surely this was unhealthy, but I was never aware of it, because I really enjoyed that good feeling that came with being a helper.

 

Many times people still struggle to say no because they have not dealt with their personal failures and losses. When this happens, people feel like they can’t say no because the other person’s problem is really big, so big they can’t imagine saying no to this person.

 

The point in all of this is to recognise a very important element in relationships, freedom. We need to realise that when we don’t have the freedom to choose, then there is a degree of unfairness in that particular relationship. More importantly we need to recognise how we communicate with others, whether or not we leave people with a choice is very important in healthy relationships. It creates a sense of responsibility and it avoids statements like, “I guess you leave me with no choice.” Which is a general red flag in relationships. In most of my relationships, I have maintained freedom by remaining honest about how I feel and what I value.

I encourage you to talk about these points. I think you’ll even learn more about people’s values when there is open communication. I’ll be sure to write an article about how to say no in the near future. In all your relationships, I wish you all the best.

Feel free to leave your comments about this article, don’t forget to share it with your friends and stay tuned for next week’s article. Thank you for reading The Common-Line.

Leonard Lebere

 

 

 

Boundaries- A short book review by Leonard Lebere

The book Boundaries written by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend is arguably amongst the best read in the category of relationships. I am not an author, but I think I would be convinced about a book if it sold over 2 million copies and won a Golden Medallion Award since published in 1992.

How did I come across Boundaries?

People stumble upon books in different ways. I was about 15 years old and I spent most of my time during the holidays reading about my topics of interest at the time. Somehow, at age 15 I was really drawn to psychology and neuroscience, I had a belief that, “The way to understanding relationships is found in understanding people.” I then came across a video on YouTube that introduced me to the concept of boundaries and even in this time, I did not know that there is a book on this concept. A year later, I was in a bookshop looking for books to read reviews on and the world stood still as this title caught my eye. Boundaries was the title and obviously, my frustration was, “Why didn’t that lady I watched on YouTube not make reference to this book.” 2 days later I owned the book and in my 16-year-old mind I was on my way to becoming a relationship expert (I am still far from that at age 20). Just having this book gave me a desire to talk to people about relationships.

What is Boundaries about?

“When to say yes. How to say no. Take control of your life.” When I read this on the front page of the book, I was not sure whether the book would deliver, but after reading the book, I realised that, that line was a simplified explanation of what the entire book deals with. Boundaries –a book written by two very observant psychologists – is a book about understanding relationships and how to grow them in a healthy way. It deals more with taking control of your life, limiting the amount of people that take advantage of you and how to express your no towards people (friends, family and co-workers) in your immediate world.

Responsibility is one of the main themes of the book. The analogy of two people who own houses and have a property line dividing the houses. When the tree growing from one person’s house grows into the other person’s property line it is the responsibility of the one who planted the tree to make sure that it firstly stays within his property line and does not affect others because his lack of maintenance. Therefore, in terms of relationships the book teaches us how to act responsibly in the setting of a relationship and how to identify and limit the irresponsible people.

What did I like about Boundaries?

  1. Insight

It is not every day where we get to hear a psychologist talk about their experience with patients and some of the common challenges people face in any form of relationship. Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend identify the problems, then they explain why these problems arise and before you know it, they finally give a solution to the relational problems. The book gives insight to common struggles people face or could face when they act a particular way. Here are a few lines about overcontrol. “Overcontrol occurs when otherwise loving parents try to protect children from making mistakes by having too-strict rules and limits… while a major responsibility of parents is to control and protect, they must make room for their children to make mistake. Remember we learn by ‘constant use’. Overcontrolled children are subject to dependency. They also have problems taking risks and being creative.

 

  1. Broad spectrum of topics.

Although the book is about relationships, it does not focus on one form of relationship. The topics within the book range from family and friends to romantic relationships and colleagues. This element keeps the book exciting and impossible to put down, because it gives you an opportunity to see where Boundaries are crucial in the life that you are living. “Realise your limits, and make sure that you do not allow your work to control your life. Say yes to the best, and sometimes you may need to say no the good. Work will grow to fill the time you have set aside for it. If a meeting does not have an agenda with time limits, discussions could be endless. Allot time for certain things and then keep your limits. You will work smarter and like your work more. “From the chapter dealing with Boundaries and Work.

 

  1. Paints a relatable picture of modern life.

The book is divided into three parts and I would call them the before, the during and the after. I love the book because you read-through it like a map filled with discovery. In the beginning of the book, it starts with an introduction to life and the burdens that come with living life, the book then continues with an exciting part two which gives you an idea of the challenges you could face as you try to apply boundaries in your personal life. Furthermore, the book paints the picture fully in the last part that shows you how your life should look like –more or less- if you have boundaries in place.

 

  1. Teaches you about you.

The lovely thing about Boundaries is that it does not directly instruct you to think about your life and aspects of your upbringing, instead, as you read the stories shared you get to discover some of the answers you have always had about your personal strengths and weaknesses. One of the things I learned about the root of not being content with the status quo of my life was a simple thing I overlooked, envy. “The problem with envy is that it focuses outside our boundaries, onto others. If we are focusing on what others have or have accomplished, we are neglecting our responsibilities and will ultimately have an empty heart. People are questioning themselves instead of others… Your envy should be a sign to you that you are lacking something.” This piece was from a chapter called, ‘The ten laws of boundaries.’   

 

How have I been living my life after reading Boundaries?

The reality of reading the book from start to finish is that the changes are not instantaneous. In my life, the confidence to say no to those who try to take advantage of me is growing. My friends would be able to testify about how I am always speaking about the topic of boundaries and why it is important to have limits towards people. After reading the book, I can say I have a better understanding of people and how they form and break relationships. I have built deep, meaningful friendships with people that meet my relational needs and understand my personal values (boundaries being one of the values). Most of the lessons I have learned from the book I have taken time to teach people in my immediate circle. I do not regret buying this book; it gave me a different perspective on relationships. The book is never far from me, every week I take time to remind myself of lessons that really stood out.

 

Who should read Boundaries?

This book is surely for people who want learn more about how relationships are managed, maintained and messed-up I would recommend Boundaries to everyone who is in serious relationships and to everyone who has a desire to build density relationships. Moreover, not forgetting those individuals who do not feel like they are in control of their lives and have trouble saying no, because they uphold the image of being ‘too nice’. Ultimately, this book is those who want to live a life of love, freedom, responsibility and service to others.

 

Feel free to leave comments if you have read the book or even if you are currently reading the book. I will also answer any questions you might have.

Thank you for reading. Hope you come back for more blogs.

Leonard Lebere