Have Our Young Adults Given Up On Marriage?

Marriage is a legally or formally recognized union of two people as partners in a personal relationship (historically and in some jurisdictions, it is specifically a union between a man and a woman).

A commonly accepted and encompassing definition of marriage is the following: A formal union and social and legal contract between two individuals that unites their lives legally, economically, and emotionally.

Marriage is defined differently, and by different entities; based on cultural, religious, and personal factors.

I asked my fourteen-year old daughter what she thought about marriage.

‘I’m scared of getting a divorce’ she said.

I asked her why and she said ‘Because, it might not work out’. Sigh.

This is the dilemma we face today. People do not see the rush in getting married, the divorce rates are not encouraging, they doubt whether it would work, people are not ready for the commitments that it entails. When you think of everything that might go wrong, you ask yourself ‘why get married, why not just have live in partners?’

When I was growing up, marriage was (still is) a beautiful thing and almost like a fairy tale that most girls could not wait to experience. However, I am seeing the increased reluctance of our young girls today. Are they indeed scared of the things that my fourteen-year-old daughter listed above? Or are there more insights or reasons for this?

I went into marriage based on my family beliefs, cultural beliefs and religious beliefs. This was based on the fact that marriage was a life-time commitment – you were in it for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health and till death do you both part. Those were the vows that a lot of us took when we were getting married and I believe that we all took them wholeheartedly, at those times.

There are five pillars that help us achieve a healthy and strong marriage according to Steve Wright. I will elaborate on them based on my personal experience:

  • Love – We must ensure we fully understand the meaning of love. A lot of us go into relationships thinking we love the other person when in the real sense we just love certain aspects of the individual such as their physical appearances. It might just be an infatuation. What we must understand is that love is patient. It is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast. It is not proud. It is not rude. It is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrong. These are the qualities of Love and we must all embrace these qualities/actions to help our relationships and marriages. Our children/young adults must learn to love as much as they want to be loved. They must understand that it is a two-way action and that showing love is very contagious and the individuals you love would automatically love you back. You cannot expect what you cannot give. Love is about giving without expecting back and not about feeling.
  • Trust – A healthy marriage cannot be built and sustained without trust. Trust is very easy to build initially but once breached or broken, it becomes very difficult to restore. Trust issues in most marriages are always based around infidelity, dishonesty and bad behaviors. Most people fail with regards to infidelity because they have gone into their various marriages for the wrong reasons or have not truly loved their spouses. With regards to dishonesty, most people do not put all their cards on the table when they are dating people. We want to show the good sides of ourselves and not share the “all”. Whilst dating, you are to share as much as you can with your partner to ensure they fully have the bigger picture and decide to love you for who you are. Most relationships today are based on more material than emotional foundations.
  • Respect – This is one topic that I can write a full article on. Respect is very critical yet it is an area that our younger ones struggle with. Respect should be shown to your partner because you value them. The question we must ask ourselves is “How much do I value my spouse?” If you value your spouse, then respect will come naturally. Respect should not be tied to financial ability. I say this because a lot of the young ladies that I mentor always tell me that they find it difficult to respect a man that cannot afford to take care of them. Whilst it is great that a man must try to support and provide for his family, we are seeing more women becoming more independent and some even earning more than their spouses. This, however, should not be seen as a license to disrespect your spouse, to avoid friction in the marriage. This also is the case for men that are the breadwinners and have their spouses being stay-at-home mums. You should respect your spouse for the sacrifice of giving up their career to stay at home.
  • Understanding – You must understand each other. We must take the time to understand and study each other before committing to getting married. You are not going to know all of each other before marriage, but at least you must have a very good idea of what makes your spouse tick and not tick. You must understand their culture, beliefs, religion, ambitions, drive, habits; good and bad, family; very critical as marriage involves the extended family as well. Understand whether they are social or introverted, you must also understand their expectations of you and you of them. Understanding one’s spouse is vital in order to ensure that one will be able to show respect, communicate effectively, and be what that other person needs.
  • Faith – Faith is the understanding that there is something larger and bigger than self. I would also say that this links to being selfless. Your concern should be more with the needs and wishes of your spouse than with your own. This is a very difficult topic to convince our younger generation on. Every time I try to speak to them about this, I lose the argument. Most times, it is because they just cannot see themselves as not looking out for themselves first before others. They tell me that it is easy for my generation and that it is because I am not from their generation (I’m not sure what this means!) I think it is just because they are unable to be selfless and to compromise. It must be their way or the highway. What they seem to forget is that if you put your spouse’s need first before yours, then your spouse would automatically do the same. I am not saying that some people would not take advantage. However, if you are indeed married to someone who loves, respects, trusts, and fully understands you, then it would be very difficult for them to take advantage of you.

7 Ways To Lead Your Team Through A Crisis

With the coronavirus causing major economic downturn across all sectors of the economy, organisations require higher levels of leadership and ingenuity to steer through uncertain times, and survive.

I have shared seven ways you can effectively ensure that your team remains committed and motivated through the crisis, while maintaining the business operations effectively.

Going Concern

The primary step is to build strategies with your team and assess various ways to keep the business as a going concern. Take into account potential revenue losses and how that may impact your ventures. Work with your team to create a structure around this. Ensure all stakeholders are properly informed and engaged.

Analyse and Utilise Data

Ensure that you are constantly in the loop with relevant data affecting your business. This data should include government policies, white papers, and forecasts. Data helps you make better decisions to improve organisational strategy.

Progress Report

Keep a good record of your activities, and measure results. As you measure and report your progress, it becomes easy to know what is working and what is not. You can then make decisions regarding the endeavours to pursue, and fruitless ones.

Adapt

Using your progress reports, make sure you adapt your team functionalities to changing trends in the market. As you notice what does not work, learn what works by studying the models from your data, and apply to your processes.

Communicate & Celebrate

Keep a clear communication system that encourages openness, even with remote work. Make sure all members of the team are on the same page regarding the essentials as it affects works. Boost the morale of members by celebrating milestones and achievements. This will help them feel appreciated and commit more to the cause.

New Norm

Make sure you are not left in a tight spot as things begin to change swiftly. Be honest and open with team members. Create new expectations, amend old ones, and renegotiate contracts where necessary, taking into account the new realities you face. Use available technology when necessary, and implement innovative practices to ensure efficiency.

Well-Being

Be expressly concerned about the mental and physical health of your team. Provide welfare packages where necessary. If pay-cuts and/or lay-offs become necessary, be considerate and help your team members make adequate plans for the future.

Be sure to display a good commitment to progress, and keep a good eye on the welfare of your team. They will help you through the crisis when they have an assurance that their leader is interested in their all-round welfare.

How To Avoid Zoom-Fatigue

With remote work becoming a reality for most of us, the internet has provided a way for businesses to continue. Video calls are the in-thing, with Zoom leading a host of other teleconferencing solutions, including Google Meet. Seminars and workshops have been unending, with the Instagram Live feature becoming extremely popular in the last three months among social influencers and others trying to pass their message across.

Much of this has caused people to become tired really fast. A recent study showed that 72% of people don’t want to take the next video call. But with this becoming the reality today, we must find ways to deal with this new phenomenon called zoom-fatigue. Here are a few tips that can help you stay mentally vibrant.

1. Take a Break

This is literally the first thing you ought to do. Remote work is constantly causing people to stress continuously about how things will pan out with work. With the need to stay in the loop and manage numerous other situations, you may always find yourself in one video call or the other.

What you need to do is take breaks deliberately. Shut down the devices, get good sleep, eat well, and relax with the family. Set a limit on the number of calls you take weekly and stick to the schedule. Remove nonessential calls.

Photo by energepic.com from Pexels

2. Try Alternative Methods

Emails still exist, and you can try regular phone calls too. Many times, the zoom meetings we have could have been better off as an email trail.

3. Set Meeting Agendas and Time-Limits

It is not unexpected that sharing becomes a norm for people on a zoom call. It has been a while, and greetings go round the house. And before you know it, 30 minutes have gone by. Keep your meetings from trailing off by keeping a strict agenda. Also, make sure that you set a time limit for each call, say 30 – 40 minutes. Be strict with implementing this. Also, it helps you plan well for your meetings.

4. Reinvent Your Space

Instead of sitting in one space all the time, keep switching things up around your home, and be creative with your workspace. If you are shy about your environment, it may also be good for your mind to turn off the camera on your end, especially when it is not necessary for you to have a live video feed. That can help your mind rest easily.

Zoom fatigue is a real issue, and telecommuting can be a hard thing to process on a regular basis. However, smart work and paying good attention to your body can help you overcome zoom fatigue.

Black Lives Matter

Written by Ayomide Sotande-Peters

Black Lives Matter…

Black Lives Matter…

Black Lives Matter…

Black Lives Matter…

Black Lives Matter…

Black Lives Matter…

Black Lives Matter…

Black Lives Matter…

Black Lives Matter…

Black Lives Matter…

Black lives Matter…

I proceed with honouring the 120+ black lives lost during the BLM movement, amid this global pandemic. Repeating this, 11 times for the 11 times George Floyd told his killers about his inadequate inhalation of oxygen.

Oxygen is a basic human necessity; and no human (regardless of race, ethnicity or criminal record) should be denied of it. This was denied a human because his skin happened to be a colour other than ‘white’.

It started with the Trans-Atlantic slave trade which continued until 1808 in America. Slavery in America came to an ultimate end on the 19th June 1865; today Black Americans celebrate this as Juneteenth to commemorate the progression of our freedom despite the years of unaccountable oppression. This was the time for all the people of America to live in a just way, however, majority of the white population were not convinced about the black worth and potential contribution to society, so even though we were legally free from the turmoil of slavery we were still held accountable to the biased prejudice held by the white population.

During the 1800s my home (Nigeria) was invaded by the British and thereafter, became a British protectorate. Nigeria only obtained her independence in 1960; that happened just over 60 years ago. To believe that the white colonists used to cage our children and treat them like animals in pursuit of entertainment, baffles me. The young European children who lived in these African countries during this period of time are grandparents, their actions would last an impression on their children and grandchildren: ultimately leaving the instinctive habit of the forms of racism we are now aware of. What do you think they have taught their children and grandchildren about the black population and how this population deserves to be treated?

Yes, racism is horrible towards any of the minorities, but the biggest misconception is that racism occurs instantaneously because, it does not. Racism is hereditary. By this, I am saying white babies are not born hating black babies because of their skin colour, instead, white babies (depending on their families’ background) grow up with ignorance to the issue of racism. It is the teachings of the ultra-superiority the white population automatically has over all minority groups- including the black population.

In all truth, this movement has been an ongoing occurrence for over some time now; the only difference today, is systematic racism around the world is being recorded and shared throughout social media. George Floyd’s death and the deaths of many other African American citizens have led to the breaking point of the black community all over the world. Some believe that the black community are tackling two pandemics at the moment: racism and COVID 19.

The various forms of oppression experienced by our community negatively affects all of us mentally. Especially the next generation, as it implants a permanent image of black people constantly being murdered or mistreated for the wrong reasons; with majority of white population being ignorant to the privilege they possess. At any given point, we start to ponder about our relationship with death as we live on the verge of it every day and will eventually reach this cyclical aspect of life. It is something all black women, men and children learn to accept at a young age; living in a society that constantly justifies the normalcy of these acts of injustice and the representation of living in a world which uplifts solely the white community and all their accomplishments; ultimately blindsiding the achievements of all the minority communities: including the black community.

Generally, black children are brought up with the notion of always having to prove themselves in a society that puts them at consistent disadvantages.

An exemplary metaphor that showcases ‘white privilege’ can be a river race: the white population is swimming with the current (this does not mean they will not experience any form of struggle as the current may decrease or increase); however, they are still swimming with the current.

For the black population, we are rendered to swim against the current which increasing the chances of failure significantly. Upon this, there are many other issues that may come with life.

Black Lives Matter protests are still ongoing around the world.

Furthermore, this movement has been set in place to educate the uneducated about the fallacious ‘norm’ we have around the world and is a ‘wake-up’ call for the ‘white coloured’ to make a mandatory change as their skin colour possesses an unimaginable amount of power. Without a certain extent of pain, progress and ultimate justice for the black community may not be effectively reached but our community has endured pain for the past 400+ years.

It is time for collective change.

Five Habits To Help You Develop Your Career

If you are wondering how to progress in your career, know that you must be intentional. Climbing the career ladder is not aided by laxity. You have to understand that success is available to the diligent. By continuous intentionality, you will make steady progress and find yourself rising in your chosen field.

Here are five ways you can improve your chances of ascending the career ladder and get to the top:

1. Develop Professional Character

You cannot grow if you are perceived as unprofessional. From the way you write your emails, to your dressing and speech, you must practice both the ethics of your profession, and the most humane characters. They will open doors for you, and prove to people that you are well-centered and focused. It will also improve your relationships within your professional circle, and establish you progressively as a thought-leader in professional character, a reference point for others within your field, and even outside it.

2. Skill-Up

Gone are the days when your university degree alone could give you opportunities. Presently, you will be tested on the strength of your skills. Skills display capacity, and you will be recognized as an innovator when you are able to provide solutions outside old techniques. Skills also accentuate your learning, and can earn you promotions faster.

3. Manage Your Time

The time you have is available to be invested in your development, and in the achievement of your set goals. Learn to be effective in managing it. Practice scheduling your day, and ensure that your colleagues understand the importance of time to you. That way, the time you spend working with others is well-appreciated, and you can easily allocate your time to specific tasks and activities. The growth is measured and visible over time, and it will aid your efficiency. There is also the added advantage that not many people will take your time for granted.

4. Build and Strengthen Networks

Business growth is largely dependent on the strength of your network. Be deliberate about the activities you engage in that will help you make new connections, and solidify connections. When work life becomes more difficult, people appreciate those who take out time to check-up, and provide assistance. Be that person. Show up for your network, and they will most likely show up for you.

5. Pursue Excellence

Nothing trumps being great at what you do. The quality of your work will always stand out, and that is the real card you play in order to grow in your career. Your output will be on record, testament of your abilities. Make sure you set high work standards for yourself. Use the best practices and industry standards as a bar, and aim to always surpass expectations.

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How have you improved in your career? What steps did you take? Share your comments with me.

7 Tips for Effective Remote Work from My Lockdown Experience

As the coronavirus pandemic has forced us to stay home for extended periods of time, staying indoors has become the new norm for many. The lockdowns have had tremendous effects on societies around the world. However, I believe that we would feel the impact more in African societies and cultures. Things we took for granted before have now become privileges for us.

I got excited about the entire lockdown without understanding the constraints and restrictions. I did not even know the meaning of a lockdown. It is originally a prison protocol to prevent people, information or cargo from leaving an area. I had thought this was a great opportunity for me to rest from all my frequent travels back and forth which were now taking a toll on my health. I thought I would be able to have my alone-time and just not have any commitments outside of my house. I did not link the lockdown in any way to the pandemic. I just thought it was time to slow down and rejuvenate.

As the lock down progressed, my perspective began to change on various aspects of life, and I have the lockdown to thank for that. I have benefitted tremendously from this lockdown, and I share seven of those benefits in this piece.

Self-Reflection
I did a lot of reflection on my life in the first few weeks about my life. I would say, using my financial terms, I did an ‘end-to-end stock-take’ of my life. Confined to my house, I realized that I just could not simply get up and go out. I could not visit family members, especially ones that you just stopped by to see daily or regularly. I just had to stay at home.

I began to take stock of things I used to do before that, because of the lockdown, I could not do anymore, but yet did not miss. I also started looking through the things that I used to do that I could no longer do because of the enforced lock down. Those things created a void in my life.

I reinforced my thoughts that indeed material things did not matter so much. Everyone was now playing on one plain field regardless of status or wealth. We were all locked down and could not leave our homes.

Family-Bonding
The lockdown made me value my family even much more. I reconnected with my two teenage children who would normally have been in boarding school. As a family, we sat together and talked more. I got to understand more about what was going on in their spaces. We cooked meals and ate together, connecting and bonding more as a family.

My husband and I got to educate them on our upbringing. We shared experiences from our boarding school days in Nigeria, and the values and beliefs we learnt then that have made us who we are today. We all realized that all we had was one another. We had to make the best of our time together bearing in mind that we might never have such an opportunity to be together in the same place for an extended period of time, like we have now.

Mindset Change:

This period has also allowed me change my mindset on so many things. I have had to relook at how I have approached my future, career path etc., understanding that we will never go back to how things were. Pre-lockdown and the need to start working from home, I always thought that you had to be physically present for your presence to be felt. This has now changed. I now know that I am more effective working from home than I was going to the office every day. I can plan my day and time and get the best balance. This lockdown is proof that jobs we thought could not be done remotely, can actually be done from home.

Concept of Remote Work (Working from Home): It was a very new concept for me to continuously work from home over an extended period. I have embraced occasional remote work over the years. I normally would work from home 2 days a week. However, never in my life would I have thought that I could perform my role effectively working form home continuously. I have now been home for over 10 weeks! Yet, I have been able to function in my role, and lead my team effectively as well.

I learnt a few things and I have some advice for effectively working from home. This was not a success from week 1; I had several issues and challenges, all of which I overcame. I have shared below some tips to help your remote work, considering most jobs will still maintain the concept when the lockdown eases finally.

  • Ensure you have the right infrastructure, tools, and equipment i.e. a dedicated workspace, great internet connectivity, laptop, office chair and table etc.
  • Communicate your work-hours with your family and your line manager. This is quite important, especially if you must support your children and other family members at home. For those working at home with young children, create flexible working patterns that suits your children’s needs.
  • Follow same routine as you would have if you were going into the office. Wake up, shower, and dress up. Use your office drive time to ensure you get your workspace ready for the day. Make your cup of tea or coffee. If you would have normally stopped by at some off your colleagues’ desk as you arrived in the office, please give them a call and use that as your stop-by opportunity. Socialize and check-in with your colleagues online.
  • Ensure your calendar is well managed and you block out time for your lunch, tea-breaks, comfort breaks etc. Do not accept back-to-back meetings as this will have a huge toll on your wellbeing. Set ground rules with people so they do not bombard your calendar with invites that can be easily achieved with a 5-minute phone call.
  • Ensure you walk around a lot and maintain the right health and safety rules that you would have had to adhere to in the office.
  • Do not forget to take your sick leave and annual leave where appropriate.
  • Do not be too hard on yourself, stay positive and ensure you look after your mental wellbeing.

Embracing technology: Hmm. This was an area I was not too comfortable with. I would normally not explore technology, but the lockdown and remote work have made me fully embrace it. I have had to have an open mind to embrace the technology that has been thrown at me during this period. Zoom conferencing, Microsoft Teams etc. I have also enrolled myself in as many trainings as I can to ensure I am able to navigate seamlessly with all these platforms that would now be my normal way of working.

Financial Readiness post Lockdown: One must start using the lockdown period to take stock of expenses and start curtailing them. This pandemic will result in a huge economic downturn, which will impact all of us. We must become very frugal with our spending.

Ensure you start adopting a savings culture. Put money aside for the future. Look at your expenses and prune the unnecessary spending. We should all be saving from social activities now and I hope that we are all now losing appetite for large parties and functions. The expenses that are attached to those functions can be saved.

Support Structure: Lastly, I have learnt to appreciate my entire support structure. It is very easy to take all these people for granted when they are there for you at your beck and call. I spoke to a lot of people who had to send their domestic staff away due to the pandemic – especially those that had their staff coming in daily – to limit the risk it was best that they stayed away for the lockdown period. This has put a lot of strain on some families. You also get to appreciate the schools, your mum’s place to drop off children, day-care centers, family, nannies, drivers, cooks, gardeners etc. They are real essential workers. I believe  the lockdown was a good period to re-assess our life and priorities, and ensure we take stock of the things that now matter to us and those that do not. I have used this period to take stock of things than I now want to start, stop, and continue. I can tell you that my ‘continue list’ keeps shrinking day-by-day as my perspective changes. The things that I though mattered, just as we started, have changed, 10 weeks into lockdown. And I am sure the list will keep changing. Please ensure that you take a good look at these things and re-prioritize.

9 Tips To Help You Become Impactful In The Workplace

It can become very easy to get frustrated in the workplace. Many professionals confess to feeling inadequate, particularly because they feel they are not making enough impact in the workplace. Hard work does not necessarily translate to upward mobility in career and self-fulfillment.

And the realities of office politics push many to forget about giving value and quality. Rather, it appears easier to suck-up to power brokers, workplace ‘godfathers’, and key decision-makers to sponsor their advancement. This does not always prove useful in the long run. Value still plays an integral role in building a strong and impactful career. You need to assess yourself consistently to determine if you are making an impact in your organisation in a manner that guarantees your success.

Workplaces generally have three categories of people:

  1. Those who hate their work, and complain bitterly about everything;
  2. Those who just tolerate their work and see it as a paycheck. They are not looking for more (or feel they cannot have more);
  3. Those who love their work, and relish it.

The third category is only a handful of professionals globally, but they always stand out in organizations. They are, most often, the ones making true and measurable impact in the organization.

In my career, I have had the opportunity to meet many people making genuine impact in their workplaces.  They are not always well-known experts, innovators, business geniuses, and entrepreneurs. They are our everyday regular people, who have found their niche. They contribute consistently to that niche and make great impact. They do not wait till they got to the top before they start making such impacts.

Do not think you have to be visible or at a higher level in your organization before you can make an impact.

And it is also not about being privileged as well. Many have come through tough circumstances and limitations. Yet they have been able to find ways to stretch themselves to rise above their circumstances. Ultimately, it translated into changed lives, theirs and those around them. It is easier to blame the negative circumstances, but not people who want to make an impact.

They take charge of their lives and change their narratives

In order to be as impactful in the workplace, you need to adjust your mindset and take deliberate steps. The workplace is a platform and you must showcase your best self.

  1. Dedicate yourself to what gives your life meaning and purpose
  2. Aim for the best. Consistently. Set yourself world class standards and don’t drop them because of your environment, team, or organization. Always hold yourself accountable to the highest standards.
  3. Be deliberate about the people in your professional circle. Surround yourself with people that have a positive influence on you. Learn from them. Enrich yourselves with their opinions and knowledge.
  4. Focus on the big picture. Invest your time and energy in your long-term vision. Do not spend time and energy on what is but on what can be.
  5. Constantly seek open, honest and authentic feedback. Always ask for “raw” feedback. Embrace critiques. This helps you inward and challenge yourself.
  6. Share! Share!! Share!! – You must share what you know. When you do this, you get to hear other people’s opinions or perspectives.
  7. Share your journey with people. Don’t walk alone. Support the growth of others.
  8. You must always view life’s journey as a goal. Do not take short cuts. You must be ready for the learning, experiencing and building phases of life journey. No Short Cuts!!!!
  9. Use your power and influence well. Be humble, do not use it to manipulate or disrespect people.