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40+FAB Blog

Most of us have may have experienced a toxic relationship or worked in an environment where you were only as good as your positive performance. The moment you made a silly unintentional mistake, there was an immediate backlash, and you found yourself on the brink of being kicked out.

Experiencing the unfortunate cynicism and racism that was targeted at the black English players at the recently concluded Euro 2020 finals has spurred me on to encapsulate what black people in most western countries go through in the word ‘Blacklash”.

It’s tough to know you must work harder than everyone else to get a right to sit at the table. I remember talking to a friend who had taken a couple of days off work to go on a holiday with his family, as he talked about his next day back in the office I asked him, “Can’t you work from home on that day?” He said, “I am the only black employee there, it is fine for others but I don’t want to take the chance.” He was trying to avoid a blacklash.

The blacklash can almost appear like a normal backlash, but there is a subtle difference. Others may get good recognition and a reward for their hard work, while you get to keep your status quo and maybe a little something to go with it. The mistakes of others are dealt with in measured tones, always giving them the benefit of the doubt, while yours are given the full weight of punishment without leeway for an explanation.

Don’t get me wrong, the idea is not to stir up sympathy so that the black man is given a cup out even when they mess up, this is merely pointing out that everyone who is being given a blacklash needs to be upgraded to receiving a backlash which every other person is entitled to.

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40+FAB Blog

I read a report once about where most car accidents happen, and one of the conclusions was that your own neighbourhood poses the biggest threat. Why is that so? I guess it boils down to two things, familiarity and tiredness. Those two things make us switch off and become less attentive to the details around us.

Could those two reasons also be responsible for why we fail at other things in life? I remember the story of the tortoise and the hare. The hare lost the race against the tortoise because he felt he knew how to run better, and when he got tired, he decided to nap before the race was complete.

Having the right strategies to combat against familiarity with your skills and services will ensure you always stay on the cutting edge. Similarly, planning your course over time, pacing yourself, resting where necessary, and focussing when it matters most will help beat tiredness that could cause you to fail on the last mile of bringing that project to a successful conclusion.

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40+FAB Blog

One of the characteristics of living things is that they grow, but in order for their growth to be significant, they must be fed. We discover this principle to be true even with inanimate or abstract things. You have to keep feeding a fire with fuel for it to grow, or you keep feeding a student with knowledge for their understanding to grow.

One of the major nutrients for forward movement and progress is feedback. As the saying goes, what you cannot measure, you cannot improve. Feedback is a measure of sorts of how we performed in the past, and giving attention to those details help us identify areas to improve. If you are going to grow forward, then you must ensure to get feedback.

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40+FAB Blog

It’s funny when I play hide and seek with my children, as I observe that the oldest one is quite good at hiding, while the youngest one either hides in plain sight, or can’t stop giggling when she’s found a good hiding place. I most times play along and pretend like I cannot find her.

The more experience and practice we get at anything in life, the better we become at it. When we eventually become experts, we can so easily see those that are good, those improving, and those struggling with it.

I know there is always the temptation to try and cover our tracks or hide away when we are not sure, or when we make a mistake, but think about it this way, if you are working with an expert who knows the job really well, they will spot your inadequacies a mile off.

If you are in that situation, the best thing to do is to come out and admit you don’t know, then humble yourself to learn. Go up to the expert and ask, you will find most times that they will be more than happy to teach you the tricks of the trade. It is quite foolish to try and hide because just like I am able to spot my youngest child hiding from me, so an expert is able to spot when the unskilled is trying to hide their inadequacies.

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40+FAB Blog

The longer I live or should I say learn, the more I realise that my point of view is not always the best view of a situation. It is very important that we all develop a healthy point of view and outlook on life, however, no matter how robust our view is, there is always the view from the other side.

The poem about the 6 blind men and the elephant retold by John Godfrey Saxe points out the importance of having more than one side of a story. Each man described the beast from the side he could feel, then argued with the others about what he felt to be real. Even though the part they experienced was right, their interpretation of the whole was wrong.

Life is pretty much like that, we get to live a reality that is only in part and we can get so caught up in it that we argue with others who have experienced a different part. For every situation, there is my side, the other side and the whole sides. The most complete picture comes from the view of all sides.

Why not practice giving a little bit more thought to a few more points of view before you make a final judgement about the next situation you face?

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40+FAB Blog

We all deal with anxious thoughts in one way or another. Some are very good at dealing with it such that you never think they have any type of anxiety, while others are overwhelmed and paralysed by it.

I realise that each and every person is not tempted, afraid of, or anxious about the exact same things. Some are fearful of heights, others love it, and it works the same way in relation to anxieties. When anxious thoughts assail your mind, it is good to find a friend who is not affected by it and talk them through your anxieties. Let them view it with you and maybe offer suggestions of how they deal with such situations. This process most times relieves us of the things we are most anxious about.

Don’t stay stuck with your anxieties, don’t feel trapped by them. There is somewhere you can send them to, the listening ears of another who is not intimidated by them.

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40+FAB Blog

My parents were very proactive in figuring out the type of friends we kept. There were certain friends that they did not want us to hang out with for reasons that sometime we didn’t understand. They always spoke of the ‘bad influence’ that friendship was having on us.

We must understand the nature of influence though. It is something that grows on you when you hang around a person or system that you come to believe to be true. If we don’t trust someone or something, we are not likely to be influenced by them.

Influence is more potent than instructions or commands, this is why a child could be instructed by their parents, and yet do exactly opposite to that instruction when they are around certain friends. If we want to keep the people around us doing what we want or the right thing, then we must work on increasing our influence with them.

Influencers don’t only tell, they are able to also show their conviction and commitment to what they want you to follow. They practice the principle of “Be the change you want to see.” If we are going to change any person, family, institution or country in anyway, we must go beyond the telling of the change and increase influence with those around us by being the change we want to see.

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40+FAB Blog

Have you ever had a disappointing result in one area of your life right in the middle of a season of great success in another area of your life? Do you ever get that cautious feeling when things are going really well for you, that it won’t last for long?

People are quick to validate those feelings by reaffirming, “you can’t have it all.” The general belief is that no one can have it all. Some people try as hard as they can to “have it all” and fret about anything that doesn’t go their way. Others resign to a life that they believe will never be lived to its fullest because they can’t have it all.

I guess we must ask ourselves an important question, “Do we actually need it all?” I love having new things, like most people, but I realised that after the first few days of basking in the euphoria of my new thing, for example my mobile phone, I only end up using possibly 25% of all the functionality it has to offer.

There is no need striving for everything when you don’t need it, neither does it make sense to feel limited with what you have, when what you have now is all that you need. Take another look at your life, friends, family, work, community, and ask yourself “Do I really need anymore?” What doesn’t look like a lot in the eyes of others, could be all that you ever needed to be able to beat you chest and say, “I have it all.”


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40+FAB Blog

The conversation around race and especially the black race has become so conflicted, messy and somewhat tiresome as you hear a lot of absurd arguments.

If you have ever played a card game, you realise that certain cards in the hand of a player give them an advantage. Let’s say a certain poker player, Ivory, has the Ace of spades, King, Queen and Ten cards in his hand, all he would need is the Jack of spades – a black jack, to complete a royal flush. If he picks up that card and dominates the game for say 400 years, he has had a good run indeed and probably accumulated a lot of wealth from it. As the game goes on, another player, Ebony, eventually gets the black jack and begins to build up his hand to make a winning, it becomes weird when Ivory and indeed any other observer begins to critique the use of that card.

I recently read a commentary saying “I am black” should not be used as a get out of jail card, in other words, “Stop using the race card!” One is accused of using the race card when they bring up the issue of race in a discussion, perhaps for sympathy or to seek popularity by appealing to racist sentiment. There was a time when buildings had signs that read, “No blacks, no Irish and no dogs.” That was certainly playing on racial sentiments.

You hear people from all sides of the divide criticise black people for using the race card, but that card was used against them for hundreds of years to their detainment, deprivation and destruction. Some are quick to say, “All that was in the past, let’s forget it and move on.” If one choses to use the race card now to say, “I am here”, “I need equal rights”, “I deserve to be heard and treated impartially like others”, lets put things in perspective and understand that this card was not created by the one playing it, just like Ivory, Ebony, or their observers did not create the black jack. If Ivory used it for oppression and got away with it, please do not criticise Ebony for using it for his own freedom.

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40+FAB Blog

Every single one of us is a part of some type of tribe, whether it is racial, philosophical, professional, economical, cultural etc. A tribe is not just a group of semi-naked individuals living in some remote parts of the earth, it also includes exclusive clubs, societal classes, or even digital groups and communities.

There are two ways a tribe can come across. The first one is sending a clear message to outsiders, “You don’t belong here”, you don’t look like us, you don’t talk like us, you don’t think like us… In fact, we are better off without you, we are better than you. The second gives off a vibe of “This is who we are and we love it”, wouldn’t it be great to be like us, if you do what it takes we may let you in…

These two types of tribes, exclusive or inclusive, have existed for centuries. It may seem that the exclusive tribe has survived more than the inclusive one, but they have also been the cause of the spread of much hatred and discord among people. One may feel that the inclusive tribe is one of compromise, however, they have done much to bring equity and justice among all people.

What type of tribe are you a part of? What type of tribe are you building? What is your contribution to making this world a better place?

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