Who is leading you? Have you ever stopped and pondered who may be in charge of your life? If you have ever asked the above two questions, then read on…
It was June 23rd, 2012, the day that completely altered my perspective in life. I can recall the chain of events as if it were yesterday. A day that unlocked a different part of me—uncharted territories of my mind…
It set to be a great day, soccer with my friends in the morning and my birthday party in the evening. It was a warm morning in Abuja, Nigeria (Capitol). “Saturday morning soccer” at the beautiful Fomwan Primary School at Wuse 2, was one of our favorite ways to relax, bond, and compare notes. Most were just fresh out of school and some with various jobs while the rest were grappling with the Mandatory national program for youths, the National Youth Service Corps. These times of fun and friendship.
I played decently on that day, scored a couple goals and was about to round up my things when a friend demanded I play another game but I was to buy supplies for the party with my friend Met (we call him Met or Metal Arm cause of his build). “Ok, I will be done ASAP Met!’ I said with pleading eyes. I just wanted to get one last good game in and be on my way…unfortunately that never happened.
I went in for a tackle; we all heard a crackling sound, it was loud. I started to stand up on my left leg, I saw someone on the floor, as I was about to move my other leg to help, I saw that my right leg was dangling, almost severed. Whew… I passed out.
This incident led to a painful surgery and time on crutches for over 6 months. Being immobilized for over 6 months allowed me to dive deeper into my mindset, outlook, and perceptions—a journey that tested my mental strength and endurance. It was during this time of healing (and anticipating attending law school), that I delved into areas of my mind that have changed my life to date.
WHAT IS PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT? Simply put, personal development encompasses all activities that creates self-awareness, develops abilities and potential, enhances quality of life, and overwhelmingly contributes to the actualization of dreams and aspirations. Prior, to my injury, I had lived quite recklessly, never taking responsibility for my life. Basically, being a mindless consumer of whatever came my way: entertainment, food, women and seeking status. I never stopped and pondered for once what I was doing.
At the time, I did not realize that most of my thoughts were in spirals and were just replicating themselves in the same pattern. Being bed ridden and discovering that I was dispensable to my group of friends—opened up my eyes to the stark reality of life… Nature truly abhors a vacuum (meaning: every space in nature needs to be filled with something; Aristotle).
INTROSPECTION BEGINS: as the days went by, friends visited frequently initially, but the visits started declining. My mammal brain could not comprehend what was happening. Prior to this time, I felt I was one of the most popular in my group and I always assumed my presence was indispensable… what a joke that was. The longer I stayed alone by myself, the more I wanted to get back with my group of friends but I couldn’t.
One day, a friend visited and left a book by James Allen “As A Man Thinketh”. The title caught my attention. When I opened the book, the archaic language made it an instant bore. I quickly dropped it off and went back to my destructive self rumination. The saying, “seek thee out the diamond in the rough”, was particularly apt in this instance.
On another occasion, while on some pain medications and bored stiff out of my mind, with nothing interesting close by or any friend around, I finally forced myself to see what Mr. Allen had to say. What a gem that book turned out to be. From then on I started seeking similar titles and authors. That’s when the frontiers of my mind began to expand.
I believe I was born precocious but lost my curious capacity while at school. But with those books I saw my curiosity returning and basically I started questioning everything again.
DEVELOPING SOCIAL AWARENESS: social awareness is described as the ability to comprehend and appropriately react to both broad problems of society and interpersonal struggles. It includes but not limited to, self awareness, environmental awareness and capacity to interpret social cues (emotional intelligence).
Have you ever hung with a group of friends when an acquaintance commits a faux pas by saying the wrong thing at the wrong time? Such a person may not be socially aware or when a friend comes visiting you without prior notice? Examples abound in this regard.
Prior to my introspective phase, most acts I found were hallmark of social unawareness were committed by me. As my mind was mostly on autopilot, I never stopped to ponder its consequences. I was unduly loud, loquacious, and had the tendency to talk on. I look at my former self with kindness and forgiveness—I didn’t know better. Now I am sharing my self-discovery journey in hopes it may help someone with theirs.
To develop social awareness, you must deliberately and intentionally choose to be aware of your environment, interpret emotions of people with whom you interact.
It has been posited that emotional intelligence is the key ingredient of a socially aware person.
In this fast paced world, the ability to step out of one’s immediate circumstances, in which one can imagine and feel what it is like to be another—breeds “compassion”, one of the key ingredients of intentional personal development.
In “Human Abilities: Emotional Intelligence: published in the Annual review of psychology, emotional intelligence and invariably social awareness was favorably correlated with the following:
1. Better social relations for adults – socially aware and emotionally intelligent people have a better sense of self, less interpersonal aggression and problems.
2. Socially aware individuals are perceived more positively by others. Other individuals perceive those with high social awareness to be more pleasant, socially skilled and empathic to be around.
3. Socially aware and emotionally intelligent people have better family and intimate relationships.
4. Better social relations during work performance and in negotiations. Socially aware people are adept to better social dynamics and negotiating ability.
5. Social awareness is correlated with better psychological well-being.
6. Social awareness allows for self-compassion – Socially aware people have a better understanding of themselves, and make conscious decisions based on emotion and rationale combined. Overall, it leads a person to self-actualization.
BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER
From the foregoing, I have been able to share with you the trajectory of how I started my personal development journey. The journey to unlocking my mind and growing exponentially may have happened during a challenging time—most cases it does. Nothing can stop you from taking intentional and incremental steps to your personal development capacity except for you. Seeing how social awareness revolves around all major elements of personal development including but not limited to interpersonal relationships, emotional awareness, environmental awareness, etc. It is incumbent on you to start taking steps to escape your present situation, especially if you are in a developing society that has political, cultural, financial and developmental challenges like Nigeria.
Who says you can’t have a life worth living in an emerging society. It starts from you unlearning the toxic traits (including self doubt, lack of confidence, fear, etc) which were bequeathed on you by evolution and societal upbringing. You have raw choice of making conscious efforts to learn positive traits that will serve your personal development journey. Remember, you must be intentional and deliberate in developing yourself in order to go ahead and lead the life the universe has set out for you.