The Power of Words

Congratulations to King Dice, Queen Francine, Prince (Junior Monarch) Irish Kid, Princess Kitanna, winners of all other Carnival shows throughout Dominica, as well as to the participants of all the shows.  Well Done!  I wish everyone a safe peaceful and enjoyable carnival.  As we revel, let us be minded of what we do and say.

 

This week, we are discussing the power of words.  There were quite a few calypsos, which followed the theme of Halibut’s “Long Tongue,” which earned him the Cadence Lypso crown last year.  It is said that calypso represents the pulse of the nation, and so does the focus on the power of the tongue suggest that we need to pay more attention to what we say and how?  Does it suggest like Halibut advised, we need to give our tongues a vacation?  As I write these words I think I should do a review of the calypsos, however this is not what spurred this article and given I don’t have the words of all the songs, I will defer this for another time.  This is an idea worth exploring.

 

The genesis of this article came from a conversation last week with a good friend, who was lamenting that Dominicans, especially women, find it difficult to say anything good to others and seem to have difficulty in having a conversation with her beyond her weight and her luck in having her husband…a handsome man!  She in exasperation continued, “Isn’t there more to me than my weight?  Isn’t my husband blessed to have me as a wife?  This year, we will be married for twenty years, and I played no part in ensuring that this marriage survived?  Isn’t he blessed that I mothered his children?  Isn’t he blessed that I take care of our home, ensuring that there is food on the table, clothes to wear and a clean and peaceful home to come home to?  I can count only four persons, you included, who will start a conversation with me outside of my weight and who say things to uplift me.    I am fed up of these Dominicans!

 

I felt her pain and could empathise, for we, women really seem to have a preoccupation with people’s weight and seem to make this our centerpiece of conversation.  I, too, am regularly confronted with the same, except I don’t allow it to get to me.  I remember a woman staying at the entrance of the Fish Market shouting at me standing at the entrance of the Roseau Market about how big I was.  Just two days after this conversation, I was dressed in a little black dress, and had received many compliments, when in approaching a friend, she called out, “Valda, Well! Well!”   The tone of this greeting signaled it was going to be a discussion on my weight, so I continued my walk with no comment.  She continued, “Whey! Whey!”  Again with no response from me, she said, “What is it, are you trying to give me competition?  Where are you going with that size?  This is not the Valda I knew.”  I did not take the bait, I responded cheerily, “Good morning!  How are you doing this blessed and sunny day?  How are the children?  How is your husband?”  The conversation then proceeded with her telling me all about herself and family and I got an update, as I had not seen her for sometime.

 

This exchange brought back in sharp focus my friend’s lament.  I also reflected that we had not seen each other for more than a year, yet the first exchange, if I had taken the bait of her greeting would have been on my weight, and given she is a few times bigger than I am, her weight. Such a superficial conversation!  The very next day, another friend met me and after inquiring about my well being commented, “Valda, you are losing weight.  I am not even seeing your stomach!”  I laughed!  I said only yesterday, I was chastised about my weight gain and today I am praised about my weight loss!  You see the point I am making.  I am not saying that we cannot speak and express our concerns to our family, friends and others about their weight, however before we do so, let us enquire about their wellbeing and let us ensure we do it constructively.  There may be several reasons for weight gain or loss, and often our comments instead of motivating a person to make lifestyle changes, may have the opposite effect.  The person may in fact be losing weight however if we shout out about their continued weight gain, the person may say what’s the point of trying when it is clearly not visible.  Let us guard our words.

 

The tongue is a powerful force.  It has the power of life or death, so let us use our words to give life.   The Bible provides many instructions and guidance for us on the use of our tongue.  We need to do some introspection.  We need to ask, “Are my words life or death giving?  Are my words more positive than negative?  Are my words more inspiring and motivating than condemning?  Are my words more truthful than fabrication of the truth?  We need to also examine the motivations behind our words.  What is the source of these words?  Our words are a reflection of who we are, as Leona reminded us in her song, “Bad people giving good people bad name.”  Luke 6:45 tells us, “A good man draws what is good from the store of goodness in his heart; a bad man draws what is bad from the store of badness.  For a man’s words flow out of what fills his heart.”

 

The Rotarian Four Way Pledge is a practical application of Luke 6:45 in our lives:

“Of the things we think, say and do:

  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  3. Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?”

 

As we approach the closing of Carnival season in the next two days and enter the Lenten season on Ash Wednesday, may we make a pledge to use our words wisely, to use our words to bring comfort, joy and inspiration to others and to give our words a vacation when we find it does not build and empower ourselves and others.

 

Happy, Safe and Peaceful Carnival!

 

I can be reached at info@vfinc.org or 767 449 9649.

 

Until we meet again, May the Lord continue to Keep Us in the Palm of His Hands.  Blessings Aplenty!

Governance

This week before I begin our discussion on Governance, I wish to congratulate the nine calypsonians who will be joining King Dice on March 1, 2014 to determine who will be the Calypso Monarch 2014.  I am perfectly satisfied with the judges’ decision.  While I have heard or read persons arguing who should or should not be there, the competition was tight and I am pleased.  Nadine Riviere provides a beautifully written description and analysis of the night.  It is worth a read.

 

I remind you of the “Blow Your Horn Campaign,” organised by the Bureau of Gender Affairs, this coming Saturday, February 22, 2014.  The Campaign leaves the Dame Eugenia Charles Boulevard at 8:30am.  We must all be part of this Campaign to sensitise and draw awareness of the effects of domestic violence on our society and to commit to eradicating it.   It is also a call to protect our children.

 

This week, we look at Governance.  I think this is very timely given our upcoming elections, the likely intense political race and more currently, all the calypso controversy.  At the heart of it all, the issue is one of governance.  Governance is defined as a “method, system of government or management.” In the other ways, it is about how organisations are governed, managed and operated.  It is part of the cultural landscape of the organisation or nation; the way things are done here.

 

In recent times, Governance has taken centre stage as calls are made for good governance, greater transparency and accountability.  What is this “good governance,” people are calling for? Is there a common understanding of the term?  Is good governance only about transparency and accountability?  Let us examine the concept a bit more deeply. 

 

According to Governance Pro, there are eight elements of Good Governance:

  1. Rule of Law – there must be rules, which govern how things are to be done.  In the context of a nation, the Constitution, other acts and policies provide the legal framework; for an organisation, policies, procedural manuals, codes of conduct, employee handbooks provide the legal framework, for non profit organisations the constitution and polices; for groups and clubs, constitutions and rules provide the legal framework.  The legal framework is critical for it sets up the context for what is acceptable and not, what is right and wrong.  It is meant to provide a level playing field for all.  Rules can be changed, however, there has to be a process prescribed for that and the changes once made needs to be communicated to all concerned so that the level playing field is always maintained.
  2. Transparency – This is part of the last sentence above.  It is not enough that rules are established.  Rules and other relevant information must be communicated and easily accessible.    The process of decision-making and outcome of decisions must also be available.
  3. Responsiveness – Organisations are meant to function in the best interest of their stakeholders and so must have systems in place to ensure that stakeholders voices can be heard as well as listened to. 
  4. ConsensusOriented – Consultations are important to obtain the views of the stakeholders and to provide an opportunity to inform policies and decisions of the organisation.  This will then foster an environment whereby decisions reflect the best interests of the organisation and are implemented in a sustainable and prudent way
  5. Equity & Inclusiveness – The organisation is to provide equal opportunity for all stakeholders to have their say, to participate in the decision-making and to be part of the organisation, meeting their needs as well. 
  6. Effectiveness and Efficiency – Decisions are to be made in the best interests of the organisation, however it must also make the best use of the available resources.  
  7. Accountability – Without accountability, there can be no governance.  Accountability is one of the key tenets of governance.  People are accountable to stakeholders as well as to the rule of law.  Accountability is likened to the steward giving account of his stewardship.  What has been done with the talents entrusted to the decision makers?  Those who have given good account will be called, “good and faithful stewards,” and those who fail, will be castigated and punished, and will be called, “Wicked and slothful.”
  8. Participation – Participation of all is encouraged and facilitated.  Clear rules strengthen the participation. 

 

Governance Pro claims that good governance is an ideal, which is difficult to achieve in its totality, however, I maintain that it is one, which we must continuously strive to achieve.   It comes from a recognition and acceptance that when entrusted to lead a family, group, organisation or nation, one assumes a fiduciary responsibility, with a responsibility to serve in the best interests of those in one’s care.  If this were recognized, there would be better efforts and success at good governance.  It would not be a difficulty.  It would be seen as the only way of governing.   While the organisations may have several procedures to foster a culture and climate of good governance, it inevitably boils down to the individuals, for “there can be no good governance without men and women of integrity” (Henry, 2004).

 

Until we meet again, May the Lord continue to Keep Us in the Palm of His Hands.  Blessings Aplenty

An Ode Of Thanks

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This week, coming on the heel of another successful Phenomenal Caribbean Women Symposium held on January 25, 2014, I give thanks!  Every year, we promise that the Symposium is going to be bigger and better and every year, by God’s Grace, it is.  The 5th Phenomenal Caribbean Women Symposium was a resounding success, despite a few minor glitches.  In the words of one of the participants, “it was a spiritual, interactive, empowering fellowship day.”

I give thanks for life.  I am so thankful that I am present in this moment.  I am thankful for my gifts and talents and the opportunities to use them.  In the words of one of the song sang by Fr. Sharplis and his Praise Team, I am thankful for the opportunity to empty myself so that God can use me to do His work.  I give thanks.

I am thankful for my family, the wind beneath my wings and who is responsible for much of who I am.  Their unconditional love, support and encouragement and my father’s constant reminder that I could be anything and go anywhere I wanted to go and the only limitation are the ones I placed on myself.  I give thanks.

I give thanks for my little Nathan Obassi Kenrick Elkin Henry, my bundle of love, joy and energy.  It is such an honour and privilege to watch this little person grow and become! My best gift who I must guide to fulfill his God-given purpose and return back to God worthy.  I give thanks.

I give thanks for my friends, the family I have chosen for myself.  There are some friends I see and speak to daily, some weekly, some periodically and some rarely however, the love, support and encouragement are ever-present. I give thanks.

I give thanks for my detractors for the nuggets of wisdom they sometimes provide.  I give thanks.

I give thanks for VF Inc and my staff, past and present.  My staff, too, is my family I have chosen. We are a team working together with a shared vision and mission.  I thank them for their love, support and loyalty.  I give thanks.

I give thanks for all of VF Inc.’s clients.  They are the reason we exist and grow.  We are here to serve and be of service to them.  I give thanks.

I give thanks for VF Inc.’s strategic partners, collaborators, business associates and bankers.  They facilitate our work and enable us to spread our wings even wider.  I give thanks.

I give thanks for all my mentors and for the many angels God has sent to guide and help me on my life’s journey.  They have prepared me, provided opportunities and played key roles in me recognizing and working at fulfilling my God-Given purpose.

In respect to Phenomenal Caribbean Women Symposium VF Inc.’ most recent success, I thank the Bureau of Gender Affairs and by extension the Ministry of Social Services, Community Development and Gender Affairs and the Government of Dominica.  I give thanks for the Director and staff of the Bureau, the Permanent Secretary and Minister.  I give thanks for all our strategic partners, sponsors, Forestry Division, Dr. Honeychurch and his team at the Cabrits.  I give thanks.

I thank our featured speakers, Mrs. Nevae Edwards, Mrs. Olivia Douglas, Ms. Rose Willock and Ms. Rene Mercedes Baptiste, who were so inspirational, so giving and humble for touching our hearts and lives.  They shared so much wisdom. They were fantastic!  They were phenomenal!  They were on fire!  I give thanks.

I give, in the words of Nathan, “Big Thanks” to the participants of PCWS 2014, for without you, it could not have happen! You are phenomenal women!  You are special and unique! You are children of the universe, with every right to be here and you know it!  I thank you for your love, patience and support.  I give thanks.

I give thanks for all my Blessings, too numerous to list!  My heart is full of love and joy!  There is music and dancing in my soul!  I am at peace!  I love my life! I give thanks!

Thanks! Thanks! Thanks!  I give God thanks for all He has done in my life, does in my life and will continue to do in my life.   In the words of Holy Mary, Mother of God, I say, “I am the handmaid of the Lord.  Be it done to me According to His Will.”   I give Thanks!

Until we meet again, may the Lord continue to Keep us in the Palm of His Hands.

Phenomenal Caribbean Women Symposium 2014: Women Called to Serve

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The fifth Phenomenal Caribbean Women Symposium dubbed PCWS 2014 carded for January 25, 2014, under the theme “What you conceive, you can achieve because God has the power to deliver what He promises,” will focus on the role of women in service.  We do not tell the speakers what to speak on, we place only one condition: whatever part of your story, you choose to share; it must inspire and motivate the listeners to continue to aim to be their best selves.

The four feature speakers are Mrs. Olivia Douglas and Mrs. Neva Edwards of Dominica, Ms. Rose Willock of Montserrat and Ms. Rene Mercedes Baptiste of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  Mrs. Douglas’s story is titled “Called to Serve,” Mrs. Edwards, “A Life of Service Inspired by Grace,” Ms. Willock’s Story, “A Life of Miracles,” and Ms. Baptiste’s, “The Roaring Mouse: Anointed and Called.”

This year, a life of service is again a central theme, however, there are some differences.  This year, the speakers’ stories reflect service in a variety of areas: Education, Health, Culture, Church, Social and Politics.  There are some common threads: teachers, community activists, children-focused, church oriented, all nationally and/or internationally recognized for their work.  Two of them are broadcasters and two are lay preachers.  This year, for the first time, every speaker’s story touches on their role and service in politics, one as the Speaker of the House of Assembly, one as a member of Parliament and Government Minister, one as the author of the simplified Constitution and another as wife and mother of a politician. I believe it is timely, especially in Dominica, given the current political climate, for a discussion on the role of women in the political landscape of Dominica.  Today, we begin a brief discussion on the topic.

Dersnah (2013), in her “Global Report for the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice,” stated that there are three general rights of women in relation to the political landscape:

  1. The right to vote and be eligible for election
  2. The right to participate in policy formulation and implementation
  3. The right to participate in non-governmental organisations and associations concerned with public and political life (Dersnah)

She posits that in 1997 the Convention to Eliminate all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) general recommendations on public and political life focused on the three rights outlined above, however changes in the intervening years including new understandings of discrimination, gender, public life, political participation and new technologies for access to public and political life, have created a new horizon for women’s political empowerment.  It must, she contends, include the consideration of collective action and demands for accountability, access to justice and reparation for the violation of rights; and a comprehensive approach to political and civil rights that acknowledges the interconnection with and the indivisibility of economic, cultural and social rights.

Barrow-Giles argues that while in the commonwealth Caribbean many of the structural obstacles to women’s participation in politics have long been eliminated, yet for the most part, politics and national decision-making continue to be dominated by males.  The phenomenon of women in politics in the Commonwealth Caribbean is still a comparative rarity.  One of the burning question is “why are women so under-represented in an important facet of our life with such life changing impact?”

The answer, as Barrow Giles demonstrate is multifaceted and includes:

  1. Socialisation – while it is now accepted that women can fare well in every area of life and have a right to determine their future, there is still a strong view, that politics is not for women as politics is a “dirty, mudsling game.”
  2. Economics – the economic climate whereby there is high unemployment among women and men and also the increasing trend of women having to support not just their household but also a growing number of unemployed males (Green quoted in Barrow-Giles)
  3. Politics – fewer women than men are members of political parties and political parties have not addressed the challenges faced by women.

She concludes, from her study of “Political Party Financing and Women’s Political Participation in the Caribbean,” that access to political money is an obstacle for women participation and the more successful female politicians have been professionals; While in the last decade women have become more politically active, many have had to deal with structural adjustments that has made it difficult for them to devote themselves fully to the activities of electoral and party politics.

It can be argued that political parties, especially in Dominica, are making an effort to increase the presence of women in politics and in Cabinet. In Dominica, there are presently two women ministers, Honourable Justina Charles and Honourable Gloria Shillingford.   It can also be argued that in the last thirty-five or so years, Dominica has also enjoyed a good representation of women in politics, with at least three female Speakers of the House of Assembly, several ministers and senators.  Another conclusion of Barrow-Giles is that while women constitute the backbone of the political party, that position has seemingly not translated into a greater presence in national politics.

Barrow-Giles (2013) however argues that the issue is more than just increasing numbers, it is about giving voice to issues that are of concern to women.  She asserts, “over the last decade or so however, I have come to terms with the fact that agitating for women in politics is not about producing a “bunch of ‘boys’ in skirts, [for] as Gloria Steinem. …notes ‘having someone who looks like us but thinks like them is worse than having no one at all.’”

This is a good place to end our brief discuss and return to PCWS 2014.  This day is day of women empowerment, where women celebrate the successes of each other, share the pains of each other and help lighten the load by words of inspiration, encouragement and sometimes in silence.  A day of acceptance and love, where we focus on loving and taking care of us, so we can be equipped to love and take care of those entrusted in our care to serve.

It is also a day of introspection, a day when we take a candid look at ourselves and our journey in fulfilling our lives’ purposes and decide on the strategies to discover, regain, regroup or continue on our path in fulfilling our purpose.  It is a day of recognition that we are on different legs of our journey, however, no matter where we are on that journey, we belong to a sisterhood and we are to support each other on that journey.  It is also a day where we are fully cognizant that we need to take action to achieve our goals and purpose; that we are chiefly responsible for our destiny, grounded in faith that God has to be the center of our lives for He is the author of life, and through Him all things are possible; that He is a God of His promises who calls us to have life and life in abundance.

Attendance at PCWS 2014 is an investment in self, and as I have said on so many occasions, it is an investment that is never lost, that never fails.  Investment in self is an investment that keeps on giving.  Investment in self is also a reflection of how much you value you.  If you are afraid or unprepared to invest in you, why should someone else do so?  If however, you show that you are prepared to invest in you, even making a sacrifice so to do, then others will have little choice but to support you and encourage you on your way.  Paul C Branson, who worked with Oprah (the catalyst for the origin of the Phenomenal Caribbean Women and Men Symposiums) and Enver Yucel (a Turkish education entrepreneur), listed the number one lesson he learnt from working for these two billionaires as “Invest in Yourself.”  He writes, “This is a very simple concept, but something you would think someone who has ‘made it’ would stop doing.  Not at all for these two.  I saw them both spend a significant amount of time dedicating their resources to self development …The moment you stop investing in yourself is the moment you have written off future dividends in life.”

This is another call for all women to register to be part of PCWS 2014.  Another call for all men to register their wives, mothers, sisters, nieces, cousins and friends to be part of PCWS 2014.  Another call for all employers to register their female employees to be part of PCWS 2014.  Another call for individuals to register a woman they know would benefit from this self-development exercise. Another call for women to register to be part of PCWS 2014, which takes place on January 25, 2014 at Cabrits National Park, Portsmouth, Dominica!

The 2nd Phenomenal Caribbean Men Symposium is carded for November 15, 2014, so men, you too, will have another opportunity to celebrate and fellowship with each other.

I can be contacted at info@vfinc.org or via telephone at 767 449 9649.

Until we meet again, May God Continue to Keep Us in the Palm of His Hands.  Love and Blessings Always…

 

 

 

Tribute to His Excellency Vernon Lorden Shaw, Fifth President of the Commonwealth of Dominica

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This weekend we witnessed the funeral masses of two presidents, President His Excellency Mandela Nelson, known as the World’s President and President His Excellency Vernon Lorden Shaw, Fifth President of the Commonwealth of Dominica.  They were both moving ceremonies, and one of the things that struck a chord with me, was the impact on the lives of others that these men had.  While President Mandela’s impact was worldwide and much of it coming from knowledge of him from a distance, President’s Shaw’s impact was chiefly contained locally, with personal knowledge.  Last week I paid tribute to President Mandela.  This week, I pay tribute to His Excellency Vernon Lorden Shaw, Fifth President of the Commonwealth of Dominica.

 “One word of praise in life is better than all the eulogies in death,” this was part of the program of our late President, His Excellency Vernon Lorden Shaw.  When it was drawn to my attention, I could not help thinking how true and how so like His Excellency Shaw.  I loved Mr. Shaw and he loved me.  Every time we met, we would exchange hugs, kisses and words.  He often chastised me that I did not visit him often enough, and I would always promise to do better.  I did not keep that promise well, however, he never held it against me.

My journey with Mr. Shaw commenced when I joined the Civil Service in 1988, following my graduation from the University of the West Indies.  He was the Secretary to the Cabinet and though I was not in his ministry, I served as the Coordinator of the Administrative Reform Programme (ARP), and he was a member of the Reform Committee, of which I served as the secretary.  Mr. Shaw would get to work very early and would stand at the entrance of the Government Headquarters from about 7:30 – 7:50am daily.  He would often call me later in the morning and say, “Ms. Henry, I did not see you this morning, what time did you get to work?”  I would respond, “Mr. Shaw I am here! Mr. Symes is my boss!”  Through our interaction both on the Committee and in the execution of my duties, we developed respect, admiration and love for each other.

Mr. Shaw holds a special place in my heart for many reasons, and today I share one of the reasons with you.  Mr. Shaw was instrumental in me gaining a scholarship to pursue my MBA.  I received a scholarship from the University of the West Indies in 1988, to pursue an MPhil leading to a PhD, however, I was asked to return to Dominica as I was bonded, and I was earmarked to head the ARP, as Ms. Jennifer White was leaving to pursue studies in Canada.  The Government promised that the scholarship would be returned.  When I realized that because of the actions of certain individuals, I would not be getting a scholarship, I applied for a student loan at the Aid Bank in 1991 to pursue my MBA.  Mr. Shaw was one of the members of the Bank’s Loan Committee, and when he saw my application, he inquired why as he was the Secretary to the Cabinet when the decision to have me return and the promise to award me a scholarship was made.  He made a call (at the time I had no knowledge of this and I only found out about it much later, not from Mr. Shaw but from someone else) and with the help of a few other persons, including Mrs. Edith Bellot Allen, Mrs. Jennifer White and Mrs. Jennifer Astaphan, I received a scholarship to pursue my MBA.  When I went to thank him, he downplayed his role, but I would have none of it!  I thanked him for caring and for “righting a wrong.”   I am so glad I gave him his word of Praise while he lived so that my short eulogy is still in order!!

This incident reflected a lot about who Vernon Lorden Shaw was: He was a man of integrity, discipline and order.  He was selfless and was always willing to share and mentor.  He was frank and candid.  He took pride that in all of his many years of service he was never late or missed work except for his vacation (and he did not take all that he as entitled to; in today’s world, this would not be permitted!).  Mr. Shaw was known to send employees home if he felt they were not deported appropriately.  Some persons, because of Mr. Shaw’s strong disciplinary stance were either afraid of or avoided him.  I however saw behind the exterior, and found a man who was eager to share and teach.  He had a wealth of knowledge and I would tap into it to help me carry out my duties effectively.  He was by his very insistence on the proper way of doing things, driving us to be our best selves; to commit ourselves to excellence and to service to others.

I want to return to this quote, “One word of praise in life is better than all the eulogies in death.”  This quote resonates because it reflects well what I firmly hold and have commented upon on more than one occasion in this Column.  We need to give people their flowers while they are alive, while they can hear and appreciate it.  We need to let the people around us know what they mean to us.  We need to express our love, thanks and appreciation.  I have also said publicly more than once, please give me my flowers now, when I can appreciate them and they can serve to encourage me to keep on working on fulfilling my purpose on earth!

I have told my family and close friends and have said this publicly before, that when I die, I don’t want a mountain of flowers, all I want is a huge bouquet of yellow roses.  I want the money that would be assigned to the wreaths to be donated to the Education Trust Fund, and I pray that all who would have bought flowers will make the donation.  His Excellency Shaw requested donations be made to the Cancer Society in lieu of flowers.  One part of the request was honoured as only The President, Prime Minister and family members laid flowers.   I hope the second part of request is honoured.

I also want to use this phrase to address an issue that is prevalent in the workplace.  Over the past five years, I have administered employee surveys in several companies, in the public and private sectors in the Caribbean, and one common issue is employees’ view that supervisors and managers are long on complaints and short on praise.  They claim that managers will be silent when they excel and do well, but do not hesitate to condemn and punish for shortcomings, no matter how trivial, and often keep these shortcomings in active memory, no matter how distant the transgression.    Employees are paid to do a good job, and some supervisors and managers believe that because this is so, they do not have to acknowledge good work of employees.  Supervisors and managers do not have to start a “praise party,” when employees do what is required, however, when employees do more than what is required and when they consistently produce superior work, a “praise party” is required.  Supervisors and mangers must take note and show appreciation when employees out perform and for consistently doing a good job.

The absence of money is often touted for not recognizing employees, however, praise, thanks and appreciation do not necessarily have to costs much.  Words such as “Thank you for a job well done!” “This was great!” “I really appreciate you going over and above the call of duty.”   “You are a valued member of our team,” go a long way in employees feeling good about themselves, their supervisors, managers and organisation.  Emails, cards, an article in the company’s newsletter or even in the local newspaper are some of the ways companies can show appreciation for staff.  And of course a plaque, monetary gift, dinner for two, are other ways.

Employees accept better when they are reprimanded and disciplined when they are also recognized and rewarded when they do well.  They accept the reprimand for they know that they must have really fallen short of what was expected, for when they do well, they are recognized.  This however has to be prefaced with clear goals and expectations established up front, so that there is no ambiguity of what is expected.

This brings me back to Mr. Shaw.  He was clear in making known what he expected.  When those expectations were not met, he was firm in his reprimand. When those expectations were exceeded, he recognised and acknowledged it.  As we continue our journey of life, may we be clear in our expectations, voice our disappointments, recognise, acknowledge and appreciate when those expectations are exceeded.  And above all, be generous with our praise while the recipient is alive and can appreciate and know how and what we feel about them and not reserve them only in death, when others are the ones who can hear and appreciate.

May the angels come to meet you, Your Excellency Vernon Lorden Shaw, Fifth President of the Commonwealth of Dominica.  May your Soul Rest in Peace.

Until we meet again, may the Lord continue to Keep Us in the Palm of His Hands.

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE MENTALLY STRONG

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CHARACTERISTICS OF THE MENTALLY STRONG

I begin this week with an apology for the absence of the Business & Life Column for the last two weeks. Today marks the start of the “Sixteen days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence,” and is also recognized as “the Day to End Violence Against Women. The Bureau of Gender Affairs has a program to recognise today and the sixteen days. The Dominica National Council of Women (DNCW) is holding its AGM this morning from 8am at the Civil Service Association Conference room on Valley Road. I lend my voice and give support to all efforts at ending violence and abuse against all. I wish the Bureau and DNCW much success in their work. VF Inc as part of an assignment with the Bureau of Gender Affairs will be holding consultations in the seven districts on among other things the National Gender Policy and we encourage persons to come out in large numbers when the consultation is held in their district. Transportation will be provided. Please contact VF Inc for further details.

I read an article last week entitled, “Mentally Strong People: the 13 Things They Avoid” by Cheryl Connor, a Forbes contributor, drawing on the work of Amy Morin, a licensed Clinical Social Worker, through a post on Facebook by Jones Murphy, Jr. This has inspired the article for this week.

What does it mean to be mentally strong? Mentally strong people are those who can cope with life’s adversity and blessings with equanimity. People who are able to praise and give thanks in all situations, good or bad, for they believe that the light is at the end of the tunnel, even when they cannot see it. They are optimistic, hopeful and have a deep sense of faith in God and themselves. Have you ever watched Serena Williams recover and win from what appears to be a sure defeat? If you have, you would see mental strength on display.

Serena however is not our only example of mental strength. There are examples of mentally strong people all around us. We look at our family, friends, neighbours and even our own selves, rise from the ashes of loss of loved ones, abandonment, unemployment, financial distress, teenage pregnancy, abuse, violence and countless other situations and we see mental and emotional strength.

Today as we mark the start of the “Sixteen Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence,” and recognize “the Day to End Violence Against Women,” it is fitting to reflect on mental strength. The focus is often on the abused, however, we need to pay as much attention to the abuser, if we were to end violence and abuse against children, women and men. I am not a psychologist, psychiatrist, psychoanalysts, however, I believe that one of the root causes of violence and abuse is a lack of mental strength and security and this leads others to exert physical strength to assert themselves, to prove they are in control, in charge. They are usually insecure and hurting masquerading as strong. I read a quote recently on one of my godchildren’s “Whatsapp status”, that read, “Insults are the last resort of an insecure person in a crumbling position trying to appear confident.” I wish to modify this to say, “Violence and Abuse are the last resorts of an insecure person in a crumbling position trying to appear in control.”

Mentally strong people are secure. They know themselves and do not feel intimidated by and inferior to others; they do not feel the need to control every person and situation in their lives; they accept good and bad news with the same grace; they do not have to be right in all things and at all times. Mentally strong people know and accept the good in themselves and recognize it in others.

Thirteen characteristics of the Mentally Strong (adapted from Motin, quoted in Connors) and two of my own:

1. Take responsibility for their actions and outcomes – They do not look for excuses, sympathy or pity. While they may wish for and accept empathy, they recognise and accept the consequences of their actions or situations. They look for the lessons in all circumstances and apply them to and in their lives.

2. Know and Accept their Inherent Worth – They are comfortable in their skins and do not compare themselves to others. They understand, as Eleanor Roosevelt so rightly stated, “no body can make you feel inferior without your consent.” They know who they are and they do not buy into others perception of themselves.

3. Embrace Change – They recognise that change is inevitable, and embrace it for the opportunities that it presents. Mentally strong people maintain their child-like curiosity and sense of adventure, venturing to the unknown with maybe some uncertainty but no fear. Yesterday, I watched my little Nathan climbing a ladder with absolutely no fear, but a sense of joy and adventure as to where it would end. I was the one fearing he would fall and asked him to get down, though a part of me wanted him to continue on his quest of discovery. I pondered long and hard on this later, telling myself I should have allowed him to continue to the top and stay on guard to catch him if he fell! He will try again, I am confident!

4. Know what is Within their Control – They live the “Serenity Prayer,” accepting what they cannot change, having courage to change the things they can and wisdom to know the difference.

5. Speak and Live Authentically – They live their lives stating their positions and doing what they do not to intentionally please or displease others. They do so because this is what they truly believe. They know that they cannot be all things to all men; some people will love them and others will not. They are true to themselves.

6. Take Calculated Risks – They weigh the pros and cons and make a decision. They know that this is better than no decision. Others may see them as crazy or foolish but they follow their instincts.

7. Focus on the Future – They reflect on the past, embrace the present and focus on the future. They do not get bogged down and deplete their energy and creativity dwelling on the mistakes or glory days of the past.

8. Learn from Mistakes – They look for lessons in all situations, especially mistakes and apply it in the future. This enables one to adopt a “Let Go, Let God and Move On,” attitude.

9. Rejoice in the Successes of Others – They are not envious or jealous. They are genuinely happy when others do well, and they try to learn from those persons.

10. Persevere – They have the faith of a mustard seed. They are determined and tenacious. They do not give up at the first failure or sign of failure. They stop, reflect, regroup and start again. They are also able to tune out the voices of the “naysayers.’ They go deep down and find the strength to carry on.

11. Spend “Me Time” – They go on dates with themselves! They carve out time to be alone, to pray, read, reflect, relax, think and go to dinner, a concert a play, the beach, whatever makes them happy. I remember years ago, the first time I responded to a friend, “ I was on a date with me,” when she asked what I was doing, she asked “Valda, are you crazy?” I replied, “No dear, I am Blessed, Happy and Thankful, so I am taking a little me time to stop and appreciate it all!” She now goes on dates with herself! My friends all now accept my dates with me.

12. Expect “No Free Lunches “- My father told us often that the world owes us nothing. If anything, we are the ones who owe the world, so we need to be and give our best. He also often told us that the world has enough problems of its own, so we should not add to it. Mentally strong people are positive and believe that with prayer, work, discipline and determination, they can be anything and go anywhere they want to go. They believe in the words of the song, “I am a Promise.” They see themselves as “great big bundles of potentialities.”

13. Celebrate Milestones & Life- They know and accept that success does not come overnight however on the journey of life there is much to celebrate so they stop frequently and celebrate.

14. Give Others Permission to Shine – They encourage others and help them discover their talents and potentiality. They praise others and give them their due reward. They are willing to share the spotlight with others.

15. Give Thanks – They recognise that no man is an island and that we are interdependent. Mentally strong people give thanks from the heart. They recognise the assistance provided by others along their lives’ journey and say thank you. They give thanks to God, recognising that there is a Higher Power, from which everything emanates and to whom they owe all. They give thanks to their families and friends for their love, support and caring. They give thanks to teachers, employers, mentors, bankers and all persons who are part of their lives, no matter how fleeting. They even thank the detractors for often the detractors help them see a strength, talent or opportunity they may have overlooked.

The Desiderata by Max Ehrmann sums up well the Qualities of a Mentally Strong Person. I recommend you give it a good read, whether you have read it before or not and live it. Happy & Blessed Day and week as we work on enhancing our mental strength.
Until we Meet Again, May the Lord Continue to Keep Us in the Palm of His Hands.

Happy Independence 2013!!!!!

Happy Independence 2013!!!!!

This week, we focus on Independence.  On November 3, 2013, we will celebrate 35 years of independence under the theme, “One Mission, One Dominica Celebrating 35!  I want to extend my best wishes to Mr. Raymond Lawrence who will be retiring soon as Chief Cultural Officer.  He has served well in this capacity and as the founder of the Waitikubuli Dance Theatre, in existence for more than 40 years, he has ensured that our culture is alive and well.  Mr. Lawrence as you retire from public service, I am confident you are not retriing from promoting and strengthening our culture, I, on behalf of VF Inc, wish you God’s continued Blessings, Protection and Peace.  As the Africans would say, as you move on, “Walk Good!”  You have and continue to serve Dominica well.  Congratulations! I hope you have planned at least a short vacation to just be!  You deserve it.  You are allowed to take a few bows!  We can all say “Well Done, Good and Trusted Servant!”

Before I delve into the topic, I want to thank “Anonymous” who gave a succinct explanation behind the Wob Dwiyet.   In 1986, Dominican students at UWI, Cave Hill Campus decided we were going to celebrate our Independence and asked and received permission for a flag raising ceremony on Campus.  We decided we would be dressed in national outfits and cook and display our local dishes and then have a brunch. Many of us however, did not have a Jupe, much less a Wob Dwiyet!  Mrs. Alix Boyd Knight, Speaker of the House of Assembly, a law student at the time, offered to make the national outfits.  She organised for the purchasing of the material out of St. Lucia and made the ladies our jupes, blouses and petticoat and the men the red cummerbunds and sashes.  Following our successful presentation, students of other islands adopted the idea.  I still think this celebration of independence by students of the different islands happens at Cave Hill.   Mrs. Boyd-Knight, I take this opportunity to thank you again for your generous offer and national spirit.

I now understand the reason behind the Dwiyet being made with non-madras cloth.  History is really important in our understanding of our culture and who we are.  In the bygone days madras was the cheaper material, like codfish and smoked herring, now they have taken pride of place in leading the prices!  I remember as a child our neighbours pouring alcohol and a match to smoked herring, as they did not want others to know they were cooking smoked herring.  It was called “the telephone”, as with the scent the entire neighbourhood knew what you were cooking.  I remember asking one neighbor why she was going through all that trouble, as we never did that at home.  So what if the nieghbours knew you were cooking smoked herring?  I loved smoked herring and still do to this day.  I will have it any day!

Independence, what does it mean?  I am not going to delve into a treatise on the meaning or even to mention the many definitions.  I will focus on one meaning, “freedom.”  In 1978, when we gained our independence from Britain, we were celebrating our freedom to choose our path of development, to govern ourselves and to define ourselves as Dominicans.  One can ask what have we done with that freedom, or how successful have we been in governing and defining ourselves and choosing our path of development.  I am also not going to delve into this.  This week, I am going to focus on the theme, “One Mission, One Dominica Celebrating 35.”

One Mission signifies one goal, one purpose, and one vision.  One Dominica signifies one people, one team, so the two together, One Mission, One Dominica signifies a team working together to achieve a common and shared goal.  It speaks to unity of purpose and indeed, this is something worth celebrating.  However, what is this one Mission, we as one people, are working towards? And back to the theme of “celebrating 35,” have we been working towards this goal as one people for the past 35 years?   What was the Mission/Vision/Goal of Honourable Patrick Roland John for Dominica when he led us into independence?  What was the Mission/Vision/Goal of Honourable Oliver J Serapahin, who led the interim government after the 1979 coup d’état?   What was the Mission/Vision/Goal of Honourable Mary Eugenia Charles who led Dominica for fifteen years?  What was the Mission/Vision/Goal of Honourable Edison James who led Dominica between 1995 – 2000?  What was the Mission/Vision/Goal of Honourable Roosevelt Douglas who brought the Labour Party in from the political Wilderness in 2000 and led for a mere nine months?  What was the Mission/Vision/Goal of Honourable Pierre Charles who took on the mantle following the death of PM Douglas and who sadly also died in office in 2004?  What is the Mission of Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit who assumed leadership in 2004 following the demise of PM Charles and who received his own mandate from the polls in 2004 and 2009, the latest mandate being an 18-3 victory?

Do you see where I am going?  What is this one mission that we Dominicans have been working on or towards in the last 35 years?  I don’t know about you, but I cannot name one mission that has been spelt out by any of our Governments in the last 35 years, whereby a call for national unity has been made to get us to work towards, where government has concentrated its spending on achieving.  Our governments have worked and our current government is working – they have spent and spend money on infrastructure, education, health, social services, business, agriculture, tourism etc., but this is towards what end?  What is the driving force that is uniting us as a people?  What is this goal that we are working towards that is igniting our passion to give our all, to rise above partisan politics, personal likes or dislikes?  I know PM Skerrit has articulated that he wants a graduate in every household by 2015, however, is this the end or a means to an end?  If the latter, what is the bigger picture which a graduate in every home will help realise?

Even now with the theme, “One Mission One Dominica Celebrating 35,” what is this one mission we are called upon as one Dominica to work towards and to celebrate?  The theme is therefore vague. It may be emotive, but the substance is absent.  If we take a short hop away to Trinidad, the PNP Government articulated its vision for Trinidad, with a fifteen-year strategic plan dubbed “Vision 2020”, based on five pillars.  This was a rallying call, which saw Trinidadians from every walk of life embracing, such that even with a government change and shifts as expected, in certain policies, strategy and even name, “Vision 2020” remains.  This is what we call, One Mission, One Country, in that case, One Trinidad.

When we look around in Dominica today, with allegations of constitutional trampling and calls for boycott of the Youth Rally and National Rally, can we say we are embracing and living this theme?  I believe one must express one’s views and in certain cases demonstrate one’s displeasure, however, I strongly maintain that we must respect the positions of authority.  If we denigrate a position, how do we expect people to respect it?  It reminds me of a ladder. If we destroy the rungs on our way up, how are we going to get down, but with a mighty fall?  We may dislike and even not respect a person in a position however we must respect the position.

What is that Mission?  This I believe the government needs to articulate and publicise in the coming months for you see a Mission/Goal gives a sense of purpose.   We must know and believe in it so we can own it and work towards its attainment.  This Mission needs a deadline or timeframe for this gives the sense of urgency.  There must be periodic reporting on the progress towards attaining that mission and this will provide the accountability, which is critical for performance.  And to get us united as One Dominica in achieving this goal, there must be respect, transparency, trust, integrity, honesty and good governance.  Then we will certainly need to celebrate, not just at the end of 35, but everyday.

As we celebrate this 35th Anniversary of Independence, let us begin to think about the goals that we would like to achieve as a people and nation.

Until we meet again, May the Lord Continue to Keep Us in the Palm of His Hands.

MADAM WOB DWIYET 2013: A REVIEW

MADAM WOB DWIYET 2013: A REVIEW

    Congratulations to Mrs. Veronique “Ma Boyd” Nicholas on being sashed “Madame Wob Dwiyet 2013” and to all the other contestants who participated in the show. I love the Madame Wob Dwiyet Show, and while I may not attend the Miss Wob Dwiyet, I have only missed a Madame Wob Dwiyet because I have been out of State on the day of that show.  It is just heart-warming to see the older folks proudly displaying their talent and the Wob.  I love the Wob!  When you step in one, it automatically transforms you into a matador and you have no choice but to “strut your stuff!” Your shoulders go up, your back is straightened and your head goes up.  I am convinced, I become taller, a full extra inch!  Combined with your headpiece and beautiful jewellery, albeit mostly costume, you feel like the matriarch of the family, the queen; the one who holds court and behave accordingly.  This is why my heart was hurt with the handling of the Wob by Mrs. Germaine “Lady Jockey” Letang, one of the contestants of the Madame Wob Dwiyet Show.  I will return to this later.

As I speak of the Wob, there is a burning issue for me.  Mrs. Delia Cuffy-Weekes and Ms. Aileen Burton (I hope I have spelt the name correctly), two of our cultural gurus and icons, whom I respect and love, have indicated that the formal Wob Dwiyet is the one made out of non-madras cloth.  Logically, this does not make sense to me:  I don’t understand how the more expensive material was/is the one used for the everyday event.  Personally, while I like some of the non-madras Wobs, my preference is for the madras Wob Dwiyet.  Another issue, with the exception of Mrs. Joan Frampton on Friday, every other contestant and the Madame Wob Dwiyet 2012 wore a petticoat with the coloured ribbons.  My understanding was that the coloured petticoat was only worn with the Jupe.  I may be wrong for I would think the organisers of the show, would have advised the contestants accordingly.  Okay, I have had my say, now let’s get on with the review.

I enjoyed the show.  It was for me a wonderful break after a week of long hours of work.  I missed the introductory round but I was informed that the round was full of jokes and if it were anything to judge by, we were in for a “Show of Shows!”  Round one, first contestant, Mrs. Huguette St. Hilaire performed a mini skit and then ended playing the flute.  She played beautifully.  The skit in my view detracted a bit from the performance, as she should have devoted more of her time to playing the flute.  I never understand why people, who can sing, dance or play an instrument, resort to skits or other activities instead of singing, dancing or playing an instrument.  These are gifts I have either not been blessed with or developed sufficiently.  I used to say often when I was younger (I don’t now) that God knows why he did not give me the gift of singing, dancing or playing an instrument (I did go to piano lessons as a child and again as an adult however, I confess while I love it, this is not my strength) for the world would not be able to contain me, and he does not want me to perish!  I digress!  Let me get back to the show.

First round, second contestant, Mrs. Joan Frampton.  I was disappointed.  Mrs. Frampton is a cultural icon in Dominica and I came to the show with high expectations.  I expected her to win the talent round hands-down.  She can sing and dance all of the traditional dances.  I expected to be dazzled with a combination of dances and singing.  Mrs. Frampton forgot the words of her song, the drums could barely be heard, there were at least two exchanges of words between Mrs. Frampton and her drummer, and by the time Mrs. Frampton began to dance, the energy was gone, and if ever there was a situation of “too little, too late,” this was one sure one.  This was also a reminder that the judging begins when the show begins!

Then came Mrs. Masylin Massicot, who came with a “conte” about Monsieur Williams and Monsieur O’Neal.  While we, the audience, occasionally had to help her with the names, the moral of the story was strong.  It included appreciating what we have and the people in our lives, making wise choices and looking before we leap.  The crowd loved Mrs. Massicot, a 76 year old, mother of eleven.

Then contestant four, Mrs. Germaine “Lady Jockey” Letang.  Her talent was part skit and part-singing.  Mrs. Letang fully decked in red, told us about her love for the Prime Minister and sang, “Children obey your parents,” acappella.  This performance lacked coherence and I thought the song was not targeted to the audience, for while there were some children at the Show, this show is mostly attended by adults.  I reasoned that this might have been one of her popular songs from her competing days as “Lady Jockey.”

Finally came Mrs. Veronique “Ma Boyd” Nicholas.   From the time I heard the entrance song, “Moin sortie hord habitacion pour vend marcher,” I knew we were in for a treat.  She came dressed in a black and white madras dress tied around her breasts and waist and a basket of provisions on her head.  She told us friends were coming and when they come, they want everything Dominica has and so she was going to make a “braff”.  She had one “to warm the heart and feet” before cooking.  Well everything went into that “braff”, from chives and onions in whole, okra, carrot, and my friends smoked herring, messier marie.  The crowd also got into the performance, shouting “in the braff”, when she was adding her ingredients.  And I did not tell you about the size and the shininess of that pot!  It could safely feed us all at the Arawak House of Culture.  Oh what fun!  I told Ma Boyd if this were the way broth was made, I finish eat broth!  Yesterday, at the supermarket, when I saw smoked herring, I bought some to put in my broth!!!

In the second round, the ladies came out in the Wob Dwiyet.  They moved and glided, and for the most part displayed their Wob with grace.  Mrs. St. Hilaire came out in a Wob, which fitted beautifully and was complemented with a purple foulard.  I felt her lipstick was too red for the purple foulard and the impact would have been better with a purple or lighter shade lipstick.  She moved well, but did not execute well the pick up of the dress, which is one of the highlights of displaying the dress.   Mrs. Frampton redeemed herself in the second round!  I loved her Wob and it fitted her well.  She moved with “gam,” she was happy and joyful and one could sense that she was in her elements.  I was happy!

Then came Mrs. Marcellin, who had already won my heart in round one.  When she came out she stood still for a moment to take in the crowd and to give us an opportunity to appreciate her.  She moved slowly and gracefully, displaying that Wob in all its glory.  While some contended she was too slow, I argued she was moving gracefully and showing off every aspect of the dress and was sending a powerful message that we need to slow down.  She was moving, as a popular song says, “nice and easy!”  She was followed by Mrs. Letang, who did not appear to be comfortable in her Wob.  It appeared too big and fitted poorly.  There was no grace in movement and there was no display of the dress.  The pickup never happened.  Many laughed.  I was sad for such poor execution and display of the Wob.  Mrs. Letang however appeared oblivious and took all the time allotted to her and maybe some parading on stage.

Finally, Ma Boyd appeared, a vision of beauty in a joyfully patterned Wob, which fitted to perfection.  She moved gracefully and deliberately, displaying every aspect of the Wob, similar to Mrs. Massicot, just at a slightly faster pace.  She walked with confidence and her mannerisms were in total contrasts to her first appearance.  What a transformation, confirming my position that when you put on that Wob, you become a better you!!  When she pulled out that fan, at that point, the round belonged to her and so did the Sash!

The organisers of the Madame Wob Dwiyet 2013 Show need to take a few bows for a job well done!  The show started on time and flowed beautifully.  The performances before the show, between the rounds and before the results were well chosen and well executed.  The Sisserou Singers, Lady of Song, Ophelia Olivacee Marie, Sibouli Dancers, Grandbay Cultural Group, Waitikubli Dancers, all need to take a bow.  The joy, which the performers emitted during their performances, was palpable.  The young and very young people in the groups indicate strongly that culture is alive and well in Dominica. The judges did a great job, and I don’t think anyone objected to the results.  There are just about two things I would change:  seven contestants instead of five and maybe a bigger venue for this was a sold out crowd!  Many people came but had to leave, as there were no more available seats.

This was time well spent, an energy giving time!   I say Thank You to the organisers, contestants, performers and my row mates, for a great night out!  I had, in the words of Nathan, “big fun!”  I enjoyed myself.  I was blessed!  Thank You and May God Continue to shower you with his blessings.

Until we meet again, may the Lord continue to Keep Us in the Palm of His Hands!

 

Indecision

Indecision

I hope as you went about your day in the last two weeks, you have given a little thought to your energy management.  I have been practising what I preached and I can tell you, I feel more rested, alert, patient, alive and I am certainly more productive.  Yet, I have been thinking from Friday about the topic for this week’s article and while a few ideas surfaced, none held me, so here I am still without a topic.

How can one write an article on no topic?  This makes no sense.  But as I write this, this brings to mind something.  Are there times in our lives when we do not know what to do?  Are there times in our lives when we do not understand what is happening to us?  Are there times in our lives when we are confused about the meaning of life?  It can get to even more mundane things; like what to wear, what to eat, who to visit and where to go.  We are undecided.  What does indecision tell us? What does it mean?  This is the topic for today.

Indecision is a state of flux.  The Oxford English dictionary describes it as, “Lack of decision; hesitation.”   As Steven Berghas stated, indecision is never about making the correct choices, but rather, about being blocked from action.  Whenever we are in a state of indecision, we need to stop and get to the root of it.  What makes me indecisive?  Why I am not making a decision?  What makes me hesitate?  The reasons are many and include fear, incomplete information, inadequacy of knowledge & skills, fatigue, anxiety, apathy, fear of offending others, depression, perfectionism.  Whatever the cause in order to get beyond our indecision, we need to confront the cause.  It is not always easy to get to the cause, for we are sometimes afraid to confront the truth about ourselves.  However, it is vitally important that we do so to be able to move on and to get out of our indecisive state.  Sometimes, Professor Ian Davidson, my PhD supervisor, once said to me, “You just have to act.  Just begin writing without thinking whether it makes sense or not.  Write and afterwards you will edit.  You can achieve nothing without action.”  So true!

So if you are in a state of indecision, how do you get out of it?  How do you begin to act and thereby achieve result?    Steven Berghas in “Seven Ways to Combat Indecision:”

  1. Forget about always appearing smart – Sometimes we are so concerned about always being correct and perfect that we are mobilized by that fear and anxiety.  We have to know when we have done our best and let it go.  We have to stop competing with ourselves and with others and focus on doing our best.  In 1991, when I was heading off to study, my friend, Helen Mellow Pascal, gave me a mug with an inscription, “I do my best and leave the rest to God.”  I have taken this to heart and continue to live it.
  2. Trust your guts – We have to listen to our inner voice and trust that it’s directing us to the best outcome.  How many times do we say or hear other say, “If only I had listened to my mind,” or “Every time I go against my mind, I leave to regret it.”  That is our inner voice speaking.   Yes, we have to analyse the facts and figures, weigh the options, however these do not preclude us from listening to that inner voice.  Proverbs tell us that our inner voice is better than seven watchmen.
  3. Beware the Paradox of Choices – There are so many choices we do not know which one to choose.  We are overwhelmed by the options before us.  We then need to eliminate and narrow down our choices.
  4. Prioritise your Demands and Fears – Our indecision is sometimes caused not because we do not know what to do, but we are afraid to act.  We are often afraid to act because we don’t want to offend.  When we are placed in that situation, we need to ask which is more important…our fear or our need.
  5. Channel Winston Churchill – Our indecision is sometimes caused, as Marianne Williamson so aptly stated, “…Not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our Light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”  We are afraid people will say we are “show offs” and demand, “Who does she/he think she/he is?”  I tell you we must never be afraid to let our Light shine.  In the words of Winston Churchill, “The only guide to man is his conscience; the only shield to his memory is the rectitude or sincerity of his actions.  It is very imprudent to walk through life without this shield, because we are so often mocked by the failure of our hopes and the upsetting of our calculations; but with this shield, however the fates may play, we march always in the ranks of honour.”  In other words, we must always let our conscience be our guide.  This is why it is so important that we keep this guide, this inner voice unsullied, and we listen to its wise counsel.
  6. Accept the Limits of Analysis – This is what is called “analysis paralysis”. So while, it is important to seek advice and to research, we have to know when enough is enough.  We have to understand that we must make a choice for by not making a choice we have indeed made a choice!
  7. Flip a Coin – It is better to make the wrong decision than no decision at all.  The truth is, we can learn from wrong decisions and we often get the opportunity to right them, growing in the process.  This urges us to make a decision, to act.

 Indecision, though debilitating if allowed to fester and take root, can be managed and we can overcome.  So as we go about our day and week, I pray the Lord grants us His Wisdom, Understanding and Discernment to make our decisions with decisiveness and good judgement.

Until we meet again, May the Lord continue to Keep Us in the Palm of His Hands.  Blessings Aplenty………

Energy vs. Time Management II

Energy vs. Time Management II

This week, we continue our focus on Energy Management and take an Energy Audit designed by Schwartz and McCarthy, to determine how effectively we are managing our energy and creating balance in our lives.

Please check the questions that are true for you:

Body

  1. I don’t regularly get at least seven to eight hours of sleep, and I often wake up feeling tired
  2. I frequently skip breakfast, or I settle for something that isn’t nutritious
  3. I don’t work out enough (meaning cardiovascular training at least three times a week and strength training at least once a week)
  4. I don’t take regular breaks during the day to truly renew and recharge, or I often eat lunch at my desk, if I eat it at all

Emotions

  1. I frequently find myself feeling irritable, impatient or anxious at work, especially when work is demanding
  2. I don’t have enough time for my family and loved ones, and when I am with them, I am not always really with them
  3. I have too little time for the activities that I most deeply enjoy
  4. I don’t stop frequently enough to express my appreciation to others or to savour my accomplishments and blessings

Mind

  1. I have difficulty focusing on one thing at a time, and I am easily distracted during the day, especially by email
  2. I spend much of my day reacting to immediate crisis and demands rather than focusing on activities with longer term value and high leverage
  3. I don’t take enough time for reflection, strategising and creative thinking
  4. I work in the evenings or on weekends and I almost never take an email free vacation

Spirit

  1. I don’t spend enough time at work doing what I do best and enjoy most
  2. There are significant gaps between what I say is most important to me in my life and how I actually allocate my time and energy
  3. My decisions at work are more often influenced by external demands than by a strong, clear sense of my own purpose
  4. I don’t invest enough time and energy in making a positive difference to others or to the world

How many ticks do you have?  The guide below explain your results:

0-3 – Excellent energy management skills

4-6 – Reasonable energy management skills

7-10 – Significant energy management deficit

11 – 16 – A full-fledged energy management crisis

Which areas do you need to work?  The following is the guide for the categories

0 – Excellent energy management skills

1 – Strong energy management skills

2 – Significant energy management deficits

3 – Poor energy management skills

4 – A full-fledged energy crisis

I got an overall score of 8, with my key area of weakness being the “body”.  I have to sleep more, eat breakfast, exercise more consistently and eat lunch at more regular hours.   I started last week Wednesday ensuring I got a minimum of 6 hours of sleep, eating breakfast and lunch and I have been swimming.  Already I see and feel the difference.  A bonus is a younger looking and brighter face, giving truth to the “beauty nap!”

My strongest area is my “Spirit,” and it is the love for what I do and the opportunity to live my vocation and God’s purpose in my life, that sustains me through it all.  Therein lies the answer to the question often posed to me, “Valda, how do you do all you do?”

My continued quest, as I am acutely aware of the need, is to find balance between all four dimensions of my energy source.  Can you imagine how much more we can all accomplish if we get that right balance?  This would give meaning to the words, “Eyes have not seen, ears have not heard nor has the heart comprehended what God has in store for us…” (1 Cor 2:9).

Until we meet again, May God Continue to Keep Us in the Palm of His Hands.