“Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud” – Maya Angelou
In this fast-paced and success-driven society, where technology has afforded us the luxury of getting virtually anything with the click of a button, life is becoming extremely self-centered.
Most people are always tuned-in to WIIIT FM (What Is in It for Me); people approach most situations sub-consciously with a “what’s in it for me” attitude.
The world is becoming so urbanized that we are all falling into the individualistic culture trap where people consider their individual success and goals paramount over the success and goal of the masses. Instead of the people’s or the collective society’s interest where we are each other’s keeper, people pursue their individualistic interests.
Ethel Perry Andrus, long-time educator and the first woman high school principal in California, stated that, “We learn the inner secret of happiness when we learn to direct our inner drives, our interest and our attention to something outside ourselves.”
This contemporary society is gradually evolving into a self-seeking, self-opinionated, and self-aggrandized culture where everything is about self and nobody else; the “me, myself, and I,” “each one for himself; God for us all” society.
People used to be concerned about their neighbor’s welfare and would oftentimes inquire of their well-being anytime they crossed paths. But now, before you respond to the greetings of someone, he/she has already zoomed past you either deliberately or unwittingly.
Families don’t get to spend quality time together anymore since media, technology, social activities are equally vying for the time, attention, and space needed by their family members.
I concur with author, motivational speaker, and professor ,Felice Leonardo “Leo” Buscaglia also known as “Dr. Love,” who said, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
No one is an island; the gifts, abilities, and special grace and knowledge you have been endowed with is to serve and benefit humanity and not yourself. Hence, resolve to be a value-added person; someone who brings value, joy, positive change and significance into the lives of people you meet and live with. We all want to be successful in our various callings, professions, and purposes in life but like I always say success without significance is like clouds without rain. Your success must be hitched to the success of somebody. In other words, your success must add value to the lives of people in this world.
The first President of Republic of Ghana who was also the first Prime Minister of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah clearly understood this concept when he declared, “The Independence of Ghana is meaningless unless it is linked up to the total liberation of Africa.” Your wealth, education, gifts, purpose, happiness, and success in life are meaningless unless it is linked to the total liberation of humanity.
British politician and statesman, Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, believed that, “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”
You were sent into this world not just to make a living but to make a life; not just to get, but more importantly, to give. Give your resources, special grace, time, and space to add value to people who are less fortunate or even the opulent, who may appear to lack nothing, but inwardly are bankrupt of love, touch, care, and meaning in life. “Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat,” said Mother Teresa.
If anyone can testify of the transforming force of adding value to humanity, it would be Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu:
Born on 26 August 1910 in Skopje, the capital of the Republic of Macedonia, Agnes was the youngest of the five children. When she was 8 years old, her Albanian politician father passed on and was raised by her mother as a Roman Catholic.
At age 12, she was convinced that she should commit herself to a religious life after being captivated by stories of missionaries; so at age 18 she joined the Loreto Sisters of Dublin, founded by missionaries and educators in the 17th century to educate young girls.
The Bengal famine of 1943 brought misery and death to the city, and the outbreak of Hindu/Muslim violence in August 1946 plunged the city into despair and horror. These catastrophic events, which plunged majority of Indians into dismal poverty, stirred the spirit of Agnes to start adding value to the needy and less fortunate surrounding her in Calcutta. She remarked, “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”
She earned the name Mother Teresa owing to her care, added-value, influence, and motherly love for children, women, and the poor. Her noble efforts were recognised as the Vatican gave her permission to start the diocesan congregation that would become the Missionaries of Charity. From only 13 members in Calcutta; today it has more than 4,000 nuns running orphanages, AIDS hospices and charity centres worldwide and caring for refugees, the blind, disabled, aged, alcoholics, the poor and homeless, and victims of floods, epidemics, and famine.
Mother Teresa in 1952 established the first Home for the Dying, converting an abandoned Hindu temple into the Kalighat Home for the Dying; a free hospice for the poor. She renamed it Kalighat, the Home of the Pure Heart (Nirmal Hriday).
Those brought to the home received medical attention and were afforded the opportunity to die with dignity, according to the rituals of their faith; “A beautiful death,” she said, “is for people who lived like animals to die like angels – loved and wanted.”
Mother Teresa extended her value-added influence to saving children and women trapped in conflict zones globally. She worked tirelessly to rescue 37 children trapped in a front line hospital by brokering a temporary cease-fire between the Israeli army and Palestinian guerrillas in 1982 at the height of the Siege of Beirut; in Lebanon travelling with Red Cross workers through the war zone to the devastated hospitals to evacuate the young patients. Similarly, the hungry in Ethiopia, radiation victims at Chernobyl, and earthquake victims in Armenia. In her own words, “A life not lived for others is not a life.” Hence, Mother Teresa lived her whole life by adding value to others, endeavoring to put smiles on the faces of the sick, poor, oppressed, people who were socially ostracized
If I may ask, what are you doing to become a value-added person in the lives of people who you cross paths with daily? American author and former president of Success Unlimited magazine, Augustine “Og” Mandino II advised “Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster. Your life will never be the same again.”
No human being has all the answers to the plights and challenges of the world, but inside each of us is a solution to someone’s problem. Sitting inside you is a special love, a book, a song, a business, an organization , a script for a movie, an idea to add value to the world by making it a better place than it is now. Please, don’t deprive the world of its finest gift or touch by refusing to activate the incredible gifts in you. The following are few ideas to help you be a true value-added person:
• Recognize Your Value – Deep within you is a special gift. A gift that is matchless, world-changing, lasting, and life transforming. Without you the world wouldn’t be the same. You were sent to deliver that gift to this world. You are a very important person. The day you would discover your worth to this world, your perspective would switch from being served to serving others. Albert Einstein held that “The value of a man should be seen in what he gives and not in what he is able to receive.”
• You Have More Than You Need – Most people tend hoard resources that have been entrusted into their care to dispense to humanity. All that comes to you is not meant to be stacked up for you and your family. We are all stewards and dispensers of the Creator’s benevolence and resources, and knowing that all is not meant for you would help you release it without holding back. The idea, knowledge, finances, resources, and properties that come your way are meant to add value to people not to lavish it on you and your family. Martin Luther King, Jr. believed that “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
• Start At Home – It is amazing how many people have tried to conquer the world without first conquering themselves and their homes. The principle of influence always starts inside out, not outside in. You have to start adding value to yourself, then your family, your town (city), country, continent, and then the globe. It is not vice-versa. Charity they say begins at home.
• Live For a Cause Bigger Than You – Life is bigger than any celebrity, wealthy person, genius, or pauper. It is virtually impossible to add value to people without living for a cause and feeling the urgency to change and affect lives in your own small way. Theodore Roosevelt said that “No man is worth his salt who is not ready at all times to risk his well-being, to risk his body, to risk his life, in a great cause.”
It is imperative to understand that we all do not have equal and similar gifts and talents but all of us have the ability to contribute significantly to impact the cause of humanity in a positive way. Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist and a Holocaust survivor, Viktor Emil Frankl beautifully puts it this way:
Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it.
I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge.
Then you will live to see that in the long-run – in the long-run, I say! – success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it.
As you commence this week, I want you to know that you are valuable to this world and born to add value to the cause of history; hence, go out there and become a value-added person in your own small way. Discover Your Greatness!
The author, Dr Otchere-Asamoah is an Inspirational Speaker, Psychotherapist, Author and Entrepreneur