I’m glad to share with you the concluding part of my work on “Today’s most important skills”. Just in case you haven’t read my first publication on this topic, you can check it out here. Now I share with you two additional skills I believe are highly essential to becoming a great achiever in today’s world of work and business.
Besides Attention Management (AM), which I discussed in detail in my first publication, the second skill I would like to share with you is Restraint (R): Paulo Coelho once said, “sometimes our power resides not in what we do, but in what we don’t do”. Since time began, restraint has been one of the greatest expressions of human power!
In today’s world, the average person lacks a great deal of restraint, which is partly due to the information overdose that surrounds and overwhelms us every now and then.
Restraint is one of the greatest expressions of human power!
Marya Mannes, one of America’s 20th-century authors and critics known for her scathing, yet insightful observations of American life once wrote that “. . . self-restraint may be alien to the human temperament, but humanity without restraint will dig its own grave”. And of a truth, many are digging their graves or the graves of others in our society today because of the absence of restraint over all kinds of situations.
Restraint – the unemotional, dispassionate or moderate behaviour. It is the act of keeping one’s emotions under control that begins with thinking.
To master restraint is to master our thoughts and thinking patterns, by refusing to ponder on anything which does not serve us well no matter what the outside world (people, situations and circumstances) may dictate to us.
No discussion on the subject of restraint can be whole without mentioning Victor Frankl, one of the Holocaust survivors. The mass murder of Jews under the German Nazi regime from the period of 1941 until 1945. Frankl is known to have said later on that during the period of the holocaust, in spite of the torture and ordeals he went through, no one or nothing could cause him to think anything out of his will. Frankl has been quoted time and time again as he later wrote:
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Those who demonstrate restraint are marked by the attribute of remaining in charge of themselves – their thinking, emotions, choices and behaviour at any moment of time. To demonstrate restraint implies choosing to respond rather than react to situations and circumstances.
In learning to practice restraint, here are a few suggestions:
- Be mindful of what you feed on. The mass media for instance, has become a major source of mental pollution in our world today. In curbing and guiding against this, simple acts such as being mindful of the contents you expose yourself to could determine the difference between your peace of mind and frustration.
- Practice daily and frequent affirmations. Affirmations are simple yet powerful positive statements recited on a regular basis and at regular intervals, intended to fuel us with positive mental energy. If you are a starter, consider creating your own affirmations, write them down, memorize and keep them in your pocket. These simple acts can be helpful at the early stages of your own journey to developing adequate restraint towards the numerous ill situations and circumstances life throws at us every day. One of the essence of affirmations is to help safeguard us from impulsive behaviours in the heat of the moment when our emotional buttons are pressed.
To add to the above, the third skill I would like to share is the act of knowing how to keep the mind right in times of adversity: developing this attribute can be pretty difficult and has been a primary cause of failure in the lives of many. Keeping the mind right in times of adversity depends on a number of factors, habits and rituals of which we gradually become better with time and experience.
Here are a few ideas to consider:
- Look beyond the situation: this involves the act of lifting the mind’s eye to see possibilities beyond the present circumstances. This simple act enables us to build the inner tenacity, develop the right attitude and mental fortitude essential to withstand challenging situations. It also helps to build our faith and gives us hope. We end up growing out of the situation rather than going through it.
- Practice constant meditation: which enables us to draw positive mental energy from a superior source of power.
- Helping others: as counter intuitive as this may be, offering to be of help to others at a time when we ourselves are in need of help opens breakthrough doors unto us. It fills us with positive energy and emotions which opens the windows of our awareness to greater possibilities.
In the long run, perceiving things from a higher level of awareness offers us intuitive solutions to our own problems and challenges.
Final Admonishment: instead of overthinking, develop the habit of taking massive action! whether at work or in business, on your personal goals or aspirations. The world has a way of rewarding those who take action and ignoring those who think too much and yet do little.
Again, know that success usually takes longer to materialize than we think. Therefore, taking action early enables you to give your own efforts the necessary Time and Space to work out to bring you the needed results without adversely affecting your own timing in life.
To your success!
By Elijah Otoo – Essien, Assistant Superintendent of Immigration (ASI)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 0203656160/0240080104
Ghana Immigration Service HQ,
Ridge – Accra.