Monday June 2 2014

Living and Loving it: lesson learnt from Maya Angelou


By Carol Beyanga

I have just finished reading the book, The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo. Marvelous stuff. I love that the translators were able to do a good job in turning Swedish to English and not losing the essence of what Stieg Larsson, the author was trying to do. At least it feels that way. My problem though is the title.

It is really good, eye-catching, the kind that would catch most novel readers. But this book is not about the girl with a dragon tattoo. She is not the main plot. She is not even the sub plot, until you get to past halfway the book. Larsson’s first title for this book was Men who hate Women, which explains the book more and should have been able to get people interested. Besides that though, the book is a great read (thanks Frederic!).

Now, on to even more important things. About a year or so ago, I was feeling rather frustrated with the work I had on my hands. Coming up with ideas and working on stories was fun. Dealing with people, was not. I had way too many people accountable to me. It was an interesting mix.

There were the fun-loving bunch, the creative lot, the quiet but steady ones and the jokers. But there were also the stubborn ones, those too lazy to do anything, those who looked for every sneaky way to break the rules, those who refused to accept help, and those who did not want to think of new ways to do old things.

It felt like the more I tried to rectify the situation, the worse it got. Many days I felt like giving up and just going with the flow, but I knew that was not an option, because at the end of the day, I was accountable to someone else, for them all.

One morning as I was busy pitying myself, and looking at the comments on Twitter, I came across a quote. “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude,” it said. That day, I did not leave the quote on the computer. It had burned itself into my brain and so I began to work at it. I knew there was no way I was going to change some of the members of my team.

So I started working on my attitude. I started trying to understand each of them, what their personalities were, what made them happy or ticked them off and also importantly, what their background was.

Suddenly I began seeing things I had never taken note of. I realised that some people just needed someone to guide or pat them on the back more often. Others needed someone to listen to the stories of their personal struggles. I began to work with people’s personalities, and shout with those who liked that, but also whisper with those who preferred that.

I learnt that some needed to be challenged a bit more, while others needed to be given a break. I realised I needed to always ask each of them, what they would want or prefer and come to a compromise with them. I realised at the end of the day, they were all human beings, who wanted to be understood and accepted, just like I did.

Sometimes all it took was a hug, other times, a text message. Other times, it took a lot more energy and patience. But it all changed things for me in a big way and made the work easier. I daresay, that was the day I began to see a change for the better.

That quote was by Maya Angelou. I hold it dear and many times I feel stuck or upset with someone or a situation, I remember it. I do not give in to people’s whims; I just change my attitude towards them and then try to work for a good ending. And it has helped me go a long way.
Thank you Maya.