9 December 2019

Hafiz Adewuyi

By hook or by crook, you will achieve this goal on your own

Just a minute ago, while folding the clothes from my weekend laundry, I found myself thinking about an upcoming Christmas party being organized by a couple of fellow Digital Explorers who live together in a big Kaunas city center flat, just five minutes drive away from mine.

I received communication from the organizers this evening that each of the 11 (or 12 😪) Digital Explorers currently in Lithuania will be contributing 15 Euros to fund the party. It's not a lot of money, but also I would not call it a pittance. In fact, we had one or two explorers protesting that the price tag for the party was a little steep.

Anyway, my idle mind lapsed into gear F (frugal) mode and its first quest was to justify my parting with 15 Euros for a plate of Jollof rice and fried meat. Not much to my surprise, my mind's answer at the end of that quest was that a secondary reward for me would be to have a granular view into how the funds for the party will be spent. 

Not because I suspect that the funds (which as a whole, cannot solve any significant financial problem for any Digital explorer) will be misappropriated, but because standing in one corner of my living room tonight, my mind had already created a beautiful picture of an article through which I open-source Christmas house-party planning information. I dreamed of how majestic the article would be if I could make it just as juicy (detailed) as this beautiful creation from the stables of Paystack where they shared their journey of setting up billboards in Lagos, Nigeria for the first time.

The next thing I thought was, "yes, before I send my contribution for that party, I will demand that the organizers ensure that they keep all the receipts and take out the time to share all line items with the rest of us once the budget is closed". After a few seconds though, I spotted the folly of this idea. It isn't hard for me to imagine how approaching my goal this way can easily lead to conflict when one or two of the organizers feels disrespected by concluding that the reason for my request is that I suspect that funds might be misappropriated. 

This one time, I feel lucky to be an over-thinker (I was last reminded of this part of my nature last Thursday by my date at the Ten Walls and the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra concert in Zalgiris arena, Kaunas). Apart from feeling insulted, I understand that it can be difficult to remain meticulous when you have a lot to handle, which would definitely be the case for the party's organizers the moment they start to shop for the party. I was not optimistic that any of the organizers would be stoked to take on the 'pointless' responsibility of storing up receipts and extracting line items from each of them. After all, we are all contributing the same amount of money.

Again, without prompting me, my mind switched to gear H (humane) and quickly revealed to me that there is a natural and guaranteed conflict-free way for me to achieve my goal of having bird's eye view of the financial planning of this party. 

"Easy, just let them know you would like to assist with the planning of the party. That way, you can have access to the receipts without ruffling any feathers. Win-win. Also, new experience as you have never planned a party in your life and you definitely need to take more social initiatives in this dreary life of yours".



Finally, my mind went to gear N (nostalgia), taking me back to one hot Lagos afternoon in 2015. At the time, I was a software developer at Fidelity Bank head office and I was having a chat with Nnanna (my manager) in his office. It was about some work milestone which I was struggling to reach because I was having trouble enlisting the necessary help of another team in the bank (probably the really difficult to work with systems administration team).

I was there to have him intervene on the matter as an oga-at-the-top, as I had faced a bit of resistance in trying to get the team to grant me my wish. However, he insisted that the responsibility of getting the systems admin. team to grant me my request falls solely on me this time.

The phrase which stays with me from that interaction with Nnanna and often replays in my head when I ponder how I handle many a difficult situation in my life these days is: 

"Whether it is that you will go and fight with them or whether you want to make friends with them to achieve this goal, it is entirely up to you. All I know is that you must get this done and I will not step in to help you".

For that particular difficult situation at my work, even though I can't remember the specific details or even how the issue was finally resolved, I know instinctively that I chose to take the friendly, rather than aggressive approach in getting the systems admin. team to help me out. Most likely because I was sure that even if by some sheer stroke of luck (I had zero authority over anyone in systems admin. and also did not consider myself capable of intimidating anyone), I had managed to achieve my goal in a violent way, it was not a sustainable way to work. It would poison me as well as the victims (or perhaps, just me the perpetrator) without commensurate reward.

Looking back, I realize how a lot of my philosophy today is built strongly on that foundation of seeking first to solve problems amicably. Of being willing to risk having my plug take advantage of my appearing to be at their mercy, instead of demanding my well-deserved way to a desired goal. Of not coming to the table floating on a cloud of entitlement, even if as a matter of fact, I am entitled to receive a certain favor from a person.

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