Sunday, November 16, 2014

No Buts - just a thought

"I slept like a baby, woke up ready to conquer the world, enjoyed my power breakfast and dressed in my best suit for the day, with everything set for a great productive and victorious day, but the traffic law breaking taxi driver spoiled everything and I ended up in the hospital.

"I had a horrible night punctuated by nightmares tossing and turning all night and in streaks of sweat. I woke up grumpy, tired and barely had breakfast. When I finally jumped out of the house the car would not start and so I was late for work, but that show on radio changed everything and I ended up having an awesome day."

Two totally contrasting statements talking about how a day can end up between two different people, good or bad. This is a typical day that the best of us goes through in a lifetime. I am not dwelling on that, to the contrary, the use of the word 'but' is my key point. In the two statements above, everything changes after 'but' and hence there is need to breathe before the tide turns. Hence some will give weight to it by breathing out the but, sing it and drag it out as if it is a long word, yet it is only 3 letters. It is a word that we take for granted when we speak. We use it everyday whether to avoid unwanted appointments (I would have come, but....), or to give and excuse (I wanted to finish the report today, but....), reveal misunderstanding (..., but I thought you said I should....), to kill a dream (..., but I am not good enough), or justify wrong doing (I would not have hit him, but....). How many buts do you give in a day and are they all supposed to be there? When someone uses a but, it is an argument or objection against something. It is a word that contrasts with what has already been said, and so basically when someone says but, you can almost know what follows. When you return from an interview and they call you back with feedback and say something like "you were great and you have solid experience which aligns with what we are looking for, but...." then you know you probably did not get the job. Interesting word is it not? It is almost a pre-emptive word for the person it is directed to. You may as well put the phone down after you hear 'but' right? Wrong, because it goes both ways in fact and can be pre-emptive in both a positive and negative way. The same person who says the above could say "we felt that you were weak in one or two areas and you need more experience and training within this area, but...." now that is a but you want to listen to because it can be a negative to a positive. I mostly love the use of buts when I listen to inspirational stories. He grew up without parents but.....or she lost her sight but....or she lost everything but.... If I was to give my own experience I would say I failed my driving test twice, but I had to press on and break the block of fear until I succeeded. The buts we can eliminate are those that stop us from doing what we set out to achieve. Those buts where we blame our past/history, upbringing or other people for failing to pursue what we want and need to. What buts have you spoken to justify not pursuing a dream lately? Are you aware when you say but. If there was a "no buts challenge" would it be something you can sign up for and possibly win?  Just a thought.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Simple complication

When something is complicated, it consists of many interconnecting parts or elements and is intricate. It is something or someone not easily understood or explained a man perhaps?…ok bad example and may need an expert of some sort to break it down. Take aerospace engineering or mathematics where one cannot just delve into and easily understand what goes on without some kind of training, support and coaching. I even remember myself mentioning at some point in my academic life that mathematics was complicated because of the equations and formulae. These are complicated fields which very few put on top of their “to study list” as confirmed by the number of rocket scientists who will read this post. “You do not need to be rocket scientist to..…..” is usually used as a blackmail statement to  coerce someone to understand a concept deemed simple by the other person. A complication often arises in the medical industry when in the process of trying to achieve a desired outcome during a normal and simple day to day procedure, an un-expected problem occurs whether by accident or due to unknown factors. This then leads to more work and time to complete the procedure successfully if there will be a good ending otherwise a fatality occurs as a result of the complication as the doctors may not be aware of how they can remedy the situation. I will not talk much about these professional and academic types of complications. save to say "its complicated" is a good way to avoid explaining something you really do not want to explain to someone at that time. I will rather be the lay man that I am and talk about a simpler type of complication I found in today’s world. Since the above types of complicated have been in existence, the world has changed quite a bit. It has become necessary to have another type of complication in an already complicated world and this relates to relationships. You just need to go on to Facebook or various other social media platforms and view a couple of relationship statuses to believe me. I am not sure whether it is really that hard to explain the relationship, or there is no effort at all to try and explain. I will steer away from the other one where it is rather an alibi to lure unassuming “friends” and assume it is hard to explain. One can now easily get away with “it’s complicated” in many a discussion meaning there are too many interconnected relationships going on there to explain clearly to someone, or are there? How complicated can a relationship be? Where pedigree and lineage is concerned things can also get really complicated apparently. I thought one is either your father, aunt, grandpa, brother, mother and so forth, but I had to change my view. I had no idea it can even be more complicated than aeronautics and derivative financial instruments, forget mathematics. If you do not believe me, listen to an animated rendition of Ray Stephens' song below and maybe you will get a feel of why it can be hard to explain relationships. Laughter is always the best medicine and as comics say, people enjoy laughing at themselves most, so go ahead and have a good laugh.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Derivative strength

Kindly bear with me on this brief introductory paragraph. In finance, a derivative is a product usually a financial asset, which on its own is valueless but obtains or derives its value from another underlying asset which carries the value. An example is owning the right to buy shares (long call option) in a business. The gains or losses you make on this right will depend on the price of the share on the market. The higher the company's share price, the more money you make on the option you own as shown in the diagram on the right. A more simpler definition of a derivative is something which is based on another source. A more simplified example of the concept is money which can be backed by gold or silver held by a Central Bank or issuing authority and also called commodity money. Money today is mostly fiat money which is has its value backed by government regulation or law giving it legal tender status, although commodity money is also still used.

 Source: Federal Reserve Website
 As of September 2014, a $100 bill costs about 13 cents to make, but carries a value of $100 with a sliding scale for other notes as shown in the table on the left. The paper in your hand buys you goods worth $100 and derives its exchange value from both legislation and collateral in form of government securities. Moving on swiftly from the financial stuff without losing you along the way, imagine being more valuable because you have a backing for your value, or being more powerful and stronger because you have a backup source like a standby power supply for those moments when your own power or value is low or down. How many times have you been surprised by the value someone adds to you after you have initially written them off by outward appearance? It is because that person has packed up value backing her up, which makes it possible for her to unleash value. You can also have a source of value and strength, which lifts you up and backs you up when you are down and out. I believe it is possible to have what I will call derivative strength.

Derivative strength? 
Most people call it confidence, but I thought I would twist it around and call it derivative strength. The departure point for this name being that life can be so draining sometimes and your own strength is easily depleted to the extent that you even feel as if you are of no value around others. It is in those moments when you need strength derived from various back up sources or from something outside yourself. During an argument, if you have strong background on a matter you can confidently stand and defend your stance based on having either experienced or read up a reputable source that supports your position, and you can draw on that knowledge in need no matter how many people are against your view. Remember the phrase "I got your back"? Those who have had a notorious sibling within the same school will  immediately understand, and this is where derivative strength comes in. When you can step on some toes and big brother will come in, back you up and make sure you remain safe. When you can "get away with murder" and have others asking who you think you are, and those in the know just whisper that this kid must be left alone and cannot be messed with. In another sense, one can have a back up which can  be the source of strength to go through a difficult patch in life. Strength or hope that makes you look trouble in the face and still laugh through it all. When life challenges seem greater than what one can reasonably take on and survive, that is when you need to draw on your derivative strength from another source, not necessarily from within yourself.

Image credit

Strength from what you have seen, heard or been indoctrinated in through your relationships, experiences, religion and from the HOPE of knowing that nothing lasts forever including challenges, but in order to get to that point where you have derivative strength, you need to have put in a lot of work into that backup source. Unlike money which costs less than the value it carries, derivative strength costs a lot for it to sustain you when you need it. At the risk of mentioning the obvious, when someone needs take part in a physical activity requiring strength, there is both physical and mental preparation that occurs to ensure that one can handle the strain required to achieve the fete. There is discipline, an eating plan and rigorous training that goes with preparing for that event so that when the time comes, there is enough mental and physical power built up and stored to carry out the challenge. Solar power works on the availability of sunshine first, which is then converted and stored into energy for use when required. Antarctica has 6 months of winter and a similar period of summer, and it is during summer that solar energy harnessing is feasible and then stored up for the winter. In much the same way, you need to have taken in some 'sun' in the form of seminars, lessons learnt, counsel, knowledge, advice, wise words and other pieces of solid backup so that in need of energy, you can draw on them and survive the cold winter. Life has very cold winters which are guaranteed but you don't get your money back if they don't come for anyone to face during a lifetime. It is therefore imperative to work on your backup sources and ensure that you have derivative strength for that day when you will need it. What are your thoughts on having derivative strength and how do you think you can build up your own sources of strength which you can tap into when you are down on your own strength and need underlying strength to boost you for the day, week, month, year or even the rest of your life?