“One’s life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others by means of love, friendship, compassion and indignation.”
A man was exploring caves by the seashore. In one of the caves he found a canvas bag with a bunch of hardened clay balls. It was like someone had rolled clay balls and left them out in the sun to bake. They did not look like much, but they intrigued the man so he took the bag out of the cave with him.
As he strolled along the beach, he would throw the clay balls one at a time out into the ocean as far as he could. He thought little about it until he dropped one of the balls and it cracked open on a rock. Inside was a beautiful, precious stone. Excited the man started breaking open the remaining clay balls. Each contained a similar treasure.
He found thousands of dollars’ worth of jewels in the 20 or so clay balls he had left. Then it struck him. He had been on the beach a long time. He had thrown maybe 50 or 60 of the clay balls with their hidden treasure into the ocean waves. Instead of thousands of dollars in treasure, he could have taken home tens of thousands, but he just threw it away.
We are no different from the man walking on the shore. We look at someone, maybe even ourselves, and we see the external clay vessel. Sometimes we do not even bother to check what or how we are from inside. It is not always beautiful or sparkling so we discount it.
We see that person as less important than someone more beautiful or stylish or well known or wealthy. Often, we fail or ignore to recognise or find the treasure hidden inside the person or our own self.
There is a treasure in each one of us. If we take the time to get to know the person, put ourselves in the shoes of the other, and not judge them, then the clay begins to peel away and the brilliant gem begins to shine forth.
When this realisation does not dawn upon us early on, we regret when we come to the end of our lives and find out that we have thrown away a fortune in our relations because the gems were hidden in bits of clay, and we did not bother to check the clay from inside.
We live in such a materialistic world that more often than not we look at and do things keeping in mind how others would react or to please others. We live our lives by the norms of the society or that people who we think matter the most to us, ignoring our own aspirations, satisfaction or worth.
On the extreme other side we also face situations in life whereby we constantly keep telling ourselves that we care a damn about others and the only thing that matters to us is our own self, our own aspirations and our own satisfaction or worth. And in so doing, there is a high possibility of we missing out many gems as part of our relationship. Some rules to follow to ensure your relations are intact and you do not regret at a later point of time:
1. Care for those who care for you: The best way of strengthening your relation with someone is to show how much you care for them. Be it partners, friends, suppliers, employees or anyone else. If you care for them, never ignore them, show care and compassion. In fact, when you truly care for someone, their mistakes never change your feelings because even if the mind is angry, the heart still cares.
2. Assumptions are like termites of relationships: This is one thing to be practised the most. Do not assume things in a relation, be open, be vocal, communicate and discuss. This one can save you lot of heart burn and energy and can just take the stress out. In fact most arguments and relation breaks are dangerous things that are the result of faulty assumptions.
3. Practice apology and forgiveness: No one is perfect, neither you nor the one you are expecting to be perfect. In fact relations are complete only when two individuals or groups work towards a common cause/ purpose filling in the gaps & vacuum created by each other. So do not hesitate to apologize when you stray out of the path and there is nothing better than being able to forgive when someone in a relation is at fault. It works wonders.
4. Vulnerability is not sin: Vulnerability is often seen as a weakness, but actually it is a cornerstone of confidence. You cannot get courage without walking through vulnerability. It is an act of trusting and respecting others and more importantly yourself.
5. Be happy instead of being right: You do not have to be right all the time, in fact you may not always be. Learn to let go, learn to accept where you are in life, make the most of it and be happy. And when it comes to being happy, the reality is that there is no right or wrong. It is just the perspective each of us have.
“Remember that wherever your heart is, you will find your treasure. You have got to find treasure, so that everything you have learned along the way can make sense,” said Brazilian author Paulo Coelho.
So go ahead and explore life to find your treasure. And when you find it, make sure you guard it. There can be nothing more saddening than finding and losing treasure.
Mr Bharatam is the founder and chief mentor of Kuza Biashara Limited, a capacity building organisation coaching youth and SME owners across Africa. He can be reached @Sbharatam or [email protected]