A pastor decided to go against the ethics of his profession by indirectly castigating a particular member of his church with his entire sermon. He went on and on about people who would not submit to authority, people who thought they knew when they really did not know and people whose financial success had gotten to their heads and made them unresponsive to spiritual things. All through the sermon he kept looking in the direction of the man, who listened with rapt attention. After the service, the man walked straight to the pastor with a wry smile and said, “Congratulations Pastor. That was an absolutely brilliant sermon. It’s a pity that those who should have heard this didn’t come today.”
Since I posted my thoughts on “Why I Left church So Angry” on this blog, I have had an incredible flurry of responses from all over the world. Reactions have largely been admissions of mediocrity or anger at the status quo. A number of people felt that their own thoughts on the need for excellence in everything African had been captured. What seemed largely missing was that personal ownership and sense of responsibility manifested by a stated commitment to demonstrate the high standards, leadership and values that we all seemed to expect.
While it is easy to blame governments, colonial masters, our forefathers or the world order for any undesirable situation, the higher calling is to take charge of that change and to make a difference starting from our own small corner. The late Michael Jackson captures this best in his song “Man in the Mirror” when he sang:
I’m starting with the man in the mirror.
I’m asking him to change his ways.
No other message could have been any clearer.
If you wanna make the world a better place,
Take a look at yourself and then make a change.
The socio-economic transformation of our continent or the “African Spring” must begin from our homes, workplaces, neighbourhood, our churches or wherever we find ourselves. Interestingly, while a number of young people are responding to calls for a culture of entrepreneurship and excellence as the way forward for Africa, others are making little or no effort. As a conference speaker, I sometimes leave an event highly charged at the sight of many young executives and entrepreneurs determined to make a difference only to drive past another group of young people crowded outside a night club and engaging in all manner of vices in the full glare of the public. I sometimes pause and ask myself if there is anything I can do to help them. I have tried in some instances to engage such people with ‘interesting’ results.
A leader cannot help everyone. A pastor cannot change everyone in their congregation. A manager simply cannot keep everyone in their company. I have come to the humble conclusion that I cannot help everyone. I have therefore compiled my own list ‘unhelpable’ people. This may help you understand why you have had little success in helping some people. Even more importantly, it should help take a closer look at yourself and if you find these behaviours in your own life, to initiate immediate change. Here is my list of the ten kinds of people no one can help.
10 ‘UNHELPABLE’ PEOPLE
- Someone Who Insists He Or She Has No Problem. A lady once raised an objection when I called her up for a confidential assessment of the suitability of a young man who had applied to work for us a driver. She intimated that even though he was generally well-dressed and well-behaved, he had a permanently offensive body odour. Several attempts by different workmates to help had failed because he always argued that there was nothing wrong with him. Some people simply see nothing wrong with anything they ever do and, like the story of the emperor who walked through town naked, everyone else could be aware of your problem but no one would tell you because their views might be unwelcome.
- Someone Who Sees You As The Problem. Equally frustrating to deal with is the one who believes that you are their problem. What do you do as a manager when your subordinate refuses to learn from his mistakes and instead blames his failure to progress on the fact that you are occupying the position he is aspiring to. When someone sees you as the unlawful occupant of their position, even your gifts or generosity could be seen as a return of what should have been theirs in the first place. It is therefore not appreciated. No one can help a person who believes that other people are responsible for all their own mistakes. You can choose to blame your situation on the government, your employer, your parents or even the world at large. The truth is, you are where you are today because of the choices you made yesterday. And something you are doing or ignoring today is creating your future for you.
- Someone Who Wants Results, But Not The Process. We live in a fast-paced generation that believes in instant results as evidenced by fast food joints, fast-track courts, microwave ovens, quick marriages and equally quick divorces to boot. Bob Marley once sang that “everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.” Everyone wants to prosper and get to the top but how many are willing to pay the price for success? Success is achieved through time and patient application. There is a time for everything and in life, you sow, you cultivate and then you reap. Greatness does not come overnight. No one can help a person who wants to be rich, famous or powerful in a hurry and is therefore far more interested in the car you drive than how you got there. It is this unbridled pursuit of fame, fortune and the pleasures of life that pushes many into internet fraud, crime and all manner of socioeconomic vices.
- A Person One Who Doesn’t Value Integrity. A young man recently called into my radio show, Springboard the Virtual University, and argued that living without principles was driven by individualism, which is a natural offshoot of capitalism. His conclusion was that we should learn to accept it. My reaction was that if we accepted the unbridled pursuit of speed without principles, a person going to the airport would ‘justifiably’ jump all red lights. Employers would and employers would openly swindle each other and accept it as normal. No relationship or contract would then be worth the vows or paper on which they were sealed. Some people love corruption and shortcuts and would seek the back door even if the front door is wide open. In the words of Warren Buffet, “In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.”A person who lacks integrity cannot be helped to find favour, promotion and longevity in business.
- Someone Who Is Unwilling to “Score.” In the late 1970s, Ghana’s premier club Hearts of Oak had a really formidable side including five attack-minded players who could hold their own anywhere on the planet. In 1977, they played exceptionally well throughout the continental championship. However, in the final against Hafia Club of Guinea something interesting happened. The Hearts players uncharacteristically missed a number of sitting chances. They played all the good football in their own half of the pitch but whenever anyone found himself in a scoring position he either shot over the bar or passed the ball backwards. It was later rumoured that the team had allegedly consulted an oracle in the build up to the match that had predicted a win but cautioned that the player who scored the first goal would die. The truth or otherwise of this assertion was never verified. However, since no one wanted to die, the players refused to score and the team lost. You cannot help someone who is unwilling to score or to succeed at anything. If a person is unwilling to work, you can get them a job but they will get themselves fired or soon find an excuse to drop out. This is a very common occurrence. You can kit a player, train him, field him and pass the ball to him but you can never score for him.
- Someone Who Does Not Listen or Observe. Some people are specialists ‘conversing’ without listening. They love to repeatedly hear their own voice. Without realising it, such people consistently interrupt every meaningful discussion in their hurry to make a point. People like that talk more than their mentors when they meet. They therefore miss out on important lessons and end up repeating the same things they could have learnt by listening. It is said that it is not for nothing that God gave us two ears and one mouth: that we might listen more and talk less. Similarly, many are not observant and fail to pick obvious lessons from trends occurring all around them. Not every lesson in life is directly taught. Some are meant to be gleaned from observing occurrences around us. No one can help a person who sees his neighbour destroyed and learn nothing from it.
- Someone who keeps a catalogue of offences. One of the most common laws in relationships is that those who are closest are those likeliest to offend you. The most enduring associations therefore thrive on forgiveness and tolerance. At home, school, work or wherever, relationships involving people who are easily able to forgive and move on last longer. However some people are experts at archiving and compartmentalising a detailed and regularly-updated catalogue of offences committed against them. You cannot help such people even if you wanted to. Offences are best discarded quickly and are poisonous to the keeper when stored overnight.
- Someone Who Rejects Authority Levels And Structures. While we are all equal before God, He still gives us various levels of talents and corresponding responsibilities. There will always be a boss and followers or manager and staff. Some people cannot submit to any authority in life. They deliberately reject and try to undermine system of governance. When you fail to recognise a system of authority, you deny yourself the chance to participate in it. People who think anything goes and refuse to work with structures cannot be helped in life.
- Someone who lacks Self Control or Self-Discipline. One of the most pathetic people to try and help is someone who lacks personal leadership or self-discipline. There are several rags to riches stories of sporting or entertainment personalities who rose from deprivation and battled all odds to the top only to capitulate to drugs, sexual sin or violent misconduct. Pythagoras says “No man is free who cannot command himself.” Self-discipline is the foundation of personal leadership, which is itself the springboard to progress. No matter how much you wish to help, a person without control over their appetites will run into trouble again. Henry IV made this point when he said, “Great eaters and great sleepers are incapable of doing anything great.”
- A Negative And Ungrateful Person. Some people are serially negative: suspicious, critical, sceptical and hardly able to see anything good in life. They are experts at seeing the dark spot in every bright situation. They receive every compliment with a pinch of salt and are always on the lookout for hidden motives in the people they deal with. Your efforts at helping could be easily misconstrued and conflict could easily be ignited at the slightest contact. No one can help someone who is totally blind to anything positive and yet highly imaginative about the negatives. Such people are forgetful, discontented and always ingratitude. The three travel together and can easily destroy your chances in life. Forgetful people are thankful to you one day and mad at you the very next. The ungrateful person behaves as if everything that happens in his life occurs automatically. They fail to see the role God or others play in their lives. As a result, do not appreciate the blessings that come their way and end up despising or cutting them short. People like that are often left alone by those who could have helped them.
Having read all ten, it would be a perfect time to pause to look at the man or woman in the mirror. If one or more of these attitudes or behaviours are present in your life, you could be cutting short your supply of help. Do something about that today.
Peace & Many Blessings!!!