6 Lessons To Enrich Relationships?

In April I sent a simple text message to some confidantes asking a simple question, ‘If I was to write a book, what should I write about?’ I was quite amazed at the responses that I received and taken aback at how consistent the themes were. One message in particular left me with a lot to think about, and it stated that I should consider venturing out of my comfort zone and consider writing about life and love – the two things I struggle to write about (openly)! As with all things, I added this to my list of reflections and prayers, and thought I’d revisit this when I had the time to start writing my book.

Close to 3 months after sending the messages out, on one evening I received a request from someone else who had not been privy to the conversations or musings I had been having. They asked if I could contribute an article to Thinking Aloud Magazine. The Magazine is a product of the Rehoboth Dream Solid Foundation (RDSF), a Nigerian based organisation whose mission is to “engage in charity activities that will advance the social and economic wellbeing of the less privileged through the promotion of sustainable education, mentoring and skills acquisition”. The Magazine profiles inspiring personalities that are making waves in different career fields and society. Each issue also provides a platform to share information to improve societal values in a range of areas like family matters, parenting, relationships, finance and money matters, mentoring, youths, faith and religion and governance.

The topic requested? Something on relationships or something that was of interest to me! Naturally, my inclination was to write about careers, mentorship or studying, but the more I thought about it, the louder and more prominent one voice became along with the advice that I venture out. Eventually, I yielded. So in this post, I’d like to share snippets of the final piece. The full article titled ‘6 Simple lessons to Enrich Relationships can be found in Issue 15 ( July – September 2021 edition ) from page 19 – 21’.

Also featured in the edition  are some great pieces on Food and nutrition, Physical activity and Mental Health, Parenting, Financial Advice and an interview of Iyinoluwa Aboyeji. Having read the interview I had to do a bit of digging and I learnt that he is a serial entrepreneur and former CEO of Flutterwave, a business building payments technology and infrastructure to connect Africa to the global economy. He is passionate about partnering with missionary talent and capital to build an African future. They’ve done and are continuing to do some extraordinary things with tech on the African continent and are working with some reputable investors and institutions (Also check out Fund for Africa’s Future )

The Article – ‘6 Simple lessons to enrich relationships’

When Bishop T.D. Jakes was being interviewed by Pastor Steven Furtick about his book SOAR, he dropped a lot of wisdom gems about many things. There was one statement he made that caught my attention in relation to dating. More specifically, dating oneself. Bishop Jakes had stated that he knew and was in touch with himself in a way that a lot of people are not. Then, in a considered and paced tone he said “I’ve dated me, and I know me. Most people are so busy dating other people they’ve never dated themselves”. It was a profound statement and it made me realise just how potent and beautiful hindsight can be. I’d even argue that instead of the ‘vision 2020’ mantra that many people had prior, what we should speak a lot more about is what I call ‘hindsight 2020’. It is a term I find more fitting when speaking about or reflecting on the lessons I’ve learnt.

Having had my fair share of friendships that have turned sour, simply died off and relationships gone south, I could relate with Bishop Jakes and what he went on to share about knowing thyself. In my youth and early adult years, I had not invested much time in knowing who I was or how I am wired. As a result, there were unwise choices I made and the consequences of this in some instances were unpleasant. Upon reflection, I realised that I was the common denominator in all past relationships. There are many things I wish I had known I had to get right with myself then as these have had an impact on the many relationships one encounters in adulthood.

While the list of lessons may be long, in this article I would like to share 6 things you ought to know about especially if your expectation is for enriching relationships, be they with friends, family, colleagues, or a spouse. The list is by no means exhaustive; however, my hope is that in sharing there is something useful that will benefit your personal and professional relationships.

  • Lesson 1: Know who you are and check your expectations
  • Lesson 2: Have a vision to work towards and write it down
  • Lesson 3: Be disciplined and establish your boundaries
  • Lesson 4: Define your relationships
  • Lesson 5: Transparency and vulnerability are assets
  • Lesson 6: Things can go pear shaped, and it’s ok to ask for help!

(The Full piece expands on each of the above lessons – I wasn’t going to just give it all away like that ).

While experience has taught me a fair number of things, I have also learnt a lot through reading. To wrap this up, I’d like to share 3 resources that have helped me understand a lot more about who I am, how I am wired and how to make the most of my personality, strengths, quirks and shortcomings.

The first two resources are books I’ve revisited countless times as they have been beneficial to my personal and professional journey. The first book is the 7 Habits of highly effective people by Steve. R. Covey who was an influential and internationally respected author and consultant. In his book, he tackles issues of private leadership and how the habits that one creates in their personal life, including their ethics and principles become part of their public victories.

The second book which was recommended to me in my 20s was Gary Chapman’s 5 love languages. From this book I learnt a lot about how I receive and understand love, and how other people understand, interpret, and receive love. This has been helpful when it comes to relating with individuals in different contexts and in understanding how they too communicate their care, concern, and compassion.

The final set of resources that were of great help to me were a series of personality tests like the Myers Briggs type personality indicator test, Typefinder, DISC and a series of Spiritual gifting tests. From these I learnt about my personality type and tendencies. I also learnt about what drives or drains me, and how I am likely to handle situations where conflict arises. While they are not exhaustive or detailed to the grain about who we are, there are some common themes you can pick up on and choose to focus on and in my case they were also things I had to pray about.

To conclude, I would like to remind you that the experiences you encounter in life have as much to do with you as they have to do with other people. It is important to invest in yourself and learn to embrace and love yourself while you’re at it. Don’t be a passenger in your own life and be proactive about your journey. Set aside time to reflect and work on yourself and if there are more occasions that require that you dig a little deeper and confront you, then do it!

Will you discover flaws? Yes. Will you realise just how imperfect you are? Yes. We all have flaws, and we are all imperfect. However, in your imperfection there is still one truth that remains. You are a masterpiece, worthy of love and capable of giving love. Always remember this. Then, let every encounter and experience you live through be one that enriches, encourages, and inspires you to not only be greater, but to do better by self and others!

Keen to also hear from you dear reader, what lessons have you learnt about relationships and making the most of them be it in a private or professional capacity? Feel free to drop a comment or DM

Until next time! 🙂

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