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Head Of The Household

Relationships are complicated. There is no one formula that works for all relationships. But there are some guiding principles that will always help us in our quest to having more fulfilling and meaningful relationships with the people in our lives. The most important relationship we will all ever have is the one we have with ourselves. This relationship sets the tone for all other relationships. However we hope to be treated or aspire to treat others we have to first look inwards and learn to love and be kind to ourselves first before we can even begin to extend the same courtesy’s to others.

From an early age my dad always taught me to believe in myself. To always treat others with kindness and respect. And to always be confident in my own abilities, but never arrogant. He also taught me to always show empathy and never to compromise my values. Another lesson my dad taught me was to always have an understanding of the dynamics of any relationship I was in. I must always know what my role in any relationship is. And If I am not comfortable with that role I must reassess the value of that relationship to my life. Was I a leader or a follower? A teacher or a student? Or maybe even an equal? According to my dad if you understand your role and accepted it you were putting yourself in a much better position to ensure that relationship was worth it.

Growing up we had a pretty defined family structure. My dad was the head of the household. He took it upon himself to be the leader of the family. And my mother gladly accepted that. Even though I have referred to my parents as the dream team of the marriage game on this blog before, it was never in doubt who the captain of that team was. It was my dad. But if my dad was the captain of the team then my mum was definitely the star play-maker. They needed each other. They played for each other. They supported each other. But even more importantly they had a shared vision of how they wanted their lives to play out. Because of that they both accepted their different roles in their relationship and it has worked for them. They understood their dynamic and took full responsibility for their particular roles.

Being the eldest child my dad always pushed me to take on the responsibility to be a leader in my own right. I was supposed to always set an example for my siblings. To this end he insisted that my younger siblings prefix my name with Mukoma when addressing me. (Mukoma is the shona title for a big brother) Everything I did he would remind me that my brothers and my sister looked up to me. To be honest, this is not a role I initially wanted to accept. Half the time I felt I had no clue what I was doing and the rest of the time I wished I had a Mukoma I could look to for answers. But this was before I realised that I had something much better to look to for guidance, my dad. As soon as I accepted that I became comfortable with being a leader for my siblings and I embraced the responsibility that came with it. Mukoma wasn’t just a title; just the same way my dad being the head of the household wasn’t one either. You had to accept, shoulder and live with responsibility that came along with it. And even though you are a leader you always have to treat others with respect. Only then would the dynamic ever work.

For a huge chunk of my life my father has been my mentor and as I have grown older the dynamic of that relationship has shifted and he has become one of my best friends. That is also the case with my siblings. We are all adults now with different experiences and with each passing day I am learning more and more from them as well. And that is a lesson I am still learning that even though relationships may have a specific dynamic at one stage in our lives it doesn’t always have to stay that way. It also important to evolve and accept these changes and you are guaranteed longevity in whatever relationship you have.

I am very grateful for the many lessons that my dad has taught me over the years. That has been part of the motivation behind this series of blogs over the past week. Not only did I want to share those lessons but I wanted to appreciate him in my own way. I also needed to remind myself of some of these lessons.

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Posted by on March 13, 2014 in Lessons From My Father

 

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Abraham Lincoln: A Letter To His Son’s Teacher

Ever since I watched the Abraham Lincoln Biopic ‘Lincoln’ a few months ago I have been enamoured with the man that was the sixteenth president of the United States. Whilst I am still to read his autobiography I have made it my business since to read up as much as I can on the man from what is available online. His greatest legacy is that under his presidency the United States abolished slavery. Abraham Lincoln was a man of great conviction, a humanitarian, forward thinker, revolutionary, a political genius and a great leader.

The biopic itself covers the American civil war in which Lincoln a Republican was fighting the Southern states over his proposition to emancipate African slaves in the United States. Lincoln despite fierce resistance from within his own party as well as the South managed to convince the House of Representatives to vote to abolish slavery. One of the ways he was able to achieve this was through the many letters he wrote to Generals and Senators. Lincoln was a letter writer of note and some of his letters where the highlight of the biopic for me. As such in my reading up on Lincoln’s legacy I have been partial to the letters he wrote in his life time.

One of my favourite letters is one he once wrote a letter to his son’s teacher. Although this letter was written over a hundred years ago, it is not imprisoned by the past. It reads as if it was written just yesterday. The letter reads as follow:

“He will have to learn,I know, that all men are not just, all men are not true. But teach him also that for every scoundrel there is a hero: that for every selfish politician, there is a dedicated leader.

Teach him that for every enemy there is a friend. It will take time, I know – a long time, but teach, if you can, that a dollar earned is of more value than five of found.

Teach him, to learn to lose. And also to enjoy winning. Steer him away from envy, if you can; teach in the secret of quiet laughter.

Teach him, if you can the wonder of books. But also, given quiet time, wonder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun, and flowers on the green hillside.

In a school, teach him, it is far more honorable to fail than to cheat.

Teach him to have faith in his own idea, even if anyone else tells him they are wrong.

Teach him to be gentle with gentle people and tough with tough.

Teach him to listen to all men. But teach him also to filter all he hears on a screen of truth, and take only the good one that comes through.

Teach him, if you can, how to laugh when he is sad. Teach him there is no shame in tear.

Teach him to sell his brawn and brain to the highest bidder but never to put a prize tag on his heart and soul.

Teach him gently, but do not cuddle him, because only the test of fire makes the fine steel.

Teach him always to have sublime faith in himself because then he will always have some sublime faith in mankind.

These are big orders, but see what you can do. He is such a fine fellow, my son…”

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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