August 15, 2020
Hexavia Business Club
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Marginal Utility and Gratitude in Crisis

Flower depicting hope

Earlier this year, a guy named Aaron was hiking; a big boulder fell and trapped his right hand in a dungeon. He was trapped there for 4 days, and in the 4th day, he brought out a small knife from his bag and amputated himself to set free and stay alive. So, what did you say you’re going through again?

Someone went bungee jumping; with a rope tied almost 30 ft. from the 400 ft. mountain but the rope cut. He fell straight into a pool of Crocodile. He survived but forever broke his collarbones. What did you say you are going through again?

grateful note
grateful note

Maybe we have taken what we had for granted and this is a reminder to never, again.  The ease of infection of the virus showed us how closer and true the six degrees of separation is and how interdepend we all are. While we globalized, it reminded us that when things go wrong, it is all man to his tent, even in a global village. So, we need to develop our own. We now see how life is not that complex as most of us was reduced to just the basics and essentials to survive.  It is also a revolution for humanity. For richer neighborhoods in Nigeria, there was a sudden realization that to care for the less fortunate is not only an option but also the best security. Feeding others and caring for the neglected became a survival instinct for the rich if they must be safe. For the time we wasted at home, it is so easy to feel like this year shouldn’t have happened, like it’s the worst it could ever be. But think of the over 250, 000 people that have died from the Corona virus. It could have been worse and you could have been one of them. When someday feels like a museum of disappointment, remember; it could have been worse.

It could have been worse and you could have been of them.

This article is more than hope: It is a reminder, a formula and call for positivity in the workplace for this too shall pass.  If you are a CEO or manager in your firm, your team looks up to you for hope. Panic and resentment are not strategies. Every flight instructor will tell you that if you want to fly to a destination, you don’t aim for it, but to the north of it. Always look forward and set the bar higher. If you treat people and situations for how they are, you make them worse. But if you treat them for how they could be, they would end up where they should be. If you live life as a realist, you end up as a pessimist.

A wise man once told the story of a hunter who while chasing a deer lost his way deep inside a forest. He used all his navigation skills but didn’t find his way out of the forest and also couldn’t find any food to eat for 3 days at a stretch. He was so frustrated, all hope varnished from his presence. All he could hear in his head was the sound of death knocking violently through the hands of starvation.

apple tree cartoon

At that point of grave need, his eyes fell upon an apple tree, he was immediately filled with life and joy unspeakable. He gathered apples as much as he could, enough to feed him for the rest of his search. As he feasted his teeth on the first apple, his joy knew no bounds. He was filled with feelings of extreme gratitude, he blessed life, and he blessed God. He was so happy, he was still in shock of his luck while he ate the first apple, but as he took another, another and another his gratitude became lesser and lesser. Some how, with every passing apple his joy kept reducing drastically, he just couldn’t enjoy the tenth apple, he even started throwing apples that were not tasting good and began taking for granted the gift of having an apple tree in the middle of a forest.

Dissatisfaction comes from abundance. This is the paradox of life. This concept of being less grateful for each freedom of choice or extra consumption is called The Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility – as abundance increases we become less grateful. More technically, as one input variable is increased, there will be a point at which the marginal per unit output will start to decrease. It’s a mental trap we all once in a while get in and it kills gratitude and the socio-spiritual benefit it brings.

It’s human to complain over what initially did excite us. It’s in our nature to lose drive with time, this might tally with the ancient scripture that reads, he who seeks silver and gold, shall never be satisfied with silver and gold. Before the pandemic and eventual lockdown, there were people who hated their jobs, those who could barely stand confrontational bosses; there were those who thought their lives was the universe teaching the human race humility through humiliation.  Now, all these people did after over a month of lockdown was to wish they could go back to their jobs, to their shouting boss and to their daily humble routines. We might have been taking little things like a hug, a hand shake, hanging with friends, standing close to people and even kissing, lighter than we should.

What are those things you should be grateful for

They say gratitude is the opener of locked up blessings. So, I’m grateful for being a part of all that has happened this year and over it too. It is my newfound attitude.  Practically, 2 years ago, I got married in the middle of too many swamped work and deadlines. I only had a week of honeymoon. And exactly 9 months after, my baby came. In between were countless meetings, travels, consulting and client service interventions. Honestly I hadn’t had enough time to bond with my 11 months old son or his mother that much till this lockdown. And then the shutdown came. I am grateful for how closer it made us become. I finally learnt to not take life too seriously, to play like a child again with them, to change diapers, to communicate better with my wife. I also had a chance to strategize my next growth moves out of that stillness. While for a lot of people, things seems bleak, let our heart be filled with gratitude for the little things we are afforded at this hour, the opportunity to rest, rethink life, to be with family, no matter how little they are. One can only imagine the fate of the hunter if he never found the tree or worse the apple tree he now took for granted varnished. Let us begin to look for reasons to be grateful for everything, let always remember that the good Lord make all things beautiful in its own time. We shouldn’t leave this period only to long for it again, let us revere and cherish every moment. As the great speaker Zig Zigglar said; “Gratitude is the best attitude”. As leaders, it’s from a place of calm, gratitude and empathy that the clarity to communicate comes from. It is from communication and dispositions that panic is killed while supposed victims emerge as victors. And from that place does control and solutions emanate.

Mother and Daughter Sit at a Table With Friends Eating a Roast Dinner
Mother and Daughter Sit at a Table With Friends Eating a Roast Dinner

We must learn to appreciate the gifts we are given, and we must never take abundance lightly.  You should keep a gratitude pad to write down and remind yourself of what still works and what to be grateful for. We must never forget, happiness is not a factor of our circumstances, but of choice. What are those things you should be grateful for?

 

Eizu Uwaoma in blue suit and checked tie
Eizu Uwaoma – CEO of Hexavia!

Eizu, ©Hexavia!

Strategy. Business StartUps and Corporate Restructuring Consulting

T: 08035202891

Uwaoma Eizu is the lead strategist at Hexavia! He is a graduate of Mathematics with two MBAs and over a decade of experience working with startups and big businesses. His core is in building startups and in corporate restructuring. He is also a certified member of the Nigerian Institute of Management, Institute of Strategic Management of Nigeria and the Project Management Institute, USA. By the side, he writes weekly for the BusinessDay newspaper.

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1 comment

Kenneth Iheme May 13, 2020 at 9:18 am

Great stuff. Very apt

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