Tuesday 30 January 2018

It's about respect and make that matter every time

Know your worth
A number of events have inspired me to write this blog, even one that I reminisced about to a colleague at work about the beginning of my career.
I was a 24-year old with 30% equity in a desktop publishing outfit with a well-established lawyer twice my age who was also a director of one of the biggest banks in Nigeria, if not Africa, almost 30 years ago.
During one of our conversations, he dipped his hand in his flowing gown and threw money at me across the table. I picked up the wad of cash, put in back in front of him and said, “My parents have never thrown money at me, I’m sorry, you do not earn the opportunity to do that to me.
He was aghast that he just could not understand that I was neither obsequious nor fawning, but forthright and bold. He wondered why because of what I had in my head I could so irreverent and for a few more times he did things to undermine and belittle me until I was compelled to tell him.
You don’t give 30% of a company to a 24-year old and think that is the end of it, I will walk away from this and start again somewhere else.” That is what I eventually did.
Take no shit
On another occasion, it was at work where traders had become demigods because of the kind of money they brought into the company. It meant everyone answered to their every whim regardless of how the demand was made.
It was one evening when I was on the phone to one of such demigod traders that he began with unprintable expletives, swearing and cursing at me without relenting. When I finally got to answer him, I said. “I’m sorry, I do not get paid enough to be spoken to like this, I will put down the phone and you can call me again when you are ready for me to attend to your issue.
I ended the call and a few minutes later, he was on the phone again, first apologising and then I was able to look into the issue he had and resolve it. The truth is, I really cannot be paid enough to be insulted and abused at work. In a way, I use my parents as the standard, what has never been meted out to me from my parents is unacceptable from anyone else, no matter how influential or highly placed that person is.
Money is not everything
It has defined an almost 30-year career, I set the standards by which I want to be addressed, with respect, with courtesy and with consideration. I am grateful to the managers I have had who have reciprocated with exemplary conduct and to those managers who have been unable to find the ability to act with standards of courtesy and address that are somewhat old-fashioned for these times, we have parted ways.
This is what happened last March when I had had my fill of being treated disrespectfully and discourteously by my manager, I handed in my badge and phone and walked out without notice. I had had enough.
This brings me to the conversation Jay-Z had with CNN’s Van Jones recently where he said, and I quote. “It is not about money at the end of the day. Money does not equate to happiness. You’re missing the whole point. You treat people like human beings…. Treat me bad and pay me well: it’s not going to lead to happiness.” [Source] [Recording]
Then, Amara Nwankpa on Twitter responded to a tweet, with “Greatness is hardly measured in money. It's nice to know you can buy things, but find your niche, make a difference in people's lives. Move society forward. The greatest name in the world died without any children or property to his name.

It should always be about respect
Ultimately, we have to be careful that we do not slip into materialism and begin measuring achievement and impact just to the sound and presence of money because money is just supposed to be a tool.
I have given up some opportunities because the situation and circumstance in the work environment will be bad, even though it pays really good money. In some ways, it is down to my upbringing, I have enjoyed plenty and suffered lac at various times, but I am not driven by the quest for filthy lucre to the detriment of everything else.
Indeed, we can do a lot with money, but money in and of itself can be the source of great misery, it does not equate happiness, health, comfort, rest or peace.
Fundamentally, It’s about respect, not money. If you can be guided by this thinking, it is unlikely that people regardless of what they have will deign to disrespect you, I might have left my job last March vilified, a few months after the manager was asked to leave and by that, I was indirectly vindicated.

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