Who Are You?

It’s been a minute since I’ve blogged as a lot has happened in life recently, the biggest being the passing and laying to rest of the matriach of our family, my grandmother. Hannah Joji Ikonne.  She was the best grandmother ever and her passing away is one of the sources of inspiration for this post.

Who are you?  When I ask myself that question I realize that I am the sum total of the experiences and circumstances (and more) that have occurred during my lifetime.  Let me quickly share a few:

  • I grew up in a home of faith
  • I grew up in a third world country
  • I did farm work, cutting foliage with a cutlass, planting corn, cassava etc etc
  • I walked 3 miles to my high school and 3 miles back home every day for 4 years in the scorching sun
  • I lived on a university campus where academic rigor was the order of the day
  • Etc etc…

How have these factors impacted me as an individual?

  • I am person of faith
  • I have empathy for the less fortunate and I’m content with whatever I have as I realize there are people who have much less
  • I am not afraid of hard work and get irritated often when people complain about certain aspects of our white collar jobs
  • I appreciate having a car 🙂
  • I have little respect for those who haven’t done their research on a subject and yet have such a loud opinion on the subject

These are how the factors impacted me, not anyone else.  A lot of the folks I grew up with experienced similar conditions and were impacted in a different way. (You know who you are).

But the point of this post is not to make my life experiences material for the public domain but rather to remind us of something we already knew, we are complex creatures.  I feel that this is extremely important to remember as we interact with one another, especially in the workplace.

Don’t be quick to judge or jump to conclusions.  Remember that the individual on the other side of the table is also a product of their life experiences just like you are.  Have empathy.  Be tolerant. Be vulnerable.

Now I know for a fact that this is easier said than done (I personally struggle with being vulnerable for example) but we need to keep trying if we want to experience deep and meaningful relationships. Paraphrasing St. Francis:

Seek to understand then be understood

Rest in peace Mama Ukwu.




4 Replies to “Who Are You?”

  1. Sorry to hear about your “Mama Ukwu.” It’s always hard to lose someone close that clearly had such an impact on your life. I grew up on a farm around farm people. We didn’t have lots of money but always were fed and always had what we needed. Growing on a farm surrounded by people that had been farmers their whole life had a large impact on me. Although, I didn’t realize it (nor appreciate it) at the time, I now realize that my grandparents were some of the wisest people I would ever know.

    I do find myself sometimes complaining about the stupid little things of our day-to-day lives but then I try to remind myself of the example my grandparents set for me. I’ve never had to work in the hot blazing sun so that I and my family could eat. I’ve never had to worry that it was raining too much or too little. I’ve never really had to worry about scraping together enough money to get the car fixed.

    I will never forget one particular story about my grandfather. In his late 70’s he got to be too old to drive. A couple of times a week my grandfather would set off walking to the little country grocery store that was 3 miles from his home. He would get a couple bags of stuff and then walk back home. Sometimes during the summer I’d ride my bike to his house and take the walk with him.

    On one of these trips I asked Grandpa Noah about something I overheard some older boys whispering about at school, I’m sure it was something that school boys like to brag about when they are that age. He got a grin on his face and only said this, “well I don’t rightly know about that, but I do know that people that talk the most about something usually know the least about it.”

    Truer words were never spoken…


    1. Hi Lance –

      Good to hear from you. How is it going? Thanks for the kind words. I love your Grandfather’s words, in fact I have a post coming out about that…




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