I asked a young girl who had just completed her West African Senior School Certificate Examination to tell me something interesting about herself. She responded, “Hmmm, there is nothing interesting about my life”.
Her statement and mindset about herself at this young age got me very sad and worried. After a ten minute chat, I got to know that she had a poor grade in the maths paper which is a core subject, so she would have to rewrite the paper before she would be accepted into her desired university. This therefore meant skipping university for a year. Meanwhile, she intended to take on menial job to survive. “Young lady” I said, “Do not entertain such thoughts about yourself. We all have something good inside us that we can use and develop to create interesting things in our lives and for society”. I went further to find out what she was good at or what she enjoyed doing and found so much joy in doing, no matter how tired she might be. I was excited about her response – “Madam, I love to design. I can design any accessory, be it shoes, bags, hats and anything you could think of”. “What about fashion? “Are you interested in being a fashion designer” I asked. Her eyes now lit up and she went ahead to explain how she wanted to learn sewing but her mother unfortunately fell ill to the point where she was in a wheelchair, so all focus and available funds were used to take care of her mother.
I went on to tell her about Temperaments, explaining that each person has strengths and weaknesses, and that our ability to achieve our potential, depends greatly on which side of our temperament we are operating from.
Let us go into the Education Room to learn a bit about temperament and how we can use it to help our youngsters.
The terminologies, Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholic, and Phlegmatic, came across as advanced math, confounding, and complex. I deeply admired hearing people talk about their characteristics so easily. Little did I know that I would one day, be creating awareness about these four seemingly complicated words.
Our temperaments are the basic strengths and weaknesses we were all born with. It is an inherited part of human beings that determines how we react to people, places, and things. e.g a natural tendency for leadership or to be easy-going. Temperament influences everything we do, our behavior at home, behavior in public, how we lead others etc. For instance, some leaders can be “people’s people” while others might lack compassion and sympathy in their approach to leadership. Every temperament type has natural weaknesses or negative tendencies such as lack of focus, determination, drive, and inability to be proactive. At the same time, each temperament also has natural strengths such as the ability to make decisions quickly, handle difficult tasks, do fine art, design and tendency to be a good communicator. Our temperament determines and constitutes our automatic behavioral responses to issues and situations. For example, the decision as to how we choose to spend the festive holidays like Christmas to a large extent is influenced by our temperaments. Some individuals see Christmas for instance, as a time to celebrate, have fun with lots of friends and attend the much talked about parties in town. On the other hand, another set of individuals see Christmas as the time to be close with family members and few friends, a time to reflect on one’s lives and make plans. The most powerful single influence on any person’s behavior is his temperament, which is usually a combination of at least two temperaments, one primary and the other secondary. Our strengths or weaknesses in our temperament are determined by our choices. We can maximise our strengths and minimise our weaknesses. The ability to reach our potential, depends largely on which side of our temperaments we are operating from.
We have so many people, both young and old, who think and have the mindset of our young lady in this case study. We easily throw in the towel and give up on ourselves having a failure or a “there is nothing good about me” mindset. As we have learnt in our Education Room, we all have natural strengths and weaknesses inside us. Rather than focusing on our weaknesses or choosing to operate from the weakness side of our lives, we should identify our strengths, decide to develop it and work with it. Our lady had become so downcast because of her failure in Maths, that she immediately opted for a menial job, when she was naturally a designer. Optimizing on this strength would solve all her problems in life and she could decide to further her education at any time, to any level. Having done that, she would have joy and fulfillment.