A long time ago, in another working life as a front-line customer relations person, I witnessed a life lesson playing itself out; one that may resonate with many.
One morning, a woman rushed into the storefront office, car keys in hand, as if her foot was still on the gas. Somewhere near the entrance to the office, her car engine was still running because the scenario she held in her imagination about whatever was going to transpire did not involve waiting or delays.
She raced into the office, the door behind her barely closing, only to find that there were people in line ahead of her. It soon became clear that joining a lineup was not how the scene had been configured in her mind. As such, she immediately became irritable and subsequently impatient. But that was not where it ended.
Her demand for immediate attention at the expense of people who had arrived ahead of her rose steadily as the seconds passed. The office manager explained that since she had not even called ahead, whatever business she came for was not prepared and waiting. Moreover, she had been given an appointment time and this was not it.
In the end she left in a huff, still highly irritated that the script she had written in her mind had not fallen into place in the real world.
Her foul mood hung in the air for some time, even after she left.
Thinking and doing are two separate activities – sometimes related, but nevertheless distinctly different. When people lean heavily on expectations, writing the script ahead of time about how an anticipated situation is going to be, rather than allowing for reality, like that irritated lady, frustration usually follows.
The common route then is to blame personal irritation on an external source when the reality is that any individual is active in his or her feelings of irritation.
People who live by faith may appreciate this understanding, for they accept that regardless of what one may imagine a situation to be ahead of time, it will be whatever it needs to be in reality.
If a person is dissatisfied with a circumstance, a useful solution is to do an internal check and make an effective adjustment. The person who gets through is the one who navigates the landscape as it is laid out, rather than trying to get the landscape to adjust to him or her. This is practical.
The episode with the irritated lady is mentioned here as it relates to another more current one involving the hard-fought-for Africentric Alternative School. It seems there are some who are vitally interested in the current form of the school’s curriculum but dissatisfied because it is not what they envisioned. The reality does not match their imagination. So there have apparently been attempts to remold the landscape.
This invites another life lesson: All-or-nothing speaks of two extremes. So, are those going all-or-nothing over this school gamble to the point where it could cease to exist? With government in a belt-tightening mode, and with an initiative that received only lukewarm approval, all-or-nothing could make that an eventuality, despite the school’s and the students’ success.
So here’s a suggestion: Since the Africentric School has proved to be such a resounding success so far in terms of student outcomes, proving what advocates have been saying all along about what such a school could do, perhaps those who want another type of Afrocentric curriculum can begin the process of getting that one off the ground. The fact that the first alternative school along these lines has done so well should give the second initiative a leg up. Those advocating for it won’t have to prove that it works since the proof is already there.
Alternatively, a new group could organize itself with the goal to establish a privately run school. The group could incorporate the school and set up a foundation to raise funds to get it up and running. Once that is in place, they could charge an accessible tuition fee and continue regular ongoing fundraising to ensure the school would continue, maybe even provide scholarships. This could be a win-win. It would mean parents will have more choice for their children and both schools will have the space they each require to flourish.
A note to say ‘woman a run tings’…
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma became the first female to head the African Union (AU) Commission in a vote held this week. Dlamini-Zuma is also South Africa’s Minister of Home Affairs.