Susan Popoola

Leveraging The Value of People
February 14th, 2012 by SusanPopoola

Happy Valentine's Day – or what should I call this?

The prettiest smiles hide the deepest secrets.The prettiest eyes have cried the most tears. And the kindest hearts have felt the most pain ~ Will Smith

 I must say – last Sunday was surreal.  I woke up too early at 5.30am. Playing around with Twitter on my IPhone I noticed that Whitney Houston was trending.  Strange, I thought, as I’d been playing the “Waiting to Exhale” CD just before I went to bed.

The news that Whitney had passed away left me feeling void. I quietly read the growing commentary and listened to the news as she was eulogised. Later that morning, I noticed that Bobby Brown had started trending. Largely it was people raining insults on him and blaming him for Whitney’s death.  Sad I thought – he may not have been the best influence on her, but he was Whitney’s choice.  Besides which, it’s over 4 years since they’ve been divorced so ……

Whitney’s passing was really enough for one day, but it does not reflect the totality of what made my day surreal. You see later that evening I noticed from online messages that people were searching for someone within my network who had left messages on his Facebook page that indicated that he was contemplating suicide. Looking at the recent history of his communications, the signs were there that he had been crying out for help.  Unfortunately, it seemed that no one had picked up upon the extent of his distress.   Fortunately his attempted suicide failed as he was found on time – he is now in hospital.  The messages of love, support and appreciation of him as a person are now pouring in.

If not for the actions of those that went on a search for him, those messages could, however, have been for another person – highly valued and appreciated but lost to the world. He or we depending on how you view things was/were (respectively) lucky, blessed, fortunate or what have you.

The problem is it’s a tough world. I said this to a friend yesterday and her response was – “and it’s getting tougher.”  It seems that when things get tough our natural response is often to knuckle down and focus on sorting ourselves out – leaving others to take care of themselves. Fair enough you might say, but aren’t we supposed to be strongest when we pull together?

Even though I’m both an introvert and a very private person, I know that I’ve best overcome problems by talking to someone that I trust about the situation. At the very least the conversation has helped to put things into perspective. More often than not the conversation has generated an idea or two, which has helped to move me forward.

Yet in conversation, on the odd occasion I have mischievously responded to the question “how are you?” by responding not very well.  Because the person that I ‘ve been speaking to has expected the response of “fine, thank you” more often than not they have responded to what they expected to hear rather than what I have actually said.  Now, I know that the example I’ve given is just of me being mischievous, but how often do we miss the underlying message of what it is that people are actually saying to us when we talk to them. Not so much because we don’t care, but more because we’re caught up with our own lives and challenges.

I believe that now more than ever is the time for us to look out for each other. To let the people around us know that we care, that they are precious and will make it through whatever it is that they may be going through. In fact, people don’t need to be facing a challenge to need support– at times it’s about the strength to face the churn of everyday life or the courage and confidence to achieve a goal and move on to the next level of success.

I’m writing this on St Valentine’s Day – a jolly good day to make a start, I’d say. However please do remember the people that may be struggling and in need of a friend, a hug or a simple smile are not always the most obvious. I’ve seen a person crying virtually unnoticed in a crowded room. The single person next door may actually be content in his or her singleness. Yet I’m still struck by the story of the person who told me that the worst form of loneliness is crying yourself to sleep each night, due to the person sleeping next to you.

I think  that ultimately the key is to learn to listen to both what is said and what is not without judging or assuming.

Selah ~ Happy Valentine’s Day People! 🙂

Copyright 2012. This document is the specific intellectual property of Susan Popoola. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source.

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