BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS: BOOKS VS. REALITY

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
– Reinhold Niebuhr
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The title of today’s post seems to give it away as a contest, not a bad idea if we set books against reality, after all it is boxing day.

In 2006, I set lofty goals for myself. It was the year I clocked 20, so I thought it nice to grow my mind and spirit. To grow my mind, I set a target of reading at least 12 books in the year. One thing about goals is, you almost never hit the bull’s eye, so I ended reading about 36 books that year alone! I also went through the whole of the Bible. And you know what Ralph Waldo Emerson said, – “the mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions,” I have never been able to recover from the reading habit. Since that time till now, at every point in time I have at least a book I’m reading and right now, they are three – a fiction, an inspirational text and a christian text!

Just around that period I got attached to books by John C. Maxwell (I refer to myself as his disciple). I love his take on leadership. Just an aside, he gave me a follow back on twitter. The bulk of what I enjoy reading can be divided into three heads – success, leadership and relationship.

I love building relationships. As an individual, I am an outgoing introvert. Don’t be deceived, the keyword is introvert. The outgoing part doesn’t mean I enjoy partying or hanging out, it means I’m not the sulking, (entirely) boring and depressed introvert. If I find your company good enough, I could chat from morning till night. I know that relationships are essential. Humans are relational beings, we were meant to be interdependent. While building relationships come quite easy for sanguines, it isn’t that easy for phlegmatics. It is something we have to consciously work at. So, almost naturally, a brother had to read Dale Carnegie’s popular How to win friends and influence people .

No doubt, the book is a great self-help tool and it sure helps in penetrating through hard people. However, if you are an avid reader and not one who stops at just reading but goes further to practise the things you read you would have realised that there’s a great gulf between what you read and the way it plays out in real life. For starters, we know the difference in laws in pure science and laws in social science. To borrow the words of a great man, humans are not a subject of mathematical precision. We react differently to the same situations, so no singular approach is a one-size-fits-all for human beings.

In my opinion, I think there are three sets of people –
1. People who will like you regardless of what you do;
2. People who will like/dislike you based on what you do; and
3. People who will not like you regardless of what you do.
And here is where books come to play. For the first set of people, you don’t need any book knowledge to get along with them. They are jolly good fellows and they take life easy. The second set of people are the reasons why relationship books are written, book knowledge will help you know how to handle them. You need to be careful around them, read their moods, find out what they like and dislike. This set of people need to be studied for you to get along with them and once you unlock their secret codes, voila, you see them in a different light!

And for the last set of people, no amount of book knowledge will help you out in relating with them. Unlike what books will have you believe, you will never be able to break the hard code of some people. These people are hard, they decide who to like and who not to like. You have no part to play in the category you fall in with them. No matter what you do, they will always resist and make you believe you killed them in their former life and they are here to get back their pound of flesh. This is where Reinhold Niebuhr’s words come in – serenity to accept (who) you cannot change.

Don’t get me wrong, books are good but reality sometimes comes in shades not painted by books. This is my honest thought. You may disagree and I would love to hear your comments. Once again, compliments of the season.

I am @seunalade on twitter.

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4 Responses to BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS: BOOKS VS. REALITY

  1. Opeyemi Tegbe says:

    9ce 1 Alade. hweva, Av got slight issue wt d 3rd category. Great psycologists nd philosophers av proved over d yrs dt building strg relatnship wt any1 is a function of emotional intelligence. so wot becomes of this notion if u claim dt sm pple will neva lyk me irrepective of d syd I tk wt dem? does it take longer tym 4 sm pple 2 c d good tins in u? is it safe 2 conclude dt patience cud b needed smtimes wen u r tryn 2 build relatnshp? wot do u feel?

  2. Seun, great piece of writting. Educative and admonishing. ‘Reality Vs Books’ I love it. There’s a sense of Self Trust knwing You can be more responsible for Whatever you get out of your Life.. Kudos sir

  3. Ire Mosaku says:

    Weldone Seun, I am particularly motivated by your reading habit, I think I have slowed down a bit over the past few years but reading this piece just struck me to get back into picking up some books again. I think am tempted to try John Maxwell.

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