Spending good time with friends is one of the most glorious of all human experiences. It is even enjoyable when you pursue a project with loving friends and everyone is totally committed and self sacrificing. Sometimes, though friends do not give their best, or anything at all because of several reasons, one of which is that they do not think their contribution is valuable, especially if there are others making very huge contributions that dwarf anything they can put on the table. I think that is the situation in the Study Group that I set up for my friends and I to prepare for the forthcoming exams.
I consider group study as a form of knowledge crowd funding where everyone covers some part of the study material, share their perspectives and understanding to drive a greater assimilation of the material by all. So today, I encouraged members of my study group to share points from their personal study and reading in order to make the group worthwhile. As I ruminated on the matter, though, I realized an important lesson in life: No matter how little your contributions are to a group, relationship, union or other associations, give it lovingly with your whole heart and it may be the most valuable contribution of all!
Since the background of this realization was educational, my experience at school when I first offered Management Accounting came to mind. That Semester, the ‘little’ I did not know became the most important knowledge and I lost everything I had worked for.
That Semester I offered 13 courses as a Direct Entry student as against the 8 the regular students did as I had to carry on the General Studies courses they did in the previous year which I skipped. It was a semester marred by Lecturers strikes and so was quite short.
The Management Accounting course covered 5 broad topics and I understood 4 of them very, very well. But one of the topics was too difficult for me and I was unwilling to commit the extra time to understand it because I had so much work to do. And I was full of myself! I reasoned that since the exams typically had 5 questions with the option to answer 3, in a worst case scenario, the questions that would be set from the difficult part would be 1 or in an unlikely situation, 2. I’d still have 3 or 4 questions from the other topics to answer well and pass, and what is more, it was not like I was totally blank in the difficult subject. So based on my calculations, this course was in the bag – yeah, I can live with a ‘C’ on this one, but who knows, it can be a ‘B’ or even ‘A’. I was on a roll!
But the most shocking thing happened to me. The exam of course had 5 questions, but as I read the questions, a cold sweat crystallized at the tip of my head, running down to my feet and by the time it reached my toes, it was very hot. All the questions, all 5 questions were drawn from the one topic I found difficult! The 20% I did not know was worth 100% of the Course! You guessed right, it was an ‘F’ and it did great damages to my CGPA – my little cost me so much!
Learn to value people in your circle; learn to also value what you bring. If you are in a group and there is a call for contribution, but you do not have much, bring it still; do not be mesmerized by the huge contributions from others. Money may be the language of the world today and you may not have it but you may have time, counsel, expertise in making the money work. Please bring that – bear in mind that the money on its own doesn’t get the job done – at least not with the love, joy and kindness you bring it with to your friends.
The contributions from your friends matter; you may be the richest man in the neighborhood with many rich friends but the ‘little’ a friend has and is willing to share may be all you need when the chips are down. To illustrate the importance of the little others have, a man is very wealthy, associate with the crème-de-la crème of the society but he falls sick and needs a caregiver. It could be the valuable advice and care from a friend who has not been a giver materially that comes to his rescue. The ‘little’ 1% that this friend gives may be what keeps the man alive.
We need to realize that relationships are even more complex than the humans who form them. Giving in relationship are never balanced and equal in all parameters; sometimes based on the ‘currency’ of the day, the one who gives what is considered most valuable often feels he is a better friend, for example, friends who have and give out more money may consider themselves more important in the relationship. But is money the most important variable in our life? Other less endowed friends may bring qualities you need to survive, they may bring the laughter that brightens our life or the clarity we need to make wise decisions, may be sympathetic, and help in your visioning – things you do not have and can not really buy.
This lesson about giving our all no matter how little has application for both the person who gives plenty and the one who has the little to give.
Do not despise your little, and do not allow others to do so. Your little may just be the precious piece that completes the puzzle. In history, the heroes have often done a little compared to what everyone did put together- ‘a little of the whole’. For example, in a war, thousands of men fight, many pay the supreme price, but only a few get medals of honor because they did something significant, like a brave soldier who bombs a critical infrastructure of the enemy and he is declared a hero. Did this man win the war? If that action was all that was done in the war, would his Army have won it? What about all the faceless and nameless people who contributed to making sure he could carry out the mission? Their ‘little’ contributions may have made this feat possible; imagine if they had withheld it because it was little!
In every relationship, if you have something you (can) give, no matter how small, continue to give it, and of course, seek ways to give more. To the one who has a little to give in my study group I wrote ‘in this exam, that little, that 1% you are ‘ashamed’ to share may be where all the critical questions may come from. (It could also be what gives someone in this group the 1 mark needed to pass, you know how crazy it can be). The worst part may be that your point/idea is still in the raw form and is totally worthless to you. If you share it now, we can all polish it and make it valuable for all. It is just like a man who finds a precious stone in its raw form but needs an experienced friend to tell him the value, make an investment to get it processed and both benefits!’ That is the message to you as well, give what you have and complete someone’s puzzle.
To you giving plenty – that is what you signed up for when you agreed to enter the relationship or association. As long as you remain there keep giving! Give 100% or nothing and do not think it is all there is; learn to value the little that your associates bring to the table. You do not need to learn the value of the ‘little’ the hard way I did in the exams at school.
If I have entered any form of relationship/association with you, if you are truly my friend be assured that I value the little you do for me, it is what completes me – just come with a complete heart and give your 100%. I hope you also make the same resolve with me and your other critical stakeholders.
May all in a relationship give a 100% of what they can give and continue to seek ways to expand their reach. No matter how little you think your contribution is, give it with all your heart – the lives of your friends may depend on it.
Cheers to appreciating the ‘little’ things!
Picture Credits: https://www.topuniversities.com/blog/joining-study-group-benefits