The Power Of Appreciation

Do you like this story?

Now for something completely different….over the next weeks I am going to share some real life stories – from which you can draw some powerful life principles to live by – the first one being appreciation.

So here we go…

We spent some time in a few African nations; one of which was the west African nation of Nigeria. When we arrived, we were overcome by the sea of black faces that greeted us. A mass of humanity. Over 158 million people live in a country that’s no bigger than the state of New South Wales.

So there we were with two young children under the age of four and our luggage. Because we couldn’t get through to our Nigerian contacts, we were left to fend for ourselves. There’s nothing like learning when you’re thrown in the deep end. The only instructions ever given to someone in that position is, ‘Sink or swim!!!’

There are many African experiences I could share with you, but the one that made the biggest impact on me was when I was regularly shown appreciation. In our western world, many are too busy to ever show it, but in the African culture my experience on the whole, taught me how to appreciate people.

I’d been travelling on a regular basis from my home base, into the village areas both to the north and to the east of the country. After speaking to groups of people I was always offered a gift. Now it wasn’t your normal type of gift; the sort that you’d buy at David Jones or Myer.

The people in the village are extremely practical. always looking to meet your needs in whatever way they can. So on this particular trip, every village elder presented me with exactly the same gift.  I’m  not  sure as to whether there was a bargain at the local village store, but there must have been a special running that particular month.

The only problem I had was trying to work out which end of the gift I should accept first.

One end was very sharp, and if I wasn’t careful there was a risk of losing the tip of one of my fingers. After cautiously receiving my first gift, I thought that it was far better to give the giver a big smile, and then get my African driver to receive that which was given.

Now concerning the other end of the gift. As my story unfolds, you’ll understand why I didn’t want to put my hand there.

It was a wonderful time in Nigeria and I was overwhelmed by the love of the people. I also fell in love with the culture. I admired their tenacity against all odds and I probably learnt more from them, than I have learnt from any other.

The time came for me to return to my home base.

The gifts, along with my luggage, were safely secured in the boot of our vehicle.

It took most of the day to get home, and to the delight of my family and friends, I was able to finally get the opportunity of showing off the wonderful gifts that I’d received. Grabbing the keys, with everybody gathered around the unopened boot, I put the key in the lock and turned. The boot sprang open to reveal more than half a dozen live chickens with their legs tied with twine. As I grabbed two of them by their legs and held them up, I discovered all over my luggage the reason I’d never wanted to hold them at the other end.

Now, that’s appreciation!

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