Aké Satia is the Chief Vision Officer at Aké Satia, a Human Capital firm in the DC area focused on strengthening organizations by bolstering the intersection of people strategy and business strategy.



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The Silent Power!

The Mindset Series: Episode 9


Yell or Listen? Deflate or Encourage? React or Respond?

As you read the questions above, you may think it is the start of a riddle, and believing you have supreme mastery over your will, say: Aké, look no further! I am the answer to the riddle. Just say my name!
Well, perhaps you are onto something, so let us explore! 😉

A Universal Struggle

Have you ever said that meal was so good, I had too much of a good thing and might have to skip dinner? Or did you say something to your spouse during a spat that you regret? Or make a purchase you do not need because the item was enticing?
I have a hunch we can all relate to wrestling over some of these, and during the wrestling match, we might think: Not again! Why do I go for seconds at mealtime when I do not have room? Why do I raise my voice and speak unkindly to my spouse? And for crying out loud, why do I keep buying things I do not need?

These speak to human warfare with an elusive nemesis!
When most of us think of wars, our minds wander to images of World War I, World War II, or some other gruesome battle. But whether in a combat zone or a peace zone, humans are constantly at war, and the never-ending war does not happen on a battlefield. It happens within us! It seems we are the elusive nemesis!
And it raises an all-important question: Could it be the peace we so earnestly long for starts within each of us?

The War Within Us

We can all remember times when we faced a challenge and made a courageous decision despite experiencing discomfort. These are proud moments when we sacrifice momentary pleasures, face discomfort, and transcend our fears. Unfortunately, we do not achieve such glorious feats all the time! But when we do, what enables us to do so: To forego momentary pleasures in pursuit of the worthwhile?
Have you heard of self-control? I bet we all have!

Psychologists define self-control as the ability of a person to control their behavior: delay gratification, avoid temptations, and achieve goals. You may have heard that self-control is a quality that differentiates humans from the rest of the animal kingdom because humans have this propensity, and other animals do not. Importantly, self-control is also a differentiating quality between humans, and when we sense it in a person, like a magnet, we gravitate to them.
Sounds invaluable, but what is so special about the human species that makes us the only ones with this vital capacity?

Unsurprisingly, the answer lies in our biology! The ability to display self-control is primarily rooted in the prefrontal cortex: the part of the brain responsible for regulating our thoughts and emotions. If the prefrontal cortex were in an organization, it would be the planning, problem-solving, and decision-making centers. – Helping leaders plan, evaluate alternative actions, and avoid doing things they later regret. For this reason, a true leader would invest heavily in it! But how much do we?

Living with The Universal Struggle

We are all guilty of losing control, albeit to varying degrees.
Some exercise moderation with culinary delicacies at the dining table but struggle to restrain the tongue in conversation, leading to a fit body and lonely heart. Others restrain their tongue during family meals but bulldoze their coworkers at team meetings, leading to fun dinners but limited career progression. In my inner world, resisting a taste of warm molten lava chocolate cake can seem as daunting as doing a circuit of burpees, push-ups, and pull-ups at 3 am! Hopefully, you cannot relate! 😉
Undoubtedly, we have all seen or experienced the downsides of poor self-control, and the debris it leaves in its wake can seem as devastating as a volcanic eruption! For this reason, we must strive to harness the skill!

I am an undaunted student of self-control because its potency is unparalleled! And a person who comes to mind when I think of this virtue is my nephew.

The Bait Cannon

My nephew is a young man immersed in university life. But several years ago, as he attended middle school, he experienced a common phenomenon and had an uncommon response.

One day, he sat in the cafeteria to eat lunch during recess. As always, his mom had prepared and packed his lunch: baby carrots, a sandwich, and an apple for dessert. – The kind of meal the doctor would order but not what many kids would request. 😉
As my nephew took a bite of his leafy sandwich, one of his classmates walked up to him, gave him a menacing stare, and said his lunch was boring! Once the bully launched the bait, he waited for the other kids to join him in jeering! But none did! Instead, they fixed their eyes on my nephew, wondering how he would react: Would he insult the bully, burst into tears, or run to the teacher?

Surprisingly, my nephew did none of the above! Composed, he looked at the bully and calmly responded: Since you feel that way, isn’t it great that you do not have to eat it?

Leading with Restraint

His uncommon response incapacitated the bully, who walked away with his tail between his legs as other kids cheered on my nephew for standing up to the bully. Understandably, you might be surprised to hear one describe such a response as a case of standing up to a bully! Because when we think of standing up for ourselves and others, images of fighting back and giving the offender a piece of our mind surface. We might want to let them know that we are not one to mess with, and if they attempt to pull any stunts again, we will give them something to talk about! 😊

However, my nephew’s response was nothing of the sort!
When baited, he chose to restrain. And by so doing, he diffused the situation and averted a battle. Amazingly, after that incident, many more kids befriended him because they regarded him as a leader. And they frequently sought his perspective on many issues, including relationships and dating challenges. Yep! You saw that correctly but let us let it slide! 🤣
Herein lies the power of self-control:
Self-control is a silent power that enables us to make peace, inspire others, and lead.

Friend, today, our world is more like a battlefield than a botanical garden. And self-control is the silent power that activates peace. Often, to ignite its force, what is required most is a deep breath and a step back, aka Disconnect emotionally and physically, then respond. Can you imagine how many workplace clashes, domestic feuds, and social media wars would dissolve if we practiced self-control?
Something to ponder!

Until next time!

For you and to you,

Image credit: Freepik | Kari Yukav



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