I was on vacation with Wifey in the beautiful and historical city of Paris. it was one of those perfect summers with endless sunrise and plenty to feast. We did the bus tours and visited the many historic sites. Everything was going according to plan until we got an invite to visit the Obelix theme park in the outskirts of Paris.
The last time I was in a park was in the Apapa amusement Park. Yeah I know what you are thinking; I must be old. But if you can remember the amusement park in Apapa, face it, you must be old as well. There were loads of rides in the park but there was this particular one that had the highest fear factor. It was a 90 secs ride but it looked like it could last forever. Every instinct inside of me said don’t do it….you are too old for this stuff. But then wifey was urging me on saying if teenagers could do it, why not me. I saw guys and Ladies my age going on this ride with smiles on their faces. ‘Surely it can’t be that bad’, I tried to console myself. Against my better judgment, I headed towards the ride and climbed in. As we slowly climbed upwards towards the steep fall, I knew that If I ever made it out alive, I would never try it again. Never.
The whole ride lasted 90 secs, but it was the scariest 90 secs of my life. The volume of adrenaline that shot through my entire body those few seconds was probably the sum of all I ever had in my body my entire life. About an hour later after we were done, I started to notice I was feeling woozy. I soon developed heart palpitations and in time needed to hold unto something to keep my balance. I couldn’t bear to tell wifey what was happening but I was feeling like I was going to pass out. Anyway, I managed to put it together and 24 hours later, I was able to shake off the effects of that deathly ride.
Why did I tell this story? Because it helps to explain how we can be easily influenced by peer pressure at the risk to our physical, emotionally and financial health. The truth is that humans we are by nature social animals. While not attempting to decode Aristotle’s famous aphorism or debate social psychologist on the merits or demerits of using the appropriate nuances in behavioral science, one thing we can all agree on is that human beings quite naturally gravitate towards another and would activate and seek relationships, association and acceptance most especially from their peers. So when a colleague buys a car, procures a mortgage or decides to celebrate his/her birthday in a certain way, there is almost an unspoken declaration that a human counter party will seek to do same. The Yankees have an idiom for it. It’s called keeping up with the joneses.
I know of someone who went about chasing every contract in town because he heard of the entrepreneurial exploits of a younger friend who went from being an officer in a bank to owning one of the most thriving local corporate in Nigeria. In the process he ended up expending energy in areas he had the least competence and only succeeded in amplifying his frustration and may I add his blood pressure. He got cured of his frustration when his friend’s name was published by the CBN as one of those manipulating the banking system with huge non-performing loans. The wealth he had so jealously sought was only funded by debt. Huge Bank debt.
If you are going to be successful in managing your personal finances you have got to develop the capacity for contentment and deflecting the pressure to “look the part”…….when you know that “part” can’t be funded by your current earnings.
The human race has learnt the concept of delayed gratification from ants. How Ironic! But if you are going to ever be able to be a good manager of your financial resources, you are going to have to learn to practice the act of delayed gratification. Have you noticed that it is easy to identify the guy or girl who is “trying to belong”? That’s because they usually are the ones that try the hardest to impress. They are most likely to be the ones that makes the loudest noise and go overboard to let you know they have arrived. Nine of Ten times, you basically have them figured out.
The truth is that people are most likely to respect you more if you are real and plain. Don’t get me wrong, there is the place of packaging and presentation. But you must understand that the real value comes in the quality of what comes out of you than what is on you. If packaging was everything then St Louise sugar should have been out of the market decades ago.
One of the most powerful word I have come to discover in the English dictionary is the word NO! Hopefully we will speak more about this soon. But for now, keep your shame in your pocket by being content and deflecting peer pressure. Remember, there is a dollar sign beside your contentment.