Tids and Bits
Seble Hailu

Seble Hailu

Friday, 06 October 2017 06:45

‘Excellence’ Challenged

”Excellence is soaring together to reach our height for the common good of our society.” 


Two weeks ago, I was taking my residential requirement courses at the Oxford Graduate School.   My sociology class professor, Dr. Matthew S. Vos read an article he wrote on “Excellence.”  It reads:

“I am fed up with excellence.  It is everywhere and nowhere.  Googling the word produced more than 100 million hits.  Even incorrect spellings yield hundreds of thousands.  Claims of excellence surround us.  It can be bought; it can be sold.  We boast of it in our schools, workplaces, and churches.  We attach it to catch phrases promoting our hospitals, middle school athletic programs, and mass produced restaurant food. ……  While collaborating on drafting a philosophy of education statement for a college, a well-intentioned colleague piped-up, “Make sure you throw the word ‘excellence’ in there somewhere.... Why excellence?  It did not change the substance of our statement….Shouldn’t excellence be its own testimony? The current version of excellence is a displacement of goals….”

Tuesday, 02 May 2017 08:16

Flying over Your Fear

“The beautiful thing about fear is, when you run to it, it runs away.”

~ Robin Sharma

A client of mine asked me to help her with her fear of flying.   She said that she recently got educational opportunity to study abroad for her second degree but would not be able to consider that due to her incapacitating fear of flying.   

Fear is defined as an emotional and physical reaction to a present, known threat.  Fear has a strong controlling power.  It protects us from possible harms and alerts us from possible dangers.  However, the mind also has the capacity to create danger messages when not warranted and incapacitate the person from moving forward.  Fear may result from experiencing tangible attacks by something that has endangered our lives orbeing; or it may result from intangible thoughts created by the mind.  Hence, some fears are imaginary, and not real.  “What if I am not successful in life? What if I would not makeprofit this year in my business? What if I am dismissed from the university? What if I cannot get married? What if I do not give birth to children? What if my children are hooked into addictions? What if… What if… What if…..”

Friday, 27 January 2017 09:35

Interconnectedness – a call for chariness

“When you hit the nose, the eye cries.”

~ Amharic Proverb

My daughter and I went to Switzerland to visit with a friend about two years ago.  Walking around, we reached a place where we saw a statue of a broken chair in front of the UN office.  We asked what that was about and learned that “The Broken Chair” is a monumental sculpture in wood constructed of 5.5 tons of wood and is 12 metres high.

The sculpture was erected by Handicap International in front of the main entrance of the United Nations, where it was intended to remain for three months, until the signing of the Ottawa Treaty in December 1997 in Ottawa. Following ratification by 40 countries, the Treaty became effective as an instrument of international law on 1 March 1999. 

Thursday, 15 September 2016 03:52

Jumping from Zero to Hero: Looking for Shortcuts

“If you take shortcuts, you get cut short”

Gary Busy

Last month I was taking photo editing course and I learned how we can use a tool called “Liquefy” to increase and decrease sizes of the elements in a picture to make them look what we desire to show. An obese person can be trimmed down to look fit or we can enlarge a skinny person to make him/her look of size and attractive.  Then I thought how sometimes we would like to have a shortcut magic tool “Liquefy” to make things look the way we want them immediately. 

Some would like to get a shortcut to increase the capital of their business, others want to swallow a pill to get rid of addiction, still others want to fix relationship problems once they get professional advice,  and still others would like improve health conditions immediately without much effort on improving life style.  People look for a simple formula and effortless action to straighten life.  In other words, they look for life shortcuts.  Unfortunately, life reality is the exact opposite of our wishful thinking.

Friday, 24 June 2016 07:24

Stop Comparing, Start Blooming

 “A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms.”
~Zen Shin

My recent counseling session reminded me of how I was constantly compared and contrasted with my older sister. Our closer age gap and similar looks made us look like twin; we went to same school, were in the same grade, sat on same bench, and were close friends.  We used to receive different comments as to how one of us was better than the other on our looks, intelligence, attractiveness, body shape, height, weight, character and relational tendencies.  Since, I loved my sister so much and wanted her to look or be better than I was in every sense; people’s comments never bothered me nor made me feel inferior.  In fact, we teased each other based on the comments we received.  However, listening to my client, I realized that she had the exact opposite of my experience.  She told me how she had felt awful about herself because she grew up being compared to her peers, sibling, neighbors, classmates, and others but never measured up to their standards. This prompted me to reflect on the pros and cons of social comparisons.

Monday, 21 March 2016 11:48

Celebrating Happiness

It was highly debatable why on earth March 8, only one day, was given to women for it assumed the rest of 364/5 are men’s day.  It was now extended to celebrating women for one month, dedicating the month of March to acknowledge the milestone achieved to reach towards gender equality as well as women’s achievements and contributions.  Hopefully and ultimately, both men and women create a system whereby each day is celebrated for equal existence, rights, opportunities, access to resources and contributions to humanity.

Wednesday, 06 January 2016 10:24

Life Your Lives

Nobody gets to live life backward.  Look ahead, that is where your future lies.

 ~ Ann Landers


My sister-in-law threw a surprise birthday party for my brother on a cruise. We had fun singing, dancing, watching everybody expressing what they would think and feel about him.  When it was my turn to talk,  I expressed my thoughts and feelings and concluded my points with the remarks of the  audiobook I listened on my way to the US.  The book is entitled, Life in Half a Second written and read by Mathew Michalewicz.  I was immersed in the analysis the author gave about the urgency of life, the need to live our wished lives and how we can transform our lives. 

Monday, 30 November 2015 02:33

Are You Giving Yourself Your Ears?

I read Ralph Nichols quote: "The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them." Then I felt good that I am in the business of meeting the most basic human needs: listening for counseling has given me the privilege of listening to people’s stories.  However, my kids used to complain how I listened to them while working on my computer or doing other tasks.  I used to give them the impression that I would not give them my undivided attention though my claim was ‘I was multi-taskingJ’.

I also read another quote by Paul Tournier: “Listen to all conversations of our world, between nations as well as those between couples. They are for the most part dialogue of the deaf.”  This means unsatisfying communication is rampant in our society: in relationships between spouses, parents and children, among neighbors and co-workers, in civic and political life, and between nations, religions, and ethnicities. The whole world is craving for understanding yet we are mostly rubbing in a wrong way.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015 02:32

Trust: Why Be Vulnerable and Risk Betrayal?

“Trust is the glue of life. It's the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It's the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” 
~ Stephen R. Covey

After providing training on life skills to the UN employees’ children for one week, Parents’ Session was organized to inform them about what their children had learnt and sensitize parents to provide continued support  for sustained results.  During the question and answer session, one of the parents told me the conversations she had with her daughter.

Teenager: “Mom, tomorrow you will have parenting session and our trainer will tell you to trust your children.”

Mother replied, “Really?  She must have never had teenage children for her to recommend so.”

Then she directed her question to me, “My husband and I have wide ranges of experiences and knowledge to protect our kids from the danger outside.  They are supposed to listen to their parents’ ideas.  Why do we trust them, rather they trust us?”

Attending my sister’s wedding in the month of July, I noticed friends and family members giving different gifts to the newlyweds.  Some of the gifts came as devoting time and being fully present. Other gifts came in the form of parcels wrapped.  Still other gifts came by crossing Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea or different states to celebrate the unity of the couple. The other gifts were wrapped in the form of hosting the wedding, organizing the day’s program, making the event a glorious one.  Another special gift was also given by making a video after interviewing family members. Other gifts were presented in the vibe created with dance, food, and so forth.  Oh! Still others sent cards to express their well wishes.  Few paid emotional price and gave that as a gift to the bride and groom to honor the long-term commitment. That wedding was symbolic of all sorts of natural talents, expertise, skills, time, money, knowledge, influencing powers, and sacrifices invested to make the wedding a special one setting the tone to successful marriage.   All the gifts had their ways of speaking about the graciousness of those who presented them. 

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