Chola Chilufya Lungu
Independent Communications Consultant/Social Entrepreneur/Author
A few year’s ago I took my son to one of his class mate’s birthday party. I didn’t know the birthday boy’s mother or her friends very well so I didn’t contribute much when they all started opening up about their personal problems, challenges and regrets. I sat there just listening, not offering any advice either, because I honestly didn’t feel like joining the “pity party”. Then one of them looked at me and demanded that I say something because I had listened to all their issues. I politely refused, this upset them all. You see I learnt in life not to share my problems with people who do not know me, cannot resolve them or who honestly do not care about my wellbeing. I once read and embraced something called “Social Capital” – “The people you know, the people who know you and how they know you”.
I have worn many hats in the last 10 to 15 years, in the cooperate world, NGO world, in my personal businesses and at home. Through the highs and lows I always identify people I need to keep close. Those who push, pull and squeeze me through all kinds of situations. These people are my Social Capital, I invest in them. This is rarely a financial investment but its time, resources, knowledge, favors, a call to check on them, love and sometimes linking them to someone else in my network. Please note, that this is not built in a day and members are added and removed the older I get. Its also wise to know that not all the people you value or invest in will also do the same or feel the same about you.
Human beings are social beings, we need to socialize and to be connected to other humans. Unfortunately, sometimes bad things happen and we get disappointed. So here I was almost 40 years old convinced that I had ticked every box and my life was “disappointment proof”, I was broken staring at my phone wondering who to call. I had always been the tough girl pulling people put of depression and disappointment, but now I was my own “patient”. After a month of comfortable safe sulking and self pity I decided it was time to get out of it. I was sitting in a hospital bed unable to control my blood pressure and my temperature, I was so angry I was literally burning up. So I decided to give myself 5 days, I sat up and designed a recovery plan. I tapped into my social capital and got help. I got my hair done, dressed up, did a photo shoot, got a job and took a chance on love. These were all a phone call away. Things didn’t happen easily or automatically I had to be willing, I had to change my attitude, speak positively into my own life, only mix with people who were interested in my recovery and I prayed!
My life is a journey. I communicate often with the people I value. Its like breathing in and out, it’s a give and take. I’m currently enjoying “my circle”, my social capital made up of my family, my friends, my mentors and my work mates. They keep me happy and relevant
“Your network is your networth”