The West Has Many Distractions: Focus on That Which Is Important Not That Which Is Urgent

Posted: August 21, 2011 in Advice, General

So I accidentally came across this blog, as I do many other things on the net, and I have been hooked ever since. The name of the blog itself is quite enticing in my opinion, The Displaced African. The content of the blog is all about the empowerment of the African abroad, more specifically, the African in Australia. However, the author did a series on ” 10 things I wish I knew before I left Africa”. The entire series focuses on subject areas that seem to be over looked by many Africans living back in the motherland, and also it challenges the reader to ask him/herself questions about his/her life and to seek relevance in the things done in our day-to-day life.

I was most impressed with part nine of the ten series: The West Has Many Distractions: Focus on That Which Is Important Not That Which Is Urgent. Here is what Tony Mwangi had to say on  the topic……

What Did You Do Today That Really Mattered?

Seriously? Look back over the last 24 hours and ask yourself: ” What did I do today that will matter ten years from now? What did I do today that will make my life and the lives of my neighbors better over the next few years or decades? If you answered, nothing, be scared but don’t be terrified.

Be scared because the last 24 hours have just passed by and they will never return and you did not do all that you could to make the last 24 hours magical. Don’t be terrified because you are not alone, hell, you’re in the majority.

Distractions: There are So Ma….Boy I’m Hungry

Beer advertisement

Recently, I watched a presentation in which I learned that in a given day the typical westerner is exposed to 3000 marketing messages A DAY. That is 3000 different messages all being sent to you with the intention of taking away your time, attention and money.

Now add to that the various methods of communication. First of all, there’s the Internet, where you can spend literally hours everyday editing your Facebook profile or sending hi5 friend requests or pimping your Myspace profile using videos from Youtube. Then there’s instant forms of communication like cell phones and instant messengers.And really how much of all the stuff that gets communicated through these means really matters?

Facebook profile

But of course we are Africans and human beings so eventually we have to meet up and talk face to face. What do we talk about? How to make this world a better place? No, but we will spend hours complaining about what’s wrong with it. How to have better relationships? No, but we will talk about other people’s business and how messed up their relationships are. No, but of course we talk about our lovely continent of Africa and how we will use all that we have learned in the West to make Mama Africa gorgeous? Hell no, instead we spend hours feeling self-important by spouting complex ideas and theories about how the continent is messed up and how we will take advantage of that to make a quick buck.

In short, if you want to live a life where you move from distraction to distraction, it is extremely easy. You can literally live from the cell phone to the gossip session to the Internet to the television and then to bed only to wake up, rinse and repeat for the rest of your life.

You Are On Your Death Bed

Death bed

But if you were on your death bed would you tell your wife to make sure your hi5 profile picture shows you in the best light. Will you ask your son to make sure he records Desperate Housewives and sends you the tapes in heaven? Will you ask your best friend for gossip about the latest person who has been deported so you can meet the Grim Reaper being up to date on community gossip?

The Pareto Principle

My belief is that in life, the number of areas that truly matter are probably 10 or less ( I have never done an official count). These few, out of the many that exist are the ones that will probably reminisce about in your death bed. I believe they are:

a) Health and taking care of your body; your temple.

b) Emotional health; Creating many barriers to being unhappy and making it as easy as possible for you and everyone you encounter to be happy and have piece of mind.

c) Relationships; You, your family, your community, your country, your continent, your world. How do you relate to it? What do you mean to them? What do they mean to you? Are you a servant to humanity or a liability to society? Are you God’s gift to women or more annoying than a yeast infection? Are you a reflection of just how beautiful one person can get or are you the drama queen whose fault it never is?

d) Having a purpose in life: Why do you get out of bed? What if you had all the money in the world? What would you do then? I heard a story about a man who was the CEO of a large firm that used to buy and sell companies for 100s of millions. Eventually it came time to retire. So he had his party, had his cake and said his goodbyes. Do you know what this man did the first day of his retirement? He went to look for a job. He had no purpose. No life! He was nothing outside of his work. This story could be a good one because he had something that he was so passionate about that he couldn’t bear to live without it or sad because he never really worked on having a life outside of work. What do you think of the story? Do you want to be like him? Don’t you?Why?

Is your work your purpose? Why? Do you have more to your life than just work? I don’t want to answer these questions for you, I put them here to get you thinking.

e) Your spirit: We all know that there is something that lies beyond our understanding and controls the universe and keeps it running like a well oiled clock. How connected do you feel to your God? To your spirit? To that part of you that isn’t your body and isn’t your mind but is always there watching?

I remember a now deceased singer once said that he will not be the next revolutionary but his music will spark the mind of the next revolutionary. My hope is that this article sparks your thinking and begins a revolution within you. Never forget, millions of Africans suffered and died so you could be able to immigrate to the West and learn like the Westerners do and experience what they experience. What will you do with this great gift? Will you use it? Will you abuse it?

Smiling maasai child

As I said, this post is about questions. The answers all lay with you. Anything to add? Leave a comment below or email me at Until the next post

Be blessed + Bless others,



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