Adding Value To Raw Materials and To Life

Blade NzimandeI enjoyed ‘breakfast with Blade’ recently. The Minister of Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande, and the FP&M SETA teamed up to engage with stakeholders in the sector.

Dr Nzimande expressed concern, among other things, about how South Africa’s raw materials leave the country to be manufactured and then sold back to us. He mentioned Italy buying our diamonds, turning them into watches, jewellery and other high-end goods and selling them back to us unrecognisable from the product we supplied. Why is it, he asked, that we cannot add the value ourselves?

It struck me that his question is not just something for big business to answer. It’s a question for each and every one of us. How can I add value?

We are given raw materials every day. How can we add value to them before we hand them on?

We have the raw material of time.

Like other raw materials, time is limited. And, like other raw materials the question is what are we going to do with it? What do you do best? What should you be spending your time on? What does your company, your partner, your family need you to spend your time on?

Stephen Covey describes four quadrants containing the things we get up to. He recommends that we take time to recognise where each activity belongs and treat it accordingly.

  • Quadrant one contains those things that are urgent and important. The fires we seem destined continually to put out. They cannot be ignored, but it may be possible to delegate some of the items.
  • Quadrant two contains the important but not urgent: the preparation, the planning, the relationship-building exercises and such like for which we ‘don’t have time’. They are constantly sacrificed for Quadrant one items adding more fires to that quadrant.
  • Quadrant three (the urgent but not important) is often full of other people’s Quadrant one issues.
  • Quadrant four (the not urgent and not important) is Facebook, sport-watching and other such activities. Saying no to Quadrant three and four items is the only way we will make time for Quadrant two. As someone said, Mark Zuckerberg built a billion dollar empire out of our inability to say no.

Where will you spend your time today? How will you ensure that what you do with your time will add value to the important elements of your life?

We have the raw material of relationships 

How we build and encourage others and the value we add to their lives may have incalculable consequences for them and for us and for the wider community.

We often blame others for our responses and reactions. ‘You made me angry.’ ‘You leave me no choice.’ The latter might be true of a referee handing out (another) red card, but it is not true of how we respond when we feel angry, disappointed, uncomfortable or any of the myriad emotions we experience in our relationships at work and at home.

Grumpy is a choice. Irritability is a choice. A smile is a choice. A word of encouragement is a choice.

Someone once asked, what do you want people to say at your funeral? More immediate, perhaps, is what people say about us when we arrive at the office or leave? Do we make it easy for our colleagues to excel? What about the staff of our local supermarket or restaurant? What about our partner or family? Or does our presence bring additional burdens?

How can we add value to the various relationships that make up our lives? They are not incidental. They are integral to who we are. How will you add value to your relationships this week?

Ian Webster

From Methodist minister to Customer Relations manager in a computer bureau to HR Manager in a newspaper printing and publishing company. Now focussing on training and developing people and HR & people-management consulting.

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