Tuesday, March 22, 2011


FOR many people, sitting under an apple tree could be a refreshing and relaxing experience especially when the weather is so cool and the breeze is just flowing. For Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), it was more than a relaxing moment. It was a seeing experience. The English scientist is known for the discovery of gravitation, invention of calculus and the formulation of the laws of motion. It is said that one day while sitting under an apple tree, an apple fruit fell from the tree. When this happened, Newton saw it not only with his eyes but he went beyond his eye sight to see it with his mind. After several rounds of enquiry, he discovered gravitational force which helps us to understand the pulling power of the earth on objects near or on its surface.

When you see with your mind, you gain clarity into the situations of your life. Seeing with your mind is more important than seeing with your eyes. What you see with your mind shapes your perception and determines your approach to life. Without mind sight, eye sight doesn’t mean much. Mind sight occurs in three directions: hindsight, insight and foresight.

IN MY high school days at St Peter’s Secondary School in the mountain-top town of Nkwatia-Kwahu in the Eastern Region of Ghana, I was quite instrumental in the formation of the school’s Debate Club. My active involvement earned me the club’s presidency when the lead person was elected assistant senior prefect. I had always been reluctant and uncomfortable about making speeches in front of people. But then as president of the debate club, I had to be seen not just as a good public speaker but also as an effective debater. This put me under a bit of pressure. But I rose up and worked on my verbal skills and added a reasonable dose of confidence. In the end I became one of the topmost debaters in the school and even led a team to win a debate against one of the top schools in the Central Region of Ghana.

Today when I address young people in senior high schools on how to develop their confidence, I encourage them to “Join the debate club. It will help you to be confident and make you an effective speaker.” Clearly, this advice is informed by my experience with the St Peter’s Debate Club. This is the benefit of hindsight. Hindsight helps you to evaluate where you have been. It helps us to take an inventory of our past, gain clarity and make informed decisions today.

Hindsight is about looking back. Looking back helps you to know where you have been and how you got to where you are. But note that you don’t look back to go back. You look back to gain insight so you can arrange and/or rearrange yourself to move forward.

A NEWLY-MARRIED couple rather got their marriage started on a bumpy note when the husband’s sausage delicacy got between them. The man did not want the sausage to be chopped when it was used to prepare meals. But the woman would often say, “that’s how my mum did it.” So the man decided to embark on an expedition. He visited the mother-in-law to seek some explanation. Like her daughter she too said, “I learnt it from my mum.” Later on the man got to meet the wife’s grand mum and when he asked her about the sausage-chopping tradition, she offered what I consider to be a logical and incisive explanation. She explained that in their time, the utensils for cooking were not wide enough to contain whole pieces of sausage so they had to chop them before they could use them to prepare meals. What a relief for the man!

Insight is the ability to see into or inside a situation, an experience or a person. Insight is about clarity of perception and perspective. It’s about how you understand issues and interpret them. Both the wife and her mother did not have insight. They saw how their mothers used sausage to cook with their eyes but not with their minds. If you have insight, you will have order and meaning in your life; you will have relevance.

YOU cannot go to a place you do not see. Martin Luther King saw that there could be a world where skin colour would not be a basis for stratification. When he perceived this in the 1960s, many people doubted and opposed him to the extent that he was assassinated for proclaiming the “invisible.” In the course of time people like Jesse Jackson, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Barack Obama have vindicated him. These people, in spite of being black have risen to the highest echelons of American politics and they are among the most influential people not only in the US but in the world at large.

Foresight is the ability to see ahead and move ahead. In this world those who have foresight are those who get ahead. Always remember the words of American author John Maxwell, “Only those who can see the invisible can do the impossible.” If you can see ahead, you can get ahead.

© 2011 Terry Mante
Accra, Ghana

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