This month I thought I should talk about the role of communication in our daily life; or specifically the transfer of information between people. Information transfer is a means by which generations connect to each other through shared exchanges from one to another. Traditions and songs, names and drama increases our understanding or perceptions of what our forebears experienced, cherished and consciously wanted us to have. However, the way in which we receive, understand and interpret the information is dependent on our environment and to what use we want to put the information.
Even in the modern times, these transfers continue: values are transmitted, tasks are assigned, guidance is given and methods transmitted from one to the other. This does not happen in a vacuum. The medium is tainted with memories, motives, happiness, fear, death and structure. The medium can be formal or informal: you know…’the way we do things around here’ or ‘the way things have been done since time immemorial!’ I am referring to ‘transfer of information’ for action and decision making. Examples of current information transfer are many: information via the internet is current and quick. So much so that the shelf life of this medium is less than 24 hours before such information is overtaken by something new. Books and other printed media are also quite prolific. Some sources are authoritative because they are assumed to be written by experts.
The education system is another important conduit for these transfers. At whatever level of schooling, primary, secondary tertiary, this is one place where most information gathering and exchange takes place. This too is an authoritative medium because ideas get planted and interpreted from books and relayed to new learners. Where there is little else to go on, what the teacher said remains gospel truth. Parents also pass on a lot of information most of it informally. This includes traditional, cultural, religious, family and other beliefs passing it on to their children. Preachers pass on biblical messages to their flock on the basis of their understanding and interpretation of the bible. There are as many churches as there are pastors; saying different things according to their understanding! Doctors giving advice to their patients, lawyers advising their clients or indeed financial advisers doing the same. In the workplace, managers or boards of directors giving information to the management etc.
Information can be couched in any form to transmit directly or metaphorically to the designated listener. More importantly the listener/ receiver uses the information to make life changing decisions. Why is this important?
My motivation to delve into this topic came to me while reading my latest book. Our everyday thoughts and activities are not an accident. They are a function of what type of information we have been exposed to and how we have chosen to interpret such information for our own use and benefit. Lives are influenced by the systems we operate under; which in turn influence our choices and what we believe in and the good that it brings. Nobody makes decisions in a vacuum.
In trying to illustrate my example of transfer of information, I was at pains to find an example that many people young and old would be familiar with. I have chosen the example of the very first transfer of information that we all know of: Adam, the first man on earth, is said to have transmitted to his wife Eve information that he had received from God. That she should refrain from eating the forbidden fruit. Let’s say God made it very clear to Adam why not and Adam kept the promise. Trouble seems to start when Adam transmitted the same message from God to his wife Eve. Clearly there was a hitch in that transmission because once challenged, Eve did not adhere to the promise as strictly like Adam had done.
I am not challenging whether this incident happened or not. I am using the incident as an example of the pitfalls that exist when we transfer information. Much has been written in relation to teaching methods, parenting or even preaching. All with the view to improve how information is transferred, received and interpreted. No blasphemy is intended. This first transfer of information from husband to wife on what not to do was a monumental failure on many levels. Humankind as we all know is in perpetual sin in the eyes of God because of this. The problems attributed to transfer of information and giving rise to misunderstandings, loss and pain are still with us today. Yes, even good information has been misunderstood or misinterpreted.
My focus in all my blogs is financial lessons and the well-being arising from it, wealth creation and generational prosperity. I have also tried to encourage women especially to be financially independent as a way of getting a voice from a point of legitimacy and strength. Whether it is savings, investments, education, management, entrepreneurship etc., With each lesson, I have tried to also show the importance or role of environments (context) in which we live and how processing of information is influenced by it all. Could it be that the way we receive, process and interpret information has something to do with the success or failure we experience in our lives?
The more I thought about Eve’s encounter with the Tempter, the more I am convinced that she understood the message from her husband in a different way; pretty much in the same way modern management styles insist on repetition to ensure that the information is understood as it should. Otherwise how can one explain the betrayal that ensued? Eve put her husband and the entire human race in so much trouble because her understanding was different??
This theme is still relevant today. I am convinced that the way we interpret information has a bearing on our personal prosperity. If we are told money is for buying things, a medium of exchange for the things we want, we will grow up aspiring to make money to do just that. If on the other hand we internalise information that money is a tool that can make you more money, our mindset will be to act accordingly. Could it be the reason why we are still asking ‘why are we not as prosperous as we should be given all the resources and opportunities in our environment?’ Could it be that the messages on prosperity are not being passed on and understood and interpreted properly/ correctly? Prosperity among individuals leads to prosperity in families, then communities and ultimately countries. It is therefore critical that these messages are relayed correctly so that the seed of prosperity is not adulterated or corrupted. If any information is lost in this regard you are sure to have mediocrity, stalling and failure.
How can we use information transmission more effectively to improve our lives? Well, whether it is parents, teachers, pastors or even faith based beliefs, we must be clear what the message is saying. Where possible, let people see a lot of examples of what is being said. Let there be a lot of demonstration. If parents want their children to prosper, demonstrate behaviours that bring prosperity i.e. hard work, consistency, integrity, education, knowledge, practice, balanced mindset, humility, honesty and sacrifice. There is a whole lot more attributes that children must see exhibited for them to capture and try to emulate the same for success. We continue to see half-baked interpretations of success models simply because we are missing half the information at the time of acquiring it. Context and demonstration is everything.
Technology is one area where transmission has not served us well. We have failed to use technology to get things done. I know that we are using it a lot in many areas already, but we need to do more with it in our everyday lives, to make things faster, better and less subjective. This ‘failure’ to effectively incorporate transfer of technological information is significant.
Finally, transmitted information should be interrogated before we use it. It takes courage and interest. Accepting packaged information and trying to use it as is, is not optimal nor beneficial. We would be missing out on good opportunities. The responsibility lies with both parties to the transmission; the transmitter and the receiver, to achieve full understanding. The how and why question is quite pervasive by the way. We must understand why we do the things we do, yes even good things. Going back to the initial example – Eve did not understand or appreciate the instruction from Adam enough to be able to defend it. Clearly, she was dealing with a matter that she had not fully interrogated. As a consequence, she contributed to a monumental error of judgement. It still happens today.