Saturday, 24 September 2016

Why I think birthday's are trivial

How would you feel if the person you been with for 2 years forgot it was your birthday?
Consider this scenario;
She says “Tomorrow you will be turning 25, or 26…”
He says “Tomorrow, 25 or 26?”
She says “Wait, isn’t it tomorrow?”
He says “Not tomorrow.”
What would your reaction be on either side here?
If you are the female would you feel incongruous? If you were the male would you feel exasperated?
One of my more popular posts has been about gift giving and how you should feel special every day and not once a year. The point is that you should most certainly not get bent out of shape if the person that knows you the most, forgets something so trivial.
Not everyone feels this way. Some people hold a high standard and for some reason the day you are born and brought into this ecosystem you possess this stature over everyone else around you.
You need recognition and validation that on the day you are born you are more special than the rest of us. Self-importance can be a double-edged sword.
So what I would like to do here is examine why people, in general, forget important dates. Then I want to contradict myself and explain how valuable it is for business to remember important dates. Of course, we will conclude with an important lesson.
Before I begin I just want to dissect the birthday notion. Okay, I get it, you entered this world from your mother’s womb, what a miracle that was that you lived through one of the most traumatic experiences an average woman will have in a developed world.
You are officially a part of this messed up society. Now you can contribute to our adage waste, consumption, and you can help us further destroy our habitat. You will grow up, learn through experiences as well as your failures.
Even if you do your best to consume less, there is no circumventing your impact.
You will make such a small impact that the ripple effect you create is like a stone being thrown in a vast ocean. Depends on the context, you will be selfish and you will want what’s best for you. You will either move away from pain or go towards pleasure. It’s all about you all the time.
Whether you are doing selfless acts you still are truly being selfish because it is your inner satisfaction that you're nourishing.
You expect everyone to know, care and think about you every year on this day. Yet you wake up feeling the same as you did the day before and the day before that.
You are no different, actually let me rephrase that, you are different every day, not just once a year. Every hour that goes by you is not the same person as you were the hour before that.
The difference lies in the time that you are absorbed in, the experience of which you gained and the actions of which you delivered upon.
It seems I have moved far away from where I started.
Professor Jostein Holmen, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, led a study, in this excerpt from psychology today he said;
“Study shows that people who are more highly educated forget less than those with less education. People who suffer from anxiety or depression forget more than other people do. This is true for people of both sexes.
There are various factors for forgetting: Besides any cognitive disabilities, we tend to forget things when we are in a high arousal emotional state. Meaning that that your attention is limited. When something is stimulating your mind you lose track of anything that is not relevant.
You are an efficient mechanism at completing the task you set out to complete, on the other hand, you are inefficient at remembering trivial things, one of those things can be a birthdate.
Imagine this scenario: You are working on multiple projects; your boss is holding you accountable to all of them. If those projects aren’t completed then your job could be in jeopardy, and you just found out your child has been struck with a critical illness. Does anything else matter at this point?
Birthdays, unlike other days, are an excuse for people to get together and celebrate something that the birthday person might not even want to. Social norms direct us to this behaviour otherwise we become outcasts.
If you actually think about it, on birthdays we celebrate the person who is actually the most selfish and vain. Unless they came out with a breakthrough experiment that will impact other people’s lives.
That leads us to this question; What should we celebrate?
My birthday is a motive to bring together my friends and family and have them contribute in a charitable way. I use my birthday as leverage because otherwise people are too busy in their lives to participate in events that are for a good cause unless the cause absolutely resonates with the contributors.
And I get it. No one is indebted/obligated to give, and to think that people are is ignorance.
I will wrap it up quickly because I have a birthday to attend to, oh so vain of me I know right.
So why is this important in business? Presume you get a call from a local business that you seldom deal with. Not to sell you something, but to congratulate you on this ‘special day’, that’s it. Just a simple “happy birthday, hope you have a very special day.”
Do you think that you would mention this to your circle of friends or family? That is the point here, to be remarkable business must remember important dates. For business to be talked about, businesses have to do things that other businesses’ do not.
Now if everyone started doing this then it becomes a social norm and the business actually loses merit if they don’t do this according to the standard that is said, but I think this conversation is for another time.
Remembering employee’s birthday’s is that social norm. How unvalued and unappreciated would you feel as an employee if your boss forgot it was your ‘special day’.
I don’t see the big deal of it myself, but that’s just me. I challenge the status quo, and I challenge you to do the same.
However, going back to the social norm, it is a must for businesses to stand out.
I didn’t get a chance to get into how we feel compelled to celebrate the birth of a nation or a historical figure. God forbid we don’t participate. I will have to end this post here, I do want to give you something too takeaway besides all the hidden gems throughout this post and that is:
Making an impact can seem daunting, it all starts from within. Change yourself, your mindset, and the whole world changes.
I’ll leave you with that thought. Thank you for reading this post, share, share, share.
Originally published in
To be continued….
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