The Power of Perception and Perspective.
Perception is what you interpret – it is your understanding of a given situation, person, or object. It is the meaning you assign to any given stimulus. Perspective is your point of view

“Perception is what you interpret – it is your understanding of a given situation, person, or object. It is the meaning you assign to any given stimulus. Perspective is your point of view –it’s the lens you see the world through and determines how you view yourself, others, and everything else around you.”[1]


To each their perception

A couple of years ago, I took my daughter on her ritualistic trip to her braid-making hairdresser. She was then about eight years old. When we reached a newly-constructed, gleaming, 4-storey pre-school crèche, I smiled and turned to her and said, “Baby Girl, isn’t that school beautiful?” “It’s beautiful, mommy”, she replied. Then with a contented grin on my face that created two artificial dimples in my cheeks, I proclaimed, “Oh, it’s a shame you are too old to attend here. I would have brought you to this school”. Before I could take my eyes off the steering wheel to catch a glimpse of the signs of elation I expected to see in her eyes, she screamed,  “Ahhh, mommy!”. Surprised, I turned and asked her why. Then I had a shocker of a reply. She said, “Mommy, it is a school for autistic children. They won’t take me.” For the life of me, I couldn’t imagine where she got such wild thoughts from so I pressed on, “Baby, what do you know about the school? You don’t even know anyone who goes to school there so how do you know it’s a special school?” She replied confidently, “Oh, mommy, but you should know. Look at the pictures on the wall.” Once I looked at the pictures on the wall, I felt tongue-tied. Even the famous cartoon characters we all know had assumed different identities on the wall!


As I had been driving past the school on countless occasions, my attention had always been focused on the elegant and imposing physical structure and installed playgrounds. I had never paid attention to the artwork of drawings that adorned the outside perimeter walls. As I was sober to learn, though my young lady and I were looking at the same school, we did so with different perceptions. My perception was influenced by the brick and mortar; hers was shaped by the colourful artwork on the walls.




Holding different perceptions, there’s little wonder that we had formed different opinions on the same subject-matter. I was humble enough to let her know I understood her opinion. But I explained to her that, as far as I knew, it was a regular school just that the proprietress must have pinched pesewas when recruiting an artist for the job. We had a good laugh. I couldn’t read from her voice or body language whether my explanation had made her change her earlier perception. I didn’t press further to try to change it. After all, this is a child who, at the age of five, declared that she was going to be a lawyer in future. And when I asked her why she wanted to be a lawyer, she replied excitedly, “So that I can wear high heels.” That is the power of authentic perception!


The liberating force of perspective

One of my best friends and confidante, my ‘lil sis’ (in the manner of expression these days) turned forty a few years ago. And she just will not to let my ears rest. She kept announcing to me that she was going to write a book. She even had the title of the book ready, “What I have learned in 40 years” or something to that effect. To her, the forty years she had spent on this earth had given her enough experience she would love to share with the rest of the world. I encouraged, and continue to encourage, her to write the book knowing that her role as Founder and Executive Director of her own NGO leaves her with little time for that venture. From our conversations, the grain i’ve picked is that, maturing to the age of forty has given her “perspective” on life. I can relate very much to most of the things we discuss because I reached that threshold several years before her. Being older than her, I have had my fair share of those pangs and I have now metamorphosed into a butterfly from my cocoon days.

By the age of 40, most of us develop our visions and perspectives on life. We learn what life is about. We learn what we can tolerate and what we can’t or won’t tolerate. We grapple our genuine friends and family to us with hands of steel. We can smell fake characters from a thousand miles away, and we flee from them. We develop a bigger heart and learn to ‘let things go’. We can be aware our best friends are sleeping with our men or women but we just smile to ourselves and watch them dance naked to the admiration of even the Emperor in his new clothes. Yes, we develop proper perspectives and insights into life and learn to ‘take it easy’.


Folks, the real test of my “perspective after forty” came on 16th August 2019. That was the day Bank of Ghana announced it was ‘cleaning up’ the banking sector. Initially, I took the news as one of those useless notices regulatory bodies issue every now and then to create the impression in the minds of the unsuspecting public that they are working when in fact, they wallow in a state of perpetual inertia. But when I read the list of affected savings and loans institutions and saw the name of “mine” on the list, my knees gave way and luckily, there was a bed nearby to catch my wobbly body.


I say it was ‘mine’ because that particular savings and loans company was the only one I had done serious business with regarding my retirement plans. I had successfully rebuffed any and all approaches from similar companies for business. I had served as the first lawyer for the company right from its inception. The Chief Executive had become a very good friend. We bounced ideas off each other in our personal and business lives. I trusted that the business was being ran efficiently enough to place some of my retirement investment assets there. Considering the aim of the investment, I rarely made any withdrawals and whenever I did, I informed them I was ‘borrowing’ from my account, and will return it. Oftentimes, I fulfilled the promise by living a life of thrift. As such, I have very little in terms of the trappings of modern day upper middle-classism. My staple foods still consist mainly of the ubiquitous local quartet of yam, plantain, cassava and maize. 


For those of us business owners with no claim to any Article 71 constitutional goodies now or in the future, we always have to be interested in what we can set aside from what we earn, instead of what we will spend out of what we earn. We need to plan our retirement deliberately and with intention. We do not have to leave it to chance or SSNIT or a Tier-2 or Tier-3 pension manager (who we either don’t know or have never received a Statement of Account from) to determine how our lives in retirement should be. This is even more important for those of us who are professionals in business in the private sector. Living lives of modesty to save for a rainy day in retirement is a virtue.


So, as I was saying, I lived a thrifty life. My transactions were generally not in the much-hallowed US dollars but in our own GH cedis. By the way, whose idea was it to squeeze the heads of six men onto all the GH cedi denominations? Honestly, did it ever occur to the designers of the notes that they could put one “big six” head on one denomination to make for ease of identification and reference? So, for instance, Ako-Adjei on GH₵1, Kwame Nkrumah has already commandeered GH₵2, Obetsebi-Lamptey on GH₵5, Paa Willie takes GH₵10, Dr. J.B Danquah’s head sits on GH₵20 and E. Akufo-Addo takes GH₵50 (after all, he’s the President’s father). That means we will still need two more heads to fill two more spaces in today’s denominational terms; one for GH₵100 note and another for GH₵200 note.


Since it is undeniable that women have also played very important roles in the development of Gold Coast/Ghana from 1948 to date, to ensure fairness and equity, the two slots should be given to women. Let’s think of all the women whose heads qualify to adorn the GH₵100 and GH₵200 notes. Who knows? We may even start a “#Fixawomanheadonthecedi” campaign. Let’s get to work. If we balk at this, the next denominations issued will swerve us. After the “big six”, it may be the turn of the “famous five” to be featured on the cedi notes - Presidents Rawlings, Kufuor, Atta Mills, Mahama and Akufo-Addo - Presidents of the 4th Republic. As part of our strategy, we should anticipate a contrarian “Wehavefixedawomanheadonthe50pesewacoin” cross-campaign. Our appropriate answer to them will be: we deserve to be on the cedi and not the pesewa!


But to return. Pardon my wandering soul. I was on the banking sector clean-up and the greatest test on my ‘perspective after forty’. So, my savings and loans institution literally ceased to exist as from that fateful 16th day of August, 2019, with my retirement savings in its belly. I didn’t know whether to scream or to lie still. I did the latter because my throat was too dry to aid my desire to unburden myself through sound. So many questions started flooding through my mind; why didn’t the CEO, who I considered a friend, alert me if he was having any challenges with the business? How about the other employees? They couldn’t alert me to such an impending doom after all these years of knowing and working with them? I sat up throughout the night pondering over these and many other questions.


The next day, I called the CEO to hear about what had happened from the horse’s own mouth. He tried to mumble some explanations here and there, bla, bla, bla. After a few days, he called to say he was trying to see how he could help ease the pressure on depositors so he’s set aside GH₵10,000 for me. Really? GH₵10,000? What is spittle’s worth to an illegal migrant on the Sahara desert? After that call, I knew either the fella was losing his mind or he truly thought by mentioning some figure, aggrieved depositors like me who were likely to be plotting his imminent assassination will calm down. Either way, I knew I had to sit down and put the events of the past week in perspective and move on with my life, with or without the funds. The money was said to be with a “receiver” who I found to be far too remote to mean anything to me.


In putting the events in perspective, I reasoned that, if the gentleman could hear my uneasy breathing on the phone and he still told me he will give me a paltry GH₵10,000, it was clear that in all likelihood, I will not receive my money at all. Was I then going to allow that loss to take over my life? For as long as I felt aggrieved, I knew I was never going to be on good terms with any of the people I knew at the institution. I figured that, having lost the business he had painstakingly birthed and nurtured in a twinkle of an eye, the Chief Executive had his own mourning to do. Having to face his employees and hundreds of depositors, including pensioners, was torment enough. What was the point in adding my own bout of bitterness and animosity to the fray? What will it profit me if the man became suicidal under the weight he was carrying and killed himself? Or even died in his sleep?




After having these deep personal conversations with my soul, I decided that I will not let a single bad word come out of my mouth against anyone involved with the institution. I reasoned that, humanity is more central to our being as humans, than any material thing we may acquire. If I was going to lose my retirement savings, that was one loss too many. I could lick my wounds in private till they heal by the power of time. There was no point in losing my humanity as well. If the lot fell on me to bury my sense of loss and disappointment and keep my friendships, so be it. It was time to let go and move on to the next chapter of my life. My watch words became ‘pray for life’.




Once I took that bold decision to let go, accept what had happened and move on, I felt very light in my head and heart. I refocused my attention onto the things that I value and are dear to me: my family, my friends and my firm. Truth be told, I couldn’t really forget entirely about the money. How could I? But I channeled my spare energy into engaging the Receiver’s office, for whatever it was worth. After my inconsequential engagements with that office, I smiled when the militant agitations of my co-depositors, and the prospect of political profit arguably ensured that the Receiver paid all depositors funds in full. Praise Him!



Each of us has a perception and each holds their perception to be valid and self-evident. But it is only with the humility to seek and appreciate others’ perception of things and events that we also grow to our full potential. As we grow and mature into ourselves, it is necessary that we develop proper perspectives on the issues that confront us. Where, based on our considered perspective, we need to fight to the bitter end, we must by all means do so. On the other hand, where our perspective directs us to let go, we should listen to our inner self and do so. After the savings and loans company was put under ‘receivership’ and its license withdrawn, my initial reaction were anger, disappointment and regret. Luckily, after putting the whole scenario into perspective and choosing to let go of the bitterness and resentment I was beginning to feel towards people I had enjoyed great relationships with, I felt free, liberated and light. I was losing my funds but, at least, I set out deliberately not to lose myself. I maintained my humanity by saving my friendships. Thankfully, I got both my friends and funds in the end; the emphasis being on the funds.


Therein lies the power of putting things into perspective and taking the appropriate course of action in this journey called life.


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