The Four Pillars of Parenting – The Foundation of All Great Parents

The Four What?

So, you are probably wondering what I mean by pillars. A pillar is a vital part of a structure – or, in our case, a person – that provides support and stability. Missing or weak pillars cause you to become unstable and eventually lead to a collapse.

In each area of life, there are pillars available to help you succeed if you commit to them and work hard to strengthen and balance each one.

Let me give you a few examples:

Think back to when you were in school. What did the best students always have in common? They usually sat in the front row of class, spent hours after school in the library and studied for tests a week in advance.

They didn’t try to just “get by”. Instead, they decided to be the best student they could be, were always the hardest workers and never took the easy way out.

How about the pillars of sports? You must practice and become extremely skilled physically, emotionally, and mentally. If an athlete has great physical skills but withers under the pressure they will never be great at their sport.

What makes Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan so good? It’s not just their physical talents. Instead, it’s the way they handle themselves mentally and emotionally in the tough situations. They have trained themselves for years because they decided to be the best athlete they could be, always worked the hardest and never took the easy way out.

The pillars of weight loss? Anyone who has tried a special diet knows that it won’t work long term – as much as all those “Diet and Fitness Experts” want you to believe otherwise. To permanently lose weight you must eat right, do cardiovascular exercise and strength training.

Missing any of these will cause you to fail. You can work out 8 hours a day, but if you are eating more calories than you burn you will not lose any weight. So you must make a decision once and for all that you will get and stay healthy, work hard and never take the easy way out.

Are you starting to see a pattern here? To be great at anything you must:

o Decide you want to be great

o Dedicate yourself to put in the time and effort

o Never cut corners or look for the easy way out

What Does This Have To Do With Parenting?

Parenting requires just as much work as anything else – and sometimes more. You have to work just as hard as the best golfer or smartest student would. You can’t expect it to be easy. You must continually learn and put in the time to strengthen and balance The Four Pillars of Parenting. Only then will you understand what great parenting really is.

So have I beat this into the ground enough? Have I made it clear that being great takes time and effort? That it won’t be easy?

Let me explain each of The Four Pillars so you know exactly what you need to be doing. All of these are equally important and it’s not until you have become balanced in all four areas that you will realize your potential because leaning too hard on one will cause you to collapse.

Pillar 1: Prevent the Pattern

This Pillar, also known as your “Family of Origin”, includes your family history, family traditions you want to carry on (or those that you don’t) and most importantly how your parents parented you.

In every aspect of life, you can only do the things that you know. You cannot be expected to do something that you’ve never learned, and this can be very dangerous if you had parents who were negative, didn’t love you or abandoned you. If most of what they taught you was negative, most of what you teach your kids will be negative as well – unless you make a change.

But don’t be too hard on your parents because odds are their parents acted the same way towards them and so did their parents’ parents and so on. This is the negative Pattern of Parenting that you must prevent from continuing. You do not want your children to have the same negative experiences that you did.

Divorce, alcoholism and different types of abuse are extreme examples of negative patterns that pass down through the generations. Yours may not be as extreme. Instead, maybe it was a lack of compassion, affection or love. It may be that your parents always expected too much out of you and nothing you ever did was good enough. Whatever it is – if it’s hurtful or negative – it needs to be stopped.

Most family issues I deal with on a daily basis are not problems with the children. Instead, the parents have unmet needs from their past that they project onto their kids either consciously (they know they are doing it) or unconsciously (they don’t realize they are doing it). So, how your parents parented you is something you must address because once you begin to make peace with your past you are then able to become emotionally available to your kids.

Most parents I’ve encountered skip this entirely. Why? Because these can be hard and sometimes very painful issues. If your parents hurt you physically or emotionally, if they got divorced when you were young or if you have different beliefs than them it may be very hard for you to go back and face that. That’s normal, but can also be very dangerous. So you must learn to accept your past and stop the negative parenting patterns before they damage your children.

Pillar 2: Conquer the Culture

Times continue to change rapidly and you need to understand what it is you are facing as a parent. There are more distractions, temptations and influences now than there were when you were a child and you need to be aware of them.

Here are a few easy questions for you about the culture your children live in right now to see how “in-the-know” you really are. (See the bottom of this section for the answers.)

1. Who is a normal teenager by day and a Pop Star by night?

2. What are you doing if someone “Pokes” you?

3. Who is Troy Bolton?

4. Who is Tom? And are you friends with him?

So how did you do? Did you get all or most of them right? Hopefully you did because these are questions you should be able to answer if your children are old enough to go to school, have access to a TV or a computer. Because I guarantee that even if you don’t know these answers – they do.

Children have so many influences in today’s culture. Sex, drugs and violence are everywhere – on the Internet, TV, movies and video games – and they all are incredibly influential on young minds.

Do you allow your children on the Internet without supervision? When should they be allowed to start watching PG-13 or R-rated movies? What TV channels are OK and which ones need to be monitored or banned? These are a few of the issues that you need to address.

There will always be a new influence out there – so you need to keep up with the culture so you can stay prepared.

Answers:

1. Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana 2. You are on Facebook. (What is Facebook? You need more help than I thought.) 3. He is the star of Disney’s High School Musical. 4. Tom is one of the founders of Myspace.com and he currently has 225,916,857 online friends – yes that is more than 225 Million people and counting.

Pillar 3: Teach the Tools

This is what you are constantly searching for – something that you can use to fix your parenting problems. These tools are important and you need to learn as many as you can so that you’re prepared for any situation you may face. But more importantly, you need to learn WHEN and HOW to use these tools properly because good parenting tools are worthless if used incorrectly.

For instance, different actions work in different situations. Timeouts may work for a specific child in a specific situation but not for other children or situations. Taking privileges away can work great for one child but not the other. And how long do you take them away? A day? A week? All these actions have been shown to work if used correctly.

So you need to learn WHEN to use WHAT to get the best response from your child. You need a whole bag of parenting tricks. You can’t just be a one-trick pony parent. Sometimes you need to know whether to trick or treat your children. Too much? Yeah, I thought so, but you get my point.

These tools should center around three key areas: Empowerment, Discipline and Punishment. (Discipline and punishment are NOT the same thing)

Empowerment: Tools to raise children that can take care of themselves – physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, sexually, economically, socially and any other word ending in -ally.

Discipline: Tools to reinforce good behaviors, stop bad behaviors and teach your child how to be honest and respectful.

Punishment: This is part of discipline, but it is an area that can be extremely confusing. So extra detail on effective punishment techniques used to stop bad behaviors is essential. Pay attention to the word “effective” because many of the punishment techniques you may use can be ineffective and even reinforce the bad behavior.

Pillar 4: Cultivate the Character

You have an obligation to your children and society in general to raise kids with good character and values. It’s your responsibility to raise them to be positive, happy and caring. The world is filled with so much anger, hate and negativity now that this will be hard, but you must do it. Because, as cliché as this may sound, we need to make the world a better place – one generation at a time.

So how do you do this? You must set a good example and teach your children how to act properly. Some examples are:

o Teach your boys how to respect girls.

o Teach your girls how to value their bodies.

o Volunteer time and money to the less fortunate.

o Grow spiritually or religiously.

Creating a child of character is more important now than ever before. The good news, though, is that if you lead they will follow.

Why Aren’t You A Great Parent?

“I would be better but I just don’t have the time.”

“I would learn everything to do but I don’t have the money to buy all those books.”

“I would try harder, but my kids won’t listen to me anyways.”

You can come up with every excuse you want, but the only reason why you’re not the parent you have always dreamed of being is that:

You’ve chosen not to be.

It’s that simple. It doesn’t matter what the people around you are doing or the situation you are in – you can become a great parent if you want to be. It’s completely up to you.

You must commit to building and balancing The Four Pillars of Parenting so that you can grow as a parent. Don’t keep searching for new “revolutionary” ideas because without solid supports around you the “amazing” new tool or technique will never succeed long term.

They may not be as fancy or interesting as some of the ideas out there, but they work. You should never feel “lost” as a parent. You should always have an option and these pillars give you that.

So Are You Ready?

It’s time that you make a change – a real, lasting change in your parenting. You need to decide right now that you will never again look for an easy way out and dedicate yourself to working hard, learning and perfecting The Four Pillars of Parenting.

You must be 100% committed because it will take time and effort. It won’t be easy – but nothing worthwhile ever is. This is not a quick fix for your problems, but it is the only way to make a lasting change.

Source by Dr. Ray Hawkins

Please Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful – The Curse Of the Handsome Man

I’m often told how handsome I am by women who won’t sleep with me, as if I were being granted a consolation prize; a lovely parting gift. This leads me to suspect that average-looking guys get more sex than us tall, dark types. I mostly get ephemeral flirtation or hard-to-get games, neither of which I have much patience for.

I’ve been told by female friends that women find my appearance intimidating. They take one look at me and assume I’m a womanizer. Then there are the more aggressive types who assume I’m a womanizer, and are disappointed to find out that I’m not.

I’m told by my womanizing male friends that extremely good-looking women are often the easiest to get into bed, because most men are too intimidated to approach them. Consequently, these women are more grateful and giving when Mr. Confident comes along.

Me? I’m picky. I cling to the kinky notion that a woman worthy of my carnal affections should first be able to give me good mind. Perhaps my standards are too high.

I tell women that I am just as interested in conversation as sex. They never believe me. I can see it in their big, blinking eyes. They assume I’m just feeding them a line. Either way you look at it, I’ve spent the preponderance of my virile days longing for both and getting neither.

In fact, it really doesn’t seem to matter what I say when I’m interacting socially with a fertile woman for the first time. Everything I say, no matter how simple, is parsed for my supposed womanizing agenda, as if every sentence were taken from my “Handsome Guy’s Guide to Getting Laid” manual. [Note: There is no such book.] I could say something as straightforward as “I like sushi,” only to be met with a suspicious “I’ll bet you do,” or “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Maybe I expect too much from women. Why should a woman have to put out mentally before I put out physically? As an ex-girlfriend once told me while we were having sex, “Greg, I don’t feel like talking tonight! Can’t you just do me and go to sleep like a regular guy!?”

Don’t get me wrong. I get erections when beautiful, inebriated women tell me I’m hot. But I also achieve a more lasting kind of tumescence on those rare occasions when an attractive female takes a genuine interest in words I’ve written and music I’ve composed. This typically triggers in me an emotional priapism that lasts a lot longer than four hours.

Oh, boo hoo! Poor me! Right? Can you hear the violins underscoring the sad tale of the lonely handsome guy who spends his nights composing anecdotes and tending to his cats?

I keep in touch with some of the women who, over the years, have rejected my advances. They regale me with stories of throwing themselves at average-looking men (“like the slut that I am” is how two of these women have described this behavior); guys who don’t appreciate them, who take their affections for granted.

I also know men who can walk into a bar and leave with a female bartender, or walk into a strip club and leave with a dancer, or walk into a party and disappear with someone’s wife or girlfriend. (I have personally witnessed all three of these scenarios.) These men all resent women for being too easy and don’t return their calls the next day.

Do I envy these guys? Not really. But I would like the power to say no, once in a while, to women who wield as much brain power as they do girl power.

Source by Greg Silva

Renaissance and Neoclassical Historical Arts

Renaissance is a cultural movement that started in Europe during the early 14th to 17th century or a period between the Classical and Modern era. More than its cultural essence, the Renaissance period was known for its developments in art, painting, philosophy, architecture and other intellectual aspects. It was an era that witnessed the largest growth and development in Western Europe.

A1. Renaissance art took its shape from the social conditions that existed at that time that carved Europe’s political structure. The cultural rarity of Italy existed, as there was no political form during the early modern period that resulted in artistic and academic advancements. This freedom opened gateways to trade and commerce across the globe that brought wealth in Italy through commissioning its artistic work.

Renaissance artists looked for human emotions and realism in art. They focused on making human portrays with a natural background. They took the Humanism approach, placing more emphasis on man than god, which was reflected in their sculptures and paintings. The Early Renaissance period focused more on creating sculptures on the basis of personality and behavior, whereas the High Renaissance was more towards balance and drama. Renaissance artists were greatly inspired by Roman and Greek art that used nude human bodies of personality in their art. Their attempt to gain perfection in human arts for expression, personality, and emotions reduced social hierarchies in the status of people resulting in everybody wanting to learn and share their ideas and skills.

A2. Neoclassicism was a predominant movement during the mid 18th century and the late 19th century in European art and architecture. It focused on the western classical art forms of ancient Greece and Rome. It was partly a movement that had initiated as a reaction to the Baroque and Rococo styles. It became a predominant part of academic art that continued into the 19th century to become visible as museums of neoclassical architecture.

Neoclassical art aimed in reviving the European Age of Enlightenment that was the Greek and Roman classical art forms. It aimed to contain the ‘purity’ of Roman arts and criticized Baroque and Rococo styles. Neoclassicism gained importance in France and England spreading towards Sweden. It made use of the classical essence relating to courage and nationalism.

Neoclassicism aimed to resurge classical styles through usage of sharp colors and classical subjects. They avoided light and soft colors in their paintings that depicted calmness and grandeur. Neoclassicists revived the Greek painting styles by using mosaics, columns, engravings and other ornamental elements in their work.

A3. Renaissance signified the rebirth of arts, science, and medicine and was an era that was responsible for most radical developments and movements in Europe. So much so, that it is also used to describe other major cultural and historical moments. Classical Renaissance gave birth to the Baroque style that was more dramatic and direct. Therefore Neoclassicism was nothing but a reaction to the Baroque style so as to preserve the purity of ancient Roman arts. Moreover, neoclassicism remained one of the foremost in academic arts.

A3a.

  • Renaissance period was known for its Humanist approach in art while neoclassical art focused on more classical and pure elements of style;
  • The Renaissance period brought about radical developments in arts, philosophy, and medicine while neoclassical art was foremost in academic arts;
  • Renaissance artists believed in more natural and expressive nude sculptures of art while neoclassical artists incorporated ornamental elements in their work;
  • The Renaissance period opened gateways to new ideas and developments, while the neoclassicism period focused on retaining the Age of Enlightenment.

A3b. The Renaissance era was one of the most influential and flourishing period during the 15th and 16th centuries and gave birth to major cultural developments for almost three centuries. Renaissance art was born out of an evolving civilization whose quest for Realism and scientific perfection resulted in some of the greatest works and achievement in arts, science, architecture, and philosophy. The distinguishing feature of Renaissance art is its dedication to classical arts with a renewed interest in Roman styles that included naked human sculptures with no landscapes in a natural environment. It was an important era that brought wealth to Europe and its artistic freedom enabled skilled artisans to flourish.

A3b1. Leonardo Da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519) was one of the greatest artists of the Renaissance period. Also known as the ‘Renaissance Man’, was born in Italy and was a renowned painter who became a polymath in many fields such as music, science, mathematics, and botany. He is considered as one of the greatest diversely talented persons to have lived. Mona Lisa is one of the most renowned works of his time that was greatly appreciated. The Mona Lisa is a 16th century half-length portrait that was made in oil and of a seated woman.

Andrea Appiani (1754-1817) Born in Milan, was an Italian neoclassical painter. He trained under Carlo Maria Giudici and learnt painting by copying sculptures. His best works are in the church of San Maria presso San Celso and the royal palace at Milan. Among some of his works of oil paintings are Venus and Love, and Rinaldo in the garden of Armida.

A3b2. Madame Hamelin (1776-1851) was one of the neoclassical painter Andrea Appiani’s work that bears a similar resemblance to Leonardo Da Vinci’s Monal Lisa. Both are half-length oil portraits of women who are half-seated that reflects the natural facial expressions wherein their hands are folders bearing similar artistic values and styles to one another.

A3c. Neoclassicism reached its most influential period in arts during the 1780s to 1850s. New archeological discoveries and settings paved the way for classical themes that also resulted from the reaction of the Rococo styles. Neoclassicism retained its classical antiquity and co-existed with its much opposite form of Romanticism art. Artists of the neoclassical era replaced religious and mythological objects with realistic, simple, and bold ones. IN the 1830s, the Neoclassicism era was replaced by Romanticism.

Source by Shashank S

Culture and Tradition in the Pre-Colonial Africa in Elechi Amadi’s The Concubine

The story is a tale of a young woman, Ihuoma, who belongs to Nigeria’s Igbo ethnic group. Her plight involves her past life, when she was said to be the wife of the mythical Sea King deity. This gives her great status in the present, but portends doom for any mortal man who seeks to marry her. As the novel progresses, Ihuoma is wed and widowed three times, as a result of the wrath of the Sea King toward those who would usurp his bride. Though it seems a traditional cautionary tale on the surface, Dictionary of Literary Biography essay that “the strength of The Concubine rests on the fact that it is not folklore but realistic-style fiction, in spite of its strong penetration by the super-natural.

From his first appearance as a novelist, with The Concubine in 1966, Elechi Amadi established himself as a unique figure in African fiction. He was not alone in attempting to convey the day-to-day texture of traditional, pre-colonial life in an African village: Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart had already done this, at least to an extent. But he distinguished himself by not offering any explicit contrasts between that traditional world and the one that replaced it. Whereas Things Fall Apart and many other African novels are concerned, in part at least, with the coming of the white man and the effect of that event, Amadi’s novels have never emphasized alien influences at all. The action of any of his three novels could have taken place either five years or a century before the colonial intrusion upon the area. Likewise the dilemmas that confront and finally destroy his heroes or heroines derive entirely from the beliefs, practices, and events of their indigenous culture.

In the novel, Ihuoma whose beauty attracts all men and women in the village of Omokachi and Omigwe, maintains rational behavior, intelligence and social decorum. her good reputation spans in the three villages including Chiolu. As a woman, she is a model of perfect beauty as the narrator attests by narrating that she was a pretty woman: perhaps that’s why she married so early… She was young; it was easy to reckon her age. Ihuoma’s complexion was that of an ant-hill. Her features were smoothly rounded… Ihuoma’s smiles were disarming. Perhaps the narrow gap in the upper row of her white teeth did the trick. At that time a gap in the teeth was fashionable. Ihuoma’s gap was natural and other women envied her. Her beauty is the scale of all women who want to be considered beautiful. Everybody envies her. Everybody likes to be her. Further, in truth she wanted to gaze at herself. That she was beautiful she had no doubt, but that did not make her arrogant. She was sympathetic, gentle and reserved. It was her husband’s boast that in their six years of marriage she had never had any serious quarrel with another woman. She was not good at invectives and other women talked much faster than she did. The fact that she would be outdone in a verbal exchange perhaps partly retrained her from coming into open verbal conflict with her neighbors. Gradually she acquired the capacity to bear neighbor’s stinging remarks without a repartee. In this way her prestige among the womenfolk grew until even the most garrulous among them was reluctant to be unpleasant to her. She found herself settling quarrels and offering advice to older women.

For the village people, these characteristics of Ihuoma place her on the pedestal of the tribal and communal center of exemplary womanhood and motherhood. Needless to say, all men in the village desire her. Most men envy her husband Emenike who married her at the young age of twenty two. The couple behaves like a perfect family blessed by the gods with four children. With a great sense of balance, they have two sons and two daughters whom they really love.

The concept of beauty and power for the males is measured by his features or looks, his strength in wrestling, his power in hunting, his willingness to go in a battle with their matchet always ready to defend the village against the enemies and his ability to maintain and raise his wife or wives and children well. Physical deformities and incapacity or abnormality are considered ugly. A man who is not able to win a wrestling match is denigrated and labeled weak. The village has strong patriarchal system as husbands control and dominate the house. Their wives are subservient and steadfast in attending to their needs.

Emenike, Ihuoma’s first husband is praised and liked by the elders of the tribe. They consider him as an ideal young man. He was good looking and well formed, a favourite with the girls. He was just an average wrestler but had the devil’s luck in throwing people in spectacular ways which onlookers always remembered long afterwards. He had won the old men’s confidence and they always let him run errands that required intelligence and extensive use of proverbs.

In contrast, Madume, though considered a successful man at the age of early thirties, was not considered strong. He was not a good wrestler (although he danced well to the beat of the drums) and many a young man had liked him.

Madume had one fault most villagers disliked. He was “big eyed”; that is to say, he was never satisfied with his share in anything that was good. He would roar until he had something more than his companion’s shares. Consequently he was always quarreling over land, palm wine trees, plantain trees and other such things. That was how he came to quarrel with Emenike.

Ekwueme, Ihuoma’s most patient suitor is also seen to be handsome, industrious and respectful of his parents Adaku and Igwe.

On the other hand, his bestfriend and song-making partner in many events of the villages like wrestling match, death of a member of the village, market day, planting, worship to the spirits and or gods is considered abnormal because of his deformed feet.

One of the most elaborate cultural traditions practiced in the novel is the custom of marriage. John Mbiti in the book African Religions and Philosophy relates that marriage is a complex affair with economic and religios aspects which often overlap so firmly that they cannot be separated from one another… For Africans, marriage is the focus of existence. It is the point where all the members of a given community meet: the departed, the living and those yet to be born. Marriage is a duty, a requirement… he who does not participate in it is a curse to the community, he is a rebel, and a law breaker, he is not only abnormal but “underhuman”. Failure to get married under normal circumstances means that the person concerned has rejected society and society rejects him in return.

Thus in the tale, we can see how the parents are highly concerned about the marriage of their children. They openly discuss an early arranged or matched marriage, like what happened to Ekwueme and Ahurole. Even if Ahurole is yet in the womb of her mother, she is already matched to Ekwueme. And when the time comes, the parents of the man have to inform the parents of the woman for the formal talk of the marriage. A year is given for the formal talk with the first visit of the family of the man bringing gifts and wine for the family of the girl. The subsequent visits will include the elders to bargain for the bride price or dowry. When the guide is able to reach an agreement, a date can be set for the final day which is manifested and celebrated by colorful dances and nights of drinking. This custom is performed to forge familiarity and friendship between the family of the newlywed and of the villagers.

He said his parents selected Ahurole as soon as she was born. He could hardly pull a bow by then. He really had no choice’ Ekwe said to Ihuoma.. the days that followed observed the negotiation for Ekwe’s wedding. Ahurole was engaged to Ekwe when she was eight days while Ekwe was about five years old.

Mbiti says that marriage is a long process, the key moments of which may be marked with rituals. When a child has been born physically, it must also be born ritually or or religiously in order to make it a social member of the family. At a later age it goes through a series of initiation rites… Only after initiation, where it is observed, is a person is socially and religiously born into full manhood and womanhood with all secrets, responsibilities and privileges and expectations. The whole community participates in it.

There are many customs and of the wedding procedure. In some societies the ceremony lasts for many days and is really full of rituals.

And so Ahurole’s parents were justly proud of their daughter’s engagement. For years they had exercised extra care and vigilance over her. The time had come at last for formal negotiations. Negotiations might well have started two years back but Wagbara said he was not in a hurry, which implied two things: firstly that he was not too keen on his daughter’s bride price, which implied he was well off; secondly that he was sure of his good influence over his daughter.

The days that followed were full of wine and gifts. Until the uncle of Ahurole became the appointed guide. After six months, the bride price was agreed. The entire family rejoiced and hurried to bring Ahurole home to Ekwe’s village. It is their fear that Ekwe might insist on marrying Ihuoma. It is the parents’ duty to guide their children for the proper marriage. And Ekwe, reluctant to marry Ahurole, followed his parents advice for he never wants his parents to have problems with the villagers and he never wants to be ostracized by defying the tradition even if his heart goes for Ihuoma.

Ekwe tries his best to make his marriage work but Ahurole is immatured and emotional, much to his disappointment. His desire for Ihuoma increases as it decreases to his legal wife.

Another custom that is highly elaborate is the observance and superstition of death of a member of a family and the community. When Ihuoma’s first and legal husband Emenike died because of lock chest, Wigme village mourned for eight days for his demise and Ihuoma’s lamentation. People showed much care for their neighbors. Much songs were sung and wines poured during the wake until he is buried within his rich compound, preferably his backyard. It is believed that his spirit will guide his property and his family.

His arch enemy, the greedy Madume, who claims a piece of land settled by the elders to be Emenike’s continues to impose ownership. This materialism of Madume leads to his death as one day, desiring Ihuoma, catches her harvesting plantains in the disputed land. He takes advances and abuses Ihuoma. The widow runs for her life until his brother-in-law, Nnandi, comes to a rescue. People run after Madume until he is caught and was spat by a cobra’s venom. His life changed after the incident, for that brings him swollen eyes and he becomes blind. His wife Wole escapes from her husband’s violent behavior. Upon her return, Madume is seen hanging in the door. The whole village could not believe Madume’s abominable act of suicide. Hence, his body is considered impure. No ordinary man or woman can touch his body for his body is impure. A medicine man is obliged to to perform the burial for he can cleanse himself. Madume’s body is thrown in the forest with the eveil spirits.

The last and tragic death of Ihuoma’s last suitor, Ekwueme is the most dramatic. A night before their hardly fought relationship, which the village in the beginning disapproves, is proven dark and portentous of Ekwu’s death. Agwoturumbe, the medicine man, who will perform sacrifices for their marriage, prepares all the herbs, animals and amulets so they can go to the river to meet the Sea King. The follwing day, as Ekwu is about to ready himself, is shot by an barbed-arrow shot by Ihuoma’s son. The arrow is meant for the lizard necessary for the sacrifice. The doom is finally set as the wrath of the spirits of the sea go against the fate of Ekwe even his parents hired the services of the medicine man, Agwoturumbe.

The people highly place their lives, their love and fear on the spirits of the ancestors and their gods. Each part of the earth is ruled by a god. Often mentioned and feared by the villagers is the god of thunder, Amadioha and Ojukwu, a god of the air and the forest, Ani, god of the earth. Each person is ruled by his personal spirit, and one is bound to follow. No one can go against the spirit but the spirit can go against the person like what happened in the wrestling between Emenike and Madume.

Polytheism-the worship of many gods-was characteristic of precolonial Igbo society. However, this did not preclude the belief in a supreme deity. Once close to people, the supreme being, Chukwu, was thought to have withdrawn from direct intervention in their affairs.

Igbo mythology repletes with examples illustrating the fact that this supreme being used to be close to individuals, and in fact used to intervene in the affairs of individuals and communities, until it was annoyed by the aberrant behaviour of some individuals, women especially, who transgressed one overriding code or the other…. From all accounts, it appears that the supreme being having decided to abscond from intervention in the day to day activities of human beings decided to vest some of His powers on beings with lesser and localized powers.

There was no equivalent of Satan, or the devil, in the precolonial faith. While the Igbo ascribed one evil or another to various deities in the pantheon, no single spirit was thought to embody all evil. Likewise, the precolonial faith did not include a concept of hell.

The traditional Igbos appear to have preoccupied themselves most often with their own guardian spirit. The supreme being is nominally supposed to be in charge of all things. At the individual level, however, the chi, variously interpreted as the guardian angel or the personal spiritual guardian of every individual, appears to play a more active role in the affairs of any individual. The belief was that a person’s chi had a direct hand in his or her affairs. Igbo ideas of destiny and free will were bound up with chi. “Each individual,” taught the Igbo, “has a destiny ascribed to his life” and his personal god controls his destiny.

The practice of the medicine men is accepted as holy, healthy and cure. The medicine man may pray for the gods on behalf of the people; he acts as a village doctor, he acts as a prophet who can see the future. Both Anyika and Agwoturumbe see the death of Ekwueme. Both are afraid of the Sea King who legally own the Sea goddess Ihuoma who chose to be human. Hence, the medicine man is as ubiquitous as the needs of the people.

Basic to all his works is the concept of life as an ongoing struggle. There is a rather ironic contradiction between Amadi’s philosophy about man’s insignificance and ultimate impotence in the hands of the gods, and the fact that his characters struggle to the very end, irrespective of obstacles and threats even from the gods, as demonstrated in The Concubine Although Amadi never specifies that the characters in the novel are Igbo (or Ibo), they are supposed by critics to belong to Igbo society. The Igbos reside primarily in southeastern Nigeria. Amadi’s fictional term for them is “Erekwi”; a little shuffling of the letters produces “Ikwere,” the ethnic group to which Amadi himself belongs. The Ikwere speak a distinct language within the Igbo language cluster, and they are a riverine people, which helps explain the appearance in their pantheon of a sea-king deity, who enters into the plot of The Concubine.

The traditional Igbo lived in small self-governing villages, each comprised of kin who traced their origins to a mutual ancestor. They did not base their society on a centralized government or supreme political authority, such as a king or chief. Rather the Igbo vested power in the people themselves or in a council of elders. These elders, drawing on the wisdom of the ancestors, settled land disputes and other fractious or crucial matters. There were public forums, too, at which the poor, the rich, and the young, as well as the old could voice opinions before decisions affecting the whole village were made.

In the novel the village of Omokachi corresponds closely to this model. It has no single leader; instead the villagers themselves govern their community, giving particular weight to the judgment of the elders. At one point, the protagonist Ihuoma reminds her greedy neighbor Madume that a land dispute between him and her late husband, Emenike, has been decided in Emenike’s favor by the village elders. At another juncture, the domestic disputes of the unhappily married Ekwueme and Ahurole are arbitrated by the elders of Omokachi and of Ahurole’s home village, Omigwe. The proverb if one attempts to run in front of one’s chi, the person would run himself to death alludes to the power of destiny; in order to succeed, one’s objectives for oneself must be aligned with those of one’s own chi. Other proverbs allude to free will, and taken together the two types of proverbs (on destiny and on free will) reflect the duality in Igbo thought. The belief was that everyone had hidden powers, supplied by his or her chi. A person had only to make use of these powers to score achievements in life. In other words, one can affect one’s own destiny, or, as a proverb says, “if a man wills, his personal chi wills also.”

A man and his chi were not thought of as perennially tied together. There are areas of life in which one must struggle to achieve something by oneself, with or without the active support and collaboration of one’s chi. It was, however, believed that a man must at all times be on good terms with his chi, so that when called upon, it would come to his support. When someone failed to mobilise his chi to support a particular undertaking, the spirit was commonly said to be asleep or away.

Source by Wilfredo M. Valois

Property Development – What’s an Entitlement and Why Do I Need it to Build?

What is An Entitlement?

The definition of entitlement with regard to land development is the legal method of obtaining approvals for the right to develop property for a particular use. The entitlement process is complicated, time consuming and can be costly, but know what you can and can’t do with a piece of property is vital to determining the real estate feasibility of your project. Some examples of entitlements are as follows:

Entitlement Examples:

1. Zoning and zoning variances for building heights, number of parking spaces, setbacks. Your land use attorneys and zoning experts come into play here. My advice is to heavily rely on their expertise and follow their directions to avoid unnecessary delays in your approval process.

2. Rezoning. Depending on the current use allowed for the property, you might need to have the site rezoned which is a complicated process and sometimes cannot be done.

3 Use Permits. You may need to obtain conditional use permits and this goes hand in hand with zoning and zoning variances.

4. Road approvals. Do you need to put in existing roads? Who maintains the roads? Are there shared roads via easements? These are all questions that you need to have the answers to and be prepared to comply with in the regulatory process.

5 Utility approvals. Are utilities available to the site? Do you need to donate land to the city in exchange for utility entitlements? Again, you will need to comply with the municipality regulations and standards.

6. Landscaping approvals. The city planning and development agencies must also approve your design and landscaping. Your architect and engineers will be most helpful in this area.

Hire an Experienced Development Team:

The best advise is to hire an experienced development team of architects, developers, lawyers, project consultants, civil, soil, landscape and structural engineers and consultants at the onset to help you analyze, review, interpret and advise you regarding design studies, applicable zoning and code requirements, and maximum development potential of the property. Without an experienced team, it is extremely difficult and a lot of time will be wasted in trying to complete the regulatory process because the very nature of the regulatory process is so complicated.

Here is how the process works. First, remember to keep in mind that the process is very slow and frustrating and can take approximately 3 to 12 months or sometimes years depending on how complicated the project is. Part of the reason is that each city planner has different interpretations of their local rules. Today, approvals involve jurisdictions overlapping such as city, county and state and these jurisdictions do not communicate with each other. It is extremely crucial that you establish good working relationships with these planners to obtain your approvals. Again, this is why you need to work with a development team that has already built these relationships with local staff of the local jurisdiction where your property will be developed. These relationships will streamline and help to expedite your approval process. Your experienced team of experts will be able to negotiate issues for you and eliminate additional requests by the local jurisdiction to avoid further delays in obtaining your approvals.

Regulatory Process:

Majority of development projects must go through certain aspects of the entitlement process and some projects will be required to go through several public hearing processes for approval depending on each jurisdiction’s rules. To begin, commercial development of land requires a review and approval from the local Development Review Board or Planning Department Review Division. Each municipality has a different name but the functions are similar.

  1. The process starts with obtaining site approval from the local Planning and Development Department. By contacting the local Planning and Development Department Review Division, your expert team will then put together a land use pre-application which complies with the codes of that particular jurisdiction. By complying with the codes, this will eliminate additional requests by the jurisdiction, further review and extension and unnecessary delays of the approval process.
  2. Next a meeting date will be set. You and/or your representatives will meet with the Planning Department to discuss the proposed project and review process. The process includes approval of your site plan, elevations, colors, landscaping, vicinity map, etc. Environmental information will need to be submitted also. There is usually a fee that accompanies the application. The fees vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
  3. If for some reason your site plan is denied, you can appeal to the City Council. The appeal process varies from each jurisdiction.
  4. Once you obtain site approval, then you will need design approval, master use permits. The design approval process is where your architect will design the building shell, core layout, exterior appearance, building height, site layout, landscaping concepts, traffic impact, site access and utility layouts and submit them for approval.
  5. Neighborhood hearings are generally required for all general plan conditional use permits. You may be required to send out written notice or post information on the site. Normally the City will send notices to the neighbors also. Signs should be placed on the property, and an open house meeting is generally held. Your development team will be instrumental in advising and assisting you so that you have a higher probability of achieving success in obtaining neighborhood approval. Be prepared, even if you comply with the regulatory process codes and regulations, there is always the possibility that the neighborhood may have their own agenda and that the hearings and decisions may not be favorable to your project going forward. This is where your attorneys and the rest of your development team’s expertise and participation are crucial.

If wetlands are located on the property you will need special documentation that states whether the Wetlands Act applies or not. If it does, either it will result in significant or insignificant impact as granted by evidence of a permit. Sometimes it is best to set aside or donate the wetlands portion of the property and avoid development issues. Your development team will be able to advise you on the best course of action once they have assessed all the information and reviewed the reports.

Source by Bart S Pair

How to Mess Up Your Personal Statement for Graduate Or Professional School Applications

When you applied as an undergraduate, your personal statement probably didn’t make much of a difference, because undergraduate admissions are heavily based on numbers (GPAs, test scores, etc). Graduate and professional school admissions are different! Your competitors will have grades and test scores similar to yours, because most people who have the motivation to pursue an advanced degree did well as undergraduate students. As the number of applicants rises and academic budgets are cut, every year there’s more competition for fewer admissions openings.

How does the committee determine that you have what it takes to succeed in advanced studies? You guessed it. Your personal statement will play a determining role in whether or not your application is successful.

So you know you need to write the strongest, most persuasive personal statement you can. But here are two facts you may not know. First, most reviewers will spend only a couple minutes skimming your personal statement. Second, because their job is to weed out the majority of applications, reviewers are looking for reasons not to recommend you for admission.

Avoid common mistakes that will get your application put in the reject pile. Read on for 10 simple ways you can mess up your personal statement:

1. Say thank you

Your parents and elementary school teachers taught you to be polite in writing, and you know it’s a good rule to follow. But don’t waste words thanking the committee for reading your application. It’s not the same situation as applying for a job, because you’re paying the school to review your application so that, hopefully, you can pay them to educate and train you. Starting or ending your statement with phrases like ‘Thank you for reviewing this application’ or ‘I appreciate your consideration’ can make you come across as immature, obsequious, or ignorant of academic culture.

2. Make excuses

Lots of applicants have weaknesses in their application files, especially in their transcripts. Maybe you got low grades your freshman year. Maybe you had to leave school and work for a while. Maybe you got an F in that statistics class and had to retake it. Or maybe you got a degree in one field and are applying to grad school in a different field; or you didn’t pass your medical residency exams the first time.

Whatever your weakness is, do not offer excuses and do not bad-mouth anyone. So it wasn’t your fault that the professor lost your final exam and flunked you, or jobs dried up in your original field of study, or you had the flu when you took the GRE. Don’t say anything that sounds like an excuse or sounds like you are blaming someone else for you failing to achieve a goal. Even when it is true, it may make you seem whiny and unable to accept responsibility for your actions. Instead, address the weakness at the end of your statement, and explain how you have overcome it, learned from it, and are a better candidate now because of it.

3. Summarize your resume and transcripts

Many applicants try to summarize their professional resume and academic transcripts in the personal statement. All of this information is requested in the application itself and the reviewers will see it. Personal statements are too short to waste space explaining that you got straight A’s your senior year. Instead, describe the experiences and achievements that are relevant to your development as a potential professional in your chosen field

4. Be cute or funny

Maturity is one of the most common adjectives admissions committees use to describe the ideal graduate or professional school student. You are applying to eventually become their colleague, a fellow professional. Show them you take their time, their program, your future, and yourself seriously by maintaining a positive and professional tone. Unless the application directs you to submit a creative writing sample, leave the stand-up routine for the comedy club.

5. Suggest that the program can right a wrong by admitting you

Remember that the committee members are busy professionals who are taking only a couple minutes to skim your statement. On the one hand, asserting that you will make a unique contribution to your program and bring a new perspective by adding to the diversity of their student body is a smart move and shows you as a positive, professional team player. On the other hand, asking for admission on the grounds that it will correct a previous injustice runs the risk of making you appear unqualified and/or confrontational.

6. Be sarcastic

This one doesn’t need much explanation. Your ironic commentaries and sarcastic quips make your Facebook friends laugh, because they know you. The admissions committee does not. They can easily misinterpret sarcastic comments, or decide you’re flippant, cynical, pessimistic, or a know-it-all.

7. Say something potentially offensive

Again, not much explanation needed on this one. You do not know anything about the people who are reading your personal statement. Assume they are very sensitive on all issues and write accordingly. Do not assume they agree with any of your political, social, or religious views.

8. Show your inferiority complex or your superiority complex

Many applicants have trouble striking the balance between promoting themselves and not coming off as arrogant in their personal statement. A personal statement is a marketing document and has to showcase your strengths. Yet many applicants err on the side of humility, such as using self-deprecating language; or describing weaknesses and previous failings without explaining how they’ve worked to turn those weaknesses into strengths. Admissions committees do not admit candidates out of pity!

Other applicants err on the side of conceit, giving the impression that they don’t really need any advanced training because they know so much about the field and have so much experience. They fail to describe what they expect to gain from a specialized course of education. You want to walk the line between these extremes. Assert that you are very well-qualified to begin this course of study, and that you have the preparation, motivation, maturity and focus they seek. Then stress your planned specialization, what you will gain from attending their program, and how you need the training they offer to succeed as a professional.

9. Plagiarize your statement, or submit content you paid someone to write

Most grad and professional school applicants have not read hundreds of personal statements and are unaware of how unique each person’s writing style is. It really doesn’t take much for admissions committees to note that the language and style of a candidate’s personal statement is different from the writing found in other parts of the applications. There are also a few dozen so-called sample personal statements on the internet that are frequently copied and submitted as the applicant’s own essay. Committees are well aware of this! You can also hire someone to write a personal statement for you. It may sound great to you, but you should realize that such essays are based on a template that they just customize for you, using the same paragraph organization and phrases. It’s a smart move to get an expert to help you revise and polish your words into a persuasive statement. It’s risky to plagiarize a statement from the internet, or hire someone to write the whole statement for you.

10. Use poor spelling or poor grammar

This one should be pretty obvious. Academics on admissions committees are generally high achievers with high standards who won’t disregard even simple typos. If your personal statement is not technically perfect, it can make you seem sloppy, lazy, or inattentive, which are not qualities anyone wants in a future colleague. Remember that the people skimming your essay are seeking a reason to reject your application and make the pile of possible admits smaller. Always get someone with strong writing skills to review your essay.

Source by Laura York

Rowing to Music – A Fun New and Effective Fitness Training

Physical training in indoor rowing machines have been popular in many rowing clubs. A new and motivating training form is to use training programs with rowing adapted music. In this article we will look at how to:

  1. Select music suitable for rowing training
  2. Get free tools for audio editing
  3. Adapt music to your rowing training programs
  4. Motivate and inspire your rowing club friends

The goal is to give you an understanding of how to make your very own rowing training programs with music of your personal taste. It is a fun and rewarding experience.

Energetic music with a clear and constant rhythm is perfect for your rowing program

Browse through your music library to find your favorite music that sounds energetic and motivating. Make a folder for the music on your computer and place copies of the music in it. A selection of slow, medium pace and fast music is needed. Ideally you should have about 10-20 songs of each pace.

We will only use music in 4/4 rhythm. To sort the songs pace you need to count the beats per minute (BPM) in the music rhythm. Music with a BPM within the range of 80 to 128 is suitable. On the internet you can find free software that can auto detect the BPM of your music. But the best and most accurate way is to count the BPM manually.

When training in a rowing machine we talk of rowing pace = strokes per minute. Therefore we divide the musics BPM by 4 to find which rowing pace (strokes per minute – SPM) the music rhythm equals. Add the SPM as a note to songs titles.

You can use a standard stopwatch to measure the BPM and divide it by 4 to get the SPM. There is a special stopwatch model called DIGI DT-320 which in a special mode can read out SPM directly, so you only need to push start and stop. Start the stopwatch when you start counting beats 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4 and then stop the watch when reaching the following beat 1. Next step is to edit the music.

Audacity is a free software tool for editing your music

Audacity can freely be downloaded from the Internet. There are versions for both PC, Mac and Linux. There is documentation for the software. Another nice source for learning Audacity is to look for tutorials on YouTube. Audacity offers many advanced features, but we only need a few simple functions for our purpose.

You only need to learn how to:

  1. Import your music into Audacity
  2. Cut away unneeded parts of the song
  3. Fadeout the last 2-3 seconds of the used part of the song
  4. Connect the songs on the timeline
  5. Export the edited songs as a new single music track (the final rowing music program)

The learning curve for using Audacity this way is reasonable short when using YouTube tutorials. Next step is to decide how you will build up your rowing program.

How to build your rowing training program with SPM and time intervals

A classic rowing program would consist of 24 SPM for 3 minutes then 26 SPM for 3 minutes and then 28 SPM for 2 minutes. This program equals approx. a standard 2,000 meter. You can mix the training music programs according to your personal training style and preference. The key to success is to use music that is easy to follow in rhythm. By counting the beats 1-2-3-4 you should end your rowing stroke at beat 1 and begin a new stroke at beat 3.

It is very important that the participating training partners rows synchronously according to the music beats. After a little practice you will find it easy, fun and very rewarding to exercise with music this way. Paces below 24 SPM and over 28 SPM are bit more demanding to follow for less experienced rowers. Remember to praise your training partners for their efforts. Training to rowing adapted music is growing very popular, because it is a lot more fun to train hard to good music. Have fun!

Source by Kim H Holm

Five Characteristics of a Successful Antique Collector

So you want to become an antique collector? What makes a good antique collector, what characteristics does one need? Antique collecting, or hunting is an absorbing, exciting, and fulfilling pastime, or a full-time job if you’re doing it for a living, and you need five special attributes to become an antique collector.

Be Enthusiastic

The first of these characteristics is enthusiasm. With enthusiasm you can do anything. You’ll need enthusiasm to encourage you to learn as much as you can about your chosen field. The field of antiques is teaming with subjects – since just about everything will become an antique sooner or later – if it’s older than 100 years, by definition its an antique. But even objects less than 100 years old are also included in that genre if they are thought to be worthy of the label. Because the scope of the subject is so vast most antique collectors specialize in one or two aspects of it. They might collect antique clocks, or old paintings, books, period furniture, you name it, the list is endless. Or they might specialize in a particular period in time, like the Victorian era, or the early settlers period in the mid-western region of the States. Following your particular branch of the subject requires knowledge and you’ll only acquire this knowledge with enthusiasm.

Be Inquisitive

Another antique hunting characteristic vital to your success is the ability to be inquisitive. Have you ever wondered what was up in your grandma’s old attic? Or what grandpa kept in that box in his bureau? One source of finding antiques is to attend house clearance sales. What’s in that pile of old papers in that cardboard box? Go along to auctions and snoop around. Go into antique shops, especially ones off the beaten tracks – many a treasure has been discovered by hunters being nosey.

Be a Detective

And having an inquisitive nature is no much good without having its sister characteristic – that of being a detective. Once an interesting item has been found there’s usually a good deal of detective work required to uncover its history. You’ll need to know at the very least when it was made or approximately the era that it was made in. Who owned it, is it rare? Can its background be determined with any degree of certainty? Can its history be traced? The provenance of an antique piece can add tremendous value to it. Provenance is anything to do with its origin or life history which is of great interest. For example if that recently discovered set of cutlery was once owned by George Washington then that cutlery would immediately achieve some notoriety – provenance – and be that much more valuable than cutlery for whom no famous owner or user could be determined. The detective’s expertise is extensive. You need to be able to tell the real from the fake; the restored from the original; and the repaired from the whole.

Be Knowledgeable

This expertise is only acquired through knowledge, which leads me to the next attribute – the ability to learn. You need to absorb as much as you can about your chosen field – it would be impossible to learn all about all antiques, so specialize on one area. Choose a genre – furniture, watches, old toys, farming implements, postage stamps, manuscripts – it’s an infinite list, and study the subject with a passion. The sources of achieving this knowledge are almost as endless as the subjects themselves. Books are an obvious mine of information but do visit auctions, house clearances, and antique dealers and ask questions – be inquisitive! The only silly question is the one you don’t ask!

Be Adventurous

Finally, be an adventurer. Explore your surroundings, go off into the neighboring town and walk around the curio shops, the old stores, the antique shops, the auction houses. Go into libraries and search out long forgotten manuscripts and books and search for information about local people and places. Find clues as to the whereabouts of the contents of old houses, or details about ownership of property passed down through generations – where are they now? Take the journey – search, be an explorer in the antique world.

With your enthusiasm, your inquisitive nature, your detecting ability and your intelligence born of knowledge you never know what you might find. Life is fun, history is thrilling, discovery satisfying, follow the antique collecting trail and enjoy it.

Source by Richard Challenge

Granite – Properties and Usage

Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite has a medium to coarse texture, occasionally with some individual crystals larger than the groundmass forming a rock known as porphyry. Granites can be pink to dark gray or even black, depending on their chemistry and mineralogy. Outcrops of granite tend to form tors, and rounded massifs. Granites sometimes occur in circular depressions surrounded by a range of hills, formed by the metamorphic aureole or hornfels.

Granite is an igneous rock and is formed from magma. Granitic magma has many potential origins but it must intrude other rocks. Most granite intrusions are emplaced at depth within the crust, usually greater than 1.5 kilometers and up to 50 km depth within thick continental crust. The origin of granite is contentious and has led to varied schemes of classification. Classification schemes are regional; there is a French scheme, a British scheme and an American scheme. This confusion arises because the classification schemes define granite by different means. Generally, the 'alphabet-soup' classification is used because it classifies based on genesis or origin of the magma.

Ancient Uses of Granites

Granite is nearly always massive (lacking internal structures), hard and tough, and therefore it has gained widespread use as a construction stone. The Red Pyramid of Egypt, named for the light crimson hue of its exposed granite surfaces, is the third largest of Egyptian pyramids. Menkaure's Pyramid, was constructed of limestone and granite blocks. The Great Pyramid of Giza contains a huge granite sarcophagus fashioned of "Red Aswan Granite." The mostly ruined Black Pyramid dating from the reign of Amenemhat III once had a polished granite pyramidion or capstone, now on display in the main hall of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Many large Hindu temples in southern India were made of granite. There is a large amount of granite in these structures. They are comparable to the Great Pyramid of Giza

Granites Use in Current age

Granite has been extensively used as a dimension stone and as flooring tiles in public and commercial buildings and monuments. With increasing amounts of acid rain in parts of the world, granite has begun to supplant marble as a monument material, since it is much more durable. Polished granite is also a popular choice for kitchen countertops due to its high durability and aesthetic qualities.

Engineers have traditionally used polished granite surfaces to establish a plane of reference, since they are relatively impervious and inflexible. Sandblasted concrete with a heavy aggregate content has an appearance similar to rough granite, and is often used as a substitute when use of real granite is impractical. Because of the particular rarity of the granite, the best stones can cost as much as US $ 1,500.

Pacific Bedrock Ltd. specializes in manufacturing and supply of highly finished commercial and residential stone products.

Source by Alexender Smith

In Summary – What Is Major Account Management All About?

Major Account Management Is a Long Term Process – It Takes Time:

We must recognise that we are in Major Account Management for the long term. It takes time to manage a major account and we will only receive a payback on our investment in time if we can have a long term result. In some of the organisations we have worked with this produces a tension because the whole culture is about creating a short term sales result in which product and profit are the main drivers and measures of success. We should not underestimate what a challenge Major Account Management can be to the corporate culture. It emphasises relationship more than product, profit more than volume, and team more than individual, long term more than short term. At the same time the practical short term realities of business life need to be recognised.

One of the best ways of managing this tension is to have someone who acts as a mentor, conscience or guide to the account manager and account team. They are not involved in the day to day management of the account but are invited in to look at and comment on major proposals and presentations. Their main role is to be involved in reviewing the long term plan every few months to ensure that the relationship is as productive as possible and is reflecting the values of the organisation as a whole.

The role of the major account manager is to be responsible for the overall relationship. They influence all those involved in the account to ensure a co-ordinated, synchronised approach. The major account manager is responsible for drafting the account plan, gaining the agreement and commitment of the team and then monitoring implementation

Major Account Management Involves Relationships Not Just a Mechanical Approach:

Under this heading we should discuss three main aspects of major account management.

o The importance of relationships in Major Account Management.

o The complexity of relationships in Major Account Management.

o Mapping relationships in Major Account Management.

Importance:

In Major Account Management it is essential that we manage people as well as processes. Of course we must get the product pricing right. We need to be excellent at administration. Our customer service and product range need to be strong. But “people buy from people” and “we are in a people business”. To manage the complex range of relationships within a major account is difficult and demanding but our ability to manage relationships will define whether or not we sustain success.

Complexity:

In a reactive sale there is only one relationship – that between the seller and the buyer. In major accounts the situation is much more complex. There are often contacts going on at many levels and many locations. In one major account, we have identified 1000 relationships between the account team of ten people and individuals representing the client. But it is not just a problem of numbers, it is often a problem of politics. Some contacts do not want us to talk to people in other departments or at different levels. It can also be that the complexity is caused by product range. The users of one product rarely speak to the specifies for another product. In any complex relationship some people will like us more than others. This is to say nothing of inter-departmental tensions. All these things make major account relationships complex and we need to recognise their complexity.

Mapping:

If relationships are important and if relationships are complex then it is essential that we find a way of mapping, analysing, planning and monitoring those relationships. Over recent years we have found that an approach based on the game of chess allows a very practical way of identifying the key issues.

If we can answer these questions confidently and communicate our thinking across the account team simply and clearly then we will be half-way to success. This approach has given people across a broad spectrum of organisations a common language and way of working

It Can Only Be Done With Selected Customers:

The final word from this definition is selected. Choosing the right key accounts is of critical importance for three main reasons:

o We do not have the resources to treat every customer as a key account.

o Not every customer wants to be treated as a key account.

o Selection allows us to prioritise our activities in line with our overall business objectives.

Many organisations grade their major accounts simply by the size of sales for the year but the organisations we see that are really moving forward in Major Account Management take a number of other factors into account. They also make sure that everybody knows who the major accounts are and why they are major accounts. It is important to be rigorous with the selection criteria you use! You will also need to apply some form of weighting to reflect your priorities. The fact that a major account does not meet all your criteria will not disqualify it from being a major account. It will just need to score higher in other areas to qualify.

On the basis of this scoring, organisations can grade their accounts. They might be Premier, 1st and 2nd Division like a football league, or Gold, Silver and Bronze like Olympic medals or First Class, Club Class, Economy and Standby like an airline. The analogy of an airline is a good one because on one flight you can have people on Standby being entirely happy with the service they are getting, even though they know there are people getting “better” service in Club Class. Grading your accounts is not a matter of giving some customers better or worse service. It is a matter of giving all your customers appropriate service. When we select our major accounts and consistently deliver what we promise, we are managing our accounts professionally and effectively.

In Summary – Success Factors In Key Account Management:

o Successful Development Of The Role:

o Effective working relationships with other members of the team.

o A continuing drive to improve account team productivity.

o Management commitment to the account team’s role with opportunities for career progression.

o Re-enforcement of the role through authorised career structures, job descriptions and core training programmes.

o The Key Skills:

o Understanding the financial and legal requirements of the account.

o Understanding of the company’s business objectives.

o Understanding of the company’s commercial policies.

o Build high levels of product awareness.

o Understanding of the customer’s business objectives.

o Identify the decision makers.

o Understand the customer’s purchasing strategy.

o Assess competitive activities.

o Put together an account development plan.

o Ensure effective sales order processing.

o Build the right levels of revenue and profitability.

o The Core Skills:

o Delegation

o Interpersonal skills.

o Consultancy.

o Financial control & analysis.

o Project management.

o Man management.

o Initiative & creativity.

The Secondary Skills:

E.g. Industry knowledge, competitive knowledge, product knowledge etc.

Success Factors In Key Account Development:

o The Stages Of A Long Term Process

o Pre-sales.

o Contract negotiation.

o Implementation / Delivery.

o Review.

o Exploitation.

o Objectives For An Account Team

o Ensure that the customer is presented with a coherent and professional image of your Company as a business partner.

o Secure a long term business relationship with the customer as the basis for growing business.

o Penetrate the customer’s organisation and decision making unit creating new opportunities that can be exploited to accelerate account growth.

o Understand and document, on an ongoing basis, the customer organisations strategic business direction and organisation.

o Provide the company’s senior management team with feedback on the long term growth potential in the customer’s market sector and on critical success factors for exploiting it.

o Ensure that the company’s solutions are technically solid and based on a proper understanding of the current requirements and re-inforce the customer’s perception of the benefits of the company’s market focus.

o Ensure that the company’s total resource is delivered in a way that satisfies customer requirements and supports the objectives of the account plan.

Conclusion:

An effective Major Account Management strategy depends on selecting your major accounts intelligently, creating a strong, consistent, flexible way of working with both major accounts and other customers and then implementing the plan in a disciplined, effective, efficient manner.

One of the successes of the Major Account Management programme has been the creation of common models and language that facilitate discussion and planning across units and departments. It has also stimulated a commitment for our clients to plan long term for key relationships. Major Account Management has many implications for individuals, departments and the business as a whole. It will always be demanding, but done right it will be highly rewarding

Copyright © 2006 Jonathan Farrington. All rights reserved

Source by Jonathan Farrington