What’s In It For You?

One of my favourite quotes is ‘Everything Has a Price’ by Paulo Coelho.

Paulo Coelho is an intelligent Brazilian Lyricist, in his early 70s, and his Book, The Alchemist is proof of why we should take his quotes seriously. We will talk about him some other day. Let’s focus on his quote for now.

When is the last time someone did something nice for you? You know, like, bought you a gift, took you out for lunch, sent you some money, called  to check up on you, remembered your birthday and the like. The common quality in all these acts is that there is an investment incurred either in terms of time or resources. We are not living in the best of economic times. Time and Resources have become quite scarce in this global economic depression. Therefore, everyone is looking for ways to spend every penny and/or every minute wisely. By wisely, I simply mean spending it in a way that the investment accrues some returns.

For instance, this person that came to your mind as you read the above paragraph, how many other people would they have done the same niceties to but did not? I mean, why did they not remember my birthday but remembered yours? There is also a high chance they do not even know, let alone remember, their mother’s birthday. Why do they spend time to dial your number every day yet they have hundreds of phone numbers on their phones? Why did they walk over to a shop and order something that they know you like and brought it you, probably saying they have a surprise, and did not do the same for others?

You may think that it’s because they like you very much. Well, maybe they do. But the truth is that the main reason they do all these things for you and not for others is because you have something they either want, need or both. They spend their time and resources on you or for you because they expect some form of ROI (Return On Investment). Sadly, we are living in a generation where almost every relationship we have is transnational. We have been transformed to a society whose mentality is Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’. Basically, it is becoming increasingly hard to find someone being genuinely nice to you for no apparent reason.

That is why once every couple of days, our Media reports a death(s) or conflicts instigated by revenge and bitterness. The murderers in these cases are driven by the surprising lack of their expectations being met. You know, I sold my cows and educated you and after you graduate and get a job you want to leave me for another man? Or I paid for an Uber for you to come to the club, bought you drinks with half my salary and you don’t want to come home with me? Or I have been paying your rent for months only for you to bring in another man to the house I pay for? Even the ladies cannot believe it. They are like I turned down plenty of good – looking potential men believing you will marry me only to discover you have a family? Or I have worn this engagement ring for years then you say that you have changed your mind? 

Now What?

How do we avoid being the next victim or perpetrators of these heartbreaks? It’s quite simple. Stop focusing on you and focus on them. Stop asking the question, ‘What’s in it for me?’ and start asking the question ‘What’s in it for you?’ 

Why are you taking me out? What do you expect from me at the end of the night? What the hell is in it for you? 

What are you looking for in a (wo)man? Are you looking to settle down or just to have some fun? What the hell is in it for you? 

Surprisingly, the answer you receive and the one you expected will be totally different; But at least you will not have invested any time, resources or emotional commitment to it. You will make the decision to proceed or not to with full awareness of what you are getting yourself into. Of course some people will still lie and lead you on despite not wanting anything to do with you. The only thing we can do about such people is to pray for the wisdom to tell them apart. 

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