Wednesday, October 30, 2013

10 Things You Should Never Say About Yourself

1. “I’m not good enough yet.”

You might think you’re not good enough, but you’ll surprise yourself if you keep trying. Your past does not determine who you are. Your past prepares you for who you are capable of becoming. What ultimately defines you is how well you rise after falling. Don’t ever be afraid to give yourself a chance to be everything you are capable of being. Forget the haters. Never undervalue who you are and what you’re capable of. Excellence is the result of loving more than others think is necessary, dreaming more than others think is practical, risking more than others think is safe, and doing more than others think is possible.

2. “I should be living up to other people’s expectations.”

Remember, it’s always better to be at the bottom of the ladder you want to climb than the top of the one you don’t. Happiness and success is all about spending your life in your own way. Always be yourself and walk your own path. No one can ever tell you you’re doing it wrong. Everyone has their own dreams, their own struggles, and a different path that makes sense for them. You are YOU for a reason.

If you end up living a boring, miserable life because you ignored yourself and instead listened to a parent, a teacher, or some gal on TV telling you how to live your life, then you have no one but yourself to blame. Just remember, the smartest and most courageous act is simply to think for yourself and listen to you own intuition. In the end, it’s better to die your way, than live someone else’s idea of your life. (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Self-Love” and “Relationships” chapters of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

3. “What they think and say about me matters.”

What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?

Don’t let others crush your dreams. Do just once what they say you can’t do, and you will never pay attention to their negativity again. Don’t walk away from these negative people… RUN! Good things happen when you distance yourself from negativity and those who create it.

Truth be told, no one has the right to judge you. People may have heard your stories, but they can’t feel what you are going through; they aren’t living YOUR life. So forget what they say about you. Focus on how you feel about yourself, and do what you know in your heart is right.

4. “I need recognition for my actions to be worthwhile.”

Do what you know is right. Integrity is doing the right thing, no matter what, even when nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not. Life always finds its balance. Don’t expect to get back everything you give. Don’t expect recognition for every effort you make. And don’t expect your kindness to be instantly recognized or your love to be understood by everyone you encounter.

What seems like the right thing to do could also be the hardest thing you have ever done. Do it anyway. There is no greatness or peace of mind where there is betrayal of your own goodwill. Always aim at complete sincerity of your thoughts, words and deeds. If it is wrong, don’t do it. If it is untrue, don’t repeat it. Do what you do because you believe it’s the right thing to do. Do the right thing even when nobody is looking. Be one of the people who make a true difference in the world by leaving it a little better and more wholesome than you found it.

5. “It’s too late for me.”

Don’t let yesterday steal your present. Don’t judge yourself by your past… you don’t live there anymore. Let go, grow, and move forward. As we grow older and wiser, we begin to realize what we need and what we need to leave behind. Sometimes walking away is a step forward. Sometimes a break from your routine is exactly what you need. Unless you try to master something beyond what you already know, you will feel forever stuck.

Don’t waste another minute regretting what you did yesterday, and start doing what you have to do now, so tomorrow you won’t regret what you did today. It’s not too late. If you feel like it is, it’s just your inner fears lying to you. But remember, fear doesn’t exist anywhere except in your mind. It’s difficult to follow your heart, but it’s a tragedy to let the lies of fear stop you. (Read Awaken the Giant Within.)

6. “I need to have it all figured out.”

Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker? Believe it or not, sometimes it’s the latter.

Sometimes the greatest dreams that come true are the dreams you never even knew you had. It’s about open-minded exploration. There are no wrong turns in life, only paths you didn’t know you were meant to walk. You never can be certain what’s around the corner. It could be everything, or it could be nothing. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back and realize you’ve climbed to the peak of the most beautiful mountaintop.

7. “I do not have enough to be positive and grateful.”

Some days you’ll find diamonds and some days all you’ll see is coal. However, every day is a golden opportunity to learn, practice gratitude, and positively impact the world around you. Do not ask for instant fulfillment in your life, but for patience to accept your current frustrations. Do not ask for perfection in all you do, but for the wisdom to not repeat past mistakes. Do not ask for more before saying, “THANK YOU” for everything you have already received.

And remember, everything in life is temporary. So if things are good, enjoy it. It won’t last forever. If things are bad, don’t worry because it won’t last forever either. Just because life isn’t stress-free right now, doesn’t mean you can’t laugh. Just because something is bothering you, doesn’t mean you can’t smile. The trick is to be grateful when your mood is high and graceful when it is low.

8. “My life should be easier and free of discomfort.”

Great challenges make life interesting; overcoming them makes life meaningful. It’s how you deal with failure and discomfort that determines your level of success and happiness. Laugh at your mistakes and learn from them. Joke about your troubles and gather strength from them. Have fun with the challenges you face and then conquer them.

Emotional discomfort in life, when accepted, rises, crests and crashes in a series of waves. Each wave washes an old layer of you away and deposits treasures you never expected to find. Out goes inexperience, in comes awareness; out goes frustration, in comes resilience; out goes hatred, in comes kindness. No one would say these waves of emotional experience are easy to ride, but the rhythm of emotional discomfort that you learn to tolerate while doing so is natural, helpful and prevalent. The discomfort eventually leaves you stronger and healthier than it found you. (Read Man’s Search for Meaning.)

9. “I can’t forgive them.”

Forgiveness is a promise. When you forgive someone you are making a promise not to hold the unchangeable past against your present self. Forgiveness doesn’t mean what happened was completely excusable, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that person should still be welcome in your life. It simply means you have made peace with the pain, and are ready to let it go and move on with your life.

Forgiveness has nothing to do with freeing a criminal of his or her crime. It has everything to do with freeing yourself of the burden of being a victim – letting go of the pain and transforming yourself from victim to victor.

10. “I am alone.”

You can’t make it through on your own. None of us can. That’s why, thank goodness, you are never as alone as you sometimes feel. So many of us are fighting the same exact battle alongside you. You may feel alone sometimes, but you are not alone in being alone.

To lose sleep worrying about a loved one. To have trouble picking yourself up after someone lets you down. To feel rejected because someone didn’t care about you enough to stay. To be afraid to try something new for fear you may fail. None of this means you’re weird or dysfunctional. It just means you’re human, and that you need a little time to regroup and recalibrate yourself.

No matter how embarrassed or pathetic you feel about your own situation, there are others out there experiencing the same emotions. When you hear yourself say, “I am all alone,” it’s just your mind trying to sell you a lie. There’s always someone who can relate to you. Perhaps you can’t immediately talk to them, but they are out there, and that’s all you need to know right now.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Arsenal’s Revival and United’s Problems: An Analysis

It might not be the best league in the world in terms of quality and style of football, but the entire world agrees that it’s the most glamorous and competitive on the planet. The battle for the top is as intriguing as the dog fight at the bottom of the table. No match is a given. No bookmaker smiles every week. The suspense is neck-breaking.

As we all anticipated, Manchester United were never going to find it easy with the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson. Many United fans and players have only known one man at the helm; Sir Alex. Twenty-six years at one club is legendary in itself, and to have decorated those years with a myriad of trophies is simply exquisite. Following his departure, Moyes became the Chosen one. Many have questioned the rationale behind the appointment, but it beggars believe that Sir Alex would have faulted in perhaps the most important decision of his career. However, with United’s shambolic start to the season, the detractors and the cynics seem to be making their voices heard.

It is true that Moyes had not won a trophy or anything that resembles one in his career. This surely doesn’t help his case. Yet, it is very difficult to argue that he had not enjoyed success, considering the circumstances of his reign at Everton. To manage Everton and United is a different kettle of fish entirely (a point that should be noted while moaning about Lukaku’s loan move to Everton from Chelsea). In addition, one has to doubt if Moyes has the Character to handle a footballing empire like Manchester United. He doesn’t have to possess Mourinho’s theatrics or even Fergie’s vindictive style. On the evidence so far, he lacks the charisma. Also, to bring an overhaul to the entire back room staff is a rash decision that was never going to help David Moyes. Having said that, Moyes was never going to come in and continue a reign of glory immediately. A transitional period was always going to kick in. Suffice it to say, one point that has been glossed over while Moyes have been castigated, is that United left an ailing team. While Robin Van Persie is class, he was never the future. The United midfield was and still is a can of worms, and the duo of Ferdinand and Vidic in defence was always going to be a disaster at some point. The duo were once world class, but those days are gone. Patrice Evra at left back has had his best days behind him, while the search for a formidable right back continues. David De Gea is surely class, but we know he has some real flaws that are still a part of his game. The purchase of Maroune Fellani was more of a desperate attempt to save face, than it is a ‘transfer ingenuity’. Some will argue that a core of this same team won the league the season before, but a perspective is required here. The Ferguson factor was huge, but beyond that, United’s main rivals were disastrous. The unending change of managers had a toll on Chelsea’s campaign, City were not up for the challenge, and Arsenal were still busy being Arsenal. Thus, this is the core of United’s misdemeanor.

However, across North London, it is a different song. After losing at home on match day one to an average Aston Villa team, Arsene Wenger’s boys have emerged in ruthless form. Though the real test so far has been Spurs, Napoli and Dortmund (all at home), the results have not been bad. A lot has been said about the reasons why Arsenal have suddenly regained their swagger. In terms of transfer, they did not do a lot business, but, boy! Is the capture of Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid not a real steal! Such is the impact one real quality signing brings to a team. The purchase of Ozil doesn’t just improve Arsenal’s football; it lifts the morale of the entire team. Special mention should go to Aaron Ramsey, who has found a devastating form. It is a wonder what would have become of Ramsey had Yohan Cabaye purchase from Newcastle had been a success, as many of their fans clamored for. Arsenal’s recent progress is again a vindication to Wenger’s way of life at the Emirate. For their fans that have lived in almost a decade of heartbreaks, they surely deserve the right to hope again. It is dangerous for Arsenal to get carried away. However, Arsenal badly needs a trophy, any trophy. Before the start of the season, few Arsenal fans expected their team to challenge for the trophy and become champions, but the change of events at the Emirate has changed their aspirations. We can surely say that Arsenal is back if they remain on top of the league at the turn of the year, and are still in with a loud shout of winning at least, another silverware.

It remains to be seen if Moyes appointment was a masterstroke, or a deft calamity. To get the jury out now on his reign at United will be too premature. The critics must learn to criticize with a perspective. Sir Alex left United in bad shape. Sad as it sounds, it is the reality. But, Moyes must begin to show some signs of ingenuity in his tactics and style to allay the fears and great expectations that comes with being a coach at Manchester United. For Arsenal, it is good to dream again. However, the trio of Wenger, the players and the fans must realize that nothing is won yet. The season is still a marathon. At the end of the campaign, the slick football, the Ozilmanic, the ecstacy will all be forgotten. What will matter is if they have been able to end the decade of barrenness. However, you have to admit that for the first time since the days of the invincible, there is a particular mojo about the gunners now. Is it a false dawn that will fizzle away? Or are Arsenal really back? These are questions that only time will answer. For now, let’s give Arsenal their due, as their football at times; have kept us in cloud nine so far this season.

Monday, October 14, 2013

7 Shortcuts You Will Regret Taking in Life

1. Taking the easiest route possible.
Someday you will look back on your life and realize that everything worthwhile you’ve ever accomplished initially challenged you. And that is as it should be, because big challenges often prepare ordinary people for extraordinary success.

Every struggle arises for a reason – for experience or a lesson. A great journey is never easy, and no dose of adversity along the way is ever a waste of time if you learn and grow from it.

Remember, an arrow can only be shot by pulling it backwards, and such is life. When life is pulling you back with difficulties, it means it’s going to eventually launch you forward in a positive direction. So keep focusing, and keep aiming!

2. Settling for the way things are by default.
The decision to settle for mediocrity is a real killer. If you settle for just anything, you’ll never know what you’re truly worthy of. There is ample time for you to be who you want to be. Despite the struggles that you might be facing, never give up on yourself. Don’t just take the easy way out and settle for less than what you know you are capable of.

Realize that it’s not always about trying to fix something that’s broken either. Sometimes it’s about starting over and creating something new. Sometimes you need to distance yourself to see things clearly. Sometimes growing stronger means growing apart from old habits, relationships, and situations, and finding something different that truly moves you – something that gets you so excited you can’t wait to get out of bed in the morning. That’s what LIVING is all about. Don’t settle.

3. Leaving everything to chance.
It’s not what you do every once in a while, but what you dedicate yourself to on a daily basis that makes a difference in the end. Having a plan, even a flawed one at first, is better than no plan at all.

Don’t trap yourself, endlessly, in a state where you are unable to ask for directions, even though you’re terribly lost, simply because you don’t know your destination. Figure out what you want. When you get real about the true feelings you crave, you end up surprising yourself with an abundance of new opportunities and possibilities.

Bottom line: One day your life will flash before your eyes. Do your best every day to make sure it’s worth watching. Work towards something that brings meaning to your moments.

4. Following the crowd.
Allen Ginsberg once said, “Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness.” In other words, in this crazy world that’s trying to make you like everyone else, find the courage to be your incredible self.

Never let what other people expect from you dictate what you expect from yourself. Clarity about your true desires is so liberating because you get to stop proving yourself to everyone, including yourself.

We have all been placed on this earth to discover our own way, and we will never be happy if we live someone else’s idea of life. So stop being ashamed of how you feel. You have the right to feel any emotion that comes to you, and to follow a path that makes you happy. Don’t compare yourself to others, or get discouraged by the success of others. Follow your intuition, never give up on yourself, and stop expecting others to understand your journey, especially if they have not walked your same path.

5. Putting things off.
Be frank with yourself. The things you say you will deal with later rarely get done. It’s time to get up and make an immediate difference in your life. You know all those things you’ve been meaning to get done for the past month, year, etc.? Pick one right now and start doing it. Get your hands dirty, challenge your mind, and get sweaty if you have to. Break out of your comforting lull and get involved. If you feel crummy, it’ll make you feel better. If you already feel good, it will make you feel great.

Ultimately, you will not be judged by what you say; you will be judged by what you do. Wake up each morning determined, so you can go to bed satisfied. Have the courage and discipline today to do what is needed instead of simply what is convenient. Or as Pablo Picasso once said, “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”

6. Ignoring people instead of forgiving them.
Forgetting people who hurt you is your gift to them; forgiving people who hurt you is your gift to yourself. Always forgive others, not because they necessarily deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace of mind. We are all one, so when we forgive others we forgive ourselves, which is the first step in the healing process. Without forgiveness, the potential for true happiness in your life is limited.

In addition, we often tell ourselves that we’re better off without some people in our lives, and while this can be true, you should also build forgiveness into your character. Keep in mind that some relationships will temporarily split, only to come back together twice as strong as before. Forgiveness alone makes this possible.

7. Cutting too many corners with your important relationships.
It hurts to love someone and not be loved in return, but what hurts even more is to love someone and never find the time to let them know how you feel. There is no greater sadness than holding on to the loving words and deeds you never delivered to those you love.

The people you take for granted today may turn out to be the only ones you need tomorrow. So make plenty of time for those who truly matter. The best gift you can give them is the purity of your full attention. Just be present with them and pay attention to the little things, because when you really miss someone, you miss the little things the most, like just laughing together.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

National Dialogue Committee: A Panacea or Another Jamboree?

For over a decade, many have clamoured for a soverign national conference as a solution to the many devils bedeviling the nation. In their permutations, unity among Nigerians is a mere mirage and in the face of the Boko Haram plague, only such a conference will bring about sanity. However, these calls have met a strong reistance from many, among whom is the ruling class. In the calculations of those who oppose it, Nigeria is not ripe for such a conference at the time. The reasoning is that we are too guilable to ethnic and religious sentiments, and such a gathering might create more divisions.

Whatever the odds, the president has decided to toll this path. In his independence day address to the nation, he announced the formation of the advisory national dialogue committee that has six weeks to come up with recommendations, findings and the way forward in this regard. Saddled with this unenviable task is Dr. Femi Okurounmu as chairman, and Dr. Akilu Indabawa as secertary. True to our nature, the divisions and cynicism has already began. Some sections of the igbo community are already trading out sentiments as to why an Igbo was not given either of the aforementioned roles. This school of thought believe that since the Igbo have been the most maligned in the history of the nation, it is only normal that they steer any discourse that involves reintegration and lasting reconcilation.

Thus, fears abound if this commitee will not become another play to the gallery. Committees are not a new phenomenon in this part of the world. We have seen many. What we have not seen more often is the productivity thereafter, and the holistic implementations of their findings. Where their recommendations are not outrightly discarded, they are selectively chosen.

What exactly is this committee supposed to achieve? What will be their modus operandi? How will they come up with their findings and recommendations? What will be the way forward? Perhaps, some have asked, why have the president waited this long to constitue such a committee? Why did it take the blood of many victims of the Boko Haram reign of terror to make the presidency see the saliency of this conference? Yet, one wonders if we truly need a national conference at this point. It has been said and not without reason that we do not need a "talk shop" to solve the Nigerian question. It is difficult to believe that the powers that be do not know the solution to solving the ills of our land. The insincerity of our government is smacking. They talk of high government expenditure, but their salaries remain a luxury. They talk of how they give priority to education, but our schools have been under lock and key for over hundred days. And even when it is not, the standard is a sham. They talk of a new health care sector, but they travel abroad to even treat an headache. Hence, the cynicism of another "talk" called "national dialogue".

Be that as it may, one should give the National Dialogue Committee the benefit of the doubt. One should hope that it will take a new path from the plethora of committees before it. Penultimately, we can only clamour that the committee does not spend a fortune of taxpayers money in carrying out its duty, and that there must be an indicies upon which to judge if the committee has succeeded, or if it ended up being another jamboree.

Friday, October 4, 2013

20 Things To Start Doing For Yourself!

1.Start spending time with the right people. – These are the people you enjoy, who love and appreciate you, and who encourage you to improve in healthy and exciting ways. They are the ones who make you feel more alive, and not only embrace who you are now, but also embrace and embody who you want to be, unconditionally.
2.Start facing your problems head on. – It isn’t your problems that define you, but how you react to them and recover from them. Problems will not disappear unless you take action. Do what you can, when you can, and acknowledge what you’ve done. It’s all about taking baby steps in the right direction, inch by inch. These inches count, they add up to yards and miles in the long run.
3.Start being honest with yourself about everything. – Be honest about what’s right, as well as what needs to be changed. Be honest about what you want to achieve and who you want to become. Be honest with every aspect of your life, always. Because you are the one person you can forever count on. Search your soul, for the truth, so that you truly know who you are. Once you do, you’ll have a better understanding of where you are now and how you got here, and you’ll be better equipped to identify where you want to go and how to get there. Read The Road Less Traveled.
4.Start making your own happiness a priority. – Your needs matter. If you don’t value yourself, look out for yourself, and stick up for yourself, you’re sabotaging yourself. Remember, it IS possible to take care of your own needs while simultaneously caring for those around you. And once your needs are met, you will likely be far more capable of helping those who need you most.
5.Start being yourself, genuinely and proudly. – Trying to be anyone else is a waste of the person you are. Be yourself. Embrace that individual inside you that has ideas, strengths and beauty like no one else. Be the person you know yourself to be – the best version of you – on your terms. Above all, be true to YOU, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it.
6.Start noticing and living in the present. – Right now is a miracle. Right now is the only moment guaranteed to you. Right now is life. So stop thinking about how great things will be in the future. Stop dwelling on what did or didn’t happen in the past. Learn to be in the ‘here and now’ and experience life as it’s happening. Appreciate the world for the beauty that it holds, right now.
7.Start valuing the lessons your mistakes teach you. – Mistakes are okay; they’re the stepping stones of progress. If you’re not failing from time to time, you’re not trying hard enough and you’re not learning. Take risks, stumble, fall, and then get up and try again. Appreciate that you are pushing yourself, learning, growing and improving. Significant achievements are almost invariably realized at the end of a long road of failures. One of the ‘mistakes’ you fear might just be the link to your greatest achievement yet.
8.Start being more polite to yourself. – If you had a friend who spoke to you in the same way that you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend? The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others. You must love who you are or no one else will.
9.Start enjoying the things you already have. – The problem with many of us is that we think we’ll be happy when we reach a certain level in life – a level we see others operating at – your boss with her corner office, that friend of a friend who owns a mansion on the beach, etc. Unfortunately, it takes awhile before you get there, and when you get there you’ll likely have a new destination in mind. You’ll end up spending your whole life working toward something new without ever stopping to enjoy the things you have now. So take a quiet moment every morning when you first awake to appreciate where you are and what you already have.
10.Start creating your own happiness. – If you are waiting for someone else to make you happy, you’re missing out. Smile because you can. Choose happiness. Be the change you want to see in the world. Be happy with who you are now, and let your positivity inspire your journey into tomorrow. Happiness is often found when and where you decide to seek it. If you look for happiness within the opportunities you have, you will eventually find it. But if you constantly look for something else, unfortunately, you’ll find that too. Read Stumbling on Happiness.
11.Start giving your ideas and dreams a chance. – In life, it’s rarely about getting a chance; it’s about taking a chance. You’ll never be 100% sure it will work, but you can always be 100% sure doing nothing won’t work. Most of the time you just have to go for it! And no matter how it turns out, it always ends up just the way it should be. Either you succeed or you learn something. Win-Win.
12.Start believing that you’re ready for the next step. – You are ready! Think about it. You have everything you need right now to take the next small, realistic step forward. So embrace the opportunities that come your way, and accept the challenges – they’re gifts that will help you to grow.
13.Start entering new relationships for the right reasons. – Enter new relationships with dependable, honest people who reflect the person you are and the person you want to be. Choose friends you are proud to know, people you admire, who show you love and respect – people who reciprocate your kindness and commitment. And pay attention to what people do, because a person’s actions are much more important than their words or how others represent them.
14.Start giving new people you meet a chance. – It sounds harsh, but you cannot keep every friend you’ve ever made. People and priorities change. As some relationships fade others will grow. Appreciate the possibility of new relationships as you naturally let go of old ones that no longer work. Trust your judgment. Embrace new relationships, knowing that you are entering into unfamiliar territory. Be ready to learn, be ready for a challenge, and be ready to meet someone that might just change your life forever.
15.Start competing against an earlier version of yourself. – Be inspired by others, appreciate others, learn from others, but know that competing against them is a waste of time. You are in competition with one person and one person only – yourself. You are competing to be the best you can be. Aim to break your own personal records.
16.Start cheering for other people’s victories. – Start noticing what you like about others and tell them. Having an appreciation for how amazing the people around you are leads to good places – productive, fulfilling, peaceful places. So be happy for those who are making progress. Cheer for their victories. Be thankful for their blessings, openly. What goes around comes around, and sooner or later the people you’re cheering for will start cheering for you.
17.Start looking for the silver lining in tough situations. – When things are hard, and you feel down, take a few deep breaths and look for the silver lining – the small glimmers of hope. Remind yourself that you can and will grow stronger from these hard times. And remain conscious of your blessings and victories – all the things in your life that are right. Focus on what you have, not on what you haven’t.
18.Start forgiving yourself and others. – We’ve all been hurt by our own decisions and by others. And while the pain of these experiences is normal, sometimes it lingers for too long. We relive the pain over and over and have a hard time letting go. Forgiveness is the remedy. It doesn’t mean you’re erasing the past, or forgetting what happened. It means you’re letting go of the resentment and pain, and instead choosing to learn from the incident and move on with your life.
19.Start helping those around you. – Care about people. Guide them if you know a better way. The more you help others, the more they will want to help you. Love and kindness begets love and kindness. And so on and so forth.
20.Start listening to your own inner voice. – If it helps, discuss your ideas with those closest to you, but give yourself enough room to follow your own intuition. Be true to yourself. Say what you need to say. Do what you know in your heart is right.