Sunday, September 21, 2014

12 Promises You Should Make to Yourself and Keep Forever!

1.“I will not hold the past against myself.” – Your problems, your weaknesses, setbacks, regrets and mistakes teach you if you’re willing to learn, or they will punish you if you’re not. So let them teach you, every day. Take everything as a lesson learned. If you regret some of the decisions you have made in the past, stop being so hard on yourself. At that time, you did your best with the knowledge you had. At that time, you did your best with the experience you had. Your decisions were made with a younger mind. If you were to make these decisions with the wisdom you have today, you would choose differently. So give yourself a break. Time and experience has a wonderful way of helping us grow and learn to make better choices today, for ourselves and those we care for.

2.“I will own my life and never deny responsibility for it.” – Through the grapevine, you may have learned that you should blame your parents, your teachers, your mentors, the education system, the government, etc., but never to blame yourself. Right? It’s never, ever your fault… WRONG! It’s always your fault, because if you want to change, if you want to let go and move on with your life, you’re the only person who can make it happen. It’s YOUR move to make. It’s YOUR responsibility. Own it!

3.“I will speak kindly and consciously to myself.” – Wait, what did you just say to yourself? Were they the inspiring, encouraging words you would speak to a friend? Or were they the belittling remarks you might shout to an enemy if you had no heart. Or the negative assessments about life you would utter if you had no faith? All day long we speak silently to ourselves, and a part of us believes every word. So stay mindful, and ask yourself, “If I had a friend who always spoke to me in the same way that I am speaking to myself right now, how long would I allow that person to be my friend?”

4.“I will listen to what my heart and soul is telling me.” – When something feels right, that means it is right for you (at least it is worth looking into). And if you genuinely feel deep down that something is wrong, it probably is. Pay attention to your authentic feelings, and follow where they lead. When you’re following your inner voice, doors tend to eventually open for you, even if they mostly slam at first.

5.“I will live a life that feels right to me, not one that looks right to others.” – Give yourself permission to follow the path that makes YOU happy. And realize that some people in your life will refuse to walk beside you as you embark on this journey; they simply won’t approve no matter what you say, and that’s OK. Sometimes when you commit yourself to creating your own happiness, it clashes with the perceptions of others. Sometimes when you gain something great, you have to let go of something else. And sometimes this ‘something else’ is a relationship that only wants you to do what they want you to do.

6.“I will let go of relationships that are obviously not meant to be.” – Most people come into your life temporarily simply to teach you something. They come and they go and they make a difference. And it’s OK that they’re not in your life anymore. Not all relationships last, but the lessons these relationships bring to you do. If you learn to open your heart and mind, anyone, including the folks who eventually drive you mad, can teach you something worthwhile. Sometimes it will feel weird when you realize you spent so much time with someone you are no longer connected to, but that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be. You are exactly where you’re supposed to be. We all are.

7.“I will not let any situation permanently steal my smile.” – Even when times are tough, take a moment to pause and remember who YOU are. Take a moment to reflect on the things that have real and lasting meaning in your life. And then smile about how far you’ve come. Honestly, nothing in this world is more beautiful and powerful than a smile that has struggled through the tears. Any fool can be happy when times are easy. It takes a strong soul with real heart to develop smiles out of situations that make us weep. No matter how long it takes, it will get better. Keep going. Tough situations build strong people in the end.

8.“I will celebrate and appreciate the life I have.” – Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are. Don’t be one of them. Take a breath of fresh air. The past is behind you. Focus on what you can do today, not on what you could’ve or should’ve done yesterday. Remember, for everything you’ve lost, you’ve gained something else. Appreciate what you have and who you are today. Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful. Count your blessings, not your troubles. It costs nothing to be positive, and it changes things for the better. Your thoughts are yours to control, so make good use of them to give your actions and your life a powerful advantage.

9.“I will realize and use my power to make a difference.” – The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any. Don’t do this. The world needs you. In a world filled with doubt, you must dare to dream. In a world filled with anger, you must dare to forgive. In a world filled with hate, you must dare to love. In a world filled with distrust, you must dare to believe. And once you do, I promise, you will find that power you once thought you lacked.

10.“I will dedicate myself to personal excellence.” – Anything worth doing, is worth doing right. And excellence is never an accident. It’s the result of high intention, focused effort, intelligent direction, skillful execution, and the vision to see obstacles as opportunities. It’s also important to note that excellence cannot be judged by looking at where you are at any given point in time, but by measuring the distance you have traveled from the point where you started. It’s about being diligent and making progress – either a step forward or a lesson learned – day in and day out.

11.“I will keep stretching myself beyond my previous level of comfort.” – Just because you’re struggling doesn’t mean you’re failing. Every great success requires some type of worthy struggle to get there. Know this! When you’re struggling, that’s when you’re growing stronger and smarter. The more time you spend there, the faster you learn. It’s better to spend an extremely high quality ten minutes growing, than it is to spend a mediocre hour running in place. Every day, you want to practice at the point where you are on the edge of your ability, stretching yourself over and over again, making mistakes, stumbling, learning from those mistakes and stretching yourself even farther.

12.“I will embrace the changes I know I need to make.” – Life is a balancing act of holding on and letting go – of staying put and moving on. We strive to make the right choices, but how do we know when it is truly time to move forward with our lives? The signs aren’t always easy to accept, but they are there and you know it. Relationships, jobs, and even the cities we live in have expiration dates. Sometimes we hold on to what’s not working out of fear that we won’t be able to adapt to necessary changes. And thus, the outcome is always the same: more pain, immense frustration, and lasting regret. Be smarter than that. Embrace the changes you know you need to make.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

It Was September 16th!

It was September 16th that year. The sun was prodigal and the wind, nauseating. There was nothing in the air that suggested the impending doom. It was a casual air that held no malice. Children playing with vehement passion and traders hauling their wares to your face. She had been on her selling spot that day, before her body began to itch. The kind of itching that puzzles. She was not the type to give in to illness. Somehow, her mortal spirit had infected her body. She was immune to the kind of illness that perplexes common men. And even in those seldom days when sickness caught up with her, she barely showed it. She will conceal her pain from our bare eyes. Her tears were shrouded in her dazzling smile. In times of pain, she will fight to hold up the tears, and while we look away, she will give it up, swiftly.

And so on this day, only the gods will recollect what took us away from the house. She came to meet an empty house. In the obvious itching that brought her home, she relieved the agony. We returned. From whatever venture conspired to take us out, and then she put up that cloak again. Hiding the pain she currently felt. However, this time, the pain was so grueling that she couldn’t do an exquisite job of concealing it. And then, we were beginning to sense, to feel, to decipher, that all was not well with our Jewell. She was not the same. Her beauty was extant, but there was a cankerworm eating her up. We could see by the way she placed her face, the tilting of her head, her now foisted step. Something was wrong.

Her language began to change. She spoke in pregnant words, coded gestures, and her silence became her loudest voice. And I remember, the days we will fight as kids, she will caution us, warning us to be at peace, as days will come when we will no longer have her. I remember, the times we will go wasteful on the meal her ailing body prepared, she will admonish us, on the virtues of prudence as we may not have her forever. Her silence became her default. Words began to fail her. The cankerworm was eating her up, slowly but surely.

So we were all journeyed to our hometown, in roads synonyms with death-traps and in a bus that can better be described as suicidal. On this journey, she was not with us. Word was that she had gone ahead of us for something urgent. Going to the village was a yearly ritual, but there was something unusual about this. It was too sudden, too unprepared, too hurried. The swiftness suggested trouble, but juvenile us, we couldn’t have imagined. And so we arrived. Men in black, gloomy, sullen and quiet. They welcomed us, with more precarious tenderness. Their voices were stammering. And I remember, how one of them saw me and in a despair that will rival that of judgment day, shook his head. ‘Strange old men and women,’ we thought. Perhaps, we thought too quickly. As we got in, we asked of our beauty, and as is always the case with lairs, we got a varying reply, that she travelled. We marveled! How does travelling for something urgent coincide with travelling back to Lagos? In trademark style, we bulldozed our way before these men of sorrow into the room, and there she was, beaten, fallen and defeated by the cold hands of death. We tried to cry, but we couldn’t find the tears. We tried to shout, but our voices failed us. We tried to wail, but anguish deserted us. We simply stirred at her body, wrapped in a cloth. And indeed, she was gone. We gazed at one another, and sudden maturity and realization dawn on us. This was it. We all knew that we had to chart our course in life alone. We had to fight this alone. Without her, it was us against the world.

It was September 16th. We have moved on, but we have not forgotten. Each time we remember, a part of us simply die. It was a callous departure; the type that words cannot aptly explain. And today, we wished she was around. After God, she is the first benefactor of everything we have become. The one most entitled. But alas, she cannot reap what she has sowed. But we are encouraged. Buoyed by the knowing that she sleeps well. She must have feared when she left 19 years ago on what will become of us. But today, she will be proud. Not because we have made all the riches in the world, but because we have made something with our lives. We have hoped against hope. We have survived 19 years of turmoil, of her absence. We have not broken before life’s storm. We are still standing, and we have become the proverbial stone that the builders rejected. Today, we have become the cynosure of the eyes that wished us doom. Today, under God, we have become something.

Sleep on, our queen. Certainly, we shall reconvene to depart no more. We will continue to remember you. In this journey, we will always cherish those moments, and keep living the future you always had in mind for us.
Ura na, ju afo, nyeju afo, amaka!

Monday, September 8, 2014

10 Painfully Obvious Truths Everyone Forgets Too Soon

1. The average human life is relatively short.

We know deep down that life is short, and that death will happen to all of us eventually, and yet we are infinitely surprised when it happens to someone we know. It’s like walking up a flight of stairs with a distracted mind, and misjudging the final step. You expected there to be one more stair than there is, and so you find yourself off balance for a moment, before your mind shifts back to the present moment and how the world really is.

LIVE your life TODAY! Don’t ignore death, but don’t be afraid of it either. Be afraid of a life you never lived because you were too afraid to take action. Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside you while you’re still alive. Be bold. Be courageous. Be scared to death, and then take the next step anyway.

2. You will only ever live the life you create for yourself.

Your life is yours alone. Others can try to persuade you, but they can’t decide for you. They can walk with you, but not in your shoes. So make sure the path you decide to walk aligns with your own intuition and desires, and don’t be scared to switch paths or pave a new one when it makes sense.

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. Be productive and patient. And realize that patience is not about waiting, but the ability to keep a good attitude while working hard for what you believe in. This is your life, and it is made up entirely of your choices. May your actions speak louder than your words. May your life preach louder than your lips. May your success be your noise in the end.

And if life only teaches you one thing, let it be that taking a passionate leap is always worth it. Even if you have no idea where you’re going to land, be brave enough to step up to the edge of the unknown, and listen to your heart.

3. Being busy does NOT mean being productive.

Busyness isn’t a virtue, nor is it something to respect. Though we all have seasons of crazy schedules, very few of us have a legitimate need to be busy ALL the time. We simply don’t know how to live within our means, prioritize properly, and say no when we should.

Being busy rarely equates to productivity these days. Just take a quick look around. Busy people outnumber productive people by a wide margin. Busy people are rushing all over the place, and running late half of the time. They’re heading to work, conferences, meetings, social engagements, etc. They barely have enough free time for family get-togethers and they rarely get enough sleep. Yet, emails are shooting out of their smart phones like machine gun bullets, and their day planners are jammed to the brim with obligations. Their busy schedule gives them an elevated sense of importance. But it’s all an illusion. They’re like hamsters running on a wheel.

Though being busy can make us feel more alive than anything else for a moment, the sensation is not sustainable long term. We will inevitably, whether tomorrow or on our deathbed, come to wish that we spent less time in the buzz of busyness and more time actually living a purposeful life.

4. Some kind of failure always occurs before success.

Most mistakes are unavoidable. Learn to forgive yourself. It’s not a problem to make them. It’s only a problem if you never learn from them.

If you’re too afraid of failure, you can’t possibly do what needs to be done to be successful. The solution to this problem is making friends with failure. You want to know the difference between a master and a beginner? The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried. Behind every great piece of art is a thousand failed attempts to make it, but these attempts are simply never shown to us.

Bottom line: Just because it’s not happening now, doesn’t mean it never will. Sometimes things have to go very wrong before they can be right.

5. Thinking and doing are two very different things.

Success never comes to look for you while you wait around thinking about it.

You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do. Knowledge is basically useless without action. Good things don’t come to those who wait; they come to those who work on meaningful goals. Ask yourself what’s really important and then have the courage to build your life around your answer.

And remember, if you wait until you feel 100% ready to begin, you’ll likely be waiting the rest of your life.

6. You don’t have to wait for an apology to forgive.

Life gets much easier when you learn to accept all the apologies you never got. The key is to be thankful for every experience – positive or negative. It’s taking a step back and saying, “Thank you for the lesson.” It’s realizing that grudges from the past are a perfect waste of today’s happiness, and that holding one is like letting unwanted company live rent free in your head.

Forgiveness is a promise – one you want to keep. When you forgive someone you are making a promise not to hold the unchangeable past against your present self. It has nothing to do with freeing a criminal of his or her crime, and everything to do with freeing yourself of the burden of being an eternal victim.

7. Some people are simply the wrong match for you.

You will only ever be as great as the people you surround yourself with, so be brave enough to let go of those who keep bringing you down. You shouldn’t force connections with people who constantly make you feel less than amazing.

If someone makes you feel uncomfortable and insecure every time you’re with them, for whatever reason, they’re probably not close friend material. If they make you feel like you can’t be yourself, or if they make you “less than” in any way, don’t pursue a connection with them. If you feel emotionally drained after hanging out with them or get a small hit of anxiety when you are reminded of them, listen to your intuition. There are so many “right people” for you, who energize you and inspire you to be your best self. It makes no sense to force it with people who are the wrong match for you.

8. It’s not other people’s job to love you; it’s yours.

It’s important to be nice to others, but it’s even more important to be nice to yourself. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world. So make sure you don’t start seeing yourself through the eyes of those who don’t value you. Know your worth, even if they don’t.

Today, let someone love you just the way you are – as flawed as you might be, as unattractive as you sometimes feel, and as incomplete as you think you are. Yes, let someone love you despite all of this, and let that someone be YOU. (Read Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It.)

9. What you own is not who YOU are.

Stuff really is just stuff, and it has absolutely no bearing on who you are as a person. Most of us can make do with much less than we think we need. That’s a valuable reminder, especially in a hugely consumer-driven culture that focuses more on material things than meaningful connections and experiences.

You have to create your own culture. Don’t watch TV, don’t read every fashion magazine, and don’t consume too much of the evening news. Find the strength to fill your time with meaningful experiences. The space and time you are occupying at this very moment is LIFE, and if you’re worrying about Kim Kardashian or Lebron James or some other famous face, then you are disempowered. You’re giving your life away to marketing and media trickery, which is created by big companies to ultimately motivate you to want to dress a certain way, look a certain way, and be a certain way. This is tragic, this kind of thinking. It’s all just Hollywood brainwashing. What is real is YOU and your friends and your family, your loves, your highs, your hopes, your plans, your fears, etc.

Too often we’re told that we’re not important, we’re just peripheral to what is. “Get a degree, get a job, get a car, get a house, and keep on getting.” And it’s sad, because someday you’ll wake up and realize you’ve been tricked. And all you’ll want then is to reclaim your mind by getting it out of the hands of the brainwashers who want to turn you into a drone that buys everything that isn’t needed to impress everyone that isn’t important.

10. Everything changes, every second.

Embrace change and realize it happens for a reason. It won’t always be obvious at first, but in the end it will be worth it.

What you have today may become what you had by tomorrow. You never know. Things change, often spontaneously. People and circumstances come and go. Life doesn’t stop for anybody. It moves rapidly and rushes from calm to chaos in a matter of seconds, and happens like this to people every day. It’s likely happening to someone nearby right now.

Sometimes the shortest split second in time changes the direction of our lives. A seemingly innocuous decision rattles our whole world like a meteorite striking Earth. Entire lives have been swiveled and flipped upside down, for better or worse, on the strength of an unpredictable event. And these events are always happening.

However good or bad a situation is now, it will change. That’s the one thing you can count on. So when life is good, enjoy it. Don’t go looking for something better every second. Happiness never comes to those who don’t appreciate what they have while they have it.


Monday, September 1, 2014

Why The Fuss About Nuhu Ribadu?

As news went viral that former ACN (Now APC) presidential candidate has dumped the so-called progressive party for the often declared sinister PDP, the national political space went agog. For many of his loyalists, it was a blue day murder, a rape of morals and a betrayal of the principles that they claim Nuhu Ribadu believe in. In his article titled ‘Nuhu Ribadu and the Rest of Us’, Dele Momodu laid bare the hurt that must be felt by his many supporters. He lamented ‘Politics have destroyed too many of our finest brands…a man of Nuhu’s caliber would now have to bow to gods with feet of clay or get hacked down to miniature size.’ Momodu’s epistle was one in a litany of commentaries that decried the decision of the former crime fighter and mourn at the new marriage, as if to say flirting was ever a new word in such marriage.

So much have been suggested as to what demons must have led Ribadu to dine with the party he has so associated with evil in the past. A school of reasoning is of the opinion that this might be a ploy in the grand scheme of the APC to infiltrate the PDP ranks, and wreck havoc. Their thinking is that if Ribadu succeeds in the PDP, it will be a launching pad for APC and the Northern elite to then bite the PDP in the long run that is with the assumption that Ribadu will then forsake the PDP to his first love. In the minds of those that hold this rational, no one is more skilled and poise to carry out this plot, than a man like Nuhu Ribadu. However, the other school of thought differs. For them, Ribadu is simply a fiercely ambitious man who will trample upon principles and break hearts to achieve his dream. With the luxury of relative youth on his side, this school of thought is convinced that this was an obvious story of a man seeking power by all means.

While there is some rational to the two schools of thought, for the political neutrals, Ribadu’s action was simply a great shame, for a man so highly referred as a beacon of principles and ideology. It is to this thought, I wonder. People make it sound like the APC which he left, is a party of saints and men of high principles. Sadly, this is far from the reality. It is worth mentioning that the seemingly moral standing and sentiments that makes the APC more appealing to the average Nigerian, is due mainly to the fact that the alternative, PDP, is a peerless evil. For those of us that have not been too gullible in the face of these recent sub-plots to 2015, we can surely see that the APC clearly thrives on PDP’s failure, without it being able to clearly define what it has to offer Nigerians. If PDP is renowned for electoral malpractices and lack of internal democratic processes, the APC is no exception. The same national decay in the PDP is prevalent in the APC, albeit, at different variance and forms. Thus, all those that claim that Ribadu betrayed principles will want to check again. What principles? Our political parties are not built on principles and ideologies. Moreover, it is a season of political prostitution, retargeting, political scheming and positioning for maximum impact. Perhaps, Ribadu was only doing this. He might be ambitious, but when did that become a bad thing? It is sickening that when people like Rotimi Amaechi are rumored to abhor presidential ambition, we treat them with disdain and contempt, as if this is an acrimonious ambition to have. Perhaps, our basterdized rational is ‘Why should he want to be president, when his brother is there already. It is betrayal.’ Little wonder our politics is still at its teething and elementary level.

However, the trouble for Ribadu is what might be, in his new political voyage. We know that his first port of call will be to win the PDP primaries to earn the right to fly the party’s flag in the upcoming governorship election in Adamawa state. Such battle will never be easy. His name might be the most recognizable among the other candidates with same goal, yet, he needs to still fight some vehement detractors within and outside the party. Many believe and rightly so, that the PDP is wise (If wisdom is the word) enough to know the underlying motives if ever he carries some, of Ribadu’s latest political move. For some of the PDP stalwarts, Ribadu is a man to be handled with caution. His antecedents suggest that he might be too hot to handle. They believe that trust is not a word to be associated with him. In sum, he might have an agenda. And even if he does, who doesn’t?

Perhaps, the greater danger for Ribadu is this: What if his PDP sojourn ends in doom. As one commentator remarked: ‘While it is always easy to move from the right to the left, it is not usually simple to move from left to right.’ What if this adventure ends up being a charade? The editor-in-chief of ThisDay newspaper, Simon Kolawole, in concluding his beautiful piece titled, ‘The trouble with Nuhu Ribadu’ wrote ‘A humorist once said this about relationships “Love is ideal, marriage is real. Any confusion of the two shall never go unpunished” That is the trouble. If the PDP adventure turns out well for Ribadu, he could be an Oshiomhole. If not, the ridicule will be unbearable.’

While I largely agree with the foregoing, somewhere in my left hand column, I think that irrespective of the ridicule that might be if this doesn’t go well for Nuhu Ribadu, he will simply move on. I have never known dignity and reverence to be associated with our politicians, and I somehow think this is a win-win, at least in Ribadu’s mind.