Sunday, December 20, 2015

THANK YOU FOR 2015!


"Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some." - Charles Dickens

As 2015 slowly but surely gives way to the New Year, it is only fitting to take out time and appreciate everyone that has made it a fantastic year. Only days ago, I sat down to count my blessings this year and I was pleasantly gobsmacked by how much mileage I was able to cover. Boy! It was truly a year of triumph! The storm came, life’s thorns were rife, people were people, but through it all, the story ended triumphantly.

Most deserving of the first and greatest mention is God Almighty. Of a truth, he has been so good to me. The grace of God is so innumerable. At times, I just feel like crying when I think of his goodness, mercy and grace. Believe what you may, but I really struggle to see how anyone will be able to make a day without God. He made 2015 a tale of the miraculous.

My family is indeed the next pillar and fortress for me this year. You know what they say, when all is said and done, family is everything. They are just always there when everyone else walks out. The support of family cannot be traded for anything.

I am also eternally grateful for the friends I kept and made in 2015. They were amazing and made the journey a worthwhile one. At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.

I reserve special gratitude for my teacher and life coach, Rev (Dr) Chris Oyakhilome. This man has been such a tremendous influence in my life. I love him more than he will ever begin to even conceive.

Penultimately, I thank you who are also reading this. Your followership, words of encouragement, expressions of gratitude, and eulogies have kept the fire in my pen. Thank you.

Finally, I implore you to be grateful for all that happened in 2015. It was Steve Maraboli who said “Forget yesterday--it has already forgotten you. Don't sweat tomorrow--you haven't even met. Instead, open your eyes and your heart to a truly precious gift--today. And be grateful" Irrespective of everything that might have happened, it was still a fabulous 2015, and for this we should all be grateful.

Thank you for a terrific year and wow, my mind boggles in anticipation of what 2016 holds!
Bring it on!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Shambles At The Bridge: An Unhappy Ending!


He shows up for work at Cobham training ground in defiant mood and by 14:00hrs, he was called into the office of Club chairman, Bruce Buck, who alongside Club director, Eugene Tenenbaumby told him his services were no longer required at Stamford Bridge. The meeting lasted for only 10 minutes. It’s a punishing job with short and vague memories. One moment you are the poster boy of the world, the other moment you are the bad guy who has lost his way. As the curtain falls on what will surely be the last departure of Jose Mourinho from Stamford Bridge, the narrative will remain a puzzling one. That a team that won the league and league cup at a canter few months ago will slump to such abysmal depths few months after is a tale that might never be fully understood, and truly one of football’s biggest fall.

Jose departs Chelsea as the greatest manager in the Club’s 110 years history. To capture it more succinctly, Thierry Henry described him as the man who put Chelsea on the map. But when the self-inquisition begins; he will tell himself the home truth that this was the toughest patch in his glamorous career and it was not meant to end this way. I have always maintained that if he survived the turbulent phase, it will make him a better manager, and most importantly, a better person. Sadly, he didn’t stay to see it happen. Pundits and arm-chair critics will pretend to have all the answers to Chelsea and Jose Mourinho’s deterioration when you read the back pages of newspapers but we might never fully get the entire picture. A plethora of reasons has been adduced. From Eva Carnerio’s saga earlier in the season, to Jose’s verbal vitriolics, to the players out-of-form spells. Whatever your opinion is, the problems at Chelsea was an accumulation of factors rather than a singular trouble.

As Jose Mourinho drove out of Fulham road for the final time, he has to agree that he was partly at fault for all that has happened to Chelsea this season. While he thrives on it, the conscious effort to always center the focus of attention on himself was always going to back-fire. Even the staunchest of Mourinho’s fans will agree that the impasse with Club doctor, Eva Carnerio in August was one he got wrong. The siege mentality he had created of ‘Us against the World’ was also one that was always going to implode at some point. Perhaps, the last straw that broke the camel’s back was his public criticisms of some of his players and to use the word ‘betrayal’ while referring to his players display in the aftermath of the Leicester City defeat was stretching blunt talking. When all is said and done, Jose did not make life easy for himself. He is a man with a massive ego and excessive pride. The assumption was that age, experience and the recent turmoil would have taught him some few lessons in humility but it is obvious Jose will remain Jose. So what next for Jose? He will surely not be unemployed for too long given his amazing track record but it must worry even him and the prospective employers at this point that he can’t seem to keep a job beyond 3 years.

Having said that, the entire Chelsea players have to take a hard look at themselves going forward. They have massively let the Club and Jose Mourinho down this season. From Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa to Eden Hazard, Branislav Ivanovic and the likes, they have simply not been able to put in a good shift. It will say a lot of the players ‘trust’ for Jose Mourinho should they pull together a great run of games at this time. Say all you want about confidence, but with a paycheck of over 150,000 pounds, you will expect only a nuclear reaction to have shattered the players’ confidence this badly. Obviously, you can’t sack 22 players. Thus, Jose becomes the guinea pig. This Chelsea team has performed in sixth gear all season. In the final analysis, it is the players that have to go onto the pitch and deliver the goods. So far this season, they have been complete shambles, and that is for want of a milder word.

By his historical nature of short patience, one must agree that Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovich clearly gave the manager a lot of time to turn the story around. It is a no brainer that if it was another manager that was in charge through these murky waters, he would have since been showed the exit door. Jose Mourinho clearly lasted this long because he was Jose Mourinho and the prolonged love and support the fans have showed him week in, week out, was surely one that did not go un-noticed by Roman and the power brokers at the bridge. However, the tough job will be who inherits the seemingly ‘poisoned chalice’ now. A lot of names are currently being paraded in the media but only time will tell who becomes the new gaffer, in the interim and long term.

Monday, December 14, 2015

15 Things I learnt in 2015


1. The destination is in the journey
I have learnt that life is not all about aspiring to a certain future in the distant ‘tomorrow’. No. The destination is achieved in bits. It’s in the learning, the small steps, the stumbling and standing, the things we learn along the way. You must also take out time always to celebrate yourself and the strides you have made along the way. Success is indeed not a destination. It’s the milestones in the journey that makes a successful life.

2. Life gives everyman his own share of pain
As the cliché goes, everyone is fighting something. Life gives each man his own fair share of troubles, hurts and demons. No one is spared. Don’t let appearance or status delude you, we all have issues in our lives and we all have that one thing we struggle to tell anyone about. Some of us have just made a mastery of dealing with it diligently and astutely without finding sympathizers.

3. There is Power in Un-clarity
This year, I listened to one of my mentors (Obinna Anaba) deliver a profound speech at the TEDxOloboiri event. The speech was titled ‘The Power of Un-clarity’. It doesn’t do it justice to only rehash part of the speech here but space is a constraint. You can see the full thing on YouTube. However, the hallmark of the speech was: ‘Can un-clarity be good? I believe it can. My story suggests it can. My story is about not knowing where and what the end is going to be but pushing on anyway. My story is about the power of not waiting to find out; the power of one day at a time; the power to let it flow! It is about not allowing myths and stereotypes – those powerful roads well-traveled that sometimes present themselves as clarity and convention (or conventional knowledge), – to define what is possible!’

4. Not giving up doesn’t mean holding on when you’re wrong
When you know what you’re doing is right, but you’re not sure if you’re going to make it or want to give up because it’s too difficult, that’s the time to persevere. When you know you are wrong, but you want to hold on because you don’t want others to think of you as a quitter, it’s time to pivot.

5. The tussle with the next man is never personal
This year I learnt a great truth about dealing with people. You need to learn to stop taking things to heart. Everyone just wants to get by, and in a dog-eat-dog environment like ours, everyone wants to survive. When all is said and done, it is not personal; it rarely is. Understanding this will free you from the shackles of un-forgiveness.

6. It is okay to be vulnerable
You don’t always have it together. Nobody does. So it’s fine to feel vulnerable at times, to seek help when required, to lean on a shoulder when you are exhausted. See, even the pope needs some words of encouragement for himself. No one has it all figured out. So, stop hiding your vulnerabilities so others don’t judge you. The truly successful men of our days have mastered the act of calling for help when they are clueless. However, the caveat here is that you can’t be vulnerable before everyone because some might use it against you in their uncanny foolishness. Trust should be the watchword in expressing your vulnerability.

7. The Power of Appreciation
It’s a word rife with negativity; a world that is always falsely telling you that you are superior to the next man. A thankless world. This year, more than ever before, I have learnt to be grateful for everything. The little things, the big things and the sad things. Saying thank you is a priceless gesture and will do wonders for you. In simple terms, the next time someone makes a comment, before you shoot him down with your ‘all-knowing’ wisdom, acknowledge that it took some thinking and courage for him to voice that comment, and do well to appreciate that effort.

8. You don’t always have to have an opinion
At times in life, you don’t always have to air your opinion. You don’t always have to want to prove a point. There are times when accepting feedback and keeping your opinion to yourself saves you from today’s problems and tomorrow’s challenges.

9. Keep an open mind
Life has taught me that my way is not the only way, and to be fixated in my own viewpoint is to see the world from a shallow lens. You must understand that life’s biggest discoveries and inventions were stumbled upon with this mindset. You will go far in this thing called life if you keep an open mind to issues, places and people. A view from another vantage point might just make all the difference.

10. Don’t Let Others Judge You
This year, I watched a commencement speech delivered by Actor Ed Helms at the University of Virginia, and it formed one of my biggest lessons in 2015. He ended the speech thus: “As you go out in the world, you’ll find that people are always quick to define you, to pigeonhole you, to whittle you down to their preconceived notions—which brings me to my point: Never let others define you. Define yourselves.”

11. African writers’ rock!
And yes, this was a fundamental lesson that was reinforced in 2015. Having been a fan of the famous good old Chinua Achebe, Ngugui wa Thiong’o, Ayi kwei Armah amongst others; this year, I fell in love with the emerging pen pushers of today. From Eghosa Imasuen’s ‘Fine Boys’ to Sefi Atta’s ‘Everything Good will Come’ I found a deeper love for African Writers Series.


12. Don’t Stop Learning
Life has taught me to keep reaching, keep seeking, keep using my abilities to bring out the best in those around me, and let them bring out the best in me. You have to understand that no one is the finished article. We all are striving to acquire more knowledge and arm ourselves with requisite information. One of my mentors in a departure gift before he proceeded to an assignment in the Middle East this year left this words with me ‘Whatever you do, whatever you become, keep learning’. Nothing can be truer.

13. Travelling is a wonder
A friend of mine once told me: ‘Sam, if you must do one more thing in this life besides living for God, it is travelling the world’. This is clearly an outlandish thing to say, but the sense should not be lost in the exaggeration of the statement. This year, I ventured out, not entirely around the world, but to some cities around the world. I had some of my life greatest moments of inspiration and fun in travelling, seeing new places, learning new languages and just observing the world not as I see it only, but as ‘the rest’ sees it.

14. You are who you spend your time with, whether you like it or not.
You may think you have the will power and discipline to rise above the influence of your friends. You don’t. If you spend time with people who are in shape, you’ll be in shape. If you spend time with lazy people, you’ll be lazy. We all want to belong to a group and we do so by appearing similar to the group we want to belong to. Choose wisely who you spend your time with because it’s who you’ll become.

15. Grace can make all the difference.
All the fourteen lessons above will count for nothing without this. Work hard, give everyday a tremendous wag, take life lemons and make lemonade, pursue success with all you have got, it might still not be enough. With God’s grace in a man’s life, the barriers that will stand in the way are not yet born!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

15 Things You Need to Stop Wasting Time On


1. Distractions that keep you from special moments with special people. – Pay attention to the little things, because when you really miss someone you miss the little things the most, like just laughing together. Go for long walks. Indulge in great conversations. Count your mutual blessings. Let go for a little while and just BE together.

2. Compulsive busyness. – Schedule time every day to not be busy. Have dedicated downtime – clear points in the day to reflect, rest, and recharge. Don’t fool yourself; you’re not so busy that you can’t afford a few minutes of sanity.

3. Negative thinking about your current situation. – Life is like a mirror; we get the best results when we smile. So talk about your blessings more than you talk about your problems. Just because you’re struggling doesn’t mean you’re failing. Every great success requires some type of worthy struggle to get there.

4. The needless drama around you. – Be wise enough to walk away from the nonsense around you. Focus on the positives, and soon the negatives will be harder to see.

5. The desire for everything you don’t have. – No, you won’t always get exactly what you want, but remember this: There are lots of people who will never have what you have right now. The things you take for granted, someone else is praying for. Happiness never comes to those who don’t appreciate what they already have.

6. Comparing yourself to everyone else. – Social comparison is the thief of happiness. You could spend a lifetime worrying about what others have, but it wouldn’t get you anything.

7. Thinking about who you were or what you had in the past. – You’re not the same person you were a year ago, a month ago, or a week ago. You’re always growing. Experiences don’t stop. That’s life.

8. Worrying about the mistakes you’ve made. – It’s OK if you mess up; that’s how you get wiser. Give yourself a break. Don’t give up. Great things take time, and you’re getting there. Let your mistakes be your motivation, not your excuses. Decide right now that negative experiences from your past won’t predict your future.

9. Worrying about what everyone thinks and says about you. – Don’t take things too personally, even if it seems personal. Rarely do people do things because of you; they do things because of them. You honestly can’t change how people treat you or what they say about you. All you can do is change how you react and who you choose to be around.

10. Self-deception. – Your life will improve only when you take small chances. And the first and most difficult chance you can take is to be honest with yourself.

11. A life path that doesn’t feel right. – Life is to be enjoyed, not endured. When you truly believe in what you’re doing, it shows, and it pays. Success in life is for those who are excited about where they are going. It’s about walking comfortably in your own shoes, in the direction of YOUR dreams.

12. Everyone else’s definition of success and happiness. – You simply can’t base your idea of success and happiness on other people’s opinions and expectations.

13. Those who insist on using and manipulating you. – What you allow is what will continue. Give as much as you can, but don’t allow yourself to be used. Listen to others closely, but don’t lose your own voice in the process.

14. Trying to impress everyone. – One of the most freeing things we learn in life is that we don’t have to like everyone, everyone doesn’t have to like us, and that’s perfectly OK. No matter how you live, someone will be disappointed. So just live your truth and be sure YOU aren’t the one who is disappointed in the end.

15. All the fears holding you back. – Fear is a feeling, not a fact. The best way to gain strength and self-confidence is to do what you’re afraid to do. Dare to change and grow. In the end, there is only one thing that makes a dream completely impossible to achieve: Lack of action based on the fear of failure.

(MARCANDANGEL).

Monday, November 30, 2015

15 Things We Forget To Say “Thank You” For


1. “Thank you for life’s surprises.” – Notice and cherish life’s surprises. Just because it’s not what you were expecting, doesn’t mean it’s not everything you’ve been waiting for. So take a deep breath when you’re rejected from something good. It often means you’re being redirected to something better. Be patient. Be positive. Keep going.

2. “Thank you for the truth I deal with every day.” – Too many of us prefer gentle lies to hard truths. But make no mistake, in the end it’s better to be hurt by the truth than comforted by a lie. And beware of half-truths too – you may have gotten ahold of the wrong half. Open your eyes. You must see things how they are instead of how you hoped, wished or expected them to be. Sometimes it’s hard to accept the truth when the lies were exactly what you wanted to know, but be strong. Life is too short to live a lie.

3. “Thank you for the tough times that taught me important lessons.” – God allows you to experience the low points of life in order to teach you lessons that you could learn no other way.

4. “Thank you for the challenges I must overcome today.” – The brick walls in life are there for a reason. They are not there to keep you out. They are there to give you a chance to show how badly you want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it as badly as you do. They are there to stop the other people. There is absolutely nothing about your present circumstances that prevents you from making progress, one step at a time.

5. “Thank you for giving me the courage to continue.” – Courage isn’t having the strength to go on; it’s going on even when you don’t have strength. And remember, it does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.

6. “Thank you for giving me the strength to smile.” – Anyone can be happy sometimes. It takes a human being with real heart to make beauty out of the stuff that naturally makes us weep.

7. “Thank you for the beauty that remains.” – Even when times are really tough, don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.

8. “Thank you for this new beginning I’m living now.” – The best way to prepare for the future is to take care of the present. Goodbyes will always hurt a little. Photographs can never replace the act of being there. Memories, good and bad, will sometimes bring tears. And words can never perfectly describe the feelings they represent. But that’s OK. Pain is real. But so is hope. You have to make peace with your past in order to keep your present and future from becoming hopeless battles.

9. “Thank you for all the choices I have.” – A big part of your life is a result of the little choices you make every day. If you don’t like some part of your life, it’s time to start tweaking things and making better choices, right now, right where you are.

10. “Thank you for my bravery.” – Whenever you’re scared but you still do it anyway, that’s brave.

11. “Thank you for my inner greatness.” – Contrary to what others may say, you do not need to rise to the top, or be the cream of the crop, before you can feel great about yourself. For you are not a failure because you’re not perfect, got rejected or laid off, struggle to make ends meet, or have a family with issues. You are great because, despite your circumstances, you keep loving, you keep getting back up after every fall, and, above all, the little steps you keep taking, you take with grace.

12. “Thank you for the burning desires inside me.” – The starting point of all success is DESIRE. Keep this in mind always. Weak desire brings weak results, just as a small fire creates a small amount of heat. Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about. When you truly believe in what you’re doing, it shows, and it pays. Success in life is for those who are excited about where they’re going.

13. “Thank you for my intuition and instincts.” – Take constructive criticism seriously, but not personally. Listen, and then operate with your own intuition and wisdom as your guide.

14. “Thank you for my imagination and creativity.” – Imagination and creativity are everything. Together, they draw the preview of your life’s coming attractions. And there are people in nearly every career field who make each day a work of art simply by the way they have mastered their craft. In other words, almost everyone is an artist in some way.

15. “Thank you for the chance to grow.” – You must be willing to give up what you are in order to become what you will be.

(MARCANDANGEL)

Monday, November 23, 2015

5 Easy Ways to Uncomplicate Your Thoughts


1. Question your stories.

You know what they say, don’t believe everything you hear nor everything you read. Don’t believe the gossip columns in the magazine, the doom and gloom predictions from your co-workers, or the “shocking news” that you hear on TV … until you have verified it.

Well, the same concept applies to your inside world – your thoughts.

We all have stories about ourselves even if we don’t think of them as stories. Case in point: How often do you pause and logically contemplate what you really think about your relationships, your habits, or your challenges? How often, on the other hand, do you just blurt out whatever fleeting emotion comes to mind first – i.e., the pre-recorded story you’ve been holding on to – without even thinking?

Stories can be short, such as “I’m not a good writer,” “I’m not good at work,” or “I have intrinsic procrastination problems.” If we were to dig deeper, you’d be happy to go on and try to explain why that is the case.

So the uncluttering exercise here is to question your story. For instance, let’s take the writer example. Ask yourself: Why do I think I am not a good writer? What would it look like to be a good writer? Can I describe my current writing in a way that serves me better?

You will be surprised how often the questioning process helps you emerge with a much better and more accurate version of your story. Give it a try!

2. Prove the power of affirmations to yourself.

You may have heard of positive affirmations. They are statements in the affirmative implying something is already so, such as:

I am a good writer.
I am a talented person.
I am a kind loving person.
Now let’s be honest. When you are feeling frustrated or unhappy, do you really feel like saying a positive affirmation and, more importantly, believing it? Um… probably not, so how do we outsmart our own negative side? By disarming what we call “blurts.”

Blurts are the rotten terrible things that your subconscious mind spews out at you every chance it gets. The idea is to leverage these inner demons by forming an inner dialogue with them that helps you get past your mental clutter and negativity.

Here’s a fun way to think about it: Remember in the old cartoons, they had a demon on one of the character’s shoulders and an angel on the other? Well your blurts are the demon and your affirmations are the angel. Now just play the part of YOU.

Let’s start with a blurt that is running in your mind: “I am going to be alone forever.”

Your affirmation rebukes that with, “Actually, I am going to find the right person to share my life with.”

Now your blurt will come back with: “Oh yeah, and when is that going to happen, 50 years from now?”

To which you say, “I’m not sure, but I feel confident that the right person will find me.”

“Well, what makes you so confident?” says the blurt again.

“Because I am a wonderful, loving person and have a lot to offer,” says the affirmation.

To which your blurt responds, “Oh really? Well, why hasn’t’ it happened already if you’re so great?”

And you reply with, “Well, everything in life comes at the right time.”

You may be chuckling, but I promise you this much, if you just commit to doing this (and it may help to actually write it out) you will be engaged in your own inner thoughts as you are “cleaning house,” and you will understand yourself and the root of your negativity far more deeply.

That is when you start to master peace over chaos in your mind – the beginnings of that internal simplicity.

3. Run your thoughts through three key filters.

Sometimes you are in a hurry, and not having a great day to boot. On days like this, there’s a mental decluttering exercise I use that’s super quick and keeps you in check…

I’ve been in arguments with my husband in the past and one of the things I regret is not filtering my words before saying them. At the time, I did not have the right tools, except “Be nice!”, which does nothing for you when you are feeling the opposite of nice. Some years later, I ran across this simple trick and it helped me shift my behavior. Here’s how it works:

Before you utter anything, run your thoughts through three key filters and don’t speak unless you get three resounding YES responses:

Is it true?
Is it kind?
Is it helpful?
For example, let’s say a running thought in your head says that your partner doesn’t care about you, and you are about to shout those words out because he or she didn’t do the last chore you requested. Question that thought first: Is it true that my partner doesn’t care about me? Is it kind for me to say or think this? Is it helpful for me to say or think this?

Remember you can’t take your words back. What’s more, you will never regret behaving in a true, kind and helpful way down the road. So get in the habit of applying your three key filters.

4. Treat yourself the way you would treat your best friend.

We’ve all heard the expression “Treat others as you would treat yourself,” but do you see the irony of it? As I grew older, and became more aware of my thoughts and stories, I realized that I hardly ever treat others as I treat myself. I actually treat others much nicer, much kinder and way better all around. Yet I manage to treat myself with so much anger, harshness and impatience, and I know I’m not the only one.

When was the last time you said something loving to yourself? When was the last time you held your own hand and hugged yourself just for trying?

Poor self-treatment has become an epidemic, often confused with self-discipline and the drive for success, and it is hurting us far more than it’s helping.

Here’s the truth: You can be both driven and kind, self-disciplined and gentle, successful and happy.

The mental decluttering exercise here is to turn around the statement: Treat yourself the way you treat someone you love. Pick a beloved person or a best friend. How do you treat them? Are you kind, thoughtful, generous, forgiving, and compassionate with them? Now do the same for yourself. After all, are you not worthy of the same treatment, if not better? Of course you are!

5. Simplify, simplify, and then simplify some more.

The easiest yet most challenging decluttering exercise is to think from a place of simplifying. When you have no idea how to tackle the mental clutter, the troubling thoughts or just the general sense of overwhelm, step back and ask:

How do I simplify this situation?
What can I let go of without losing a thing?
Come up with at least one creative way to simplify, to take away the complexity, to make your situation easier. Maybe you take a five-minute break and come back to the problem. Maybe you let go of one unnecessary obligation. Maybe you eliminate distractions for a set time frame. Or maybe you simply decide that, for now, you will accept it the way it is and not fuss over it.

Just remember that these two questions apply to all situations and they give you the space and permission to take a step back and decide on the next best course of action.

Afterthoughts

Trust yourself in this process of simplifying. Your nature does not consist of complication and overwhelm. Your negative thoughts are not true, but they are real in your mind and questioning them helps you overcome these ingrained self-sabotaging beliefs.

At your core, you will find your essence on this journey. Your nature is peace, simplicity and love. You may be far removed from that state now but you are just getting back to where you really belong, so stay with the right questions and the right answers will gradually show up.

It’s all about uncomplicating your life, one thought at a time.

(MARCANDANGEL).

Sunday, November 15, 2015

5 Things to Remember When You’re Stuck and Desperate for a Change


1. Meaningful daily reminders make growth and positive change easier.

You can post meaningful quotes on your bedroom wall, or find a coffee, a mug that has a motivational message on it (It could read “Every Day a Miracle is Born”). But you can also take it a step further than that too.

Few good things come easy, and when the going gets tough we often take the easy way out – even though the easy way takes us the wrong way.

Think of moments when you are most likely to give in to impulses that keep you stuck and take you farther away from your ultimate goals. Then use visual reminders of those goals to interrupt the impulse and rebuild the momentum that keeps you on the right track.

2. The space between the things you do is just as important as the things you do.

Pausing for a brief second to end the chaos and busyness can save your life by winning you back precious time and peace of mind. Pausing can also provide you with a break in the habitual action, so you can begin again in a new direction when needed. But you have to leave enough space in your schedule to do so.

It’s tempting to fill in every waking minute of the day with busyness. Don’t do this to yourself. Leave space.

Leave a little space between every one of your commitments. Take a break to breathe and meditate, take a short walk outside, drink a glass of water, or perhaps do some simple deep stretching exercises. Appreciate the space, and just be.

Your ultimate goal is living a life uncluttered by most of the distractions people fill their lives with, leaving you with space for what truly matters. A life that isn’t constant busyness, rushing, and resistance, but instead mindful contemplation, creation and connection with people and projects you truly love.

3. Journaling is a priceless tool for self-reflection and self-improvement.

J.K. Rowling keeps a journal. Eminem keeps a journal. Oprah keeps a journal.

Successful people – those who consistently make positive changes in their life – track their progress, set goals, reflect, and learn from their mistakes. And they often use some kind of journal to accomplish this.

If you want to get somewhere in life, you need a map, and your journal is that map. You can write down what you did today, what you tried to accomplish, where you made mistakes, and so forth. It’s a place to reflect. It’s a place to capture important thoughts. It’s a place to be able to track where you’ve been and where you intend to go. It’s one of the most underused, yet incredibly effective tools available to the masses.

Set aside 15 minutes a day to think and write.

To this day, I still journal almost every morning. And reviewing my notes at the end of the day/week/month always helps me feel positive about all the opportunities still out there for me to explore and achieve.

4. The wrong relationships pull you back – the right ones push you forward.

When you’re moving through a sizeable life transition, it’s important to have close family and friends around you that can offer their support and understanding. There’s no room for needless negativity. It’s like the transition phase in labor – that last phase before a woman gives birth to a new life. She can’t possibly stop to take on other people’s problems or feel guilty about not returning text messages. She needs to protect her thoughts, her time, and her energy.

This same principle applies to you. If you find that you have a toxic, draining relationship that’s constantly bringing you down and keeping you stuck, let them go for a while. They may not be an inherently bad person, but they’re not the right person to be spending time with every day.

Remember, not all toxic relationships are agonizing and uncaring on purpose. Some of them involve people who care about you – people who have good intentions, but are toxic because their needs and way of existing in the world force you to compromise yourself and your happiness. And as hard as it is, we have to distance ourselves enough to give ourselves space to live.

You simply can’t ruin yourself on a daily basis for the sake of someone else. You have to make your well-being a priority. Whether that means spending less time with someone, loving a family member from a distance, letting go entirely, or temporarily removing yourself from a situation that feels painful – you have every right to leave and create some healthy space for yourself.

5. Taking consistent and realistic action every day sets you free.

All details aside, when it comes to making a substantial change in your life – earning a new degree, building a new business, fostering a new relationship, starting a family, becoming more mindful, or any other personal journey that takes time and commitment – one thing you have to ask yourself is:

“Am I willing to spend a little time every day like many people won’t, so I can spend the better part of my life like many people can’t?”

Think about it. We ultimately become what we repeatedly do. The acquisition of knowledge doesn’t mean you’re growing – growing happens when what you know changes how you live.

And remember that this change doesn’t happen all at once. It happens just one small step at a time. When it comes to making changes, less is more.

(MARCANDANGEL).

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Why Chelsea Must Stick With Mourinho!


"one day in my career the bad results will come" (Jose Mourinho in 2004).

There comes a point in a man’s life when he realizes who really matters, who never did, and who always will. For all the cynical, constructive and misplaced criticisms that have trailed Jose Mourinho this season, this is perhaps the best mindset to adopt. While he is every journalist’s dream and box office all day long, he is also a cult figure who has polarized opinion since he stormed to football relevance in 2004 after winning the Champions League with F.C Porto. His ingenuity has never been in doubt, but it is his methods that have won him more foes than friends. He is clearly a man who does not suffer fools gladly. At times, he is too blunt to his own demerits and even if his fans will disagree, he stretches the bounds of self-confidence to sheer arrogance at times.

The recent travails of Jose Mourinho have no doubt excited a lot of people. Perhaps, it is true what they say, human nature always have a hidden joy to see successful people suffer a bit. However, Jose’s travails have been uncommon. From what was perceived as a blip against Swansea in the two all draw on the opening day, it has become an official crisis. In fact, the headline statistics is that this is Chelsea’s worst start to a premier league campaign. This perspective is best appreciated when you consider the fact that this is a Chelsea team that won the league at a canter only few months ago. The fall has been swift and massive and has led some to even begin to suggest a potential relegation dog-fight involving Chelsea. While this is new for the Chelsea team under the Roman Abramovich era, it is nothing strange in football. Football dynasties have come and gone, and perhaps, this is most intriguing because the man in question is a particular Jose Mourinho. The arm chair critics have adduced several reasons for Chelsea’s current debacle. The highlight of these reasons are that: The players did not have enough rest in the summer and had a poor pre-season; the scenario involving former first team doctor, Eva Carmerio on day one of the season has had a bad rub-off on the team; Ill-luck and officials judgment; Jose Mourinho has simply lost his mindas touch and the entire plot. Believe whatever you choose, there is no one reason to explain Chelsea’s appalling start to the season. However, it is not the intent of this write-up to explain the debris; rather, it goes without saying that Chelsea must stick with Mourinho through this phase.

It is a shame in football that so many of us have collective amnesia. We forget so quickly; or better put, we choose to forget so quickly. Jose Mourinho is a fantastic manager that has brought monumental and unprecedented success to Chelsea. His managerial prowess can never be put to question. While his personality leaves a lot to be desired, you can’t fight against his results. It is also worth saying that he delivered the championship to Chelsea after a five years drought. Thus, there must be some genius in this man many love to hate. As even John Terry has admitted, if anyone will get Chelsea out of this mess, it is Jose Mourinho. He has earned the right to have a bad three months, six months and even an entire bad season. Also, it is apt to state here that even the great Sir Alex Ferguson has gone through this phase before, yet he was given a vote of confidence. With the risk of sounding like a broken record, Jose Mourinho deserves more time to get it right. In addition, it is seldom to find a superb manager who is also a genuine fan of the club he manages. Jose Mourinho is one of the few. The strain and emotions he has displayed throughout this phase only points to one thing: He genuinely cares. Jose has a deep love for Chelsea football club and it is for this reason he came back to the club he departed from in 2007.

Another huge factor to consider is also the fans feeling. Week after week, game after game, in this perilous time, the fans have not hidden their love for Jose Mourinho. In victory, they chorused his name, in defeat, it is even louder. That in itself tells a story. The fans believe in Jose Mourinho, and they recognize that he is the most successful manager in the Club’s history and this is crux of the reason they know he can turn things around.

In the event that the verdict is that Jose Mourinho must be shown the door, the big question is: Who takes his place? The truth is that the options are not too numerous. Carlo Ancelotti and Guus Hiddink are the two out-of work stand-out options but Roman Abramovich’s obsession for managerial change means that these two are in the ‘has-been’ bucket and it might be unrealistic for either to do a second coming. The other stand out option is Pep Guardiola, who Bayern might not be quick to let go of. Diego Simeone has achieved great success at Atletico Madrid and he already knows Diego Costa, Thibaut Courtois and Radamel Falcao well but the Argentine does not speak a word of English and, like Mourinho, can be a loose cannon. No doubt, there are other good relatively unknown managers around that might take a shot at the plum job, but if history is anything to go by, then Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, is not your best bet for an owner who will settle for the unfamiliar.The point also is that if Chelsea sticks with Jose Mourinho and he successfully navigates this phase, he and the club will be better for it. It is not a great reputation that a club has had about ten managers in a decade. There is such a thing as stability and it is on this basis that football dynasties are built. Same goes for Jose Mourinho who has the record of not being in a club for more than three years. Having conquered Europe, one will think it is time for him to build a football empire of some sort.

This is clearly not the best of times at Stamford Bridge and it remains to be seen if Roman Abramovich has learnt anything in footballing patience to stick with Mourinho in his darkest hour. Whatever the outcome, Jose Mourinho, Steve Holland, Silvino Loura, Rui Faria and Christophe Lollichon will go down in the records as a sublime coaching crew.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Poetry: Through It All, Still Friends!


They say some men are born great, some achieve greatness, while some have greatness thrust upon them
For you all we celebrate today, you are a rare combination of all three

You will always be a part of our hearts
It is a truism that flattery cannot strip of its essence
You have left indelible marks
Landmarks that time cannot defile
You have given of yourself; shed a part of you into our lives
This truth no one can alter
You have been our leaders
Exquisite leaders, leaders that have inspired leaders that truly care
You have been a part of our lives, a crux of our existence.

We celebrate you all

We celebrate T.A
Our thermostatic leader
Your sublime panache
Your flourishing poise
Your friendly demeanor
Your faultless humour
In sum, our leader per excellence

We celebrate A.A
Your spotless humility
Your uncommon carriage
Your imperious style
Your trademark voice
Your soothing listening ear
Thank you for whom you have been to us

We celebrate K.O
Your blunt friendliness
Your rare calmness
Your uncanny wisdom
Your mindas touch
In sum, a leader with whom there is no lacuna for mediocrity
Thank you for all you represent

And when all is said and done
When work gives way to the fullness of age
When the chips are down
When memory fails us
When push comes to shove
Always remember, we will still be friends!
Our bound shall grow tighter
Our fondness shall linger
Our relationship shall never flounder
And you shall always remain in our minds.


And on days like this, we curse the word goodbye. We know it means no harm, but we are broken by its reality. It gives you people that makes your world lighter, better and stronger and suddenly, it takes them away to diverse parts. But in our case, it was fair enough, to give us another alos paracletus!

And while words might not be enough
While our eulogies might be fleeting, our hearts revere you all today and for all times
And when the rhetorics fade away
The point remains that you all by the way you have led your life, have improved our lives
Always know that we will still be friends, friends forever.
Thank you all for all you have been to us and thank you for all you will yet be to us.
Thank you!

Poem written and recited on the send-forth dinner of my MD, Mentor and Friend!

Friday, October 23, 2015

16 Reasons Why Men Can't Win


If you put a woman on a pedestal and try to protect her from the rat race, you're a male chauvinist. If you stay home and do the housework, you're a pansy.

If you get a promotion ahead of her, that is favoritism. If she gets a job ahead of you, it's equal opportunity.

If you work too hard, there is never any time for her. If you don't work enough, you're a good-for-nothing bum.

If she has a boring repetitive job with low pay, this is exploitation. If you have a boring repetitive job with low pay, you should get off your ass and find something better.

If you shout on her, you are a miserable sexist, if she shouts on you, she is speaking up.

If you mention how nice she looks, it's sexual harassment. If you keep quiet, it's male indifference.

If you cry, you're a wimp. If you don't, you're an insensitive bastard.

If you come home late, you must be cheating, If she comes home late, she must be over-worked.

If you make a decision without consulting her, you're a chauvinist. If she makes a decision without consulting you, she's a liberated woman.

If you ask her to do something she doesn't enjoy, that's domination. If she asks you, it's a favor.

If you like a woman to shave her legs and keep in shape, you're a sexist pig. If you don't, you're unromantic.

If you try to keep yourself in shape, you're vain. If you don't, you're a slob.

If you buy her flowers, you're after something. If you don't, you're not thoughtful.

If you're proud of your achievements, you're up on yourself. If you don't, you're not ambitious.

If you're totally beat after a hard day, you don't give a damn about other people's needs. If she's totally beat after a hard day, she's tired.

If you want it too often, you're oversexed. If you don't, there must be "someone else".

Hilarious right...hehe

Adapted by Samuel Okonkwo.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

10 Challenges To Enhance Growth


1. Use words that encourage happiness. – Typically, when I ask someone “How are you?” they reply, “I’m fine” or “I’m okay.” But one lazy Monday afternoon last month a new colleague of mine replied, “Oh, I am fabulous!” It made me smile, so I asked him what was making him feel so fabulous and he said, “I’m healthy, my family is healthy, and we live in a free country. So I don’t have any reason not to be happy.” The difference was simply his attitude and his choice of words. He wasn’t necessarily any better off than anyone else, but he seemed twenty times happier. Spend the next 30 days using words that encourage a smile.

2. Try one new thing every day. – Variety truly is the spice of life. You can see or do something a million times, but you can only see or do it for the first time once. As a result, first time experiences often leave reflective marks in our minds for the rest of our lives. Make an effort to try something new every day for the next 30 days. It can be a whole new activity or just a small experience, such as talking to a stranger. Once you get the ball rolling many of these new experiences will open doors to life changing opportunities.

3. Perform one selfless act every day. – In life, you get what you put in. When you make a positive impact in someone else’s life, you also make a positive impact in your own life. Do something that’s greater than you, something that helps someone else be happy or suffer less. I promise, it will be an extremely rewarding experience. One you’ll likely remember forever.

4. Learn and practice one new skill every day. – Self-reliance is a vital key to living a healthy, productive life. To be self-reliant one must master a basic set of skills, more or less making them a jack of all trades. Contrary to what you may have learned in school, a jack of all trades is far more equipped to deal with life than a specialized master of only one. And besides, learning new skills is fun.

5. Teach someone something new every day. – We all have natural strengths and talents that can dramatically help those around us. What comes easy for you is no doubt challenging for others. We tend to take these gifts for granted, often hardly noticing what we have to offer, and thus we rarely share them with others. Inner happiness and zeal come from using these inherent gifts on a routine basis. What do people thank you for? What do people routinely ask for your help with? Most people’s passions and talents help others in one way or another. Perhaps for you it’s painting, teaching math, cooking a good meal or leading an exercise class. For the next 30 days devote some time each day to sharing your talents and expertise.

6. Dedicate an hour a day to something you’re passionate about. – Take part in something you passionately believe in. This could be anything. Some people take an active role in their city council, some find refuge in religious faith, some join social clubs supporting causes they believe in and others find passion in their hobbies. In each case the psychological outcome is the same. They engage themselves in something they strongly believe in. This engagement brings happiness and meaning into their lives.

7. Treat everyone nicely, even those who are rude to you. – Being nice to someone you dislike doesn’t mean you’re fake. It means you’re mature enough to control your emotions. Treat everyone with kindness and respect, even those who are rude to you – not because they’re nice, but because you are. Do this for 30 days and I guarantee you’ll see the rudeness around you dissipate.

8. Concentrate on being positive at all times. – The real winners in life cultivate optimism. They have the ability to manufacture their own happiness and drive. No matter what the situation, the successful diva is the chick who will always find a way to put an optimistic spin on it. She knows failure only as an opportunity to grow and learn a new lesson from life. People who think optimistically see the world as a place packed with endless opportunities, especially in trying times. Try to spend the next 30 days looking at the bright side of things.

9. Address and acknowledge the lesson in inconvenient situations. – It’s important to remember that everything is a life lesson. Everyone you meet, everything you encounter, etc. They’re all part of the learning experience we call ‘life.’ Never forget to acknowledge the lesson, especially when things don’t go your way. If you don’t get a job you wanted or a relationship doesn’t work, it only means something better is out there waiting. And the lesson you just learned is the first step toward it. Over the next 30 days keep a written log of all the lessons life taught you.

10. Pay attention and enjoy your life as it happens. – When I watched the Academy Awards a few months ago I realized that most of the speeches actors and actresses make when they accept an award go something like this: “This means so much so me. My whole life has been leading up to this moment.” But the truth is, our whole lives have been leading up to every moment. Think about that for a second. Every single thing you’ve gone through in life, every high, every low and everything in between, it has led you to this moment right now. Ask yourself this: How much of life are you actually living? If you’re like most people, the answer is likely: “Not enough.” The key is to concentrate on a little less on doing and a little more on being. Remember, right now is the only moment guaranteed to you. Right now is life.

(MARCANDANGEL).

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

11 Free Books and Reading Sites You Should Visit


http://www.librarything.com/zeitgeist – LibraryThing connects you to other people who are reading what you’re reading and allows you to see which books are popular in various categories of reading.

http://www.textbookrevolution.org/index.php/Book:Lists/Subjects – Links to free online textbooks and other educational materials.

http://www.booktv.org – This is the companion site to Book TV on C-Span2. The site holds some current interviews with authors, many past interviews, opinions, reviews, and featured programs through online video.

http://bookboon.com/us/textbooks – Bookboon provides online textbooks for students in PDF format. The free ebooks can be downloaded without registration. Our books are legal and written exclusively for Bookboon. They are financed by a few in-book ads.

http://www.scribd.com – Scribd, the online document sharing site which supports Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF and other popular formats. You can download a document or embed it in your blog or web page.

http://www.bookyards.com – BookYards is a web portal in which books, education materials, information, and content will be freely to anyone who has an internet connection.

http://www.planetebook.com – Free classic literature to download and share.

http://www.e-booksdirectory.com – Thousands of ebooks on various subjects to download and share.

http://www.readprint.com – Free online books library for students, teachers, and the classic enthusiast.

http://publicliterature.org – Thousands of familiar classics, children’s books, plays and poems, as well as books by new authors.

http://personalmba.com/best-business-books – MBA programs don’t have a monopoly on advanced business knowledge: you can teach yourself everything you need to know to succeed in life and at work. The Personal MBA features the very best business books available, based on thousands of hours of research.

(MARCANDANGEL).

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Reflective Story at 55!


As I sit down to write this piece from my hotel room in Teddington, London, I gazed from my 17th floor room through my window into the rare glorious evening sunshine that descended upon London. And as I looked on, I saw a little boy assist an elderly woman at the ATM point across the road. I saw the woman give him a tip at the end and I observed that he rejected it with a smile. I also noticed that all the cars on the road at that point were on a standstill, including a police van. Why? An ambulance was on the prowl. As I reflected on these negligible but fundamental scenes, I remembered home. I reckon that you will find more swindlers and con men at the ATM points than you will meet genuine helpers. My thoughts raced back to an incident in Sokoto state where even an ambulance with an emergency case had to give way for some minutes because a commissioner was cruising by the road. At 55, this aptly sums up our experience. And for those that are quick to jump into the bandwagon that it is wrong to compare us to the United Kingdom, look no further than the tales of Singapore.

It is also sad that we are a country that is quick to celebrate things and events. That is why I was particularly thrilled by the decision of the Presidency to spend a mere 70 Million naira on this year’s Independence national celebration. While that money is still a significant chunk in today’s crippling economy, it was a great cut from the over 1 billion naira fanfare previous governments has allocated in marking this event. Make no mistakes about it; there is surely a great value in celebrating our independence anniversary. However, the problem is that hitherto this time, the government attached so much razzmatazz and glitz to the events that its saliency is eroded and stripped at the end. We are apt to make merry in this part of the world. We console ourselves that the elasticity of our endurance knows no limit. And while our national resistance as a people is not in doubt, we have to wonder at ourselves on why we still remain in Fela’s words ‘The suffering and smiling nation.’

In many ways, the nation is at a crossroads, a transition of some sort. With the government of Muhammadu Buhari still finding its feet, and a people obsessed for a swift change, this independence is a time to step back and do some reflection in hindsight. So much of us gaining traction as a nation depend on leadership. Leadership as alluded to by Chinua Achebe remains the core issue with our nation. While the place of followership in achieving the new Nigeria is paramount, the leadership direction remains fundamental. If we decide to strip ourselves of our political party affiliations for a moment, we will realize that some living conditions have improved since the new government came into place. The point to note is that some of these improvements did not happen because Buhari brought out the magic wand of change. Interestingly, it is that people have just sat up to their responsibilities. If the records are anything to go by, power situation has improved relative to what it used to be in a vast majority of places. Some agencies such as the NDDC and FRSC have been in the news of recent for more of the right reasons of doing their job. The NNPC and virtually all the staff you talk to from there, have a renewed sense of duty and awakening. This just goes to show what leadership can wrought. And while this is not a eulogy to celebrate the 120 days or so of the Buhari administration, it is important that we outline the facts as they are. It is still too premature to pass a judgment on this administration, and while it has received some knocks so far (justified and unjustified), the jury will still be out for a while on this one. For now, the conclusion we can reach is that people make a system work, and for all the errors we like to point at that is wrong with Nigeria, a lot depends on people not just doing their jobs. Perhaps, that is why the overwhelming criticism of the government under Goodluck Jonathan was not that he was evil; rather, it was that under his watch, impunity, negligence, and untold corruption were on rampage.

At 55, we the people must step back and realize that in this journey, we are all co-travelers and equal stakeholders. Judging by the pulse, we are a more politically aware people than we were a year ago. However, this is not enough in this massive work of reconstruction. We must continue to demand and display the ethics of hard work, the virtue of responsible citizens and the conscience of the nation. It is a cliché, but it is so true that if we all as Nigerians at all levels handle our little responsibilities at work and home with diligence and honesty, we will ultimately form the nucleus for a better Nigeria to thrive. If we all try to banish our lens of ethnicity, tribe and religious dichotomy, we will be laying the foundation for our prosperity.

We are still a work in progress, but this is a time to reemphasize the message that we are all in this together and there is so much we the people can do to bring the desired change. However, the government of Muhammadu Buhari must realize that the clock is ticking against it. The national expectation remains huge and while he is not the messiah, he must realize that he is pivotal to the change we seek. It is worth saying that same goes for the National Assembly and other government officials at different levels. The man in an IDP camp somewhere in Adamawa state is less interested in the politicking of Bukola Saraki and the ‘powers that be.’ His concern is for a change to happen in his life, welfare and that of his immediate and unborn children. His hope is that he can return home someday, feeling more secure and finding a society to help him rebuild his life again. Our politicians must realize this always.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

3 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder Than It Has To Be


1. You procrastinate to avoid your expectation of problems.

Let’s say you’ve been putting off a big project at work because you’re dreading doing it. Maybe it’s difficult and you feel overwhelmed. It’s a lot of hard work, and you are expecting to have to do lots of things you’re perhaps not good at, expecting mistakes, failure and lots of headaches. But in reality you’re the one giving yourself a headache. Realize this and let go of your expectations. This means you don’t know how this project will go… you go into it with an open mind. You give it a try and see how it goes. And you learn from the experience no matter how it goes.

Honestly, you cannot find peace by avoiding life. Life spins and requires us to spin with it; so instead of avoiding what must be done, take every task and experience as a challenge for growth. Either it will give you what you want or it will teach you what the next step is.

And remember, finding peace in life does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, no challenges, and no hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things while remaining calm in your heart and mind.

2. You give up too soon when you realize things aren’t as easy as you expected.

This is the flip side of the previous point. But again, expectations are getting in the way…

The best things in life don’t always come easy. Some level of difficulty is necessary. Avoiding this truth just makes the hard things harder. Deep down you know this is true, and yet you’ve entered a new endeavor with the expectation that it will be amazing and you’ll do it with ease. And when it’s inevitably harder than you thought it would be, and you’re less successful at it than you expected, you’re disappointed and discouraged. So you lose motivation and give up.

Now imagine you let go of the fantasy of how this endeavor will go, and you’re simply open to what emerges… You can just do it, without worrying about the outcome. You can simply be in the moment with it. Then, no matter how it turns out on the first try, you’ll learn what you need to know.

Bottom line: There are no shortcuts to any place worth going. Reality always rears its head in the end. And the truth about how ordinary people achieve immense happiness and incredible feats of success is that they step out of their comfort zones and do the hard things that their more educated, affluent and qualified counterparts don’t have the courage, drive or determination to do.

So for your own sake, stop expecting everything to be easy and start doing the (necessary) hard things today with an open mind. I guarantee you will be blown away at just how remarkable you really are and just how fast you can grow.

3. People hurt you because they don’t behave the way you expected.

This woman at work is driving you crazy because “she’s not doing her work the way she should,” or maybe she’s being inconsiderate somehow. Your irritation stems from an expectation of how this woman ‘should’ act. She isn’t acting according to this ideal in your mind, and so you suffer because of it.

It’s time to put aside this expectation that people will live up to your ideals… and just be open to them. They will behave imperfectly, just as you will. Of course, accepting people as they are doesn’t mean you do nothing… you can let go of the irritation, and see how they’re having difficulty, and use it as a teaching opportunity, or an opportunity to help them, or to take the next logical step… with no expectation that they’ll love your lesson or follow it, but just with the intention of helping someone and being proactive.

And when your children behave badly, it’s the same problem – they aren’t behaving according to your ideal. Of course they’re not! No child behaves ideally, just as no adult does. Do you behave ideally? I don’t. I’m cranky and impolite when I’m tired. I’m not proud of this, but I struggle to be cheerful and considerate sometimes. Everybody does. Your children are struggling, and you can be compassionate and help them. That is, if you can let go of your expectations that they’ll behave ideally, and accept them as imperfectly beautiful beings who just want to be happy, like you.

Yes, it may be hard to admit, but most of the problems we have with others don’t really have much to do with them at all. Many of the problems we think we have with them we subconsciously created in our own mind. Maybe they did something that touched on one of our fears or insecurities. Or maybe they didn’t do something that we expected them to do. In any case, problems like these are not about the other person – they’re about us.

And that’s OK. It simply means these little predicaments will be easier to solve. We are, after all, in charge of our own decisions. We get to decide whether we want to keep our head cluttered with stressful expectations, or instead open our minds to the positive realities unfolding in front of us.

All we need is the willingness to look at things a little differently – letting go of ‘what should be,’ and instead focusing our energy on loving ‘what is.’

(MARCANDANGEL).

Sunday, September 20, 2015

7 Questions to End Your Week With

1. What pleasant surprises did I discover this week?

Life’s dynamic nature continually renews the possibilities before you; you honestly never can be certain when the next gust of wind will arrive and what it will blow in your direction.  Open yourself to these surprises and pay attention.  Many of them will bring goodness you never knew you were missing.

Some of your best discoveries will likely come when you least expect them, in places you never even thought to look.  What you were not looking for can end up being more than you ever hoped to find.  So seek your goals and dreams diligently, but don’t be so unyielding that you develop tunnel vision.  Do not blind yourself from all the unpredictable wonders and opportunities passing in your periphery.

You are never too old, too young, too busy, or too educated to find value and joy in new, unexpected opportunities.  So stay on the lookout, and keep track of these pleasant surprises.  Be sure not to lose them in the haste of your weekly routines.

2.  What lessons did my work teach me that I could build upon next week?

This question will help you clarify the distinction between activity and achievement.  There will always be routines and mundane tasks that require you to go through the motions, but what else did you derive from your work this week?  What was learned that could be built upon?  Surely there were successes and failures – ideas that worked and those that wallowed.  Think about these events and extract what is useful.

Look at your week from beginning to end.  It was not a week of lounging around doing nothing; it was a week in which you had everything to do, and now you have done it.  Pat yourself on the back, and then acknowledge the week’s lessons – especially the things that didn’t go your way.  If you didn’t get a task done the way you had hoped or a particular solution didn’t work, it only means something better is out there waiting for you next week.  And the lessons you just learned are the first step towards it.

3.  Are my short-term efforts and long-term goals still aligned?

It’s not what you do or achieve every once in awhile (big picture), but what you do every day (small picture) that counts.  Dream big dreams, but realize that short-term, realistic goals are the key to success.  What you want to achieve is directly connected to your daily actions.  The way you spend your time defines who you are and who you will become.

Therefore, make sure what you are doing (small picture) truly aligns with where you want to go (big picture).

While the pleasure junkies of the world avoid pain and discomfort at all costs, be someone who truly understands the value and benefits of working through the tough situations that others typically avoid.  Be willing to sacrifice short-term pleasure for long-term happiness.  Be more interested in something being effective than you are in something being easy.  While everyone else is looking for the quickest shortcut, look for the course of action that will produce the real results you want for yourself.

4.  What could I have spent more or less time doing?

As Stephen Covey once said, “Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.”  In other words, productivity is not just about getting things done, it’s about getting the right things done.

At the end of each week, look at how you have spent your time, and adjust the allocation as necessary for the upcoming week.  Do your best to get rid of your schedule’s complexities so you can spend more time on the things that matter.  This means fine-tuning and eliminating all but the essential tasks, so you are left with only the ones that add value to your life.  And above all, know when to set aside the important things for the vital things, like family.

5.  How did fear and uncertainty affect what I did and didn’t do?

Not knowing which path to take can be painful, but nothing is more disheartening than standing still and never making a decision at all.  This is why it’s imperative to think about your fears and address them on a weekly basis.  You have to stop them so they don’t stop you from moving forward with your life.

So what should you do?  Anything… something small… so long as you don’t simply sit there.  If you make a mistake, start over.  Try something else.  If you wait until you’ve satisfied all the uncertainties in your mind, it may be too late.

The bottom line is that you gain strength, confidence and emotional growth by living through every experience in which you are forced to stop and look fear in the face.  And once the face-off is over and you realize you’re still breathing, you must say to yourself, “I have lived through period of uncertainty, I have learned from it, and I am better off.  AND I am capable of dealing with the next intimidating circumstance that comes my way too.”

6.  What mental clutter can I clear?

Just as you don’t move from one place to another without first sorting your belongings, and leaving behind what is not useful or needed, so too should you follow the same process with what you’ve mentally gathered, before moving on.  Do some purging and clear some clutter.  Don’t carry excess baggage into next week.  Eliminate the unnecessary so the necessary may shine bright.

Throw away any regrets, shame and anger that you have accumulated this week, and take only the treasures worth keeping: the lessons, the love and the best of what can be remembered.

One of the easiest ways to sort through your mental clutter, and decide what needs to be discarded, is to perform a simple brain dumping exercise whereby you dump your emotions into a written journal or notepad.  Literally think about this week’s standout moments, make a list of how you felt on each occasion, and then review your findings.  Clear out the negative clutter that’s lingering in your mind by processing your thoughts, filing the lessons, forgiving yourself, forgiving others, and letting this week go.

The bottom line is that you have to close the door on this week’s negativities, change the record, clean the house, and get rid of the mental dust and dirt.  Don’t deny yourself a fair chance at the week ahead.  Stop holding on to what was, so you can enjoy what is beginning now.

7.  What is the first logical step for next week?

Next week is a new beginning – a blank canvas upon which you have the delightful opportunity to create.  On Monday morning you will be standing at the start of an impressive adventure, with the very real and present opportunity to shape your present and future in exactly the way you see fit.

(MARCANDANGEL)

Monday, September 7, 2015

10 Things You Must Give Up to Get Yourself Back on Track


1. Give up pretending that you have to be who you used to be. – When times get tough, our worst battle is often between what we remember and what we presently feel. Thus, one of the hardest decisions you will ever have to make is when to stay put and struggle harder or when to take your memories and move on. Sometimes you have to step outside of the person you’ve been, and remember the person you were meant to be, the person you are capable of being, and the person you truly are today.

2. Give up berating yourself for everything you aren’t. – Being kind to yourself in thoughts, words and actions is as important as being kind to others. Extend yourself this courtesy. Love yourself – your real self. Work through your fears (dive deep), your insecurities (speak honestly and loudly), and your anger. Instead of hurting yourself by hiding from your problems, help yourself grow beyond them. That’s what self-care is all about. It’s about facing the inner issues that make you believe that you are less than you are. It’s learning to see that you are already beautiful. Not because you’re blind to your shortcomings, but because you know they have to be there to balance out your strengths.

3. Give up regretting, and holding on to, what happened in the past. – When you stay stuck in regret of the life you think you should have had, you end up missing the beauty of what you do have. Not all the puzzle pieces of life will seem to fit together at first, but in time you’ll realize they do, perfectly. So thank the things that didn’t work out, because they just made room for the things that will. And thank the ones who walked away from you, because they just made room for the ones who won’t. As they say, every new beginning comes from another beginning’s end.

4. Give up getting caught up in the negativity surrounding you. – To be positive in negative times is not just foolish optimism. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of tragedy, but also of success, sacrifice, courage, kindness, and growth. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine how well we live. If we look only for the worst, it destroys our capacity to do our best work. If we remember those times and places – and there are many – in which people have behaved magnificently, and things have gone well, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to sit around and wait for some grandiose and perfect future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live right now as we think we should live, in defiance of all the negativity around us, is in itself an amazing victory.

5. Give up thinking that everyone else has it so much easier than you. – When times get really tough, remember this simple truth: Nothing that’s worthwhile is ever easy. And when you’re struggling with something that’s important to you, and you feel like your life isn’t fair, look at all the people around you and realize that every single person you see is struggling with something, and to them, it’s just as hard as what you’re going through.

6. Give up wanting to be where others are in life. – Stop comparing where you’re at with where everybody else is. It doesn’t move you farther ahead, improve your situation, or help you find happiness. It just fuels feelings of inadequacy and shame, and ultimately keeps you stuck. The truth is, there is no one correct path in life. A path that’s right for someone else won’t necessarily be a path that’s right for you. And that’s OK. Your journey isn’t right or wrong, or good or bad – it’s just different. Your life isn’t meant to look exactly like anyone else’s because you aren’t exactly like anyone else. You’re a person all your own with a unique set of goals, obstacles, dreams, and needs. So stop comparing and start living. You may not always end up where you intend to go, but you will eventually arrive precisely where you need to be. Trust that you are in the right place at the right time, right now. And trust yourself to make the best of it.

7. Give up letting the judgments of strangers control you. – People know your name, not your story. They’ve heard what you’ve done, but don’t understand what you’ve been through. So take their opinions of you with a grain of salt. In the end, it’s not what others think, it’s what you think about yourself that counts. Sometimes you have to do exactly what’s right for you and your life, without giving a darn what your life looks like to everyone who doesn’t even know you.

8. Give up letting toxic relationships bring you down on a daily basis. – Not all toxic relationships are agonizing and uncaring on purpose. Some of them involve people who care about you – people who have good intentions, but are toxic because their needs and way of existing in the world force you to compromise yourself and your happiness. They aren’t inherently bad people, but they aren’t the right people to be spending time with every day. And as hard as it is, we have to distance ourselves enough to give ourselves space to live. You simply can’t ruin yourself on a daily basis for the sake of someone else. You have to make your well-being a priority. Whether that means breaking up with someone, loving a family member from a distance, letting go of a friend, or removing yourself from a situation that feels painful – you have every right to leave and create some healthy space for yourself.

9. Give up over-thinking and worrying about everything. – When your fears and anxieties have you looking too deep into things, it creates problems – it doesn’t fix them. If you think and you think and you think, you will think yourself right out of happiness a thousand times over, and never once into it. Worrying doesn’t take away tomorrow’s troubles, it takes away today’s peace and potential. And life is too short for that.

10. Give up believing you aren’t strong enough to take another step forward. – It’s always possible to go on, no matter how impossible it seems. In time, the grief (the lessons) may not go away completely, but after awhile it’s not so overwhelming. So breathe… You’re going to be OK. Remember that you’ve been in this place before. You’ve been this uncomfortable and restless and afraid, and you’ve survived. Take another breath and know that you can survive this time too. These feelings can’t break you. They’re painful and draining, but you can sit with them and eventually, they will pass. Maybe not immediately, but sometime soon they’re going to fade, and when they do you’ll look back at this moment and laugh for having doubted your resilience.

(MARCANDANGEL).

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Poem: This Calling, Our Most Holy Grail!


He is the shepherd of our souls, the lifter of our heads, the pulse of our lives.

Men in the world grope in the dark
They wallow in squalor
Like a troubadour in shallow rigour, they are confused
In diverse places, they seek a solution, a panacea, redemption
But search no further. We have not just found a solution, we are the solutions.

Today, we celebrate excellence in bodily forms
We celebrate stalwarts of the faith
We acknowledge men and women of Olympian feats, who have kept running, without being weary.

We are that generation that was spoken of
The chosen people the saints envisaged
The cynosures of angelic envy
The top notch and the elite breed among the heavenly creatures.

And when life storms rages with reckless abandon
When the storms of circumstances beat on us
When people despise us for our convictions
And when the burden of life threatens the foundation of our faith
We will still be standing
Unmoved, undeterred, unshaken, unfazed
For our conviction is made of steel, our hope is hunched on him, and we know that he has promised to be with us even unto the ends of time.

Dear Holy Spirit
Our friendship shall never wither
Our bound shall grow tighter
Our fondness shall linger
Our relationship shall never flounder
And you shall always remain the most important personality of our existence.

Words will not be enough to aptly describe the essence of the cell system
A haven for growth
A habitat for perfection
A home for reassurance
A family with unbreakable ties
A place of fellowship.

We rejoice and celebrate the cell system today
For it has been the foundation of our success
The crème de le crème of this beautiful nation
The microcosm of our structure
And on days like this, we appreciate our general, our finest soldier, the effulgence of excellence, our life coach per excellence, Rev Chris Oyakhilome for conceiving the cell system.
And we celebrate you our dear pastor Sylvester Esedebe
A pastor of our dreams, a father sent from God to us in such a time as this
No doubt, our journey shall be long, fruitful, laden with feats, notable achievement, laudable triumphs and uncommon greatness
This is our calling
Our most Holy grail.

Poem presented on the occasion of the Cell Ministry Day, 2015!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

15 Quick Stories that Will Make You Think Differently


1. This morning, like he has every morning for the last decade, my 86-year-old grandfather picked a fresh wild flower on his morning walk and took it to my grandmother. This morning I decided to go with him to see her. And as he placed the flower on her gravestone, he looked at me and said, “I just wish I had picked her a fresh flower every morning when she was alive. She would have loved that.”

2. Today, on my 47th birthday, I re-read the suicide letter I wrote on my 27th birthday about two minutes before my girlfriend showed up at my apartment and told me, ‘I’m pregnant.’ She was honestly the only reason I didn’t follow through with it. Suddenly I felt I had something to live for. Today she’s my wife, and we’ve been happily married for 19 years. And my daughter, who is now a 21-year-old college student, has two younger brothers. I re-read my suicide letter every year on my birthday as a reminder to be thankful – I am thankful I got a second chance at life.

3. After injuring my back, losing my job because of it, being evicted from our apartment, moving in with Laura’s parents, nursing my five-year-old through a nearly fatal bout of strep throat, I was stuck in a tragic rut for far too long. And I was sitting on the front porch of my in-law’s house feeling sorry for myself, yet again, when my old college buddy called me crying and said, ‘Mel-Mel-Melissa, my baby girl, just died in a car wreck.’ And suddenly I felt like the lucky one.

4. This morning, nearly five years after my husband’s passing, a beautiful couple and their three kids knocked on my front door. The man smiled and said, “Your husband was my heart donor. He saved my life. Not a single day has gone by that I don’t pray for him and think of you. Thank you!

5. Last week, at my friend Haley’s funeral, her husband stood up to deliver her eulogy and said, “Life is the leading cause of death, and Haley LIVED her life, passionately. She died doing what she loved to do. If she didn’t do what she loved, she may not have died yesterday, but she wouldn’t have truly lived either.”

6. Yesterday my sister and I were in a pretty bad car accident. Luckily both of us were wearing our seat belts and didn’t have any major injuries. My sister is and always has been Mrs. Popular – she knows everyone. I’m the complete opposite – an introvert who hangs out with the same two girls all the time. My sister immediately posted a comment on Facebook and Instagram about our accident. And while all her friends were commenting, my two friends showed up independently at the scene of the accident before the ambulance arrived.

7. A good friend of mine, who graduated with honors from Cal Berkley several years ago, is now the co-founder and CEO of a successful start-up in Silicon Valley. Throughout grade school he struggled with reading and writing disabilities. He spent kindergarten all the way through 12th grade in English ESE classes. During a parent-teacher conference when he was a freshman in high school, two ESE teachers collectively informed his mom that it was highly unlikely he would ever graduate. So how did he do it? How did he push through and overcome the odds? “Affirmations,” he told me with a serious smile when I interviewed him yesterday for a side-project I’m working on. “I literally told myself that they were wrong about me. I told myself exactly what I needed to hear, every single day, to move my life forward. It may sound like a cliché to some people, but it’s not; it’s powerful stuff!”

8. My dad is a blind cancer survivor. He lost both his eyes when he was in his early 30’s to a rare form of cancer. Despite this, he raised my sister and I, and took care of my mom who was in and out of rehab for alcoholism and depression. My mom is a fully recovered alcoholic now, my sister and I have graduated college, and my parents are still together and back to being happy. I’m certain none of this would have been possible if my dad hadn’t been such a resilient, positive force in our lives. My dad’s mental strength literally saved our family.

9. This past weekend I volunteered at my alma mater and gave a campus tour to a couple dozen incoming freshman. There was a young man in a wheelchair in the group who chatted with me all morning and never stopped smiling. He had a positive energy about him that was absolutely contagious. At the end of the tour I found out he had a scholarship to play basketball before a car accident left him paralyzed from the waist down. He told me, “It didn’t ruin my life, it just changed my circumstances. I’m happy to be here with you right now, with so many opportunities in front of me.”

10. The drummer in our band, Nick, is legally deaf, and has been since he was born. But he can still hear low bass tones and feel the vibrations from the drums and other instruments. Honestly, he’s such an incredible drummer that most people don’t believe he’s deaf. Sometimes I can’t believe it myself.

11. I’m sitting in my hospital bed waiting to have both my breasts removed. But in a strange way I feel like the lucky one. Up until now I have had no health problems. I’m a 69-year-old woman in the last room at the end of the hall before the pediatric division of the hospital begins. Over the past few hours I have watched dozens of cancer patients being wheeled by in wheelchairs and rolling beds. None of these patients could be a day older than 17.

12. Tonight Angel and I met a family of six staying at a hotel in Miami where we were vacationing. We saw them hanging out in the lobby, sharing stories and laughing hysterically. So on our way out, we said hello to them and asked where they were from. “Oh, we’re from here,” the mother said. “Our house burned down to the ground yesterday, but miraculously, all of us made it out safely. And that makes today a day worth smiling about.

13. This afternoon my teammate broke his right arm during our first game of the season. It was actually his first game in over two years, after his doctors told him that he would never play again due to knee surgery. This evening when I stopped by to see him I assumed he would be terribly upset. Instead he smiled and said, “That hour I spent on the field today was once only a dream.”

14. Last week I interviewed a motel housekeeper in Miami Beach for a side project I’m working on. “Do you like your job?” I asked. To my surprise, she smiled from ear to ear and was breathless for a couple seconds. She finally collected herself and said, “I can’t believe how much I love my job! I get to make dozens of our guests happy every day and feed my two beautiful children at the same time.”

15. I’m sitting here on the eighth anniversary of a dear family member’s passing, thinking about the last conversation I had with her. With a soft, weak voice she told me her only regret was that she didn’t appreciate every year with the same passion and purpose that she had in the final two years of her life, after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. “I’ve accomplished so much recently,” she told me. “If I had only known, I would have started sooner.”

(MARCANDANGEL).