Monday, January 26, 2015

2015 Elections And The Case For Change

On April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity, Martin Luther King Jnr. delivered a speech titled ‘A Time to Break Silence.’ It was a charge to Americans to follow the path of reason in the protracted Vietnam War. At a time like this, I cannot think of an apt mantra for all Nigerians in today’s political dynamics. Perhaps, since the days of the Social Democratic Party and National Republic Convention two-party system in 1993, there have never been a more closely contested elections as 2015 is brewing up to be. Teething as it might appear, our democracy must be hailed for seizing to be business as usual, where we know the results of elections before one vote is casted. Somehow, there is a real buzz around the political landscape that suggests a watershed in the horizon of Nigerian politics.

Every election is hinged upon pivotal issues. These issues are dependent on the times. In today’s Nigeria, the issues bordering on Insecurity, Corruption and Unemployment are undoubtedly top of the agenda. Not only are we bedeviled by these menaces, they continue to threaten the survival of the Nigerian entity. In 2015 elections, the case for change defies any reasonable doubt. The disenchantment of the populace has reached a tipping level. It will only amount to a diatribe to rehash the enormous potential of our country. The potentials of this turf have never been in doubt, what has been the clog in the wheel of our development has been the flawed leadership that we have had since a return to democracy in 1999.

In the equation of the 2015 presidential elections are President Goodluck Jonathan and General Muhammadu Buhari. With all due respect to the other presidential aspirants whose ambitions can be described as a joke, the battle is a direct contest between the aforementioned pair. As Pat Utomi once opined, in saner societies, this election will be a pure case of ‘Record’ versus ‘Vision.’ However, as we have seen with the electoral rallies and campaigns, it has been majorly about hauling stones at personalities and in other cases, whipping ethnic and religious sentiments. This can at best be described as divisive politics. One thing is however clear, Nigerians are not as gullible as they used to be. The level of political consciousness and awareness of the people have been sharpened mainly by the failure of its leaders. Today, the case for change is simple. The people deserve and demand more from their leaders.

Without mincing words, the Goodluck Jonathan led government to be euphemistic, has not lived up to the expectations of a vast majority of Nigerians. It is a shame that despite the attendant clamour and genuine hope of many in 2011 of Goodluck Jonathan being the savior of the Nigerian project, his government has been below par. To put matters in perspective, his sympathizers will say that the issue of insecurity has not been his own creation and that he has been doing the best he could under the circumstances. However, that is half the truth. His government has simply not done enough to salvage the scenario. About six years after becoming president, Goodluck Jonathan might well have missed a chance to etch his name in the annals of history. While there have been some strides of this government, it is simply overwhelming too little. The formation of the APC, a conglomeration of some opposition parties, might have made the opposition better fortified to face the ruling party. However, it can be said and not without reason, that the ineptitude of the ruling party has made the opposition looked like the messiah of the Nigerian state. It is true that if Jonathan had achieved a ‘Fashola’ at the federal level, Buhari might not have even been a contest. Like it or loathe it, the Goodluck Jonathan led government have simply given the opposition too much armouries with which to attack it. Corruption has thrived in this government. Unemployment is at an all-time high. Security is at its lowest ebb. There is just too much against this government.

For Buhari, his rising popularity has been phenomenon indeed. Somehow, in the eyes of his followers, he looks like a politician reborn. This bears close resemblance to the United States elections in 2008. A certain Barack Obama signified a watershed for many Americans at the time. However, seven years later, it is still a subject of discourse if that change was a fa├žade and whether or not Americans were duped. The Nigerian state today desperately yearns for a change. Same way I agree that Goodluck Jonathan does not deserve a second term in office based on his record, I am not sure either that General Buhari is the change we seek.

It is also apt to mention that the Abuja peace accord which has been signed by the key political gladiators must be adhered to beyond lip service. This election does not deserve the blood of any Nigerian. Penultimately, the onus of a credible partly election lies with Attahiru Jega and his INEC team. The message must be clear: No room for a flawed process.

Monday, January 19, 2015

3 Unconventional Steps Extremely Successful People Take in Life

1.  Dream (But Don’t Stop There)

Everything starts with a dream.  But if that’s all you do, you’re in serious trouble.

Also, having a positive attitude is an explicit requirement, because a negative attitude makes us more likely to quit — or to never even begin in the first place.

But when that positive attitude becomes a constant habit of fantasizing, things go south really quick.  Yes, that’s right, tirelessly dreaming about success is not constructive.

Again and again (somewhat to our surprise at first), our course members and coaching clients have had the same negative outcomes from over-fantasizing about what they want.  Big fantasies, wishes and dreams detached from real life experience (action) never translates into the necessary motivation to create a more energized, engaged life.  It translates into the opposite — more procrastination.

Why?  The inexperienced, emotional human brain just can’t tell the difference between fantasy and reality.

When you fantasize, certain parts of your brain think you’ve actually achieved your goal.  So rather than ramping up, motivation actually pulls back.  From what we’ve experienced through coaching thousands of people over the past decade, the main reason positive fantasies often predict poor achievement is because they do not actually generate enough energy to pursue the desired outcome.  They don’t get people out of their chairs!

Too much dreaming turns positive thinking into mere wishful thinking.

So if it doesn’t work, why in the world do we do it so often?  Plain and simple: it feels good.

Just like stuffing your face with chocolate cake or checking your email for the 70th time today, it feels good in the moment — but is counterproductive to long-term success.

Constant dreaming about success in the future seems to protect our egos against sadness in the short-term, but then promotes sadness over the long-term if that’s all we do.  Because lofty expectations are being built but aren’t being backed by any substantial means to get from point A to point B.

Want to lose weight?  Those who merely dream of looking thinner often lose significantly less weight than those who envision themselves gaining weight if they don’t take deliberate and immediate action.

Want to meet that special someone?  The more frequently our course members and coaching clients have admitted to indulging in positive fantasies, the less likely they reported initiating a real relationship.

Okay, you get the idea.  Dreaming by itself leads to nowhere worthwhile.  So, what are the missing steps?

2.  Aim for a specific outcome.

This part isn’t too difficult.  You just need to take your dream and crystalize it.  Be ultra-specific.

So if “making more money” is your dream, your desired outcome might be “get a raise at my next annual performance review.”

Dreaming of a better work-life balance?  Your outcome could be “A daily work schedule that allows me to be free every afternoon at 4 P.M. sharp and off during weekends.”

So your dream is now clear.  But this is when things get trickier and a bit more unconventional.  It’s time to be constructively negative…

3.  Visualize your obstacles ahead of time.

We call this “mental contrasting.”  You need to consciously think about the obstacles that could potentially prevent you from achieving your desired outcome.

This might seem counterintuitive at first, but it’s a strategy that works wonders.  And here’s what’s really interesting: As we’ve used this method in our coaching practice over the years, some people who do this get more focused almost instantly, while others end up less motivated in the short-term.

Does that mean this strategy is defective?  No, it means it’s truly working.  Here’s why:

The people who do not get a boost of focus are often the ones who realize the “specific outcome” they are aiming for is not specific enough or simply not reasonable – meaning they’re aiming for a goal too big and overwhelming for their current mindset.

So this mental contrasting doesn’t only motivate people to get the right things done, it also helps them break their bigger long-term goals into achievable shorter-term goals that they can wrap their minds around and get excited about, right now.  So…

When people visualize their obstacles and realize they have a good chance of overcoming them (“I want to get a raise this year”), motivation increases.Those who visualize their obstacles and realize their goals are too lofty and not specific enough (“I want to make a billion dollars this week”) report less motivation.

The latter are deterred from dreaming the wrong dream again and again, and so they tighten up their focus and don’t waste any more of their time.  Thus, outcomes for both groups that use mental contrasting are positive.

The bottom line is that to be successful, we have to envision what could go wrong, and what will inevitably go wrong, in advance, before we begin.  Far too many ambitious people fail for easily preventable reasons.  Far too many people don’t have a well-thought-out backup plan because they refuse to consider something might not go exactly as they dreamed it would.

Today, this strategy not only helps entrepreneurs close billion dollar business deals, it saves lives.  Prior to my career in personal development and life coaching, I spent a decade working for the U.S. Marine Corps.  One thing I learned from the high-ranking officers I worked for: They spend a vast majority of their mission training time going over every possible mistake or catastrophe that could happen during the mission.  Every possible error is mercilessly examined and linked to a suitable reaction: If the aircraft is hit and losing altitude, we’ll do X.  If we are forced to make an emergency landing in enemy territory, we’ll do Y.  If we are outnumbered on the ground, we’ll do Z.


Monday, January 12, 2015

16 Ways to Live a Year with No Regrets

1.Be the leader of your own journey. – There are far too many capable people who don’t pursue their dreams and goals because they let their fears, or others, talk them out of it. They give up before they even try and simply let life’s river flow them downstream. Choose to be stronger than that. Choose to swim upstream when you have to. Choose to do the things in life that move you. Let others lead small lives. Let others argue over small things. Let others cry over small wounds. Let others leave their future in someone else’s hands. But not YOU.

2.Embrace uncertainty. – Sometimes what you don’t want is exactly what you need. Sometimes what you’re most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free. Some of the most incredible chapters in your life won’t have a title you feel comfortable with until much later.

3.Take calculated risks. – There is no excuse for being an amateur forever. Life is short. The day is rapidly approaching when the risk to remain perched in your nest is far more detrimental than the risk it takes to fly. Fly! Spread your wings. Start now. What a disgrace it would be for you to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of your full potential.

4.Don’t just study it. DO it! – Knowledge combined with intention and action will organize the fulfillment of almost any desire. Yet so many people miss the final step. The action! So pound this into your head: The acquisition of knowledge doesn’t mean you’re growing – growing happens when what you know changes the actions you choose to live by on a daily basis. It’s about learning AND DOING!

5.Put diligent effort into your biggest goals. – Are you willing to spend time for a few years like most people won’t, so you can spend the better part of your life like most people can’t? Think about that for a second. If you want the benefits of something in life, you have to also want the costs. Most people want the reward without the risk. The shine without the grind. But that’s laziness, and laziness does not pay. Effort pays. The time and energy you invest in focused effort is never wasted. So remember… Expecting to win without preparation and hard work is arrogance. Expecting to win because you’ve prepared and worked hard is confidence – and that’s what you need to succeed in the long run.

6.Think you CAN. – Truthfully, if it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you. And change breeds growth. So when a goal seems big and a plan looks tough, just begin, push through it for awhile, and soon the next thing you need to do will look possible. Step by step you can get through anything – this is the truth and you have to believe it. In the end, you’re going to succeed because you’re crazy enough to think you can.

7.Respond with the power of your positivity. – Talking about our problems can be an unhealthy addiction. Break the habit and talk about your joys, victories and blessings instead. Envision problems no longer being a problem to you. Envision the frustrations around you no longer frustrating you. Envision a day where you are no longer limited by limited thinking. Envision old obstacles no longer being able to hold you back. Now consider this: Your life is the way it is not because of what happens, but because of how you respond to it. If you can truly envision that the problems are not problems at all, that’s the way it will be. If you can sincerely imagine that the obstacles can’t hold you back, they won’t be able to.

8.Flow with life, rather than against it. – Instead of resenting what you must do, just get it done. Transform the energy of resentment into the satisfaction of achievement. When you choose to love what you’re doing, you’ll be able to do more of what you love. It’s a truly fulfilling way to live. In this moment is everything you are and everything you need. So allow your actions to add positive value to the moment. Rather than making judgments about what’s enjoyable and what’s not, make the choice to simply enjoy what is, and then make the best of it.
9.Be extra kind to people. – The person you mistakenly take for granted today may turn out to be the only person you need tomorrow. Which is why you must remember to…

10.Value what money can’t buy. – People who spend all their time trying to make money, spend all their money trying to make time. Don’t do this to yourself. This year, be wealthy in healthy relationships too.

11.Share your love openly and honestly with those you love. – No matter what, you’re going to lose people in your life. Realize that no matter how much time you spend with someone, or how much you appreciate them, sometimes it will never seem like you had enough time together. Don’t learn this lesson the hard way. Express your love. Tell people what you need to tell them. Don’t shy away from important conversations because you feel awkward or uncomfortable. You never know when you might lose your opportunity.

12.Be wise enough to walk away from needless negativity. – Other people’s negativity is rarely worth dealing with. Let them work it out on their own time. When other people treat you poorly, keep being you. Don’t ever let someone else’s bitterness and bad behavior change the person you are. And…

13.Forget trying to please every stranger you meet. – Some people are not going to agree with you or like you no matter what you do or what you say. Get over it and get on with your life. No one has the right to judge you anyway. They may have heard your stories, but they didn’t feel what you were going through. So forget what they say about you. Focus on how you feel about yourself, and do your best to…

14.Let your presence overpower your fear of judgment. – When you’re in a social situation that’s making you anxious, train yourself to be present without regretting how others once made you feel, or fearing the possibility of future judgment. This is your choice. You CAN change the way you think. For instance, if you were performing life-saving, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on your mom in public, you’d be 100% focused and present. You wouldn’t be thinking about what bystanders thought of your hair, your body type or the brand of jeans you were wearing. All these inconsequential details would vanish from your consciousness. The intensity of the situation would motivate you to choose not to care about what others think of you. This proves, quite simply, that thinking about what others are thinking about you is YOUR CHOICE.

15.Say “goodbye” so you can say “hello.” – In life, goodbyes are a gift. When certain people walk away from you, and certain opportunities close their doors on you, there is no need to hold onto them or pray to keep them present in your life. If they close you out, take it as a direct indication that these people, circumstances and opportunities are not part of the plan for the next step of your life. It’s a hint that your personal growth requires someone different and something more, and life is simply making room. So embrace your goodbyes, because every “goodbye” you receive sets you up for an even better “hello.”

16.God First. - Above all, let God be first in your life. Partner with him in making your life a success!


Monday, January 5, 2015

Life is hard, but you are harder!

A wise friend once told me ‘Life is hard and you have to stand up to it at all times and never forget that no one owes you a living’ This is perhaps one of the greatest hard truth you will ever hear. It’s 2015 and the ecstasy is still very much in the air. For some, 2014 was a year to remember. However, for some others, it was a year to forget with all its frustrations and disappointments. Whatever side of the divide you are, the good thing is that 2014 is gone for good. However, the thing with life is that unless you set out to actually change it, things will remain the same even if it is a new calendar year. Life is hard. It will not always give you what you deserve. It will not always be kind to you. There will be moments when your dreams will be like a mirage before your very eyes. There will be times when everything will conspire to frustrate you. It’s life. It’s just life. You have to be tough for what is ahead. There are times when you have to be your own greatest motivating factor. You have to encourage yourself always because there will be time when nobody will be there. It’s a sad reality, but it’s the truth.

Beyond the exciting things people have said about the New Year, I want to remind you all, that 2015 will unleash fresh troubles and challenges. There will be new devils ahead. Things will not always go your way. People will hurt you badly. Yes, it’s life. In 2015, you have to make up your mind to be tougher and irrespective of what life throws your way, you have to keep going at all times, with your eyes fixed at the prize. The truth is that life is not nice in equal measures to all men. Some have a lesser turbulent path due to their background, family or heritage. But, for some of us who have the odds staked against us, we have to be strong for the future we envisaged. To survive in this race, you have to first decide in your mind to never stay down on the floor each time you fall.

It is a year that you have to paralyze fear and render it incapacitated in your live. You have to be ready to experiment things. Be flexible and be open to try new things. Always have this mindset when you want to try anything new ‘The worst that can happen is that it does not work.’ Just do it! If 2015 must be the new beginning we are all declaring it to be, then we have to throw caution to the wind and just do it. Remember as Les Brown once said ‘If there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do us no harm.’ The truth is that there will never be a perfect time to achieve anything. You have to somehow, create the perfect time and just do whatever it is you have to do. Great moments are born from making your own opportunities count.

In 2015, you have to identify what drives you. What makes you do the things you do. What guides your thoughts and your everyday actions? Desire is a powerful thing and if you could identify the core of desire in your life, you can push yourself to a limit. If your desire is strong enough, you can go any length and defy any odds. You can go through hell, and keep going with a belief that your destiny is more salient than the hell of today. They say champions keep going when there is nothing left in them. It is so true. You have to have a burning desire that keep making you go one step further. Thus, the question is always ‘How bad do you want it?’ It is your action that answers that, not by words only.

Finally, never forget at all times that it is your life and no one will be more concerned about it than you. Whatever you make out of your life, you will live with it. When all is said and done, it is your life, it is your canoe, and you alone will paddle it.

Let no one delude you. It’s one sojourn you have on this earth; making it count is not an option. It’s a must. In 2015, always ask yourself, ‘what am I doing with this one precious life of mine?’ Life is hard, but you have to be harder! Penultimetely, always stay close to the one who can make all the difference in your life: God!