Sunday, December 20, 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
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
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
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.