Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Bang! 2016 is almost over!
I bet that the memories of December 31st 2015 is still vivid in the minds of many. The written dreams, the prophesized ambitions, the unsaid hope, the countless resolutions and the plethora of goals. Without a doubt, as we look at the list where we have our 2016 goals (assuming we all keep such list), the feelings will vary. For some, it is a review with relish while for others it will be a flashback of regrets, broken dreams, missed chances and near misses. The good news however, is that everyone has an equal and new opportunity to begin on a clean slate again.
Whatever your story of 2016 is, be thankful. I tell you what; it could have been worse. It might be cliché to say that somewhere in some place, someone has it worse and will die to be in your current position, but that is an indisputable truth. Perception is everything. See the experiences of 2016 as a learning experience and a stumbling place to push you forward. Don’t try to find the answers to everything. If you didn’t get the job, learn from the disappointment and stay positive. If you were not given that admission, remain happy and try again. If it didn’t happen for you in your relationship, don’t give up on love. If you weren’t given that business deal or anticipated promotion, don’t lose your gusto. If you lost a loved one and you thought your life will never see sunshine again, pick yourself up and understand that nothing just happens. I assure you that everyone had a tale of disappointment in 2016, but some just keep going. Be thankful for all that have happened and remember that some things will only make sense in retrospect that is why hindsight is such a wonderful thing.
In 2017, vow to go again, to try again, to love again, to dream again. It will be sacrosanct to start early, to get out of your so called comfort zone, to do things differently and to tell yourself some home truth. In the new year, it will also be fundamental to drop the baggage. It might be friends, habits, indiscipline, sleep, short-sightedness and a myriad of other little foxes. Whatever it is, you must make a choice to play by a different set of rules to get better results. And remember, the difference between success and failure in the new year will be your ability to do things beyond just planning for them. The coast will never be entirely clear, you will never have all the details, all the money you need will not come to you at once and life will happen again. Irrespective of the factors, take a decision to do what you have to do!
Happy Celebration And Have A Smashing New Year Ahead!
Sunday, December 18, 2016
1. Record and Review Your Negativity in Real Time
To change your thinking, you first need to have a clear understanding of what you’re thinking. When a troubling (negative) thought arises in your mind, instead of ignoring it, pay closer attention and then record it. For example, if you’re sitting at your desk and you catch yourself ruminating about something negative, pause and write it down immediately. Get that raw thought out of your head and down on paper – just a short sentence or two that honestly depicts the specific thought that’s presently troubling you: “I’m not good enough for the job I’m applying for because I don’t have enough experience.”
Then quickly identify what triggered the thought. Again, be brief and specific: “I’m new to the industry, and therefore I’m feeling out of my comfort zone.”
At the very least, the process of recording your troubling thoughts helps bring a healthy, objective awareness to the negativity that exists within them, which ultimately helps you shift your mindset.
2. Challenge Your Negative Thoughts by Turning Them into Questions
Many of the things you tell yourself when you ruminate about your troubles are completely and utterly false. You really have to catch yourself in the act and bring yourself back to reality.
The key is to challenge your negative thoughts. And one of the simplest ways of doing this is turning them into questions. So, let’s revisit the example mentioned in #1 – “I’m not good enough for the job I’m applying for because I don’t have enough experience.” Simply change this thought into a question:
“I’m not good enough for the job I’m applying for because I don’t have enough experience???”
Then, once you’ve mulled over the question for a moment, ask yourself:
Can I be absolutely certain that the answer is yes?
Think about it, and then find evidence to the contrary. What successes have you had in your career that may be applicable to this new job? Where and when have your relevant efforts made a positive impact? Write down a short, specific list of some times when you absolutely have been good enough, and then examine it.
Do you fall short sometimes? Sure you do – everyone does. But you also succeed in incredible ways sometimes too. That’s the whole truth, and it’s worth reflecting on.
The ultimate goal is to see yourself, and the entirety of your reality, more accurately.
There’s a quote I’ve always appreciated that’s often credited to Ignatius: “Pray as if God will take care of all; act as if all is up to you.”
Monday, December 12, 2016
To God be the Glory!
Go to Amazon using the link below to read the preview and purchase a copy.
Go to Amazon using the link below to read the preview and purchase a copy.
Sunday, December 4, 2016
I have always loved poetry. In my mind, it is my first love as far as writing goes.
Today, I want to share with you one of my favorite poem of all time. Recent events have necessitated a reflection of this poem. Not only does the poem tick all the literary boxes, it helps to ask the vital questions.
To an Athlete Dying Young by A. E. Housman
The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.
Today, the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.
Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay,
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.
Eyes the shady night has shut
Cannot see the record cut,
And silence sounds no worse than cheers
After earth has stopped the ears.
Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.
So set, before its echoes fade,
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
And hold to the low lintel up
The still-defended challenge-cup.
And round that early-laurelled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl’s.
Sunday, November 20, 2016
As the dust begins to settle over what in the words of U.S House speaker (Paul Ryan) was the ‘most incredible political feat of my lifetime,’ Americans and the rest of the world are left asking ‘What now from January 20th when this box office movie eventually goes live?’
While Trump might be saying the politically correct things at the moment, it is important not to be politically naïve as to what his values are. It was Trump who wrote in his 2007 book, Think Big And Kick Ass, “When someone intentionally harms you or your reputation, how do you react? I strike back, doing the same thing to them only ten times worse.” In the world of business and even in his popular ‘Apprentice’ show, he was known as a vindictive and vengeful man. Whether he will revisit the subject of deploying a private persecutor on bitter rival, Hilary Clinton, remains to be seen. Yet, one thing is clear – Trump hardly forgets. It is the fear of many that Trump might be his own greatest enemy. Past presidents have simply been restrained by restraint. By a belief that there are certain things one simply cannot try or do. Yet Trump has repeatedly triumphed in circumstances that most predicted were impossible. He operates entirely without shame. Perhaps, the biggest hope to taming a Trump presidency will be the Senate of the Unites States. These are peculiar times and all senators – Republicans and Democrats – must realize that a time bomb waiting to explode currently occupies the White House.
Yet, Trump is not entirely a bag of negatives. It was Barack Obama who noted at his White House Briefing on Monday 14th November that “I don't think he is ideological. I think ultimately he is pragmatic in that way. And that can serve him well as long as he has got good people around him and he has a clear sense of direction.” While the election results might have reflected deep rooted seeds of racism, sexism and religious bigotry, it is also a truism that Trump has made some success in his own personal life that inspired many electorates to vote for him. Translating that success to the murky waters of politics will be a different task but he must be given a chance.
It has been said and not without reason that the biggest loser in the wake of the elections is Barack Obama. His legacies and all he stood for stands in the balance. It is true that realities at the oval office might humble Donald Trump, but it is difficult to see how he will not overhaul the Obama legacies. Top of the list are the Iran deal and the now infamous ‘ObamaCare’. At the core of Trump’s campaign was a promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act and to scrap Obama’s executive actions on immigration and climate change. Trump also has promised to undo the president’s deal to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, the biggest foreign policy achievement of Obama’s second term. Trump might moderate his actions on deporting 12 million undocumented immigrants and the likes but he certainly has the power to rip into shreds anything left of the Obama legacy. The early verdict is that the Obama presidency did enough, steadied the ship and delivered an ‘Ok’ nation. The fear however, is that within months of a Trump presidency, all we might remember of Barack Obama is that ‘He was the first black president of the United States,’ with nothing remembered about what he did. President Franklin D. Roosevelt is often remembered for the ingenious framework that was ‘The New Deal’, Obama risk being remembered solely for his skin colour.
And now some political epitaph for the Clintons. The Huffington Post reported after the elections ‘It was arrogance, arrogance that they were going to win. That this was all wrapped up.’ Several theories have been proffered to explain just what went wrong for the Clinton campaign in an election that virtually everyone expected the Democratic nominee to win. But lost in the discussion is a simple explanation - The Clinton campaign was harmed by its own neglect. But this was not all. A school of thought believes that Hilary Clinton just was not popular. She didn’t inspire confidence dating back to the Democratic convention, and even when she brought the Beyonces, Obamas and Lady Gagas to the campaign rallies, it ended up being less about her and more about them. They, rather than herself, were the main event at those rallies. Elections are about popularity and she wasn’t liked (forget what the popular votes tell you). In an era of political change, a vast majority of Americans just concluded that the Clintons have too much baggage of their own.
Sunday, November 13, 2016
1. Our relationships are filled with unnecessary judgments. – When we judge, we learn nothing. Realize this. Open your mind and heart. Don’t judge people just because they sin differently than you. The world is changed by your example, not by your judgments. Be kind. Ask about people’s stories. Listen. Be humble. Be teachable. Be a good neighbor.
2. We look down on people when we disagree with them. – When someone upsets you, this is often because they aren’t behaving according to your fantasy of how they “should” behave. Take a deep breath. It’s OK to disagree with the opinions of others, but that doesn’t give you the right to deny any sense they might make. Nor does it give you a right to accuse them of poorly expressing their beliefs just because you don’t agree with them. Learn to appreciate different perspectives, lifestyles, and opinions, even if it means overcoming your pride and opening your mind beyond what’s initially comfortable.
3. We have a tendency to dwell on people’s weaknesses. – Be present. Be kind. Compliment people. Magnify their strengths, not their weaknesses. This is how to make a real and lasting difference in your relationships.
4. There’s a whole lot we don’t know about the people in our lives. – It’s impossible to know exactly how another person is feeling or what kind of emotional battles they’re presently fighting. Every smile or sign of strength hides an inner struggle every bit as complex and extraordinary as your own.
5. We carelessly gossip about our relationships. – Don’t give in to the unnecessary negativity, drama and gossip around you. Be positive. Give people a piece of your heart rather than a piece of your mind. And listen carefully to how a person speaks about other people to you – this is precisely how they will speak about you to other people.
6. Our “busy” lives often get in the way of our most important relationships. – The people you take for granted today may be the only ones you need tomorrow. Never be too busy to make time for the folks who matter most. Truly, the best gift you can give someone today is the purity of your undivided attention. Just be present with them, and pay attention to the little things.
7. We try to hide our flaws, even from those closest to us. – As imperfect as you might be, as small as you sometimes feel, and as out of place as you imagine you are, you don’t have to hide the flawed pieces of yourself. Remember, you attract other people to you by the qualities you show them, but you keep them around based on the qualities you truly possess. Personal flaws are a part of everyone’s life. If you try to hide them, you don’t give the people who care about you a chance to truly know and love the real you.
8. Our relationships aren’t as easy as we want them to be. – Good relationships require work. Good relationships require sacrifice and compromise. They are amazing, but rarely easy. Resisting the hard times and seeing them as immediate evidence that something is wrong or that you’re in the wrong relationship only aggravates the difficulties. By contrast, finding the willingness to view the challenges as opportunities to learn will give you the mindset you need to nurture your relationship to new heights.
9. We try to “fix” the people we care about. – The act of sincerely caring for another person is rooted in love and respect. This means listening to them wholeheartedly and letting them know by your complete presence that they are seen, heard, and valued. It’s not a space where you try to fix them – it’s about being a witness to the totality of who they truly are.
10. We resist change within our relationships. – Healthy, authentic relationships move in the direction of personal growth: for the relationship and for each person in it. Growth and change are a part of life and you must embrace it. Even when you are concerned that a relationship may dissolve if things change, you must embrace the fact that your paths may diverge for all the right reasons.
Sunday, November 6, 2016
1. The Curiosity Spark.
This spark is about the pursuit of a burning question. Is there something you need to know, an answer you feel deeply called to figure out or a solution to a problem that just won’t let you go? Examples of people often fueled by a fierce curiosity spark might include scientists, entrepreneurs and even media producers and authors. As Albert Einstein profoundly said, “The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day.”
2. The Fascination Spark.
This spark is about a deep fascination or interest in a particular topic, field or idea. It’s not about a specific problem or question; it’s more about some intrinsic connection with something. It often begins in childhood and stays with us for life, but fascination sparks can emerge upon exposure to new experiences or ideas in the blink of an eye. Examples might include art historians, hobbyists and really anyone who loves to read and research on a topic for no other reason beyond the deep gratification that comes from deepening into an interest. Truly, some of the unhappiest, unmotivated people I’ve ever met are those who don’t care deeply about anything at all. Deep fascination and satisfaction go hand in hand, and without them, any bit of happiness or motivation is only fleeting, because there’s nothing substantial to make it last.
3. The Immersion Spark.
This spark is about the feeling of absorption or becoming lost in a task or entire process. It’s what athletes often describe as being “in the zone” and social scientists call “flow.” It’s about being utterly lit-up and consumed by the process of an activity, without regard to the end. Even though the pursuit of this all-immersive experience also often leads to astonishing accomplishment, that’s not the core driver. A couple great examples would be crafters and artists. Sure, they end up creating beautiful things, but for many, that’s just an added bonus. The real thing that lights them up is the ability to get lost in a process. On your average day, immersion sparks are those flashes of intense living when you’re engrossed in a meaningful task that makes you feel more alive. These optimal experiences can happen when you’re engaged in work, paid or unpaid, which move you. Work like this is something you could be pursuing on a daily basis.
4. The Mastery Spark.
This spark is all about the devoted pursuit of improvement. You may not be obsessed with having to become the best in the world at something, but the feeling of progress – the ability to check growth markers off along a journey – is what keeps you committed to the experience. It often doesn’t really even matter what the subject matter is, as along as there is a well-defined path to excellence and an ability to measure progress along the way. Martial arts is a great example, with it’s clearly demarked “belt” system, where you can progress down a path to mastery and always know what it takes to get to the next level. Perhaps Winston Churchill said it best: “Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.”
5. The Service Spark
This final spark is all about helping others. For many, knowing that, in some way, you’ve made a difference in the lives of others is the single biggest driver. It’s the thing that makes you feel most lit-up and motivated. Interestingly, a service spark may be connected to a particular person or group, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, that “other” doesn’t even have to be human. It could be animals, plants or even the bigger concept of the environment or planet. Members of clergy and volunteers are often fueled by profound service sparks. What kind of service motivates you? Think about it. In the long run, real love only intensifies by sharing. You can only have more of what motivates you by giving it away to others.
Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Long after the verdict of the November 8 polls fizzles away, there is no gainsaying that America and to an extent, the political world, will never remain the same. Donald Trump’s presidential campaign might currently be on life support after a barrage of self-destructive revelations from his dirty past and theatrics of his present life, but the legacy has been birthed and American politics has now been redefined going forward and the inquest of ‘What were we doing when this man emerged’ will long continue. Donald Trump prides himself as an outlier and makes everyone believe that he is an institutional outsider as a way to cloak the menace that he truly is. Indeed, he is an unconventional politician but he is worse than that. He is the embodiment of crass racism, a poster boy for male chauvinism, a religious bigot, a spoilt rich kid, and an enemy of humanity.
The United States has long been spared a truly authoritarian element in her politics. What Trump has succeeded in doing is to show something different, something that less fortunate countries know all too well: how authoritarianism works, how it seduces, and ultimately how it wins. It is not uncommon to have politicians with radical and outlandish views, however, in every true democracy, these radicals are always on the fringes; carefully guarded to scream from the outside. What has emerged with Donald Trump on the verge of the most important job in the world is the full assimilation of the fringes into mainstream politics. He hasn’t just given a voice to his kind, he has given them a renewed hope to dare; the kind that gave Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini the guts to carry out their heinous fascist and totalitarian tendencies. Trumpism thrives on the innate evil in man. The notion that you can do whatever you want and get away with it, that you can spit vitriol on the face of the not-so-privileged and take no blemish and that you can evade taxes for years and still tell the ‘little guy’ to go to hell. It all comes down to an irritatingly simple but unresolved question about his supporters: How much do they support Trump because they like his views, and how much do they support his views because they like Trump? We just don’t yet fully know, but one thing you can be sure of is that in him, some of his supporters see themselves; they might have never believed that their kind can be on the threshold of the plum job at the oval office. And even if he loses, the point has been made.
Trump might be the natural end result of a GOP that has leaned toward violent rhetoric and racial divisiveness for years, but his legacy is to be dreaded by all. Some part of Trump may even recognize this about himself, and that may be the reason he refuses to look inward. “When you start studying yourself too deeply, you start seeing things that maybe you don’t want to see,” he said in an interview with Time magazine some years back. “And if there’s a rhyme and reason people can figure you out,” Trump added, “and once they can figure you out, you’re in big trouble.”
Ultimately, Trump’s fire might have been contained from consuming the White House with all its flourishing history, but that fire now burns in the hearts of millions of Americans and non-Americans around the world. The United States will eternally do an inquest of how its glorious democracy birthed the monster that was Donald Trump, how unconventional vinegar was brought to the mainstream with many tasting the venom that might never leave their system. The conclusion of the matter is that while there is plenty of reason to fear a President Trump, even citizen Trump is a real and present danger to society.
Sunday, October 23, 2016
Myth #1: All you need to do is work really, really hard to be successful.
This belief is single-handedly responsible for at least half of all the personal failures people have discussed with me over the years. This might sound ridiculous, but it’s true! After all, everyone agrees that success requires hard work, regardless of whether you want to run a marathon or build a successful business. In the book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes roughly 10,000 hours of diligent practice to master a domain. Simply put, hard work is something you just can’t avoid, even if you work smart. However, you also likely have other job responsibilities, household chores, and family responsibilities. Where do you find the time and energy to work hard on new positive habits every day? For instance, you might be trying to build a habit of exercising for 30 minutes every day. But what about those days when you don’t have 30 minutes? You skip, and then you keep on skipping. The good news is that hard work is NOT the most important element in success, at least not initially, when you are just beginning to build a habit. The only thing that matters initially is to actually do the habit every day for a very short time. Therefore, rather than try to exercise for 30 minutes a day, start with as little as two minutes a day. You may be wondering – two minutes a day will clearly not help you achieve any results at all, so what’s the point? The point is simply to become accustomed to an everyday routine. A habit is something that you do without willpower, something that comes to you naturally. Doing it every day trains a part of your brain – the cingulate gyrus – to ingrain this activity and make it as natural as brushing your teeth every morning. Within a couple of weeks, your brain will get used to the process of doing the activity every day at a specific time or place. That’s when you can increase the time by two to five minutes every week. Taking it slow allows you to make gradual adaptations to your everyday routine to accommodate your new habit. Within a few weeks, you will reach your 30-minute target, and it will have become a habit for life that doesn’t feel like a burden.
The key: Just remember, hard work is important, but that’s the second step toward change. The first step is consistency. Once you become consistent with a small habit, only then should you begin to work harder at it.
Myth #2: You must have a hard deadline, and if you don’t hit it you will fail.
Are you trying to build new habits to reach certain goals by a set deadline? Something like, “I have to lose 10 pounds in one month,” or, “I have to become a published author within a year.” You might believe that you can’t get anything done without setting deadlines. But what if I told you that deadlines are actually holding you back in many cases? This happens in two ways: First, a deadline will draw your attention toward your goal, the result that you seek. You will constantly evaluate how well you did every day by checking your weight or critically judging the quality of your writing. What you haven’t taken into account is that during the first few weeks, you might not gain any visible results at all. You might struggle to run even for half a mile or write anything meaningful. That’s all part of the natural skill development process that everyone goes through. This lack of visible progress can really discourage you. You might feel that you just don’t have what it takes, and you may be motivated to abandon your goal altogether. Deadlines also cause people to underestimate the amount of time required to get a job done. Look around and you will see this happening in all walks of life. People often miss deadlines at the workplace or end up putting in extra hours at the last minute. If you set deadlines that are not practical, you are building up unrealistic expectations that will soon demotivate you. It’s important to understand that deadlines have a time and a place, but they aren’t universally beneficial. For instance, do hard deadlines truly matter for building long-term, life-changing habits? No, they don’t. Even if you take 10 years to become a published author or set up your own business, imagine the impact that will have on the rest of your life. What’s the big hurry? Take it slow and steady… small, consistent steps forward every day.
The key: Especially during the first few weeks, forget about setting rigid deadlines and just focus on what’s important – building the foundation for your positive habit or routine. If you need a better approach to stay motivated, focus on your “big why.” Why do you want to build this habit/project/etc.? What rewards will you gain? How will it make you happier and more fulfilled? Write this down, remember it, and let it be your inspiration!
Myth #3: You have to be bigger and better than you are right now.
Goals are important. All journeys of change must begin with a goal. You also must have determination in order to achieve those goals. However, what do you think happens when you are too determined? You begin to nurture another belief: who you are right now is not good enough. Years ago, I had become too embroiled in my efforts to meditate. As my interest in meditation grew, I began to increasingly say to myself, “I am not good enough,” and, “I have to be better at this.” I began to notice various imperfections within myself that needed to be “fixed.” Ironically, my over-the-top efforts to meditate for extensive periods of time had opened the doors to self-criticism and stress. Thankfully, I realized that my obsession toward meditation had made me forget one of the basic goals of meditation – self-acceptance. So the bottom line is this: you have to accept yourself as you are, and then commit to personal growth. If you think you are absolutely “perfect” already, you will not make any positive efforts to grow. But constantly criticizing yourself is just as counterproductive as doing nothing, because you will never be able to build new positive habits when you’re obsessively focused on your flaws.
The key: Follow the middle path. Change your mantra from, “I have to be better,” to, “I will do my absolute best today.” The second mantra is far more effective because it actually prompts you to take positive action every day while simultaneously accepting the reality that every effort may not be perfect. Remember: You already are good enough; you just need more practice.
Myth #4: You must be willing to sacrifice everything to be successful.
You’ve heard this story a million times: successful people work for hours without taking breaks, eating, or sleeping. You might have heard how Eric Clapton used to practice the guitar for 18 hours a day, or how Bill Gates sometimes slept on the floor of his office to save the time it would take him to go home, or how Edison worked for days without a break while inventing the light bulb. The underlying message: you need to sacrifice even your basic physiological needs if you wish to succeed. These stories inspire admiration in today’s corporate-influenced culture. But they make you overlook a critical question: Did these people work at superhuman levels every day? No! Many people try to find more time for their positive habits and projects by skipping breakfast, sleeping less than even six hours, or hardly taking any breaks at work. Such drastic measures are scientifically known to be sure-fire ways of reducing your productivity. They diminish your energy, IQ, decision-making ability, willpower and more. Sooner or later, sacrificing adequate food or sleep will become too troublesome to sustain, and you will end up quitting too soon.
The key: Rather than try to gain time through over-the-top sacrifices, why not spend less time on things that matter less? Spend less time on social media, less time watching TV, or fewer evenings at the pub.
Myth #5: You can (and should) completely transform yourself all at once.
Do you have a future image of yourself as a transformed person? Someone who is healthier, happier, more confident, incredibly productive, always able to balance work and life, and so on. Most of us do to a certain extent. Every now and then, we become motivated to do something to become that person. The most common example of this is during New Year celebrations when we make resolutions with a remarkable amount of optimism. Anything seems possible in the New Year! You kick off with tremendous motivation: “Yes, this time, it’s going to be different!” But you know how it usually goes. Resolutions just remain… well, resolutions and wishes for some other time. Your over-enthusiasm is actually the cause of your failure. When you try to build six new habits at a time, or even two, you will become overwhelmed and most likely fail at every habit. Why? Because making changes requires willpower. In the book Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, by Roy Baumeister, one of the foremost authorities in this domain, explains how we have a limited quantity of willpower in the same way that we have a limited amount of physical energy during a day. Trying to build two new habits at the same time divides your available willpower between those two pursuits, making it more difficult for you to do either of them.
The key: Successful transformation begins with building a single habit, preferably the simplest one first. Don’t begin the second habit until you have been consistently doing the first one for at least a month. Let your first victory pave the way for your second.
Saturday, October 15, 2016
It is often said that securing a job is not enough, what you do with it afterwards makes all the difference. This was indeed true for a certain Sam Allardyce, erstwhile manager of the English football national team, whose fall from his dream job was swift and fatal. To put in context, he lasted for only 67 days and managed the team for just one game. His story is one that posterity will scrutinize with a sad glee of how and why this happened.
In an age where importing mercenaries for glory is the name of the game, Allardyce was English football’s boy done good. He hadn’t managed elite clubs, or too many elite players, but he was a down-to-earth, straight-talking product of the game. His appointment was a triumph for the little man, for the idea that the Bolton manager could be as sharp as Jose Mourinho, given the chance.
Allardyce wasn’t an imported mercenary, in England for the money like Sven Goran Eriksson or Fabio Capello. He hadn’t been around the block with Switzerland and Finland like Roy Hodgson. In fact, his last job if that was to be called a rehearsal and an advert for the England manager role was one he barely excelled in. It was a survival act as Big Sam was able to keep Sunderland in the elite league by a whisker. And then, he landed a £3m-a-year plus bonuses contract in July. It was his dream job. The delight of frolicking from Old Trafford to Stanford Bridge to see English talents was the stuff of fulfillment for Big Sam. The prospect of winning a trophy with the national team and covering himself in glory was mouth-watering. Yet, like a swift burning candle, the light has been put out and it is now a case of reminiscing over what might have been.
Sam Allardyce was sacked/forced to resign primarily for reasons that bordered on integrity. The Football Association called time on his stint over scandalous dealings and comments he made to reporters, whom he believed were businessmen from the Far East. The Daily Telegraph subsequently revealed videotaped conversations in which Allardyce expressed a willingness to help agents and investors skirt FA rules on transfers and player ownership. Allardyce also mocked his England predecessor, Roy Hodgson, and his ex-assistant coach, Gary Neville. Allardyce believed he was talking to representatives of an Asian firm willing to pay him £400,000 ($520,000) to deliver keynote addresses at corporate events. But doing so might have represented a conflict of interest between England’s national team and players whom the fictional firm might represent. The Telegraph interviewed and subsequently exposed Allardyce as part of an ongoing investigation into bribery in English football.
The Allardyce story is a classic case of how to lose your dream job and while accusing fingers will be thrown his way, a bit of inquest is required. For some of us, the goal is to land a dream job with all it’s great specs and juicy perks. However, some find out quickly that having attained that height, there is an insatiable quest to want more, to desire more, to want to stretch the boundaries. Big Sam wanted more. He wanted to be Robbie Williams. He wanted to be a keynote speaker; a goal more miniature than the greater goal. In life, in business, we must watch that part of us always asking for more, that need to influence, that integrity compromise that is always flirting at the door. No doubt, Big Sam will live to regret his action. He will be spoken of in derision by many and pity by some (Jose Mourinho said ‘I felt sorry for him’), but what history will always tell us is ‘Here is a man undone by his own insatiable cravings for more when he had more than enough from life.’
Sunday, October 9, 2016
1. A moment spent worrying is a moment wasted. – Worrying will never change the outcome. Do more, worry less. Train your mind to see the lesson in every situation, and then make the best of it.
2. The best lessons often come from the hardest days. – Stand strong. Sometimes you have to experience a low point in life to learn a good lesson you couldn’t have learned any other way.
3. Success easily gets to our heads, and failure easily gets to our hearts. – Our character is often revealed at our highs and lows. Be humble at the mountaintops. Be steadfast in the valleys. Be faithful in between.
4. We confuse being busy with being productive. – What you pay attention to grows. So focus on what truly matters and let go of what does not.
5. Most of the arguments we have with one another are pointless. – Be selective in your battles. Oftentimes peace is better than being right. You simply don’t need to attend every argument you’re invited to.
6. Our fancy gadgets often get in our way and dehumanize us. – We all need to learn to be more human again. Don’t avoid eye contact. Don’t hide behind gadgets. Smile often. Ask about people’s stories. Listen.
7. If we want the benefits of something in life, we have to also want the costs. – Most people dream of the rewards without the risks. The triumph without the trials. Don’t be one of them. Life doesn’t work that way. When you find something you want, start by asking yourself: What am I willing to give up to get it?
Thursday, September 29, 2016
What a great difference 365 days can make! We don’t need a time machine to help us remember the wind of enthusiasm and the gamut of hope that swept through the political landscape of Nigeria in 2015. Chorused in a creed that was titled ‘Change’, from the North to the South, and to an extent, the East, the expectations that greeted the emergence of Muhammadu Buhari bordered on the incredulous. He had the answer to all the nagging questions that 55 years of misrule had created. In his hands were the solutions to an epileptic health system, a broken educational terrain, the unemployment cancer, the insecurity conundrum to mention but a few. However, as days gave way to weeks, and weeks metamorphosed to months and months clocked a year, hope has slowly but surely eroded and many are left asking ‘How were we deluded?’
Not sure about delusion, but clearly, on the evidence of the man on the street of Lagos, the low income earner in Kaduna who is struggling with fees for his children, the road-side seller in Enugu hurling her wears, this was not the deal they had all bargained for when they went to the polls on March 28th 2015. Irrespective of who you give your loyalty to, the crux of the matter is that a vast majority of Nigerians are worse than they were a year ago; and it is from that premise that the debate must begin.
The reality is that President Buhari never had and will never have all the answers. Put succinctly, no leader has all the answers. In the midst of all the plethora of criticisms that have trailed the president in recent times, a bit of context is required, and it behooves on all not to trade logic and facts for sentiments and primordial interest. Whatever way you choose to describe it, President Buhari inherited a mess of a Nation, couched in years of deceits, untold corruption and evil governance. The facts will suffice here. In a masterpiece article in the backpage of ThisDay Newspaper of July 24th 2016, Simon Kolawole aptly noted ‘Indeed, President Goodluck Jonathan was unable to build robust reserves in the time of boom — and this is very significant. Under President Olusegun Obasanjo, the highest price oil sold for was $60, and production was less than 2mbpd for the most part. He parted with $12 billion to settle foreign debts, and still left FX reserves of $43 billion, out of which $9 billion was excess crude savings. Under President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, oil went up and down, hitting $147 per barrel at some point, and sinking to $31 at its lowest. With that, Yar’Adua raised FX reserves to $62 billion by September 2008 — the highest in our history. This is where the Jonathan team loses the argument. Oil sold for between $70 and $120 during his first four years in power (2010-2014) before the downward slide to $50 in 2015, when he left office. If our reserve management was anything like what we had under Obasanjo and Yar’Adua (when, by the way, Professor Chukwuma Soludo was the CBN governor), Jonathan could have left at least $100 billion in the reserves. If Buhari had inherited such a hefty kitty, the naira would not be gasping for breath today. Clearly, our failure to build an FX war chest in the time of plenty exposed us to the infectious diseases we are battling with today.’ When you juxtapose this anomaly in addition to the syphoning of funds that was the hallmark of that regime (Dasuki’s $2.1 billion loot being the poster boy), then you realize how much they raped this nation. An attempt to begin to unearth all the inimical wrongdoings that were on rampage during the stint of the erstwhile president, will require volumes of books, and a sequel. Hence, chief of the criticisms that have been meted out to him was not that he was a ‘bad person’, rather he didn’t have the capacity to lead, the tenacity to do the right thing, the wisdom to steer a direction and the will to command respect. Under his watch, everything that could go wrong went entirely wrong. Irrespective of what his apologists say, you can’t divorce our current national travails from the shenanigans of the last political dispensation. It was always a case of an implosion waiting to happen.
Having said that, we can’t remain there forever. After all, it was on the premise of a new lease of life that the current political class was entrusted with the peoples’ mandate. The Buhari administration should have known enough to realize that they were inheriting a broken system and an economy in comatose. The integrity hiatus was screaming for a fix and he was voted in to do all of these. The reality is that the Buhari administration might yet come good, but if the evidence of one and half year is anything to go by then we should be worried. Very worried. The administration has been thrown a myriad of sticks and rightly so, for their inability to conceive a coherent economic blueprint, social policies to address the doldrums we are in and a lack of ingenious quick wins. There are simple quick wins and palliatives that could have been implemented, while the long term solutions are being pursued. These quick wins are not rocket science and it is the job of all those who parade themselves as honourable ministers, over-fed special advisers, theatrical legislators and heads of parastatals to find the answer.
However, like him or loathe him, one thing even his detractors agree to is that in this regime, it is not entirely business as usual. Corruption is being fought, albeit haphazardly. The criticism in this space has been that the Buhari administration is waging a somewhat selective and vindictive fight against corruption. They argue that the ‘yesterday men’ of Goodluck Jonathan and even our endearing ‘Mama Peace’ is being targeted. While I sympathize with this comment, it is a case dead on arrival. It was the ‘yesterday men’ that largely brought the nation to its knees, and while Buhari’s cabinet is not entirely immune of corrupt men and women, it does not exonerate the leaders of yesterday. The talk of Patience Jonathan being a target is sheer nonsense. The argument is that no former first lady has been subjected to such probe and that she might well have been enriched by goodwill gifts. Spare me the gibberish! What does the rule of law mean if we can’t ensure that no one is too big to stand trial? Yes, she might well be the first erstwhile first lady to be subjected to such probe, and so what? The real question is ‘Is there a case?’ In a sane clime, that will be the discussion, rather, we have so called activists on the streets, some of whom can barely afford two square meal pleading the case of a woman who might well have denied them of their collective wealth running into millions of dollars. There is also some mileage gained in the insecurity fight; but with the relative sanity in the northeast have come endless days of Niger-Delta militancy, crippling an already devastated economy.
The conclusion is that Nigerians are tired of rhetorics, blame games, superficial promises, fictitious solutions and imaginary fixes. It is not enough for President Buhari to mean well, he must exude that. Nigerians must see sacrifices from their leaders, unconventional answers to conventional problems and a will power to purse what will benefit a vast majority of the people.
Sunday, September 18, 2016
Extant in our minds
Vivid in our thoughts
To you our beauty who departed unannounced
To you our jewel who checked out untold
To you our substance who left unprepared
It was many years ago
A score and one
But this memory has suffered no senility
This heart has seen no distortions
Today, like many days in our lives
We remember how you caressed our soul
How you decorated our lives
How you tended to our troubled heads
And how you were there.
You were there when there was nothing
When all we had were the dreams you helped us nurture
You were there when the days were dark and the nights, tight
You were there when living was a herculean task and the next meal was an answered prayer.
You were there when no one else was there.
To you who left
Our heartthrob, Our Hadassah, Our joy, Our convener, Our cheerleader.
And though it seemed like death has won when you left
Though it seemed the sting has had a victorious day
Though it appeared the inevitable had the last laugh
But we know better.
Death did not win, for you never truly left
We see you in our thoughts, we hear your voice call out our names every now and then
We behold you in the beauty of our dreams and in life's perilous moment, we see you
To the one who left, rest on, worry less, sleep sound, for our ultimate reunification is a certainty
And it is for you who left that we will strive to make this world a better place and die empty.
Friday, September 16, 2016
Sunday, September 11, 2016
1. Sometimes the most ordinary things can be made extraordinary, just by doing them with the right people.
2. The best thing you can do is to let go of what you can’t control, and focus on the things you can – like the people you choose to be around.
3. You intellectually grow to be like the few people you spend most of your time with. So surround yourself with only those who are going to lift you higher.
4. The right people for you are those who inspire you to be who you always knew you could be. Keep this in mind. Anyone who helps you make your half-hearted attempts more whole-hearted through kindness, commitment and teamwork, is a keeper.
5. A healthy relationship will never require you to sacrifice your happiness, your other important relationships, your dreams, or your dignity.
6. Don’t listen to those who tell you exactly what to do. Listen to those special few who encourage you to do what you already know in your heart is right.
7. Healthy relationships don’t just happen – they take time, patience and two people who truly want to work together to create something meaningful and lasting.
8. What you give to another person is really what you give to yourself. When you treat people you care about with love, you learn that you are lovable too.
9. The people you take for granted today may be the only ones you need tomorrow. Never be too busy to make time for those who matter most.
10. Pay attention to the little things, because when you really miss someone, you miss the little things the most, like just laughing together.
Wednesday, September 7, 2016
Saturday, 3rd of September will remain an indelible date for all those who were part of the Back to School drive initiative. This initiative was powered by the Freehands Organization in collaboration with the SCiNergy group. It was one event that happened in two different locations at the same time. The occasion saw over 600 children equipped with school bags loaded with school supplies. However, it wasn’t just the kinds that saw smiles returned to their faces. Men and women in the target communities also got clothing and food materials.
As I saw the crowd pour in to collect items of schooling, clothing and food, I reflected on how much we as human ignore the things we have to lament on the things we don’t have.
Ultimately, never forget that to give is what it means to truly live. This is truly what it means to be part of a noble cause.
Enjoy the Pictures…
Monday, September 5, 2016
Sufficed literature has already been written about the unannounced visit of Silicon Valley’s top shot, Mark Zuckerberg to Nigeria. Zuckerberg was ranked a staggering 6th place in Forbes list of world richest men in 2016. At 32, Mark was the youngest in the top 90 and more than 20 years younger than anyone in the top 10. Only Lukas Walton of Walmart, ranked 99th is younger than Mark in the entire top 100. Mark is your poster boy for sending home the message that age is nothing. His rise and rise in the global social media space will forever be secured but with only three decades of his life spent, it boggles the mind what feats awaits the former Harvard student.
Mark Zuckerberg’s visit to Nigeria has gotten so much airtime, and rightly so. Though he arrived without the usual pageantry, the moment word went viral that he was somewhere in Yaba, Lagos, the rest was history. The visit has been acclaimed by many social media experts and political pundits as a welcome development for our nation economically and technologically. As Reuben Abati puts it, ‘Zuckerberg helped to show the rest of the world that Nigeria is not so bad at all, and that something really exciting is happening here among the country’s young population’. It is apt to stress that that excitement, though a creation of the younger generation, is also slowly but surely sweeping through the older population. It is fantastic that Mark choose Nigeria in his first ever Africa voyage, but why wouldn’t he. According to internet live stats, in 2016, Nigeria’s internet users have climbed to 86.2 million, that is 48 million more users than it was in 2010. 86.2 million users translate to 46.1% of Nigeria’s total population using the internet. Zooming in further, 16 million of that number visit Facebook every month, that is 4 million more than South Africa’s 12 million users per month. This puts Nigeria as the number one highest Facebook users in Africa. On this evidence, Mark’s visit to Nigeria was only a matter of when than if. However, the timing was perfect. Bedeviled by an economy in comatose and a citizenry in sheer frustration, it was a needed distraction for all, and in some sense, a renewed hope for some. While that reprieve will be temporarily, the big question will be ‘what does his visit mean for us going forward’?
It is well chronicled that Nigerians are some of the world’s finest minds. There are about 18 Nigerians in reputable positions plying their trades in Facebook. This list includes Chukwuemeka Afigbo, who joined Facebook from Google. There are also Ime Archibong, Ebele Okobi, Nmachi Jidenma, Lawrence Aderemi and the delightful Morin Oluwole among others. To put into perspective, all of these guys are less than 40 years and are making a case for the emerging Nigeria Silicon Valley.
There is no gainsaying that the future is digital and the revolution in the social media space will be yet mind boggling. While the conventional manufacturing and energy industries will remain huge employers of labour, it is the social space, if well harnessed that will largely curtail the nation’s alarming unemployment numbers (Key word here being curtail). However, you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs. All stakeholders must begin to give the social revolution more support than mere lip service. In a nation where constant power supply is still a tall dream and effective network bandwidth is still a teething problem, it will take a while to cover some mileage in this space. More than ever before, today’s youth in Nigeria requires an enabling environment, the kind that allowed Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey to thrive with their innovations. However, the signs suggest that the nation’s leaders are either living in the dark ages or are just inept to do what is required here. The nation’s minister of science of technology is 64 years old, while the minister of youth and sports is 52. The point here is not that these men are not patriots who are willingly to give their best in service to country; truth is they might indeed be great servants in the quest to see that Nigeria succeeds. The crux of the matter is that there is a default and emerging mindset needed to drive such ministries but with men like Ogonnaya Onu and Solomon Dalong, who are already cast in their ways, you won’t get that. Without sounding like a broken record, if the right ideas and most suitable people are injected into those two ministries alone, there is no telling what they can achieve.
Having said all that, the buck doesn’t entirely stop with the government and those in authorities, there is the glaring and sacrosanct role the youths must play. Without mincing words, there are already trail blazers in Nigeria’s social and digital revolution space. Like her or loathe her, Linda Ikeji is a great inspiration. Her blog has been adjudged one of the most visited on the continent, and while her indulgences might be in the realm of the luxurious, it is truly no one’s business. Beyond her largesse, what is salient is that she has shown that it is possible to thrive in that space in this part of the world. Same can also be said of the more reserved Seun Osewa, who began Nairaland in March 2005. Today, the platform is extremely trendy among youths. Indeed, as Abati noted ‘Zuckerberg’s visit also provided great publicity for Nigeria’s emerging Silicon Valley, and the young entrepreneurs to whom Zuckerberg paid compliments.’ There are great tech entrepreneurs that are blazing the trail in Nigeria, and their stories must be told.
However, there are still a vast number of youths who will need to wake up from their social media slumber. For too long, we have been labeled a consumer nation, well equipped in the business of using than making. This sad trend can be said for a majority of youths who visit the social media space. It is not enough to be on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and all social media platforms there are, there is a need to shift the mindset and reset the conversation to how we can begin to create. It is this mindset shift that has led to the emergence of the likes of online shopping platforms, Konga and Jumia. Let no one be deluded, Nigeria’s social media space is still a virgin one begging for more novel and ‘out of the box’ ideas. We might never attain the ingenious level of the United States Silicon Valley development, but one only needs to look no further than platforms such as China’s Alibaba (e-commerce one stop shop) to know that we can have more home grown e-platforms that will not only be successful at home, but can also be exported to the rest of the world. Alibaba's consumer-to-consumer portal Taobao, similar to eBay.com, features nearly a billion products and is one of the 20 most-visited websites globally. Jack Ma, who is the founder of Alibaba is reported to be worth over 20 billion dollars and is the world’s 33rd richest man. The time is now for Nigeria’s youths to get dissatisfied with just being on all possible social media platforms and start thinking creation in that space.
Make no mistakes about it, the future is technology, and that is exaggerating the obvious. According to Forbes list of 2016, 7 of the top 13 richest men in the world made their fortune from technology, social media and digital related platforms. This list includes Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Google’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Oracle’s Larry Ellison, Michael Bloomberg’s Bloomberg LP and of course, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. Enough said!
Saturday, August 20, 2016
1. We have to stop telling ourselves that the happiest people are the ones who smile the most. – Behind the polite smiles and greetings people give you, some are hurting and lonely. Don’t just come and go. See them. Care. Share. Listen. Love. We can’t always see people’s pain, but they can always feel our kindness. So be way kinder than necessary.
2. We have to stop telling ourselves that the people we love are (or should be) “perfect.” – When we expect perfection we tend to overlook goodness. And the truth is, no one is perfect. At times, the confident lose confidence, the patient misplace their patience, the generous act selfish, and the informed second-guess what they know. It happens to all of us too. We make mistakes, we lose our tempers, and we get caught off guard. We stumble, we slip, and we fall sometimes. But that’s the worst of it… we have our moments. Most of the time we’re pretty darn good, despite our flaws. So treat the people you love accordingly – give them the space to be human.
3. We have to stop telling ourselves that the people who are doing things differently are doing things wrong. – We all take different roads seeking fulfillment, joy, and success. Just because someone isn’t on your road, doesn’t mean they are lost.
4. We have to stop telling ourselves that the people we disagree with (or dislike) don’t deserve our kindness. – The exact opposite is true. The way we treat people we strongly disagree with is a report card on what we’ve learned about love, compassion, and humility.
5. We have to stop telling ourselves that we can’t trust people we don’t know. – Some people build too many walls in their lives and not enough bridges. Don’t be one of them. Open yourself up. Take small chances on people. Let them prove your doubts wrong, gradually, over time.
6. We have to stop telling ourselves that the rude people of the world are personally targeting us. – We can’t take things too personally, even if it seems personal. Rarely do people do things because of us. They do things because of them. And there is a huge amount of freedom that comes to us when we detach from other people’s behaviors. So just remember, the way others treat you is their problem, how you react is yours.
7. We have to stop telling ourselves that other people are our excuse for being unhappy, unsuccessful, etc. – We may not be able control all the things people say and do to us, but we can decide not to be reduced by them. We can choose to forgive, or we can choose to forget. We can choose to stay, or we can choose to go. We can choose whatever helps us grow. There’s always a positive choice to make. Thus, the only real, lasting conflict you will ever have in your life won’t be with others, but with yourself… and how you choose to respond… and the daily rituals you choose to follow.
Sunday, August 14, 2016
1. Needless drama doesn’t just walk into your life out of nowhere – you either create it, invite it, or associate with those who bring it.
2. Do your best not to judge other people, for you do not know their pain or sorrows. If you cannot speak a kind word, say nothing at all. And if they cannot speak a kind word, say nothing at all.
3. Most people make themselves unhappy simply by finding it impossible to accept life just as it is presenting itself right now. Be mindful.
4. When you are no longer able to change a situation, you are challenged to change yourself. And that changes everything.
5. Don’t bother worrying about whether there will be problems. There will be plenty of them, and you’ll work your way through every one of them.
6. Worrying is a misuse of your incredible creative energy. Instead of imagining the worst, imagine the best and how you can bring it about.
7. When you focus your heart and mind upon a purpose, and commit yourself to fulfill that purpose through small daily steps, positive energy floods into your life.
8. It’s OK to make mistakes. That’s how you get wiser. Give yourself a break, and don’t give up or give in to negativity! Good things take time, and you’re getting there.
9. Remember, letting go of drama isn’t about having the ability to forget the past; it’s about having the wisdom and strength to embrace the present.
10 Work hard in silence, do what you have to do, and ignore the drama and negativity surrounding you. Let your success be your noise.
Tuesday, August 9, 2016
Phew! We just can’t have enough of football, can we? With only a month since the finals of the European championship in Paris, it is now barely days to the commencement of the World’s most intriguing and unarguably most exciting league in the world. For reasons too numerous to rehash here, the looming English Premier League season promises to be the best of all time. The sub-plots and the new entries injected into the league this season means it will serve viewers and fans with an overdose of excitement and entertainment.
Few predicted football’s greatest narrative last season when Leicester City won the league at a canter. Not only was it an unprecedented norm, it was a detour from decades of Premier League dominance from the elite teams. Most importantly, the win must have infused untold believe into every other small club to begin to dream and expand their ambitions. However, to expect Leicester to repeat same feat this season might be asking too much from the footballing gods. Leicester’s biggest challenge going into the summer was to retain a core of their team and they have largely done that; but the loss of Ngolo Kante to Chelsea is a massive blow. Though the foxes have fortified their ranks with the record club signing, Ahmed Musa, this will be a tough season especially with champions league involvement.
If Leicester’s triumph was the beautiful story of last season, Chelsea’s fall will make for the darkest narrative. A team that won the league without breaking a sweat last season struggled to finish in the top 10.
Indeed, it was a season to forget for the Blues. The coming of Italian Antoine Conte has renewed optimism and rightly so. Conte comes with a great reputation from Juventus and the Italian national team. The major signings at Stamford Bridge are Belgium star, Michy Batshuayi and French midfield doyen, Ngolo Kante. The duo will clearly add value to the club but a lot of questions still persist about an aging backline. The Chelsea defense were calamitous last season, and Branislav Ivanovic was the villain-in-chief. The club still has an exciting attack but their defense might leave them short of the title next season.
There is no box office that compares with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and Jose Mourinho sharing the same dressing room. The three signings were the story of the transfer season and provides an interesting prospect. Jose Mourinho for all his successes will be keen to proof that the disaster at Chelsea last season was a mere career blip. With Zlatan, we all know what to expect. In his mind, he is football’s greatest player. On the pitch, he is not so far off to be honest. Zlatan is in his last legs but he still has a lot to offer. However, while Jose, Zlatan and Paul might get all the headlines, a certain Eric Bailly might yet be United’s signing of the season. United’s defense was their chief achilles heels last season and with the imperious Bailly in the fold, a fortified attack and the league’s best stopper still around, United can be champions.
Liverpool last season was a bit of everything. Anfield witnessed the highs and the lows. The club might have finished outside the top 4 but were whiskers away from clinching the Europa league and the League cup. In Jurgen Kloop, they have a hungry and intelligent manager who will only improve the club. For much of last season, the team were amazing in efforts but lacked quality in some patches. The signing of German goalkeeper Loris Karius, is clearly a right step in solving the conundrum that has now become Simon Mignolet. Also, the signing of Sadio Mane might well be a masterstroke. The former Southampton man has all the makings of being a superstar at Anfield. Whatever you say about Liverpool, you have to expect them to be challenging for the title next season. One thing is also certain, the Reds will be going on a good cup run.
Then, there is the puzzle that is Arsenal. Many pundits had predicted that the signing of Petr Cech was the missing jigsaw last season. However, as we all saw last season, Arsenal did an arsenal on the title challenge. Sincerely speaking, we have been here before and it must be frustrating for everyone connected to the gunners how the title has become elusive for over a decade. Yet, the more we predict that the previous season will be Arsene Wenger’s last, the longer his elasticity.
No doubt, Tottenham Hotspur will surely be looking to build upon a fantastic last season. The club has the luxury of a youthful, vibrant and hungry side and in Mauricio Pochettino, a perfect fit for a manager. For the rest, we expect an unpredictable fight and you can trust the EPL to provide every ounce of drama along the way.
Sunday, August 7, 2016
1. When life is good, enjoy it. Don’t go looking for something better. Happiness never comes to those who don’t appreciate what they have.
2. The richest person isn’t the one who has the most, but the one who needs the least. Wealth is a mindset. Want less and appreciate more today.
3. Happiness comes a lot quicker when you stop complaining about your problems and you start being grateful for all the problems you don’t have.
4. The greatest secret to peace of mind is letting every life situation be what it is, instead of what you think it should be, and then making the very best of it.
5. Happiness does not start when “this, that or the other thing” is resolved. Happiness is what happens now, when you appreciate what you have.
6. When life gives you every reason to be negative, think of one good reason to be positive. There’s always something to be grateful for.
7. No, you won’t always get what you want. But remember this: There are lots of people who will never have what you have right now.
8. Be grateful for your life. For your health, your family, your friends, and your home. Many people don’t have these things.
9. Remind yourself how fortunate you are to be experiencing this moment right here, right now. The more you appreciate it, the better it’ll be.
10. Choose to smile today by taking life moment by moment, complaining very little, and being thankful for the little things that mean a lot.
Monday, August 1, 2016
It has been pure box office stuff for the media all around the world over the past few months. Never in the history of the United States has a build-up to the general elections afforded viewers with such untold pageantry, razzmatazz and to a large degree, hate mongering. The gladiators have been a certain New York based business man, Donald Trump and former first lady and secretary of state, Hilary Clinton. The sub-plots have been the stuff of dreams. From the murky waters that were the Clinton email scandals, to the shady tax returns accusations that has enmeshed Trump, this campaign has seen it all. Sadly, the campaign has also seen political hatred go on rampage in the United States. Candidates and party men and women have hauled hate speeches and indecent rhetorics at each other in such a toxic manner that borders on making a nonsense of the free speech mantra. However, when all is said and done, and the campaigning train gets to it destination in November, the realization will kick in that this election is truly not just about two candidates but about America and it fledging future as super power. It is also about the rest of the world and it relations with the world’s number one elite state since the end of the Cold War in 1991.
What we witnessed in Cleveland and Philadelphia at the Republican and Democratic conventions defies normal political vocabulary. We are used to speaking of American politics as split between the two major parties. It’s Democrats versus Republicans, liberals versus conservatives, left versus right. But not this election. The conventions showed that this is something different. This campaign is not merely a choice between the Democratic and Republican parties, but between what a political commentator called ‘normal and abnormal.’ It is the infiltration of ‘anything goes’ in modern day politics and in Nigeria’s current political parlance ‘The unbundling of an empire.’
How Donald Trump with all his imperfections and infamous brashness has gotten to the peak of political relevance will forever boggle the mind and be a study for emerging political analysts and historians. Trump has lied, bullied, insulted, divided and shrugged off a career’s worth of stepping on others because he has tapped into anger at being economically left behind, socially denigrated or politically forgotten among a broad swath of the electorate. He is a man Ted Cruz described as a "pathological liar," "utterly amoral," and "a narcissist at a level I don't think this country's ever seen." In the words of Rick Perry "a cancer on conservatism, and it must be clearly diagnosed, excised, and discarded." The National Review, the flagship journal of American conservatism, said Trump "is a menace to American conservatism." And Rand Paul said Trump is "a delusional narcissist and an orange-faced windbag. A speck of dirt is way more qualified to be president." Yet, despite the name calling, his popularity has continued to soar and accept it or not, there is a vast number of Americans who will crest an image of Trump on their chest. He has succeeded in selling the ‘United States weak and crime infested’ mantra to his acolytes while the facts suggest otherwise. That Trump has disciples is not the issue; after all, a certain Adolf Hitler had his own disciples. But for Trump to have such a massive following in Today’s America is disturbing, and for all the jibes that have thrown in his way throughout the campaigning period, there is the real possibility that he might yet emerge the president of the United States of America.
Then, there is Hilary Rodham Clinton. A prominent feature in American politics for a quarter of a century. The critics believe that as secretary of state she left a trail of policy failures from Libya to Syria, from the Russian reset to the Iraqi withdrawal to the rise of the Islamic State. Yet, the apologist believes she is ‘the political come-back queen’ and in the words of Bill Clinton, her husband ‘The best darn change-maker I ever met in my entire life.’ Hilary is by no means a finished article as far as presidency for the herculean plum job is concerned. But then, who is? Her imperfections are well chronicled. In all honesty, she comes across a tad uninspiring and doesn’t inveigle the much needed believe some Americans wants to hear and feel. But take nothing away from her; she has given so much to the American society. Married to Bill Clinton in 1992, she went to Wellesley and Yale Law School and worked with the Children’s Defense Fund and the oldest law firm in Little Rock, Ark. As first lady, she was put in charge of health care, wore headbands, wrote “It Takes a Village,” was investigated for Whitewater and Travelgate, dealt with the suicide of the Clintons' longtime friend, Vince Foster and for those who love statistics, she has visited over 110 countries. And after a 35-year history in American politics in the shadow of the men she served, it is about time Hilary emerges her own person. One is never quite fully prepared for the presidency job; one grows into it. However, you need an above average candidate to fit in and Hilary is not a bad choice.
From Africa to China, Europe and the Middle East, a Trump presidency will be a disaster. Make no mistakes about it; all we have been seeing in the entire campaigning era is not an act. This is truly who Donald Trump is. To think that he might one day have access to the biggest military apparatus and the small matter of the nuclear weapon will be under his beck and call leaves a fretful feeling. It is not enough to criticize Donald Trump. Everyone, including non-Americans must work hard to ensure that he does not live one day in the White House. He is a potential menace to himself, Americans and the rest of the world.
The summary of the matter has to be that Heaven help America and the rest of the world were it to be, unthinkably, Clinton fails. She is all that stands between the United States of America and never-before-seen proof that the Founding Fathers weren’t all that they’ve been cracked up to be. Like or loather her, she is the lesser evil, the better half, the preferable poison and the palliative in the scheme of things.
Monday, July 25, 2016
1. Happiness escapes from those who refuse to see the good in what they have. When life gives you every reason to be negative, think positive. Let go of what you think your life is supposed to be like right now and sincerely appreciate it for everything that it is.
2. The richest person isn’t the one who has the most, but the one who needs the least. Wealth is a mindset. Want less and appreciate more today. Be thankful for your life. For your health, your family, your friends, and your home. Many people don’t have these things.
3. It takes courage to grow and become who you really are. Don’t fear change. You may lose something good, but you may also gain something great.
4. Most of your fears are much bigger in your mind than they are in reality. You’ll see this for yourself as soon as you face them.
5. If you’re lucky enough to have two good options, always go with the one that scares you the most, because that’s the one that is going to help you grow.
6. Don’t stress about the closed doors behind you. New doors are opening every moment and you will see them if you keep stepping forward. And as you’re stepping, also keep in mind that we often waste too much of today by worrying about tomorrow. Just be present. Tomorrow will reveal itself exactly as it should.
7. Every difficult situation can be an excuse for poor performance or an opportunity for excellence, depending on the perspective you choose.
8. Even when it’s tough, wear a smile anyway. Smiling doesn’t always mean you are happy, sometimes it simply means you are strong. And YOU ARE.
9. Growth is painful. Change is painful. But in the end, nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you do not belong. It’s always better to be exhausted from meaningful work than to be tired of doing nothing.
10. Appreciate the gift of being able to work hard for what you want most. And remember that nothing is really “work” unless you tell yourself that you would rather be doing something else.
11. Do what you have to do, but leave space too. Be flexible. Don’t overbook your life with rigid plans. Sometimes great moments happen unplanned and big regrets happen by not reaching exactly what was planned.
12. Instead of getting angry over the words of others, choose to listen, be mindful, and grow stronger one way or another, because of them.
13. Life doesn’t always give you the people you want, it gives you the people you need… to learn, to grow, and to fall in love.
14. The strongest among us aren’t those who show strength you can see, but those who have won incredible inner battles you know nothing about. So be kind. You can’t always see people’s pain, but they can always feel your kindness. Being kind to people is a peaceful way to live, and a beautiful legacy to leave behind.
15. Three things ultimately define you: Your patience when you have nothing, your attitude when you have everything, and who you help whenever you are able.
16. Be humble. Be teachable. The world is bigger than your view of the world. There’s always room for a new idea, a new step, a new perspective… a new beginning.
Monday, July 18, 2016
As the dust begins to settle over the brouhaha that has engulfed the United States in recent weeks, questions remain unanswered, wounds stay unhealed and there is a sad taste that remains in the mouth suggesting that things might remain the same. The episodes in Louisiana, Minnesota and Dallas has gotten sufficient airtime already that to rehash it here will be attempting a broken record. However, in the midst of the plethora of rhetorics, it is sacrosanct to unearth the real issues.
America as a nation has its history enmeshed in a fight for freedom. When Christopher Columbus stumbled upon what was then called the new world it became a haven for persecuted Europeans and maligned people of different colours. It was this need to create a new world that birthed the American revolution of 1776-1783, with George Washington emerging as it first president. The revolution followed a civil war between 1861-1865 under the leadership of Abraham Lincoln. It was a battle to abolish slavery in the Union; a system that had the blacks at the receiving end of an unequal society. Months of unrest culminated in relative peace. History holds too many instances of Black oppression in America. The resistance against this oppression has come at a price for many but have also made heroes such as Rosa Parks in December 1955 when she refused to give up her seat to a white man in the Montgomery bus, and Martin Luther King in August 1963, when he gave his famous ‘I have a dream’ speech.
Many have asked how the United States with its chequered history is still grappling with the subject of race. The events of the past few weeks have made a nonsense of the optimists believe that a black man at the white house has put paid to the issue of race. Black oppression remains common place in the United States and continue to be an everyday experience for many. Except when the cameras are present, there are lots of untold stories of inequality in a nation that ironically was built upon the very tenant of equality. Years after the abolition of slavery in America, the menace have taken on a new form and the division remains. The killings of black Americans, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by police officers sparked off what appears to be a reprisal action by Micah Johnson who killed five white Dallas police officers. The aftermath of these vents have been a renewal of racial tensions with many around the world wondering how Americans are still in the doldrums of racial acrimony.
The truth is that race in American never quite died with the Civil war or the ascension of Barack Obama as president. It took on a new form and nomenclature and as far as the subject goes, the issues remain prevalent. Barack Obama has been criticized by a section of the white population in the wake of his speech at the Dallas Memorial. Their gross was that he turned a memorial in honour of the five slain police officers into a litany on race. This complain is the very bedrock of the issue. A vast majority of Americans don’t like to talk about the race subject. For many in the white population, they prefer to be elusive when the issue is being discussed; they’d rather pretend it is a non-issue. However, the stats suggest that it isn’t. Black discrimination is manifested every day in the work place, at pubs, churches, justice system and at other places. To live in denial about the plight of the black man in America is to be the problem yourself. There are real issues that needs to be unearthed; and it is a conversation that must be forced if a reasonable progress will be made. The point has been elucidated in several quarters that we are first humans before the subject of colour comes in, and nothing can be truer. There are no textbook solutions to outrightly solving the racial question in America today but forcing the conversation and resetting innate notions is surely a right step in the right direction.
Yet, while the travails of black Americans will easily whip out sympathy, there is an issue concerning the group that needs to be addressed. There is something there that makes police officers be trigger-hungry at the sight of a black man. While colour plays a part, there is also a reputation that the young black American has built and inherited over the years. It is cliché in the United States that an African American is more likely to end up in prison than at college. In many quarters, the blacks have earned a reputation of thugs, street urchins and miscreants. Indeed, they are traditionally known to be of greater menace to society than their white counterparts. There is an issue here. It appears that there is a parental and societal malfunction with the way black children are brought up in America and this too needs to be addressed.
Having said all the foregoing, there is a bigger issue of proliferation of guns in America that requires salient attention. The subject is one that have been with the American nation for so many years; and while the almighty National Rifle Association of America (NRA) will do anything to ensure that this right is not taken away, it constitutes a lingering societal misdemeanor. For all the media war against guns in the hands of civilians in American, none has been successful. Rather, the issue has had many media casualties, chief of whom was popular British T.V anchor, Piers Morgan, who lost his CNN show primarily because of his verbal criticism against guns proliferation in the U.S. The records are scary. There were 372 mass shootings in the US in 2015, killing 475 people and wounding 1,870, according to the Mass Shooting Tracker which catalogues such incidents. This is in addition to 64 school shooting incidences in 2015. There is a debacle with the gun laws in America and while some apologists will call it their fundamental rights to bear arms the reality is that it has turned the nation to an ‘arms state’ with everyone leaving under the cloud of fear and potential violence.
Racial tensions in America will persist until the real issues are brought to the surface and everyone of different colour commits to the reality that this is a big subject that has everyone culpable and no one vindicated. That will be the starting point in the quest to curtail the menace of racial tensions in America.