Sunday, June 18, 2017
1. Stop believing that someone else has already defined “success” and the path that must be followed to get there.
When I was growing up there was a silent yet unanimously agreed upon definition of what success looked like in my family. Although it was never openly discussed, it was implied through various conversations and decisions I was directly or indirectly included in. The bottom line is that, although challenging, giving up other people’s definition of success is incredibly liberating and ultimately leads to the fullest expression of who you are. Just think about it…Other people aren’t going to live with the results of your choices. So why would you live according to their contrived definition of success? Have you ever honestly asked yourself what success means to YOU? Or have you simply adopted your definition and beliefs from everyone around you? For far too many us, the answer is the latter. By understanding the essence of your goals and how YOU define success, it’s easier to give up other people’s contrived definitions and beliefs. And remember, the point is not that one measure of success is any better or worse than another. The point is that you get to choose how you define it for yourself. Simply recognize that the more conscious and deliberate you can be about what success means for YOU, the more empowered you will be to pursue the path that’s true for you.
2. Stop believing that you should feel more confident before you take the next step.
Most people misinterpret how confidence works. They think confidence is something they have to possess before they can perform at their best. So they make a (subconscious) decision to wait until they feel more confident before taking the next step. But waiting around isn’t a confidence-building activity, so they never feel more confident, and they never take action. Let this be your wake-up call… Confidence is not a prerequisite to present and future performance. Rather, confidence is a direct bi-product of past performance. For example, if you start your day on the right foot, you’re likely to have improved confidence throughout the rest of your day. Conversely, if you start your day poorly and fall flat on your face, that prior performance will likely lower your confidence for a little while (until your confidence level inevitably cycles again). But the real kicker is the fact that today is tomorrow’s past. Your confidence going into tomorrow is directly dependent on you taking positive action today and learning from it. And this means two things… You can leverage your present actions to improve your future confidence. Forcing yourself to take the next step is the first step to feeling more confident. So whenever you catch yourself waiting around for more confidence to magically arrive before you start working on the task in front of you, remind yourself of how confidence works, and then force yourself to start before you feel ready. Today is the day! It’s time to set your plans into motion and make a daily ritual of generating small wins for yourself. Do so, and I guarantee that your small wins will add up quickly, and you’ll grow more confident and closer to what you ultimately want to achieve with each passing day.
3. Stop believing that more (and more) planning and thinking will yield you better results.
Just as you don’t need more confidence to take the next smallest step forward, you don’t likely need more planning and overthinking either. Stephen King once said, “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” I have that quote taped above my work desk. It reminds me that while proper planning, strategizing and masterminding is important as you move through a project, it’s also extremely easy to lose yourself indefinitely in doing so. When our great ideas are still just concepts floating around in our minds, we tend to think really BIG. And while thinking big isn’t inherently bad, the downside is that it often makes the barrier for taking action quite high. In other words, we tend to overthink our projects to the point where they seem more complicated than they actually are, and so we stall again and again to give ourselves more time to prepare for the next step. To avoid “big thinking paralysis,” pare your ideas down into smaller, immediately testable activities. Can you trial-run the idea of a larger scale conference by hosting a series of smaller local events? Can you take an idea for a book and test it by writing several related blog posts? Can you draw it before you build it? Can you prototype it? Once you’ve tested your idea on a smaller scale, you’ll have the insight and data you need to take your idea and project to the next level. Small, repeated, incremental efforts will get you there. It doesn’t happen in an instant, but it does happen a lot faster than not getting there at all.
4. Stop believing that focusing more on your goals is the answer.
Goals don’t make positive changes happen, daily rituals do. Seriously, meditate on that for a moment. Because too often we obsess ourselves with a big goal – a big end result – but are completely unfocused when it comes to the ritual – the recurring steps – that ultimately make the goal happen. And so the weight of this big, unrealized goal sits heavy on our mind and brings our progress down to a crawl. Does that sound at all familiar? If so, it’s time to shift your focus AWAY from your goals. Think about this… If you completely ignored one of your goals for the next few weeks and instead focused solely on the daily rituals that reinforce this goal, would you still get positive results?
5. Stop believing that you must always be right.
To be successful on your own terms, you have to not mind being wrong in the short term. You have to take a stand, test your theory, and then admit it if you realize that your theory was wrong. It’s a process of trial and error that helps you discover what is right. And finding out what is right is a lot more important than always being right. The process of trial and error is an essential part of any effective person’s life. Truth be told, when any human being executes a new idea for the first time, the outcome is rarely glamorous. The important thing is to synthesize the lessons learned during the process to refine the initial idea, and create a new-and-improved strategy, and perhaps a new and improved daily ritual that supports it. The bottom line here is that expecting to get it right the first time is an exercise in futility. Prototyping, testing and iteration is vital to transforming a decent idea into an outcome of value. Rather than being discouraged by your “failures,” watch closely and learn from them. Then use what you’ve learned to build something slightly better. And then do it again and again – small steps. Sooner or later, you’ll find the level of success you had envisioned.
6. Stop believing that you have to say, “Yes.”
Besides the intelligent art of getting the right things done, there is the often-forgotten art of leaving the wrong things undone. You must practice saying “no” even if it feels foreign to you. Your time and energy is not infinite – in fact, it’s incredibly limited. Seasoned achievers who live on their own terms know they must guard their time and energy (and their focus) closely. Always keep in mind that you don’t have to accept every great opportunity you’re invited to. When you’re in execution mode, remember that new and unexpected opportunities can also mean distraction from your core objectives and priorities. Saying “no” is an essential part of living effectively on your own terms.
7. Stop believing that you have enough willpower to overcome the limitations and temptations of an unhealthy environment.
No matter how much determination and willpower you have, if you keep yourself positioned in an environment that works against your best intentions, you will eventually succumb to that environment. This is where so many of us make life-altering missteps. When we find ourselves struggling to make progress in an unhealthy environment, we somehow believe that we have no other choice – that positioning ourselves in a more supportive environment, even for short intervals, is impossible. So, rather than working in a supportive environment that pushes us forward, we expend all our energy trying to pull the baggage of an unhealthy environment along with us. And eventually, despite our best efforts, we run out of energy. The key thing to remember here is that, as a human being, your environment immensely affects you. And, consequently, one of the best uses of your energy is to consciously choose and design working environments for yourself that support and facilitate the outcomes you intend to achieve. For example, if you’re trying to reduce your alcohol consumption, you must… Spend less time around people that consume alcohol. Spend less time in social environments that promote alcohol consumption. Because if you don’t your willpower will eventually collapse.
Sunday, June 11, 2017
This week, I want to share with you a fascinating Ted Talk I stumbled upon. In this talk, Chris Abani tells stories of people: People standing up to soldiers. People being compassionate. People being human and reclaiming their humanity. It's "ubuntu," he says: the only way for me to be human is for you to reflect my humanity back at me. It is a fascinating speech and one that resonates with me.
Sunday, June 4, 2017
For many of us watching from the African lens, the emergence of 39 years old Emmanuel Macron as president of France (a first world country) was the stuff of dreams. In a continent where grey hair is a pre-requisite to climb the defied political ladder, the hysteria was to be expected.
In the wake of Macron’s victory, the Nigerian youth has been brought forward for immense backlash. The critics argue that while a vast majority of our youths’ frolic around political godfathers for mere crumbs, Macron provides an example of how it should be done. The point sounds plausible upon arrival but a deeper reflection shows it is tantamount to turning logic on its head; it is a single story. Macron was an outlier, similar to Trump. It is a testament to the democracies of the United States and France that outliers can emerge into mainstream politics without having to float their own parties or run as individual candidates. The case is not same in Nigeria and the constitutional premise put the youths at a disadvantage. It is stipulated in Section 131 of the 1999 constitution that a key pre-requisite to holding the office of the presidency is that the individual must have ‘attained the age of forty years.’ This very clause lampoons the Nigerian state. Many of the third world countries are still very deluded on the concept of age, while the rest of the world have moved on. In Nigeria, age is grossly overrated. It is worth mentioning that a Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook’s founder/CEO), even though he is only 33, might have better wealth of experience than the 65-year-old Nigerian university professor who has only taught management and entrepreneurship in the classroom for 40 years. It is not the years in a man’s life, but the ‘life’ in the years that counts. In addition, our political set-up is very nascent and hostile to accommodate for genuine participation. The system is like a vicious circle that resists anyone not in its original chain. Political parties are not founded on ideologies and money is a key currency in making your case. Party nomination forms to run for top political positions run into millions, in a country where the minimum wage is still a paltry 18,000 naira. Make no mistakes about it, the odds are stacked against the Nigerian youths.
Having said all that, apathy cannot be the answer. The Nigerian youth clearly has to do more. History is laced with tales of how power is never relinquished on a platter of gold. The reality is that majority of our youths are too gullible and ready ‘puns’ in the hands of the political godfathers and so called kingmakers. Too many are contented with receiving handouts; a malady we must partly blame on a stifling economy. Then, there are the internet activists and warlords. Men and women who remain behind the keypads, conjuring and articulating their cases. From crass vitriolic of political alignments to crude ethnic sentiments, these ones are unrelenting. They can make the case of why the politician they support is the best thing since slice bread, but they are never concerned with participation. It speaks volumes of the vast majority of Nigerian youths that there are merely a handful of them involved even in strategic private sector leadership. There are just a few leading the way in the cream de la cream of entrepreneurship. The youth might argue that he is powerless in the face of the current environmental challenges but that reason pales in solidity when one considers that there are a few other Nigerian youths who have managed to defy the odds. Young people in this country must take advantage of their numbers and must do more in changing not just their individual plights, but that of the nation at large.
Sunday, May 28, 2017
1. The vast majority of our struggles are self-created, and we can choose to overcome them in an instant.
2. We fear the judgments of others, even though their judgments about us are rarely valid or significant.
3. In many ways, our past experiences have conditioned us to believe that we are less capable than we are.
4. Real pain, heartbreak and failure are outcomes that can help us grow.
5. We have to give some things up to get what we ultimately want in life.
6. Passion is not something we find, it’s something we do.
7. There will never be a better time to start than right now.
Sunday, May 21, 2017
When he walked through the revolving doors at Stamford Bridge, few touted him as the real McCoy. Miles away, somewhere in Manchester, resided the main event. It was all about the ingenious tactician, Pep Guardiola, and the serial winner, Jose Mourinho. They were the dual box office beside which every manager and every other pre-season story had to pale in comparison.
Make no mistakes about it, Antonio Conte did not arrive in a quest to have a surgical operation on his ailing career. He had won three Serie A titles on the bounce and had led his team to a Champions League final. More importantly, he left Juventus in the best possible healthy state going into the future. It was Chelsea who needed an operation. A season of indescribable little but fatal foxes had led to a league season finish of 10th place, after being champions the previous. The reality was that Conte’s arrival to the Bridge inflated hopes but it was an appointment that still had its many critics. With player power being the crux of the matter in Jose Mourinho’s exit the previous season, the Italian had his job well cut out. He had to get the house together, steer a direction and lead them through. Reason demands that one mentions that despite the calamitous state of Chelsea last season, the team still had a fantastic squad. The spine of the victorious 2014/2015 team was still very much around. Having said that, Conte has done a fine job, and that is putting it mildly. Fourth place finish would have been good enough but to win the league at a canter, and achieve it in the manner he did makes him the real deal.
When the intoxication from a champagne-filled weekend gives way to some introspection for Conte, he will do well to pick the moments that made it a sublime year for him. The three nil defeat to Arsenal on September 24th will be the watershed in that inquest. It was mid-way into that match with Chelsea trailing three nil to the Gunners that Conte decided to discard the 4-3-3 formation for his more favoured 3-4-3. The immediate altercation did not change the outcome of that game, but it was to lay the platform for a 13 game winning streak; an amazing record run that meant the walk to the league was a procession (forget the Spurs challenge – it was a desperate fabrication of the media). Yet, there was more to his masterstroke than a formation switch. The revival of Victor Moses and his excellent man management of the Costa/China brouhaha in January were sterling examples of his brilliance.
The most beautiful thing about what Conte has done is the manner he went about it. When he was dragged into flimsy mind games, he looked away. When the media was beginning to ask questions on his tactics, he remained consistent. When the heat was partially turned on by a few blips, he stayed true to his methods. He was a fine man with a genuine passion. His intensity on the touchline on every match day was a joy to behold. He wasn’t a man to give away so much in his media conferences; a blessing partially inflicted by his lack of command of the language. In all, he was a good man. The gesture to applaud the Middlesbrough fans in the aftermath of their defeat at Chelsea with relegation sealed for the Riverside team, was a class moment. Whatever happens in the summer, he will be remembered and revered fondly. Abramovich’s revolving door have made the Russian some sort of a cult hero and ruthless owner to the Chelsea fans, but his method has brought immense success. 5 premier league trophies, 1 champions league, 1 Europa league, 4 FA cups, 3 Carling cups and 2 Community Shield medals makes for a densely populated cabinet for 13 years’ work. The last eulogy should fittingly go to John Terry. He has indeed been a captain, leader and legend. Anytime his name is mentioned, it will elicit a polarization of opinions, but no dissenting voice could deny that he was a great footballer. His longevity, one-club man status, achievements and shenanigans will forever make him a demi-god on Fulham road!
Sunday, May 14, 2017
(Excerpt from my book: The Path Less Travelled. Can be found on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Path-Less-Travelled-Reflections-Learning/dp/1540663507/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1494697301&sr=1-1&keywords=samuel+okonkwo)
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.
One conclusion I have come to today is that a large amount of how successful you will be in life comes down to the people you spend time with. This is why: ‘You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.’ Jim Rohn. This quote is one of the most powerful ones that I keep reminding myself over and over again. I am the average of the five people I spend the most time with. Others around me determine how I think, how I act and ultimately how successful I will be. It is a huge determinant that is often undermined.
Whether you want it or not, this is how it works I believe. The people you spend the most time with make you. You are their average. Do you think that’s true? Who are you spending time with? Are they the people that you want to be the average of? Choose someone whose way of life as well as words, and whose very face as mirroring the character that lies behind it, have won your approval. Be always pointing him out to yourself either as your guardian or as your model. There is a need, in my view, for someone as a standard against which our characters can measure themselves. Without a ruler to do it against you won’t make crooked straight. Friends make us, friends break us; friends destroy, friends define. The good thing is that unlike the choice of family which is entrusted to us without our consent, friendship is solely up to us.
Don’t be afraid to lose some friends, support from your family or anything else if that means you start surrounding yourself with the right people. Instead of becoming the average of some average people, dip with the best. I will give the closing words on this to Frank E, who shared his personal story: ‘I believe I’m someone who took longer than most people to understand this concept. I clung onto relationships with people far too long. All of them were great people, people I respect like I want to respect every other human being. Yet, I always knew, these are not the people that are dying to be incredibly successful, incredibly happy and doing no matter what it takes to chase their dreams. Today, the people I spend time with are just 2 people. Joel and Tom. They are most likely the smartest people I have ever worked with before. Both have a focus and determination I’m constantly blown away by. I cling onto their enthusiasm, try to learn from their skillset as much as I can and get myself lifted onto the next level: purely by being in the same room with them whilst working away on buffer. There is no one else I spend as much time with, as Joel and Tom. That’s it, 90% of my daily interaction happens with these two guys. The power they have is therefore incredible. I’m highly influenced and seek to be from them and their input. I know, because of their actions, experience and daily work, the only impact this can have on me is a positive one. It is pushing me higher and onto the next level every day.’
Sunday, May 7, 2017
1. Too often we use “too busy” as an excuse for poor time management.
There’s a BIG difference between being busy and being productive. Don’t confuse motion with progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but never makes any forward progress. Don’t be a rocking horse! Truth be told, 99% of all your busyness is simply a mismanagement of your time. And at times, you have to say “no” to good things to be able to say “yes” to important things. You simply can’t do it all. So be mindful and choose wisely. Manage yourself! Focus on your priorities! What you focus on grows stronger in your life. At every moment, millions of little things compete for your attention. All these things fall into one of two categories: things that are top priorities and things that are not. You’ll never get more done by blindly working more hours on everything that comes up. Instead, you’ll get more done when you follow specific plans that measure and track top priorities and milestones. So if you want to be less busy and more successful, don’t ask how to make something more efficient until you’ve first asked, “Do I need to do this at all?”
The bottom line is that feeling like you’re doing busywork is often the result of saying yes too often. We all have obligations, but a comfortable pace can only be found by properly managing your yeses. So stop saying “yes” when you want to say “no.” You can’t always be agreeable; that’s how people take advantage of you. Sometimes you have to set clear boundaries. You might have to say no to certain favors, or work projects, or community activities, or committees, or volunteer groups, or coaching your kid’s sports team, or some other seemingly worthwhile activity. I know what you’re thinking – it seems unfair to say no when these are very worthwhile things to do. It kills you to say no. But you must. Because the alternative is that you’re going to do a half-hearted, poor job at each one, be stressed beyond belief, and feel like you’re stuck in an endless cycle of failure and frustration. You won’t be getting enough sleep, your focus will get worse and worse due to exhaustion, and eventually you’ll reach a breaking point.
2. We spend lots of time talking about our priorities, but not nearly enough time actually working on them.
When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done? Let that question sink in, and then remind yourself that the last six letters in the word “attraction” are “action.” If you want to attract positive changes into your life, you have to act accordingly. If you have an idea about what you want the next chapter of your life to look like, you have to DO things that support this idea every day. An idea, after all, isn’t going to do anything for you until you do something productive with it. In fact, as long as that great idea is just sitting around in your head it’s doing far more harm than good. Your subconscious mind knows you’re procrastinating on something that’s important to you. The necessary work that you keep postponing causes stress, anxiety, fear, and usually more procrastination – a vicious cycle that continues to worsen until you interrupt it with ACTION.
And remember, you can’t lift 1,000 pounds all at once, but you can easily lift one pound 1,000 times. In repetition, your little actions have great power. You become highly skilled at whatever you do again and again. Every day offers you the opportunity to develop a ritual of success, regardless of your priorities or how you personally define success. So from this moment forward… May your actions speak louder than your words. May your life preach louder than your lips. May your success be your noise in the end.
3. We mistakenly prioritize near-term comfort over long-term fulfillment.
Think about the most common problems we deal with in our lives – from laziness to lack of exercise to unhealthy diets to procrastination, and so on. In most cases, problems like these are not caused not by a physical ailment, but by a weakness of the mind – a weakness that urges us to avoid discomfort. Most of us dream about the reward without the risk. The shine without the grind. But we can’t have a destination without a journey. And a journey always has costs – at the very least, you have to give up a little time and energy to take a step forward every day. So, instead of dreaming about what you want right now, first ask yourself: “What am I willing to give up to get it?” Or, for those inevitably hard days: “What is worth suffering for?” Seriously, think about it…If you want the six-pack abs, you have to want the sore muscles, the sweat, the early mornings in the gym, and the healthy meals. If you want the successful business, you have to also want the late nights, the risky business deals and decisions, and the possibility of failing twenty times to learn what you need to know to succeed in the long run.
If you want something in life, you have to also want the costs of getting it! You have to be willing to put in the effort and go all the way! Otherwise, there’s no point in dreaming. This could mean losing stability and comfort for a while, and maybe even your mind on occasion. It could mean not eating what you want, or sleeping in, for weeks on end. It could mean stretching your comfort zone so thin it gives you a case of the chills. It could mean sacrificing certain relationships and daring yourself to make new ones. It could mean accepting ridicule from people. It could mean spending time alone in solitude. Solitude, though, is a gift that makes great things possible – it gives you the space you need. Everything else is a test of your determination, of how much you want it. And if you really want it, you’ll do it, despite discomfort and rejection and the odds. And every step will feel better than anything else you can imagine.
You will realize that the struggle is not found on the path, it is the path, and it’s worth it! So again, if you really want it, go all the way! There’s no better feeling in the world – there’s no better feeling than knowing what it means to be ALIVE.
Monday, May 1, 2017
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. The truth is that those friends you feel very obliged to hide your vulnerabilities around are probably friends you shouldn’t be around. If your friends intimidate you, put you down, lose respect for you because they see your nakedness, then it’s a true litmus test of whether they should remain friends in the first place.
What nobody told us is that there is actually a deep inner strength in vulnerability. This may sound contradictory at first – but vulnerability is actually strength in disguise. You know why? Because to be vulnerable you have to be honest; you have to be the real you. At times it may feel like the safer option is to hide your inner feelings in favor of an inauthentic, more confident exterior, but the truth is; people respect vulnerability so much more than faux-confidence. Plus, let’s face it – playing pretend doesn’t ever really make you feel that great on the inside; it only leaves you feeling like a fraud. As the visionary Apple founder, Steve Jobs once said: ‘It’s true: whether we like it or not, we are already naked and the sooner we learn to accept who we are and give ourselves permission to be vulnerable; the sooner we free ourselves from the chains of pretend-perfectionism.’
If you take anything from this point, let it be this: you don’t have to have your life together, in one piece of exquisite state. That is, at least for right now. Being a functioning adult is no joke, and it takes some work. Keep trying your best, and the rest will fall into place.
Penultimately, we are not perfect people. Most of us are a mess most of the times, but I believe that the best people are. I believe that the most successful people are the ones that make their fair share of mistakes. Every mistake we make is a learning experience, and there’s no better time than right now to be “figuring it out.” So, for now, embrace the struggle. The reality is that if you don’t allow yourself a chance at “figuring it out” now, when will you figure it out eventually? Own the fact that you probably haven’t brushed your hair in a week and that there’s a ginormous coffee stain on your t-shirt. Keep on telling yourself that you’ll get your life together eventually, because one day you will. Be unapologetically messy and remember that it’s okay to not have it all together. The point is that no one is going to have it all figured out right away; it takes experiences and plenty of mistakes along the way.
In summary, Life wants you to remember that you are not perfect and so is your life. You’re going to make thousands of mistakes in the span of your lifetime and that’s normal. You’ve done a lot of mistakes in the past and guess what? You’re going to make more mistakes tomorrow! But never lose yourself and make mistakes all the time. You have to learn from them and teach yourself not to make the same mistakes again. Always remember that your life should not be measured by the number of mistakes you’ve done but by the number of lessons you learn from these.
Culled from my book, The Path Less Travelled (Can be found on Amazon).
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Cursed was the day
There were no warning signs, no red lights, no pointers
The sun was bullish as ever, the moon peering as always
And then you called as usual, with your voice soothing as normal
It was to be the last
With broken hearts, we remember
Twelve months have brought no solace
Our soul still bleed
Our eyes still sore
Our head still ache
Time has not healed us,
It has only revealed the scale of our loss.
The thought is still vivid
The wound is still fresh
The agony still hangs over us like a cloud
The memory still shatters us
How can we heal mpa? How?
We find solace in the life you lived
We take succor that you are in the right destination
We are comforted that you have found true peace away from a world that gave you none
We will never completely heal; but we will patch up and keep moving
Friday, April 14, 2017
So I found this top 10 book recommendations to read before 30. Coincidentally, I have read all of these books, and wow, they make for a fantastic read any day!
1. The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck – Pretty much the granddaddy of all self-improvement books, it’s easily one of the best nonfiction works I’ve ever read. By melding love, science and spirituality into a primer for personal growth, Peck guides the reader through lessons on delaying gratification, accepting responsibility for decisions, dedicating oneself to truth and reality, and creating a balanced lifestyle.
2. Getting Things Done by David Allen – The ultimate ‘organize your life’ book. Allen’s ideas and processes are for all those people who are overwhelmed with too many things to do, too little time to do them, and a general sense of unease that something important is being missed. The primary goal of this book is to teach you how to effectively get your ‘to-do inbox’ to empty.
3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey – Covey presents a principle-centered approach for solving personal and professional problems by delivering a step-by-step guide for living with integrity and honesty and adapting to the inevitable change life brings us everyday. It’s a must-read.
4. The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz – Schwartz gives the reader useful, proactive steps for achieving success. He presents a clear-cut program for getting the most out of your job, marriage, family life and other relationships. In doing so, he proves that you don’t need to be an intellectual or have innate talent to attain great success and satisfaction in life.
5. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie – Easily one of the best and most popular books on people-skills ever written. Carnegie uses his adept storytelling skills to illustrate how to be successful by making the most of human relations.
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse – A short, powerful novel about the importance of life experiences as they relate to approaching an understanding of self, happiness and attaining enlightenment.
6. The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason – The best book on money management ever written. Although only 145 pages, this book is packed to the brim with powerful, life changing information. I’ve read it three times and I still pull new pearls of wisdom out of it. Babylon should be mandatory reading beginning at the grade school level, then again in college, and should be given as a gift right along with a college diploma.
7. The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less by Barry Schwartz – Faced with too many options or decisions in your life? We feel worse when we have too many options. This book will make you feel better and change the way you look at them. Schwartz discusses people making difficult decisions about jobs, families, where to live, whether to have children, how to spend recreational time, choosing colleges, etc. He talks about why making these decisions today is much harder than it was thirty years ago, and he offers many practical suggestions for how to address decision-making so that it creates less stress and more happiness.
8. The Art of War by Sun Tzu – One of the oldest books on military strategy in the world. It’s easily the most successful written work on the mechanics of general strategy and business tactics.
9. Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath – An easy to read psychology book about real ways to make change last – both personal and organizational. So many powerful insights, based on fact not theory. Inspiring counterintuitive stories of huge organizational change against all odds. Highly recommended for people in all walks of life.
10. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki – It is unfortunate that in America, arguably the greatest nation in the free world, few people including those with high incomes understand the value of investing and the proper use of money strategies. You can live off your income, but you can’t get wealthy off your income. True wealth is the result of using principles described in this book. This is a classic, must read for everyone.
Sunday, April 9, 2017
Today, I will like to share with you three pivotal organizations that have oiled the wheel of my personal development over the past few years. These organizations are entirely not exclusive to a select few and have nothing to do with your job. I like to think of them as credible ‘pass time.’ To avoid all doubt, the list is by no means exhaustive. However, the goal is that this will make someone want to be a part of any of these three. Let’s go!
Arguably the best association I have been a part of over the past few years. Toastmasters International is a place that provides a mutually supportive and positive learning environment in which every member has the opportunity to develop oral communication and leadership skills, which in turn foster self-confidence and personal growth. With its headquarters in the United States, there are about 16,000 clubs in over 140 countries of the world. I have learnt that by just having the gift of speaking, and exuding confidence while at it, will open tremendous doors. The beautiful thing about Toastmasters is that it will teach you how to make impromptu speeches, how to harness your thoughts and imagination in words, how to prepare manual speeches that is sublime and perhaps most importantly, it provides you feedback (which is a gift). The club also helps in developing your leadership skills. Each meeting is structured, the environment is devoid of criticism and I often wonder where I’d rather be on a Friday evening (And yes, I still have my Friday nights gig afterwards; should I crave ). So it’s simple, get online on the Toastmasters website and find the Toastmasters club nearest to you and be a part of it today!
2. The Book Club
It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who once said that ‘If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.’ So marvel no further when you see the likes of Chimamanda Adiche, Barack Obama, Pat Utomi among others. The caveat on this one is that I am a hopeless reader. It is a vital part of my life. From fiction, to self-help books, to autobiographies, to editorials, to motivationals, few things are more soothing. Belonging to a book club is the fastest and easiest way to sharpen your reading instincts. For me, it was until I joined a book club that I fully understood the latent power of books; particularly, African Writers Series. See, books are powerful and this is not just a cliché. Few things can illuminate your mind the way reading a book can. And when anyone ask me about the number one secret to being a good writer, I am quick to say ‘Being a hopeless reader.’ The reality is that anyone who says that we have only one life to live has not read a book before; for with books you have many lives, you go to many places and the narrative of your journey is richer and fuller. In a book club you find like minds, fellow addicts of books, lovers of words, masters of the pen. Again, it’s simple. Just go online and ask around for any good book club around you.
3. Motivators International
Now this one is close to my heart, primarily because there was a co-creation involvement in this one right from my University days. This organization was a brainchild of Chijindu Umunnakwe (friend & brother). To be honest, this club means many things to many people. However, the overriding goal is to create platforms for young people to harness their potentials in order to be the best they can be. The organization is focused on leadership and entrepreneurship development and is committed to maximizing the potential of young people, tackling poverty and unemployment through innovative development solutions. My philosophy of a potent organization is in the people and Motivators is replenished with a plethora of amazing young minds striving to make their world better than they met it. You can find out more and be a part of the group when you search online.
I hope this has helped. Have a smashing week friends!
Sunday, April 2, 2017
1. Starting over isn’t a good choice, and should only be a last resort.
The idea of starting over being a bad thing is baked right into the fabric of our society’s education system. We send our children to a university when they’re 17 or 18, and basically tell them to choose a career path they’ll be happy with for the next 40 years. “But, what if I choose wrong?” I remember thinking to myself. And that’s exactly what I did, in more ways than one.
Over the years, however, through bouts of failure and hardship, I’ve learned the truth through experience: you can change paths anytime you want to. Yes, starting over is almost always feasible, and it’s oftentimes a pretty darn good choice too. Of course, it won’t be easy, but neither is being stuck with a lifelong career you naively chose when you were a teenager. And neither is holding on to something that’s not meant to be, or something that’s already gone.
The truth is, no one wins a game of chess by only moving forward; sometimes you have to move backward to put yourself in a position to win. And this is a perfect metaphor for life. Sometimes when it feels like you’re running into one dead end after another, it’s actually a sign that you’re not on the right path. Maybe you were meant to hang a left back when you took a right, and that’s perfectly fine. Life gradually teaches us that U-turns are allowed. So turn around when you must! There’s a big difference between giving up and starting over in the right direction. And there are three little words that can release you from your past mistakes and regrets, and get you back on track. These words are: “From now on…”
So… from now on, what should you do?
Anything. Something small. As long as you don’t just sit in your seat, strapped down to a destiny that isn’t yours. If you mess it up, start over. Try something else.
Let go and grow!
No doubt, one of the absolute hardest lessons in life is letting go – whether it’s guilt, anger, love or loss. Change is never easy – you fight to hold on and you fight to let go. But letting go is generally the healthiest path forward. It clears out toxic thoughts and choices from the past and paves the way to make the most positive use of the present. You’ve got to emotionally free yourself from some of the things that once meant a lot to you, so you can move beyond the past and the pain it brings you. Again, it takes hard work to let go and refocus yourself, but it’s worth every bit of effort you can muster!
And oftentimes letting go is strictly about changing the labels you place on a situation – it’s looking at the same situation with fresh eyes and an open mind, and then making the best of it.
The underlying key is to treat life like the journey that it is.
The destination you have in mind today is likely not the same place you’ll someday be grateful you’ve landed. So while it’s healthy to plan for the future, it’s not healthy to do so at the full expense of today. The truth is, no matter how smart you are or how hard you try, you can’t accurately figure out the future. Even people who have a systematic plan (steps to be a doctor, steps to be a successful entrepreneur, etc.) don’t actually know what will happen down the road. And if they have any certainty at all, they’re a bit naive.
Life rarely goes as planned. For every person that succeeds in doing exactly what they set out to do in the exact time frame they set out to do it in, there are dozens of others who start strong and get derailed. And if this happens to you, it isn’t a bad thing. New obstacles and opportunities may come along to shift your perspective, to strengthen your resolve, or to change your direction for the better. Again, the destination you fall in love with someday may not even exist today. For example, just a few short years ago the esteemed career paths of working at Facebook, SnapChat, and Twitter didn’t exist. Neither did the job of professional coach and blogger at Marc and Angel Hack Life.
So… if you can’t plan out your future in its entirety, what should you do?
Focus a little less on the future and focus a little more on what you can do now that will benefit you no matter what the future brings. Read. Write. Learn and practice useful skills. Test your skills and ideas. Build things. Be adventurous and seek real-world experiences. Cultivate healthy relationships. These efforts will help in any future opportunities that come your way, and they may even create them for you.
Bottom line: When life does not go as planned, breathe and remember that life’s richness often comes from its unpredictability. Remind yourself that you are on a journey that’s ongoing, and that nothing is ever guaranteed. Sometimes this is hard to accept. Sometimes you have to force yourself to step forward. Sometimes you just have to accept the fact that things will never go back to how they used to be, and that this ending is really a new beginning.
2. Discomfort is undesirable.
Discomfort is a form of pain, but it isn’t a deep pain – it’s a shallow one. It’s the feeling you get when you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone. The idea of exercising in many people’s minds, for example, brings discomfort – so they don’t do it. Eating a spinach and kale salad brings discomfort too. So does meditating, or focusing on a difficult task, or saying no to others. Of course, these are just examples, because different people find discomfort in different things, but you get the general idea.
The key thing to understand is that most forms of discomfort actually help us grow into our strongest and smartest selves. However, many of us were raised by loving parents who did so much to make our childhoods comfortable, that we inadvertently grew up to subconsciously believe that we don’t need discomfort in our lives. And now we run from it constantly. The problem with this is that, by running from discomfort, we are constrained to partake in only the activities and opportunities within our comfort zones. And since our comfort zones are relativity small, we miss out on most of life’s greatest and healthiest experiences, and we get stuck in a debilitating cycle.
Let’s use diet and exercise as an example…
First, we become unhealthy because eating healthy food and exercising feels uncomfortable, so we opt for comfort food and mindless TV watching instead.
But then, being unhealthy is also uncomfortable, so we seek to distract ourselves from the reality of our unhealthy bodies by eating more unhealthy food and watching more unhealthy entertainment and going to the mall to shop for things we don’t really want or need. And our discomfort just gets worse.
Amazingly, the simple act of accepting a little discomfort every day, and taking it one small step at a time, can solve most of our common problems, and make our minds happier, healthier and stronger in the long run.
Truth be told, there is no person in the world capable of flawlessly handling every punch thrown at them. That’s not how we’re made. We’re made to get upset, sad, hurt, stumble and fall sometimes. Because that’s part of living – to face discomfort, learn from it, and adapt over the course of time. This is what ultimately molds us into the person we become.
When you find yourself cocooned in isolation and cannot find your way out of the darkness, remember that this is similar to the place where caterpillars go to grow their wings. Just because today is uncomfortable and stressful, doesn’t mean tomorrow won’t be wonderful. You just got to get there.
3. Grief is a burden that gradually devastates us over time.
You may have heard that it isn’t healthy to grieve for too long. I say this because it’s something I was taught when I was a teenager. A close friend died in a car accident. At first everyone accepted my tears, but as the weeks rolled into months, I was frequently told that it was time to let go. “The tears aren’t helping at this point,” I remember someone telling me. But that was hogwash. My tears were necessary. They were slowly watering seeds of my recovery. And I recovered as a much stronger, kinder, and wiser soul than I ever was before.
Then, a decade later, this lesson was reinforced in my life two more times, back-to-back, when Angel and I lost her older brother, Todd, to suicide and our mutual best friend, Josh, to an Asthma attack, a month apart.
Through the grief of losing people I love, I have been given the gift of awareness… awareness that every one of us will lose someone or something we love, and that this reality is a necessary one.
It’s incredibly tough to comprehend at times, but there’s a reason for everything. We must know the pain of loss, because if we never knew it, we would have little compassion for others and we would gradually become hollow monsters of egoism – creatures of sheer self-interest, never being happy with what we have. The awful pain of loss teaches humility to our prideful kind, has the power to warm-up a cold heart, and make an even better person out of a good one.
So yes, grief can be a burden that devastates us in the near-term, but it can also be a healthy anchor for healing and living well in the long run.
As human beings, we often get used to the weight of grief and how it holds us in place. For instance, Angel once told me, “My brother will die over and over again for the rest of my life, and I’m OK with that – it keeps me closer to him.” This was Angel’s way of reminding me that grief doesn’t disappear. Step-by-step, breath-by-breath, it becomes a part of us. And it can become a healthy part of us too.
Although we may never completely stop grieving, simply because we never stop loving the ones we’ve lost, we can effectively leverage our love for them in the present. We can love them and emulate them by living with their magnificence as our daily inspiration. By doing this, they live on in the warmth of our broken hearts that don’t fully heal back up, and we will continue to grow and experience life, even with our wounds. It’s like badly breaking an ankle that never heals perfectly, and that still hurts when you dance, but you dance anyway with a slight limp, and this limp just adds to the depth of your performance and the authenticity of your character. (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Adversity” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
4. Everything we experience firsthand in life is reality.
At a young age we are often taught to question the stories and rumors we hear from other people, but to fully accept what we see, hear, feel and experience firsthand. In other words, if we see it with our own eyes, hear it with our own ears, or feel it with our own two hands, then what we’ve just seen, heard, and felt is most certainly the whole truth. And while that may seem like a logical assumption, it’s not always an accurate one.
As human beings, our inner dialog, or mindset, has a drastic effect on how we interpret real-world life experiences. The stories we subconsciously tell ourselves don’t just change how we feel inside – they actually change what we see, what we hear, what we experience, and what we know to be true in the world around us. This is one of the primary reasons multiple people can go through the same exact experience, but interpret it differently. Each of us may enter a shared experience with a different story echoing through our mind, and our unique story – our inner dialog – alters the way we feel every step of the way, and so each of us exits this shared experience with a slightly different feeling about what just happened. And sometimes that slight difference makes all the difference in the world.
Perspective is everything!
In a way, the stories we tell ourselves narrow our perspective. When we enter an experience with a story about how life is, that tends to be all we see. This phenomenon reminds me of an old parable in which a group of blind men touch an elephant for the very first time to learn what it’s like. Each one of them feels a different part of the elephant, but only that one part, such as the leg, trunk, side, or tusk. Then the men eagerly compare notes and quickly learn that they are in complete disagreement about what an elephant looks like.
Something similar happens through our wide-ranging, different past experiences. Some of us have been deeply heartbroken. Some of us have lost our parents, siblings or children to accidents and illnesses. Some of us have dealt with infidelity. Some of us have been fired from jobs we relied on. Some of us have been discriminated against because of our gender or race. And when we enter a new experience that arouses prominent memories of our own painful story from the past, it shifts our perspective in the present – it narrows it.
When a negative past experience narrows our present perspective, it’s mostly just a defense mechanism. Every day of our lives we are presented with some level of uncertainty, and our innate human defense mechanisms don’t like this one bit. So our minds try to compensate by filling in the gaps of information by clinging to the stories we already feel comfortable with. We end up subconsciously trying to make better sense of everything in the present by using old stories and past experiences as filler. And while this approach works sometimes, other times our old stories and past experiences are completely irrelevant to the present moment, so they end up hurting us far more than they help.
Let this be your wake-up call!
Next time you catch yourself emotionally struggling with the ‘reality’ of a particular life experience, ask yourself:
What is the story I’m telling myself about this experience?
Can I be absolutely certain this story is true?
How do I feel and behave when I tell myself this story?
What’s one other possibility that might also make the ending to this story true?
Give yourself the space to think it all through, carefully. Mull it over, mindfully. And keep in mind that it’s not about proving yourself right or wrong.
It’s about taking a deep breath, and giving yourself the space to gain perspective.
5. Bad habits are really hard to break.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people repeat the age-old cliché, “Bad habits are really hard to break.”
But this just isn’t true, because “hard” is a matter of perspective.
What is true is that you ultimately become what you repeatedly do. If your habits aren’t moving you forward, they’re holding you back. And if they’re holding you back, it’s time for a change.
For most of us (who are not coping with clinical depression, for example), changing our habits is a straightforward process. People who say otherwise are often just making excuses. They always want tasks to be 100% easier, regardless of how easy they already are. And it’s always easier to do nothing, rather than something. It’s always easier to complain, rather than commit. It hurts to admit this sometimes, but it’s worth doing. It’s worth reminding yourself that changing a habit is just a matter of recognizing why you’re doing what you’re doing, and then replacing one small action with another.
But, why are you doing what you’re doing?
What motivates you to start a bad habit in the first place?
How is it that your best intentions for having good, healthy habits have somehow been beaten?
The collective answer to these questions is simple:
Like many human beings, you don’t yet know how to cope with stress and boredom in a healthy, effective way.
Yes, most of your bad habits formed subconsciously as a coping method for dealing with stress and boredom – you resist reality instead of working through it. And these habits didn’t build up in an instant, so they won’t go away instantly either. You built them up through repetition, and the only way to change them is also through repetition – by making small, simple, gradual shifts.
Sunday, March 26, 2017
The belief that waiting until tomorrow makes sense – We know deep down that life is short, and that death will come to all of us eventually, and yet we are infinitely surprised when it comes to someone we know. It’s like walking up a flight of stairs with a distracted mind, and misjudging the final step. You expected there to be one more stair than there is, so you find yourself off balance, before your mind shifts back to the present moment and how the world really is. Truth be told, someday there REALLY won’t be a tomorrow! And this harsh reality needs to be respected.
The belief that you must find your motivation somewhere outside yourself – The most common problem with motivation, often not understood until later in life, is that when we say we’re looking for motivation, it implies that our motivation is somehow hiding behind a tree or under a rock somewhere. But that’s far from the truth. The truth is, our motivation comes from doing the right things. When our efforts have meaning behind them it motivates us to take the next step. For me – and we’re all different – I am motivated primarily by two core ambitions: first, knowing more today than I knew yesterday, especially as doing so relates to meaningful projects and desires, and second, easing the pain of others. Living by these two core ambitions on a daily basis, and regularly reflecting on the progress I’m making, invigorates me, personally and professionally. So think about it: Underneath all the things you say you have to do, at the end of each day, what is the significance and value you hope to create?
The belief that everyone else knows what’s best for you – Give yourself the space to listen to your own voice—your own soul. Too many people listen to the noise of the world and get lost in the crowd. But YOU can choose differently! Don’t watch too much TV, don’t read every fashion blog, and don’t consume too much mass media news. Find the strength to fill your time with meaningful experiences. The space and time you are occupying at this very moment is LIFE, and if you’re worrying about the Kardashians or Lebron James or some other famous face, then you are disempowered. You’re giving your life away to marketing and media hocus-pocus, which is created by big companies to ultimately motivate you to want to look a certain way and be a certain way. This is absolutely tragic, this kind of thinking! It’s all just a distraction from what is real and good. What is real and good is YOU and your friends and your family, your loves, your highs, your hopes, and your dreams. You know this already! Listen to what your heart is telling you! Eventually, one way or another, you WILL. Because there will inevitably come a day when you’ll finally be wise enough and strong enough to do so.
The belief that all the instant notifications and distractions are worth it – Distractions are in the palms of our hands these days, but we need to remember to look up more often. We 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. You can’t connect with anyone, including yourself, unless you are undistracted and present. And you can’t be either of the two when you’re Facebooking, Instagramming or Snapchatting your life away on your smartphone. You just can’t! If you are constantly attached to your smartphone and only listening with your ears as your eyes check for the next social update, you are ripping yourself off of actually experiencing real relationships and real life. The same is true for texting too. Yes, someday you will be slapped with the reality of a missed MEMORY being far more unsettling than a missed TEXT!
The belief that being busy is beneficial – “Am I making meaningful use of this scarce and precious day?” It’s a simple question Angel and I challenge our course students to ask themselves anytime they feel busyness overwhelming them. And it’s a question that seems to gain relevance as we gain life experience. Time gradually shows us how fleeting our lives really are. Filling every day with busyness makes no sense, and yet it’s tempting to do just that. Resist the temptation! Leave space! Your ultimate goal is living a life uncluttered by most of the distractions people fill their lives with, leaving you with space for what truly matters. A life that isn’t constant busyness, rushing, and resistance, but instead mindful contemplation, creation and connection with people and projects you truly love.
The belief that knowledge alone is enough – Learning by itself is great in the near-term, but it doesn’t cut it in the long run if you plan on making positive changes in your life. It’s one thing to know all twelve steps necessary to recover from alcoholism, for example, but it’s another thing entirely to dedicate yourself to actually carrying out each one of those steps. The acquisition of knowledge doesn’t mean you’re growing – growing happens when what you know changes how you live. At some point we all learn this lesson, often the hard way, by realizing that we haven’t made any real progress. But then we take action, because that’s how real progress happens… and everything changes, for the better.
The belief that faster is better – In our youth it seems like faster is better, but in time we gradually witness the power of ‘slow and steady’ at work. We come to learn that no act of love, kindness or diligence, no matter how small, is ever wasted. The fact that you can plant a seed and it becomes a tree, share a bit of knowledge and it becomes another’s, smile at someone and receive a smile in return, is proof that YOU can make a big difference in life and business, even if it can’t be done all at once. So don’t break your back today. Remind yourself that you can’t lift 1,000 pounds all at once. Yet you can easily lift one pound 1,000 times, especially when you spread the lifting over a series of days. Tiny, repeated, daily efforts will get you there.
The belief that comfort is the end goal – A very popular and harmful addiction in this world is the draw of comfort. Don’t be someone who never asks, “how?” or never pulls back further to ask, “why?” Too many young people don’t ask these questions because they know the answers would require substantial disruption to their comfort zone, and they don’t want to endure it. But that’s how the human mind grows, and eventually we all learn this, one way or another. When our minds are stretched with new questions and resulting experiences, they never shrink back to their previous dimensions – we are forever more competent and capable. Truth be told, emotional discomfort in life, when accepted, rises, crests and crashes in a series of waves. Each wave washes an old layer of us away and deposits treasures we never expected to find. Out goes inexperience, in comes awareness; out goes frustration, in comes resilience; out goes hatred, in comes kindness. And so on and so forth…
The belief that you are at the center of the universe – When we’re young, we all have the tendency to place ourselves at the center of everything, and see every outcome from the viewpoint of how it affects us personally. But as we grow up and broaden our horizons, we begin to see that our self-centered thinking has lots of baggage that comes along with it – from feeling sorry for ourselves when things aren’t going exactly as expected, to doubting ourselves when we fail to be perfect. And we realize that shifting our focus onto others for a while can help. It’s one of life’s great paradoxes: when we serve others we end up benefiting as much if not more than those we serve. So whenever you feel stuck, try to shift your focus from your circumstances to the circumstances of those around you. Instead of asking, “What’s wrong with me?” ask, “How can I help you?” Find someone who could use an extra hand and make a small, reasonable offer they can’t refuse. The perspective you gain will guide you forward.
The belief that everyone is capable of being kind and loving – Not everyone will appreciate what you do for them, and not everyone will do for you as you do for them, because not everyone has the same heart as you. That’s reality. And you’ll eventually realize that you’ll be endlessly disappointed if you expect things to be different. So be kind and loving to people because you want to be, and don’t let your expectations get the best of you. With that said, however, you do ultimately have to figure out who’s worth your long-term attention and who’s just taking advantage of you. If your time and energy is misspent on the wrong people for the wrong reasons, you can end up in a tedious cycle of fleeting friendships, superficial romances that are as thrilling as they are meaningless, and a general sense of wondering why you always seem to be running in place chasing validation and affection.
Sunday, March 19, 2017
It is a cliché but one laced with truth – No man ever achieves success all by himself – At some point in our lives, we have all seen farther because we stood on the shoulders of others, seen clearer because others provided fresh eyes for us, and walked faster because we ran with more accomplished runners. Indeed, it is true that success doesn't come easy, but no one manages to make their dreams work without a combination of hard work and others opening and holding the door for them from time to time.
Sadly though, some press the ‘close door’ button on the elevator permanently as soon as they get to the peak of the building. They keep the elevator on their floor and never send it back. As you reach your goals and benefit from the opportunities others afforded you, don't forget to pass the good sentiment along and help those coming up behind you. The stories of a vast majority of Fortune 500 CEOs are underpinned by one constant – ‘someone took a chance on me’. In your journey of life, people will cut you some slack, believe in your dreams, give you a job even when you are not the most qualified and take a chance on you. Every one of us has a burden of responsibility to pass this on to others. It's only right for us to extend a helping hand back to the people who need it the most, especially when we're in a position to do so. Yet, while sending the elevator back is one thing, someone must be available at the right floor to get in once it arrives. Too many people complain with asperity about others not lending them a helping hand but the reality is that history is replenish with cases of misused opportunities. As they say, timing is everything.
However, even if no one sends you the elevator always remember that there is a twist in this metaphor. The actual point is good, but the subject takes a slant and pales in thorough logic. The elevator sends itself back down when its needed, so in the best case you're just making something that was already going to happen slightly faster and in the worst case you're making it slower for someone who wasn't where you expected them to be. The point here is that people will not always be gracious to send back the elevator, but ‘time and chance’ has a way of sending it back to us. The big question is are we always there to get in? Do we hear the beep when it arrives?
In the final analysis, no one gets to where they are on their own. We all owe our success, in part, to someone who gave us our first opportunity, believed in us enough to put us in a role that was a stretch, or pushed us to speak up when we would have preferred to stay comfortably quiet. What’s the best way to thank those advocates? By following their lead, paying it forward, and lifting others up as we climb. As Kevin Spacey once said “If you’re lucky enough to do well, it’s your responsibility to send the elevator back down.”
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Once upon a time, many moons ago, there was a village of people who lived in handcrafted wood houses. And like other villages in this era, fires were a very real and present danger at all times. One small flame could burn the whole village into ashes within a few short hours. So the villagers developed a clever fire fighting system. A rotating group of volunteers kept watch over the village from a lookout tower at all times, day and night. At the first sight of smoke, a volunteer would turn on a loud siren that was only ever sounded when warning the villagers about a fire.
The moment the siren sounded, all villagers would drop everything and run to a pre-assigned location for firefighting. Young, strong men and women would pump water as fast as possible from the village wells, teenage boys and girls would fill big buckets with water as it was pumped up from the well, and all the rest of the villagers would occupy designated locations and ultimately form human chains leading from the wells to the fire. The bravest men and women would stand next to the fire and heave buckets of water until the fire was extinguished.
One day a traveler from a distant village heard the siren and asked someone on the street about it. The woman – who was rushing toward her designated location – quickly explained, “Whenever there’s a fire, the siren is sounded and the fire is extinguished!” The traveler was amazed, and decided to bring this remarkable siren technology back to his own village, which also had dreadful problems with fires. Days later, he returned to his village with a siren that perfectly matched the one he witness in action on the lookout tower. He gathered all his villagers together, and he said, “You don’t need to fear fire anymore, my friends. I have found a new way to extinguish it. Watch closely, and I shall demonstrate.”
The traveler lit a large bale of hay on fire that was sitting next to his own cottage. The flames quickly began to spread closer and closer to his home. Then he took out the siren he’d acquired and sounded it. The fire only grew in its intensity, so he sounded it again. The fire continued to grow rapidly.
“Just be patient, everyone! It should happen any moment now…” In a panic he sounded the siren again and again, but still the fire grew and blazed with even more intensity. Within hours the entire village burned down to the ground… because, of course, the traveler had misunderstood the purpose of the siren. It wasn’t used to put out fires. It was simply a signal that directed the villagers to take positive action.
There’s a lookout tower in your life too. In that lookout tower, the siren has sounded. If you continue to do nothing when you hear the siren, your life, in many ways, will ultimately burn to the ground (dramatic, and true). For a siren extinguishes no fires on its own. But if you listen to the siren and let it motivate you to take positive action, you can save your own life… and create a sense of purpose, peace and resolve for yourself and those who depend on you.
The steps you need to take next won’t be easy, but they will be worthy. You will be one of the strong ones who know what it takes to fight and extinguish even the hottest fires that burn from within.Truth be told, sometimes we have to learn (or re-learn) to be our own best friends, because we fall too easily into the trap of being our own worst enemies. We love the idea of being loved and listened to by others, but we forget to love and listen to ourselves.
It’s time to stop putting yourself last. Make yourself a priority today. Challenge yourself to listen to what your heart and mind is telling you. Resisting and ignoring your own feelings and emotions does not serve you. It leads to stress, illness, confusion, broken relationships, fits of anger and bouts of deep, dark depression. Anyone who’s experienced any of the above knows that these states of mind are horrifically unhealthy… and when you’re in the habit of self-neglect, it’s nearly impossible to escape.
Refuse to ignore your inner siren any longer. Refuse to neglect yourself. Choose to take up lot of space in your own life. Choose to give yourself permission to meet your own needs. Choose to honor your feelings and emotions. Choose to make self-care a top priority…
Sunday, March 5, 2017
First it was the Russian billionaire, Roman Abramovich, taking off the financial limits on football in the Premier league. For all the blatant cynicism that greeted it, his model has proven to be successful. 15 trophies in 13 years can only mean one thing in football: Success. But there is a dark side of this unprecedented wealth. Managerial attrition at Stamford Bridge is simply ludicrous. That it has been a tale of 12 managers in 15 years is less of the issue. What perpetually boggles the mind is that the club’s revolving door on managers haven’t necessarily led to failure. The facts will suffice here. Chelsea have won 15 trophies since the reign of the Russian billionaire; more than any other premier league club in the same period. But the Chelsea model has opened the floodgate to the Sheikh Mansours of this world to acquire City and the Thai billionaires to take over Leicester City. With the infusion of capitalist funds came capitalist tendency. Part of the romance football had, died. It was 'Owners power' that prevailed and in this new world there is little room for sentiments. Football managers more than ever before now live and die by results. Past achievement are relegated to the dustbin. The mind is senile to remember previous glory and all we do is live in the moment.
The world was unanimous in its outcry against the sacking of Italian tinkerman, Claudio Ranieri, by Leicester City owners. How could they even dare? This was a man that wrote what is arguably the greatest ever football narrative ever told when he led lowly Leicester to the trophy last season. They didn't just win the league, they did it at a canter. If 10 points gap at the end of the season was not a procession to the trophy I don't know what is. Yet, barely nine months after this fairy tale, Claudio was axed. His sin? Leicester were languishing in 17th place, 1 points beyond the relegation zone. You'd think he has earned the right to have a season in hell after last season's achievement, but such is life in modern football. Club owners are trigger hungry. They know when all is said and done, this sport is business, and business is about winning...And winning I should add is relative.
What does this all mean for the football lovers who see their club being run like a ruthless fortune 500 company? They learn to live with it. One reason for this is that football fans move on too quickly. For all the love fans have towards a manager or player, they are not so deluded not to know that it is just mere passion for them (at least for the most part). Hence, they always move on. Increasingly too, the place of ‘fans power’ is diminishing while the role of ‘player power’ is on the rise. For all the rantings that happens on Arsenal Fans TV daily on how Arsene Wenger is everything detrimental about Arsenal, he has remained the manager; even with a 13 years spell without the trophy.
Make no mistakes about it, we still love and will always love the game. It is the idiosyncrasies and unpredictability, it's ruthlessness and allure, its lows and highs, that still make us love the game. However, it is just that these days it is less romance and more of a demand to win. Our following is increasingly premised by success...And this success is majorly for bragging rights and business reasons (betting etc). We still genuinely love football but for slightly different reasons these days. The romance is not entirely divorced but fans like the lover who goes into a relationship with his head are now a bit more careful.
In football as in life, the show must go on. For a moment after Brexit, it appeared like the moon was going to drop off the sky. For a split time after Trump won, it looked like the apocalypse will come. For a span of time after Ranieri was sacked, it appeared like football will never remain the same again. But alas, none of those doom tales happened. The sun rose the next day. The pound steadied itself, America accepted the reality of president Trump at the oval office and the Foxes fans turned up en masse at the King Power cheering their team on to a resounding victory against Liverpool barely 4 days after their most successful manager was axed. One thing is clear: The show must always go on.
Sunday, February 26, 2017
1. A big part of your life is a result of the choices you make. And if you don’t like your life – if it completely lacks excitement and passion – it’s time to start making changes and better choices.
2. Life is to be enjoyed, not endured. You CAN follow a path that moves you. You are always free to do something small and positive that makes you happy.
3. There is good reason why you should wake each morning and mindfully consider what and who you will give your day to. Because unlike other things in life – money, entertainment, obligations, etc. – time is the one thing you can never get back once it’s gone.
4. It’s not what you say, but how you spend your time. If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.
5. Your passion is an inherent part of you. Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about. Nothing you have that much passion for is ever a waste of time, no matter how it turns out in the long run.
6. When you focus your heart and mind upon a meaningful purpose, and commit yourself to fulfill that purpose a little bit every day, positive energy gradually floods into your life.
7. We have to stop telling ourselves that other people are our reason for being unhappy, unfulfilled, etc. They aren’t in the long run.
8. The more we fill our lives with genuine passion and purpose the less time and energy we’ll waste looking for approval and admiration from everyone else.
9. Your body may eventually grow tired, you may lie awake some nights listening to your past regrets, you may miss your only love, you may see the world around you overcome by negativity, or know your respect has been trampled on by unfriendly faces. There is only one thing for healing that works every time – to rediscover what excites you and then dive deeper into it. That’s the only positive effort that a battered mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or doubt, and never dream of regretting.
10. Just one small step today. That’s all. True purpose has no time limit. True passion has no deadline. Don’t stress and overwhelm yourself. Just do what you can right now – just the next smallest step on a meaningful path.
Sunday, February 19, 2017
From the Farouk Lawal / Otedola saga to the Andrew Yakubu embezzlement, the narrative has followed the same pattern. A media hue and cry followed by a citizenry social media trial that pitters away as soon as the next headline comes along. It is common knowledge that corruption remains the bane of our society but what is startling is the magnitude and scale that surfaces each time. Ours is a society where the GMD of NNPC can be said to be the Lord of the Manor in a Feudal state with his influence, far reaching. While curbing the corruption culture in public service is one part of the dilemma, the biggest malady is plugging the loopholes in our system that allows for one man to gleefully and easily divert almost 10 million dollars in cash to his pocket.
In the past 10 years, there have been a litany of top profile corrupt and fraudulent cases. The Ibori example is an apt reminder that there is no hold bar for our politicians in the embezzlement quest. Ibori’s corruption escapades is well chronicled but each time the figures are rehashed it breaks the heart. This was a man that admitted to looting over 40 billion naira during his 8 years stay as governor of Delta state (1999 – 2007). However, the biggest losers of this case were the people. James Ibori had a Rockstar welcome in Oghara– a man returning from jail for stealing from his people! The drums were agog and the red carpet rolled out for their illustrious son. Afterall, their son was not the only one to travel that path. Call it dementia or collective amnesia, this is the story of ‘we the people.’
In all of these, one has to be sympathetic to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The criticism of a selective war has been levelled on the anti-graft agency; yet, no one can deny that they have done an excellent job of unearthing the country’s fortune illegally acquired by those that should serve us. What is done with these monies are not the business of the EFCC. Theirs is to recover and pass across to the right channel. While the EFCC cannot be entirely absolved of blame in some of their tactics in the war against corruption, the body should be encouraged by all and sundry. For God’s sake it takes some balls to go after some of the names the body have chased and hunted down.
The stories of the Andrew Yakubus, Sambo Dasukis, Diezani Allison Maduekes, Obanikoros, Murtala Nyakos and their many colleagues are prevailing tales of where our Judiciary has proven to be handicapped in role modelling its independence, serve justice as appropriate, and more importantly send a message to all. The shenanigans of our laws and how we have perfected the art of stalling judicial trials of high profile corruption cases is almost standing logic on its head and making a mockery of the corruption crusade. Whether the delays are playing to a script or are default encumbrances inflicted by our judicial process, it must be flushed away.
When all is said and done, what will success look like in the fight against corruption? It is building structures that makes corrupt acts difficult, instilling a culture of discipline and contentment, making scape goats of culprits and government role modelling prudency and cost discipline. It goes without saying that the fight against corruption has been the major pass mark in President Buhari’s scorecard, yet it is not a glowing distinction at the moment.
Sunday, February 12, 2017
1. The inevitable frustrations of an average day. – 99.9% of what’s stressing you out today won’t matter a month from now. Sooner or later you will know this for certain. So just do your best to let go of the nonsense, stay positive, and move forward with your life.
2. The little failures you often feel self-conscious about. – When you set goals and take calculated risks in life, you eventually learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important in the long run.
3. How “perfect” everything could be, or should be. – Understanding the difference between reasonable striving and perfectionism is critical to letting go of fantasies and picking up your life. Perfectionism not only causes you unnecessary stress and anxiety from the superficial need to always “get it right,” it actually prevents you from getting anything worthwhile done at all.
4. Having complete confidence before taking the first step. – Confidence is that inner inertia that propels us to bypass our empty fears and self-doubts. On the road of life, we come to realize that we rarely have confidence when we begin anew, but as we move forward and tap into our inner and outer resources, our confidence gradually builds. A common mistake many young people make is wanting to feel confident before they start something, whether it’s a new job, a new relationship, living in a new city, etc. But it doesn’t happen like that. You have to step out of your comfort zone, and risk your pride, to earn the reward of finding your confidence.
5. The intricacies of what’s in it for you. – Time teaches us that we keep nothing in this life until we first give it away. This is true of knowledge, forgiveness, service, love, tolerance, acceptance, and so forth. You have to give to receive. Such a simple point, and yet it’s so easy to forget that the giving of ourselves, without a price tag, has to come FIRST! It’s the giving that opens us up to grace.
7. Being an online-only activist for good causes. – Online is fine, but sooner or later you realize that if you truly want to make a difference you have to walk the talk too. So don’t just rant online for a better world. Love your family. Be a good neighbor. Practice kindness. Build bridges. Embody what you preach.
6. The pressures of making a big difference all at once. – When we’re young it seems like faster is better, but in time we witness the power of ‘slow and steady’ at work. We come to learn that no act of love, kindness or generosity, no matter how small, is ever wasted. The fact that you can plant a seed and it becomes a flower, share a bit of knowledge and it becomes another’s, smile at someone and receive a smile in return, is proof that YOU can make a big difference in life and business, even it can’t be done all at once.
8. The temptation of quick fixes. – The older your eyes grow, the more clearly they can see through the smoke and mirrors of every quick fix. Anything worth achieving takes dedicated daily effort. Period! Honestly, I used to believe that making wishes and saying prayers alone changed things, but now I know that wishes and prayers change us, and WE change things. All details aside, when it comes to making a substantial change in your life – building a business, earning a degree, fostering a new relationship, starting a family, becoming more mindful, or any other personal journey that takes time and commitment – one thing you have to ask yourself is, “Am I willing to spend a little time every day like many people won’t, so I can spend the better part of my life like many people can’t?” Think about that for a moment. We ultimately become what we repeatedly do. The acquisition of knowledge doesn’t mean you’re growing – growing happens when what you know changes how you live on a daily basis.
9. Having a calendar jam-packed with exciting, elaborate plans. – Don’t jam your life with plans. Leave space. Over time you will learn that many great things happen unplanned, and some big regrets happen by not reaching exactly what was planned. So keep your life ordered and your schedule under-booked. Create a foundation with a soft place to land, a wide margin of error, and room to think and breathe every step of the way.
10. Being in constant control of everything. – The older we get the more we realize how little we actually control. And there’s no good reason to hold yourself down with things you can’t control. Learn to trust the journey, even when you do not understand it. Oftentimes what you never wanted or expected turns out to be what you need.
11. Blaming others. – Have you ever met a happy person who regularly evades responsibility, blames and points fingers and makes excuses for their unsatisfying life? Me either. Happy people accept responsibility for how their lives unfold. They believe their own happiness is a byproduct of their own thinking, beliefs, attitudes, character and behavior. And although it takes time to fully grasp this, it’s a lesson worth learning.
12. Winning everyone’s approval. – It’s the strength of your conviction that determines your level of personal success in the long run, not the number of people who agree with every little thing you do. Ultimately, you will know that you’ve made the right decisions and followed the proper path when there is genuine peace in your heart.
13. The idea of saving certain (overly dramatic) people from themselves. – Honestly, you can’t save some people from themselves, so don’t get sucked too deep into their drama. Those who make perpetual chaos of their lives won’t appreciate you interfering with the commotion they’ve created, anyway. They want your “poor baby” sympathy, but they don’t want to change. They don’t want their lives fixed by you. They don’t want their problems solved, their emotional addictions and distractions taken away, their stories resolved, or their messes cleaned up. Because what would they have left? They don’t know and they aren’t ready to know yet. And it’s not your job to tell them.
14. The selfish and disparaging things others say and do. – If you take everything personally, you will inevitably be offended for the rest of your life. And that just isn’t worth it! At some point it becomes crystal clear that the way people treat you is their problem, and how you react is yours. Start taking full advantage of the amazing freedom that comes to you when you detach from other people’s antics.
15. Winning arguments. – Not much is worth fighting about for long. And if you can avoid it, don’t fight at all. It really doesn’t matter that much. Don’t define your intelligence or self-worth by the number of arguments you have won, but by the number of times you have silently told yourself, “This nonsense is just not worth it!”
16. Judging others for their shortcomings. – We all have days when we’re not our best. And the older we grow, the more we realize how important it is to give others the break we hope the world will give us on our own bad days. Truly, you never know what someone has been through in their life, or what they’re going through today. Just be kind, generous and respectful… and then be on your way.
17. Society’s obsession with outer beauty. – As you grow older, what you look like on the outside becomes less and less of an issue, and who you are on the inside becomes the primary point of interest. You eventually realize that beauty has almost nothing to do with looks – it’s who you are as a person, how you make others feel about themselves, and most importantly, how you feel about yourself.
18. Fancy and expensive physical possessions. – Later in life, your personal wish list for ‘big ticket’ physical possessions tends to get smaller and smaller, because the things you really want and need are the little things that can’t be bought.
19. All the shallow relationships that just make you feel more popular. – It’s nice to have acquaintances. Be friendly. Just don’t get carried away and spread yourself too thin. Leave plenty of time for those who matter most. Your time is extremely limited, and sooner or later you just want to be around the few people who make you smile for all the right reasons.
20. Distant future possibilities. – As time passes, you naturally have more of it behind you and less of it in front of you. The distant future, then, gradually has less value to you personally. But that doesn’t really matter, because the good life always begins right now, when you stop waiting for a better one. Some people wait all day for 5pm, all week for Friday, all year for the holidays, all their lives for happiness. Don’t be one of them. Don’t wait until your life is almost over to realize how good it has been. The secret to happiness and peace is letting this moment be what it is, instead of what you think it should be, and then making the very best of it.