Sunday, December 31, 2006

Count Your Blessings. Don't Discount Them.

It’s a cold morning in Belvedere, Kent (don’t bother cracking your head where that is). I woke up this morning with a heart of gratitude to God. It’s the last day of the year 2006. Looking back in retrospect, it has been a great but challenging year. I am sure the story will not be too different for most of you reading this article.

On a positive note, I am alive! There is great hope for the future. I have hope that things that didn’t work this year will do next year. I had planned a vacation with my family outside of my home country and here I am enjoying a great vacation with them. My beautiful daughter was 1 and God helped us make some great investments in the course of the year. Most importantly, we have been a source of blessing to several people in the course of the year, in more ways than one. This morning, I choose to count my blessings! In the words of a wise man, “When you learn to think, you will learn to thank”

I must confess however that everything didn’t go as planned. We had very tough moments. There was a career move I was supposed to make (we had prayed and believed God for it) that didn’t pull through. I had planned all my year around that move and it was really devastating when it didn’t pull through. Some other things just didn’t work! I have a choice to discount my blessings! I have a choice to complain and murmur and dwell on the things that didn’t work. I am sure you have this choice too. What would you rather do….count your blessings or discount them?

My advice to you is obviously to count them. While writing on the “Power of Your Attitude”, I said something about the greatest of all attitudes. It is an attitude of gratitude. In the words of Zig Ziglar “Of all the "attitudes" we can acquire, surely the attitude of gratitude is the most important and by far the most life-changing” An attitude of gratitude qualifies you for greater blessings. Be grateful for things you have and God will be compelled to give you what you don’t have. Thank him for today and he will guarantee your tomorrow.

Never take God for granted! If you do, you’ll soon be grounded! Appreciate him for the little things. You are alive. You can walk. You have a job. You have a family! Thank him for all those and believe him to turn other things around. An apostle of old has this advice for us all “ Even though the fig trees have no blossoms and there are no grapes in the vine; even though the olive crop fails and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the field and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the Lord God of my salvation”.

As the year winds up today, may I encourage you once again to count your blessings? May I encourage you to have an attitude of gratitude? May I encourage you to be thankful? When you praise Him today, He will raise you tomorrow!

You should not only show gratitude to God. You should show gratitude to all those who have contributed in one way or the other to your year. Let them know they did. Send a thank you note. Send a small gift to appreciate a particular favour. Be thankful.

See you in 2007!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Get Value By Adding Value

Yesterday, during the course of an interesting day, my friend and host Tosin Lanipekun introduced a book to me. The title is, “Screw it…Let’s do it” by Richard Branson. What a great book it turned out to be. I learnt quite a lot of things in that book. However, something stood out. You can only become rich or successful by helping to solve other people's problems. The more problems you can solve, the richer you become! There is so much riches around us then. You only need to meet the needs of others.

In the book, Richard told a quick story of how Virgin Atlantic started. Can you imagine that Virgin did not start out with a superb business plan? There were no prior preparations as it were. He saw a need and he fixed it. Hear the story from Branson himself “…We spent the rest of our holiday on another island. Our plan was to travel to Puerto Rico- but when we got to the airport, the flight was cancelled. People were roaming about, looking lost. No one was doing anything, so I did- someone had to. I chartered a plane for $2000. I divided that by the number of people. It came to $39 a head. I borrowed a blackboard and wrote on it: VIRGIN AIRWAYS. $39 SINGLE FLIGHT TO PUERTO RICO.

The idea for Virgin Airways was born right in the middle of a holiday, although the actual airline only properly took off when I was sent a business idea. I had never chartered a plane before, but, as with Tubular Bells and the Jamaican Toasters, I saw and grabbed the chance. And look at Virgin Atlantic today! We fly to 30 places around the world. We have Virgin Blue in Australia, Virgin Express in Europe and Virgin Nigeria. We are planning Virgin America. And we’ve even gone further- Virgin Galactic will offer flights into space! No one else is doing that. It’s a bold move. We are ahead of everyone. In 21 years, we have gone from renting a plane to space travel”

Can you beat that? As one year comes to a close and another comes to view, I want to encourage you to look out for others. You’ll be happier when you make other people happy. You’ll be richer when you solve other people’s problems. For a moment, think about what you can do to add value to the lives of others. You’ll be amazed the value that will be added to your own life by just doing that. It is amazing.

See you at the top! That’s where you belong!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Merry Christmas!!!

It’s about the 2006th Christmas celebrations. There is no better way to start this than to wish you all a Merry Christmas. May the joy of Christmas remain in your hearts.

My family and I are thousands of miles away from home on a vacation. Last night (eve of Christmas), we went round town. It was great to see Christmas trees and decorations all around the place. It was really magnificent. I mean you could see a whole street lighted up and even some houses in competition about the decorations. It was coulourful.

As we drove home, I had a question on my mind. Do these people really understand the true meaning and essence of Christmas? Do they understand what they are celebrating? It reminds me of the story of ants that I read sometime ago. A group of ants were marching towards a place all together. The one at the extreme end touched the one in front of him and asked “Johnny, where are we headed?” “I don’t know”, replied Johnny, “I just saw everyone moving and decided to join them!” You will agree with me that this journey will end nowhere. This is the exact way some people celebrate Christmas. They do not know the true essence of it. They are celebrating because others are. They are celebrating the day because it is a national holiday. May I ask you why you are celebrating this Christmas?

Christmas without Christ is just an ordinary mass! Period! Can you imagine going for a birthday party without the celebrant in attendance? I am not sure it will be a great party. The true essence of Christmas will be missing if Christ in missing in your heart.

God demonstrated his love towards us thousands of years ago (and he still does everyday) by sending his only begotten son. For God so love the world, that he gave. Notice that his love compelled him to give. It’s very important to note that the greatest proof of love is giving. You can give without loving but you cannot love without giving. God gave, because he loved.

Not only did God give us his son, he also forgave us our sins. He forgave, because he loved us. The true test of love his forgiveness. Your love for another will be tested by your ability to forgive. Isn’t it much easier to forgive those you really love? I think it is. May I ask you if you’ve accepted both the love of God and his forgive this season? If you have not, don’t let this season pass away. That is the real essence of it.

For those who have accepted both His love and forgives, may I also ask you to share same? Show love to others by giving (I got a good demonstration of this when the couple we are staying with had to vacate their room for us so we can have a splendid vacation!). Most importantly, forgive! Isn’t it a wonderful time of the year to forgive everyone who has hurt you by any means? God did.

Once again, Merry Christmas. Have a splendid one!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Tyranny of Giving

May I take a break from the “Power Series” I have been writing on in the last couple of days? Would you please permit me to write about Christmas? That seems to be the word on every lip at this particular time and season. Most people that I know are shopping for Christmas. Most importantly, they are buying gifts and receiving gifts from their loved ones.

There is a wonder about Christmas. It is a period of intense giving. This is because of the significance of the day itself. God demonstrated his love towards us by giving us his only begotten son. God showed that he loved us by giving. Giving is the greatest proof of love. You can give without loving but you cannot love without giving.

The season also imposes its tyranny on many of us. Instead of being able to give out of thoughtfulness and love, we often give because it is "expected". “Just grab at anything that Uncle can smile at when he unwraps it”, even though no one can think of anything he really wants or needs. I know of people who have hundreds of people they feel obligated to remember with a gift. No wonder the joy of giving falls away to a sort of panicked despair.

It is time to refresh our giving with a truth from Scripture deeply imbedded into our consciousness from hundreds of repetitions at church offerings: "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver"

Can we give cheerfully this Christmas? Can we determine to meet people’s needs (and this should not start and stop during Christmas alone) and not just give religiously or out of compulsion? Can we emulate the great Gift of Christmas? "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life”.

God gave, not reluctantly or because He was forced by popular opinion, but because He loved. No store-bought gift would do for those He held dear; it must be home-made. Nor was His choice of Gift an optional trinket for the "man who has everything." He gave the only possession that we don't have and really need. He did not give a thing, an object. He gave Himself--a costly Gift in the extreme, so expensive that many reject the Gift because of the obligation they know they incur upon acceptance.

Herein lays a Christmas mystery. Only by opening the first Gift may we truly comprehend what is the real significance of giving and receiving gifts. May this season not capture us in its tyranny, but release us in an eager cheerfulness to give

Merry Christmas.

The Power Of Your Commitment

Dreams remain as hanging castles until you match them with practical steps to make them realities. Nothing works until you are committed to make it work. There is tremendous power in your commitment.

Do you know the first American to win 3 gold medals at the Olympics? She was born premature with severe Polio and was the 21st out of 22 children. She was confined permanently to braces. At age 11, she started herself out on a self rehabilitation course with the help of her loving family. She practiced 4 times a day (at 6.00a.m, 10.00a.m, 3.00p.m and 8.00p.m) for 1200 consecutive days! No wonder she was the first American to win 3 gold medals! Her name is Wilma Rudolph. She backed her dream and attitude with a commitment. She gave it all it took and booked a place for herself in the hall of fame. What price are you willing to pay to see your dreams fulfilled?

The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endevour. There is no scarcity of opportunity to make a living at what you love. There is only a scarcity of resolve to make it happen. The achievement of your goals/dreams is assured the moment you commit yourself to it.

“There’s only one way to succeed in anything, and that is to give it everything. I do, and I demand that my players do.” Vince Lombardi

Take a moment to think about the goals you've set for yourself. How committed are you to achieving these goals? Under what conditions would you give up? What if you could significantly increase your desire to achieve these goals? What if you wanted them so badly that you knew with absolute certainty that you would absolutely, positively never ever give up? When you are truly 100% committed to reaching your goals, you move from hoping to knowing. If you want something badly enough, then quitting is simply not an option. You either find a way or make one. You pay the price, whatever it takes. You are committed to it.

When you are interested in something, you do it only when it is convenient. When you are committed to it, you accept no excuses, only results. Yes. Are you interested in success or committed to it? If you are committed, then you’ll be willing to go the extra mile. You will be willing to take personal responsibilities and develop yourself. You will register for that course. You will attend that seminar. You will give up that habit. You will wake up early. You will do whatever it takes to get the results!

Most of his life, Thomas Edison worked 18 hour days. Until he was 65, he only took catnaps and occasional breaks to eat on most workdays. By the age of 75, he had cut his workday down to 16 hours. Can you imagine that? He was committed to a course. No wonder we are still talking about him today. There is no overnight success my dear friends. Are you committed to your dreams?

Commitment is like burning the bridge behind. It leaves you with no chance to go back on your words. For instance, if you want to launch your own business, you can begin by making the commitment to quitting your job. Write a letter of resignation, put it in a stamped envelope addressed to your boss, and give it to a trusted friend with firm instructions to mail the letter if you haven't quit your job by a certain date. As Andrew Carnegie once said, "Put all your eggs in one basket, and then watch that basket!"

Let me close with the words of a wise man. “Losers make promises they often break. Winners make commitments they never break”

See you at the top!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Power Of Your Attitude

All things being equal, attitude wins. All things not being equal, attitude still sometimes wins!

In my opinion, attitude is one of the greatest keys to success. It’s the most important asset you will have to possess on your way up the success ladder. Attitude, more than aptitude will determine your altitude.

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. We cannot control the beauty of our face but we can control the expression on it! We cannot choose how many years we live, but we can choose how much life those years will have! Too many times we try to choose and control things we cannot. Too seldom, we choose to control what we can….our attitude.

I have found out that things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out. What really counts is not what happens to you. It is what happens in you as a result of what happened to you! While I agree that a problem can stop you temporarily, your reaction to it can stop you permanently.

Some years back, I came across the story of Glenn Cunningham. It is one that shows the power of a positive attitude. Glenn was burned so severely when he was young that Doctors concluded he’ll never walk again. They convinced his parents that he’ll never walk and they accepted the verdict. But not Glenn. Right from when he was young, he attempted walking while his parents were away. From walking, he started to jog and then run. Ladies and gentlemen, in 1934, he set the world’s one mile record! In 1938, when he ran his fastest mile in 4:04:04, he owned 12 of the 31 fastest mile times on record! Attitude will not let him rest!

Many of you would have read the story of John Foppe, the author of “What’s Your Excuse?” How can a man without arms and legs be that successful? It is attitude! While adversity breaks some men, it causes some men to break records! Walt Emerson said, “What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us”.

Attitude is everything. Your attitude is your window to the world. With a right attitude, failure cannot hold you down.

You will succeed!

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Power Of Your Choice

I woke up at 4.00 a.m as usual today and was still feeling very sleepy and tired (I’ve had a long but eventful week so far…because I decided to, earlier in the week). I had a choice to make. I could either go back to bed and get some more rest or get up and meet up with the commitment of putting this write up together. You know what my choice was.

Now, that looks simple. If you consider it very well, you will find out that life is about making choices. Where you are today is a product of the choices you made yesterday (whether consciously or unconsciously), and where you will be tomorrow will be a reflection of the choices you are making right now. There is tremendous power in your choice.

I have discovered that success in life is not a gift. It doesn’t just fall on people like ripe pawpaw! It is a choice that you have to make. You are a direct product of your choices. You are going to live tomorrow with the consequences of today’s choices. . The choices we make today will colour the spectrum of our life in the future. It is futile to squander today and hope for a generous tomorrow. Everything that happens in your life-both what you are thrilled with and what you are challenged by-began with a choice.

An average person makes about 350 choices in a day. However, in prison, inmates are restricted to only 8 decisions daily! That is nature’s way of punishing them for the wrong decisions and choices that brought them there. Isn’t that interesting? They are not been trusted again because of wrong choices they once made.

What choice(s) are you going to make today? Take a break and think about those choices. How will they affect you later today or later in future? Don’t make wrong choices that will affect you permanently because of circumstances that are only temporal.

In a world of many choices, amidst the call of many voices, make sure you make the right choice! Note also, that choices you make, do not only affect you in this world. They affect you in the world to come. Choose right!

Henry David Thoreau sums it up well when he said “I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of a man to elevate his life by a conscious endevour”

You will succeed!

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Power Of Your Dream

Everything you see today started as a dream in someone’s mind. Think about it for a moment. Even the entire universe started first as a dream in God’s mind before it became a reality. The Wright brothers saw aeroplanes fly in their minds before they flew in reality. Thomas Edison saw light bulbs in his mind before they became a reality. The dreams of today will surely become the realities of tomorrow.

Martin Luther King Jr said “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character” Today, three decades after he was gunned down at a motel balcony in Memphis Tennessee, his dream still lives on as a reality! Dreams are so powerful that they even outlive the dreamer!

What is the dream in your heart? What do you see ahead in the next couple of years? The world belongs to dreamers. So, my advice is this “Dream well and dream wide. It doesn’t cost a dime!”

As I was growing up and started to dream, I got cautious words from those who were more elderly. Most times, they will advise me to be realistic with my dreams. In their words, “Do not build castles in the air”. I have since known better. “Build castles in the air! Only be sure to put foundations under them!” I once read about an Olympic long jump gold medalist. When asked how he could jump such great heights easily, he responded by saying “I just throw my mind overboard. My body will then have no choice but to follow” Throw your mind overboard! Dream well! Dream big! Everything around you will then be left with no choice than to follow.

I once heard a story that years after Disneyland and Disney World were completed, someone said to Mike Vance, the Creative Director of Walt Disney Studios, "Isn't it a shame that Walt Disney didn't live long enough to see this?" Apparently, Mike Vance replied, "But he did see it. That's why it's here." Walt Disney may well have been the world's greatest creative dreamer. He is an example of someone who believed in creative visualization and used it to create his entertainment empire. He called the process "imagineering." When you visit Disneyland or Disney World you are seeing examples of "the dream that you wish will come true."
“Build castles in the air! Only be sure to put foundations under them!”

May I ask you again? What do you see? What is the dream in your mind? Do you have a dream? What type of dreams do you have? In the words of Thomas E. Lawrence “All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.

Dare to Dream!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Make a Man Right, His World Will Be Right

There was a man who had a little boy that he loved very much. Everyday after work the man would come home and play with the little boy. He would always spend all of his extra time playing with the little boy.

One night, while the man was at work, he realized that he had extra work to do for the evening, and that he wouldn't be able to play with his little boy. But, he wanted to be able to give the boy something to keep him busy. So, looking around his office, he saw a magazine with a large map of the world on the cover. He got an idea. He removed the map, and then patiently tore it up into small pieces. Then he put all the pieces in his coat pocket.

When he got home, the little boy came running to him and was ready to play. The man explained that he had extra work to do and couldn't play just now, but he led the little boy into the dining room, and taking out all the pieces of the map, he spread them on the table. He explained that it was a map of the world, and that by the time he could put it back together, his extra work would be finished, and they could both play. Surely this would keep the child busy for hours, he thought.

About half an hour later the boy came to the man and said, "Okay, it's finished. Can we play now?" The man was surprised, saying, "That's impossible. Let's go see." And sure enough, there was the picture of the world; all put together, every piece in its place. The man said, "That's amazing! How did you do that?" The boy said, "It was simple. On the back of the page was a picture of a man. When I put the man together the whole world fell into place."

“When I put the man together, the whole world fell into place”

My question to you today is “Is your world in place”? Do things fit together in your life? Does it seem that your world is just upside down? Can I suggest you look at the man…I mean yourself? Can I suggest that you look inwards? When a man is right, his world will be right. Take personal responsibility.

In Africa (where I proudly come from), it is a common thing to pass the buck. Everyone has a thousand and one reasons why his/her world is not right. Such reasons vary from government to environment, to difficult bosses, to family background and what have you. Once someone’s world is not right, he blames another person. May I let you know that that is one of the reasons we are behind others? We need to wake up and take responsibilities for our lives and future.

Take time to make yourself right. Put yourself together. Have the right attitude. Improve your skills. Make right decisions. Be hardworking. Be persistent. Just put yourself together and you will see your world come together.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Don't Hope....Decide!!

It’s very early in the morning. I have just taken my bath and getting ready to face the day. It’s going to be a long day as I have a long list of to do’s – reports to write, meetings to attend, things to put in place for a visit, calls to make, and a host of others. I have prayed and sincerely hope that all will go well today. I really hope so.

Will hope alone take me through the day? Will I have a great day just by hoping for one? I had to search my archives to fish out a story I read some months ago. May I share it with you before drawing a conclusion?

“While waiting to pick up a friend at the airport in Portland, Oregon, I had one of those life-changing experiences that you hear other people talk about -the kind that sneaks up on you unexpectedly. This one occurred a mere two feet away from me.

Straining to locate my friend among the passengers deplaning through the jet way, I noticed a man coming toward me carrying two light bags. He stopped right next to me to greet his family. First he motioned to his youngest son (maybe six years old) as he laid down his bags. They gave each other a long, loving hug. As they separated enough to look in each other's face, I heard the father say, "It's so good to see you, son. I missed you so much!" His son smiled somewhat shyly, averted his eyes and replied softly, "Me, too, Dad!" Then the man stood up, gazed in the eyes of his oldest son (maybe nine or ten) and while cupping his son's face in his hands said, "You're already quite the young man. I love you very much, Zach!" They too hugged a most loving, tender hug.

While this was happening, a baby girl (perhaps one or one-and-a-half) was squirming excitedly in her mother's arms, never once taking her little eyes off the wonderful sight of her returning father. The man said, "Hi, baby girl!" as he gently took the child from her mother. He quickly kissed her face all over and then held her close to his chest while rocking her from side to side. The little girl instantly relaxed and simply laid her head on his shoulder, motionless in pure contentment. After several moments, he handed his daughter to his oldest son and declared, "I've saved the best for last!" and proceeded to give his wife the longest, most passionate kiss I ever remember seeing. He gazed into her eyes for several seconds and then silently mouthed. "I love you so much!" They stared at each other's eyes, beaming big smiles at one another, while holding both hands.

For an instant they reminded me of newlyweds, but I knew by the age of their kids that they couldn't possibly be. I puzzled about it for a moment then realized how totally engrossed I was in the wonderful display of unconditional love not more than an arm's length away from me. I suddenly felt uncomfortable, as if I was invading something sacred, but was amazed to hear my own voice nervously ask, "Wow! How long have you two been married? "Been together fourteen years total, married twelve of those." he replied, without breaking his gaze from his lovely wife's face. "Well then, how long have you been away?" I asked. The man finally turned and looked at me, still beaming his joyous smile. "Two whole days!" Two days? I was stunned. By the intensity of the greeting, I had assumed he'd been gone for at least several weeks - if not months. I know my expression betrayed me. I said almost offhandedly, hoping to end my intrusion with some semblance of grace (and to get back to searching for my friend), "I hope my marriage is still that passionate after twelve years!" The man suddenly stopped smiling. He looked me straight in the eye, and with forcefulness that burned right into my soul, he told me something that left me a different person. He told me, "Don't hope, friend... decide!" Then he flashed me his wonderful smile again, shook my hand and said, "God bless!"

With that, he and his family turned and strode away together. I was still watching that exceptional man and his special family walk just out of sight when my friend came up to me and asked, "What'cha looking at?" Without hesitating, and with a curious sense of certainty, I replied, "My future!" "

Right now, I am not only hoping that today will be a good day. I decide that it will be a “wow” day! It is going to be a lovely day. Will you decide that yours will too?

Have a splendid day!

Monday, December 11, 2006

How do you see it?

The story is told of an organization out West that offered a bounty of $5000 for each Wolf captured alive. Sam and Jed decided that this was a great deal. They saw a tremendous opportunity to strike it rich, just as their prospecting ancestors of old had done. They outfitted themselves for the challenge and then hiked into the area. For weeks, they spent day and night scouring the mountains and forest in search of their valuable prey.

Late one night, exhausted, they fell asleep and began to dream of their potential fortune. Sam suddenly awoke with a start, and rubbed his eyes. He wasn’t entirely sure if he was awake or dreaming, but then suddenly realized that, indeed, he as awake! At the edges of the firelight cast from their campfire, he saw that he and Jed were surrounded by about fifty wolves – each with flaming eyes and bared teeth.

He nudged his friend to awaken him, crying, “Jed, wake up! We’re rich!”

Isn’t that interesting? There were wolves surrounding them. These wolves were potential riches as much as they were potential killers. They chose to see them as riches. My question to you today is, “How do you see it”. Do you see stumbling blocks or stepping stones? Do you see problems or opportunities? Many people think success comes on a platter of gold. From my experience, and what I have learned and read, success comes disguised…..sometimes as problems, sometimes as work! How do you see it?

I am tempted to tell you another story I read to drive home my point. Two marketers were sent by a shoe company to market the product somewhere in India. Two of them sent messages back home. One wrote. “No business here. People don’t wear shoes.” The other wrote “Big business here. People don’t wear shoes.” Same situation. Same circumstances. Different ways of seeing it. The situation – The people do not wear shoes. While one saw a difficulty, the other saw it as an opportunity. He must have said to himself “Wow. If I can just get each of them to buy a pair! There is no competition here whatsoever!” How do you see it?

I know you are presently facing some challenges. I know. You can turn that into a success story. Yes, you can. To be candid, there are no big secrets to success. It is just turning your opportunities to breakthroughs.

You will succeed!

Friday, December 8, 2006

An Enemy Called Average

Have you read (at least come across) John Mason’s best seller “An enemy called Average”? If you have not, I recommend you get a copy.

I woke up early as usual today to start my day. As I was meditating while taking my bath, I was looking at the kind of results I was delivering in a certain aspect of my life. They were quite okay. At least, they were better than the last few years. However, it stuck me that the results were just a little above average. When those results were really bad, it was easier to move them up in the right direction. Now, it has sort of flattened out and progress has been slow. Then, the message became clear. The greatest enemy of the “good” is not “bad”. It is fairly good! The greatest enemy of “excellent” is not “fair”, it is “very good”. If you want to improve the results in your life – personally, professionally, financially, then, you’ve got to be overcome this enemy called average

Everyone in life will have either of two things – Reasons or Results. Note that reasons don’t count. Whether consciously or unconsciously, you will have one of them. Most people I know have reasons. They can give you a thousand and one reasons why they are behind on their goals and dreams. They can give you all the excuses in the world – background, environment, nationality, physical disabilities, harsh conditions, difficulty bosses and all you can think off. The sad thing though is that reasons don’t count. Reasons have never got anyone promoted. Reasons will not put food on your table or money in your pocket. Only results do! So, whatever happens, you must make a commitment to get results. You must make a commitment to get past average and be the best you can.

I encourage you to celebrate little success but please do not get complacent. There is always something better on the other side. Stretch yourself to the limit. Raise the bar!

I remember (though faintly) the story of an American athlete I read some years back. He competed in an indoor high jump tournament and had his eye on breaking the world records for both the indoor and outdoor. It was indeed a tall dream. After several trials, he had a last go at the indoor record. The whole stadium watched as he got set for this moment. One, two, three …….and up he leapt. The whole stadium rose up in applause as he broke the world indoor records. He had achieved no mean feat. He had become the whole recorded holder. However, this athlete would not be satisfied. He asked for the bars to be raised. He decided to have a go at the outdoor record. Friends, he made it in one go! In one single day, he claimed both records because he refused to settle for average. Only the best was enough.

Do not settle for less than the best. Only the best is good enough for you.

Have a nice weekend.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Refuse to Accept Failure!

Sir Edmund Hillary was the first man to climb Mount Everest. On May 29, 1953 he scaled the highest mountain then known to man -29,000 feet straight up. He was knighted for his efforts. He even made American Express card commercials because of it! However, until we read his book, High Adventure, we don't understand that Hillary had to grow into this success.

You see, in 1952 he attempted to climb Mount Everest, but failed. A few weeks later a group in England asked him to address its members. Hillary walked on stage to a thunderous applause. The audience was recognizing an attempt at greatness, but Edmund Hillary saw himself as a failure. He moved away from the microphone and walked to the edge of the platform. He made a fist and pointed at a picture of the mountain. He said in a loud voice, "Mount Everest, you beat me the first time, but I'll beat you the next time because you've grown all you are going to grow... but I'm still growing!" He failed to accept failure and never gave up on his dreams.

One of my speaking mentors, Les Brown, gave an advice “When life knocks you down, make sure you land on your back. If you can look up, you can get up!” Failure need not be final in your life.

As we go through life, it is important that we realize that we will have some setbacks. We will have some seeming “failures”. Things will not always work out the way we expect. The key to being a success is to never give up! It is making a commitment to get up as many times as you fall. A wise man puts it this way. “Success is moving from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”

It is also very important to note that failure is an event. It is not a person. When you view failure as a person, you will certainly not progress. Did you fail the exam or job interview? Did you fail in business? See it as an event and not a person. You did not fail! You are not a failure! Yes, you didn’t pass the exam. Yes, you didn’t get the job! So what? Go take the exam again. Apply for another job! It’s an event. Don’t make it a person. Don’t take it personal.

One key thing about overcoming failures is growing. Are you growing? Are you improving your skills to overcome your present challenges? The greatest definition of insanity is “doing the same thing the same way and expecting a different result!” If you approach that same obstacle exactly the same way you did before, you are still likely to fail! Something has got to change – your skill level, your attitude, your commitment, and your relationships, just to mention a few. In order words, you’ve got to grow above your present challenges. You’ve got to grow to success. So, keep growing. Keep improving. In no time, you will be taller than your “failures.”

Let me close by saying this. You are not a failure when you fail. You are a failure only when you give up! Don’t give up. Keep on keeping on!

You will succeed!

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Antidotes To Worry

We said yesterday that “worry is interest paid in advance on something you may never own.” Think about it. Near the end of his life, Mark Twain said, “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” Always remember that the outcome of a situation will still be the same whether you worried about it or not!

Worry wastes a lot of emotional energy. Have you analyzed how few of the things we worry about actually happen? One survey says 40% of the things we worry about never happen; another 30% of our worries are in the past, and we can't do anything about them. 12% concern other people, and are really none of our business anyway. 10% are about sickness which we can do very little to control. Only 8% of the things we worry about are worth worrying about! In my opinion, even the 8% can be challenged.

What then is the antidote to worry? While I will not say I am an expert here (I still worry sometimes), let me share with you some thoughts that have helped me and some others I have read from.

1. Use your mind. Be rational

It's important to develop coping strategies for worry - learning to think more realistically. Most anxiety is a distortion in the way we think. We would solve a lot of worry problems if we think more logically and creatively.

Astronaut Jim Lovell was in command of the Apollo 13 spacecraft when it experienced an explosion on its way to the moon. Their oxygen was almost gone; their electrical system was out, and their spaceship was plunging toward lunar orbit. They were destined to be lost in space, thousands of miles from home. During a press conference after their safe return, Lovell was asked; 'Were you worried?' and he gave an answer that surprised almost everyone in the room. 'No, not really.' He continued, 'Worry is a useless emotion. I was too busy fixing the problem to worry about it.' Use your mind!

Another idea is to limit the amount of time we allow ourselves to worry. I read about a guy who had so many things to worry about, he set aside one day each week in which to worry. As worries came to him, he wrote them down and put them in his worry box. Then, on Worry Wednesday he pulled out each worry and read it - and discovered that most of the things he was disturbed about had already settled themselves or had been taken care of in some other way.

2. Live one day at a time

My advice is that you live in day-tight compartment. Take life as it comes. People living through a tremendous crisis soon learn that they have only enough energy to face today. 'One day at a time' becomes their motto. Do unpleasant tasks now. Get them out of the way. Forgive other people quickly. Have some 'time out' for stillness and quietness each day. And live the serenity prayer: “God give me the serenity to accept what I cannot change, the courage to change what I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Forget yesterday. Plan for tomorrow. Live today. “Yesterday is a cancelled cheque. Tomorrow is a promissory note. Today is cash!” Spend it well. Don’t let worries about tomorrow deny you the pleasures of today. Like my good friend said “ Some prepare so much for tomorrow’s rain that they forget to enjoy today’s sunshine.” Live one day at a time!

3. Work Hard and Plan

One of the best cures for worry is work. Worry kills lots of people; work of itself doesn't kill anyone. Most worriers are lazy people. Consider the story about three servants who were given trust over their master's investments. The third servant, who hid his master's investment in the ground because of all his worries, was judged not only a "wicked," but also a "lazy" servant.

Planning for the future is fine. Most people worry because of lack of proper planning. A lady who is getting ready for marriage but has not planned well is set to be worry laden all through the week of her wedding. A man who has plans for his retirement will worry less than one who doesn’t. Proper planning delivers you from worry!

4. Develop a attitude of gratitude

Can I tell you a story? I call it the story of two buckets.

A traditional well always have two buckets. As one is going down, the other is on its way up. Long time ago, there lived two buckets in the same well. It was noticed that no matter what happens, one was always sad, whining and looking morose and melancholic. It was always complaining about the situation of things all around. The other however, on the contrary, was always happy and motivated. No matter what happens, it was always in a high mood. Both buckets used to wonder what was happening to the other when they meet somewhere along the line in the well. The sad bucket was always wondering “why is this guy always happy? Are we not going through the same situation? Are we not faced with the same difficulties? The happy bucket on the other hand was always wondering aloud “what the hell is wrong with this guy? Why is he always looking morose and melancholic? One day, they decided to talk to each other and ask why they are both going through similar situations but reacting differently. The happy bucket asked first “why is it that you are always looking sad and morose all the time? Is anything the matter? The sad bucket replied. “Everything is that matter! I am not happy here. Can you imagine, no matter how full I come up from this well, I always go down empty!! I am living an empty life!” “Waoh” replied the happy bucket. “Do you know what? This is the very same reason why I am always happy. No matter how empty I go down into this well, I always come up full!!!! I am living a fulfilling life!

An attitude of gratitude will deliver you from worry. Be grateful for what you have and you will soon get what you want. Count your blessings, name them one by one. During your times of trouble, dwell on good things. Think about God's blessings - his provision and care. Next time you have a physical problem, think about the thousands of bits of your body that are working brilliantly!

5. Cast your cares upon God

One man took a paper bag, wrote 'God' on it, and taped it high on the back of his kitchen door. Whenever he prayed about the things he was worried about, like his job or his family, he would write them down on a piece of paper, and put it in the bag. Then he made a rule for himself. If he started worrying about a matter that he'd turned over to God, he had to climb up on a chair and fish that paper out of the bag. He said it was pretty revealing just how much time he spent sifting through those scraps of paper. You see, we can trust God to be there, to care for us, to provide for us. That's the good news, so why worry?

So let's pray about our worries. As someone said, 'If our worries aren't worth praying about, they aren't worth worrying about.' I read about a theological college student who had a sign on his wall: 'Why pray when you can worry?' Hmmm.

Do you remember the Bobby McFerrin song "Don't Worry, Be Happy"? When it hit the top of the charts, it was criticized as being too simplistic and naïve. However, it has some very important sentiments! Don’t Worry. Be Happy!

See you at the top of the topmost top!

Monday, December 4, 2006

Does "worrying" come with growing up?

I’ve spent the last 10 minutes on the bed with my 1 year old daughter, on the eve of her birthday celebrations. She’s been playing (I don’t know what else to call it) with her hair ribbons and accessories. She’s obviously unaware of the activities going on around her. She is without a care or worry in this world. She’s is not thinking of where her next meal will come from or where she would sleep tonight. She’s not even bothering about her party tomorrow! While her mum (mostly, I must admit) and I are busy putting finishing touches to her birthday party tomorrow, she’s all carefree. Really, I envy her. It then occurred to me that I was once like her – without a care in the world. What has happened to me? Does “worrying” come with growing up? Does “worrying” come with age?

I am sure I am not the only one asking this question. Of all the living things that God created, human beings are the only ones that worry. And we worry about everything - petrol prices, the stock market, taxes, jobs, paying the bills, marriages, relationships; parents worry about children, children worry about parents. You name it, somebody is worrying about it.!

In my opinion, the worries of a 30 year old are much more than a 10 year old. What would a 10 year old boy be worried about? Probably his grades, friends and family. A 30 year old would worry about anything – money, groceries, kids, spouse, career, societal expectations, just to mention a few. It becomes imperative therefore to make conscious efforts not to give in to worry as one grows older. Listen to the advice of the creator of the world.

"That's why I'm telling you to stop worrying about your
life-what you will eat or what you will drink-or about
your body-what you will wear. Life is more than food,
isn't it, and the body more than clothing? Look at the
birds in the sky. They don't plant or harvest or gather
food into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
You are more valuable than they are, aren't you? Can any
of you add a single hour to your span of life by worrying?
And why do you worry about clothes? Consider the lilies
in the field and how they grow. They don't work or spin
yarn, but I tell you that not even Solomon in all his
splendor was clothed like one of them. Now if that is the
way God clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today
and thrown into an oven tomorrow, won't he clothe you
much better-you who have little faith? So don't ever worry
by saying, 'What are we going to eat?' or 'What are we going
to drink?' or 'What are we going to wear?"

What a timely advice!

'Worry’ comes from an Anglo-Saxon word, "to strangle" or "to choke." So worry can get a strangle hold on us, and literally cut off the air supply that allows us to breathe emotionally! Worry, anxiety, concern and apprehension keep us from living our lives to the very fullest because we are filled with fear that something awful will happen. A wise man once said “Worry is interest paid in advance on something you may never own”. How true! Worry indeed is like a rocking chair. It gets us nowhere!! Worry never climbed a hill. Worry never paid a bill. Worry never dried a tear. Worry never calmed a fear. Nothing wears faster than worry.

What then can we do to be free from worry? Join me next time as I share my thoughts

Until then, keep on keeping on! See you at the top!!

Friday, December 1, 2006

It's a Reality!!!!

It's about 12.45p.m on Dec 1st, 2006, and i am getting ready to join the world of bloggers! I have had this dream now for the past few months and it's gradually coming to fulfilment. Indeed, the realities of today are the dreams of yesterday.

I am persuaded beyond all doubts that this venture will move from one degree of glory to another. Let me welcome you to my blog with this story i read sometime ago and that i have used in a couple of speaking engagements to drive home my point. Enjoy it!

Weakness or Strenght

Sometimes your biggest weakness can become your biggest strength. Take, for example, the story of one 10-year-old boy who decided to study judo despite the fact that he had lost his left arm in a devastating car accident.
The boy began lessons with an old Japanese judo master. The boy was doing well, so he couldn't understand why, after three months of training the master had taught him only one move.
"Sensei," the boy finally said, "Shouldn't I be learning more moves?"
"This is the only move you know, but this is the only move you'll ever need to know," the sensei replied.
Not quite understanding, but believing in his teacher, the boy kept training.
Several months later, the sensei took the boy to his first tournament. Surprising himself, the boy easily won his first two matches. The third match proved to be more difficult, but after some time, his opponent became impatient and charged; the boy deftly used his one move to win the match. Still amazed by his success, the boy was now in the finals.
This time, his opponent was bigger, stronger, and more experienced. For a while, the boy appeared to be overmatched. Concerned that the boy might get hurt, the referee called a time-out. He was about to stop the match when the sensei intervened.
"No," the sensei insisted, "Let him continue."
Soon after the match resumed, his opponent made a critical mistake: he dropped his guard. Instantly, the boy used his move to pin him. The boy had won the match and the tournament. He was the champion.
On the way home, the boy and sensei reviewed every move in each and every match. Then the boy summoned the courage to ask what was really on his mind.
"Sensei, how did I win the tournament with only one move?"
"You won for two reasons," the sensei answered. "First, you've almost mastered one of the most difficult throws in all of judo. And second, the only known defense for that move is for your opponent to grap your left arm." The boy's biggest weakness had become his biggest strength.
You are destined for the top of the topmost top! See you there!!