Wednesday, March 28, 2007

5 Philosophies of Life

Today, I woke up quite earlier (long before my alarm went off). I woke up with some thoughts. How can we enjoy life and get the best out of it? My mind went back to a few years ago, when as a trainee engineer in one of the top oil servicing firms in Nigeria I was asking the same question. I jotted down some thoughts/reasonings then and I was quick to review my notes. Permit me to share with you my thoughts then, and now. I have titled it “The 5 Philosophies of Life”

Life is Short – Invest It

When you learn to take life by each passing day, each passing hour, each passing minute and seconds, you will realize indeed that life is short. Yes it is. We are not eternal. Only God is. No matter our vision and plan, we have a time frame to make it happen. Even in societies with advanced health and medical care, life still has a limit. No wonder a wise man once cried out “So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of understanding”.

Since life is so short, there is only one thing meaningful to do with it – invest it. It’s possible to waste it. Many people do. They will just wake up one day and discover that they are already 70 years old and close to their grave without anything to show for it. They’ve squandered their lives with drug addiction, smoking, too much TV, too much sleep and what have you. Some other people just spend life. They just go through life as it comes. Those are the type of people that ask the day where it has gone. To get the best of life, do not waste time. Do not spend it. Invest it. Invest it in things that will outlast you.

Life Is Small – Be Kind

It’s a small world. I have established several times on this blog that you are 5-7 people away from everyone on the planet. It is amazing and almost unbelievable how close you are to everyone on the face of the earth. Pay close attention to the people you are meeting today, doing business with today, living with today, lording over today. You will most likely still meet again. Please, be kind to them. You never can tell where else you’ll meet. It may even not be with them. It may be with their families and friends and you’ll be amazed how much small favours you’ve done for them can open giant doors for you. It’s a small world and I recommend that you should be kind…to all.

Life Is Complex – Be Wise

We live in a time where someone has described as the era of 3 C’s – Accelerated Change, Overwhelming Complexities and Intense Competition. Life can indeed be complex. You need wisdom to deal with the complexities of life.

When you want to be successful in every area of your life (and I assume you want to), you’ve got to be wise. It’s not the default. The default is that you succeed in an aspect of life and fail in the other aspects. How many successful business men have a successful home? Quite a few. Most traded their families for their business success. I know a lot of people who are successful in business but failing in their health. Really, it’s complex to handle all these areas – career, relationships, spirituality and health. You need wisdom

Do you know how to get this wisdom? I know how. It will take another write up to tell you how but let me give you a tip. Wisdom is not a “thing”, it is a person! Yes. I will prove it sometime soon. Stay connected.

Life Is In Phases – Be Sensitive

This is one part that people do not really comprehend. They are more comfortable with the status quo and just want to remain in their comfort zone. Unfortunately, that’s not how life works. Life is in Phases. There is a time for everything.

Look at it closely. Your childhood was a phase of life. You were largely dependent, weren’t you? You enjoyed things being done for you and all. Then comes the teenage phase where you crave for independence. It’s another phase of life completely, with new skills and challenges. Growing up to settle down with your own family is yet another phase with its own challenges. Moving from phase to phase successfully requires sensitivity. You need to be sensitive to the changes going on in you and around you and make the necessary adjustments.

If you are using yesterday’s ideas to do business today, you will surely not be in business tomorrow. Be sensitive to things going on around you. Life is in phases and men are in sizes. Know the particular phase you are in and be sensitive to know when to make a move.

Life Is Interesting – Enjoy It!

I had a challenging time growing up. Because of my poor background, I leanrt to save a lot and delay gratifications. I grew up with this mentality and even when I started doing pretty well, I still saved quite a lot. I wasn’t even buying things for myself. I was just preparing for the future. One day, as I was reading a book, a powerful truth dawned on me when I read a quote “many people prepare so hard for tomorrow’s rain that they forget to enjoy today’s sunshine”. That described me in its totality.

Listen to me folks. Life is interesting. Don’t be too hard or tough on yourself. Enjoy every moment. Celebrate little successes. Take yourself out to lunch. Take that vacation out of the country that you’ve dreamt of. Reward yourself. Pay yourself. Celebrate yourself. I remember once after having a great speaking engagement, I did a celebration for my mouth! Yes, I did. I told myself “you’ve got to celebrate this mouth. It has brought you this far and it will take you to where you are going!” Enjoy life!

When people ask me how I am doing, one way I answer is to say “I am enjoying where I am preparatory to where I am going”. Will you join me in saying and meaning this confession?

We are destined for the top. No one can stop us except us. We are unstoppable!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

5 Questions You Must Answer Before You Die!

Despite my busy schedule over the weekend, I had some time to go through one of my old diaries. I learnt the habit of putting down my thoughts on paper right from high school. The particular diary in question happens to be the one I used in the year 2001, 6 years ago. I was amazed to see how time flies and how much things have changed for me. Of a truth, the dreams of today are the realities of tomorrow.

Let me share with you one of my major goals for that year as written in my diary. I had a goal of giving a offering of not less than N20/service! To be honest, it was really a sacrificial goal at that time. I mean, it would have been a great year if I could give God an offering of N20 in every service I attended! I was partly laughing and partly close to tears when I read this particular line on my 2001 goal list. Isn’t it amazing? Without, mincing words, I am sure that giving an average of anything less than 25 times this in any service I attend will be questionable. And only 6 years have passed. Just 6 years.

I remember also that while on campus then, I declared my dreams openly to the amazement of many. I had no physical things to rely on – I mean I was from a poor family with a rather tough background and practically sponsored myself through school. I didn’t know too many people and thought also that I didn’t have the right connections. I was obviously at a disadvantage. However, I didn’t see it that way. I saw it as an opportunity to shine brighter. I used to tell myself that “the greater the darkness, the brighter the glory of light”. How true that proved to be. One day, while speaking to a set of student, I declared aloud “My first salary will be 6 digits!” I remember the stunning look on people’s faces when I said that. It was almost unimaginable. It was a dream that I had, had written down and was ready to run with. Ladies and gentlemen, my first salary was indeed 6 digits! Dream well and dream big! It doesn’t cost a dime!

Oh…I wasn’t planning to dwell much on my dreams 6 years ago. I just wanted to share briefly on a thought I wrote in that diary at about the same time. The title on it was “5 Questions you must answer before you die”. Wouldn’t it be interesting to know those questions? Your answers to these questions are very vital. They will determine what will become of your life here, and hereafter. Your answer to these questions will determine if you will die fulfilled or it; if you’ll die happy or sad;

What are these Questions?

Who Am I? (The Question of Identity).

This is perhaps one of the most important questions you’ll ever have to answer. Who are you? Do you have an identity? What is your identity? Statistics has it that about 99% of the world population has identity crisis. We don’t seem to know who we are. The tall wants to be shorter and the short wants to be taller. The fat wants to be slimmer and the slim wants to be fatter. The old wants to be young again and the young wants to get older. It’s like a never ending cycle.

Where Am I From? (The Question of Source).

“He that is from above is above all”

Your source determines the resources available to you.

Why Am I Here? (The Question of Purpose)

Do you know why you are here? When purpose is not understood, abuse is inevitable. You need to understand the purpose for your existence. You are not a product of accident. You were made for a purpose and you need to understand what that purpose is. You first discover it, then develop it and then deplore it for the benefit of the human race.

What Can I Do? (The Question of Potential)

This is a very important question. What special skills and talents have you got? What can you do with your hands or head to fulfil your purpose? This is what separates you from the crowd. It gives you an edge over your peers. You’ll never become successful until you recognize the special abilities and skills that you have and invest them in solving other people’s problems

Where Am I Going? (The Question of Destiny)

In my opinion, this is one of the most important questions that is often neglected by people until they realize they are at the very end of their lives. Then however, it is almost too late. After all said and done, where will you end it all? After getting the money, riding that nice car, going for that vacation and all, what eventually becomes of you? I like the way a wise man puts it “It makes foolish business sense to gain the whole world and loose you own soul”.

Some day through this medium, I hope to deal with each of these questions in greater details. However, ponder on them seriously for the moment.

Stay on top!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Excuses – The Trademark Of Mediocres (Part II)

Permit me to start the concluding part of this article with words of Stephen Grayhm “Excuses are the tools with which persons with no purpose in view build for themselves great monuments of nothing”. The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses.

Did you read the story I started with in the 1st part of this post? If you haven’t, I strongly recommend that you read it. I shared the story of a man who invited some guests over for dinner. Surprisingly enough, despite a long notice and a reminder, they all found excuses not to attend the dinner. Can I take on the story a little bit more?

The 2nd guy in the story also gave an excuse for not attending the dinner. His excuse? ‘I have just bought five yokes of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out, Please excuse me’. Wow. What an excuse. I have the same comments like I had for the 1st guy. This guy could have chosen another day to do this inspection. He could also have done the inspection earlier in day and still make it for dinner later in the day! Apart from the excuse he gave, I also saw folly in his act. How wise is it to pay for something you’ve not seen, especially when that thing is a living thing! He was just looking for a way not to come for the dinner! An excuse is worse than a lie, for an excuse is a lie, guarded.

The 3rd guy had his own excuse too. ‘Still another said, I just got married, so I can’t come’. Don’t you think he could have taken his wife out for dinner? It could have been a romantic evening together.
We have forty million reasons for failure, but not a single excuse. I have never stumbled on the success story of any man who excused his way to success. Have you? Excuses will take you no where. I like the way someone puts it. He said “We are all manufacturers. Some manufacture good, and others excuses!
What excuses do people make for not fulfilling their visions and dreams? Let us examine 2 more and their underlying myth.

I don’t have the connections

This is a common excuse with those who thinks getting to the top a matter of who you know. They feel that they are where they are because they don’t know the right people to help. “I don’t have the necessary connection” is a nice way of saying “I am not willing and ready to cultivate the relationships I need to reach my goals”. That’s the real truth behind that excuse.

I am sure you know that you are 5-7 people away from anyone on this planet. Yes, you are. You can create and cultivate any relationship you so desire. I am not saying that this easy and will be a walk over, but it is possible. You can get connected to top people in your field of endevour for instance. You can, if you are willing to cultivate the relationship.

I don’t know how

This is one of the feeblest excuses of all. I don’t know how to make a web site. I don’t know how to write well. I don’t know how to get a better job. Are you capable of learning? Did you stop after learning to crawl, complaining, “I don’t know how to walk?” The truth behind “I don’t know how” is “I’m unwilling to learn.” In other words, you have to admit that you’re lazy. And you need to do something about that. Are you willing to invest time in learning anything you need to learn? Anything that is worth knowing is worth learning.

I challenge you to keep learning and shatter the myth of this excuse.

Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you, never excuse yourself.

You are too loaded to fail!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Excuses – The Trademark Of Mediocres

A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet, he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ But they are alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me’. Another said ‘I have just bought five yokes of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out, please excuse me’. Still another said, I just got married, so I can’t come.'

Believe it or not, I read this account from a book…the greatest book ever written. Before making my points, I need you to understand the story very well.

Can you imagine getting an invitation from the President of the United States for a dinner? How would you treat such invitation? Would you need a reminder before honouring it? I bet you won’t. You’ll probably hang the invitation somewhere that you’ll see it everyday. Everyone around you will also know you have a date with the President. Every other thing will take second place. All other appointments will be rescheduled. And many more.This did not happen in the story above. Here, the man that invited his fiends for dinner was kind enough to even send a reminder just before the party started. However, all his invitees began to make excuses. I did a careful analysis of their excuses and found out that they were really excuses. Nothing else.

Take for example the 1st guy. His excuse? ‘I have just bought a field and I must go and see it’. This guy must be a professional excuse maker. He didn’t just get the invitation the day before. Why on earth will he fix inspecting his field on the same day with the party? Afterall, the field is his. He can choose to go and inspect it the day before, or the day after the party! Besides, when do you go to inspect a field? Probably early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Right? The guy was invited for a dinner! He could still have made it if he really wanted to come! He was just making up an excuse to be absent. And that’s how excuses are. They are “made”.

Excuses are lies we tell ourselves to avoid dealing with unpleasant truths. But as long as we buy into those excuses, we can never move past them. Instead of addressing the underlying problem, we merely hide the symptoms. One of the most important steps in personal growth is to uproot excuse-making and confront the real issues behind the excuses with consciousness and courage. A wise man puts it right when he said “Excuses are the trademarks of failures and mediocres”

What excuses do you have that is preventing you from moving on to success? I can bet you that no excuse is good enough for failure. Will you please join me in examining the most common excuses people make and their underlying truths?

I don’t have the time

This is perhaps the commonest excuse I have heard in my life. How many times have you heard yourself or someone else make this excuse? There is nothing that can be farther from the truth. One interesting thing about time is that it’s the most evenly distributed of God’s gifts. Everyone on the planet has 24 hours. A rich man in his palace has 24 hours and so does a poor man on the street. Whatever happens to you in life depends on how you spend or invest the time you’ve got.

In all honesty, if you do not have time for anything, it simply means that thing is not important enough to get a chunk of time from you. You’re really saying, “That just isn’t important enough to me.” I don’t have time to exercise. I don’t have time for a relationship. I don’t have time to start my own business. Of course you have time. You have as much time as anyone else does, and other people are already doing these same things. The difference is that they make it more of a priority in their lives than you do. You aren’t a victim of circumstances. If you don’t like your circumstances, change them.

The real problem therefore is not lack of time but lack of will. Look at what you really devote time to everyday. People devote time to marginal activities like watching TV everyday and yet do not have time to do things they want us to believe they are committed to. No way. If you are really committed to a thing, and if it is very important to you, you will surely have time for it. You have 24 hours everyday. Go and make the best use of it.

I don’t have money

There are many people going about today fantasizing about what they’ll do if only they have the money. “If only I have money” is the common excuse of such people. In my opinion, our greatest problem in the world is not money problem. It is an idea problem. Money always flows in the direction of ideas.

If there’s something you want, “I don’t have the money” is no excuse for not getting it. You can always earn the money or find a way to get the item at reduced cost. The truth behind “I don’t have the money” is “I don’t want it badly enough.” If you want something real bad, you will think through how to get it. In that moment, ideas of how to get it will surely come to you.

Think of it for a moment. Have you ever had to get something by all means that you didn’t have the money at first to get? Did you eventually get it? I know most people will answer a “yes”. Not having money is surely not a tenable excuse.

Will you permit me to continue this in my next post? Please do.

Stay on top!

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Greatest Thief Of All Time - Part III

My plan and desire is to complete this series with this post. I hope I succeed

Let me start with what I consider a very profound statement. “Life is NOT a dress rehearsal –it is a live show!” You owe it to yourself to put in your best possible performance. There may be no second chance to make a first impression. To do this really well, you’ll need to bid farewell to the bad habit called procrastination. Period.

How then do you break free from the grips of procrastination? Here are a few tips

Break down tasks into Bit-Sized Pieces.

I advice strongly that you should break down big tasks to small chunks so you can have an inertia to get started. By doing this, the task never has a chance to take on gargantuan proportions in your mind. Looking at the whole task something leaves you with an overwhelming feeling and this boosts your ego to procrastinate. Take writing a paper for example. You can say to yourself, "Right now, I'm going to write the introduction. That's all, just the introduction!" And you may be more likely to sit down and do that, than you will to sit down and "write the paper."

Think of starting one small piece of the task instead of mentally feeling that you must finish the whole thing. Replace, "How am I going to finish this?" with "What small step can I start on right now?" If you simply start a task enough times, you will eventually finish it.

Be realistic about time

Procrastinators tend to be heroic about time; they estimate that it will take them two hours to complete a task that would take most people four. Once you have determined that procrastination is hurting you, begin taking notice of how long it actually takes you to do a task. Make some allowances for interruptions and be clear in your mind how long the task will take.

You can also use the principle of time-boxing. Here's how it works: First, select a small piece of the task you can work on for just 30 minutes. Then choose a reward you will give yourself immediately afterwards. The reward is guaranteed if you simply put in the time; it doesn't depend on any meaningful accomplishment. Because the amount of time you'll be working on the task is so short, your focus will shift to the impending pleasure of the reward instead of the difficulty of the task. No matter how unpleasant the task, there's virtually nothing you can't endure for just 30 minutes if you have a big enough reward waiting for you.

When you timebox your tasks, you may discover that something very interesting happens. You will probably find that you continue working much longer than 30 minutes. You will often get so involved in a task, even a difficult one that you actually want to keep working on it. Before you know it, you've put in an hour or even several hours. The certainty of your reward is still there, so you know you can enjoy it whenever you're ready to stop. Once you begin taking action, your focus shifts away from worrying about the difficulty of the task and towards finishing the current piece of the task which now has your full attention.

Have fun – Rather “Want To” than “Have To”

When you tell yourself that you have to do something, you're implying that you're being forced to do it, so you'll automatically feel a sense of resentment and rebellion. Procrastination kicks in as a defense mechanism to keep you away from this pain. You need to realize and accept that you don't have to do anything you don't want to do. Even though there may be serious consequences, you are always free to choose. No one is forcing you to run your business the way you do. All the decisions you've made along the way have brought you to where you are today. If you don't like where you've ended up, you're free to start making different decisions, and new results will follow.

Notice that there are certain areas of your life that you rarely procrastinate? Some people will never miss a TV show or a football game no matter what. Why don’t you procrastinate about this? I bet it’s because you enjoy doing it! You have fun doing it! You want to do and don’t have to do it! Procrastination becomes less likely on tasks that you openly and freely choose to undertake.

Set Realistic Goals

It is important you set realistic goals for yourself if you want to overcome procrastination. Setting goals that you cannot reach in the short term is a good way to put off things you need to do. Don’t try to do everything perfectly. Rather than perfection, aim for progress. Any small step towards completion is an accomplishment.

Just Do It!

Do I have to explain this again? Well….just do it. If it needs to be done, then go do it! Yes, do it….and do it now!

I think I will pause on the subject of Procrastination until another opportuned time. I strongly recommend that you read the Part I and II of this article if you’ve not already done so.

You can’t be stopped. You are a miracle going somewhere to happen!
You are destined for the top of the topmost top! See you there!!