Monday, April 23, 2007

Living A Life Of Integrity

Can you ever make a commitment that people can take to the bank? I remember vividly, as I began writing this article, a tattoo I saw on an army officer in one of the films I saw “Death before Dishonour”. How I wish everyone could make this their motto. That’s one of the reasons I am writing.

Our world is in short supply of men and women with personal integrity and honesty. With more sophistication, it’s even easier to throw integrity to the garbage bin. From the salesmen on the street to the CEO of multinationals, from the Student Union Executives of our colleges to the National Assemblies of our nations, people have underestimated the importance of consistently living up to a set of ideals. What a tragedy!

Now, what is integrity? Integrity is from the Latin word “integer” which means wholeness, an unbroken or unreduced completeness, totality, incorruptibility, the quality or state of being complete or undivided. The concept of wholeness or consistency refers to behaviours and decisions which are consistently in line with our principles. These principles should generally be accepted as ethical and honest. Note that the key here is “consistency”.

One of the important elements of integrity is consistency - if we are unpredictable, if our decisions are dependent upon the day of the week, and the way we are feeling, others are unlikely to see us as maintaining integrity. How often have we changed the rules in the middle of the game for our own benefit or to the undue advantage for others?

More than 80% of business is from repeat clients and referrals. Word gets around. If you say that you will do something, is it going to get done? Is it going to get done when you said it will be done? Is it going to be the exact quality (or better) that you committed to? If the answer is yes, I can guarantee that you will succeed in business, for 2 reasons. One, you will get several repeat clients and referrals. Two, it is sad but true that most of your competition lacks integrity. Believe me. Integrity will give you a competitive edge! People are willing to pay extra for guaranteed services.

Businesses built on falsehood cannot and will not last. Read the dailies and listen to the news and you will be confronted everyday with the dilemma of integrity. Today, companies that seem to have done tremendously well 5 years ago do not even exist anymore! Need I give examples? Look closely at companies that have been around for a long time, you will see a culture of integrity. They may not always be right but they are honest. The may sometimes take wrong decisions but they did it in the integrity of their hearts and with the available data. Companies with the foundation of integrity are built to last.

There are several benefits of living with Integrity. Some of them include

-When you stick to what you know is right or wrong, you don’t regret anything you have done.

-People follow your example and act more honestly.

-Your powers of observation are more accurate. You can see the truth about others more easily.

-No needs to keep your stories straight as your stories are facts. Less mental work is required. You don’t have to tell a lie to cover another lie.

-You handle rejection and criticism more easily. For example, you are not bothered if someone says, "You charge too much!" As you have no doubt that your fees are fair, you know the other person has the problem.

-You have fewer personality conflicts with others even when you are aggressive.

-When you make a mistake, it is easy to accept responsibility and move forward. Honest men also make mistakes. They accept responsibilities for such mistakes, fix what is wrong and go on to succeed. They are honest also with what worked and what didn’t.

-You earn the reputation as a person with integrity. For example, employees brag about honest bosses. "He might be more honest about your work than you might want to hear, but he’s fair and doesn’t lie." This way, you build a performance driven organization. Your people know you are honest and upfront with them about their performance and they will do their best to improve.

-Your odds of being sued, fined or convicted of a crime go way down.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Birthday Special- The Catalogue Of A Hebrew Child

Sometime last week, I celebrated my birthday. As expected, I got several calls, texts and emails from well wishers. To all of you who sent any of these, I am most grateful. It was a special moment for me as I crossed another decade line.
Age is an important number that tells you how much you have left.

It is both an addition (1 year added to your last years’ age) and a subtraction (1 year subtracted from the reminder!)

I took time out to think both about the immediate past and about the future I desire. I realized again that time waits for no man. Ten years ago, I was talking about ten years time. I had a 10 year goal. Today is the 10 years I spoke about 10 years ago! Yes, it is. Then, a powerful truth struck me – What you do is as important as when you do it. When you see a 70 years old man riding a bicycle, you had better show some concerns. If you are building your first house when you are 80 and it is a 10 room apartment, you may die unnoticed in one of the rooms! No wonder a wise man cried and prayed to God
“ Oh satisfy us early with your mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days” – Psa 90:14

Sometime ago, I stumbled on what in my opinion is one of the greatest secret of the Jewish race. They have a perfect understanding of the times. They are very time conscious. They know that the clock ticks away fast and they key in themselves into this move. No wonder Jews are very successful everywhere in the world they find themselves. Haven’t you noticed that?

Let me share with you the catalogue of a Hebrew Child

Decade of Learning/ Training

The age 0-10 is the decade of learning. During this period, there is a conscious effort to make the Hebrew child learn and learn and learn again. At about the age of 3, he is practically “deposited” with the Rabbi who teaches him all the laws of Moses by heart. By the time he is 9, a Hebrew child can recite by heart all the laws of Moses. He is already convinced about the reality of His God! It is difficult to bend him again and he knows the Bible inside out.

For parent reading this, I strongly advise that you do your best for your children in this age bracket. Send them to the best schools and invest in their learning. This is the decade that they’ll most likely be shaped

Decade of Discovery

Between the ages of 11-20, the Hebrew child starts to discover himself and his special gifting and skills. This is the decade when he begins to ask the question “who am I?”, “what are my special gifting and abilities?”

Read through one of the greatest catalogue of the Hebrews (the Bible) and you will see most of them asking these questions during this decade. Joseph started to explore his gifts of dreaming when he was 17. He discovered that he had a special ability with dreams. So also was David. At the age of 17, he discovered that he had special organizational abilities. He was tending his fathers’ sheep in readiness to lead God’s people.

If you are reading this and you are still within this age bracket, I challenge to discover yourself and your gifting. This will set you up for success.

Decade of Decision

This perhaps is the most critical decade for everyone. It happens between the age 21 and 30. In this decade, decisions that will affect one’s destiny are taking. You decide where to settle, where to work, where to live, who to marry and the likes. At age 30, Jacob suddenly woke up to reality after serving Laban for years. He asked “When will I be able to provide for my own house?” What a question to ask when you are 30!

You’ll most likely live with the consequences of the decisions you take during this decade. Some will take a decision to do drugs and will surely regret it. Some will go the way of sex and will be most miserable. Some, and I hope this includes you, will make right decisions and will benefit from it in subsequent decades.

Decade of Reigning

Especially when the right decisions are taken in the decade of decisions, this is the decade to reign in whatever area of life one has chosen. This is the decade to make waves – to be known, heard and highly rewarded. Jesus took the world by storm during this decade. 3.5 years into this decade, his fame went abroad! Same for David. During this decade, he led God’s people successfully and peacefully. He never lost a single battle. Check most people who are reigning their various fields of endevour and you’ll see that they fall here- of course there are few exceptions.

You know people say that “a fool at 40 is a fool forever”. Of course I do not agree. I will rather say, “a fool at 40 is a fool for as long as he still wants to be a fool”. However, the expectation is that at 40, you should be reigning. If you are not, something is wrong. So, are you?

I will stop here for now. I hope to write on the other decades when I cross the line. Summarily, they are;

Decade of Expansion: 41-50

Decade of Consolidation: 51-60

Decade of Handing Over: 61-70

You are a miracle. Go and happen

Monday, April 9, 2007

It's Alright To Dream Again

Have you ever been in a situation where all hope seems lost and it’s like you’ll never come out of it? Have you ever had a situation that just proves impossible? Have you ever been in the middle of a crisis and you can’t think of a way out? Have you ever believed so much in a thing and it didn’t work out the way you planned it? You are not alone.

Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Madgalene came to the tomb and found that the stone was rolled aside from the entrance
John 20:1 – Living Bible

It’s a dark Sunday morning. It’s been dark since Friday. It’s been dark as a result of events that have taken place.

It’s been dark because of Peter’s denial. He had denied his Lord and Master on three different occasions. On one occasion, he swore that he never knew him when confronted by a teenage girl. It was still dark

It’s been dark because of the disciple’s betrayal. No one except John had the courage to travel with Jesus all the way. They were all scattered abroad. They ran for their dear lives. Permit me to say that it was not only Judas who betrayed his Lord. Majority of the disciples did. They fled when Jesus needed them most. It was still dark

It’s been dark because of Pilate’s cowardice. Read the account of Jesus’ betrayal and you’ll be amazed at the cowardice of a whole King. His name Pilate means close pressed or firm. You will agree with me that he was anything but firm on this particular day. He was been controlled by the crowd. He yielded to their wish even though he was dead sure it was a wrong thing to do. It was still dark.

It’s been dark because of Christ’s anguish. He must have gone through so much pain. How about a slap from one of the military officers after blindfolding him? What about the crown of thorn placed on his head? What about the heavy wood he had to carry most of the way down to Golgotha? What about the stripes that had to go round his exposed body? Consider the spiting, cursing and humiliation. What about the spikes that went through the hands that healed the sick? Oh, what anguish? No wonder it was still dark!

It’s been dark because of Satan’s glee. There was a party in hell over the events on Friday. As far as the devil and his agents were concerned, they were in charge now. The Son of God was dead and it was their time. It was still dark.

All these happened since Friday but it was still dark on Sunday morning. The only ember of light this morning was a band of women standing at a distance from the grave. They were the last to leave Calvary and the first to arrive at the grave. However, this morning promises nothing except an encounter with a corpse. They never imagined this could be the 1st Easter. They are not hoping the grave will be vacant. There was a time they dared to dream such dreams but not now. It’s too late for the incredible. The feet that walked on water have been pierced. The hands that cleansed lepers have been stilled. There noble aspirations had been spiked to yesterday’s cross. Their dreams appear dead and long forgotten.

Have you ever got to a junction like this in your life? A junction where everything seems dark? Where there seems to be no way forward? Where everything just appear gloomy? Before you give up and throw in the trowel, can you please follow me and see what happens afterwards?

Though it’s been dark hitherto, a miracle was just around the corner this Sunday morning. A double surprise was waiting for these women in quick succession!

First, the stone of the sepulcher had been rolled away! They must have been thinking of how to gain access to the sepulcher on their way there. But to their surprise, the stone was no longer there. As if that was not enough, they couldn’t find the body of Jesus in the grave again. While still wondering what could have happened, an angel explained to them that Jesus was risen as it’s been written! “You cannot be looking for the living among the dead”, the angel said. Suddenly, the darkness since Friday began to lift! A fresh hope sprang up in these women and later in the minds of the disciples.

After all the darkness, light shone. The greater the darkness, the brighter the glory of light. No wonder it was a special Sunday morning, one that we still celebrate till today. It was a morning with a great message of hope. That resurrection morning had a great message – It is Alright to Dream Again! Yes it is. The resurrection of Christ gives you this opportunity to dream again!

Happy Easter.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Good Friday?

What is good about the Friday?

Have you ever wondered why today is called “Good Friday” all over the world? Isn’t it rather surprising that a day that someone is tortured to death is referred to as a good day? Why on earth should we celebrate such a day?

Think about it for a moment. After the fall of man, when we sinned, we were doomed for hell and destruction. Sin is a sinker. It sank our destinies in God. We could not have access to God again. Over the years, we devised several means of getting back to God but couldn’t get it right. Man kept going back to sin. And “the wages of sin is death”. Sin has a price tag. It has a reward. The reward is death. We were doomed to die. Yes we were, until….Christ showed up!

The coming of Christ is the end of all crisis. We owed a debt we could not pay. He paid a debt he did not owe. What made that fateful Friday good was the restoration of Hope. It was the restoration of our place in God. That was made possible when he shed his precious blood on calvary’s cross.
No gift reveals God’s love more than the gifts on the cross. They came, not wrapped in paper, but in passion. Not placed around a tree, but a cross. And not covered with ribbons but sprinkled with blood. He didn’t have to give those gifts but he gave them anyway.

Do you know that events on that day changed the entire course of history? Infact, history stopped momentarily that fateful day and started again. Can I prove it to you? It’s quite simple. Before the day that Christ died, dates were recorded as B.C (Before Christ). After his death, dates are now reported differently! We record dates as A.D (After Death). For example, we are in 2007 A.D. That means, 2007 years after the death of Christ! That day became a reference point for the rest of man’s history! Are you still wondering why it is a good Friday!

On a lighter note, Easter mostly always fall in the month of April. That’s why I think those of us born in the month of April are special people. I am happy to be born in the month of Easter. My sincere desire is to change the course of history like Christ did. Isn’t that a noble desire?

Let me end this article by saying a Happy Birthday to all my April friends.

To Bolaji Ajayi - You a great friend. Thanks for sticking with me.

To Bolanle Okewunmi- What a wonderful daughter you are. You are going places

To Rotimi Oginni - My friend and aspiring Secretary General for the United Nations. Please keep your dreams. They will sure become realities.

To Ifenyi Mba, enjoy man! You are favoured.

To Dr. Kunle Ogunleye. Thanks for carrying the burden of over 500 wonderful people with me, 5-6 years ago. I still have fond memories.

To Dr Gbenga Adebayo, you are a rare gem.

To Lanipekun Tosin, my birthday mate. You and your family challenge me.

To Daniel Peters, keep on keeping on.

To Tope Akinyemi, thanks for being a source of strenght to my friend and accountability partner. You will reap in due season.

To my precious daughter, Bridget Ehime, you are too loaded to fail. Just too loaded

To my darling wife, Olubukola. If an angel is missing in heaven, God would not have to look too far. That angel surely will be in my house. What can I do without you? Thanks for sharing everything with me, including my birthday month.

And to all those i didn't remember to mention, you are destined for the top!

So….I hope this Friday is good for you and it will be for me.

Happy Easter.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Double Your Failure Rate!

A number of years ago, an aspiring writer interviewed Thomas J. Watson, the President of IBM. Watson gave him this advice: “It’s not exactly my line, “he said, but would you like me to give you a formula for writing success? It’s quite simple, really. Double you rate of failure.”

“You are making a common mistake. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. Failure is a teacher – a harsh one perhaps, but the best. You say you have a desk full of rejected manuscripts? That’s great! Every one of those manuscripts was rejected for a reason. Have you pilled them to pieces looking for that reason? You can be discouraged by failure – or you can learn from it. So, go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because, remember that’s where you’ll find success. On the far side of failure.”

That is profound and full of truths. Failure is a friend, not an enemy. Failure is a school teacher, not a taskmaster. See it as such and you will benefit immensely. I am always thrilled by the definition of success I saw somewhere. It says “success is moving from one failure to another without losing enthusiasm!”

Don’t allow your failures or setbacks to discourage you. Failure needs not be fatal. Arthur Godson, the aspiring writer to whom Watson gave the advice, went on to become a well known author and editor. He later said of Watson’s advice, “Somewhere inside me, a basic attitude had shifted. A project turned down, a lot of rejected manuscripts –why, these are nothing to be ashamed of. They were rungs in a ladder- that was all.

Many people are deathly afraid to fail. They see mistakes as their worst enemy. When treated properly, however, failure can lead to great success and be a great learning experience. Henry Ford observed, "Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently." Don't try to hide your mistakes, simply admit them, learn from them and grow from them. Remember that it's OK to fail! It is okay to make mistakes as long as you don’t make the same mistake twice.

I guess I have shared the story of Sir Edmund Hillary before. Let me share it again to drive this point home. 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!" A year later, he succeeded where he has failed.

I have learnt something about successful people. They don’t avoid mistakes; they handle it. Peter Drucker once said "The better a man is, the more mistakes he will make, for the more new things he will try. I would never promote into a top level job a man who was not making mistakes…otherwise he is sure to be mediocre."

Failure should be a teacher, not an undertaker. Failure isn’t bad if it doesn’t attack the heart. Success is alright if it doesn’t get to the head.

Keep on keeping on!
You are destined for the top of the topmost top! See you there!!