Monday, December 31, 2007

Count Your Blessings. Don't Discount Them - 2nd Edition

As the year 2007 draws to a close today, and the New Year 2008 dawns on us, I wonder what kind of a message the year 2007 leaves behind. Cast your thoughts on the highlights of the year 2007 and I bet there are a few things you will rather forget. There are also many things that made the year worth it. One thing if for sure, not many of us would bother to pick up a pen and write the bad things in red and the good ones in green to sum the year ourselves. Yet, I feel we ought to do it. You will be amazed at the result.

Cast your thoughts on the highlights of the year 2007 and I bet there are a few things you will rather forget.

There are more chances that you will consider more things that didn’t work for you in 2007 than those that worked. That is the natural inclination. You tend to look back at the year and consider the opportunities you missed, the money you didn’t make, the goals that are left unrealized, the pains of the year, the losses and what have you. I do not blame you if you are doing this right now.

There is a way to also look at the past year that I want to recommend. It is summarized in the song of a songwriter. It says

"Count you blessings, count them one by one.
Count your blessings, see what God has done.
Count you blessings, name them one by one
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done

The lyrics of the song are very instructive. If you learn to count you blessings, not discount them, you will see that it’s not been as bad as you think!

Can I tell you a story? I guess I have told the story before but it is very relevant here again. 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!

The past year 2007 no doubt was a challenging year for me. Many things happened in the year that affected me both positively and negatively. However, as the year winds up, I can’t but thank God and the angels he strategically places in my life (my wife, my daughter, my friends, my colleagues at work, my critics e.t.c) for helping to make this year an eventful one for me. No matter how empty I go down into the well, I always come out full!

No matter how empty I go down into the well, I always come out full!

Many things worked for me in the past year. We celebrated our 3rd year wedding anniversary (check the divorce rates around the world to see why this is a positive). I changed job roles at work. I was nominated for the Nigeria Future Awards for the “Professional of the Year 2007”. Our precious daughter Moyosorelouwa was 2! Apart from that, she doesn’t seize to amaze me with things she’s doing at her age. She is so smart I can’t wait to see her grow up. In the past year, I also came across information that bettered my financial lot. I earned more money doing things I enjoyed more than the salary I got! Infact, I invested amounts of money that were only in my dreams 1 year ago. Right now, I am holidaying with my precious wife. Most importantly to me, I have received email, phone calls and personal “thank you” notes from those whose lives have been positively affected by mine in the course of the year. Some of these texts bring me close to tears. I can choose…and this is my choice…to concentrate on all these, or focus on the other part.

In 2007, my house was robbed and several valuables, including my international passport, my wife’s and our daughter’s were stolen. My wife and I also lost something very precious to us at a very difficult time of the year. We invested in stuffs that didn’t work and lost money in the process. Our planned vacation to the UK didn’t work out, partly because of our passports that were stolen. I had some trying times at work and we also had to work through some health crisis.

I am sure you also have both sides of the coin. The question is…which will you focus on? Will you keep crying over spilled milk? Or will you look at the things that worked for you, praise God for them, and plan to turn around things that didn’t? Will you choose to count your blessings? Or will you rather choose to discount them?


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Vacation Your Way to Success

All work and no play make Johnny (or is it Jack?) a dull boy they say. It also makes you unsuccessful. The fact is that a well placed vacation can do wonders for every area of your life. I am writing about this thousands of miles from home on a vacation with my family, so I am practically enjoying what I am about to write! In this busy world, where we are driven to be producing all the time, it is good to be reminded that a break is sometimes the best thing to move us forward in the long run.

I know many people who can't seem to get themselves to break away from the office, thinking that they are getting a lot of work done. The truth is that they need a break and when they get back they will be working much more effectively.

...a well placed vacation can do wonders for every area of your life

With that in mind, here are some thoughts on how taking a break can help you achieve success.

Vacationing help you appreciate your work.

After a while even work you normally love can become drudgery. Taking a vacation gets you away and after awhile you begin to miss it and chomp at the bit to get back to it. You simply appreciate it more. Believe me, I miss my work and I can wait to get back! I am sure my boss will be happy to read this!

Vacationing helps you reset your mind.

Even though the mind is a mystery, we do know that it can get tired. It is called mental fatigue. Getting away on a regular basis helps reset the mind to its peak condition. Every brain needs a good rest. This is proven medically

Vacationing makes your body stronger, with more energy for the battle by giving it a rest.

The world's top bodybuilders, the ones with the huge muscles know something that the typical businessperson doesn't - the body needs a rest. Every week they take one day off. And then they take whole seasons off and allow their bodies to rest. Our bodies are the same. We need to let them relax, sleep more etc.

Vacationing gives you time to encourage your support team - your family.

Hmmm. This is a big one. While we are putting in long hours and working hard, our families support us with encouragement and the like. Vacationing let's them know that you value them and can also spend significant amount on time with them if need be. It tells them you value them more than your work. Then, when you get back to work, you know that your "team" it firmly in your corner.

Vacationing puts you in a creative mindset.

Sometimes being in the same situation gets your imagination stuck in a rut. Watching the sun set, listening to the waves crash, or enjoying the fresh air of the mountains will set your creative imagination soaring. You may find that you come up with all sorts of solutions to work issues while laying on the beach. I don't know how this works... but it does. In the last couple of days, I have been developing an idea on how to solve a chromic problem at work! It’s amazing.

Vacationing renews your spirit.

We all need an emotional boost. We need a break from the roller coaster of emotions that drain our spirits while at work. Quite frankly, if you do your vacation right, the predominate emotion should be peace. And that is just what you need to get rejuvenated for work.

We need a break from the roller coaster of emotions that drain our spirits while at work.

Vacationing proves to you that your work or office can exist without you!

Sometimes we overestimate our value to the organization and this puts so much stress on us. The fact is that if you go away for a week, your job will still be there. The company won't be bankrupt, and life will still be going on. We need to know that work goes on, so that we don't worry so much. Get away and don't call the office! Don’t deceive yourself that the office can run without you! It can….and it will!

So what is my advice? Take a vacation. You need one. You deserve one. Life is passing you by my friend, and in the end, you will know you should have taken a vacation. Your office won't fall apart. The earth will continue to turn on its axis. Your family will be happy. Turn off your computer, pick up the phone, dial the travel agent.... your success depends upon it!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Change Your Life Forever!

I recently came across a powerful quote by Dwight D. Eisenhower that got me thinking about the power of our choices. He said, and I quote “The history of free men is never written by chance, but by choice - their choice” Powerful. In my humble opinion, I think it’s not only the history of free men that is written by their choices. It is the history of everyone. You are where you are today as a result of the choices you made, or you did not makes, yesterday. The choices we make today will colour the spectrum of our life in the future

“The history of free men is never written by chance, but by choice - their choice”

The direction of our lives is determined by the choices we make every day. They accumulate and add up to our ultimate destiny. 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. 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.

Here are some choices you can make - choices that will create for you a life of abundance and prosperity in all areas of your life.

1. Choose to become balanced spiritually, emotionally and physically. Our lives are best when we have these three major areas in balance. Never leave God out of the equation of your life. Infact, He needs to take first place in everything. That is the starting point. Spend some time cultivating your spirituality. Spend time to develop your emotional health. Spent time to be physically fit.

2. Choose to grow personally. This sounds simple but many people only wish to grow personally. They never choose to grow by taking action, such as actually exercising, saving more money etc. Make a decision today to be a person who is on the never ending journey of personal growth.

3. Choose to always treat others right. We come across all sorts of people, many of whom will treat us poorly. We can choose to treat them right, no matter how they treat us. When they lie, we will tell the truth. When they cheat, we will play by the rules. We may get the short end of the stick some times, but in the long-run we will win. And most importantly, we will be able to sleep at night!

4. Choose to break a bad habit. Take the big ones first. Tackle it head on. If you don't know what it is, ask a friend. Then spend every effort you can to break that habit. Forget about the others, as you will get to them later. Stop smoking, get out of debt, lose your excess weight. Exercise the power to choose!

5. Choose to work smarter. Many people I work with feel like they are out of balance. One of the first things I do is try to find out how much time they are wasting at work, which makes them work longer, which throws the rest of their life into chaos. Getting your work done by diligently working in the time you have will free your life up extraordinarily. Read up my earlier article on working smarter.

6. Choose to see your work as a way to help others, and not a way to make money. If you put your heart into helping others, the money will most assuredly come. Spend time helping others grow and your finances will grow with it. This is a profound truth.

7. Choose to sow more than you reap. There are many takers in this world, but our lives will be better as we become givers. The world will become better as we become givers. Give away your time, give away your money, give away your love. You will most assuredly get it back in many folds!

8. Choose to get home for dinner more often. The family is the most important group of people you will ever belong to. Make a decision today to grow in your relationship with your parents, siblings, spouse and children. This one choice you will never regret.

9. Choose to be positive. A positive mental attitude will surely put you miles ahead of your peers. Never say never. Attitude can make or mar your life. Attitude, more than aptitude determines your altitude. It is more valuable than skill. Choose a positive attitude and things will start to work for you

You have a chance today, to change your life forever – make the right choices

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