Thursday, December 25, 2008

It All Began In A Manger

What’s the big deal about Christmas? Why do we celebrate the birth of someone who died over 2000 years ago? Why does everything in the whole world have to come to a stand still to remember and celebrate this day? The interesting thing about it all is this – his birth wasn’t really celebrated. His birth sure didn’t appear on the national dailies of his days. There were no fun fares. No fire works. No special team of Doctors ready to help with the delivery. It was an ordinary day. Were someone to chance upon the sheep stable on the outskirts of Bethlehem that morning, what a peculiar scene they would behold. The stable stinks like all stables do. The stench of urine, dung, and sheep reeks pungently in the air. The ground is hard, the hay scarce. Cobwebs cling to the ceiling and a mouse scurries across the dirt floor. A more lowly place of birth could not exist.

His birth sure didn’t appear on the national dailies of his days. There were no fun fares. No fire works

Off to one side sit a group of shepherds. They sit silently on the floor, perhaps perplexed, perhaps in awe, no doubt in amazement. Their night watch had been nterrupted by an explosion of light from heaven and a symphony of angels. God goes to those who have time to hear him—so on this cloudless night he went to simple shepherds.

Near the young mother sits the weary father. If anyone is dozing, he is.He can’t remember the last time he sat down. And now that the excitement has subsided a bit, now that Mary and the baby are comfortable, he leans against the wall of the stable and feels his eyes grow heavy. He still hasn’t figured it all out. The mystery of the event still puzzles him. But he hasn’t the energy to wrestle with the questions. What’s important is that the baby is fine and that Mary is safe. As sleep comes, he remembers the name the angel told him to use . . . Jesus. "We will call him Jesus."

Wide awake is Mary. My, how young she looks! Her head rests on the soft leather of Joseph’s saddle. The pain has been eclipsed by wonder. She looks into the face of the baby. Her son. Her Lord. His Majesty. At this point in history, the human being who best understands who God is and what he is doing is a teenage girl in a smelly stable. She can’t take her eyes off him. Somehow Mary knows she is holding God. So this is he. She remembers the words of the angel, “His kingdom will never end.”

Meanwhile, the city hums. The merchants are unaware that God has visited their planet. The innkeeper would never believe that he had just sent God into the cold. And the people would scoff at anyone who told them the Messiah lay in the arms of a teenager on the outskirts of their village. They were all too busy to consider the possibility.

The circumstances surrounding his birth however did not diminish the concept.

Those who missed His Majesty’s arrival that night missed it not because of evil acts or malice; no, they missed it because they simply weren’t looking. Little has changed in the last two thousand years, has it?

The circumstances surrounding his birth however did not diminish the concept. A king was born. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isa 9:6). In our world today, people are often remembered for the problems they solve. Of course, we know some people because of the problem they created (remember Osama Bin Laden?). However, they are not often remembered for long, neither are they celebrated. Solving problems is one of the ways that one can be remembered for a long time to come. Faraday is often remembered today for solving the world’s electricity problems. Jesus, the reason for the season today, solved the greatest of man’s problem – SIN

When God created the world, everything in it was good. There was no problem at all, until sin came in. The fall of man when he sinned exposed him to all kinds of things imaginable. Sickness came, Poverty got hold of him. Death overpowered him. Fear gripped him. Man entered into the “crisis” mode as a result of SIN. Sin is a sinker my dear readers. It sank the destiny of man, and still does till date. The greatest hindrance to enjoying a good life is Sin, and Jesus came to solve that problem. By hanging on the cross, he paid the debt he didn’t owe; all because we owed a debt we couldn’t pay! Celebrating Christmas without understanding this is just like celebrating a mass. Christ is what makes an ordinary mass become Christmas.

As you celebrate Christmas today, ponder on these things. Ponder on the greatest love story ever told – the story of a man who laid down his life for his friends.

Merry Christmas to you all.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Danger of Sitting on the Fence

Last Friday, as my custom is, I was training my team at work. I was training specifically on Non Value Added Work Elimination Tools. It was an eye opening session for several of them. It’s always interesting when old theories are challenged and you realize that most of the work that you are doing now are non value added- they add no value to the product or service in the eye of the consumer/consumer. I guess I will talk about this some time soon via this medium. The last quarter of the hour I spent training was used in filling out a survey form for the department. In this survey, people were supposed to answer certain questions truthfully and honestly, rating each one from a “5” (Strongly agree) to a “1” (Strongly disagree). From my experience, it is very common to see a lot of people scoring the questions “3” (Neither agree nor disagree). This amazes me and it shows clearly that the middle ground looks like a good place to hide! Can you reckon with that?

While trying to warn them of the dangers of choosing “3” for most of the questions, a story I read several years ago came to my mind. It was a perfect story to drive home the point, and I got a loud applause for it! May I share it with you, dear reader (I hope to get the same applause, lol).

There is a great danger staying in the middle of the road. Sitting on the fence is not a wise thing to do afterall.

Long time ago, a war broke out between 2 neighboring towns. The inhabitants of these towns look so much alike and they decided to devise a means to ensure that they do not kill their own kinsmen during the war. They decided to wear uniforms. Town A decided to go with a red coloured uniform while Town B chose a black uniform option. That way, they can attack each other and not people from their town. As this was going on, there was a man who thought himself wise and smart. He was afraid to join either of the armies for fear of being killed. He thought of a plan – an excellent plan to make sure that whichever way the war goes, he will be safe. He decided to sew a uniform with both colours! The front of the uniform was red while the back was black. He then went to the battlefield, and was bold enough to get right in the middle of action. Since the side of his uniform showing Red was pointing to Town A armies, and the side with Black was pointing to Town B armies, many thought him bold and daring. “What a bold fighter”, they praised! He was getting praises and commendation from both armies. In the midst of all the accolades, he got carried away and turned around, the red side of his uniform now facing the army with black uniform, and the black side of his uniform now facing the army wearing red. You can guess what happened next. He was shot on both sides! The smart guy wasn’t so wise afterwards!

What’s the morale of the story? I guess it’s quite obvious. There is a great danger staying in the middle of the road. Sitting on the fence is not a wise thing to do afterall. It may seem like a temporary solution but it always often backfires. There is no middle ground between telling the truth and telling a lie. You are either lying or telling the truth. Sitting on the fence between honesty and dishonesty poses a lot of danger to you as an individual. You will not achieve much staying in the middle of the road. Infact, I can predict that you will get the same treatment that this “wise” man got.

What happens to a car that drives in the middle of the road, especially when the road is dual carriage road? Your guess is as good as mine. May I say that the same thing happens to destinies that are always compromising? Listen, it is better to be on the wrong side of the road, than to be right at the middle! I saw a proof of this even in God’s holy book. Hear what He says

“ And to the angel of the church of the Laodeceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth……” Rev 3:14-16

Can you imagine? God almighty himself prefers that we are either “hot” or “cold”. As far as he is concerned, he doesn’t want anyone sitting on the fence. He is simply saying…” hey, let’s know where you stand”. That’s the starting point. If we know where you stand, then we will know if it’s the right or wrong place. If it’s the wrong place, then we will know what to do to get you to the right place. So, where do you stand? When it comes to morality, where do you stand? When it comes to being honest, where do you stand? When is comes to giving bribes, where do you stand? When it comes to money matters, where do you stand? When it comes to God, where do you stand? I sincerely hope you are not standing right in the middle of the road. If you are, you have two choices – Get out of the middle of the road, to any of the sides (I recommend the good side, of course), or get ready to perish!

You may just not be smart afterwards!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The (Real) Moment Of Truth

Right now, I am watching a program on mnet series, my wife seated by me and my wonderful kids playing around me. The program is “The Moment of Truth”. I have seen this program a couple of times now. I don’t know if I like the program or not. I think I have reservations about it. It’s a good show but really, I find some of the things that happen on this program amazing. As always, I chose to learn a lesson.

The Moment of Truth is an American game/reality show. Contestants answer a series of 21 increasingly personal and embarrassing questions to receive cash prizes. The show is hosted by Mark Walberg. Prior to the program, the contestant is connected to a polygraph before being asked these personal questions. They are supposed to answer “True” or “False” to the questions and the polygraph reveals if their answers are indeed True or False. They get monetary rewards for the number of questions they answer truthfully. You will often hear the host say something like “This is your $25,000 moment of truth”. I am not sure you will appreciate this until you watch it. The questions sometimes gets really personal, foe example, “Have you ever fantasized about having sex with one of your co-workers”, “Will you rob a bank if you knew you wouldn’t be caught”, “Did you invite anyone to your wedding that you previously had sexual relations with”, “Do you have any secret that you know will end your marriage?”, “Will you have sex with another woman if you know you will never be caught?”, “ Have you ever being paid for sex?”, “ Do you believe you will be married to your husband for the rest of your life?” and other similar questions. I have watched how disappointed many husbands, wives, mothers, fathers and family members are after they hear some of the answers. Many of them that started the show clapping, shouting and with smiles leave the stage in tears. They leave surprised about secrets they never knew existed. It could be devastating! I saw a particular edition that was so bad that I will be very surprised if the marriage survived that night? Though you are only on the hot seat for a few minutes, what stares you in the face is integrity or lack of it, honesty or lack of it, faithfulness to your wife and family or lack of it that you have built over your life time. In less than 60 minutes, your values will be brought to test.

Can you imagine being on such a seat that you have to answer “True” or “False” to any question that you will be asked? Can you imagine your deepest secrets being revealed on live television? How will you feel if you have no choice but to seat on this program and answer the questions truthfully (it will be revealed to all if you lie). My guess is that you will dread the occasion.

The truth however is that none of us can run away from such moment! There is a Moment of Truth coming that you do not have a choice about. You do not need to like it. It is coming. It will soon hit you. Every secret will be revealed, not just on line television but for all to see. Everything done in secret will be revealed. Every secret email will be exposed. Every secret phone conversation will be heard live and clear. Everyone, yes everyone, will stand before the judgment seat of God. “Sooner or later we'll all have to face God, regardless of our conditions. We will appear before Christ and take what's coming to us as a result of our actions, either good or bad” says God’s holy word. Are you ready for this day?

Think about this for a moment- What if all emails that you have ever sent could be retrieved and displayed on a screen? What if all your phone conversations could be replayed back? What if all the times you spent in secret could be replayed? What if your innermost thoughts could be revealed on a screen? The truth is this…..they can! Yes, they can. One day, it will all be revealed. What manner of people ought we to be knowing this truth? There is nothing that you are doing now that will remain hidden. Absolutely nothing. One day, we will all sit before the Throne of God, and we wouldn’t have to say a word. The books will be opened and the scenes brought to light. We should all live our lives, like one day, we’ll give account, because we will!

One day, not too far from now, God will be our host on the real “Moment of Truth” where all you have ever done in secret, both good and bad, will be exposed. Are you ready for this moment? I perceive God will ask “This is you eternal life moment of truth”. What a day that will be.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Only You Can Determine The Outcome

Last week, I travelled with a neighbour to attend the funeral; service for another neighbour’s dad. Before I left home, I was told that the trip will take 4 hours or thereabout. Despite my busy schedules, I decided to make it down and spend a few hours with them there before driving back. Unfortunately, the trip took 6.5 hours! We got there quite late and were able to spend only 20 minutes with this neighbour. I was really angry within me as I felt that I had wasted my whole day (a total of 13 hours drive) only to spend 20 minutes at the event. The whole trip was really awkward. However, as usual, I didn’t let it go away without learning.

Life is very predictable

While returning back, I couldn’t help but listen to the words of music that was playing from the car stereo. The words were alarming and very untrue. Unfortunately, many people in our nation, in our continent, and in our world believe it. The song writer was trying to convince his listener that no matter what they do in life and how much they work hard, everything is predestined! Some people are predestined to the poor and serve those who have been predestined to be rich. According to him, you are not really responsible for whatever the outcome you are getting in life. It all depends on “something more powerful that you”. Nothing can be more untrue.

One of the most pervasive myth is our world today is that we are entitled to a great life, that somehow, someone , somewhere is responsible for filling our lives with happiness, exciting career option, nurturing family time and blissful personal relationships simply because we exist. There is nothing father from the truth. Most of us have been conditioned to blame others for the parts of lives we don’t like – our parents, our bosses, our friends, our spouses, the economy, the weather, the media, co workers, our clients, how spouse lack of money, and even our astrological chart!

To achieve major success in life and produce the life of your dreams, then, you will have to take 100% responsibility for your life. Nothing else will do. You will have to give up all your excuses. You have to stop blaming outside circumstances. You have the power resident within you to create the future you desire. I learnt a simple but powerful truth last week while listening to a tape. It was stated in the form of a formula

E+R = O

Every outcome you experience in life (success or failure, joy or frustration, wealth or poverty, health or sickness, joy or frustration), is a result of how you have responded to an earlier event(s) in your life. If you do not like the outcome you are experiencing in your life, there you have two choices that you have.

One, you can blame the events for your lack of results (outcome). You can blame economy, your bosses’ attitude, the system or lack of it, the political system, the weather, your lack of money or education, racism, gender bias, or even your wife or your husband. All of these factors do exist but if they were the deciding factors, no one will ever succeed! These are not the things that stop us. We stop ourselves.

Two, you can instead simply change your responses (R ) to the events (E) until you get the outcome (O) that you want. You can change your thinking, communication, pictures you hold in your head, and your behaviour. Those are the things we have control on anyway. You have to regain control over these things to stay on course. Everything you experience in life, internally or externally, is a result of how you have responded to an event. It is no magic. I feel strongly that you shouldn’t really be surprised with the outcome you get in life. If you don’t like what you are getting in life, you have to change your responses. You have to change your negative thoughts, change your friends, change your habits, change what you read, and change how you talk. If you keep on doing what you have always done, you will keep on getting what you’ve always got. The greatest definition of insanity is “doing the same thing in the same way and expecting a different result”. It a’int going to happen. The day you start to change your responses to the way things are, is the day your life will begin to get better. If you get something different, you have to do something different.

The greatest definition of insanity is “doing the same thing in the same way and expecting a different result”.

One of the greatest bane of our world today, especially among African, is the readiness to always blame others! Isn’t it interesting that you will see a 35 year old African blaming his uncle for his inability to get married and settle down? Isn’t it interesting that we always blame the government for our predicament? Isn’t it interesting that we only complain about the things we can do something about? Have you ever seen anyone complain about gravity? That will really be absurd.

Look, let it be clear to you that you are responsible for your life and your current circumstances. You are responsible for where you are today and where you will be tomorrow. Life is very predictable. If I see your responses to the events of your life today, I can predict the outcomes that you should expect tomorrow


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Quo Vadis?

It’s another Independence Day celebration in Nigeria. 48 years ago, we supposedly gained independence from the colonial masters. As I write on my desk this morning, so many thoughts are going through my mind. Should we roll out the drums today, to celebrate the achievements of our great nation? Not many people would think so. Should we spend today in sober reflection? Should we looks back at these years and shed tears? Should we compare ourselves with Nations like Malaysia and Singapore, who got independence after us, and yet, we cannot stand beside them in comparison? Quo Vadis? (Quo Vadis is Latin Phrase meaning “Where are you going?”)

As optimistic as I think I am, sometimes, I smell doom for the country. Yesterday, I was supposed to see our family Doctor, with my whole family. We had a choice of visiting one of 2 hospitals to see him. One was closer to the house and we decided to see him there. The plan was to drive to the hospital (this should take not more than 30mins), see him, and head back home in good time. To my amazement, we drove for 90mins! Not because there was any traffic on the way. The roads were terrible! There is no how a car can survive for 6 months driving on that road on a daily basis, yet, people live in this area and drive to the Island everyday. Look around and you will see big sign boards of politicians who wants people’s votes or who are singing their own praise of things they have done. You just wonder! Quo Vadis?

I can spend the whole day talking about several ills in this nation. However, that is not my intent. That will not help anyone as most of them are already known by everyone reading this blog. And again, this will not befit our dear nation on its Independence. This morning, I read the national anthem once again, and several things stuck me there. How I wish that we would all be made to memorize and read the national anthem everyday – in schools, in offices, in government houses, and all. How I wish we understand deeply the wordings on the anthem. Most importantly, how I wish we would all commit ourselves to it. I can bet all I have that the country will compete with the world powers if we do.

Arise, O compatriots, Nigeria's call obey
To serve our fatherland
With love and strength and faith
The labor of our heroes past
Shall never be in vain
To serve with heart and might
One nation bound in freedom, peace and unity.

Oh God of creation, direct our noble cause
Guide our leaders right
Help our youth the truth to know
In love and honesty to grow
And living just and true
Great lofty heights attain
To build a nation where peace and justice shall reign.

Can we do a some analysis for the 2nd Stanza?

Oh God of creation, direct our noble cause

A nation that God rules cannot be a 3rd world! When God who created the whole earth directs a nation, that nation has not choice but to prosper. Whenever God guides, he provides! The God of the vision is also the God of the provision. There are many noble causes in our nation today. Believe me. Some people in government means well. Some really wants to fight corruption. Someone in government really wants to solve the power problem. However, the problem seems to overwhelm them. I remember the promise made by the late Bola Ige, when he was the Minister of Power. He had a noble cause to solve the power problem in less than 1 year. The rest is history. God needs to direct our noble causes.

Aso rocks needs to realize that all noble causes needs to be directed by God. The National Assembly needs to realize this. The State Houses of Assembly needs to realize this. Only then can our nation truly be great.

Guide our leader’s right

I am not sure we need any greater prayer than this one. One of the banes of our nation today (and also the whole of Africa) is quality leadership! Everything rises and falls on leadership. If you want to feel the temperature of a nation, put the thermometer in the mouth of the leadership. Our leaders need to be guided right, first by God. Our politicians are trying to redefine leadership. A leader is someone who has the best cars and lives in the choicest part of town! Nay! A leader ensures that his people has the best cars and lives in the choicest part of town! Our leaders need guidance.

Help our youth the truth to know

I remember something that happened back in my University days. I wept for this country. We were supposed to vote for a student union president in school. Because of incessant closure due to student unrest, we decided to sponsor a cool headed candidate that we felt would liaise well with the school authority and all. The guy won and overwhelming majority. However, during the vote counting exercise, I saw things I never knew existed before. I saw how students of a university will rig elections to vote for a student union president. It was amazing! I then thought to myself – Nigeria is really in trouble. These guys will be the so called politicians in 10 years time. They will be contesting for their state house of representatives and all. If they will rig elections to become a student union president, I leave you to determine what they will do to become an honorable. The youth, who should be the hope of our nation, needs to know the truth! The freedom we seek is in knowing this truth.

In love and honesty to grow. And living just and true

Honesty is an uncommon word in our nation. There are few honest men here. Sometimes, you feel odd being honest! It’s like; you are the strange person here. You don’t belong here! To grow past where we are now, we need honest men. Honest men in government. Honest men on the wheels. Honest men in the civil service. Honest men at the malls. Honest men on the pulpits. Honest men in military. Honest men everywhere. The reward of honesty is phenomenal! Check out the list of great nations of the world – honesty is right at the centre. Our States we start to develop well when our governors are honest; when they learn to deliver of their electioneering promises. Our roads will be a better place when contractors are honest. Our judiciary system will be better for it when we have judges that will say the truth no matter what. We really need honest men.

Great lofty heights attain

There is no way that we will obey the words of the anthem above and we would not attain great heights. There is no way. There is no way our nation will remain the same if we have the right leadership that operates with honesty. One thing I like about life is this – Life is predictable. If you follow certain principles, the results are pretty predictable. When a nation follows the above rules, it will achieve greatness!

I hope things would have been changing by the time Nigeria is celebrating its 50th Independence anniversary. I hope we will see a glimmer hope. I hope we will start to have leadership that is committed to the people. I hope we will have honest men. I hope we will have a clearer vision of where we are heading to…..and stop asking Quo Vadis?

Monday, September 15, 2008

From the Archives

This past weekend has been an eventful weekend for me. On Sunday, I drove 3 hours to Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, my alma matter, to speak to over 1000 students, some of which were graduating from school and wanted me to share some of my experiences with them. I had a great time addressing them. I challenged them to aspire for the top of the topmost top, inspite all odds. I was also challenged by some of the things I saw.

On my way to Ife, I did something that I am trying to do more often. I went through one of my diaries – the one I used in 2005. It was an awesome experience. I couldn’t imagine how deep some of the thoughts I had then were. Without mincing words, I would be a much better person if I use 50% of the principles/ thoughts I have in that diary! I will be least 2-3 times better! Can I share some of these with you?

Success is sold in the open market. Let him go and buy who is willing to pay the price for it!

When you are interested in something, you do it only when it is convenient. When you are committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results

A resource is only as strong as his source. A whole lot depends on what/who you are committed to.

Faith is trusting in advance what will make sense only in the reverse

It takes less time to do a thing right, than to explain why you did it wrong.

When a man is wrapped in himself, he becomes a pretty small package.

The death of a seed is the burial of a forest

Greed is not measured by what something costs; it is measured by what it costs you

The quickest way to crush your laurels is to rest on them.

Team work is not about ego. It is about “we go”

The very worst use of your time is to do well what need not be done at all.

Success is more of a consistent common sense than it is of genius

Champions will continue to be champions when they don’t forget the basics

Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Worry is like a rocking chair. It gets you moving, but to nowhere

I hope you were as blessed as I am going through the list. In the next couple of weeks, I will write more on some of the insights shared here. Till then, keep on keeping on

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Be Committed to Your Commitments

Working for a multinational in the last couple of years have taught me a lot about making commitments. The rule about making commitments is so simple that it is unbelievable. “Do what you say you will do”! Which part of this simple sentence is difficult to understand? The truth however is that most times, most of us to not keep our commitments. Interestingly enough, people will remember when you break promises, but they don’t remember when you help them out,

“Do what you say you will do”!

People expect you to fulfill your promises. Going out of your way to keep a commitment isn’t going to be remembered. But people will remember when you screw-up. Even if the screw-up is accidental, that broken commitment is going to linger for a lot longer than a spectacular success.It’s easy to forget this imbalance when you make commitments. Since breaking commitments has a much larger weight than helping out, it’s important to do what you say you’ll do. Usually you can’t repair a screw-up with a single offer to help out.

Let me share with you a few ideas that could help in making you a more reliable person and making sure your relationship accounts don’t go into debt:

Make Promises Infrequently

Don’t be hasty with your commitments. If something is important to someone, make sure that there is an almost 100% certainty you will be able to follow through. It’s better to explain, in advance, reasons that would prevent you from committing, than to back out later. I am not trying to suggest that you should run away from commitments. All I am saying is that you should keep your commitments to the level which you can deliver on!

Write Down Commitments

If you make a commitment to do something, you should be writing it down in front of that person. Not only does this help you remember, it signals your level of commitment to the other person. It is not good practice to make offhanded commitments that isn’t stored anywhere.

Don’t Say “Maybe”, When You Mean “No”

If you won’t be able to do something, say so. It is better to say No, than to say Yes and still not do it. You may feel you’ve left yourself a clever escape route to avoid making a commitment. But what you’ve really done is made a smaller promise. Backing out of a maybe isn’t a complete screw-up, but it still hurts your relationship more than if you were assertive enough to say “no” in the first place.

Don’t Forget Your Ongoing Commitments

Whenever you agree to do anything, the commitment should be placed into your to-do list, calendar or whatever organizing system you have. Even if your commitment didn’t have a specific deadline, keeping track of where you’ve agreed to help is important. Keep other commitments you have in perspective before making any new one. Don’t forget ongoing commitments because you want to make someone happy.

What’s Unimportant to You May be Crucial to Another

It’s easy to evaluate the importance of everything in terms of our own goals. I might get a request from someone that is unimportant to me, but extremely important to that person. It’s easy to push aside items that aren’t priorities for you. But if those items also happen to be priorities for other people, you may break an incredibly important commitment without realizing it. Once you have made a commitment to get it done, keep to your commitment. Forget how important or unimportant it seems t you.

If People Aren’t Reliable, Call Them on It

I wouldn’t recommend getting into a fight. But if someone is building a deficit in your relationship bank account, let them know. Often busy people won’t even realize they are being completely unreliable. If you let them know that you’re disappointed that they haven’t followed through on their promises that give them the option of gracefully scaling back their commitments or being more responsible in the future. However, be sure to do to others what you want done to you.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Responsibility - The Price For Greatness

One of the single most important words in the English language is R E S P O N S I B I L I T Y. Your ability to respond. Why? Most of the problems we experience in life are because we fail to take responsibility. Look at your own life. Be honest with yourself. What problems can you identify that point back to your not taking responsibility either in a timely fashion or not at all? I bet it's 90% or higher. We are a country of people who seem to believe problems are always someone else's responsibility.

So you have a problem. And you have a good excuse for living with it, right? You're unappreciated, misunderstood, your parents raised you wrong, the school didn't teach you the right thing, the system is against you, you're broke, unemployed, you can't do anything right, you made a lot of mistakes … There is nothing you can do about it because you are too young, too old, you are under-educated, overweight, you won't conform, you don't have any money.

" When we want to do something we find a way, but when we don't we find an excuse." Donald Trump

Do you realize these are all excuses? Donald Trump said " When we want to do something we find a way, but when we don't we find an excuse." Most people do not accept personal responsibility for what they want. They tend to blame others, circumstances, and conditions. Blaming makes us feel better, but it does not solve problems. What happens to us when we allow someone or something else to become responsible for us? We give up our personal power. The power to make decisions about our own lives, and to control our destiny. Are you willing to take that kind of chance with your life?

Most people dread accepting responsibility. That's just a fact of life, and we can see it in operation every day. Yes, we can see avoidance of responsibility all the time in both our personal and professional lives. And here's something else we can see just as often: we can see that most people aren't as successful as they wish they were. Do you see there is a connection between these two very common phenomena? Responsibility is a price you have to pay if you aim for greatness.

During the years when professional basketball was just beginning to become really popular, Bill Russell, who played center for the Boston Celtics, was one of the greatest players in the pro league. He was especially known for his rebounding and his defensive skills. But like a lot of very tall centers, Russell was never much of a free throw shooter. His free throw percentage was quite a bit below average in fact. But this low percentage didn't really give a clear picture of Russell's ability as an athlete. And in one game he gave a very convincing demonstration of this.

It was the final game of a championship series between Boston and the Los Angeles Lakers. With about twelve seconds left to play, the Lakers were behind by one point and Boston had the ball. It was obvious that the Lakers would have to foul one of Boston's players in order to get the ball back, and they chose to foul Bill Russell.This was a perfectly logical choice since statistically Russell was the worst free throw shooter on the court at that moment. If he missed the shot, the Lakers would probably get the ball back and they'd still have enough time to try to win the game. But if Russell made his first free throw, the Lakers' chances would be seriously diminished. And if he made both shots, the game would essentially be over.

Bill Russell had a very peculiar style of shooting free throws. Today, no self-respecting basketball player anywhere in America would attempt it. Aside from the question of whether it's an effective way to shoot a basket, it just looked too ridiculous. Whenever he had to shoot a free throw, the six-foot-eleven Russell would start off holding the ball in both hands about waist high, then he'd squat down and as he straightened up he'd let go of the ball. It looked like he was trying to throw a bucket of dirt over a wall.But regardless of how he looked, as soon as Bill Russell was fouled, he knew the Celtics were going to win the game. He was absolutely certain of it because, in a situation like this, statistics and percentages mean nothing. There was a much more important factor at work, something that no one has found a way to express in numbers and decimal points.

Simply put, Bill Russell was a player who wanted to take responsibility for the success or failure of his team. He wanted the weight on his shoulders in a situation like this. No possibility for excuses. No possibility of blaming anyone else if the game was lost. No second guessing. Bill Russell wanted the ball in his own hands and nobody else's. And, like magic, even if he'd missed every free throw he'd ever shot in his life before this, he knew he was going to make this one. And that is exactly what happened.

That is what virtually always happens when a man or woman accepts responsibility eagerly and with confidence. I've always felt that accepting responsibility is one of the highest forms of human maturity. A willingness to be accountable, to put yourself on the line, is really the defining characteristic of adulthood.

"A Person is buffeted by circumstances so long as he believes himself to be the creature of outside conditions." –

So if you are a person who has never been good at taking responsibility:

- Look around and find the most responsible person you know and ask for help or model their behavior.

- Take on small projects and see them through to completion. Then slowly increase the amount of responsibility you take on. The more we do, the more we can do, and the better we get.

- Accept 100% responsibility for what happens in your life, and know that you have the power to take control of many aspects of your life, mental and physical.

- Stop blaming and start making decisions and be responsible for the outcome good or bad.

You will succeed!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Problems - A Paradox?

Problems are everywhere. Pick up a newspaper! Turn on the TV! Talk to your neighbor! Phone a friend! Get a new job! Take a trip!

The weather is a problem –it is either too hot or too cold. Age is a problem –you are either too young or too old or aging too quickly. Money is a problem –you never have enough (Have you ever seen anyone that has enough?). Relationships are a problem –either you have a relationship that causes problems or you want a relationship. Jobs are a problem- so is not having a job.

The whole world is full of problems! Everyone everywhere is talking about problems.Problems are universal. They are part of everything all the time. Every progressive step the human race has achieved originated in a problem. And every new step has created new problems!

Problems occur in every civilization throughout history and they will continue to do so into the future. Problems embrace every race, every religion, every age, and both sexes regardless of fame, fortune or power. Every person who has walked the face of the earth has had problems.

“Everyone has problems, everyone suffers to varying degrees at different degrees- the only way out is objectivity “
Problems are path dependent. In other words the same problems show up on the same path regardless of who, where or when they are encountered. Individuals all over the world encounter problems with everyday needs such as transportation, food, housing and not so basic problems such as self fulfillment. Parents all across the world encounter similar problems with children.

Problems are conflict laden. Fundamental problems arising out of different values and beliefs create conflict over rights, privileges and entitlements between nation states. Simple actions over what to do next and how to do it can create conflict within the workplace and in family

Problems are by nature paradoxical. They are big and small. Universal problems of war and peace, life and death, poverty and prosperity walk along side personal problems about age, weight or education. Problems seem to have a life of their own. We can grow any problem to any size and shape we want. We carry the same problems with us –we use them to influence our present and our future!

We see the same problems ones over and over again in different shapes and forms.Problems are addictive! We talk about past problems, current problems, and future problems. We talk about our problems and even our neighbor’s problems. We tell others what their problems are. We love solving other people’s problems even if we are not asked. We are problem obsessed!

Problems are the bane of our existence. Yet we all get through them –one way or the other. We know that without problems we do not grow and prosper. Problems offer us mental, physical and social challenges that shape our character and our destiny. Problems are at the heart of all progress –material, cultural, spiritual and physical.

So what is the problem?The problem is what to do with problems. That’s a choice and that choice is both a curse and a blessing. The curse is that there are problems; the blessing is problems have solutions. The journey is finding the solutions that manifest the consequences you need.

What should we do with problems then? I will share that in my next post....and it won't be long (lol)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Impossibilities Often Aren't

While at work during the week, a colleague sent me an interesting piece. It’s too hot to keep to myself. Please permit me to share with you. I am sure you will thank me after reading this piece (lol).

Japanese grocery stores had a problem. They are much smaller than their US counterparts and therefore don't have room to waste. Watermelons, big and round, wasted a lot of space. Most people would simply tell the grocery stores that watermelons grow round and there is nothing that can be done about it. But some Japanese farmers took a different approach. "If the supermarkets want a space efficient watermelon,” they asked themselves, "How can we provide one?" It wasn't long before they invented the square watermelon. Yes, they did!

The solution to the problem of round watermelons wasn't nearly as difficult to solve for those who didn't assume the problem was impossible to begin with and simply asked how it could be done. It turns out that all you need to do is place them into a square box when they are growing and the watermelon will take on the shape of the box! That simple? Yes, it was that simple!

This made the grocery stores happy and had the added benefit that it was much easier and cost effective to ship the watermelons. Consumers also loved them because they took less space in their refrigerators which are much smaller than those in the US - which resulted in the growers being able to charge a premium price for them.

What does this have to do with anything besides square watermelons? There are a few lessons that you can take away from this story which will help you in all parts of your life. Here are a few of them:

Don't assume:

The major problem was that most people had always seen round watermelons so they automatically assumed that square watermelons were impossible before even thinking about the question. Things that you have been doing a certain way your entire life have taken on the aura of the round watermelon and you likely don't even take the time to consider if there is another way to do it. Breaking yourself from assuming this way can greatly improve your overall life as you are constantly looking for new and better ways to do things.

Question habits:

The best way to tackle these assumptions is to question your habits. If you can make an effort to question the way you do things on a consistent basis, you will find that you can continually improve the way that you live your life. Forming habits when they have been well thought out is usually a positive thing, but most of us have adopted our habits from various people and places without even thinking about them.

Be creative:

When faced with a problem, be creative in looking for a solution. This often requires thinking outside the box. Most people who viewed this question likely thought they were being asked how they could genetically alter water melons to grow square which would be a much more difficult process to accomplish. By looking at the question from an alternative perspective, however, the solution was quite simple. Being creative and looking at things in different ways in all portions of your live will help you find solutions to many problems where others can't see them.

Look for a better way:

The square watermelon question was simply seeking a better and more convenient way to do something. The stores had flagged a problem they were having and asked if a solution was possible. It's impossible to find a better way if you are never asking the question in the first place. Always ask if there is a better way of doing the things that you do and constantly write down the things you wish you could do (but currently can't) since these are usually hints about steps you need to change. Get into the habit of asking yourself, "Is there a better way I could be doing this?" and you will find there often is.

Impossibilities often aren't:

If you begin with the notion that something is impossible, then it obviously will be for you. If, on the other hand, you decide to see if something is possible or not, you will find out through trial and error. I like the way a wise man puts it. He said “ Impossibility only exists in the dictionary of fools”.

Apply the lessons from the square watermelons to areas in your life (work, finances, relationships, etc) and by consistently applying them, you may continuously improve all aspects of your life.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wanted - Honest Men (Part II)

In his book Integrity, Ted Engstrom told his story: "For Coach Cleveland Stroud and the Bulldogs of Rockdale County High School (Conyers, Georgia), it was their championship season: 21 wins and 5 losses on the way to the Georgia boys' basketball tournament last March, then a dramatic come-from-behind victory in the state finals. "But now the new glass trophy case outside the high school gymnasium is bare. Earlier this month the Georgia High School Association deprived Rockdale County of the championship after school officials said that a player who was scholastically ineligible had played 45 seconds in the first of the school's five postseason games. 'We didn't know he was ineligible at the time; we didn't know it until a few weeks ago,' Mr. Stroud said. 'Some people have said we should have just kept quiet about it, that it was just 45 seconds and the player wasn't an impact player. But you've got to do what's honest and right and what the rules say. I told my team that people forget the scores of basketball games; they don't ever forget what you're made of.'" What a story? I am sure this sounds foolish to many. How does it sound to you? Can I share another one with you that may even sound more foolish?

As professional golfer Ray Floyd was getting ready to tap in a routine 9-inch putt, he saw the ball move ever so slightly. According to the rule book, if the ball moves in this way the golfer must take a penalty stroke. Yet consider the situation. Floyd was among the leaders in a tournament offering a top prize of $108,000. To acknowledge that the ball had moved could mean he would lose his chance for big money. Writer David Holahan describes as follows what others might have done: “The athlete ducks his head and flails wildly with his hands, as if being attacked by a killer bee; next, he steps back from the ball, rubbing his eye for a phantom speck of dust, all the while scanning his playing partners and the gallery for any sign that the ball’s movement has been detected by others. If the coast is clear, he taps the ball in for his par. Ray Floyd, however, didn’t do that. He assessed himself a penalty stroke and wound up with a bogey on the hole. He lost $108,000 but not his Integrity!

He lost $108,000 but not his Integrity!

A storeowner interviewed a young man for a job. He asked, "If I hire you to work in my store, will you be honest and truthful?" The young man answered, "I will be honest and truthful whether you hire me or not." Over 1800 years ago, Marcus Aurelius said “If it is not right, do not do it. If it is not true, do not say it.” These are simple words from another time and place. Do the right thing and speak the truth.

Integrity is a difficult concept to define. I believe that people have an intuitive sense of what it means. I've found in my practice that when I talk to a client about their integrity being "on the line", they know what I mean. We're dealing with something "core", with some kind of centre to their personality, to their sense of themselves. Integrity is a value, like persistence, courage, and intelligence. It is your choice of values and resolution to live by those values that form your character and personality. And it is integrity that enhances all your other values. The quality of person you are is determined by how well you live up to the values that are most important to you. Integrity is the quality that locks in your values and causes you to live consistent with them.

A storeowner interviewed a young man for a job. He asked, "If I hire you to work in my store, will you be honest and truthful?" The young man answered, "I will be honest and truthful whether you hire me or not."

Integrity is the foundation of character. A person who has integrity also has an unblemished character in every area of his or her life. One of the most important activities you can engage in, is developing your character. And one of the best ways to develop your character is by consistently doing the same things that a thoroughly honest person would do in every area of his or her life.

To be totally honest with others, you first have to be totally honest with yourself. You have to be true to yourself. You have to be true to the very best that is in you. Only a person who is consistently living a life with the highest values and virtues is a person truly living a life of integrity. If you are always honest and true to yourself you cannot be false to anyone else.

The mark of people who have high integrity is, they always do the highest quality of work in everything they do. They are the people who are always totally honest with themselves in everything they do, and strive to excellent work on every occassion. People with high integrity realize that everything they do is a statement about who they are as a person.

Your integrity is manifested in your willingness to adhere to the values that are most important to you. It's easy to make promises but often very hard to keep them. But every time you keep a promise that you've made, it is an act of integrity, which in turn strengthens your character. As you act with integrity in everything you do, you will find that every part of your life will improve. You will begin to attract the best people and situations into your life. You will become an outstanding person as well as a success in everything you do.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Wanted - Honest Men

We live in a world that has become so obsessed with success and material wealth at the expense of all else. It’s very rare to see men and women of integrity who would hold on to their righteousness by all means. “The end justifies the means” is now the motto of several people, all in a bid to amass wealth. It is a tragedy!

Sometime last week, a colleague sent a story to me by mail. I had read this story a few times before now, but this time around, it made more sense to me. Can I share this story with you? It is an old Ghanaian fable.

“An aging king woke up one day to the realization that should he drop dead, there would be no male in the royal family to take his place. He was the last male in the royal family in a culture where only a male could succeed to the throne - and he was aging.

He decided that if he could not give birth to a male, he would adopt a son who then could take his place, but he insisted that such an adopted son must be extraordinary in every sense of the word. So he launched a competition in his kingdom, open to all boys, no matter what their background.

Ten boys made it to the every top. There was little to separate these boys in terms of intelligence and physical attributes and capabilities. The king said to them, "I have one
last test and whoever comes top will become my adopted son and heir to my throne."

Then he said, "This kingdom depends solely on agriculture. So the king must know how to cultivate plants. So here is a seed of corn for each of you. Take it home and plant and nurture it for three weeks. At the end of three weeks, we shall see who has done the best job of cultivating the seed. That person will be my heir-apparent. "

The boys took their seeds and hurried home. They each got a flower pot and planted the seed as soon as they got home. There was much excitement in the kingdom as the people waited with bated breath to see who was destined to be their next king.

In one home, the boy and his parents were almost heartbroken when after days of intense care, the seed failed to sprout. He did not know what had gone wrong with his. He had selected the soil carefully, he had applied the right quantity and type of fertilizer, he had been very dutiful in watering it at the right intervals, he had even prayed over it day and night and yet his seed had turned out to be unproductive.

Some of his friends advised him to go and buy a seed from the market and plant that. "After all," they said, "how can anyone tell one seed of corn from another?" But his parents who had always taught him the value of integrity reminded him that, if the king wanted them to plant any corn, he would have asked them to go for their own seed. "If you take anything different from what the king gave you, that would be dishonesty. Maybe we are not destined for the throne. If so, let it be but don't be found to have deceived the king," they told him.

The D-Day came, and the boys returned to the palace each of them proudly exhibiting a very fine corn seedling. It was obvious that the other nine boys had had great success with their seeds. The king began making his way down the line of eager boys and asked each of them "Is this came out of the seed I gave you?" And each boy responded, "Yes, your majesty." And the king would nod and move down the line. The king finally got to the last boy in the line-up. The boy was shaking with fear. He knew that the king was going to have him thrown into prison for wasting his seed.

"What did you do with the seed I gave you?" the king asked.

"I planted it and cared for it diligently, your majesty, but alas it failed to sprout." the boy said tearfully, as the crowd booed him.

But the king raised his hands and signaled for silence. Then he said, "My people behold your next king." The people were confused. "Why that one?" many asked. "How can he be the right choice?" The king took his place on his throne with the boy by his side and said, "I gave these boys boiled seeds. This test was not for cultivating corn. It was the test of character; a test of integrity. It was the ultimate test. If a king must have one quality, it must be that he should be above above dishonesty. Only this boy passed the test. A boiled seed cannot sprout." ”

The single most important quality you can ever develop that will enhance every part of your life is the value of integrity. Integrity is the core quality of a successful and happy life. Having integrity means being totally honest and truthful in every part of your life. By making the commitment to become a totally honest person, you will be doing more to ensure your success and happiness in life than anything else you can ever do.

Will you stand up to be counted with men of integrity?

I will share a bit more about Integrity in details in my next post. Till then, stay on top!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Powerful Beyond Measure

A couple of months ago, while on a flight (can’t remember to where again), I saw a movie that brought tears to my eyes. Now, I am not easily given to tears. I rarely ever cry. However, on this particular day, my tear glands were not supportive. The flood gate of my tears was thrown wide open and I couldn’t control tears from rolling down my cheeks. I am sure those around me would have wondered why an adult would be crying over a movie. About 3 weeks ago, I was privileged to see this movie again, and I had almost exactly the same feeling all over again. Aren’t you wondering too what movie I am talking about? I am talking about “Coach Carter”, a film directed by Thomas Carter. I strongly recommend you see the movie, if you’ve not seen it already

In 1999, Ken Carter, a successful sporting goods store owner, accepts the job of basketball coach for his old high school in a poor area of Richmond, CA, where he was a champion athlete. As much dismayed by the poor attitudes of his players as well as their dismal play performance, Carter sets about to change both. He immediately imposes a strict regime typified in written contracts that include stipulations for respectful behavior, a dress code and good grades as requisites to being allowed to participate. The initial resistance from the boys is soon dispelled as the team under Carter's tutelage becomes an undefeated competitor in the games. However, when the overconfident team's behavior begins to stray and Carter learns that too many players are doing poorly in class, he takes immediate action. To the outrage of the team, the school and the community, Carter cancels all team activities and locks the court until the team shows acceptable academic improvement. In the ensuing debate, Carter fights to keep his methods, determined to show the boys that they need to rely on more than sports for their futures and eventually finds he has affected them more profoundly than he ever expected.

There was a scene that really moved me. The school board had just voted in favour of ending the lock out imposed by Coach Carter on basketball because of the dismal performance of several of his players in their academics. Before the vote, Coach Carter had already made a speech. He said “You really need to consider the message you're sending this boys by ending the lockout. It's the same message that we as a culture send to our professional athletes; and that is that they are above the law. If these boys cannot honor the simple rules of a basketball contract, how long do you think it will be before they're out there breaking the law? I played ball here at Richmond High 30 years ago. It was the same thing then; some of my teammates went to prison, some of them even ended up dead. If you vote to end the lockout, you won't have to terminate me; I'll quit” After the vote, he headed for the gym to pack a few belongings but was amazed to see all his players in the gym, with their books, reading and helping each other. They opined that though the board forced the gates of the gym opened by their votes, they could not force them to play basketball. Coach Carter was really moved by their action. Just while he was still soaking this in, one of his players, Timo Cruz, who had once had a difficult time with him, stood up and read this quote …

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And, as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

I suggest you read this quote, at least 2 more times.

The coach was so moved, almost to tears, and couldn’t help but say “Thanks You” to the whole team. He changed his mind about quitting. The team’s performance in class became much better and they continued winning basketball games, only loosing narrowly in the state finals. Most of them later went on to College and made the best of their lives.

Now, look at the quote again. Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. It is that we are powerful beyond measure. What a cool piece of writing. Nothing makes me sadder than someone doing something half minded because they are so scared of what might happen if they put everything into it and fail. You can do anything...yes anything, that you really make up your mind to do. Nothing can stop you, except you. You are powerful beyond measure.

Need I say anything more?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Lessons From Across The Sea

As I write this, I am on board a South African Airline from Johannesburg to Lagos. I have been away from home in the last couple of days. It’s been like months away from my family. I miss my wife and daughter so much I can’t wait for this plane to touch down (Well, I’ll have to wait if I want it to touch down at the right destination. Don’t you think so?)

I am a student of Learning. I believe so much in continuous learning. Infact, I believe that all the years we spent within the walls of the University are just teaching us how to learn. We were just learning to learn! I mean, how many of us can really remember the things we learnt in Year 2 or 3 in the University? Well, for me, I remember I was thought something on Laplast transformation/equation, Navier Stokes equation, and all, but I am not sure I have ever used them nor will ever use them! The most important things was that learning them thought me how to learn.

..the cheapest way to be free from all burdens – financial, moral, spiritual, physical e.t.c, is by learning.

Do you know something I found out? The best and quickest way to liberate people from bondage, sickness, poverty, frustrations, failure and any other vice is giving them knowledge. It is getting them to learn. The greatest teacher that ever lived gave this advice to all humanity. “Come to me, all of you who labours and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Come, and learn of me….”. Did you see that? Are you going though a heavy burden? Are you going though trying times? Are you going through storms of life? Jesus recommends a tablet for you. He said, “Come and learn of me”. Don’t come and cry to me. Don’t come and complain to me. Don’t come to me looking morose and melancholic. Come and learn. It’s very clear from here that the cheapest way to be free from all burdens – financial, moral, spiritual, physical e.t.c, is by learning.

The more you know, the better life becomes for you. A wise man said “If you know better, you will live better!” He can’t be more correct. In my opinion, there are no special problems in life. All we have is special ignorance. A man who lacks financial knowledge feels that poverty is such a great problem. He feels he needs a “special force” to solve his poverty problem. What he needs is light. It is knowledge. When he learns and applies the principles of prosperity, he will realize how cheap it is to bid final farewell to poverty. Little wonder why great nations of the world put a lot of value on education – the vehicle of learning.

...there are no special problems in life. All we have is special ignorance.

While in South Africa, I was ready to learn as usual. I observed well enough to learn so I can be better. Here are a few of the things I learnt

Pay Attention to Details

As simple as this sound, so many people have lost great opportunities by not paying attention to details – by not crossing the “t’s” and dotting the “i’s”. I knew before I left for SA that yellow fever vaccination was a requirement for entry into SA. I got a yellow fever card (didn’t actually get the vaccination) and checked to be sure it was stamped. Armed with this, I was sure that I will have no issue with immigrations at all. I was wrong. When it got to my turn, I went confidently to the counter and greeted the immigration officer with a lot of confidence. “Good morning maam. How are you doing today”? “Well, I am fine” she replied. “Can I see you passport and vaccination card” she requested. “Here they are”, passing them to her confidently. After carefully checking through them, she said “Sir, I am sorry but your vaccination card is not dated. I am not sure of the day when you took this vaccination. I cannot allow you into SA now”. Are you kidding me! How can something as small as dating a vaccination card prevent me from going into SA? I was given 3 options. One, to return back to Nigeria immediately. Two, to remain quarantined in SA for 2 weeks before I gain entry. Three, to go to the airport Clinic and pay $85 to get the yellow fever injection and the vaccination card. You can guess the option I took. I lost $85 by not paying attention to details.

I know there are people reading this that will identify with opportunities that have missed by not paying attention to details. I am sure it would have cost you more than $85. The question is, have you learnt from it? Will you let it rob you again after now?

If in Doubt, Ask

Many people, especially men, think that asking question belittles them. They’ll rather guess than ask. Sometimes, we end of embarrassing ourselves. On my return trip, a guy, who obviously was travelling for the 1st time was on board. He didn’t know anything about travelling in an airplane, not even how to get his seat number. He wouldn’t ask. He was looking for seat 68G and good enough, he located it. Someone was already seating on seat 68H and on his own seat were his headphone, pillow and blanket. “Excuse me, you are sitting on my seat” he said to the guy in seat 68H. “No, I am not”, the guy replied. “Why are you putting your entire load on my seat? Please remove them because I want to sit down”. Of course, everyone around had a good laugh! He talked to the guy very impolitely about something he could have simply asked. He ended up embarrassing himself. If in doubt, please ask. There is no harm is asking. There is no pride in not asking!

There is no harm is asking. There is no pride in not asking!

I took a taxi from Johannesburg to Midrand. I asked the driver if he knew where I was going and he answered in the affirmative. When we got to Midrand, he seemed lost. We were just driving around the place. Guess what? He had a map in his car! I suggested that we consulted the Map but he didn’t see any wisdom in that. “Don’t worry. This is my territory. I will get the place” he said. Needless to tell you that we spent more than an hour in Midrand without locating the place. I got tired of him and pulled a call through to the office that I was heading to. They gave me a simple direction to the place and in 5 minutes, we were there. We have passed through the adjoining street twice in the last 1 hr. Asking would sure have prevented the loss of time, money and energy.

Make it Simple. There is great power in simplicity

I went to SA to write a professional exam. I already had a picture of what the organization of the examination will look like. However, I was positively surprised. It was a simplified approach to doing things. It looks really very simple.

You know sometimes we think that something has to be complex to make sense. That’s wrong thinking. Simple things make more sense and achieve better results

Author John Maxwell writes, “There is great dignity in simplicity. Most of the immortal works of literature not only have the brilliance of brevity but also the dignity of simplicity. The Lord’s Prayer consists of only 57 words, none more than two syllables. The declaration of Independence, which revolutionizes the thinking of the entire world, can be read by a fourth grader in less than five minutes. Simplicity is eloquent; it speaks loud and clear without insulting the intelligence of the listener.”

I hope you have also learnt from the above lessons.

Never stop learning. When you stop learning, you stop growing

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Have You Got Excellent Reasons For Failure?

It’s my birthday today. I have received several calls, emails and text messages from my family, friends, colleagues and well wishers. As at the last count, I had received about 54 calls, 34 text messages and 9 emails. Some of the text messages are simply wonderful. I was close to tears while reading some of them. Let me use this opportunity to say a big thank you to all of you who sent in a text, a mail or called over the phone. My world is a better place because I have friends like you. Special thanks to my lovely wife, who sent in a lovely cake to my office. I wonder what I would do without you. Not much I guess!

Today has been a day of reflection for me. I was just thinking about the last couple of years – where I have been and where I am coming from. It’s been a long rough ride! Believe me when I say that. However, it’s been interesting all along. I have seen a lot. I have experienced a lot. I have learnt a lot. I have grown, to a good extent I suppose. Along the journey, I have also realized that I had good reasons, very good reasons to give for failure. I was talking with a colleague some time last week. He told me of a chat he had with a former boss, who was advising him to put in his best at work. He told him something that in my opinion is very profound. He said “Every reason for failure in --- (name of the company) is always an excellent reason”. How true?

There is a young man that inspires me in the scriptures. His name is Joseph. Permit me to talk a bit about him today. Permit me also to call him Joe. Joe was a good guy who had very good and lofty dreams. He dreamt that one day he will be head over all his households. He dreamt great dreams. You know, I realize that it’s a dreamers’ world. Today’s dreams are certainly tomorrow’s realities. Dream well and dream big, it doesn’t cost a dime. Everything you see around you today, started as a dream in someone’s mind.

Joe was faced with a lot of odds however. Odds that stood against him and his dreams. A study of these odds will show that we still face similar odds today. Let me share a few of those with you as I drive home my point.

Background –

He was from a polygamous family where a lot of jealousy and hatred was the order of the day. He was also one of the youngest. You know there are some of us that are from the backside of the desert. Infact, we are from the interior of the inferior! What will you do? Will you sit down and complain about your disadvantageous background, or do something about it? Listen. Your background does not have to determine your future. You can rise to the top in spite of very low backgrounds. History is littered with the testimonies of those who went from terrible backgrounds to enviable heights. History also has records of those with great and wonderful backgrounds but end up with little or no reckoning. Need I mention names?

Environment –

At an early stage in life, Joe found himself in a strange land and in a strange environment. He found himself far away from home where godly values were not taught. There are a couple of us who thinks that they can only succeed in Europe! Nigeria and Africa is too tough they say. The environment is not conducive. While I agree that you need the right environment to bring out your best, I make bold to say this “It is not in the Land. It is in the Mind”. God told Isaac to remain in Gerar, the land of famine. Isaac obeyed, stayed there and reaped in the same year, a hundred fold! You will not become an instant success even if you move to Europe, except your mind witnesses a transformation. A lizard in Africa can never become a Crocodile in Europe! At best, it will be a international lizard! In spite of the environment prevailing around him, Joe made the best of it in his rise to the throne. Will you do same?

A lizard in Africa can never become a Crocodile in Europe! At best, it will be a international lizard!


Have you heard people complain about their bosses as if they are the very roots of all the woes? Joe had every reason to blame his boss, and most importantly his boss’s wife. He didn’t. He served Potiphar with all his might. He was “The Servant”. He was so committed that Potiphar committed everything he had to his hands. “Do you see a man diligent in his work? He shall stand before Kings and not before ordinary men” says the holy creed. When a man is diligent in anything he does, he will surely do that “thing” for kings! The reason why you are not progressing is not your boss, no matter how tough he/she is. It all depends on you!

Inspite of all these reasons, Joe never craved in. He didn’t hide under the cover of any. His dreams and goals were set before him and he will stop at nothing to achieve them. Remember that the world don’t want reasons. They want results.

Joe went on to achieve his dreams, and even better. He became the Prime Minister in a foreign land, second only to Pharaoh. What an amazing story.

There is no reason good enough for failure.

Let me ask you a question? After all said and done, what will be said about you? Will you let prevailing circumstances drown your goals, visions and dreams? Or will you rise up to the occasion, and say to yourself “inspite of all these, I will achieve my dreams”. You will go through all you are passing through. Surely and certainly, you will get to the throne.

There is no reason good enough for failure.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Negotiate A Better Future

Every single second of the day, we are all involved in negotiations. You may not realize it, but you are involved in thousands of both formal and informal negotiations everyday. We are all product of negotiations. You wouldn’t be here in this world if there was no negotiation between your mum and your dad! If you got up from your bed today (and I bet you did), your were involved in a negotiation. You had a choice to continue in bed but you gave up this “pleasure” for something.

We are all product of negotiations. You wouldn’t be here in this world if there was no negotiation between your mum and your dad!

In negotiations, you give up what you have to get what you want. Someone has time and needs money. Another have money and needs time invested to do a work. Negotiation takes place when they each give what they have to get what they want.

Negotiations are very important because they determine your future. There are several negotiations taking place that has a direct effect on your future. Infact, the quality of your life tomorrow is dependent on the negotiations you are making today. While going through my notes earlier in the week, I came across a negotiation I read about and studied some years ago and the lessons I learnt from this account. This negotiation is documented in the holy creed. Can you spare a moment to read it?

“And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die; and what profit shall this birthright do to me?”

This verse is very rich. Here, a negotiation took place. Very informal negotiation. Right in the family compound. But with far reaching consequences. Esau, the older of the twins in question had gone hunting earlier in the day and returned home with nothing to show for it. Jacob on the other hand was at home and he had cooked a stew. Now, Esau returned home hungry. He needed food. He had the birthright. Jacob had food. He needed the birthright. So, a negotiation proposal was put forward by Jacob. What a proposal it was.

From this negotiation account, there are very vital lessons to learn

1. Do Not negotiate on an empty stomach

Avoid negotiating when you are hungry or tired. It put’s you at a disadvantage. Many great footballers had sold their future to their managers by signing contracts when they were “hungry”. For a young man coming from a club in Africa paying him $1000 a month, a juicy contract of $10,000 a month in Europe sounds too good to be true. Without studying the contract papers, he puts pen to paper immediately only to find out he had sold his future to his agent/manager. He negotiated on an empty stomach. He will realize later in future what a terrible negotiation he had made. A young girl who is “hungry” for a job negotiates away her virginity only to realize the colossal loss. What a shame.

2. Do Not Underestimate what you have

I said earlier on, that in negotiations, you give what you have to get what you want. In the story we are considering, Jacob simply underestimated the value of what he had. He had the birthright and the blessings associated with it. However, it meant nothing to him. His value system was wrong. According to him, stew was much more valuable than his birthright! Before you point accusing fingers at Esau, how is your value system? Are you underestimating what you’ve got? Do you value your skills and talents?

3. Do Not “overvalue” your problem

There is no problem that you currently have that is peculiar to you. The worst damage you can do to yourself when you are negotiating is to over value your problem. Look at what Esau said “ …I am about to die…” The truth is that that was far from the truth. He wasn’t about to die. Worse case, he had missed breakfast and lunch for that day. There is no way that can equal “near death”. He was overestimating his situation. No wonder he couldn’t negotiate down. Listen to some people talk about their problem/situation and you will know they are magnifying the problem. During negotiations, you will have the advantage when you learn not to overstate your problem

4. Negotiate Down

In the above negotiation, Esau didn’t do anything to negotiate Jacob’s offer down. He could have at least tried. If I were in his shoes, I would have tried negotiating for dinner for the rest of my life if I needed that food that badly. At least, dinner for the rest of his life in exchange for the birthright (though still a foolish choice) would have been a far better deal that just a one time stew. Beat the offer down. Negotiate down.

Winners do today what others won’t do, in order to have tomorrow what others won’t have.

5. Negotiate for the Future

Whatever you do, please negotiate for the future. Don’t only look out for what you will gain/lose in the immediate present. Look out for the future. What will be the consequence of the negotiation you are doing doing now on your future. Friends, I have since realized that the future is less expensive than the present. It makes a lot of sense to buy the future now. It pays to negotiate for the future now than later. A friend once told me how he spent his 1st salary of 70,000 naira. He invested 35,000 to buy a sophisticated phone and 35,000 to buy IBTC shares. He took a stock of both purchase 4 years after. The phone he bought was stolen 3 months after. The shares he bought is now worth over 250,000! Buy the future. Negotiate for the future. Winners do today what others won’t do, in order to have tomorrow what others won’t have.

In the negotiation we are looking at, it was like nothing happened afterwards. Negotiation completed. Both parties went their separate ways. However, the result of that negotiation that took place in the family compound had far reaching consequences. Esau sold his birthright….his blessings. He later sought for it with tears, but it was too late. He sold out his future while enjoying the present. Winners will rather forfeit a prefect present in order to create a perfect future. Do you want to be one?


Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Law Of Use

Every regular visitor to my blog would have noticed by now that I write a lot about “Laws”. I do this for a number of reasons. First, laws are universal. They apply equally to everyone. They are no respecter of persons. Everyone who jumps up will come down - the colour of his skin is immaterial. Second, laws are inviolable. No one can violate them without suffering the consequences. It takes a higher law to break a lower one. Thirdly, laws are immutable. They do not change. They hold true for ever and are the same anywhere, anyday, any time. This simply means that laws gives predictability to events. If you follow a law strictly, you are guaranteed of the effect/reward.

No one can violate laws without suffering the consequences

I recently read again a story in the holy creed that amazed me. It is often referred to as The Parable of Talents. It opened my eyes to several points on what I call The Law of Use. Can I please share it with you?

A certain man gave each of his three servants an amount of money, “each according to his ability” (Mt 25:15). This man (referred to as The Master) knew their ability and gave them opportunity anyway. His basic expectation to them all was to do business with it and make profit. The 1st one, who had five bags of money went and traded with it and got five more. The 2nd one, who had two bags, did the same thing and got another two. The 3rd servant, who got one bag, dug a hole in the ground and hid his mater’s bag of money there. Later, the master had his servants give account of what they had done with the resources at their disposal. In the same vein like this story, God has given us all something (ability, resource, insight, revelation), and he holds us accountable for what we do with it. One day, he will ask us to give an account.

The 1st two servants gave good accounts of what they had done with their talents and how they had made a 100% profit with it. The account given by the 3rd servant is worth examining. He said “Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. 25 I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.” (Mt 25:24-25).

If you use the resources available to you, you will improve those resources and develop new ones.

Take note of a couple of points

- The servant claimed he acted out of fear of the master; he placed emphasis on master’s perceived hardness. He was shifting blames and justifying his actions.

- I suggest two motives: fear (servant afraid for his own well-being), or laziness (little wonder the master did not give him much responsibility even from the beginning).

- If servant was afraid but aggressive, he would have done whatever was necessary to earn a profit; but he was lazy, so he simply tried to protect himself.

- Master’s evaluation: “You wicked and lazy servant!” It is wicked to leave resources at your disposal unused! Hmmm……aren’t you wicked too? What are you doing with all the untapped resources at your disposal? I think it’s bearable to be called lazy. But wicked? That’s not a good title!

- Quantity wasn’t as big a problem as laziness: “You should have put my
money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have
received it back with interest” It would just have been okay if he made an extra bag of money for his master. He would have made 100% profit too. I am sure that even 50% profit would have showed some efforts and would have been rewarded accordingly.

Can I summarize all the above points in one sentence? Use it or lose it!

God entrusts us all with resources so we can advance his kingdom and he holds us accountable for those resources. If we do not use those resources effectively, we will loose them.

The Law of Use can also apply to our day to day life. It governs the growth of
individuals, corporations and nations. If you use the resources available to you, you will improve those resources and develop new ones.

Exercise your muscles and they become stronger.

Submit yourself to training and you improve your abilities.

Read Bible and pray and you will grow spiritually.

Exercising 5 minutes once a month won’t do much for you; exercising 15mins daily for 6 months will work “miracles”

Invest money at 8% for one week, have little to show for it; invest it for 1 to 2 years and you get a good return on investment.

Even with a small, insignificant beginning, applying Law of Use can produce great results.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Framed By Words

Words…..They’ve been used to make us laugh and cry. They can wound or heal. They can offer hope or devastation.With words, we can make our noblest intentions felt and our deepest desires known.From the very beginning when the first words were uttered,the ability to communicate has played an important role in our world. Whether within our own thoughts, spoken or written, words have the power to transform the world we live in. Love, laughter, heroism, friendship, and virtually every emotion we feel as human beings can be inspired by words. Unfortunately, fear, anger, and hatred, can also be invoked by words.

Throughout human history, our greatest leaders and thinkers have used the power of words to transform our emotions, to enlist us in their causes, and to shape the course of destiny. Words do not only create emotions; they create actions. And from our actions flow the results of our lives. When Patrick Henry stood before his fellow delegates and proclaimed, “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!” his words ignited a firestorm that unleashed an unbridled commitment to extinguish the tyranny that has suppressed them for so long. The simple Declaration of Independence, an assemblage of words, became the vessel for change for a whole nation.

Listen. The whole world was framed by words. The Almighty God “spoke” out what was in his minds. He expressed his desires in words, and whatever He said, He saw. In other words, the whole world was formed by words. Your world too, is formed, and will be formed, by words! What are the things you said about yourself, your situation, your family and your nation 5 years ago? I can bet that they are the things you are seeing now

I personally remember the things I said about myself and my future 7-10 years ago. Then, I was a young man from the back side of the desert. I was from the interior of the inferior. However, I came in contact with the word of God. Then, I began to shapen my world with words. As a young speaker then, I used to declare in words then things that seem so impossible and far out of reach. Once I said loud and clear “Soon, I will earn foreign exchange through public speaking”. Today, all the things I said, I have seen! I am already saying the things I want to see in the next couple of years.

The words you speak and words spoken around you can change your life forever. I have being around people using negative words on their kids. I once knew a mother who usually calls his son a “coconut head”. There is nothing inside coconut except water! No wonder they guy turned out to be just better than a moron. Such is the power of words. In all humility, I have never being “broke” since I changed my financial vocabulary. Whenever you say “I am broke”, it is like something shuts down inside of you. You can’t think straight again. Your system behaves exactly like that. Whenever I have less money than I need, I’ll rather say “I am overcoming a cash flow problem”. You can’t imagine the difference that makes. It’s just amazing!

"Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind."

"Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me." I remember saying those words when young to try and convince myself of its truth in the face of painful words thrown my way. Unfortunately, it is far from true. Verbal insults, verbal abuse, and the power of words to affect your emotions and actions are well demonstrated in science. For example, scientists have found that just hearing sentences about elderly people led research subjects to walk more slowly. In other research, individuals read words of 'loving kindness' showed increases in self-compassion, improved mood, and reduced anxiety.

I once read that a word is like a living organism, capable of growing, changing, spreading, and influencing the world in many ways, directly and indirectly through others. I never thought about a word being 'alive' but then I thought of words spoken 3,000 years ago, written down and passed through many generations, and they seem quite alive when read or spoken today, having lived 3,000 years. As I ponder the power of the word to incite and divide, to calm and connect, or to create and effect change, I am ever more cautious in what I say and how I listen to the words around me.

“A tongue three inches long can kill a man six feet tall."

The words of your mouth are a creative force. They play a big part in predestining your future. Your words are the architects of your life. The tongue is like a tool. We need to use our tools of the present to build the future we desire. You see, your future will someday be your present. Your present will someday be your past. You can chart the course of your future by your compass... your tongue. It will guide you like a rudder... into either troubled waters or a calm sea. But, don't be misled... it WILL guide you.

The words you speak create an atmosphere. If you are going to have a meeting and you really pump it up and build it, what happens? People come with expectancy! They come excited. Your words have set the stage for success! One of the foundational revelations of a wise leader is to learn to control his or her words!

Remember, Samson slew 1,000 Philistines with the jawbone of an ass. Way too many businesses, lives, and relationships are destroyed with the same weapon...’’

Words can take you from where you are now to where you want to be. Words can kill. Words can make alive. You can create your future with your vocabulary today

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Law Of Continuous Improvement - Part II

Loosely translated, the Japanese word kaizen means 'continuous change for the better'. More and more businesses now follow this principle to ensure they stay competitive, but this approach is equally valid for individuals. If you allow your skills to stand still and become out of date, it is all too easy to fall behind others and lose your competitive edge.

When we stop learning, we stop improving, and that can only lead to career stagnation.That is why it is important to maximise every opportunity for learning that comes along. None of us can rely on what we did and how we performed yesterday to sustain us. Developing a personal improvement process is a key part of ensuring we can meet the demands of our changing business and personal worlds.

I like the way Kim Collin puts is. He said “Strive for continuous improvement, instead of perfection”. Isn’t that wonderful? If everyone of us can commit to a life of continuous improvement, I bet the world will be a better place to live in. We need to actively search for a better way of doing things.

Strive for continuous improvement, instead of perfection - Kim Collin

Let me share with you some steps to continuous improvement.

1. Discard conventional fixed ideas.

The very idea of kaizen is unconventional. And the truth is, most people do not practice continuous improvement in any area of their lives, let alone all areas. About ninety-five percent of the people in this world have absolutely no interest in taking action to improve their lives. Conventional, fixed ideas would suggest that it is not necessary to continue learning throughout our lives. In the New Economy, however, the stakes are higher than ever. Those who continue to think that their formal education will take care of them for the rest of their lives are in for a rude awakening.

2. Think of how to do it, not why it cannot be done.

The pessimist will create all kinds of reasons that something can't be done. The optimistic, forward thinker, on the other hand, knows that "if the why is strong enough, the how will come." Focus on the outcome. Then, come up with all the ways that the outcome could possibly be accomplished. “…Determine that the things can and shall be done. And then we shall find the Way..” said Abraham Lincoln.

Determine that the things can and shall be done. And then we shall find the Way - Abraham Lincoln.

3. Do not make excuses.

Start by questioning current practices. Making excuses for not doing something is easy. Again, focus on the outcome. Then, take action. There is no excuse for not trying something. There is absolutely no harm in trying. I remember back in my secondary school days. I had a friend who was the best in Mathematics. There was something I noticed about him – he wasn’t afraid to try difficult problems. While people like me will drop a question just because it “looks” difficult, this guy never bulged. He’ll try every problem. The truth is, he didn’t get all of them, but he was way ahead of all of us who didn’t try at all!

4. Do not seek perfection.

Do it right away even if for only 50% of the target. If we all waited for perfection, we'd still be reading by candlelight and riding horses to work. Once you get to a certain point (whether it's 50% or 80%, or another number that makes sense), then run with it. In other words, take action. Then, adjust as you go along.

5. Correct it right away, if you make a mistake.

Stuff happens. Accept it, and adjust accordingly. If you've absorbed and accepted #4, then you're almost anticipating the necessity of corrections. Acknowledge that the mistake happened, especially when it affects other people, and then correct it. When an airplane is in flight, it is rarely exactly "on target". Most often, it's a little off course on this direction, or slightly off in that direction. But the pilot (or auto-pilot) constantly adjusts, and the plane ends up at its destination. The same is true of personal development.

6. Do not just spend money for kaizen, use your wisdom.

It is not enough to simply buy a tape set to learn skills, or to merely attend a workshop or seminar. These are wonderful (and essential, in my opinion) first steps, but action is key. Learn, yes. But then take action based on what you have learned.

7. Wisdom is brought out when faced with hardship.

Challenges are usually undesirable, but they can be tremendous learning opportunities. Obstacles will present themselves, and you will be a better person for having done what it took to overcome them.

8. Ask "Why?" five times and seek root causes.

The question "why?" is extremely powerful. As stated in #2, if a person has a strong enough "why", he or she can accomplish anything. The question "why?" can serve to either strengthen our conviction about something, or help us to discover that it really wasn't as important as we thought it was. At a minimum, it helps us to get to the root of the issue. Each time you ask "why?", you reveal a new layer. You go deeper, and deeper. Then, after four or five answers, you'll get to the real one. Try it!

9. Seek the wisdom of ten people rather than the knowledge of one.

Much has been written about the power of group thinking. Whether it involves seeking one or two other people's opinions, holding a meeting with others, or more formal brainstorming or mastermind groups, there is power in numbers. If you want to find out how to be successful at something, ask someone who has already done it. Better yet, gather several people who have already done it. With libraries, the internet, and other resources available today, we have more opportunities than ever to gather the wisdom of others.

10. Kaizen ideas are infinite.

Kaizen is a process of learning and growing, steadily and continually. There are always ways to "tweak" elements of your life in order to improve them. It has been said that life is a journey, not a destination. And practicing the philosophy of continuous improvement, of kaizen, will help you to make the most of that journey!

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