Live & Learn II

There is this tale about a sage and his pupil who had sought him out from the big city in the secluded monastery to learn from him. After spending some time with the ancient sage, the pupil felt he wasn’t learning enough from the master. It didn’t seem like he was improving and so he sought to find out why.

Do you want a cup of tea?” the master asked as the pupil walked into his room that faithful day. “Yes sir I do!

The sage poured and poured, and kept pouring even after the cup was full. Soon the tea started to spill on the table. Irritated, the pupil drew the attention of the master to the tea that was beginning to waste.

Ha ah! Here is the answer you seek my child. This cup can’t take any more tea because it is full. To take more, we have to first empty it. There is no lack of new tea, but as long as the cup is full, nothing new will come in.”

Hmmn…There is no lack of new things to learn, however, if you remain full, valuable lessons will keep spilling off and you’d never grow. Your mistakes become wastes when they could have been useful tools for making better decisions.

There is no lack of new things to learn

And what makes our cups full? Assumptions!

Assumptions make our cups full. Our opinion on what is true and what works is not always correct. But as long as we hold on to them, they will take the space that knowledge is supposed to fill.

Therefore, to learn, you must be able to distinguish between an assumption and knowledge. Then you can know what to discard and what to keep; what to pay attention to, and what to let through the leaks.

Another tale worth sharing is about a man who one day eventually got frustrated with the amount of food his wife wastes anytime she needed to fry fish.

He noticed she’d always cut off the head and the tail of the fish before she fried it. He just couldn’t understand why.

One day he summoned courage (as I assume you would need courage to challenge your wife on delicate matters such as this. LoL) and asked her why she did so. “I don’t know” she replied. “But whenever my mother fried fish, she always cut off the head and the tail. This is how we do it in our family for as long as I can remember”.

Luckily, her mother was alive but she too gave the same reply when she was asked the same question. Then they found the grandmother and asked her the same question. This time, they found the knowledge they sought.

“I never had big pans to fry big fish back in the days. The only way the fish could fit in the pot was if I cut off the head and tail. But now that I have a big pan, I fry the whole fish. But you had left for your own home so you didn’t get to see me fry it this way”

If only someone had asked the right question much earlier. If only someone had challenged the status quo. If only someone had questioned the assumption. Many fishes would have nourished the bellies of many generations rather than waste.

Ask new questions and challenge old knowledge

The morale is this, to learn you must ask questions. Don’t just accept everything you are taught. Try to know the reasons behind the theories; know the background to the knowledge; Only then will you be wise enough to apply knowledge correctly.

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So two things I have said – You must learn to distinguish knowledge from assumption and allow assumptions leave so that new knowledge can come in. You must seek new knowledge by asking questions and challenging old knowledge passed down to you.

Life is really about learning. When we stop learning, we stop growing. When we stop growing, we invite decay and consequently death. You must understand that learning is deliberate. Being taught might not always be in your control, but learning is always up to you!

Cheers to a better you

Afolabi

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Scars of War

I want to start by congratulating myself on finding such a dramatic title to this piece. Although it sounds like the title of a blockbuster Hollywood movie, this is far from fiction; this is everyday life; this is the story of my life.

Nod your head if you have never failed in life. If you didn’t just nod your head then please read on because you are exactly who I had in mind when putting this together.

My first year in the university was my most challenging one academically. I had the uncommon privilege of scoring all the grades possible in just my first semester. Once again, it felt like I was watching a movie every time I went to the result board those days. I told myself this just can’t be me. More annoying was that I scored an A in a 1 unit course while the F was in a 4 unit course; the way the grade system works, I would have just been better off with 2 Ds in both courses really.

After the first semester, I couldn’t just settle for the result. I am brilliant chap no doubt. My secondary school results were pretty good and I felt I deserved better. I spent some time attempting to contest the result but for the advice of concerned strangers who warned me against it. You have four more years in the university ahead of you, buckle up, do it again and you’d be just fine. I’m glad I took their advice

The real gist was an event that happened in my second year. I was placed in a position where I had to publicly declare what my CGPA was. Though I can’t remember why o was asked to, but I can’t also forget how miserable it made me feel.

This was church event and I couldn’t possibly lie.  I shared my poor 1.87 CGPA with everyone in attendance and that went down as one of the most embarrassing days of my life but also a very decisive one. Looking back, there are 2 quick lessons to pick

First is that one event that goes wrong in your life doesn’t define your life forever. Often I feel that all eyes are on me at all times and I know we all mostly do feel this way too. Note, this is 2pac and not scripture so it can’t be true. Even if it was true, after a while, people forget about your embarrassing moment because they have their own to remember and think about. So don’t go kill yourself over it. I still remember that day fondly but I doubt if many other people that were there that day do. And yet, as at then it felt like I had let the whole world in on my top secret at that time.

One event that goes wrong in your life doesn’t define your life forever

The second is the big idea of this article- if you don’t take responsibility for your failures; how on earth would you be responsible for turning things around.

I went on to graduate from that same school with a second upper division with every semester GPA surpassing the previous one back to back despite starting as a mere pass student. I believe that would not have been possible if I lived in denial all through my campus life.

If you don’t take responsibility for your failures; how on earth would you be responsible for turning things around.

The concept of failing forward is based on your ability to realize that failure is just an event as well as an opportunity to begin again more intelligently. If you have ever failed at a thing, you need to know that you didn’t fail, the thing did and if you can take responsibility for it then you also can rewrite your story and tell a testimony. Don’t play the blame game, don’t give excuses. Rather, own up, buckle up, and go at it again.

Failures are your scars of war. They show that you lost a battle. When handled properly, they can also become your mark of victory that will be proof that you won the war.

Selah,

Afolabi.

A Reason to Hope

I listened to Bernie Sanders speak in the days after the historic US election that saw the unlikely Donald J Trump emerge as the president-elect of the United States of America. I heard him say that he was very hopeful and optimistic about the future of their country even as he has written in his new best selling  book ‘Our Revolution’.

However, his enthusiasm has little or nothing to do with Trump’s election but everything to do with the young, vibrant, beautiful, and enthusiastic young individuals he met as he traveled across the United States during his own campaign to be the Presidential candidate for the Democratic Party.

Then I thought to myself, if Uncle Bernie is hopeful about America because of THIS reason, then we have even more reasons to be hopeful about Nigeria and Africa at large. Spread across our great land are young, energetic, dynamic and bright individuals who are passionate about the future of our country.africa-green-ring

Young men and women who are awaken to the fact that our leaders can do little to help us. Therefore, we must now take it upon ourselves to do everything we can to help them. We will hold them accountable on how they lead and govern us. We would participate as much as we can in the affairs of things. We would create businesses and opportunities for ourselves and the people around us. we would use whatever resource we have to build our nation.

Young men and women who are awaken to the fact that our leaders can do little to help us. Therefore, we must now take it upon ourselves to do everything we can to help them.

Consciously or not, we are beginning to see that we don’t need titles or positions to lead. We can do our own bit starting from where we are. If there is not so much our country can do for us, then there is so much we can and will do for our country.

We won’t relent till we see Nigeria become great again and Africa take a leading position in world affairs.

I am very hopeful about the future of Nigeria and you have reasons too.

Stay believing.

Afolabi

Life On Purpose (My 7.125 Billion Story)

As at 2013, the estimated population of the world was placed at 7.125 Billion. That’s a massive lot of people.

If you believe like i do, that the true wealth of the earth is not in the abundance beneath the ground but rather in the people who live in it; then that would mean that the earth is a super rich billionaire! But if so, why is there still suffering and poverty? why is there still decadence in the society? why aren’t things the way they ought to be?

This might explain it- a 7.125 billion Dollars man and a 7.125 billion Naira man are not equal. What both can do and achieve differs greatly. The figures are the same but what they can do differs. So it is not enough to look at the numbers, you must also look at the quality of the numbers.

The problem the world has is not numbers but rather quality. If there were better people, like better currency, we can achieve better results.

Quality of life begins when purpose of life is established. When the purpose of a life is unknown that life becomes a loss to all its stakeholders. A life is fulfilled and optimized when lived primarily for the purpose it was wired.

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On the 19th of November, 2016, LifeOnPurpose Conference (LPC) would be holding right here in Lagos Nigeria. LPC is a faith-based and nation building initiative aimed at positioning the lives of young adults towards living a life of purpose and impact.

It is highly recommended for teenagers and young adults who would want to improve their worth and lives. It would be a blend of learning sessions on various topics and skills facilitated by some of the country’s finest minds and hands.

You can REGISTER for it by clicking here. It promises to be all that it promises and even more.  See poster for more details.

PS: You can catch me live at the event too. Look forward to seeing you

Cheers

Afolabi

Story of Our lives

Sometimes we wonder, how did I get to this place? How did I miss my way? How did I end up this way? But that is usually where our problem begin. Because we stop at wondering and we never really find answers to that question.
Therefore, history repeats itself again and after a while, you begin to wonder if what you’ve become is who you really are.

A thief, a murderer, a liar, a prostitute, a sinner, broke, uninspired, and the list goes on. But that in itself isn’t a problem. The problem isn’t that we question our identity but that we believe the wrong things about ourselves.

It is then that we stop trying because we have accepted fate. We deny ourselves a reason to try- to make an attempt. We start living a lie when we accept that lie as truth. Our thoughts then become self-fulfilling prophecies when they never should have been.

Story of your life? Perhaps yes.

Take a step back to where we started from- your wandering thoughts.

What if you don’t stop at wondering how you got to where you are. What if you find out the answers. What if you identify where you missed the road and tripped to rock bottom.

What if things can be different. What if the power to change is in your hands.

Then I believe you can trace your steps back and pick yourself up again. You may then learn from the past and history never gets to repeat itself. And when the question of identify comes up, you then don’t have to believe a lie as there are reasons to believe the truth. As long as there is hope of a better, you therefore try. You try and try and try again. And soon you get it right because you were made to do so.

A righteous man will fall several times, and several times he would rise again.

Story of my life? Definitely Yes!!

This truth liberates! Sets free!! Makes whole!!!

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN

This must be said.

It grieves me when I wake up early to go to work only to find another man who had woken up much longer than I did preaching to souls that need to be preached to.

I am not saddened that they preach, but I think that if you’d go through all that sacrifice to do a noble thing, then that thing should be done right.

Painting pictures of hell, creating awareness about the existence of demons isn’t what the gospel is about. In fact, a strong rebuke against sin isn’t what the gospel is about too.

All that will never CHANGE a man. Only the gospel is the saving power of God. Only the gospel CAN make men be BORN AGAIN.

Think about it…The only reason why a *danfo driver uses a seat belt is because he sees that he is approaching a Lastma official. The instance he gets past the checkpost, he throws it away like we dispose used toilet paper. The Fear of *Lastma bends him to use the seat belt, but as soon as the sight is gone, he returns to his posture as a non seat belt user.

All those sermons about hell and the rest only put fear in the hearts of men. Fear bends people’s will, it doesn’t change it. As soon as the picture you paint fades from their heart( and it will fade b’cos really, we’ve got important issues like fuel to think about too ‪#‎lol‬), they soon return to the very things you tried to save them from.600x600

The gospel is the GOOD NEWS. It is a story of LOVE and perfect love casts out all fear. The Gospel doesn’t DEMAND change from people who can’t even change in the first place, it OFFERS change to those who would BELIEVE. The gospel doesn’t say go to church, rather it says God is running back to you, open your heart to him. The Gospel doesn’t demand that you love God, it preaches that God loves you, has sent his son to die for you so you can be forgiven of ALL sins, and so you can receive NOW, eternal life.

Think of it, who wouldn’t love God back after he has received God’s love and forgiveness. And love is the fulfillment of all the Law. When we see the love God has for us, we are propelled to reciprocate the love to him and the people around us.

So the next time you decide to preach the gospel, ask yourself, is my message a GOOD news? If no, then it’s probably not news at all.

Before you repost that facebook message, will this sow the seed of LOVE in men’s heart? If it won’t, then it is probably not worth your time.

Selah

*A Danfo bus is a commercial peassenger bus popular in Lagos Nigeria

*Lastma is a traffic enforcement agency in Lagos.

Things you should know about People

Understanding people is key to life success. Money doesn’t make the world go round, people do. The world is no good with all the money in it if their are no people to use that money. So, i think the most important aspect of your life isn’t just your money but the people in your life.

So below are some of the things you should know about people:

People like to be treated with honor, value, and respect.  Even in cases where they don’t deserve it, people will still expect respect from you. You must understand that this is a fundamental human need for people.

Everyone has a price. This doesn’t necessarily mean you can buy them with money. Rather it implies that people can be reached, influenced, and won over. Whether its by affirmation, acts of service, gifts, or whatever else appeals to their interests and needs, everyone has stuffs they value and respond to.

People are ultimately insatiable. They are always looking for greener pastures. There is no way you can hold back a man who is convinced that there is better for him elsewhere. Sadly though, most people are too lazy to pay the necessary price for their advancement; nonetheless, the desire to improve our lives is an unquenchable thirst in each and everyone of us.

Everyone has the seed of good in them. You should never write a man off. As long as he has life, no matter how terrible his past or present is, he can construct an edifice of a future. Men are ‘illimitable’! limits only exist in our minds and when those minds are liberated by truth, nothing cant restrict the success and progress a man can make.

Human destinies are somehow connected. Those you treat badly today might be in positions to repay you in the same manner tomorrow. Even if they are not, your wrong seeds will catch up with you and someone else somehow will pay you back on their behalf (some call this karma). So it pays to treat people well.

Here is a conclusion you should hold dear- Dealing with people is like playing a video game. when you know rules and how to play it, it becomes fun and easy to do. Before then, it would just be a frustrating activity of nothingness.

Cheers!

Afolabi Soaga

Dealing with people is like playing a video game. when you know rules and how to play it, it becomes fun and easy to do.

 

what new Idea can change the world?

So that was the big question i had to answer- what is that big idea that can change the world?

I remember telling my younger brother once that-“time by itself doesn’t change anything. The only change that occurs with time is decay, and that is bad change. People and effort in time is what make things better.”

Our communities and the world in general are subject to the laws of motion. They will continue in a given direction (usually downward because there is an undoubted destructive force at work), unless an external force acts on it. People are that force that can change the world. Evil thrives when good people fold their hands and do nothing. Maybe we think that nothing happens when we do nothing. Wrong! Something happens, but not just what we want.images

Change is inevitable. We have but two choices of change to choose from- A deliberate active positive change for the better or a consequential passive change that wreaks havoc in the lives of people and our planet as a whole.

But we humans can only do what we can do. A car with any empty tank can do no good to your need to move up an hill. Such a car will remain of no good if nothing happens to it because it is also subject to a motion-like law of remaining in a given state unless change is effected from outside. People are just like that car trying to move this world uphill. All our goodwill and intention count for nothing if we don’t have gas to pedal up. We ourselves continue in a path of decay and death when we are not growing and developing. People need to be equipped and trained to make impact in their world. They need to know that they don’t have to wait for that big break as they can start with their tiny bits today.

In conclusion, my big idea is that people are the most important entities on the earth. no new idea can change the world. it is this same old species of mankind that can and will change its world. We are our biggest assets and all the change we desire will only happen when we make them happen. We are the real deal when it comes to global change; not internet, not technology, not governments or institutions; people built all that.

Our local communities should place a heavy, deliberate and purposeful focus on investing in its people; helping them to attain their best self. Imagine a world where everyone is at his best! The possibilities are endless!

Afolabi Soaga

January 2016

Plans, Purposes, and Pursuits

imagesPlanning is so important that even God in all his might doesn’t fail to plan. He always has a plan- A plan for the whole world and a plan for you and i. That’s why he is way ahead of the adversary because the next set of moves he’d make are plain before him. He is never caught off guard. (Jer 29:11)

So if God makes plans, why don’t you?

Some take consolation in verses in Matt 6 which advices that we take no thought of what we will eat and drink and of our tomorrow. But really, that verse had no reference to planning! What Jesus was addressing in that portion of scripture is worry; and even though there is a thin line between both, there is also a huge difference between them.

So if God makes plans, why don’t you?

Worry is negative. It drains you. It is an abuse of your imagination and as such should be avoided. Planning is positive. It requires you to stretch yourself, task your imagination, and exercise your faith in God and his abilities in you and through you.

In Luke 14:28 Jesus advises that whoever who set out on a project must first sit to count his cost to see if he has enough to complete it. He said that whoever fails to do so is at risk of failure and shame. Planning is a preparatory act that can’t be ignored. Opportunity only favors the prepared; the man who has planned.

Many people refuse to plan because they don’t want to risk failure. They have probably set goals in the past that they failed to meet and are afraid to repeat the same. I heard once that If you aim at nothing, you will hit it a 100% of the time. Refusal to plan and set goals for those people will never make them better. If you refuse to take risks, you might not fail, but you’d definitely not win. So I advise that you set those goals. Really, you have nothing to lose but everything to gain.

Opportunity only favors the prepared; the man who has planned.

When you make plans and set goals properly, you’d most like succeed at them. Properly means that you set appropriate and worthy goals and that you map out strategies to score them.

Other people fear making wrong plans that are contrary to what God has planned for them. In someone’s opinion, why make plans for myself when God has already made some for me? My question to that is- is that a submission to fate or a confession of faith? The former I dare to say. God indeed has plans for you but he won’t force them on you. He needs you to take those plans for yourself and work them out through his help. Proverbs 16:3 (GNB)- Ask the LORD to bless your plans, and you will be successful in carrying them out.

is that a submission to fate or a confession of faith?

My plans? I want God plans! So do I. Nothing stops you from making God’s plans for yourself. God is always trying to let us on in on the plans he has for us. Php 2:13(GNB) says God is always at work in you to make you willing and able to obey his own purpose. Isa 55:8 wasn’t referring to you. It is the wicked man that God asked to forsake his ways. Yes, God’s thoughts and plans are higher and better than the ones we can make for ourselves. But God wants us to know that we can attain those thoughts (1Cor2:9-10). He has no glory in hiding them from us but takes all glory in us living them out.

So, don’t be afraid to make plans for your life. Set BHAGs and pursue them. Commit your desires to God who is able to do immeasurably than you can plan for yourself and watch him do wonders through you and for you. You’ve got nothing to lose!

 

Afolabi Soaga

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Dont be all about the money

money.jpgA lot of businesses are not successful and profitable in Nigeria because those who run them are going about their business the wrong way. Statistic says that only 1 in about 3 startup businesses in the country lives longer than 5 years. This shows that there is something wrong with the way our entrepreneurs exercise their entrepreneurship.

I have found that most business owners in Nigeria are all about the money. They are only in business just to make money from people and enrich their pockets. They really don’t have long term commitments to the business or the people they serve. They just want their business to cater to their various needs and luxuries now.

I am of the strong opinion that meeting needs ought to be the priority of any  business venture; solving problems and not making money. I don’t like the idea of starting business just because you have to make ends meet or simply because you cant find a job. That’s the reason many people start businesses in Nigeria. These are good reasons to launch into the waters of entrepreneurship but they should not be your only and or leading reason.

I don’t like the idea of starting business just because you have to make ends meet or simply because you cant find a job. These are good reasons to launch into the waters of entrepreneurship but they should not be your only and or leading reason.

This is not to say that making healthy profits in business is wrong because right next to meeting needs is making profit. But never before it. You can make profits without meeting needs; it won’t just be sustained. And yes, you can meet needs without making profit too; but that is hardly the case except you are running a charity.

The point however here is that your chances of making sales, increasing returns, and making healthy profits are enormous when you are focused on meeting needs rather than on making money.

We don’t have strong brands in Nigeria. A strong brand is one that resonates both functionally and emotionally with its customers. No brand will promise to just make money off its customers although many act just like that. They don’t promise that because it is common sense to know that people are not looking for people to give their money to; they are seeking people who will solve their problems and they will pay sufficiently for such help.

It is said about God, that we shouldn’t go after his gifts but rather after him, the giver of the gifts. Likewise, businesses shouldn’t go after the money of their customers but rather the customers themselves. When you have me, you have all that I have (my money inclusive). Even in cases where repeat business isn’t possible, the moment you win me over, you can be sure I’d replicate myself to patronize you through friends, associates and family.

Businesses shouldn’t go after the money of their customers but rather the customers themselves.

Businesses ought to be in the business of sweeping their customers off their feet, taking their breathe away, blowing them into unprecedented ecstasy. You should be trying to win people and not make money. Because money is temporal, always moving places, but people are always there. Because money is owned by people and not people by money; it is wise to be after them than after their money.

You cant make real money in life if you are all about money. You have to be about several other things. You have to be about service, about giving, about management, deferring gratification, making sacrifices and investments, making wise decisions, etc. Money alone doesn’t make rich, these other things do.

Afolabi Soaga