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.

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!!!

In the face of Disappointments

Depressed Person

Everyone gets their own dose of it at some point in their existence on the earth. Disappointments in the story of our lives are like Snow fall in winter, you can bet on it. For some people it could be a failed examination, interview, business contract or relationship; or even the betrayal of friends and family; everyone of us at some point in life set our hearts on certain things and we just don’t get them while some others get certain things they never really wanted.

In a good number of cases, we don’t get what we want because we are not qualified for it or because someone else was more qualified than us. Relationships fail because people who were not ready for it delved into it. Interviews fail because people don’t prepare adequately and so goes the same for examinations.

Solution to this isn’t difficult to see. You don’t need to understand rocket science or see a prophet to know what to do here. If its qualification, get it. If its preparation, get it! If its timing, wait and be patient till you are ready. Whatever the case maybe, keep a positive attitude and try again more intelligently and appropriately.

But at times, the disappointments we face are entirely not our faults. There are times you felt that you’ve covered every possible angle and done all you can do and in all honestly feel you deserve the government contract or the A grade in that course but you still don’t get it. You’ve done your best and maybe didn’t even leave any ‘rest’ to God and yet still got disappointed. Such was my case in a recent project I embarked upon; uhm…..I did leave a ‘rest’ to God though 😀

The question then is, what do we do next after such?

Every disappointment poses a question to you. What are you gonna do next? You’ve got only 2 options. React or respond.

People that react either over react or under react. Hardly can anyone ever find balance when they are reacting because reaction is often outside your control. It is you taking action based solely on what occurred to you- in other words you become a thermometer whose results are influenced by external conditions. You are not in control, you are controlled and so you most likely act out-of-control. When the query is the right you also become right, but when its wrong like a disappointment then you become wrong too.

Responding to issues on the other hand is bringing things under control. It is you being a thermostat which regulates external conditions. It is you giving a reply based on the quality of yourself and not the disappointment of the stimuli. It’s is you being the influencer and not the influenced. You don’t just get to do what is normal or what you are expected to do; rather you do what is better, sometimes abnormal and most times extraordinary or what you ought to do.

See Proverbs 25:4-5. Don’t answer fools according to their folly, or you will become like them yourself. Answer fools according to their folly, or they will deem themselves wise.

Don’t the two statements sound contradictory to one another? Maybe not if you put sequence and scenario to it. The author there was saying that you shouldn’t hastily react to a fool’s utterance; you should respond to it. Hence, first it says don’t answer/react, then it says answer/respond.

Now lets talk about answering disappointments.

Its a mind thing. Disappointment troubles your mind. It tries to reconfigure your heart status. Hope took you on a high and reality is pulling you back…..managing the instability of this process is what dealing with disappointment is.

How do you win?

Stay hopeful by keeping your eyes on the bigger picture. Give substance to your hope by having faith and faith is a product of a belief in certain things like ‘all things are working together for your good’; ‘God loves you and wants the best for you’; ‘You are God’s investment in the world and his attention is on you as he is interested in every detail of your life’. He won’t let you fail.

He is able to do exceedingly and his plans are always better. And as he has begun a good work in your life, he is faithful to complete them. You didn’t come this far to lose.

When you shift focus from the disappointment of the hour to the bigger hopeful picture of life, then there becomes no challenge greater; no valley too deep and no mountain too big. We draw strength from our knowledge that the adversary has been defeated and so we are victors through God. And though a chapter of our lives may contain pain, suffering, and disappointment; we know that this book has a happy ending.

I’ll end on this note is stumbled upon once. It read “Sometimes when we don’t get what we want, it is because we are about to get better things”.

Soaga Afolabihopeful__always_by_sweetxxxgirlxxxjo-d4u7nxw

photo credit: Google

my pursuit of perfection and the fear of counter success 2

In my previous post, i started a discussion on the pursuit of a perfect life. in summary, i wrote that the perfect life isn’t a life without flaws but rather a ‘flaw-overcoming’ life. i also stated that nobody was born with imperfections and flaws but that we all picked those bad habits here on earth just the same way we pick up clothes; and that if we can change the clothes we wear, then we can also change our habits and inadvertently best our lives. i concluded on why a luxurious life isn’t evil; but that our pursuit and need of it shouldn’t be allowed to turn into greed. The full article can be read here: http://bit.ly/194si5D.

Now to the fear of counter success

People have different kinds of fears in life. A common one is the fear of failure(a.k.a atichyphobia), and a less common one is the fear of success(achievemephobia). Neither of this have really haunted me. The fear I had to deal with was the fear of counter-success. Becoming successful has never really been the problem for some people, staying successful has been falling-save-mewhere the challenge lies. The world is full of ‘used-to-be’s’ and ‘formers’. its common to hear stuff like “he used to have a great marriage”, ” he is the former world champion”, “he used to drive a nice car” or “she used to have a great body”.  Counter success has plagued many people both in biblical days and even in our contemporary age.

Two quick examples off my head are Rehoboam in the bible and Tiger woods of 2009. Both didn’t really have issues making it to the top. But when they both got there; with their own hands they pulled themselves down. So they did achieve success, but they pulled a counter success stunt successfully as well. While Rehoboam misused power, Woods’ case was in the abuse of sex.

Abuse of power and sex are not the only two things that lead to counter success, money is another major counter success causative. it must be noted just like in the earlier article that these things in themselves are not bad. Man was created to have ‘dominion’ and not be dominated and that’s why there is an unquenchable desire in every one of us to have some sort of power and authority. Money is good and necessary for survival. Sex is a physiological and sometimes psychological Albert-Florence's-Missteps-Colorneed in us. thus, If these things can be identified as needs, then they ought to be met. And there are legal and appropriate ways to go about it. But when the need for them turns into greed, then we have a problem in our hands because it will cause us to take the back door to achieve them. And there are always consequences for that- counter success!

Someone said once that the secret to success in life is to find one’s weaknesses early enough and deal with them. I believe that this is ideally the antidote to counter success. we all have our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. our strengths and talents regardless of our weaknesses and flaws can help us achieve success of some sort, but what will make us maintain that success is our ability to manage our flaws, weaknesses and excesses.

The first step towards solving a problem is usually identifying it. I like to say that a man who has a problem and doesn’t know that he has one, has the greatest problem in life. It is when we find those areas of vulnerability that we can take appropriate measures to resolve them.

For identified negative habits, its been suggested that what we consistently do for 21 days becomes a part of us. Recent research is proving to disprove that but then I still believe it could work. So we can start up personal campaigns against bad habits or pro good habits campaigns in an attempt to put off the ‘bad habit clothes’ and put on the good ones.

If you spend poorly, you can decide to watch how you spend for the next 21 days. If you desire to be chaste with the opposite sex, you can ‘fast’ them (i.e avoid them or circumstances that put you in an uncomfortable position) for that period. Conscious efforts such as these can rewrite the conduct code in our systems and over time change our habits. Practice they say makes perfect and repetition is often the key to mastery.

you don’t have to be an example of a man who rose to the top only to later plummet. you don’t have to take a nose dive after attaining the success you worked hard for. you can be successful and stay successful. You don’t have to fear counter success, you can prevent it while you work towards your success.  Find that Achilles heel and work relentlessly to overcome it. As you improve on your strengths, also take out time to work on your weaknesses too.

love you

Soaga Afolabi achilles' heel 2

just try again?

Just try again?

I have heard it being said several times that if you try out something and it doesn’t work, just try, try again! As good and encouraging as this may sound, it is not always the best option. History as a matter fact has a reputation of always repeating itself simple because a lot of people choose to just simply try and try again.

There are no failures or mistakes in life; only lessons.

So when something doesn’t work out as you plan ,don’t just go out in haste to do the same thing. You need to go back to the drawing board and ask questions. Why exactly didn’t this work? what did i do wrong? what should i do next?That’s how you get answers and that’s how you learn.

I have always told folks that life indeed is a teacher, the more you live the more you are taught. However,learning is entirely up to you. You can choose to learn from your actions or just foolishly repeat them.

When something doesn’t go right, there are two basic action points to follow after you’ve gone to your thinking room to ask questions.

1. Quit- Certain things ought not to be done in the first place. Why waste time on irrelevances? Many people for ‘ego’ reasons keep trying to succeed in areas they need not be in the first place.

Distraction isn’t always a lack of focus; it sometimes having the wrong one. wasted efforts on task A could have been used productively on task B.

Moreover, my sister said something that is quite true once that “there is nothing more stupid than doing something absolutely well that need not to be done in the first place”. (Her opinion not mine)

IMG_1740

  1. Try again. But not just like that. Only a fool does the same things the same way and expects a different result. 

You need to do things differently the next time you are trying again. Thomas Edison who is reputed to have failed 999 times before finally inventing the light bulb remarked that all his previous attempts were not failures but lessons because in them he learnt how not to create a light bulb. In other words, every new attempt had a different formula.

So if what you failed at is something that needs to be done, then you need it get better and learn how it ought to be done before taking it head on.

Llast year might have been rough for you. You probably set some goals at its beginning but failed to reach them at the end. And you have perhaps set those same goals again maybe with more resolve to achieve them this year. I believe that determination and will isn’t always enough to get results; right knowledge, attitude and methods are usually necessary as well.

So friend, don’t just try, try, try those stuffs again. Ask questions- should I really be doing this. Quit if no; but if yes, then ask, how can it be better done? Where did I miss it the last time? Put things right before you try again.

Ciao

Soaga Afolabi Olusegun

diversity of failure

In joshua 1vs8, the bible made mention of the compound word ‘good success’. Thanks to many charismatic preachers, we have been able to establish that if there is good success, then there must be other types of success.
Failure could be said to be the opposite of success. And if what is good for the goose is also good for the gander, then failure too could be said to have various forms.
Below are some. They could be more and with time I would update the list. But these few should suffice for now and pass a message across.

1. Successful failure:(noun) a man who fails to plan, plans to fail. Such a man succeeds well at his failure.

2. Complete failure: (noun)a man who because he is trying to please everybody fail at his task and also at his desire and intention to please everybody because everybody can’t be pleased.

3. Renowned failure: (noun)a man who is known for his failure by himself and sometimes by others simply because he fails to learn from them and as such, continues to repeat them. Such a man could also be called A fool.

That would be all for now. You could add your own in the comment space below. The message here is to not be any of the stuffs described above.

So plan so you don’t end up being a successful failure, realize all men can’t be pleased so don’t live life solely to please people so you don’t end up a complete failure and learn so you don’t earn yourself a name as a renowned failure.
Succeed!
Soaga Afolabi O.

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

enviroment-conduct-performance-paradigm

I have often heard people say stuff like ‘if I was in so and so place, or if I had so and so opportunities, or if I was alive during so and so era, my life would have been so and so better’. Chances are huge that you too have said such at some point in your life. Most of the time, when we encounter failure by performing below what is celebrated or below what we really wanted, we tend to fall into one of these 2 extremes.

The first is a state of complete loss of belief in oneself and ability. This is when we come to accept failure and as such tag ourselves as failures. This is the root reason why many people drop out from school. When we fall into this mind-set, we stop seeing the need to try again and as such we simply just decide to quit and sometimes not do anything again; or quit to take up a different route and challenge.( example of such people are those that transfer from science related studies in school to the less tedious administrative courses. Of course, at times this is the wisest resolve to take on)

The second category consists of those who decide to give excuses like the ones in the opening paragraph. I heard someone describe an excuse as the tool of the incompetent and a monument of fools. I like to call it an unjust justification of failure. An excuse given is a failure tolerated and so excuses should be avoided at all cost.

The both categories are not good responses to failure. But somehow, I believe the latter is worse because it places you in a fool’s paradise where deceit is forcefully and foolishly accepted as reality. And many people especially in the school I come from like to take this option.

I finished from Obafemi Awolowo University which is arguably the best university in Nigeria and one of the best in Africa. We are notoriously known for being tough and difficult and we boast of having the best human products to show for it. The curriculum there is tough and so not too many people finish with first class honours. It is in fact believed that employers rate a second class lower honour from OAU higher than a second class upper from most other schools in the country. These facts and many more is what forms the basis why many students who don’t perform too well in my school console themselves with the idea that they would have struck better academic fortunes in some other schools.

I don’t believe this is always true and I would prove that with the knowledge from a concept in the field of marketing called the structure-conduct-performance-paradigm.

Well, it has been a proven fact that a first class student from OAU would most likely repeat same fortune in any other school not just in Africa but in fact, any other school in the entire world and that a first class student from many other schools might have to struggle to clinch a first class or even second class upper honours in our school. But I am not in any way convinced that a 2:1 student in OAU will automatically translate to a 1st class student in any other school just as much as a 2:1 student in those other schools will not automatically translate to a 2:2 or 3rd class student here.

Let’s do a quick little lesson in marketing. Under the structure-conduct-performance-paradigm approach of understanding market situations, performance of the market is usually a function of conduct in the market; while conduct is a function of structure of the market. Therefore, invariably performance is a function of conduct and structure. Now let’s apply this to our foregoing discussion.

Your performance anywhere and at anything is a function of your conduct and attitudes in as much as it is a function of your abilities. It could be argued even further that performance at anything is more influenced by attitude and conduct rather than innate abilities. Like the saying goes, it is your attitude that determines your altitude in life. There are several tales of geniuses who never went far; men of great potentials that ended as non-entities in life…. There are also great stories of ordinary men who achieved extraordinary feats and natural men who achieved supernatural results. These stories are everywhere; in movies, books (I recommend Malcolm Gladwell’s outliers), in sitcoms, history literatures, the bible, etc. so we can say directly that performance is determined by conduct (or action); and also that attitude more than ability influences your conduct and actions.

In the same vein, attitudes and conducts are also a function of environment (except in extreme cases which we would look into later on). In the bible we are told that when King Saul got into the company of prophets, he also prophesied (1Sam10). This is a classical biblical example of what I’m trying to establish.

The implication of this is that, when we get to certain places, we tend to behave the way the people there behave, i.e. like the environment requires. This has been termed in some literature work as the ‘joneses effect’. The field of economics also has some stuff to say about this in its explanation of consumer behaviour. We are more likely to be influenced by external factors than internal ones especially when it comes to social behaviour.

Now to those second class students who like to make those lofty claims….the reason why you behave the way you behave and study the way you study so hard, is simply because you are in a relatively tougher school. If you were in a relatively less demanding school, you would most likely have behaved differently. And since performance is a product of conduct, your results might not have been any better.

The only time when your claim and boast could have been right is if and only if after being trained and conditioned in a more demanding environment (like maybe after you finish your first degree in the ‘tougher’ school), you move to the relatively less demanding school, you could then with the superior culture and conduct that your previous environment had accustomed you to, act superiorly and differently to produce different and superior performance.

The highly contemporary the message translation of the bible reads Roms12:2 as “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking ……” because it is just how we naturally tend to be. Humans are generally adapters and conformers and as such act like thermometers which respond to the temperature of its surrounding rather than being thermostats that dictate and regulate the temperature of its surrounding.

And so the bible in that same verse advised that “Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out”. This implies a subscription to God’s own culture, system and training. Only then can you act differently and as such produce outstanding results. Therefore, it is clear that if you with a higher culture move to a lesser environment, you would most likely perform better because you have being shaped by a different environment.

Without stretching things any further, a 2:1 student in Harvard I believe is not an automatic 1st class anywhere else because if you had been in any of those less rated schools from the start, you would have been like one of them. They are not all dunces and perhaps truly, schools like OAU in Nigeria can boast of having better brains than most other schools in the country, but the truth I believe remains that If some of those brains have been conditioned in the any of those other schools, because of that environment and its easiness, you might not have given any better or reached your deepest potentials and so you might not have performed any better.

Performance is a product of conduct and conduct is usually influenced by environment. The only time when environment or external influence doesn’t affect conduct is when there is a strong internal conviction, culture or force that is strong enough to wade off the external influence. (This doesn’t justify you’re the claims and excuses I have thus far tried to disproves because if indeed you have that strong internal strength in the first place, it would have made you a first class student even in the seemingly ‘tougher’ school).

SOAGA AFOLABI OLUSEGUN.