Draw your lines!

What makes a man fulfilled?

Towards the end of his life, Apostle Paul made an incredible statement not many people are able to make in their lifetime. He said “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (2Tim4:7). That’s an example of a man who was fulfilled with the life he lived during his active years on this planet.

So the question is- how do we get to that fulfilling point where it’s no longer scary to face death? Where we can really say that we have done all that needs to be done and we have become all we were created to be? How do we get to that place where it is certain that the world has nothing else to offer us and we also have nothing left to offer the world? How do we find fulfilment?

In my opinion, fulfilment is all about pursuits. Life is like a standard 400m metre Olympic race course. We all are in this race not necessarily against other people; sometimes it’s just a race between your realities, potentials, and opposing possibilities; a race against life itself. (Your reality is where you are now, your possibilities is what you can become; good or bad, depending on how well you run the race; or if you choose not to even run at all. See next paragraph)

In life, its either you are chasing something or something would be chasing you. A man who is not in pursuit of success will have failure catch up with him. A man who is not interested in greatness only needs to look at his back to see mediocrity trying to catch up with him; a man who is not in pursuit of abundant prosperity would have to rub shoulders with poverty. That’s just how life is designed. There is no point questioning it, its best you just get to running your own race.

But you see, there is a way to go about our pursuits; there is a way to run your race.

2 Tim2:5 puts it this way: “Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules”. From this verse of scripture, we can refer to the prize as fulfilment. Thus, there is a right way to find success, greatness, prosperity and fulfilment and there is also an incorrect route to reaching the end. Thirdly, there is also a way that guarantees that you don’t finish the race at all.

Here is what I mean.

Life is like a complex system of greed, need, contentment, and ambition. One has to draw his lines between greed and need; contentment and ambition. It is how well that line is drawn that decides if a man will end up being fulfilled or not.

I will not go into definition of terms but take a look at this.

Our goals/targets/dreams can fall into needs or ‘greeds’. Greed will help you reach targets and goals but it will take you through the wrong routes. It will push you to a world of envy, jealousy, crime, hatred, loneliness etc. Our goals are genuine needs and our dreams are indeed valid. There is absolutely nothing wrong in going after them. But however important, is the way we go about them.

Does achieving your goals come at the expense of other people? Does the pursuit of your dream take away your peace and rest? Does the success and progress of people around you bother you to a point of envy and jealousy? Do the things that make you happy come at the price of the things that make you sad? If your answers are yes, then your goals have turned into greed and not needs.

 

Greed can never be met. Or better said, a goal greedily met can never bring fulfilment. Rather, it will create a bigger hole within your heart longing for more of that thing or anything else. The accomplishment of one greed will ultimately lead to the desire for another.

It is important to say that people tend to move faster at times when they are greedy. It will look as if they are doing better than others because they are cutting corners and using illegal shortcuts ….but it’s eventually always too costly. Usually more than they can afford.

However, when our goals and desires remain harmless needs; needs we are only interested in getting through appropriate and decent means, then we can reach them and also have with them fulfilment that can’t be taken away from us. Real joy and happiness comes when we get the right things the right way. But you see, the only way your goals will remain at the level of need and not greed is when you have contentment in your heart.

Contentment is all about being satisfied with what you have and where you are. It takes recognition of how far you have come and an inner assurance of how far you’d still go to remain contented with where you are or what you have.

The mark of contentment is gratitude. A man who’s grateful is content. He knows that grace has brought him thus far and that grace will take him further. It is a virtue that is built also on the foundations of patience and faith.

A thin line exists between contentment and mediocre satisfaction of easy comfort (which is also known as a lack of ambition). The feelings are similar.  Both send signals of fulfilment down your spine. But the thing is, when that feeling is not connected to the foundations of gratitude, patience and faith which we talked about, then you should recognize that you have left the realm of contentment and are entered into that of mediocrity and lack of ambition.

In other words, if you are a satisfied grumbler and complainer, or a satisfied risk averse and fearful person, then you are not a content man; you only simply lack ambition.

That’s how to never find true fulfilment because you’d never reach all that you were created to reach or become all you were created to be. You’ll only be basking in pseudo-fulfilment which is nothing compared to true fulfilment. We need that holy dissatisfaction like Apostle Paul had in Philippians 3:13-14 where he said:  “ I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,  I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us”.

That kind of dissatisfaction that is not based on greed but rather that is equipped by faith and a sense of responsibility towards all we are created to be; will push you out of your comfort zone of mediocrity and make you reach out to the good possibilities that still lies ahead. Don’t forget, this dissatisfaction is to be co-habited with true contentment.

In conclusion,

Life can be likened to a race; there is a starting line and a finishing line. We can find fulfilment at the end of the road, but we can also enjoy the journey to that place. Holy dissatisfaction or ambition is what will keep you in pursuit and guarantee that you finish the course, on your heels reaching for what is achievable, but contentment will keep you happy all the way and make sure that you strive lawfully to gain the prize. (see 2Tim2:5)

All these things are interwoven: Greed, goals, needs, contentment, fulfillment, dissatisfaction, ambition, mediocrity etc.  The wisdom to blend it all together neatly, putting everything in its place and drawing the lines where they need to be drawn is what separates the men who become fulfilled and those who don’t.

It is my prayer that you find the wisdom to draw your own lines, blend your juice neatly and enjoy the taste of fulfillment   that comes from it.

Ciaobusinessman-feeling-fulfilled

Soaga Afolabi

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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

my pursuit of perfection and the fear of counter-success. 1

Is the habitperfect and ideal life really an unattainable fantasy? Well I believe the answer to that would be based on our individual definitions of what the perfect life is.

To me, the perfect life isn’t the life without problems and challenges, but rather it is the life of a man who has learnt to overcome them when they come his way. Is it a life without flaws? I don’t think so. I believe it’s the life of a man who is consistently improving on himself and besting his life daily. In short the perfect life is not the one situated in a perfect world for such world remains evidently physically un-existent today, but rather it is the life of a man who is committed to being his best self daily.

By my definition, is the perfect life an attainable goal? Yes, most certainly. Not only is it attainable, it is a noble pursuit.

We live in an imperfect world and the imperfection of this world tends to rub itself on us from time to time. Nobody is born a thief, a murderer, a harlot, a liar, or a fraudster. People who become this were influenced at some point or the other. The negative influences from society and media makes it difficult for us to be our best self.10-habits

Change they say is inevitable. You can’t fight it; it will always occur. Wherever change isn’t found, death has found an abode. however, automatic change I have come to find, is never positive. The only change that ordinarily occurs with time is decay. So the best way to relate with change is to be proactive about it. As life is trying to rub all its imperfection on you, you should also be putting efforts to find your perfection back. There is no getting defensive about this by attempting to ‘avoid’ being corrupted by the world’s negative influences. That has never worked and it never will. The best form of defence is attack!

So just like clothes we wear, so also are norms and bad habits we pick up. The same way we can decide to change clothes, we can also decide to change habits. We can choose what we become just as we can choose what we wear. No character came with us from the womb, we picked them all up thereafter.habits

The pursuit of a good life is also a pursuit to meet needs; material and non material needs. Some of those needs are necessities while some others are luxuries. As you go about them, it’s important to ensure that we don’t allow society’s influence on us turn our needs to greed and like earlier said, this we need to be proactive about .

A wise man named Rajinikanth said ‘whether you have a maruti or a BMW, the road remains the same. Whether you travel economy class or business class, our destination doesn’t change. Whether you have a titan or a Rolex, the time is the same. Whether you have apple, Samsung or lava, people who call you remain the same.
There is nothing wrong in dreaming a luxurious life. What needs to be taken care of is to not let the need become greed because needs can always be met but greed can never be fulfilled’.

the concluding part of this would be posted soon. watch this space for it.

love ya dearly!_IL_OMOIKE George Osabuohien_NG__301641

the maximin approach to the start small theory

Ever had anyone advice you to always start small and then build whatever project or business you have into a big deal. Well I have… and for a long while even though I see sense in what they are saying, I have always struggled with settling with that in my mind. Some may call it greed, others ambition, all I can say is that I like big stuff, I have big dreams and I serve a big God too( and he does things big). So an advice to do anything small is usually a bit difficult for me to accept or settle for.
So today, I wanna do a little challenging of this ancient advice. I’m not really disputing its credibility because for as long as I know, many big things today started small; but then I want to take a more critical and analytical look at the theory so as to come to terms with what it really means. I’m gonna take a differing perspective looking at the same concept and draw up possible new (innovative and not necessarily inventive) meanings from it.
This is my take:
The idea behind the theory I believe is that there is and should always be room for improvement. What this implies is that things can grow and would grow; all things being equal, if given time. Therefore, size shouldn’t stop you from starting a business project or acting on your idea because when you launch out and do what you are supposed to do, in time it would grow.
The other idea behind this wisdom is to prevent people from procrastination. You should begin with what you have and from where you are. The need to have it big usually prevents people from starting and if you don’t start, how can one achieve anything or succeed?
Its 3rd emphasis I also belief is contentment. Ambition without contentment is what births greed. Ambition I would call a virtue but without any form of contest, greed is obviously a vice. So by starting small, it shows that while in pursuit of the big things ahead, one can be contented enough with whatever he has no matter how small and thus not despise the days of little beginnings. Contentment always holds great promises for us but greed sooner or later fails. Just like impatience, it may work for you at some point and earn you things, but one day, sooner or later, it will be the source of trouble, delay, and problems for you if you keep it at it.
Small is a relative term. You’d agree with me that what bill gates will call ‘chicken change’ is no chicken anything to most of us. So what qualifies a thing as small isn’t the thing itself but rather the person qualifying it. So if you are starting a business, your starting capital could be a million dollars or just a thousand naira….both could be small or big depending on who’s looking at it. Likewise when you are searching for your first employment; small could be a 6 digit salary or a humble 4 digit figure.
In the same vein, ‘big’ which is what small is supposed to grow into is very relative. So the guy who started ‘small’ by earning N150,000 could say in 5 years grow into earning N5,000,000(which we will now call big) while the other one who started with just N9500 could grow big and start earning N120000 in 5 years. They both started small and grew big but the terms small and big are relative.

And so I believe that starting small shouldn’t be an excuse to justify and glorify mediocrity or non-excellence like most people nowadays do. Under the cover of starting small they refuse to maximize opportunities and potentials. So they believe (or at least act as if they do) it has to be bad first before it gets better forgetting that the true trend and flow of things is good-better-best and not bad-better-okay. Like it is usually said, good is usually the enemy of best and we have seen people abandon the best to settle for just good just because they want to start small.
My question to you today is this. Who says your first job as to be a crappy one? Or that your first car must be a jalopy? Can’t your small be so good and yet still get better?
My submission basically is this: yes, it is good to start small and to always begin with what you have where you are; but while starting small, make sure you adopt what we call in risk assessment the MAXIMIN approach. i.e. go for the best among the least. Start small, but make sure it is your best small and not just any small. Since the goal is to eliminate procrastination, ensure you do just that. While seeking out your best-small; avoid or reduce procrastination to the bearest minimum and while eliminating procrastination, keep in mind the consequences of undue haste and so balance up your planning, targeting, and timing between undue haste and procrastination.
In all you do, never lose sight of the need of excellence. A famous movie I watched some yearsback had this to say about excellence- pursue after excellence and then real success will chase you all around. Shun mediocrity with all your heart. If you wanna dream, dream big, start the biggest you can. Aim for the moon because even if you miss it, you’ll land among the stars. Never settle for anything less than what you could have had or been
And regardless of where you start, keep striving to grow bigger and bigger because there is always room for growth. When we stop growing, we start dying. It is the nature of life to grow if the right conditions are available…so keep creating the right atmosphere and conditions for growth. When that is in place, growth is always automatic regardless of size and level.
Truth is, if 2 different people start the same business, with the same set of skills and management strategy; all other things kept equal, the person with better capital for instance, 10yrs down the line probably has a better chance at more success than the other guy. I believe it’s better to start from 100 than to start from 1. If you can start from 100, it is laziness and mediocrity to be satisfied with 1, but if all you have is 1 and if that’s truly the best you can do, then 1 is the golden number for you to begin from.
With this, I hope I’ve been able to convince and not confusr you about the start small theory. I hope to develop this into a mini e-book soon. You guys would be the first to hear if I do. Any questions or comments could be directed to me via the reply feature underneath. Also please endeavour to share this link with your other friends and colleagues. Thanks and God bless!
Soaga Afolabi Olusegun

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