WHO ARE THEY???

Fela Durotoye (FD), nation builder, leadership expert and CEO Gemstone group, shared an interesting story with me during our time together recently. The story was about “they” and the lesson in it was quite remarkable.

Who or what are ‘they’ you may ask? You just read on a little further and find out!

One time, he had arrived at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos; and the place was really hot. He moved close to one of the air conditioning systems and realized that the temperature was set at an inappropriate 30 degrees.

FD recalled that he drew the attention of an airport official to this issue, saying: “Sir, this place is hot because the temperature is set at 30 degrees. If you press this button right here to reduce the temperature to about 16 degrees, this whole place will become more conducive for everyone”

The official however responded in our conventional pidgin English saying; “Oga, that is how ‘they’ set am”. FD wondered who the ‘they’ in question were, just the way you wondered when you started reading this piece.

I mean, if anyone was in a position to do something about the temperature inside the airport on that faithful day, the airport official was one such person and here he was practically refusing to do so because of some ‘they’ somewhere that no one knows about.

FD then went on to adjust the settings of the AC by himself. While he was at it, the official kept saying that ‘Oga, if it spoil, they go hold you o”.  Once again FD wondered to himself: “Who are they? Where are they? Why should ‘they’ stop you from doing what you ought to do?”

Most of us are like that airport official. There are certain things we have decided not to do anything about, not because we cannot, but because we are too concerned, we bother ourselves too much about “what ‘they’ would think, say, do, or how ‘they’ would react”.

You might wonder, “If I quit my job, ‘they’ would say I’m crazy?” “If I leave this abusive relationship, ‘they’ would think I cannot suffer long” “If I start my business, ‘they’ will not patronize me”. “If I forgive, ‘they’ would probably do it again”.

Now I ask you, who are ‘they’?

FD adjusted the AC that day and ‘they’ never showed up. ‘They’ didn’t show up because let me shock you; ‘they’ don’t even exist! Even if they do exist, they are never as powerful as we make them to be in our minds.

If there is something that needs to be done, go ahead and do it! Regardless of what others may do or think. For all we know, They are not real! They are not powerful enough to stop you!! You are the one stopping yourself. Only YOU can stop YOU!

This is to challenge you to just do it like Nike. (If you just pronounced that as Nike, the girl that sells Indomie down your street; please know that I am praying for you. LOL). But really, you need to rise above whatever is holding you back, above those things playing around in your heads.

You are powerful enough to make that change happen!

Go for greatness!

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

Dont Let a Crisis go to Waste!!!

Crises are very important. As much as we don’t like them, we honestly owe many of the progress we’ve made as a people to it. The greatest things have happened when things got messed up. Necessity is reputed as the mother of creation and crisis I believe is the mother of necessity. A crisis reveals in clear terms that something needs to be done and that certain things need to change.

It is obvious that Nigeria and the world at large are in a crisis state. Economies are heading for recession, the climate keeps surprising us by making certain things we only imagined in Sci-fi movies our daily realities, terrorism is on a record high, and things are just not ideal as we’d have loved them to.

So what do we do with all these crises we have at hand? What do you do with the punches that life is dealing you? Do you just do so well to dodge as many as you can and hence survive; or do you learn from these crises and confront them and hence thrive?

Crises are no doubt opportunities in disguise. Though its good to pray for opportunities, but not this kind. They rarely respond to your wishes and prayers. They don’t need an invitation from you. They have their own agenda that they are running and sooner or later, it will be your own turn. They are like summer and winter; your opinion is almost irrelevant to them. You can curse, nag, complain, be bitter etc. but you’d still have to live with them.

What you can and should do really is PREPARE for them. If we save in the days of plenty, we won’t lack in the days of famine.

In confronting a crisis, there are 3 things that are needful.

The first is to change something; one of the worse things you could do is to try to act in denial by refusing to change when confronted by a crisis. What crises do is that they change things around you and when things around you change, you also have to change. Change requires change. In the face of a crisis you should ask yourself the big question-what do I need to change about myself? That’s where the solution starts from! Do I need to spend less, save more, work extra, change environment, beef up security, form new alliances, break off certain relationships, form new habits, play less, pray more, etc. What do I need to do differently? If you try to do it business as usual, you’d end up worse off. Those who insist on the status quo when change arrives will find themselves on the wrong page of history.

Change requires change

The second is to develop tough skin. Crises are like seasons, they come and go. So eventually, it will pass away but only if you hang on will you not pass with it. When the going gets tough, only the tough gets going. In tough times, you have to develop tough skin. You shouldn’t back down or break down at every sight of discomfort or challenge. You have to be resilient and tenacious. You have to engage active patience; a patience that doesn’t just wait for dawn to come but that fights darkness while it awaits a new day.

The third is to stay hopeful; Do not let the candle of your hope burnout. Always keep hope alive. When a cup is broken, it will struggle to hold water. At that point, It differs not from a basket. You are not a basket and you can avoid becoming one by keeping the bond of hope alive. Against hope, keep hoping. Believe that better days are ahead. Find that silver lining in your stormy days and hold on to it till it dispels the clouds and brings you the rain of abundance that you desire.

Believe that better days are ahead

A crisis is indeed a veritable tool of progress for those who can handle it. A crisis is raw material for greatness. Never let it waste, make the most of it!

Afolabi Soaga

Increasing your influence Level 2

So we have identified leadership as Nigeria’s big problem; and we’ve identified influence as the surest route to it. This post is a continuation of the last post and Its about 4 things that will get people to like you and thereby grow your influence over them. Please read the last post here

Being liked isn’t gotten on a silver platter too; it has to be worked for. Here are the big 4:

  1. Excellence: John Gardner is noted to have said that excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well. It will win you hearts. From the way you walk, talk, dress, smell and live your life, try to always put out a personal best. Consistency is important. Don’t be great today, and shabby tomorrow. But if you wont be great everyday, try to be it today. But then, I like to say that everyday is showtime. Put up a good show!
  2. Like people: The golden rule cuts across virtually every principle. So if you want to be liked, then care for others as well and show it. Actions they say speak louder than words. One of the ways you can really show that you are interested in people is to use personal data. It works like magic. Call people by their names and they’ll like you. Its not easy to remember people’s names….so it shows that you put effort into it. People recognize and appreciate such efforts.

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    Photo credit: Google
  3. Be a Master-Communicator: Communication is a 2 way street too. It should flow in both directions. You’ve heard it being said that God gave us 2 ears and 1 mouth so that we can listen more and talk less. True. But you see, you have to do both. Be a listener; lend people your ears and they’ll lend you their hearts. Good deal if you ask me. But you’ve also got to speak and use words well. One of the best ways to use words is to affirm people. Say good things to them and about them. Dale Carnegie says being hearty in approbation but lavish in praise will win you friends and influence.
  4. Be Nice: Tracy chapman identified 5 love languages people speak. Most of them have to do with you being nice. From doing kind acts, to giving gifts, or saying nice words. Most people respond well to these little things. They are the little things that mean so much to people and doing them will endear you to their hearts.

everyday is showtime. Put up a good show!

So in conclusion, influence isn’t so difficult to have. People who love and respect you will respond to you. Also, you don’t have to sacrifice respect for likability…they are not mutually exclusive. Have fun, be nice, be good, be Great!

Afolabi Soaga

Increasing your influence Level

What is Africa’s biggest problem? If you are thinking its poverty you are wrong. What is Nigeria’s biggest problem? If you are thinking its corruption, once again you are very wrong. You see most of those stuffs you might be thinking about are not the real problems we have. They are products of it. And like someone said, if you don’t like the mangoes a mango tree in your yard is producing, rather than pluck off all the mangoes, get rid of the tree.

Quite frankly, Africa has a leadership problem. Unlucky the land whose king is a young pup – Eccl 10:16 (MSG). In other words, poor leadership often leads to calamitous consequences for a nation or people.

ERFA-Logo-no-backgroundWe often debate why the youths today aren’t allowed to take active part in governance in this part of the world. Fixed in this article is a picture of former Nigerian head of state, General Yakubu Gowon exchanging a handshake with young Justin Trudeau in the 70’s. Today Justin is Canada’s Prime minister.  But from the picture, Gowon was quite young then; but his fellows from that generation have remained in power because we have a cultural problem that attaches more importance to positions and titles than to leadership via influence. This is proved in the recent drama that happened in the Nigerian Soccer team. See my post about it here

we have a cultural problem that attaches more importance to positions and titles than to real leadership

So moving forward, how do we change this? Starting with you and I, we need to start modeling the LWT principle. To do that, we need to build influence.

There are two broad routes to building influence. The first is respect and the other is likability. Which of the two is more important? Perhaps none. The good news is that, unlike what many people may want you to think, you don’t have to substitute one for the other. You don’t have to sacrifice being liked for respect and vice versa.

Neither is gotten on a platter of gold. You’ve got to earn being respected and being liked.

4 ways of earning respect and building influence thereby are

  1. Respect others: Respect is reciprocal. This is so true. Some call it the yellow rule of life. Respect is like a two way street, it usually flows in both direction. So wherever it seems like respect is lacking, you open up a way for it by generously giving it to others and it will make sure it finds its way back to you. So have good manners, say thank you, don’t use curse words, value people’s personalities, choices and opinions.

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    photo credit: Google
  2. Respect yourself: Quite honestly, people won’t treat you any better than you treat yourself. Likewise, you are not capable of treating people any better than you treat yourself. So before you can truly respect others, you’ve got to have some respect for yourself. So value yourself; celebrate yourself. Funny thing is that self-respect isn’t earned, it is deserved. Also, it is a choice. choose it because you deserve to be respected.
  3. Exhibit Integrity: Integrity is a social capital. Basically it means you being true to your words; being somebody people can vouch for. This isn’t so hard to be. Its as simple as not promising what you can’t deliver and you delivering whatever you promise. If that is hard, then don’t make promises. Simple!
  4. Achieve Greatness: This is key. Once you are a person people can identify with success, they won’t find it hard to pay you respect. The point is, for every success you achieve, every victory you get, every breakthrough you make, you earn the right to people’s respect. They owe it to you and in most cases, they wont be able to help but respect you. The only other option they have is to hate and that will age them faster. That’s a greater loss than paying respect to who it is due.
self-respect isn’t earned, it is deserved. Also, it is a choice. choose it because you deserve to be respected.

So in this link you’d find the other part to this post. They are 4 things that will get you to be liked and thereby build influence. I hope you find time to read it too.

Be great

Afolabi Soaga

Oliseh, Enyeama and Captainship

The recent drama that ensued between the new Nigerian soccer team head coach, Sunday Oliseh, and the ex-captain of the team, Vincent Enyeama, who also announced his retirement afterwards, is nothing short of epic as far as I’m concerned. One can create a multiple award winning movie out of it but then, I’d just stick to making this article around it.

To Summarize the whole story from at least one party’s point of view, the new coach wanted a new team captain because he believes that’s what works best for him. The then present captain, who also is the most experienced and capped member of the team didn’t like the idea. He wanted to remain captain. Conflict arose and someone had to leave the team for the other to remain. end of story

One can understand the ex-captain’s position a little bit. Being stripped off the captain band after committing no offense could be a little hard to deal with. Nevertheless, its no reason to cause drama or react aggressively.

It all boils down to one thing. Misplaced values.OLISEH-ENYEAMA

Here is what I mean.  There is a philosophy called the LWT. LWT stands for Lead Without a Title. The center idea around this philosophy is that you don’t need a title or a position to lead a group of people.  That means you can lead from wherever level or position you are in any unit od society you find yourself.

To do this however, one would have to have influence. Influence is the ability to sway a person or group of person’s thoughts, beliefs, and actions towards achieving a goal. According to Leadership expert John C Maxwell, Leadership is influence (and consequently, influence is leadership).

There are two routes to ‘affecting’ people’s decision and actions. One is through authority/position/title. The other is through influence and charisma. Our society today places more value on the former than the later. That’s why we have people jostling hard and doing everything possible to get into positions without realizing that in leadership, authority without influence will fail, while influence without authority will succeed; The reason why the same old people who have led our country in the yesteryears are still the same people running for political positions today. Its because we think that there can be no leadership without a title. We think that we lose leadership and relevance once we lose position. This is false.

In leadership, authority without influence will fail, while influence without authority will succeed

They say musicians don’t retire; they only stop singing when there is no more music in them. By reason of being an ex-captain, and the team’s most capped player; I have no doubt about the fact that Enyeama had a level of influence in that soccer team that he could have leveraged on. But because he valued the position than his influence, he felt he just had to hold on to it. That of course has caused him an early retirement despite he still having a lot of music in him.

We must learn to have our values in order and give more importance to what is more important. Young men and women should not necessarily kill themselves over positions and titles which will not always go round, when they can spend that time and effort building influence. Influence can fetch you more authority and positions than positions can fetch you influence. Often time, other people decide what positions we are picked for, but no one can place a limit to what extent of influence you can build and have.

Influence can fetch you more authority and positions than positions can fetch you influence

Be Great!

Afolabi Soaga

PS: You can learn all about the LWT principle from robin sharma’s book -“the leader without a title”

Image Source: Google

DOLLARS INFLUENCER

Today, we’ll be discussing leadership and money and the often neglected relationship between both. There are 2 sides to my story today which I’ve titled beneath as part1 and part2. . So let’s begin.
Leadership could be defined as influence. That is an ability to affect and coordinate a person(s) action towards a specific goal.
In Ecc10:19, the bible says that Money answers all things . I could paraphrase that verse by saying Many things respond to money; especially people. And since leadership is basically about people, it also responds directly and indirectly to money.
World famous leader and apostle Paul said “I’d spend and be spent for you”(2cor12:15). In that single statement, he categorically shows us that his exemplary leadership was never without cost….both physical and also financial.

PART1
From my little experience in life, I have observed that people are generally influenced by wealthy people. Willingly, we love to do whatever they tell us. More so when they spend that money on us, we are more often than not automatically compelled to do whatever they say.
Does this make leadership/influence the exclusive reserve of rich folks? No. You don’t have to be rich to be a leader; but if you are a rich leader, the better your chances of being a great leader.
Nevertheless, Little things such as buying petty gifts, paying someone’s bus fare, buying someone lunch or even a simple text message on their birthday could go a long way and you don’t have to be a billionaire to afford any of these. Any time I see an opportunity to do any of these, I see yet another chance to score more influence points and enhance my ‘hold’ on that person.
Let me share this basic truth with you. To whom much is given,much is also expected; to whom lil’ is given, lil’ is also expected. Bottom line is that when something is given, something is usually expected(Luk12:38). Consciously and unconsciously people know this and respond to this principle. So when you touch their heart (which money always somehow do) they’ll give you their hand and follow you better.(Prov18:16)

PART2
With great power comes great responsibility. Apart from the fact that you might need to spend on the people; many people in fact afford to waive this aside. This other part is however quite indispensable. you must spend money to improve yourself and equip yourself in leadership. The world is changing fast and new trends and systems are coming up everyday. A 7 star leader knows that he has to keep up with that pace and level of information or risk being left behind on the wrong side of history.
This is something I’ve seen that applies everywhere. Even in my short experience in church leadership.
My pastor then you to say quite jokingly though, that Salvation may be free, but study bibles, workshops and literature seldom are. Proper training usually demands some tuition paid formally or informally, directly or indirectly; you just have to spend that money!
It is however important that I mention here as I conclude that all I have written so far isn’t to suggest that money can buy you authority, but it is however designed to make you see how it could enhance your grip on your followers and boost your level of influence over them.
So it is not a recommendation on how you can get into positions but rather on what you can do if you are already in a position.
Money can buy you influence. We may claim not to love it, but we all have need of it and so we like it. By principle of sensational transference which I learnt from malcolm gladwell’s book-blink, that likabilty factor we have towards money we tend to transfer also to their owners especially when they share the money with us. Money is definitely not all you need to be successful in leadership, but with it, you can achieve much as a leader!

Soaga afolabi olusegun
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