that stroke of luck

I am from a country in which a poor boy several years ago was christened Goodluck at his birth. Strange name right? Today, that boy serves as the president of our country. When he told us his story, he attributes part of his success today to that little stroke of luck. As a boy he had no shoes, as a man he rides a presidential jet. His name has truly been a prophecy for his life. Little wonder today we have had many more parents name their child Goodluck because they are also searching for that stroke of luck that would make all the difference in their life.

Of course, not all these children bearing that name today will be presidents tomorrow. Moreover, President Jonathan was not the only person to have been named Goodluck the year he was born. Where are the other Goodlucks today? You can’t really blame our people though; who doesn’t want to be the father of the president of the giant of Africa?

I’d be discussing luck today and I’ll take my observation from Hollywood stories to drive home a point. Let me start by painting the regular scenarios we find in movies.

The good-guy-bad-guy fight. This is usually reserved for the last part of the movie. Almost always, the bad guy is usually more than enough for the good guy. So he beats him up pretty bad such that the good guy is bleeding all over. Then at that instance that he is about to deal the good guy the last blow, the good guy manages to reach a gun that is left with just 1 bullet which was some time ago out of reach but now that he is about to die is now somehow near enough for his dramatic full arm stretch to reach. And so before the bad guy can finish him off, he gets the gun, shoots the bad guy dead and the good guy wins.

My next scenario is from the amazing spider man 2 movie released earlier this year; two planes were just about to collide into each other because electrode who is the bad guy here had tampered with the electricity in the city. The planes were flying blindly because they could not communicate with the control room at the airport and Just when they were about to collide, someone somewhere pushed a button just as someone else somewhere else connected some wires together and that led to the electricity being restored back in the city. If all that process had been delayed by a fraction of a second, the two planes would have ran into each other and spider-man would not have saved the day.

Or, you must have seen instances in action movies where several bad guys are shooting at just one good guy and then they all miss. The bullets would be seen to literarily touch everything else apart from the good guy and then with just 1 round of ammunition, the good guy kills all his enemies.

Then there is the common classic bad guy error in which he has the good guy cornered into a place and when he ought to just finish him off once and for all, he begins to tell a tale nobody is interested in #story4thegods. and while he is still explaining away his plans and un-gotten victory, the good guy gets some weapon somewhere and strikes him dead.

I could give countless of similar scenarios from Hollywood movies I’ve seen. The end is always similar. The good guy wins but then when you look at it closely, you can see that they always attribute his victory to some stroke of luck. I mean those bad guys might be wearing dark shades but they are certainly not all blind. If that is not luck, I wonder what it is.

Every action hero or movie star character has his or her own story of luck. Of how they were close to losing and then suddenly they won.

However, life funnily is very different from hollywood stories where there are always happy endings because not everyone always gets lucky. In real life, good guys die, planes crash, full sighted people don’t all miss their target at the same time, and bad guys don’t talk before shooting (they do it after the kill), people stay divorced, and some things you find kevin hart do won’t be seen as funny but rather stupid. Reason like I said before again is that not everyone gets lucky.

Luck I have come to see only finds those who needs it the least. There are plenty people who have been playing the lottery for years and have never stroked a jackpot even once. Even Hollywood tells such stories. People who hit luck in casinos were usually the un-expectant. It just happened when they weren’t counting on it.

So even though you can count on luck to save you if you were a character in an Hollywood movie, you can’t do so in real life. Mother luck is just so not dependable.

In real life, though not everyone gets lucky; but everyone gets an opportunity. A 1st century roman philosopher named Seneca remarked that luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparation. So what we should be on the lookout for is not luck itself but rather opportunity.

The way you look out for opportunities and make the most of them is to be prepared for them. George clason said that opportunity doesn’t waste time on the unprepared. Remember the story of the 10 virgins and the oil from the bible. The five that got picked were not just lucky. They were prepared for the opportunity of luck.

If you look more intently at even those scenarios I’ve even painted from the Hollywood stories, you’d still see some trace of interplay between opportunity and preparation. Someone did some hard work to get lucky. The truth is that a man who is not prepared for luck won’t even see it when an opportunity presents one to him.

In conclusion, let me just say for the record that I am also a kind of believer in luck. But like Thomas Jefferson observed, I also find that the harder i work, the more i have of it.

Soaga Afolabi Olusegun.

Advertisements

the blessing of a disability: a fable!

Everyone I’ve had to share this story with had a good laugh and also a great lesson to go home with. Today, I want you also to have a taste of it. Its source is not known but its morale is similar to what the bible teaches when it tells us in Rom8:28 that we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good(MSG).
The story starts with a powerful king of an ancient city and his faithful friend who seemed to have a quite disturbing problem. This friend that I’d today call tony for the sake of identification, had a problem of not being able to see anything bad in any situation. To every event and occurrence in his life, tony would always respond by saying “It is good; it is in fact very good”. This had always disturbed this powerful and sometimes irrational royal friend of tony, but he never paid any attention to it until one faithful day.
Tony on that day crossed the limit of his friend’s patience while they were on their usual hunting spree in the thick of the forest. A wild beast attacked the king and bit off his right thumb. The king struggled to deliver himself from the beast’s grip with little or no help from tony but had to settle with his thumb forever gone, and his blood spilling all over the place…. To his great displeasure, all tony responded with was his usual saying “my king and friend, this is good; it is in fact very very good”.
Not the kind of thing anyone would want to hear after losing a member of the part of his body, the king got a little infuriated rebuking his friend and his comment for as far as he was concerned, there is nothing good about losing one’s finger. But like I said, this is something Tony seemed unable to help. So he maintained his position. “This is good my king” he kept on saying.
By the time they got back to the city, the king had it full and was fed up with his very uncompassionate and unreasonable friend and so ordered him to be locked away in the dungeon till further notice. Anything to keep his friend’s constant ‘it-is-good’ nagging would be fine he thought especially when this friend has refused to be unrepentant about this.
And so many months passed, perhaps even years. Many waters passed under the bridge and the king had gotten used to being without his friend. Deep hunting was the king’s hobby and was ingrained in his character and so in the absence of his imprisoned friend, the king had to do it all by himself.
On one of those faithful days, the king encountered yet another misfortune. This time not with a wild beast, but rather with people of his own kind but who had a habit of eating people. We call them cannibals. The brave king could not fight himself out of this one and so he found himself in the cannibal’s tribe camp in front of this massive pot about to be cooked.
As they stripped him of his hunting costume and dressed him like a Christmas or thanksgiving chicken about to be launched into the cooking oven, one of them noticed that the king was thumb-less. The unfortunate day turned out to be fortunate for the king because it was an abomination for the people of that tribe to eat anything that was not whole or complete. To their greatest disappointment, they had to release the naked man to go. The king managed to cover his nakedness a bit and made his way back to his palace.
After such a dramatic near death experience, understandably, the next few days were ones of deep reflection for the king. As he settled back to his daily routine, the king remembered again his old friend whom he threw into prison. He remembered the circumstances that surrounded that and remembered his famous words that made him irrationally lock up his friend. He had now come to agree with his friend that losing his thumb that day was a good thing because that singular ‘lil-evil’ prevented him from the greater evil of losing his whole life.
With deep remorse, he asked that his friend be released from the prison for he had treated him unjustly. While the king was still contemplating in what manner he’d apologize and try to make it up to his old friend, tony sprang in once again shouting and screaming what has become his trade mark saying “it is good, it is very good”. Neither the sight nor demeanour he expected from his friend whom the king knew had by now heard of the story of how he was saved by his ‘prophecy’ years ago; tony whom the king expected to be angry and gloomy was bubbling with sincere joy and happiness. ‘My dear king, it is good!!!” he kept on saying.
“I can understand that you are happy that I’m alive and well and that is good. But it is certainly not good that I locked you up all this while for saying something that turned out to be true after a long time”. This time around, the king would demand an explanation from his friend.
Like someone who had thought well about the question while spending his lonely days in the dark dungeon where he had been locked up all these while as if he were expecting the question, tony responded with a spontaneous sporadic but yet sound answer.
“Well my king, it is good that you lost thumb that day because clearly it has saved your life this time. Also, it is also good you locked me up because that also has saved my life. If you hadn’t, it would have been both of us hunting that day….they would have captured us both. You are incomplete, I am not….they would have released you while me…….uhmmm, you know what would have happened to me!” then he added, “my king, it really is good……in fact, very, very good.”
The morale of this interesting story is this. There is always something good about everything that happens to us. In comming to terms with this truth, we’d learn to be more grateful and appreciative of the situations that life throws our way. Even when we can’t seem to see any good in those things in the present, we can believe this that good can and will come out of them in the future.
This helps us live life enthusiastically. Enthusiasm stems from the greek word entheous; which means God within. That’s the kind of force and spirit we need to live the God life here on earth and secure the God-kind of victoty over our adversities.
Let me leave you with what joseph said in Gen 50:20. “Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good, as you see all around you right now–life for many people.”
It’s possible that Joseph probably heard this fable too, or maybe it was tony that read the bible. But they both were able to see and focus on the silver lining in their dark skies and were both successful at the end. You too should. Have a blessed week!

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

AP: lincoln’s real secret to success.

Probably the greatest example of persistence is Abraham Lincoln. If you want to learn about somebody who didn’t quit, look no further. But is persistence the only lesson we can learn from one of the greatest presidents america has ever had? I don’t think so.

Here is a sketch of Lincoln’s road to the White House and underneath it is a brief comment on some other things I think we can learn from him.
1816: His family was forced out of their home. He had to work to support them.
1818: His mother died.
1831: Failed in business.
1832: Ran for state legislature – lost.
1832: Also lost his job – wanted to go to law school but couldn’t get in.
1833: Borrowed some money from a friend to begin a business and by the end of the year he was bankrupt. He spent the next 17 years of his life paying off this debt.
1834: Ran for state legislature again – won.
1838: Sought to become speaker of the state legislature – defeated.
1840: Sought to become elector – defeated.
1843: Ran for Congress – lost.
1846: Ran for Congress again – this time he won – went to Washington and did a good job.
1848: Ran for re-election to Congress – lost.
1849 Sought the job of land officer in his home state – rejected.
1854: Ran for Senate of the United States – lost.
1856: Sought the Vice-Presidential nomination at his party’s national convention – got less than 100 votes.
1858: Ran for U.S. Senate again – again he lost.
1860: Elected president of the United States.
 
Lincoln himself once said “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure” For a man who lived the life just narrated above, its clear he was speaking from experience and that he lived his own advice. I however believe that his discontent with failure not only moved him to try again, but also to learn, un-learn and re-learn certain things.

Ordinarily, we’ve been taught that persistent was the major tool he used in his life and somehow we have believed it was the only tool. But I discovered that persistence alone can’t achieve much. A wise man commented once that “it is foolishness to do the same thing the same way and expect a different result”. If you persistently do things the wrong way, you’ll consistently be wrong and you’d consistently fail.

I discovered that lincoln was a progressive learner. He learnt new strategies and increased in wisdom. And though he was persistent in his pursuits, he understood the importance of growth. He didn’t allow failure at one exam stop him from preparing for another. He kept on advancing and progressing, seeking greater things. Contesting for higher positions showed that he didn’t remain at one level of development as what is required to contest at stage 2 is always higher than that at stage 1.

We need opportunities for success; and opportunity comes to everyone. But opportunity alone is not enough, as opportunity without corresponding strength, ability and preparation would end up being a waste. Benjami disreali said that “the secret to success is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes”.

There is such a thing as active patience(AP). Its something we all have to learn. It is what makes persistence profitable. It means doing the required things while being persistent. It is taking the bull by the horn and not just waiting for life to swing luck your way. It is understanding that opportunity is attracted like a magnet to those actively positioned for it. This is what distinguished lincoln and what made him a success. Whether you fail or succeed, there is always something you need to do to maintain or repeat success. Success is never automatic.

So the message today is this: keep learning, growing, and improving. Acquire new strategies, there are times when winning strategies fail (for the first time). Don’t just relax and call it persistence. Great men who make impact and register themselves in life’s history books are always on the offensive. Lincoln was a learner; you should be too.

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.