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.

Footprints behind us

This is gradually becoming a ritual for me. Every year on my birthday, I like to share thoughts and ideas that have shaped me and are continuing to do so in the hope that someone who reads it can learn a thing or two on how to move their lives forward.

This year, my thoughts have been around the footprints we make and leave on the surface of the earth. These prints are our legacy. They are the things that the world would remember us for. They are also the things we will be defined by and it is important to pay attention to them.

When Alfred Nobel’s brother died, a local newspaper mistakenly published Albert’s obituary instead. That allowed Alfred the dread of coming face to face with his own obituary. He was confronted with what his legacy was but was also presented with an opportunity to change it.

From a man who was to be remembered as a merchant of death who became wealthy by finding ways to kill many people fast to one remembered as the creator of the prestigious Nobel Prize. Alfred Nobel rewrote his own history.

Two ready lessons from Alfred’s story are these. First, consciously or not, we are all leaving behind a legacy either good or bad. More interesting is that many of us are unaware about what type of legacy we are leaving behind. Second and perhaps more importantly is that it is never too late to decide what we would be remembered for. We can take conscious steps today and rewrite the stories that would be told of us.

I have found that our lives are really a sum total of the decisions we make. We are no better than our daily decisions and actions. The question then is- what informs our decisions?

I believe that a proven answer to that are the values you hold. These are the things that decide what decisions you go with and the ones you discard.  They are the unseen litmus test that validate the actions we take. We are just as good as our values. Therefore, to leave behind a great legacy, we must first live out great values.

Your values are things that you must continually do and think to become the person you have envisioned yourself to be. They have such a compelling influence over your actions that they practically define who you are. They are the things you stand for and they are the things that will keep you standing.

To leave behind a great legacy, we must first live out great values.

Note that your values don’t necessarily have to be ‘natural’ to you. Why this is important to know is that we are likely to fall into the danger of thinking about our values based on our past experience- on what we currently are, both good and bad. While that is helpful, it is also important to know that we can also be forward looking when thinking about our values. In other words, they are not necessarily what you’ve always been or done; but could rather be what you will start doing and being.

It is never too late to decide what we would be remembered for. We can take conscious steps today and rewrite the stories that would be told of us.

So you see, leaving a conscious and deliberate legacy starts with identifying and committing to a set of values that align with that legacy. By committing, I mean that you take ownership of those values and you start defining yourself by them. This might require that you recite it over and over again until it becomes internalized like a software that runs your life.

You don’t have to pick every good trait you can remember, you could just pick a few that you can really commit to, and that also best align with your vision and goals. If you work well at those few values, you’d be greatly amazed at how such singular action can transform your life.

My own identified values are Growth, Love, Faith, Patriotism, Humility, Generosity and Service. What are yours?

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!!!

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

Auto Pilot: how to crash a life.

I once saw a funny picture captioned- ‘dear lord, can you please borrow me 5 million Naira from my wealth in the future ‘cos i kinda have some things to sort out right now’. If i didn’t know better, that would have been my kinda prayer today.

Have you ever wished just like me that you have a remote control in your hands that could just fast forward your life 5 years into the future, into that time when you have that beautiful wife, and drive that expensive car, and live in that elegant mansion, and into when you are signatory to that robust bank account and have that good life of your dreams. Sometimes i wish i could just cut through the bullshit of the present time and live the reality of my dreams and i bet we all do.

A thought line of this nature i believe led to the production of the 2006 hit movie ‘click’. The producers of the movie clearly played out the fantasy of a lot of us and like they showed in the movie, this kind of idea is quite lofty as it is also costly.click-50eae812b84e8

Here is what i mean.

In the movie, Michael Newman played by Adam Sandler was fortunate to meet an eccentric inventor who gave him a universal remote that allows him to control time. With that remote, Michael could pause, Play in slow motion or fast forward time. It looked like the perfect solution to his life problems as he could easily skip the boring moments of his existence and move into the exciting periods of his future.

There was one problem as he soon found. Skipping time meant he had to operate on auto pilot and that was costly. Let me tell you a bit about auto pilot and airplanes.  I might have not flown in a plane before, but I know quite a few things about airplanes. One of such is auto-piloting. I can credit this knowledge to movies like snake on a plane, passenger 57, soul plane, Airforce one, etc.

The Auto-pilot is a device for controlling an aircraft or other vehicle without constant human intervention. From what I’ve noticed in movies, it is basically used most often to relieve the pilot during routine cruising. It  maintains an aircraft in straight and level flight.  Since we are not engineers or aspiring pilots, we basically don’t need to know more than that. So how does this apply to life and Michael’s story?

Airplane-1300x724Lets take our lives to be airplanes that we are pilots of. Auto-piloting refers to when you are in a hands-off mode with regards the direction of your life. You are just auto-cruising and taking life as it comes. You are not putting much thought or efforts to the way you do things or respond to situations. You are not being innovative about your challenges and aspirations and you are just relying on your reserve abilities and tendencies to get through life. You are not proactive about the happenings in your life, you have become a master of the sentence ‘any how God wills it’. You are not creating the future you desire and could have but rather you are settling for a future that would be if all things remain equal. Sadly, all things are never equal. Your response to everything that happens in your life is “God wanted it that way”. When you are retired to fate in this manner, then you are on autopilot!

Auto pilot is quite fun and easy. No efforts required. Just a button and then you can go to sleep. With it you get to enjoy the luxury of selective participation.

But it is hella dangerous.

No good pilot dares switch to autopilot in the face of a storm. That’s a guaranteed suicide mission. You need all hands on deck when the slightest of storms show face. And here is the thing, life’s cruise is never without storms and challenges.

Everyday has its own challenge, every success its own joy, and every failure and pain with its lesson and wisdom. And to get the best of every passing moment of your life, you have to live through them. There is just no room for autopiloting in real life unless you want to crash.

You have to be observant, learning everything you can from every challenge faced whether you succeeded at it or failed. You have to be proactive to decide what course your life flies towards. There would be avoidable storms but only when you are on manual pilot can you avoid them or maneuver your way out of them.

The truth is that if there really is a remote that could fast forward time and you use it; you wont find yourself where you’d love to be. The future you’d find yourself wont be the one you dreamed of before using that remote. I have found that the best way to live your dreams is to create it and that can only be done through active participation in the process of you life.

I once told my younger brother something wise and i believe is quite applicable here…that the only change that occurs with time is decay. For growth and beauty, right effort must be combined with time.

In conclusion, be proactive about your life. Put thought and effort into your decisions and actions, understand the usefulness of every moment of your life and of every circumstance you find yourself in and with courage and determination, stride your way out of every storm life throws at you and come out on top like an eagle that you are.

Amour,

Afolabi Soaga

Two classes of people.

The other afternoon I was all by myself in my big little world and in front of me was this huge audience comprising people of all age, race, class and sizes. This is what I said to them.

There are certain things I want you all to know today. Very important things I should add. People go all around not knowing who they are or what they are worth. And so they end up living life as it is rather than how it ought to be. They play with the cards they are dealt without knowing that they could be served better ones. They settle for less when they could be having much more.

Today is correction day! If you fall into this category of people, do not be dismayed b’cos that is changing today. If you’ve ever felt bad about yourself or felt like life is not worth it or that you are not worth it. If you’ve ever felt like throwing in the towel, giving up or thought death to be better than life….then this is for you.

Let me show you who you are.

You are not a biological mistake or the worthless product of a failed abortion. You are not a mere offspring of a rape incident, one night stand, or someone’s uncontrolled lust and passion. You are way more than that.

You are created by a God of love. You are his investment in this world. A gift from him to mankind. You are a masterpiece. Carefully and thoughtfully put together. Another wonder of the world. And you are loved by him and priced far above iphones, Ferraris, private jets, and exotic vacations.

You are not just God’s investment, God also invested in you- talents, abilities, gifts, beauty, life, a mind with imagination, a spirit with resilience, a smile that inspires hope in you and others. He also invested in you people and quality relationships, and very importantly Dreams! You are a man/woman loaded and filled with substance. You have worth and value beyond what you can ever imagine. More still, you have all it takes to be all God has made you to be.

You are not just 1 of the 7 billion people in the world; you are 1 in 7 billion- Special, divine, unique and one-of-a-kind.

But I hear you say ‘I’m not fabulous’; I’m not fantastic and do not have greatness in me. Note this….we are not who we are, who we are, we ought to become. Man was not made a finality but rather a possibility. You can decide to be better than your present state……you can best your life!

That same creator that formed you also created the sun in all its efficiency, the stars in all their beauty, the moon in its tranquil, the ocean in its massiveness, the fishes and the birds and the entire universe and all its simple complexities. And so just like them, you are efficient, beautiful, and yes you are a BIG DEAL.

Hear this….

He also made the seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years and the whole of time. He is creator of time and seasons and though he is not in it, he made them all. And all the things he made he did for a purpose for he is a producer with intent.

He made you; he made them, and made all things for a reason. the question then is, what is that reason? this is the question many people seek answers to but not many people find. so today we have 2 types of people- those who know what purpose is about  but not what it is (purpose seekers), and those who know what it is and are living it (purpose doers). the difference between them is questions they seek answers to.

A lot of people chase after purpose all their days when those days ought to be spent living that purpose.

But you won’t be a part of that crowd anymore because now you know what purpose is. you know that purpose is a question of:

  • What are the things that I have at hand?
  • What is the best use of these things?
  • How can I profit with them and how can they profit other people?
  • What is the best use of my time NOW?

The answers to these questions are what you should find out. Find them out and let them be your daily guide.Let them decide what you pursue and how you spend your time. Its time you quit the race of people who are searching endlessly for the reason for their existence…people who in the quest to find a life for themselves have stopped living the life they have only to merely exist. Purpose isn’t something you merely ought to know, its something you should be constantly aware of; it is not something that will happen, but something that is happening.

I’m challenging you to live life, unleash potentials, and make impact every day, anywhere and in anyway. Each day has a purpose it ought to fulfil. If you can help each day of your life find its purpose…..then you would have fulfilled the purpose of your life.

Soaga Afolabi