BE BETTER

Lets kick off this piece with one of my favorite wisdom from the scriptures.

Answer a fool not according to his folly, lest you be like him; answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.

I’d like to say two important things about handling offenses.

First, not every word spoken to you deserves a response. Not every action taken against you deserves a reaction. Sometimes, silence is the best answer. The bible tells us that when a fool keeps quiet on a matter, then he is considered wise. Wise men know when speech is silver and silence gold. As a rule of thumb for me, if your speech or response to a matter won’t improve your value or the other person’s value, its best you keep your opinion to yourself.Meek-Mill-Drake

Taking into perspective the book of proverbs, 26th chapter which was earlier quoted; one thing is clear, the only time a response is required for a fool is when the response will help set the fool straight. If you are replying just to defend yourself or to hurt the enemy, you’d be either wasting energy or worst still doing yourself harm as well. Of course there would be cases in which a response should be given especially when the claims in question could affect your reputation, but even then; the availability of an appropriate answer, that won’t reduce you to level of your offender, should be considered before you respond.

Picture this, imagine me, a guy dressed up in a white shirt as i am as at the writing of this piece, and then imagine another person walks up to me and starts screaming at the top of his voice at me saying “hey, woman!, woman in pink!!”. Then imagine he persists at this to a point that he commands the attention of people around.

It would be a waste of my energy to get into a war of words with him. If i do, i would have only certified myself a candidate of yaba-left just like him. I am obviously a man and i’m wearing a white shirt. Such shenanigan behaviour doesn’t require a reply.

Whatever i say shouldn’t be said with an intention to hurt him. An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. If he is saying what he is saying to hurt me and i decide to reply just to hurt him, proverbs 24 says we are both fools and I’m no better than he is. Before God and man, we are both guilty of the same thing.

So summary of point one is this, in essence, what should decide whether you answer a fool is your intention for answering. Am i answering to clear my reputation? or am i answering just to get on level terms? Do i even have to answer? To whom is my answer due? Will my answer add value to me or him or will it just keep as both in the gutter? All these questions i believe are the silent questions embeded in between those two seemingly conflicting statements of that verse of scripture in proverbs 26.

Secondly, it is best to resolve a conflict than to dissolve a relationship. Of course the terms of the relationship could change, you don’t have to be jolly good friends with everyone especially when they have proven beyond reasonable doubt that they are foolish; but Jesus did make it clear that as much as it depends on us, we should be at peace with ALL men.

There is no wisdom really in making enemies or increasing the number of people that hate you. Hatred has no good to offer anybody. And so even if you believe a man isn’t qualified to be your friend, you don’t have to make him an enemy.

What does this imply? Same thing brother! Just give a wise response to the query of a fool. Dont give a response that will stir up more resentment and strife. A soft answer, the bible admonishes, turns away wrath. This is key! There is no point adding fuel to a fire a person set just to prove a point. Two wrongs can never add up to a right.adr

So folks, dont be quick to give a response at any time. Be sure, infact, be very sure that your answer either in words or deed will add value to you or in the least keep you where you were before you gave it. But the way words are, they never leave us the same way. They are that powerful. Once a word is spoken, it can’t be taken back; and the damage or beauty it creates is seldom easily reversed.

Have a great life people; be better!

*yaba-left is a popular psychiatry centre in lagos

 

Afolabi Soaga

IWrite, ISpeak, IInspire!!!

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

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

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

every life needs the REFRESH button.

A very dear friend of mine called in recently to have a talk with me. ‘have you ever felt dissatisfied with yourself such that you feel that there are certain things you need to change about yourself  but then you don’t know what those things are nor how to change them?’ ‘Yes certainly’ I replied with a little bit of caution (because you can never really know how much the shoe pinches unless you are the one wearing it; even if you had worn that shoe before, you can only have a rough idea because our legs are shaped differently).refresh

It is my belief that most ‘serious minded’ people will have at some point or the other feel that way. The desire to live a meaningful life of purpose will sometimes cause us to feel dissatisfied with where we presently are and seek to improve on ourselves, achieve more than we are presently doing, and thereby maximize the potentials that we know that we have upon our lives.

Now this is a good way to feel because it will push you to improvement. It was the kind of feeling Apostle Paul talked about in the 3rd chapter of Philippians, verses 13 and 14. We can’t make progress so long as we are satisfied with where we are. We need this kind of ‘holy discontentment’ at times that will make us reach beyond our realm of convenience or comfort and convert our potentials into realities as we best ourselves.

The truth is this: we are never who we think we are; who we are we ought to become. Our best is always ahead of us and that best we need to dig within to reach. I tell folks sometimes that you don’t need to change who you are, you just need to be a better version of yourself. And we must see and feel the need for that change if we are to make that change.

Having said that, there is still more to be said on this issue. Just like my friend, at times this desire can become a problem. It becomes so when it becomes so consuming to a point that it takes away our peace and leaves us almost restless. At this point, the fire that is meant to refine has now turned devilish and is beginning to devour. now this one is not a good thing to feel. At this point, the desire rather than fueling our passion and strengthening our pursuit begins to drain our strength and overtime weaken our will. Rather than encouraging our faith and belief in ourselves, it begins to suggest fear to us and magnify our in-competences. Therefore we spend more time worrying and being disgruntled; the very same time we could have spent being creative and making progress. In other words, the desire begins to do a counter job of drawing us back rather than propelling us forward.

What do we then do?

Do we kill the desire and submit to being satisfied with where we are and who we are now (this by the way is the formula for mediocrity) or do we allow it to keep burning us until there is nothing left of us. While option A seems better as it is better to stagnate than regress which is the ultimate end of option B; there is however an option C.

While we are pushing and pressing towards what’s ahead, we need to learn to mix that with the ability to accept ourselves for who we are today and appreciate that level we are at. Yes we are not who or where we want to be, but look closely, we are not what or where we used to be. Somehow, slowly or rapidly, we are making progress. Although there is still much ahead, we can however also learn to appreciate and enjoy what we’ve got now and celebrate what we have achieved so far.

images

“Take a break pal and live life!”. While we are longing for tomorrow we must live today. And if a desire is not allowing us to do that, we then should consciously ignore it for a while and give ourselves a break. I am not saying you should abandon it; I’m saying you should ignore it and give yourself space to breathe. Spoil yourself a bit; indulge yourself and enjoy a little bit of life. You need that space!

Go to the movies, go skydiving, go swimming (if you can. Drowning won’t solve your problem. Lol), climb a mountain, go for a joyride, fill your phone with good music and spend time listening to them, go to the gallery and appreciate good art, take out time to laugh and release those wonderful endorphin hormones the doctors have been talking about. Do anything fun and just ‘care less’ about life and purpose a bit and celebrate what and who you are today. One of the principles of motivation is celebrating past success. Celebrating yesterday’s victory today can reinforce good performance tomorrow.

What you are doing by this is creating a relaxed atmosphere where you can release your inhibitions and allow your creativity to flow. Under the no-pressure condition, we can think better and see clearer. We can see the things that we need to change and also see how we need to change them.  It’s a retreat and in it you’d find ideas and lessons that will help you carve your path better into that future the burning desire is pushing you towards.

You should also use the break to strengthen your faith by saying simple prayers that requests God’s help and taking time to confess great things about your future. Something as simple as “God has great plans for me and he is working in me to fulfil them” (see Php23) will do. You need to also assure yourself of the father’s love and that will help you find rest and peace and at the same time strengthen your faith.

Now what I am suggesting won’t be easy. Fun is not supposed to be difficult to catch, but when you have a consuming desire to do something else; it would be hard to play. You’d feel like you are wasting time but then you should remind yourself that you are spending it not wasting it. The Yoruba’s have a saying that the retreating of the bull during a fight is not an act of weakness or cowardice, it is simply withdrawing to gather more momentum for a smashing hit that will knock down its opposition. So your decision to catch fun when you could have been working might look like you is regressing but no, you are gathering momentum and absorbing energy to make your quantum leap.images (1)

Remember, you need to know where you are going to get there. Zeal without clear knowledge could be destructive (see Roms 10); Zeal that steals away peace and rest is already catastrophic. So create an atmosphere where you can breathe and be at peace. Find that thing you enjoy doing and do it. Do what you love to so that you can do what you need to well. And all the while, never forget that it’s only a break, a retreat, so as to see things better, and gather momentum for a quantum leap and so at the right time, get back to working; to putting those lofty ideas the retreat must have given you to work…this time better because you are now refreshed.

You tomorrow is filled with great things. Today is the bridge that will take you there. If we burn that bridge, we’ll never get there. So live your life today and enjoy your journey into tomorrow. Leave no room for fear but rather create space for faith; let God’s love and peace garrison your heart and guide you into that delightsome future you’ve always dreamt about.

Love,

Soaga Afolabi Olusegun

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

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.