Scars of War

I want to start by congratulating myself on finding such a dramatic title to this piece. Although it sounds like the title of a blockbuster Hollywood movie, this is far from fiction; this is everyday life; this is the story of my life.

Nod your head if you have never failed in life. If you didn’t just nod your head then please read on because you are exactly who I had in mind when putting this together.

My first year in the university was my most challenging one academically. I had the uncommon privilege of scoring all the grades possible in just my first semester. Once again, it felt like I was watching a movie every time I went to the result board those days. I told myself this just can’t be me. More annoying was that I scored an A in a 1 unit course while the F was in a 4 unit course; the way the grade system works, I would have just been better off with 2 Ds in both courses really.

After the first semester, I couldn’t just settle for the result. I am brilliant chap no doubt. My secondary school results were pretty good and I felt I deserved better. I spent some time attempting to contest the result but for the advice of concerned strangers who warned me against it. You have four more years in the university ahead of you, buckle up, do it again and you’d be just fine. I’m glad I took their advice

The real gist was an event that happened in my second year. I was placed in a position where I had to publicly declare what my CGPA was. Though I can’t remember why o was asked to, but I can’t also forget how miserable it made me feel.

This was church event and I couldn’t possibly lie.  I shared my poor 1.87 CGPA with everyone in attendance and that went down as one of the most embarrassing days of my life but also a very decisive one. Looking back, there are 2 quick lessons to pick

First is that one event that goes wrong in your life doesn’t define your life forever. Often I feel that all eyes are on me at all times and I know we all mostly do feel this way too. Note, this is 2pac and not scripture so it can’t be true. Even if it was true, after a while, people forget about your embarrassing moment because they have their own to remember and think about. So don’t go kill yourself over it. I still remember that day fondly but I doubt if many other people that were there that day do. And yet, as at then it felt like I had let the whole world in on my top secret at that time.

One event that goes wrong in your life doesn’t define your life forever

The second is the big idea of this article- if you don’t take responsibility for your failures; how on earth would you be responsible for turning things around.

I went on to graduate from that same school with a second upper division with every semester GPA surpassing the previous one back to back despite starting as a mere pass student. I believe that would not have been possible if I lived in denial all through my campus life.

If you don’t take responsibility for your failures; how on earth would you be responsible for turning things around.

The concept of failing forward is based on your ability to realize that failure is just an event as well as an opportunity to begin again more intelligently. If you have ever failed at a thing, you need to know that you didn’t fail, the thing did and if you can take responsibility for it then you also can rewrite your story and tell a testimony. Don’t play the blame game, don’t give excuses. Rather, own up, buckle up, and go at it again.

Failures are your scars of war. They show that you lost a battle. When handled properly, they can also become your mark of victory that will be proof that you won the war.

Selah,

Afolabi.

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In the face of Disappointments

Depressed Person

Everyone gets their own dose of it at some point in their existence on the earth. Disappointments in the story of our lives are like Snow fall in winter, you can bet on it. For some people it could be a failed examination, interview, business contract or relationship; or even the betrayal of friends and family; everyone of us at some point in life set our hearts on certain things and we just don’t get them while some others get certain things they never really wanted.

In a good number of cases, we don’t get what we want because we are not qualified for it or because someone else was more qualified than us. Relationships fail because people who were not ready for it delved into it. Interviews fail because people don’t prepare adequately and so goes the same for examinations.

Solution to this isn’t difficult to see. You don’t need to understand rocket science or see a prophet to know what to do here. If its qualification, get it. If its preparation, get it! If its timing, wait and be patient till you are ready. Whatever the case maybe, keep a positive attitude and try again more intelligently and appropriately.

But at times, the disappointments we face are entirely not our faults. There are times you felt that you’ve covered every possible angle and done all you can do and in all honestly feel you deserve the government contract or the A grade in that course but you still don’t get it. You’ve done your best and maybe didn’t even leave any ‘rest’ to God and yet still got disappointed. Such was my case in a recent project I embarked upon; uhm…..I did leave a ‘rest’ to God though 😀

The question then is, what do we do next after such?

Every disappointment poses a question to you. What are you gonna do next? You’ve got only 2 options. React or respond.

People that react either over react or under react. Hardly can anyone ever find balance when they are reacting because reaction is often outside your control. It is you taking action based solely on what occurred to you- in other words you become a thermometer whose results are influenced by external conditions. You are not in control, you are controlled and so you most likely act out-of-control. When the query is the right you also become right, but when its wrong like a disappointment then you become wrong too.

Responding to issues on the other hand is bringing things under control. It is you being a thermostat which regulates external conditions. It is you giving a reply based on the quality of yourself and not the disappointment of the stimuli. It’s is you being the influencer and not the influenced. You don’t just get to do what is normal or what you are expected to do; rather you do what is better, sometimes abnormal and most times extraordinary or what you ought to do.

See Proverbs 25:4-5. Don’t answer fools according to their folly, or you will become like them yourself. Answer fools according to their folly, or they will deem themselves wise.

Don’t the two statements sound contradictory to one another? Maybe not if you put sequence and scenario to it. The author there was saying that you shouldn’t hastily react to a fool’s utterance; you should respond to it. Hence, first it says don’t answer/react, then it says answer/respond.

Now lets talk about answering disappointments.

Its a mind thing. Disappointment troubles your mind. It tries to reconfigure your heart status. Hope took you on a high and reality is pulling you back…..managing the instability of this process is what dealing with disappointment is.

How do you win?

Stay hopeful by keeping your eyes on the bigger picture. Give substance to your hope by having faith and faith is a product of a belief in certain things like ‘all things are working together for your good’; ‘God loves you and wants the best for you’; ‘You are God’s investment in the world and his attention is on you as he is interested in every detail of your life’. He won’t let you fail.

He is able to do exceedingly and his plans are always better. And as he has begun a good work in your life, he is faithful to complete them. You didn’t come this far to lose.

When you shift focus from the disappointment of the hour to the bigger hopeful picture of life, then there becomes no challenge greater; no valley too deep and no mountain too big. We draw strength from our knowledge that the adversary has been defeated and so we are victors through God. And though a chapter of our lives may contain pain, suffering, and disappointment; we know that this book has a happy ending.

I’ll end on this note is stumbled upon once. It read “Sometimes when we don’t get what we want, it is because we are about to get better things”.

Soaga Afolabihopeful__always_by_sweetxxxgirlxxxjo-d4u7nxw

photo credit: Google

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

German mistake

While i was younger, my dad used to be a fan of the German national football team. They were called the German machines because of their efficiency on the pitch. They never tire, always relentless, full of energy.

I suppose that’s the nature of most things German. Unlike their Chinese counterparts that have a notorious reputation of not lasting long, German products tend to have the never-say-die nature and the cat-with-nine-lives mentality. It is in line with this that a nickname was coined for the Mercedes Benz 200 model produced in the 1980s. Back here in Nigeria, we call it the German mistake. THIS CAR NEVER SPOILS. It can burn, crash, fall into a ditch or whatever but it just doesn’t quit like my friend Ayo wrote. It is bad news to auto mechanics and car sellers because it hardly gets a fault and most people that buy it often see no reason to buy another; at least not for utility purpose.

The one my Dad bought years ago is still very alive in the city of Ibadan in the care of my meticulous uncle Lati. Although quite evidently, it can be seen that the car has been dealt the heavy knocks of life, but the fact that it still lives and serves purpose is a testimony that it is a survivor.

I might be Nigerian but I’m also in many ways like the German mistake.

I’m a survivor and so are you. Life hasn’t been a bed of roses for me and I doubt if it has been for anyone. We all face challenges of different types and nature. Everyman has his own burden he or she has to deal with. But the point is that we are created and built up to overcome whatever dart life throws at us.

Being wonderfully and fearfully made goes beyond beauty and looks. You have the makeup of a conqueror- A man who can always win.

There is no challenge greater than us. Inherent in every one of us is the capacity to overcome. Those that get beaten by life are those that just never fought enough. They had every potential to live through their storm, but they probably quit fighting too early.

So, is it your academics that is having issues? Or is it a relationship that has been a pain in the backside? Or are you having a bad financial episode of your life, whatever the case maybe; just note that it doesn’t have to be your end. Like they say, you are only passing through it and sooner rather than later it would become history- the type you laugh at when recounting your experience.

All you need to know is that you have what it takes to win. You are just way too loaded to fail. Yes there are hard knocks here and there, but that doesn’t change the fact that greater is what lies within you than what attacks from outside.

In the sequel to this, I’d write about two major mechanisms we have as tools for surviving and thriving in this jungle world we live in. I’d explain how they have been used and how you also can use them to your benefit.

o daa bo!

Soaga Afolabi Olusegun

Draw your lines!

What makes a man fulfilled?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is what I mean.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In conclusion,

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

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

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

Ciaobusinessman-feeling-fulfilled

Soaga Afolabi

my pursuit of perfection and the fear of counter success 2

In my previous post, i started a discussion on the pursuit of a perfect life. in summary, i wrote that the perfect life isn’t a life without flaws but rather a ‘flaw-overcoming’ life. i also stated that nobody was born with imperfections and flaws but that we all picked those bad habits here on earth just the same way we pick up clothes; and that if we can change the clothes we wear, then we can also change our habits and inadvertently best our lives. i concluded on why a luxurious life isn’t evil; but that our pursuit and need of it shouldn’t be allowed to turn into greed. The full article can be read here: http://bit.ly/194si5D.

Now to the fear of counter success

People have different kinds of fears in life. A common one is the fear of failure(a.k.a atichyphobia), and a less common one is the fear of success(achievemephobia). Neither of this have really haunted me. The fear I had to deal with was the fear of counter-success. Becoming successful has never really been the problem for some people, staying successful has been falling-save-mewhere the challenge lies. The world is full of ‘used-to-be’s’ and ‘formers’. its common to hear stuff like “he used to have a great marriage”, ” he is the former world champion”, “he used to drive a nice car” or “she used to have a great body”.  Counter success has plagued many people both in biblical days and even in our contemporary age.

Two quick examples off my head are Rehoboam in the bible and Tiger woods of 2009. Both didn’t really have issues making it to the top. But when they both got there; with their own hands they pulled themselves down. So they did achieve success, but they pulled a counter success stunt successfully as well. While Rehoboam misused power, Woods’ case was in the abuse of sex.

Abuse of power and sex are not the only two things that lead to counter success, money is another major counter success causative. it must be noted just like in the earlier article that these things in themselves are not bad. Man was created to have ‘dominion’ and not be dominated and that’s why there is an unquenchable desire in every one of us to have some sort of power and authority. Money is good and necessary for survival. Sex is a physiological and sometimes psychological Albert-Florence's-Missteps-Colorneed in us. thus, If these things can be identified as needs, then they ought to be met. And there are legal and appropriate ways to go about it. But when the need for them turns into greed, then we have a problem in our hands because it will cause us to take the back door to achieve them. And there are always consequences for that- counter success!

Someone said once that the secret to success in life is to find one’s weaknesses early enough and deal with them. I believe that this is ideally the antidote to counter success. we all have our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. our strengths and talents regardless of our weaknesses and flaws can help us achieve success of some sort, but what will make us maintain that success is our ability to manage our flaws, weaknesses and excesses.

The first step towards solving a problem is usually identifying it. I like to say that a man who has a problem and doesn’t know that he has one, has the greatest problem in life. It is when we find those areas of vulnerability that we can take appropriate measures to resolve them.

For identified negative habits, its been suggested that what we consistently do for 21 days becomes a part of us. Recent research is proving to disprove that but then I still believe it could work. So we can start up personal campaigns against bad habits or pro good habits campaigns in an attempt to put off the ‘bad habit clothes’ and put on the good ones.

If you spend poorly, you can decide to watch how you spend for the next 21 days. If you desire to be chaste with the opposite sex, you can ‘fast’ them (i.e avoid them or circumstances that put you in an uncomfortable position) for that period. Conscious efforts such as these can rewrite the conduct code in our systems and over time change our habits. Practice they say makes perfect and repetition is often the key to mastery.

you don’t have to be an example of a man who rose to the top only to later plummet. you don’t have to take a nose dive after attaining the success you worked hard for. you can be successful and stay successful. You don’t have to fear counter success, you can prevent it while you work towards your success.  Find that Achilles heel and work relentlessly to overcome it. As you improve on your strengths, also take out time to work on your weaknesses too.

love you

Soaga Afolabi achilles' heel 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

love ya dearly!_IL_OMOIKE George Osabuohien_NG__301641

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.

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“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

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.

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!

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