Wednesday, August 25, 2010

NATIONAL TRANSFORMATION (3)-WAR AGAINST IGNORANCE

‘Till I come, give attention to reading’…says a wise man to his protégée.

Not too long ago, I started a series on national transformation. In the first, I tried to address the issue of leadership. I stated that it was high time we left the ‘servant-leadership’ cycle to what I call, ‘love-leadership’. In the second note, I entitled; WE ARE THE LEADERS OF TOMORROW, I did abuse that statement stating that we as youths have been cheated for long-It is our time. The tomorrow ‘they’ talked about yesterday is never gonna come; it is here. Now, I have come to discuss the 3rd in this series-WAR AGAINST IGNORANCE- another key factor as we seek for national transformation. I tell you, our nation will flourish again. Can I hear you say…

The Oxford advanced learner’s dictionary defines ignorance as lack of knowledge or information about something .Ignorance, they say is a disease. How true! My drive in this piece is to fight ignorance by knowledge via the instrumentality of reading. Believe it or yes, you are where you are because of your level of knowledge and will be where you desire by the knowledge you acquire. Summarily, you rise as far as your knowledge level. Knowledge is powerful (though potentially). Ironically, despite having a lot of materials (books, internet, CD’s, phones etc) through which one can acquire this element, most still wallow in ignorance. My people perish for lack of knowledge. Note; He didn’t say ‘they perish for the absence of knowledge, but for the lack of it (they refused to acquire it) and that is why that scripture continues by saying ‘because you have refused…I will…’Are you refusing it? It holds the key to your transformation. I have seen tremendous transformation in life by this simple truth. I remember, just 2 years ago before my NYSC how in the space of 6 weeks, I attended The Word of faith Bible Institute,(WOFBI) Kaduna and on the day of graduation, I was on my way to Lagos for Daystar leadership academy (DLA). It’s  just the hunger and thirst in me for knowledge. It is not that I have attained; I still ‘struggle’ but I believe I can share some ‘real truths’.

One way to acquire this (knowledge) and which I want to zero on is, READING. See, there is virtually no question you want to ask now that isn’t hidden in one book or the other-somewhere. No wonder, there is no new thing under the sun. I believe the concluding part of that statement is; ‘it is all hidden in a book’. I told my folks some weeks ago that when you say, ‘kia’, that Pastor/speaker has rev, I tell you, some of those things are what he/she has read in a book but because we have not gotten it/ read them, we are dazed. And really that’s what you need to win in life-have something that someone else doesn’t and he/she pays for it. Sometime ago, I was thinking about ‘the professor’, I realize, he/she is actually one who knows ‘everything’ about a ‘small thing’. I have also come to the conclusion that you can also be a ‘professor’ by ‘labouring’ in the place of your core skill and acquire all the knowledge you can along that line.


To become a leader, you must be a reader. Actually, committed learners are real leaders. For your life not to be in red (danger), Bishop Abioye said, you must read.I had him also say, in the school of knowledge, there is no graduation. When you stop learning (via reading-I add) you will start dying whether you are 80 or 18.The world is no longer for graduates, it is for consultants-people who have mastered a place of interest and done a lot of studies along that line. I was told that if you begin to read for one hour in the place of interest, in the next 5 years thereabout, you will be among the top 1% in the world. One of my folks stated that when she heard me say this she started and has not remained the same. Reading has a lot of benefits. I tell you, every successful man has been a product of books. I remember Rev.Sam Adeyemi telling us that when he was leaving for another house, the guys packing his things said they spent the whole day packing just books. He currently has about 3 libraries full of books in his new home, he stated. No wonder, you’ll say. Bishop Oyedepo will always say-it was when I read so and so book that I realize this and that. Just 2 nights ago, (when I was putting this down) I had him saying live, how he reviewed 10 of Kenneth E.Hagin’s books last year, that of T.L Osborn etc . I’ll say again, no wonder the proofs. He also stated sometime ago of having 700 books on leadership ALONE. Can you imagine? I had to ask myself if I had that amount of books collectively or if  I even had 7 books on leadership. The benefits cannot be over emphasized.
Now let me quickly state some tips to take immediately in order to ‘join the club’ and leave the den of ignorance;

1. Desire: there must be a strong desire to read. Desire is strong passion enough to sacrifice for (say Myles Munroe).Sacrifice the sleep, the film, the jist and pick a book. You must just be deliberate about this. This is the starting point. Like I said, let’s sacrifice those stuffs. They call it ‘delaying gratification’.

2. Start with your area of strength: what I mean is this, start reading in the place of interest. Some like fictions, thriller, comic etc but don’t end there.’Graduate’ to something more serious. It is always said that to know your ‘purpose’-ask yourself where your passion lies. If you love cooking, begin to read along that line. Is it sewing, designing, events management, counseling, music etc.-Read along that line! There is something to read. Again, the world is no longer for graduates but for consultants. That’s why you now hear ‘consultant engineer’, ‘consultant doc’, ‘consultant farmer’ etc Like I said earlier, I have had it said that, if you read for a minimum of an hour along a place of interest; in the next 5years, you will be among the top 1% in that field-obviously, a consultant. In fact, look around after one year, you will notice a significant change.Please, try it and see.

3. Have a ‘master-mind’ group: How do I mean? Navigate around those who are readers, they have a way of challenging and propelling you. Wise company…There are people definitely around you who you could share thoughts with, exchange books and sharpen each other. Everything rises and falls on association. Analyze those books with the group and not those ‘unnecessary films’/football matches.


4. Set a timetable: I remember years ago when I was finding it difficult to read as supposed, I had to set a timetable-a chapter everyday. I have changed that now, though. Yours could be same or by number of pages. Just set a time frame-say a book per month of 2 etc. It makes you disciplined and committed to do your best.


5. Keep books all around you: Endeavour to have books all around-your bed, car, etc- to keep you in check. I have scores of them all around me ‘begging’ to be read. My nature of job has made me reduce-thinking of taking a course on ‘speed-reading’. I have hundreds of others as soft copies ‘waiting’.

Get those books, dearie. That question you seek answer to is hidden in that book not too far. So, before you go for the next ‘deliverance’-read that book. It holds the key to your deliverance.


6. Do something: It is not what you have read that makes you but what you do with them. It is the doer that is blessed. Work on/with what you read. Find ways of practically applying what you read. Ok?

The benefits cannot be overemphasized; you get to rub minds with great men (literally you are in their ‘world of thought’; you have an edge over your contemporaries; You also get to discover your place. Do you know that until the Master read, he didn’t know…this day is this scripture fulfilled. I, Daniel understood by the book, so your understanding is also enhanced by reading…many, many more benefits. Get to read, friend.

Be all YOU CAN!

NATIONAL TRANSFORMATION (2)-WE ARE THE LEADERS OF TOMORROW


About a week ago, my good friend, Sola organized an event he called Jamb 2010 Colloquium that had over 300 Jambites in attendance. It was targeted at giving them a first hand information on what they will be facing a week from then and much afterwards. It was indeed a huge success and i celebrate my friend. Anyway, i have not come to tell you about jamb but what caught my attention at the event. Some of those students wore shirts that carried the words; ‘we are the leaders of tomorrow’ behind. That caught my attention and provoked me to write this piece, finally though i had it in mind earlier. I am about two and a half-decade old and i have been hearing those words even when i was a toodler. You remember that song; ‘parents, parents, listen to your children, children, they are the leaders of tomorrow, tomorrow...bla, bla, bla’.



My question now is; who are the leaders? Where are they? When is the tomorrow? I should quickly state that this piece is dedicated to the Nigerian youth. You will agree with me that the men who have ruled this nation since independence  are still in the helm of affairs and i still keep wondering. As if to make matters worst, earlier today i saw on the Thisday newspaper front page that Nigeria’s political maradonna, IBB said in an interview on the Hausa service of BBC that; ‘Younger Generation Can’t Rule Nigeria’. I would ask you to please go read the full interview. Meanwhile, look at his answer to some of the questions (this concerns our discussion today)

Dont you think it is time to allow the younger generations take over from you the older ones as it happened in America and other parts of the world?
IBB: Honestly, it is our wish that God will bring the younger people that will take over from us if they are available. I was the one who introduced the politics of new breed in this country.
Why didn
t you step aside and give the younger generation a chance to lead since they are fresh and strong?
IBB: Because we have seen signs that they are not capable of leading this country and so we feel we should help them.  May be they are not given the proper education that is why.  I have spent 17 years since I left office. 
Haba! The younger generation is supposed to be in charge by now.

But a country like Nigeria cannot be ruled by people without experience. People like the Obama that you are speaking about have the experience. He started from the state House of Assembly to the House of Representatives and to the Senate. If our youths are like this, we will say they have the requisite experience. But we have not reached that level.


I believe this should be a wakeup call or rather a slap to every sane Nigerian youth. He mentioned some important points such as our lack of experience and lack of proper education etc. Before you start being defensive and the rest please hear me out for a little moment. I have been a very serious critic recently. Time will not allow me to tell all, but some of my initial write-ups will have shown you that. Just some weeks ago, my newest mentor and i spoke for about 4hrs (between 7pm and 11pm) and because i insisted on a subject i was so bent on, we couldn’t talk much-he latter sent me a mail ‘warning’ me as regards it. More so, Dale Carnegie, in his book’ ‘how to win friends and influence people’ stated that; ‘don’t criticize, condemn or complain’. Having said all this i’ll like us to logically make some analysis to enable us know why these men are still relevant and why they still want to remain. See, most of these guys are military personnel’s have been able to use some of these military principles to stay alive. I will point at some of these and you will now judge if the Nigerian youth is ready to indeed ‘take-over’.

  1. Discipline: this is simply the practice of training people to obey rules and others; a method of training your mind or body or of controlling your behaviour. I think this goes down well with a typical soldier; the rigours in the military world has entrenched into them the drive to be disciplined. They face various harsh and unpleasant conditions. Nevertheless, they get going. How disciplined are you? You closest friend? A typical Nigerian youth don’t want to delay gratification. He wants it now. It is sharp, sharp, now, now or never.
  2. Winning mentality: the consciousness of continuous victory and a never die spirit is enshrined in a military personnel. Never give up, we must win the battle. Victory, victory is the watch word. What is the percentage of the Nigerian youth have such spirit? Do they believe they can surmount the eminent opposition?
  3. Not inferior: the military man has a great esteem for his job. He is fearless. He does harass you on the street. He is thought to take pride in what he does. No matter his pay, he works as if he is the most paid.

To succeed, we must be like these military men in our minds-not character though. Some scriptures are beginning to make more sense to me; be soldiers of Christ; the weapons of our warfare are not carnal; we wrestle not against flesh and blood. aaaaaaaah! These are military terms.
Friends, these and many others are some of the principles that the military man has learnt. These guys have paid tremendous prices to have gotten there. I strongly believe that the reason why we have not had this major transformation is that we have not had men who have paid the price that some of these men have (permit me, i’m just looking at things from both sides of the coin). So it will be a disaster to hand over the baton. I believe this is not only limited to politics but the business world, as well as the spiritual sphere. There is no doubt that some of these men may be selfish and greedy. Nevertheless, let’s play our part and see if they will not naturally phase-out. Before/While you criticize IBB, how far have you gone. It was shocking that while having a discussion with some folks, a good percentage of them still said that when they get there they will still steal. A Nigerian youth with that mentality? That was a shocker.
At the time i was saying that there should be a retirement age for politicians, they are telling us that until you  attain a certain age, you may not be able to occupy certain positions.


Haven said all these, my drive is to allow you wake up to the call. Be disciplined, join a political party, add your voice the the matters that concerns the development of these nation. Develop yourself. IBB said we don’t have experience. Of  course you can’t buy it, For now, go for knowledge, i believe Knowledge can compete favourable with experience. Be relevant. We are the leaders-not of tomorrow but of now. The tomorrow they talked about yesterday is where  we are living in now. You children and mine should only know these men in the pages of history. Friends lets do our home work.


Friend, what can i say more, it is OUR time. Take responsibility, dear and i’ll see on top of your world.
We will succeed as youths and as a nation collectively.


Unil then, become all YOU CAN.

NATIONAL TRANSFORMATION (1)

Our nation has been plagued by a great number number of challenges(problems if you want to call it) for years now and if a question was to be put forward on what the major problem really is, you will either say we have a leadership or a corruption problem.Well, i bet to disagree with anyone who concurs with the above. However, do not crucify me until you hear me out.



I believe strongly that the problem we have had in this country is neither leadership nor that of corruption(at least not first –quote me-it is a LOVE problem). Love, hmmh, that rings a bell(ladies/guys, you feel me?). You are talking about national transformation and you are bringing in love, which one concern love again o,i hear you say.Give me some more time. Ok? Back to business, what i am saying is that as a nation, what is at the bane of our problem is the LACK OF LOVE. How do i mean? See, the root of what has generated to poor leadership, corruption and what have you is the lack of this key element. Yes, i have said this enough. When i mean love, i am not talking about that boyfriend/ girlfriend issue, that will be for another day.As a nation, if the foundation of our problem is not known, we can never profer solution. Whatever is the law that is passed, if we donot address the foundational problem of love, there won’t be any significant progress.I’ve said severally re-branding should not be the priority. How do you re-brand a nation with no brand.Thats another long story.
I need to continue by defining what this love is-it is a feeling of selflesness(my definition)Looking into the Oxford learners dictionary, it defines love as a deep or intense affection. Obviously, from these definitions, this is lacking in our system. If our leaders had seen themselves as people who are to be selfless and with deep affection for the populace, the thought of being corrupt will be far from the question. My Bible tells me to love God and love my neighbour as myself. For us to get any better as a nation, the love(fear) of God and fellow humans cannot be downplayed. You see, the greatest resource ever created by God is the HUMAN RESOURCE.None other is as powerful, great or effective.My challenge to all is that we must have a deep and sincere love, one to another. However, in our part of the world, this is less treasured.How do we then think we can progress.It is time we left servant-leadership to what i call love-leadership else we will never succeed as a nation.



In his latest book(multiply your success-lead) Sam Adeyemi stated that ‘love helps you appreciate each person’s worth. It helps you to recognize people’s potential and to want to add value to them. Whatever you do for man, you are actually doing for God because every human being is an extension of God .This attitude changes everything. When love is absent, greed, envy, selfishness, malice, rejection, hatred and such vices manifest in abundance. People succeed at the expense of others. He also stated that when leaders do not love the people they lead, it causes the spread of the cancer of self-centredness in the system’. Hey, love empowers a leader and increses his/her inflence. Love opens you up to creativity. When you feel that someone deserves the highest quality of life, you would begin to get ideas on how to make it happen.




Do you remember Henry Ford and his decision to resign from a company he formed just because he wanted Americans to own their cars-that was practical love. Permit me share that story. Henry Ford, a mechanic, after he had developed the petrol engine began to manufacture and sell cars but only rich people could buy his cars. Then he suggested to his directors that they make cheaper cars. His directors did not buy his idea. They were making good profit and there was no need to change something that was working. Ford resigned from the first company he founded and started another one. They began to to produce the Ford model T, a cheaper version. One day he announced that they were increasing production to one thousand cars per day.His directors were concerned, wondering who would buy the cars. He said ‘let’s produce them anyhow; i want every family in America to be able to afford a car’.Dearie, that was love.Money was not his motivation. He wanted to make life more convenient for people. The more compassion he had, the bigger this vision grew.Thus, the greater the compassion of our leaders for its citizenry, the more we can attain our vision(whether 2020/2025).
Before, i stop i should state that at the time i was thinking on the day of transfering this piece from paper and pen where i wrote it months ago to the system, a friend (Promise at work) posted this;


Now, take a look at this...


101%



From a strictly mathematical viewpoint:



What Equals 100%?
What does it mean to give MORE than 100%?

Ever wonder about those people who say they are giving more than 100%?

We have all been in situations where someone wants you to
GIVE OVER 100%.

How about ACHIEVING 101%?


What equals 100% in life?


Here's a little mathematical formula that might help
answer these questions:


If:

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Is represented as:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26.


If:


H-A-R-D-W-O- R- K

8+1+18+4+23+ 15+18+11 = 98%


And:

K-N-O-W-L-E- D-G-E

11+14+15+23+ 12+5+4+7+ 5 = 96%


But:

A-T-T-I-T-U- D-E

1+20+20+9+20+ 21+4+5 = 100%



THEN, look how far the love of God will take you: 

L-O-V-E-O-F- G-O-D

12+15+22+5+15+ 6+7+15+4 = 101%


Therefore, one can conclude with mathematical certainty that:

While Hard Work and Knowledge will get you close, and Attitude will
get you there, It's the Love of God that will put you over the top!

To achieve greatness in our dear nation, obviously, the love for God and fellow humans cannot be neglected. My challenge is not just to leaders but to every Nigerian; we need to put on the garment of love because if i love my neighbour, i will never think of doing things that will harm my fellow citizen such as taking from our common resource. So please, brace up and let the ‘fever’ of love spread across our hearts and our nation.Like i said move from servant-leadership to love-leadership. Nigeria will be great, i believe. I believe that your destiny and mine will not be aborted.We are destined for greatness,we will succeed and not fail.
I believe this will be a series so stay tuned for another piece on NATIONAL TRANFORMATION.


Be all YOU CAN!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS(4)-MENTORING RELATIONSHIP(2)



“I would not be here today without conscientious mentors. My
mentor has not only given me tools and taught me skills, but she has
become a lifelong partner and friend to work in social justice.”
—Doua Thor, Mentee

One of the key ‘skills’ I am learning is; ‘building relationships’. Life is all about relationships; all other things are just details. Your life rises and falls on relationship. We’ve been coming a long way in this series and I believe they are getting to us. Not too long ago, my newest mentor (though we are still concluding on the ‘terms and conditions’) and one of the best brains I have come across said to me, ‘a mentor is not someone who advices you but one whose counsels you heed too’. As little as this statement sounds or seems, I didn’t recover from it for days-it kept ringing. Mentoring is a very important part of life. You need a head to go and stay ahead. In this note, I will be drawing our attention to some of the laws and principles that should surround a mentoring relationship. We will start with the latter. How do I know or choose my mentor is the question I would want to tackle by stating some principles;

  1. Principle of Desire: somehow, you feel to follow (to be mentored by) this individual whose desire, pursuit and passion seems to fall in line with yours. This is a principle to follow because in mentoring, you don’t go after anyone whom you think is just successful rather, that person should have a bearing similar to yours on which platform there can be a relationship. Purpose must be known else abuse is inevitable and like I said in the previous note, it doesn’t have to be one-on-one. My favourite mentor and I have not sat on a dinner table yet. Follow someone whose desire and pursuit is similar to yours. Another dimension to the principle is for you to just ‘desire’ an individual whom you think has traits you admire. You get?
  2. Principle of Inspiration/Perception: in this type, you just have a feeling or knowing deep within you to be mentored by this personality maybe because of carriage, knowledge and/or what have you but somehow you perceive you are inspired to be mentored by such a fellow. It’s just a knowing within you. Please go on. It’s a worthy principle I must state. Many times, you don’t pre-empt this. My earlier mentors were ‘gotten’ by this principle.
  3. Principle of Wisdom:  this occurs when you are just interested in this person (mentor) by the depth of his/her wisdom. You know wisdom is the principal thing and as one of my lecturers did say, it (wisdom) is neither the teacher nor the student but the principal. This is indeed a great tool in selecting a mentor. Oh, I love men who are full of wisdom, they mentor a great deal.

Now to the laws that guide mentoring. In my studies, I have come across a lot of them but for obvious reasons I will just be discussing one. However, what I’ll want you do is to ponder for some few minutes on each of them and apply them to your mentoring relationships. These laws include; law of mutual protection, law of Independence, law of openness, law of focus, law of risk, law of flexibility, law of communication, law of transaction, law of trust, law of limited responsibility etc. I will be taking on on the law of communication.

In every relationship (marital, mate, mentee and mentoring) and I mean every of them, the ‘life-blood’ is communication. In fact, one thing I believe is as powerful as love in any relationship is communication. Somebody was even asked some of the ingredients he thinks will make a relationship fruitful. His answer was; 1. Communication. 2. Communication. 3. Communication. So you see! Communication is key; dearie-it can make or mar your mentoring relationship. It is defined as the process of exchange of pieces of information, attitudes, reactions, ideas, messages, feelings, reactions etc . It is a ‘crossfire’. This ain’t a communication class and so let’s move on quickly...lol
Somebody else has said that the lack of effective communication is the greatest barrier to healthy relationships with co-workers, friends, family, and others. You and your mentor must both effectively listen and give meaningful feedback.
There are two types of listening: passive and active.

Passive Listening
When a listener does not verbally respond to the speaker. They may send non-verbal messages through eye contact, smiles, yawns or nods. It is appropriate when: the person wants to air a gripe, vent frustration, or express an opinion you want to ease back mentally or be entertained, for instance, the other person relates a joke or story.

Active Listening
Active listening involves verbal feedback. Perhaps it is through questioning of additional information or by paraphrasing (e.g., “Let me make sure I’m with you so far,” or “What I hear you saying is…”). Then you rephrase the other’s ideas in your own words. With this type of feedback, you demonstrate that you have understood the other’s concerns, observation, advice, etc.

Regardless of your role in the relationship, either as the mentee or the mentor, listening skills are critical.

Here are some tips to help you improve your listening skills:

Hold your fire. Learn not to get too excited or angry about the individual’s point until you are sure you understand it. Do not immediately draw any conclusions either good or bad. Reduce your emotional reactions.

Listen for the main points. When listening, focus on the main ideas. Make a mental outline of the mentor’s most important points. My mentor usually asks me to bring a list of what we will be discussing or send via mail before we get to see.

Resist distractions. While listening, try to ignore your surroundings and concentrate on the speaker’s facial expression and his/her emphasis on certain words.

Capitalize on thought speed. On average, a person speaks 125 words a minute. However, people process what they hear at almost four times that speed. Don’t let your mind stray while you are waiting for the person’s next point. Instead, try to “listen between the lines.” Concentrate on the non-verbal messages. In this form of relationship (mentoring) you are more on the receiving side, hence you must do all you can to grab what s/he will have to say. I have not been able to have an audience with my newest coach for over 2 months now and so when next we see, your guess is as good as mind.

Listen for the whole meaning. Listen for feeling as well as fact. In other words, try to get inside your mentor’s head. Ask as many questions ooo. It’s the best way to get them answered. You do not impress your mentor in anyway. Listen and grab all you can.
Effective listening is a skill that comes from practice and a desir
I should be writing on the ‘mate relationship’ in the next piece. So sure we are learning.
Be all YOU CAN!


I dedicate this to a worthy mentor and model, Tony Elumelu (a great lion) who just retired as the MD/CEO, UBA Plc. Your years in the system have been worth it, sir. All the accolades are deserved.