Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Think Global, Be Global

It’s another year end, just less than 2 weeks to a new one. And this is wishing everyone great compliments of the season. I know it’s been an eventful year for all with its ups and downs, the high times and the low, but I know more assuredly that it has endowed us all with lessons and discoveries like no other year. Let me use this opportunity to ask any who is willing to share any of theirs to please send me a mail (bukolaogunfayo@gmail.com) and we can have others read and keep to guide and to encourage.
It is a good time in the year to reflect, to review goals, especially in anticipation of other opportunities in the New Year. It is an appropriate time to be grateful too, thankful to the One beyond man who has kept and preserved. I’m sure if we think well, we’ll have a number of things to give thanks for, starting with the gift of life.

For me, 2010 has been quite eventful. For instance, I was able to share regularly on FOOTSTEPS (this means a lot to me), I took a bow to paid employment, I got certified & inducted as an HR Professional and on another extreme, took on a skill in fashion. I can imagine what awaits me in 2011. However, I’m going to take my plans from a different angle this time around, which I believe some would need as well.
Sometime in November, I attended a conference in Lagos. I am very keen on personal development; in fact, I do plan to contribute significantly to the Education Sector sometime in the nearest future, which is what drove me to sit at the Syndicate session on Education. Amongst other things shared, one thing I took away from this meeting was a comment by the Speaker – Mrs. Susan Oyemade, “…you have to be a global teacher, you have to be a global pupil, you have to be a global housewife...” In other words, whatever you have decided to pursue, you need to do it with the world at large in mind, you need to think beyond the local environment, and you need to set a global standard (“world-class, as used in many circles) for yourself.

For a teacher, that’s an easy one. The delivery styles and the contents of the course material for instance need to be worked on, but one would wonder, how can a housewife be global? Well, what recipes is she working on in her food lab (kitchen), the same old ones with the same styles and the same ingredients? What looks does she have on the few times she’s out of the house for a school function or an outing with her husband? While one ponders on this, one has to agree there is room for everyone to think global and to be global.

As we come to another season where we strategize for another year of our lives, we need to ask ourselves what our peers on the global scene are doing better. What are they using to make their work different that we can acquire; what skill have they gained that we can learn, who have they connected with to help them be all they are now, that we need to consider networking with as well (for this we could get their peers in our vicinity). Whichever way, something new and/or something different needs to be worked into our norm to position us globally.

A few, may just actually be ahead of their peers globally already. In Performance Management we refer to them as operating on the Exceed Expectation rating. These ones need to up the stakes, look at their superiors, whose standard they now need to work towards.

I don’t know what we all may have in mind for 2011, but as I challenge myself, I leave this challenge with you, position yourself to become GLOBAL.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Saturday 30th October, 2010 - Up by 2 am, worked in the studio till about 7am when I took a break for breakfast and a nap before getting into the regular Saturday routine.

Sunday 31st October 2010 - Up by 5am, worked in the studio till about 9am then I took a break to get ready for Church with the family and the rest of the regular Sunday schedule.

Monday 1st November 2010 – Up by 1am, worked till 4am, took a short nap before starting the week.

And on and on, a peep into my diary in recent times. Even today, I worked from 3am till day break. Stretching, to meet deadline, to perfect my skill, to be better at what I do.

Thinking back though, for the first few weeks after leaving paid employment, I felt one of the things I needed to enjoy was a little more rest, like a nap in the afternoon or longer hours at night. But then I pondered on the routine of some popular/successful people.

Tiger woods

6:00 Weight workout (90 minutes)

7:30 Breakfast ; 8:00 Practice tee (2 hours); 10:00 Putting green

10:30 Play 9 holes; 12:00 Lunch; 1:00 Practice tee (2 hours)

3:00 Short game work; 4:00 Play 9 holes; 5:00 Putting green

5:30 Home

Even though he has played since he was two years old and has a very unique gift for the sport of golf, Tiger focuses on a detailed (and deliberate) practice routine each and every day. Deliberate practice makes Tiger a great golfer. (CrossHairs Trader)

Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart rises before the sun, well-rested and ultra-perky at 3:30 am. But, the fact is that no one has ever seen Martha Stewart sleep ... (Martha Stewart Everyway)

President Obama

He reads several papers, eats breakfast with his family and helps pack his daughters, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, off to school before making the 30-second commute downstairs — a definite perk for a man trying to balance work and family life. He eats dinner with his family, then often returns to work; aides have seen him in the Oval Office as late as 10 p.m., reading briefing papers for the next day. (New York Times, January 2009)

John Grisham

When he first started writing, Grisham says, he had "these little rituals that were silly and brutal but very important."

"The alarm clock would go off at 5, and I'd jump in the shower. My office was 5 minutes away. And I had to be at my desk, at my office, with the first cup of coffee, a legal pad and write the first word at 5:30, five days a week."

His goal: to write a page every day. Sometimes that would take 10 minutes, sometimes an hour; ofttimes he would write for two hours before he had to turn to his job as a lawyer, which he never especially enjoyed. In the Mississippi Legislature, there were "enormous amounts of wasted time" that would give him the opportunity to write.

"So I was very disciplined about it," he says… (San Francisco Chronicle, Februay 2008)

What we see usually is the result of their stretches. I have learnt that what got them there and keeps them there is a lifestyle of consistency in giving more than what is common.

It didn’t take time for it to dawn on me that, if I also wanted to be different, then I couldn’t continue to do what the regular person did. I needed to stretch. Truth is, I need to put in extra to get into the extra-ordinary. I would only get out of life what others who sleep and wake at the common time get.

How spot on the words of this quote – The Heights by great men reached and kept were not attained in a sudden flight, but they while their companions slept, were toiling upwards in the night - It regularly filled my mind when I was tempted to become laissez faire with my routine.

So now I stretch. For others it may take another format, but definitely to master that skill or ability, you need to give it more- maybe time, maybe attention. You may need to study more, make more cold calls for that sale or even practice more.

Looking t the end goal usually helps to stay on track with stretching. Even the Bible says…for the joy set before Him, He endured the cross (referring to Jesus Christ).

Remember you can’t get what others are not getting if you give just what they are giving. Keep that target in mind, then ssstttrrreeetttccchhh.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

When Pain is Good

Relationships are a good part of the human existence. In fact, I’m not sure how one could live without relating with another person. An old song even goes thus – “No man is an island…” For me, one thing I thrive on in my relationships is the learning opportunity. And one person I always enjoy learning from is my best friend and hubby. The thoughts on this post started with something I took away from one of our “gist-times” recently but was further confirmed by another health incident, this time with my daughter.

During this time together, I learnt – there are times when Pain is good. Then he explained that for instance if I was cutting an orange and the knife happened to cut my finger, if not for the pain I would have felt instantly, I probably would have finished cutting off my finger before I knew it. Or if there was a shootout somewhere and a man happened to walk into it, the pain of a bullet hitting him makes him see the urgency in getting help quickly or he would just bleed to death.

This health incidence with my daughter is somewhat related to one I shared about my son in a previous post – Fix It Early. So I am glad we reacted earlier this time. My older child, being more mature is now able to express herself better. For a little while, she had been complaining about her tummy aching her. Initially, I felt she was just giving some little excuse not to finish her meals or the likes, but when it seemed to continue, I knew whatever it was had to be fixed early. The blood test at the hospital showed she had been infected with malaria, and this was without all the more popular symptoms. For me, that “Mummy, my tummy is paining me…” was a good alert to a full blown illness which might have led to an admission.

Pain however is not always physical. In fact, sometimes it comes more subtle in the form of a discomfort, maybe increasing heat in a room as against it be cool. Sometimes it could be more serious, like the feeling of bondage or oppression which makes us realize we must seek freedom. This I believe led our leaders 50 years ago to fight for the independence of our beloved country NIGERIA. When it comes this way, pain allows us know something is not right and has to be changed or has to be fixed.

Another instance though, of when pain is good, is when we are undergoing change. At this time, we are breaking away from what we have been used to, and coming into the new. An expectant mother in her 1st trimester sometimes goes through some pain as her body adjusts to the new being. She also goes through pain at the point of delivery, but it is good, it leads to a new life. An addict in rehab, goes through physical and psychological pain when being taken off his addiction, but it is good, it leads him to a better life. Pain is good at times like these, but must be endured, must be tolerated for the reward that it eventually brings.

The challenge is in knowing what the pain is tied to, so as to keep it good. I therefore encourage, don’t take pain/discomfort for granted when you feel it. Whether physical, emotional, or psychological, it may mean you need to give something in your life more attention so it doesn’t get worse. On another hand, it may be telling you, endure for a little while longer, some good change is about to come.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Everyman a War, Everyman a Dream

It's been only a few weeks since I resigned. And one of those things that categorize an exit now (especially when voluntary), is the mail composed and sent to one’s colleagues and friends, of the intending change with some encouragement or the other. Before mine, I had also got a number from those leaving to continue their studies, re-locating or getting a career change. One of such mails I would never forget was from a team member, whose had this – “… for every man is fighting his own war”.

In her mail, she was referring to the fact that we have to be more understanding of the seeming misbehaviours of others, as we need to keep in mind that such reactions are due to one reason or the other. Over time, I have come to somewhat agree with this. I have learnt that on a good day, most people want to do good. They want to be perceived as nice and friendly, easy-going, understanding…and all those other good qualities. However, some challenges (in and around) faced may not allow them be. I wouldn’t want to go the route of how we need to mature beyond the pressures we face to maintain our cool in this article, as I can imagine many may be thinking now.

However the truth is, many haven’t. Many may never get mature to the point of knowing how to keep challenges personal; and for them what do we do? For instance, I get to a supermarket in a happy mood, peaceful about a lot of things and mistakenly moving into the queue space of another lady who left a cranky baby in her car…I mean, even if she isn’t the vocal type….I would definitely get the look of my life. But then, she is only fighting her war. Sometimes I may just be doing this at the end of a string of “battles” and it’ll go beyond the look to a shove… because sincerely, she would have had it.

I have learnt therefore, that since I wouldn’t get any explanation from everybody for the battle they are in – losing a job/contract, being late for an important interview, a broken relationship, a sick loved-one, even a stain on a favourite dress - every misbehavior I get is mostly because of some challenge being faced. And for good, I need to be a war-hero by helping to win the war or at the least not start another.

On another note, I watched a documentary recently on Nigeria. Sad one I must confess. A dump-sorter being interviewed at some point referred to his daughter as a future Miss Universe. Sincerely I was wowed. I mean, he wasn’t concerned about the fact that they lived in a shack or that he made his daily living from the neighbourhood dump. This man had a dream that such a wonderful experience would come the way of his offspring. Then I discovered again…every man does have a dream. A dream to be more, to do more or to have more.

Once again, let’s not go into the issue of some dreams being unrealistic. Truth is, we have regarded some dreams as unrealistic and they have become reality. Who would have thought the black could be free, talk more of one being President of a country like the United States of America. Maybe I would be more akin to say a dream is bad (if it is at the expense of the good of others) than unrealistic. I’m learning now to be more careful with people, for really I’d rather be a dream-maker than a dream-killer.

My challenge on a final note is, let's be more conscious of how we handle others who have struggles (within or without), by being war-heroes. We need not add to them. Also, let’s treat the next man with care and respect, and when we can, help him achieve more by being dream-makers. Who knows what world war we could be preventing; or what other invention like electricity we could be discovering.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

An Enabling Environment

I was opportune to revise with my daughter for her end of year’s exams sometime last month. One of the subjects for her class, General Knowledge covered a bit on Agriculture basics – types of soil. We studied the 3 major types (Clayey, Loamy and Sandy) and their uses. Just like most of us were taught way-back then, Loamy is the preferred for planting. It’s not that the others can’t allow for some form of growth, but definitely not anything good compared with what the loamy would do.

In the same month, there was an e-mail forward I came across, about a Nigerian family in Britain who had kids that were performing outstandingly beyond what their ages could ordinarily accomplish in academics. My colleagues and I discussed this seemingly chance happening but the consensus was that their being in Britain, in such schools and with such tutors, brought out the best in them.

These facts buttressed a learning - We thrive best in an enabling environment. Our potentials, our dreams, our plans are actualized best when we are located in an enabling environment; like a plant in the appropriate soil. A common saying I used to know goes like this – Apple trees don’t grow in Lagos. That means, there is place for everyone to come out in full bloom. My take on this is this - make sure you are located in your soil (your enabling environment).

However, beyond the physical environment, there is the mind-environment and association-environment. These as well must be supportive. To a great extent we even have better influence on them than even the physical. We can choose what goes on in our mind by what we feed it with and what people influence us by the choice of our confidants and friends.

A challenge then, could be in knowing when we are not in an environment that would be supportive to our potentials/dreams/aspirations. Also, when we are not and cannot move for some reasons, what we need to do.

In more advanced agriculture, each type of soil still has further classifications. Good farmers know which of these would give the best harvest for each crop. But first, they must know which crop they intend to cultivate. Same with us, the crop could be our dream, our plan or our potential. A previous article (Be Better, Know your SWOT -
www.folafayo.blogspot.com ) encourages us to know our strengths, for therein lies our potentials. When we know our crop, it would be easy to tell if the soil would aid growth and productivity. If I dream to be an Olympics medalist in swimming, and there is no pool within my reach, that dream is likely to remain a dream. It’s either I travel regularly to where one is or I re-locate close to one. My challenge on this is for you to note your plans, begin to dream, discover your potential, then you can tell if where you are would help actualize them. If your environment won’t be enabling, then move.

There may be instances when we feel the timing or some other reasons won’t allow us move to our preferred physical environment. What do we do while we wait? We must keep our mind and association environment in top gear. In other words, these two must be “fertilizing” to our plans, dreams or potentials. Just like some fertilizers can be used to enhance the ability of the soil when not good enough.

The state of your mind must become conditioned to bring you to thrive. You need to feed it with information that would motivate and inspire. You can learn to shut out negatives by focusing more on what is positive and what you desire to be. For associations, we need to minimize interactions with those who put us down, who laugh at our dreams and spend more time with those of like minds, those who make us think beyond where we are to what we can become.

We need to get the environment right (mind and association included) to keep energies up, passions alive, focus strong, till we come to full bloom and achieve.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Be better, know your SWOT

Over time, I’ve come to identify a passion for continuous development. I believe what makes you different now from how you were a while ago is how much and how well you have grown. I like to assess myself and those around me to ascertain if growth has occurred. For those who know me personally, I tend to challenge the status quo now and then… asking, can it be better? How else can it be done?

A few years back, I discovered the S.W.O.T analysis is not only meant for businesses. For continual and personal development, it’s an exercise we need to carry out periodically. It would help us appreciate our growth and strategize for further growth, in addition to increasing productivity.

S.W.O.T (for those not familiar with it) is the acronym for Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats. In carrying out the analysis therefore, we assess ourselves on what we are good at, what we aren’t so good at (or not good at) and what is available to make us better or posing as a danger in our lives.

Due to our backgrounds, experiences, exposures and of course personalities, we have developed certain abilities that come naturally and easy to perform. Some can make something out of nothing, some can create a beauty out of a beast, some can sell an AC unit to an Eskimo, some can remember details or even memorize a 15-digit number. However strengths don’t have to be those genius-kind-of abilities alone, it could even be as simple as being able to cheer up someone (which I don’t think is simple anyway). The challenge is to appreciate the strength and keep it consistent.

Just as strengths come easy, so do weaknesses. In fact we tend to struggle more with weaknesses. Uncontrollable emotions, indiscipline (with self and resources) and many more are things we need to know early enough and begin to work on so it doesn’t deter our progress or even affect any aspect of our lives. I’ve started to use the term “gap” instead as it simply makes me know these are things that must be closed or resolved or brought to the barest minimum for my good and others as well.

While pondering over the SWOT, I’ve learnt that we can only know Opportunities and Threats when we have set certain goals and aspirations for ourselves. So for instance, if my plan is to become the head of a department in a particular function and I know I need some experience in a unit in the department, a vacancy in that unit for my level of skill is an Opportunity. On the other hand, if I discover the organization is making plans to restructure in such a way as to move me to a different role and department, to my career goal, that becomes a Threat.
Some threats however don’t always come looking negative, however when compared with our ultimate goal it becomes clear it would only serve to deter. There is therefore nothing as good as being able to identify an opportunity when it comes especially when one is prepared for it and keys into it. Same thing for being able to spot a threat on time, strategize and quickly deal with it.

A good way to get to know your strengths and weaknesses is with sincere feedback from those around you. I got a book recently and passed it round some friends to help me by asking them to state what I need to be consistent in and what gaps I need to close. On the opportunities and threats, I am constantly reviewing my goals, so it’s engraved in my sub-conscious and can set off alarms for both when they occur. I therefore encourage – know your SWOT, to grow, to be better or to be a step ahead.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Define Success for Yourself

I was able to take a short break from work recently and made a discovery that now means so much to me. By the way, a break is something I strongly recommend. Amongst other benefits, it also affords you the opportunity to take a step out of your regular routine to appreciate your life from a different angle and of course get better refreshed to continue. For me, I was opportune to meditate (when my kids were off my sensory range) on what Success meant to me.

I’ve come to realize that Success actually means different things to different people. Even for each individual, the phase of life one is in, the experience one is going through also determine what success is. However, most of us tie it to the achievement of goals alone. For a child in elementary school, success is probably about going home with a report that makes mum and dad smile. For another in college, it may be beyond just making the parent smile at graduation to making an excellent grade above peers. And then it goes on to getting a wonderful job, getting recognized as a star performer at work or winning the contract as a business owner.

Truth is when we achieve those goals, we do feel good, but not long after that, we’re pursuing something else. On the other extreme, we never really define it for ourselves. We let what others have defined it to be to determine how we rate ourselves on the ‘success-o-meter’. So there could be someone who feels good enough about being a size 12, but because others feel a size 8 or 10 has a better figure, she begins to feel less “successful” and then goes through so much to be a success by their definition.

For a long time, I have quietly asked myself what it would take for me to eventually feel confident as successful but the period of reflection I had during my leave settled it. It’s the concept behind what it means that really matters. Now, 2 simple words if met at any point in my life would tell me clearly that “Olubukola Ogunfayo, you are a Success”. In Performance Management, we call those words – Key Performance Indicators. They are COMFORT and RELEVANCE.

Yes, I know some may say comfort is relative, relevance is time-bound; but to me comfort would be ease of getting what I need or want at anytime and relevance, being critical at all times. Now what this has done for me is to make me easily assess how close I am to my Success target or rate my success level. I have taken time to review different areas of my life – Faith, Marriage, Work etc on how comfortable and relevant I am.

I have also decided on certain actions I will take, goals with timelines I need to set, identified resources I must get that would make achieve both in these areas. I will not trade one for another because both need to be there for me to feel successful.

My counsel on this is for everyone to know exactly what makes them feel successful. We need to be able to identify our success level at every point in life so we can comfortably say we have become success stories despite how others may feel. I have found mine, have you?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What Do You See?

April is an anniversary month for me and FOOTSTEPS. I’m a year older on exactly the last day of the month and it would be about 2 years of blogging. For me, anniversaries are worthy of reflections and celebration. This is majorly because one needs to be glad to be alive to see another one, and for progress since the last one (as there should have been, even if small). So truly, I feel blessed to be adding another year to my age and this blog, to look back between now and the last, and appreciate the growth so far.

In as much as I see the need to reflect at anniversaries, it is also a good time to project to where we want to be, like organizations do at their Year End Strategy Sessions, . Lately, an old learning has been coming to mind which I believe would help with projecting at a time like this. For those of us familiar with Bible stories (I’m an ardent believer), this would be a reminder to a popular one where I would start this post from.

A man had the opportunity of turning fortune around in his favour by agreeing with his father-in-law that he’d take only the streaked of the cattle the father-in-law had after a period of time. Funny enough, at the time of this agreement, the father-in-law from all perspectives was more likely to be better off. However, this man had a strategy. He used the power of pictures on the cattle. He positioned before the cattle in their moments of heat, when they drank, “pictures of streak” from the bark of trees. So that somehow when they reproduced, though they were not streaked, they had streaks. And he made sure he did this with the stronger of the cattle, and at the end of the agreed period, the streaked outnumbered the non-streaked.

Truth is, if we look at our lives now, we are either at or close to some of the pictures of what we saw of ourselves years back in our lives. I know some may say, "well no...", but if you are far from it, then you probably didn’t make that picture strong enough on your subconscious. Somehow we attract what we are, and we gradually become what we see or believe of ourselves over time.

My take on this, is to review what exactly we see and the sources of those pictures. These pictures which we see even with closed eyes could come from what we hear/listen to, what people say to us, what we read or even what we watch. You cannot desire to have red pictures in your mind and all you overwhelm yourself with are yellow pictures. You’ll get to a place where even when you see the red, you call it yellow. So if those sources are giving wrong pictures change or correct them as the case maybe.

Secondly, get those pictures of who you want to be where you want to be or go, or what you want to do always before you. A couple-friend recently shared with us their exercise on cutting out pictures close to what they want their future to be like and pasting it on a board they would see regularly. This idea I encourage greatly, because some of us, for so long have seen the exact opposite of what we want our future to be like and we need a paradigm shift. You could even start with the screen saver on your phone or computer.

Lastly, those figures when settled strongly in our subconcious to a large extent affect the decisions we make, what we attract or what we get attracted to. Infact, at some point we begin to say so much about it that others around us can identify us with them.
In essence, we need to make sure we receive the right pictures and we need to focus on them. The reality is that, if by natural standards we wouldn’t have been able to do much of accomplishing them, we would in a future not too far from now, see ourselves having achieved much. As I look forward to these last days into my next birthday, my major goal is to seek the greatest source of my future pictures for new/clearer pictures of my life. My challenge, as you also consider projecting, is with this question…What Do You See?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Life – A Relay Race

Right now, my mind is jam-packed with recent learnings which I intend to sort out gradually and share, so I have decided to post this learning from my archive. It helped me in making certain resolve.

Sometime ago, I observed and heard the stories of those who passed on and the effect on their immediate family. And it gave me concern.

At the time this thought flooded my mind, I wondered majorly about the financial challenge that may come with the passing away of the parent on the young ones. Worse still if were both parents at the same time. Would there have been enough in place for the children to survive and live on, especially with the standard they enjoyed in the lifetime of their parent? Would there have been someone mandated with the responsibility to administer these funds, if all kids were minors, in a fair, wise and proper way? Would every area of their lives be well cared for – emotional, psychological, physical? Is there any establishment in place now that handles this fully?

Some would say there are insurance companies and all, but besides financial re-imbursement to the next of kin, are they saddled with the responsibility of somewhat filling that parent’s shoes especially when there is no worthy family member to take charge?

Then I discussed this at small meeting and I came out with the understanding that there are certain things you need to pass on to your young ones/put in place now so as to keep your mind at rest. So that come what may, when they take the baton from you at the time you pass it on, they would run their race even better than you did yours.

Firstly is the finance bit. This cannot be underestimated - Savings, investments and property. Never assume any sum is too small to set aside. Little drops make an ocean. Be diligent, be consistent. Along with this, is letting your spouse, lawyer or trusted friend/family in on whatever is in place for them. An uncle once told me when I marketed a company’s shares to him that, he would rather focus on property, since his kids could sue tenants for non-payment of rent and not the management of a company for non-payment of dividends. Different schools of thoughts but I got something from his counsel.

Secondly, you must imbibe the right values in them. The first may be a tough call for some but this one costs only time and conscious effort. If they can’t stand for something, they’ll fall for anything. Let your kids know what you stand for. Let them also know those values would make them outstanding, with or without you. Values like integrity, loyalty, excellence, humility, fairness etc are being used in companies now so everyone is functioning with the same mindset to sustain the business and its brand, how much more a lineage?

Thirdly, the ability to make something out of nothing or increase whatever comes into their hands. This would help them turn those lemons life offers them to lemonade. It would also enable them appreciate their small beginnings ad maximize the little they have in hand for greater things.

Lastly, but definitely not the least is faith & hope in God. This assures them someone greater than man is on their side. It would let them know come what may, the best is yet to come and will surely come.

So as we pray for long life, let’s remember, life is a relay as we pass the baton on to the generations after. Know the colour of your baton and let them know what colour they are looking out for to run with when it’s their turn.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Standby Shoulder, An Earnest Ear

Happy New Year to you all. It’s the first post this year and I trust it would bless you like others have. For me, and this I pray for you too, this year would be specially different. There would be a special difference in every area of life. That would make the year remarkable and memorable. I guess we all have certain things we are looking forward to and I know by Divine grace, they’ll be achieved.

I hope the title of the post will be the appropriate for this post. I feel it’s important that it does, so that by remembering the title after now, the message would be refreshed in our minds. As I have come to appreciate these parts of the body more after 2 recent incidents.

Sometime last year, a young Nigerian attempted to bomb an airplane flying into America. The news was perceived from different angles by different people as all other news we hear. However, what moved me the most was a reference in a dailies article to this young lad once saying he was lonely. A little more was said on him feeling set-apart in ideology from a few around him. And sincerely it gave me concern.

Not long after this, an acquaintance of mine mentioned a comparative story of a lady who just committed suicide, leaving behind her child who was less than 4 years old. She had lost her husband a year or two before then and was having a few challenges, finance being the major. Again, I felt really concerned.

My conclusion was this, or rather a question that rose in my heart was – would a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear to talk to have made a difference? I strongly believe so. For this young man for instance, the tell tale signs of him needing the shoulder and ear (peharps mum’s/dad’s) was when he observed his loneliness. His situation gradually took a better part of him and he became willing to die, even if it was for a cause he alone believed in. This lady was probably unable to find a shoulder to cry on, an ear to talk to in order to unburden her despair, she also became willing to end it all, because she didn’t feel she had a cause to live for or the will to survive any longer.

My challenge to all is this, identify a standby shoulder and an earnest ear and grab it when you begin to feel discouraged with life, feel lonely, feel broke, feel intimidated, feel sad or any other negative feeling. Even if you do not seek counsel at that time, you need to be able to unburden before you get over-burdened and then probably lose hope. I even have a list, God and my hubby being top 2.

Another side to it is this; we may actually be saving a life and not know we’re doing it by being a standby shoulder and earnest ear. Sometimes we need to be discerning enough to allow that “chatter-box” to talk, or unwind that “quiet one”. You could be one to your parent, sibling, colleague, neighbour or even the next passenger in a bus. It could be at a time when they need hope re-stirred in them. And we are the only ones available to do so.

On a final note as we continue in the year, don’t forget to get discerning as your shoulder, your ear, your smile, your touch, your words in season could save a life.