Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Little Growths

It has been a while indeed and I really don’t know how to make up for the months of not posting an article. My sincere apologies, as 2 major events actually led to this and it took me longer than I could have imagined getting myself together. I lost my maternal grandma, who was so special and I was ill for weeks following this. In addition, like all other posts, I didn’t want to just put anything together, I wanted to be sure what I was sharing had been a learning point for me and would be for someone else. It is therefore elating for me to have something to share finally.

Over the period of being ill and then recuperating, I had put a stop to many activities I had been involved with both at home and on the business front. I needed help to get so many things done, and would ever be grateful for those who were there all through. However at some point, I became really bothered, wondering when every single thing would come back to normal again and I would be able to do much more than before. In other words, I was kind of dissatisfied and even a little frustrated. Then I came across a verse from one of my favourite books – “He who loves money shall never have enough…” and my eyes were opened to the insatiable state we could always find ourselves.

On another hand, I pondered the patience with which the farmer awaits the germination of his sown seeds, first the blade then the ear and later the harvest; the patience with which the nursing mother watches the growth of her newborn as he learns to sit up, crawl then walk. And in addition to this the many milestones she celebrates like when the crown of the first tooth is noticed. It made me realize how easy it is to get to that point in life where we tend ignore the signs of seemingly small positive changes; and it gave me concern that we fail to acknowledge the milestones achieved on the way to fulfilling those goals we have set for ourselves.

Another verse from the same book says simply – godliness with contentment is great gain. It somewhat describes contentment as a treasure, having some form of satisfaction as a form of wealth. I have learnt in essence that, even when we achieve some things we’ve always desired to the 100% mark, we tend to shortlive the period of satisfaction because we are already focusing on the more we can still do or have.

This is not about encouraging mediocrity. It’s about coming to terms with the little growths and increase, and learning to acknowledge some, compliment some and definitely celebrate some. It is not only a differentiating attitude, it is an enriching one.

So for me, am I doing all I was doing before yet? No, but am I doing somethings now which I couldn’t do when I was really ill? Yes, and for those ones, I give myself some passmark, while still forging ahead for more. For some of us, it may be with expected changes we desire in our children/spouse or staff? Have they come to the full picture? Maybe not, but have they made some adjustments towards the change? Most likely. It could be with respect to the goals we had set at the beginning of the year. Has this goal been fully ticked off? Maybe not; Are we where we were on it at the beginning of the year? Probably not.
We should be encouraged to support these growths or changes by acknowledging or complimenting or celebrating them…for those feelings of satisfaction/contentment in little levels of achievements go a long way in giving us some level of fulfillment in life.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Treasures from DLA

Sometime in March this year I was opportune to attend the Daystar Leadership Academy (DLA). It was the Basic Leadership Class. I had a fulfilling experience I must confess. Firstly, I had always wanted to do this, so having it ticked off my goal list was very satisfying and secondly because of the knowledge gained and the enriching networking opportunities.

As fulfilling as it was, it was a stretch program. There were rules to be followed, tests to be written and most especially mindsets to be changed. It took me incorporating early attendance (which was mandatory) with my regular morning school runs. We were taken on courses like Personal Transformation, Success Habits, Excellence Oriented Organization, Organisational Growth, Project Management, Systems Development, Family Success, Delegation Strategies amongst others.

An article on FOOTSTEPS would not be adequate to do justice to all I’ve learnt, but I would share some key ones in this post. I also encourage as many as can attend this Leadership/Management Program to do as well or any other recommended ones. If not for the certificate, it would be an opportunity to gather so much knowledge in a short time on leading people or an organization.

The first lesson that dawned on me at the beginning of the program was the essence of leadership. I learnt that there are many misconceptions about it which has somewhat resulted in the abuse of it over time and in many settings, from homes to organizations and the government.

It is not about titles, but about the tasks performed
It is not about status, but about service
It is not about consumption, but about contribution
It is not about cohesion, but ensuring cooperation
It is not about intimidation, but about inspiration
It is not about manipulation, but about motivation
It is not about lording over people, but loving people
It is not about being a celebrity, but a role of responsibility

In other words, if you are performing relevant/key tasks, serving sincerely, contributing valuably, enhancing cooperation in a team and inspiring or motivating some person other than yourself, if you never knew it before, you have been leading. I for one, used to think (while I worked) that since the organization’s organogram didn’t place me in a “specific - titled” role, then I wasn’t being challenged to develop my leadership potentials and couldn’t give so much as a leader. However, I discovered that in the capacity with which I had somewhat influenced individuals, junior colleagues, peers and teams towards the achievement of a goal, I had served as a leader.

Another lesson I took away from the program, is that SUCCESS IS WHO YOU ARE. In essence, your nature determines the success that can be achieved. It is not merely in the doing but in being. That is why sometimes we see some people whose status or achievement we covet, and the first thing we try to do to succeed like they have is just copy exactly what they do. This often leads to frustration in the long term because we are somewhat working against our nature.

To do something you have never done before, you must become someone you have never being before. The first point of call is changing or developing your person, and then the doing will automatically follow. More often than not, your person is tied to your mindsets; for the journey from grass to grace is an Internal Trip. The challenge here is to so work on your inside, challenge and correct those wrong or limiting mindsets, discover truths, develop your mind, that your outside would be struggling to catch up with it. Even if the outside isn’t changing in the short term, in good time, it will align.

The last but definitely not the least of all my take-aways is the bit on Self Improvement under the Success Habit Course. I am a freak, fanatic, stickler (what other vocabulary is there?) for personal development. I believe in becoming a better you and not settling for the status quo, challenging yourself continually. So it was quite interesting to learn more on this. One of the major activities on self improvement is reading /studying. Earl Nightingale said many years ago that “one hour per day of study in your chosen field was all it takes. One hour per day of study will put you at the top of your field within three years. Within five years you’ll be a national authority. In seven years, you can be one of the best people in the world at what you do”. The tasks with this are to identify that area you want to be good at and then develop the staying power to keep at it. I study an average of 7hours/week now, but on different interests. However, I intend to pick my area of passion and make sure, I top up on it regularly.

On a final note, to gather information is great, but to do with what-you-know is greater. I have tried to instill a practice of noting down action points from every book I read and training program I attend. The fewer they are the better and with deadlines. That way I can experience immediate value from a learning. I encourage you on this, as well as the pearls I have shared. On our own we may not be able, but definitely with God we can.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Birthday Blues

Maybe it wasn’t so bad leaving this month’s post till today. It’s my birthday today and also another anniversary for FOOTSTEPS. As I meditated this morning, and also thought through on the article to post, it became clearer what I’d be sharing on.

Days like this are one of those I look forward to in the year, like Christmas, New Year’s Day and even birthdays of loved ones. I don’t really know why, but it gets me usually excited as the day approaches, just knowing it’s not just like another day. It’s my birthday! Knowing some years ago, my mum pushed in some hospital in Lagos and voila, a baby girl (me) became a special part of their lives and the world. And for many who know me, I do not take the day for granted.

Aside knowing it’s my day to receive a lot of calls, messages, prayers, cards/gifts; it’s also like a significant beginning for me, just like the start of a new calendar year. As businesses do at the end of their financial year end into another, I use the period to review my progress since the last birthday and plan against the next. I basically reflect on my life so far, with a major focus on my walk with God, my achievements, the lives I have influenced, where I have done well and areas for improvement.

When I clocked 30 a few years ago, I was overwhelmed during my reflections about not having done so much per se. I felt I’d not maximized a lot of potentials or given as much as I could have. I kept pondering on that one thing I existed for. Those mediations led me to doing some things and making a number of changes I’ve made in the recent times. As I look back now and look forward more, I know I’m getting there by God’s help, to become all He has intended. What is life after all, if those potentials remain untapped?

So as usual, earlier in the week I took time to take stock, and I’m also anticipating certain new things. My hopes are high, and I’m dreaming more. Before the week runs out I should have a longer list of “…in my lifetime”. It’s a list of 50-100 items that will contain, “what I want to be”, “what I want to do” and “what I want to have”, all in my lifetime. I’ll encourage you on this too, the list just does something to you when you write and when you review. I wrote some like 3 years back and on review a few weeks ago with my husband; I was shocked but pleased to know a number had been achieved.

Your birthday may not be such a different day to you, it may have passed, it may be later in the year…but I beseech you, it’s a day worth reflecting, it’s a day worth rejoicing over, for one thing, you’re alive and so you can hope for the best and like me, you can dream.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Not By Chance

It is another election season in Nigeria, and batons will change hands afterward. Many are trying to position themselves or their own to take an office, from the Local Government to the Presidency. Parties are strategizing, meetings are being held, money is being raised and spent on campaigns, and activities are gathering momentum for the final lap in this race. The point where every eligible man will cast his vote according to his conviction, whether based on information and understanding or coercion, men will vote and the winners will be declared, sworn in for another season of service. Well for me, I see it as service, though I know many aren’t aware that leadership is really about this.

One interesting part of this current period for me has been the debates. I was present at one, and I have watched a few as well. It has to some extent brought up revelations about the candidates from levels of competence to extent of preparedness in taking the office they are vying for, from temperaments to their thoughts on issue resolution. One of those debates which I am yet to watch though is the Youth Representative debate. It was interesting when I learnt about this, particularly because I knew 2 of the participants who would be representing different parties.

I wasn’t surprised about Adeolu Akinyemi because I’m a little privy to his political affiliation and commitments. However, my initial feeling on Uche Chuta was of shock. I kept saying I know this guy, I know this guy… but is he politically inclined? And then a memory flashed back as the thought stayed with me, it was a confirmation of how our yesterday has an impact on today.

Way back in our elementary days we were all pals, as we lived in the same company estate though we attended different schools. So when some of us represented our schools at different times in the regular inter-school debate on national television, it was easy to note one another. I recall Uche was one of his school's representatives at a debate.Thinking through Uche participating in this current debate, though we had lost touch since we all moved and I didn’t know what he was up to, I settled to the fact that the debate of yesterday was not by chance.

When we look at our lives now and reminisce on our yesterday, to a large extent we’ll all be able to match certain decisions we made and events that occurred then to others that have shown up in our today. For example I had had an ambition to be a fashion designer and used to make lots of sketches as a kid. This wasn’t particularly nurtured as I grew up so it went to sleep, as I took on Architecture then Human Resources but it has however re-surfaced, as couture is one of the services I offer now.

The truth is, these seeming awakenings or repetitions are also not by chance. Somehow those of the past, though they appeared to have occurred randomly, revealed our abilities or prepared us for now. They were yesterday’s seeds whose fruit we now see. The learning point however is that, we can also tie our today to our tomorrow. We can to a good extent determine or predict tomorrow’s fruit by the seed we sow now, the decisions we make now, the exposure we get, the trainings we give ourselves, the relationships we keep, the way we manage our finance and of course what we say “yes” or “no” to.

If we have an idea of what we would like for the future we need to work back from tomorrow and live today more consciously. I will….will you?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pass On The Torch

The debate went well. It was another learning opportunity. It felt good being there to see how issues were taken by the candidates. However, the events that followed as the program came to a close were the most unpredictable, unplanned, infact the very last I could ever have considered would happen to me on such a day like that.

As I moved in the throng to extend my greetings to my mum’s friend, who I had noted earlier, I felt a hand slip swiftly into my bag and out. But I knew. I knew an item had been taken and it clicked immediately that it had to be my phone. Immediately, I turned around and grabbed the hand of a man who I felt was the closest to do such and was already turning away. I accosted him, ‘you put your hand in my bag now’. Ofcourse he denied, but while I confirmed to be really sure, he had walked away. Again I followed, pushing my way through the crowd and stopped the man again (well I think it was the same person), telling him he took my phone and all, this time, this one advised me to call the line. Alas, it dawned on me, there was no way to catch the perpetrator, everyone had been advised to leave their phones on silent or vibrate during the program.
I felt really sad, confused, everything negative but tried to pray. I prayed that somehow God would order my steps, show me mercy and show me favour. My prayer was answered.

So as not to bore you with the details, I’ll make it a brief one. I got the phone back. Less than 3 hours after the incident. The lady who gave me back explained that she had picked it when it fell on her leg in the crowd. I met her at her location and she returned it without collecting a dime.

On my way back I suddenly remembered an incident that occurred some weeks back. I had erroneously got an SMS for a recharge into my network via my phone. The remitter and beneficiary had reached me immediately pleading for me to refund. I couldn’t refund directly or do anything that night but the next day I sent back the PIN for the credit of the same value (an unplanned expense though). I got thank-you messages from them afterwards, to which I had replied saying – "...that’s the way we’ve been taught of the Lord, you can pass on the good works".

Truth is, the opportunity to do the right, to do good came my way, I harnessed it and it left me feeling great. I was also a recipient of someone who chose to do right, to do good and I know I was not the only one who felt wonderful but the lady would have as well.

It’s like a torch, we need to pass it on. I can imagine a world where we are all conscious of the needs of the next person; where we make it our personal objective to keep doing the right things and being good. The opportunity is there, the feeling is rewarding and priceless; when you are a recipient, you also enjoy like I did, the wonderful feeling of receiving kindness.

I encourage you with a few lines from my High School’s anthem
…Pass on the love that can transfigure…
We forward press not backward turning,
That this our torch more brightly burning
May yet pass on and on forever….

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Some Like it Hot...

Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold,
Pease porridge in the pot nine days old
Some like it hot, some like it cold
Some like it in the pot, nine days old

Though I had learnt this nursery rhyme way back in my elementary days, little did I appreciate its depth and reality. A recent happening left me with a lesson that brought back strongly the essence of the rhyme.

I’ve already shared this personally with so many but more assuredly, I will hold on dearly to this in my career as an Entrepreneur. Truth is, long before I took off on this journey, I’d learnt that businesses must focus on identifying and meeting needs. It’s about providing solutions to certain issues of the clients or customers. However, I have discovered even another dimension to meeting a need.

Couture is my first line of business at the moment. I’ve not kicked off fully yet since I’m still putting a few things in place and rounding off at the fashion school. All the same, after over 10 weeks we have mastered certain basics of dress making and started making some wears. I decided on starting with complimentary jobs, a good opportunity to introduce myself in the market place. I took this one job from a good friend, and went ahead to execute with what I look back in retrospect as a little understanding of her preferences. The job came out well; truthfully many saw it and commended my efforts. I put in a lot of hours to add creativity here and there. It was one of my first jobs for heaven’s sake; I couldn’t afford to make it simple. Lo and behold, I took it for fitting and despite encouragements that I’d done well on a number of notes, she said – “the style is not me”. And then it dawned on me, nothing satisfies a customer like the exact blueprint of their expectations.

This other dimension to meeting a need is in ensuring one knows the details in full of what the customer needs and wants. It’s about reading in between the lines when they are giving their briefs. It’s about asking; asking and asking….just know that client. It goes beyond the efforts you put in, the time you’ve sacrificed, the funds you’ve expended, all would be like nothing if the other party involved isn’t fully satisfied. So now, more than anything, I’m asking and learning about my client.

While sharing this experience with some loved ones, another perspective surfaced. The same lesson applies in the other relationships like in families, and with friends. We tend to give what we feel would be appreciated because that is probably what we may want if we were in the shoes. So a woman is giving her husband a big card that sings because she really appreciates it, but he doesn’t even like cards in the first place.

We would do our relationships and businesses good if we go this extra mile to research, discover, learn what exactly we must do, how we must do, when we need to do while providing solutions. Honestly, those experiences of spot-on-execution never leave us; they enhance relationships, boost our morale from positive feedback and increase our network base through referrals.

Leave your own personal preferences and know the category your customer, client, loved one belongs…for in actual fact, some like it hot, some like it cold, some like it old and some don’t even like it.