Monday, 26 November 2012

Chasing Success: L. L. S. F (4)

Good to see you here. I hope all is well with you?

In continuing my ramblings on 'Chasing Success', I will be touching on my fourth L.L.S.F (Lessons Learnt So Far)

As usual I will start with a preamble:

Recently, I have been reading about Moses (in the Bible). I know we often see him as a great leader who was chosen by God etc etc.......but he was actually a very reluctant leader. 

Indeed, when God first spoke to him and told him he was to lead his people out of Egypt, his initial reaction was one of great reluctance as he asked God: “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

To convince him, God showed him some miracles, by......................:
-         Turning his staff into a snake
-         Transforming Moses’ hand into a leprous hand and back again
-         And finally reassuring that if Pharoah did not listen, He would change water into blood

Despite this, Moses still protested...........
Exodus 4.10 “..........I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”

Despite God reassuring him, he begged................
Exodus 4.13 "Please send someone else........"

Although He was getting angry, God tried to reassure him AGAIN by highlighting the fact that his brother, Aaron – who was a great speaker could do the talking for him.......

Was that enough? No...still he protested:
Exodus 6.12....“If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips

I laughed when I read this because this is the man who was chosen by God to do a great deed..........and he sounded more 'zero' than 'hero' 

 If I were God, I would have given him a good slap and told him ‘You better do it or I will send thunder on you’ LOL

Seriously though, Moses' example shows that even the greatest amongst us is flawed - so we should not be so hard on ourselves. If God had been a mere human being, I bet he would have walked away from Moses. God saw something in Moses and that is why he chose him. There is something special in all of us.

This leads me to my fourth lesson learnt – BE AWARE OF YOUR PERSONAL BRAND - How you potray yourself often affects how others perceive you.  

To drive my point home, I would like to sell you two products:

PRODUCT A is a drink with the following features:
-         It is refreshing and thirst-quenching
-         Experts say it has rejuvenating qualities and makes drinkers look younger
-         People say it has a very unique taste
-         Lovers of this drink believe it has rejuvenating properties
-         This drink is good for people who are watching their weight

PRODUCT B is a drink with the following features:
-         Some feel the taste is a bit bland and boring
-         People do say too much of this drink can make tummies bloat
-         Certain versions of this drink can cause diarrhoea
-         Taking too much of this drink has caused death in some people
     -         People complain that certain versions of this product can be expensive

Can you guess what the products are? Well, both Products A and B are the same: water

Yes, a product is only inviting and desirable when it is perceived as such. 

Thinking of some favourite brands - Coca Cola, Dyson, Apple, Blackberry, Gala, Peak etc etc....Those who love these brands associate then with positivity. Similarly, the same applies to individuals and their 'Personal Brand':

 If someone is perceived as antagonistic......or......lacking confidence .......or.......cheerful..........or........selfish........or......indicisive.........or........reliable etc etc.....He/she is generally seen in that light most of the time. 

One of my favourite sayings is 'Success has many fathers but failure is an orphan' Too true. It is very easy to only remember the negatives that occur in one’s life but if that’s what you associate with yourself................What do you expect others to do?

 Yes, we can all do a 'Moses' (lacking confidence, courage etc) from time to time but not everyone has the patience of God; so as we are dealing with mere mortals from day to day - we must try to portray ourselves in a positive light.

YOU are the best advocate of your personal brand:
-         Celebrate your heritage. I believe we were all born in different circumstances for a reason
-         Celebrate your gender. There are good things about being male or female.
-         Celebrate your knowledge. I learn everyday – from old and young. No one knows everything.
-         Celebrate your experiences. Failure = Lessons Learnt. Setbacks = Hope for a better tomorrow.
-         Celebrate YOU. No one can do YOU like you can. Manage your Personal Brand. 

Hope I make sense?

I'll be back on the 5th of December for my final LLSF. Till then be safe, be nice.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Chasing Success: L. L. S. F (3)

Good to see you here again. I hope all is well with you

In continuing my ramblings on 'Chasing Success', I will be touching on my third L.L.S.F (Lessons Learnt So Far)

As usual, I will start with a preamble:

When Abby graduated in 1991, her priority was to make sure her younger siblings were well provided for. Her parents were both pensioners and this was the time - in Nigeria - when pensions were often not paid and pensioners really struggled to survive, talk less of taking care of their families.

As soon as she arrived in the UK, she contacted friends to make sure she got a job asap. Through her friends, she got a job as a carer (someone who goes into people’s homes to take care of their needs). Her job involved going into old people’s homes and help them with things they found difficult to do i.e. shopping, paying bills and laundry.

Abby did this job – with two employers - for three years; and was able to send enough money home to ensure her two younger ones could complete their university education. However, this was done at great sacrifice as Abby’s social life was nonexistent. Her living arrangements were also very basic as she chose to rent a room only so she could keep her living costs to a basic minimum. All through this period, whenever Abby called home, there was always one demand or another........... Abby did her best to make sure her family did not lack.

In her fourth year in London, Abby met a special person and they got married the following year in a small ceremony with a few friends. As they began to build a home together, Abby started to question her future as a carer – especially as she felt she was not achieving her full potential. Both her siblings had now graduated and she felt it was time to focus on her future. With the support of her husband, Abby decided to change to a part time job position (meaning a significant drop in income) and return to university - to retrain as a social worker.

When Abby told her siblings and parents about her new position – and that she wouldn’t be able to send money home regularly; she was surprised that her family was very cold. She expected them to warm up to the idea but this didnt happen. It seemed the ‘golden goose’ had stopped laying golden eggs. Saddened, she reminded her younger sister that she had done so much for the family and it was time to focus on herself – to consolidate her own future. Her sister’s reply:
‘Wetin you don do, wey somebody never do before?’ (What have you done that hasn’t been done before)

Broken hearted, she told her mother she was disappointed by her siblings’ behaviour......Her mother’s response: ‘Abeg no vex, you know first born be like dustbin !!! (Please don’t be offended, you must know that the first born child is like a bin – always on the receiving end)!!!

I use this story to illustrate my 3rd L.L.S.F : ‘Real Friends and True Family members should NEVER resent your success – Recognise Your Millstone’

(Millstone = One of a pair of cylindrical stones used in a mill for grinding grain - Also refers to A heavy weight or burden)

Dont get me wrong, we are all competitive. However, true friends and real family members should NEVER weigh someone down.
In most African cultures, we are brought up to put family first – always. However, over time, I have come to realise that some friends and family members can be  ‘millstones’ that can drag you down.

I have to be honest when I say some friends and family members can resent progress and change. That is when we hear comments like:
-         ‘You are not the boy/ girl I used to know’  OR ‘You’ve really changed’
  My opinion: How can people expect someone to remain the same forever?
-         ‘You think you are better than us now because you are now .........’
  My opinion: More often than not, the person asking the question is the one that is feeling inferior
-         ‘Are you ashamed of us?’
My opinion: Except the person who is being asked this question has been behaving like a snob, the person asking the question is likely to be trying to make the successful person feel guilty.

So, as harsh as it might sound – If one wants to achieve one’s dreams; one has to be conscious of those millstones in one’s life.

There is a pidgin saying that goes: 'Twenty pickin no fit play together for twenty years' (Twenty children cannot remain friends for twenty years)..........................Too true. One must recognise one's millstones and decide what to do with them.

May God grant us the wisdom to surround ourselves with people who are good for us. Amen.

Stay blessed, I'll be back on the 26th November.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Chasing Success: L. L. S. F (2)

Thanks for dropping by

In continuing the L. L.S. F series,  (L.L.S.F = Lessons Learnt So Far) I will be touching on my second lesson learnt today. Before I do so, I would like to share two scenarios with you:

Scenario 1:
Yemi was an assistant store manager in a London based fashion store. She liked her job as it involved fashion, meeting new people and talking to people - her favourite things in the world. 

However, recently, she had begun to hate going into work because her new manager - H - was making work a nightmare. Whatever she did was never enough. Even worse, colleagues have come up to her to tell her the new manager was spreading negative feedback about her work - painting her as an inefficient, incompetent worker. Yemi's branch was often visited by Head Office representatives and she noticed H was quite friendly with most of them. This made her take a back seat whenever they came into the branch because she felt every snigger.....every whisper mocked her. 

Yemi didn't know where to turn and everyday she went into work she felt a part of her was dying. She didn't even feel she had the energy to look for a new job as she was dealing with an unemployed husband, a sick mother and two young children. As she walked into work on Monday 3rd September, she felt so drained because she had had a weekend of rows with her husband; dealt with a sickly child and had very little sleep. As she sat down that morning in the office to print out last week's performance reports, she felt totally exhausted. At that moment, H entered the small office and started to whinge about something Yemi forgot to do. Yemi says she cant remeber what happened .................but something in her snapped and the next thing she knew, she was shouting in H's face and threatening to beat her up. Needless to say, Yemi lost her job..............

Scenario 2: 
Like Yemi, Marion had loved her job - till the branch manager-from-hell took over. Again, like Yemi, Marion had a lot to deal with outside work........her husband was always away in Nigeria, her teenage son was acting up; her daughter's schoolwork was suffering and her parents were always calling from Nigeria to remind her that she was not supporting them enough. 

Again like Yemi, she was becoming increasingly reluctant to go to work as she felt the new branch manager - V - was constantly undermining her and making her look inefficient.  Whenever the Area Manager came around, she noticed V was eager to impress him. That meant a lot of running around and trying to make the branch perfect. 

One day, the Area Manager dropped by in V's absence.........for a surprise visit. Marion seized this opportunity to have a chat with him. She avoided saying negative things about V and told the Area Manager all her ideas for improving the branch's performance. She also told the Area Manager what customers were requesting ...........and suggested she put together a formal document suggesting how sales could be improved. The Area Manager was very receptive to the idea and said he'd get back to her.

Marion didn't hear from him for some time.....until she was contacted and invited to Head Office to deliver a presentation to senior officials................That was how her career took off. 

These two stories come from two real life experiences and serve to illustrate my second L.L.S.F. This lesson is a simple equation:              E + R = O (Event + Reaction = OUTCOME)

This equation was passed on to me by a seriously impressive man I met sometime ago and it applies to so many aspects of life. 

We are all faced by different life-changing Events in Life.............and our Reactions determine the Outcome following these events:

- Betrayed by a Husband/Wife ? : Various reactions range from hating all men/women; Becoming extremely Promiscous or Continously seeking love in all the wrong places etc etc 
- Lost A Job ? : Various Reactions range from Securing any jobs to pay bills etc etc
- Abused as a Child ? : Various Reactions range from Feeling Self Hating Continously seeking love in al, the wrong places etc etc
- Failed To Get Admission to study your preferred Course ?: Various reactions range from Choosing another Taking a year out to retake the Avoiding University altogether etc etc 

All these choices, All these options ...............but each reaction will lead to a different Outcome.

I pray we all have the wisdom to be patient - and composed - enough to react appropriately, so we always achieve the best outcomes ....Always. 

I'll be back on November 18th. Till then, God bless you all

PS - Please forgive my delay in replying to comments. I will do so soon. I just like to take my time and read through properly *mwah*