The Art of Traveling Light: Forgiveness. Part II.

A valuable life lesson. 

“I felt something very heavy lifted off my chest” my mum told me. Growing up, like many families, we had a rough patch that almost tore our family apart. At the center of the pain of the family disputes was a family-friend we greatly honored. The lies, insults, and confusion they had brought to our family were directed at my mother. It was so bad that most of our extended family distanced themselves from us. I vividly remember one morning when things turned from bad to worse, my parent’s argument spilled out of the safety net they had created for us not to be exposed to what was going on. Being a little older than my younger brother, I thought that our family would fall victim of divorce. I was scared! 

But at that tipping-point, when any rational person would have thought it was the end of our family, my mum did the unexpected. Instead of blaming anyone for the predicament we were in, she became very intentional about praying, protecting us, and seeking to forgive anyone that was involved in bringing us pain, including the family friend who was the epicenter of it all. Going through the family conflict, and now back, I learned two important lessons on forgiveness. First, I learned that forgiveness is possible despite how bad the hurt and failure was. Second, forgiveness can heal the deepest wounds of being wronged, especially by those who you least expected to hurt you. But before I share with you how forgiveness lightens our life, especially in light of our past hurts, failures, and disappointments, let’s look at five misconceptions about forgiveness that keep most people from benefiting from forgiveness. 

The misconceptions

  1. Forgiveness requires an apology. “I will not forgive them until they come to me and apologize.” This kind of self-talk has kept many captive to their negative experiences. Forgiveness doesn’t not require an apology. Often, when people wrong you, the last thing they want to do is face you. This means they will unlikely come to you and say sorry. And if they do come, their forgiveness might not be adequate for what they did. So anytime you wait for an apology, it might take forever to come, and if it ever comes, it might not be what you expected. Therefore, never wait for an apology, forgive first. 
  2. When you forgive, you benefit your offender. Forgiveness is first and foremost important for you. The ultimate benefit for forgiveness is healing and you are the first recipient of this benefit. Your offender is a secondhand beneficiary of what forgiveness does for you.
  3. You must recover from a hurt before you forgive. While this looks like the order of events when it comes to forgiveness, it’s not exactly accurate. Forgiveness is the first step to heal and recover from a hurt. Avoiding seeing someone or ignoring a pain someone caused you would be like addressing the symptoms of a disease, but forgiving is the surgery that leads to healing, it addresses the root cause of the pain. 
  4. If you forgive the offense will be repeated. This misconception is born out of fear of being hurt again. But whenever forgiveness happens, and especially if the offender is aware of it, its power transforms their attitude towards a very positive one. 
  5. Forgiveness means you shouldn’t or can’t address the hurt with your offender. One way to look at forgiveness is looking at it as a door, a door that brings healing and reconciliation. It’s only when you go through the door of forgiveness that you are able to address the issue that caused you hurt in a wholesome way. Without forgiveness, bitterness and resentment will prevent you from facing the issues clearly. 

It’s only when we don’t fall for the above misconceptions about forgiveness, that we are able to fully benefit from the power of forgiveness and its ability to lighten our journey through life. Forgiveness enables us to travel light in life in the following three ways: 

I. Refreshes your perspective on failure and mistakes

The heaviest load in life is the load of failure and mistakes. While failure and mistakes are inevitable, learning from them is not a guarantee. Learning from a failure or mistake requires a different perspective than what leads to failure or mistake. Forgiveness is what refreshes your perspective on failure and mistakes, thereby allowing you to learn from them. Whether it is a failure you experienced or a wrong done to you by somebody else, forgiving yourself or the other person, enables you to acknowledge what has happened and hit the refresh button on your outlook. 

The moment your perspective is refreshed, and you begin looking at your failures and mistakes from a better vantage, you begin to experience the next power of forgiveness, which is the release from past negative experiences. 

II. Release your mind from negative experiences 

Going back to my family’s story, mum would have allowed the negative experience to hold her back, but she chose forgiveness. My mum tells me how when she decided to completely and unconditionally forgive the family friend who was at the center of all the controversies, she decided to approach her and tell her that she had forgiven her. That decision, according to my mum, set her free from the negative past experiences. She stopped feeling bad or hurt whenever she would see her. All the negative emotions were wiped-out by the simple act of forgiveness. Witnessing firsthand the healing that took place and the peace of mind that followed, taught me that it is very important to use forgiveness to release my mind for any past negative experiences.  And it’s only when our minds are free from past negative experiences that we are able to have the energy of being in charge of the future. 

III. Revamp your energy to take control of the future

The late radio host Bernard Meltzer of the call-in show, “What’s Your Problem?” is quoted saying, “When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.” Often, the pain caused by others, especially those closest to us, might seem to be too much to leave behind. But when we forgive, there is a magical, almost mystical thing that happens in our hearts that gives us energy to turn from the past and face the future. Through forgiveness, we are empowered to have control of the future. Without forgiveness we become powerless to conquer the past. When it came to my mum, twenty years after the family conflict, she became the cornerstone of the strength of the family because she forgave. 

I shared this intimate story about my family to show you one thing, forgiveness is a powerful force that can heal. Joyce Meyer, an American Christian author, speaker and president of Joyce Meyer Ministries said, “Forgiveness is not a feeling – it’s a decision we make because we want to do what’s right before God.” I saw my mum make the tough decision to forgive, and I believe that you have the power to forgive anyone in your life who has caused you pain. Joyce Meyer added, “It’s a quality decision that won’t be easy and it may take time to get through the process, depending on the severity of the offense.” To add to the wisdom of Joyce, I would say, as you go through the process, make sure you don’t get hindered by the misconceptions we covered above. Remember that with God’s help you can forgive anyone. 

What’s Next…

I have titled this blog series “The art of traveling” because I have observed that those who live a life that is impactful and significant, they do it in an artistic way. They are intentional about a few major things that most people don’t really pay attention to. One of them is forgiveness. They learn to forgive themselves from their failures and others for the pains they cause them. The next thing they are intentional about is their expectations. Next week we will look at managing our expectations in light of traveling light. 

The Art of Traveling Light: Forgiveness. Part I.

Enjoying the Journey.

Traveling through airports quite often, I have learned how to travel light. I carefully choose everything I take with me. I go to the extent of carefully considering what to wear because of going through the TSA security. I have learned that the less I carry with me the more I get to enjoy the journey. While we put much thought on making our airport experience easier, maybe by wearing comfortable shoes or by ensuring that our luggage are not over the required airline weight, I have observed that we often don’t take as much consideration to the quality of the bigger journey we all are in, the journey of life: Particularly, we don’t pay attention on what we carry in our journey until it becomes too heavy for us to bear. While we don’t like to get stopped by the TSA agent for something suspicious in our bags, we completely hate to have to pay extra for overweight bags. Similarly, we shouldn’t wait until the price tag for what we carry through in life is too much for us to bear. To avoid this happening and assure you enjoy your life, you must, at one point or another, answer the question, what’s necessary for me to carry in the journey of life?

Healing a Nation

In the wake of July 15th, 1994, what had been viewed by the global community as an internal conflict had resulted in the mass execution of about one million people and an estimated five hundred thousand rapes. The members of the Tutsi tribe were nearly wiped out from the face of the earth by their fellow countrymen of the Hutu tribe. The Rwandan genocide, its scale and brutality, caused shock worldwide. Families that had lived alongside each other for years and their children played together, had now taken up arms against each other. The whole world wondered how all the hurts would ever be reconciled.

But today, over 25 years after the devastating war that left a country deeply scarred and the world utterly shocked, Rwanda is defining forgiveness. Thousands of perpetrators are living alongside their victims. The deep wounds that seemed impossible to overcome, are now being healed across the country one victim at a time. Perpetrators are seeking forgiveness to their victims, while victims are seeking healing. The result is a healing nation.

Over the years, the people of Rwanda, had to answer the question, what was necessary for them to carry moving forward, hurting or healing? They chose healing. Healing required them to choose one of the oldest ways for lightening the burden of life; Forgiveness. In this world, you will fail, you will find faults in others, and you will be hurt by others. Failure, faults, and hurts are the greatest source of extra weight we might pick on this journey of life. But like what has been happening in the Rwandan people, if we live a life of forgiveness, we will have taken the first step of travelling light.

So, before we can dive into how forgiveness lightens our journey, let’s examine what are the core factors of forgiveness that allows it to lighten our lives as it’s doing to the people of Rwanda.

1.    A heart of love

“There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love.” said Bryant McGill author of the Voice of Reason. It is impossible to separate forgiveness from love. Mother Teresa, 1979 Nobel Peace Prize, who was known for her life of service is quoted saying “If we really want to love, we must learn how to forgive”. If you have ever forgiven anyone, whether you consider them a friend or not, your forgiveness originated from love. Whether you were conscious of the love or not. A heart devoid of love is full of hate, and where there is hate there is no forgiveness. Therefore, at the core of true and pure forgiveness is a heart of love.

A heart of love, that is a heart that is filled with love, even when faced with failure, faults, or hurts of others, is able to withstand all evil. One of my favorite prolific writers, Apostle Paul, described love by giving its attribute that showed what love was and what it wasn’t. In describing what it is, he wrote, “love is patient and it is kind.”  In referencing what it isn’t he wrote, “Love does not envy, isn’t boastful, or proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs….always hopes, always perseveres and love never fails.” These qualities of love explain why a heart that’s full love is at the core of forgiveness. While love opens the doors for forgiveness, grace powers us to take the actions of forgiveness.  

2.    The power of grace

Forgiveness is about deliberate and decisive actions that bring healing to the soul. The gap between deciding to forgive and letting go of the pain and bitterness is only closed by the power of grace. Grace is unmerited or underserved kindness. When we get hurt by people, the first virtue that gets affected is kindness. But grace moves us to forgive despite the fact that those hurt us don’t deserve it.

The work of Photographer Pieter Hugo of South Africa was featured on New York Times Magazine (online) in which he documented stories of reconciliation in Rwanda 20 years after the genocide. The trend that emerged in every story was how grace from the survivors was extended to the perpetrators of the war. There was nothing that could be done to bring healing to the people apart from forgiveness powered by grace. No prison time was able to cleanse the sins of the offenders. Karorero a survivor of the genocide is quoted saying, “Sometimes justice does not give someone a satisfactory answer. But when it comes to forgiveness willingly granted, one is satisfied once and for all” this is what grace does. It allows us to extend forgiveness to those who might never be able pay us back. Karorero added, “When someone is full of anger, he can lose his mind. But when I granted forgiveness, I felt my mind at rest.”

It is only when we allow the power of grace to move us, that we are able to forgive. Lasting forgiveness that eliminates any traces of bitterness is only possible by grace.  And when we yield to the power of grace, we are moved from a state of bitterness to a place where we desire reconciliation.

3.    A desire for reconciliation

Forgiveness always seeks a positive outcome. At the core of forgiveness is a desire for reconciliation. Reconciliation does not mean forgetting what has happened in the past, but it is acknowledging the failures we have experienced, the faults of others, and the hurts we have experienced in our past, then moving into the future in the most positive way possible.

While it is true that we may not be able to restore every broken relationship to its former state, we can build stronger and more beautiful relationships when we fully allow the process of forgiveness to take its course. It’s us who hold back and stand on the way of forgiveness. There is no forgiveness if there is something that’s holding us back.

Circling back to where we began, when we forgive, we do it because of the heart of love; it’s forms a loop that births a deep human desire for reconciliation. So, when you listen deeply to at the heart of forgiveness, there is a desire for reconciliation.

In summary, forgiveness is a result of love, grace and a desire to reconcile. In Rwanda, it’s not only healing the two tribes, it also allowing Rwandans, whether Tutsi or Hutu, to look into the future of their country with hope. As a result, Rwanda has overcome its dark past and has emerged as one of the most successful economies in Africa.

Forgiveness is the first key to travelling light.

What’s Next….

Next we will further explore how exactly forgiveness lightens our journey of life. Until next time, here is a quote for you to ponder on. “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Mahatma Gandhi.

Habits that will you Maximize your Personal Energy

A rise in Energy Crisis

As the world scrambles for renewable energy sources to meet the growing demand, there seems to be another energy crisis that seems to lack adequate attention. Personal energy crisis. We live in an age where the load in our to-do-list is increasingly becoming longer and demanding more from us. The responsibilities both at home and our workplace have led us to live in a state of continuous tiredness. Personal energy crisis is clearly marked with two major things that is impossible to ignore; increased dependency on energy drinks such as Red-bull and the rise of anxiety across all ages of people, which show up as agitation, aggressiveness, and impatience. But like the world energy crisis, the root of personal energy crisis is poor management of personal energy.

Addressing the crisis

Good management of your personal energy is tied to two things, your awareness and your habits.

Awareness: One of the important features on any smartphone is often located on the top right corner of the phone’s screen. It’s the battery icon that tells you the status of your phone’s battery: it makes you aware of the energy left before your next charging session. Similar to how we keep an eye on the battery status of our new phones to prevent them from abruptly dying on us, we need to have a means by which we remain aware of our life personal energy before we experience burnout, which is equivalent to a phone dying while in use.

Awareness of your personal energy begins with the knowledge and appreciation of the four quadrants for personal energy abbreviated as the 4QPE, which comprises of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual energies. Unlike the phone that runs on a single battery, we run on a four-chambered battery. Insufficient power in any of the four chambers will only make you run so long before you experience a burnout. Similar to how we are accustomed to feeling physical fatigue and there by resting, we ought to equally pay attention to the other three chambers of our batteries. Otherwise stated, we must be aware of the state of our emotional, mental, and spiritual energy as much are very aware of our physical energy. What’s even more valuable is realizing that if we manage properly the emotional, mental, and spiritual chambers, our physical chamber easily managed. Unfortunately, we pay more attention to our physical state compared to emotional, mental, or spiritual state. We must ask ourselves what habits must practice or avoid in order to manage the 4QPE.

Habits: When it comes to personal energy, habits either drain or recharge our batteries. After having an all-round awareness of your personal energy and realizing that your productivity depends on it, you can develop habits that will help you maximize your personal energy in all four quadrants.

1.     Resting and Recharging: Protect your resting time

As simple as this sounds, resting and recharging is becoming increasingly rare and valuable. Rare because what used to be a safe space and time for resting and recharging has been invaded by technology. If you take your phone to bed or have a TV in your bedroom then, technology has infiltrated your resting and recharging space and time. Resting and recharging is becoming more valuable because it’s the only means through which we attain mental sharpness and alertness in a world full of distractions.

When it comes to physical and mental resting, I use six hours of uninterrupted sleep between 11:00pm to 5:00am. To rest and recharge mentally, in addition to the six hours when I am asleep, I allow reading or watching something that allows me to relax. And what I consider the foundational chamber of my energy, my spiritual energy, I use prayer and fellowship with others of my faith to rest and recharge. This is how I make sure I receive a comprehensive rest and recharge for me to fire on all cylinders. The question I have for you is this, how do you rest and recharge your four-energy chambers for maximum personal energy? And what is the quality of your rest and recharging time and space? Without proper resting and recharging habits, it will be impossible to exercise the second habit for maximizing your personal energy, exercising inner calmness in every situation.

2.     Exercising inner Calmness in every situation

The last place to expect calmness is in battlefields where our troops are always under constant pressure of imminent attacks. Yet Former Navy SEAL Commander, Rorke Denver, a man who was trained to be at the heart of the battle said that one of the most valuable advice he ever received in SEAL Training school was on calmness, which was, calm is contagious.  On the surface, this advice doesn’t even remotely connect to the warrior he was being trained to be. But looking closely, a state of calmness keeps at bay its opposite and alternate state, panic. While calmness allows us to focus our energy, panic disperses energy making us ineffective under pressure. This explains why warriors such as men in the Navy SEALs are trained to be calm under stressful environments.

Calmness is an inside condition that comes with lots of exercise. It’s maintaining a clear head when there is chaos all around you. You can only exercise inner calmness when you know how to do two things: First, being a minimalist when it comes to having control. Understanding that you can control a limited number of things when chaos arises, will help you to give up controlling things that are out of your control and focus on the very few things that you still can control. Often, the few things we can really control lay within us such as our mental state. Second is learning to ride the storms of life instead of fighting it. Like an eagle if you learn how to take advantage of the storm, you won’t waste any energy fighting the storm, but you will use it to soar higher.

Exercising calmness in all situations will prevent you from being sucked up into the noises of life. It enables you to think and see things clearly thereby allowing you to move with precision. Those who don’t remain calm especially in relationships end up misusing their energy engaging in arguments that drains them.

3.     Avoid unprofitable arguments

If there is anything that can quickly drain all your four energy chambers, simultaneously, is unprofitable arguments. The writer of some of the most influential letters in history, the Apostle Paul, often warned the men he mentored to be transformative leaders concerning foolish arguments. In a letter to a young leader named Timothy, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Avoid foolish and ignorant arguments, knowing that they generate strife.” His advice might be a few hundred years old but it’s truth is undeniable. Despite your cultural or religious background, unprofitable arguments lead to strife and drains all parties’ energies. To stay away from unprofitable arguments, we must remember that people have different perspectives depending on their past and present experiences. Sometimes giving people time to gain the insight you have is all the remedy for arguments, especially in a relationship. Giving up the need to always prove that you’re right will also save you a lot of energy.

In summary, as much as our personal energy is renewable, it’s not unlimited. If we are to experience productivity at the highest level, we must manage and protect our four-chambers of personal energy equally since they are dependent on each other. Protect your resting time, intentionally exercise calmness under stressful situations, and never engage in unprofitable arguments. You will maximize your personal energy for productivity.

What’s Next….

While maximizing our time through the habits we covered in the last post, and using the lessons from today’s post to maximize our energy will greatly improve our odds extraordinary results, the art of traveling light through life which will be our next subject to cover in the next few weeks, will greatly improve the quality of life we live. Until next time, here is a warning from Gary Keller, author of The One Thing, “Personal energy mismanagement is a silent thief of productivity”.

Habits that will help you maximize your time for success.

Reset and Hope

One of the reassuring feelings that a majority of people experience at the beginning of the year is a feeling of a fresh start. Whether we were experiencing success or failure in the previous year, a new year has a way of making us feel like it’s time to hit the reset button. If successful in the previous year, we make goals to go to the next level. And if we were failing, which even the successful people experience in one area or another, we come up with plans to do things differently. With the reset button in front of us, we are filled with fresh hope. We believe that things will be better and that we will experience more success in our endeavors. If you’re like me, you buy an annual calendar that will help you get things done. But some sense of despair moves in when you start writing your goals for the new year. Your new goals remind you of the many unaccomplished goals from the previous year. You might wonder will I have enough time this year around to be successful in my goals!

Not Enough Time!

How often do you wish you had more time to accomplish your goals? “I don’t have enough time!” has become a common statement even among young people. It’s as though our days no longer have 24 hours. What’s still true is that both the productive-successful people and the busy-unproductive have the same amount of time per day to achieve their goals. With that backdrop of truth, we must ask ourselves, what are the habits that will enable us to be effective with our time, especially as we begin a new year?

In today’s post, I will remind you of three habits that you’re able to possess that will help you maximize your time. Then, in the next blog post, we will look at habits that will help you maximize your energy. For now, let’s begin with habits that maximize our time.

1.     Decluttering

The nature of your environment is a major determining factor on how effective you use your time. A well-organized environment translates to better use of time, while unorganized environment means the opposite; time is wasted. As I mentioned in a previous blog, effective use of time and productivity are linked by staying organized. Decluttering is the process of keeping our environment free from unwanted stuff. This habit of removing unnecessary things from your environment, is the first habit that will allow you to be effective with your time.

There are three environments that directly and daily dictate how our time is consumed. They are, the mind, daily working space, and our relationships. These environments must be decluttered for us to be successful. First, we declutter our minds by determining the thoughts we allow in our mind. Not every thought that enters your mind should be allowed to settle in. Every thought that comes to you must be judged right. Determine its origins and access its profitability. Second, we declutter our relationships by being intentional about who we welcome in our lives.  The great single-handed influence in your environment is the people in your life. Your relationships determine how you spend your time. When we surround ourselves with toxic relationships, we spend our time doing things that are toxic. But when we are surrounded with positive and healthy relationships, we do things that are productive and healthy. So, we declutter in the area of relationships by moving away from unhealthy and unproductive relationships. Third, we declutter our working spaces. In the digital world we live in, we find ourselves working more on digital space than before. This has created a need for us to learn how declutter that world. Like traditional working space, I have discovered decluttering digitally is very similar to how we clear our physical workspace. Getting rid of subscriptions, closing unnecessary webpage, and maintaining ….is the best way to stay. In a nutshell

Decluttering is a powerful habit that enables us to be successful in the few things that are important to us. Its power is well summed up by Joshua Becker, the author of The More of Less, in his quote, “The first step in crafting the life you want is to get rid of everything you don’t.” But you can’t get rid of what you don’t want unless you are okay with saying no!

2.     Being okay with saying No!

I love serving others. My goal in life is to add value to as many people as I can. So, over the years I found myself being a yes man. But closer observation leads me to discover that despite having all the good desire to serve others, if I didn’t learn how to say no then I would experience burnout. Which is the biggest threat to anyone who serves others. But on observing people who are successful, learning from the stories, I realize that learning to saying no is critical to being successful in their purpose.

Saying no in a way that enables you to serve others without being selfish begins with knowing your purpose, commitments and your boundaries. When you know your purpose, it’s easier to say no to things that aren’t connected to your values. When you know what you’re committed to then saying no to things that distract you from your goals become a no brainer. And when you know where your boundaries are, it’s saying no that helps you remain within those boundaries, in an area where you perform at your level best.

But the best benefit to learning how to say no in life is that it allows us to develop the third habit of success, which is living by priority.

3.     Living by priority

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” Johann Wolfgang. While decluttering helps you eliminate the unimportant things in life and saying no helps you protect them, living by priority allows you to place the important things front and center and act on them first. It prevents us from falling victims to what the American prolific Author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People waned, “Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.”

To live by priority calls for us to us to have three things. First, we must have a sense of definiteness of purpose. This allows to go through life living and standing for something, preventing us from drifting through life. Definiteness of purpose as the late Businessman and philanthropist William Clement Stone said, “…is the starting point of all achievement.” Second, is a sense of direction. Often many people waste a lot of time in a state of stagnation because they don’t know which direction, they ought to move in. The key of having a sense of direction in life is not knowing the whole journey but rather knowing and taking the immediate right move to make accomplish your purpose. Zig Ziglar well identified the gap between time and direction when he stated, “Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four-hour days.“ Third, to live by priority we need possess a sense of urgency. I will be the first person to admit that when we lack a sense of urgency, we run the risk of experiencing anxiety when deadlines approach. It’s a sense of urgency that protects us from the law of diminishing intent, which states, the longer you wait to do something you should do now, the greater the odds that you will never actually do it. Jim Rohn was right on when said, “Without a sense of urgency, desire loses its value.”

In summary, while setting out to accomplish your vision and goals, remember that it’s by decluttering your life, saying no to the unimportant things that appear as urgent, and living by priority that will allow you to maximize your time on what really matters. You will be productive at work, find more time to spend with your family, and experience growth in your personal life.

What’s Next….

I would like to leave you with this thought, “it is never too late to create time to do what’s important.” This thought has empowered me to get back to doing the things that matter when I get derailed. In a world that’s full of things that can distract us, the question is not if we will be distracted but rather, are we going to have time to do matters amid things that compete for our time. Next, we will look at habits that help us maximize our energy. 

Resolutions? Strategies to stick to your New Year’s vision.

Project Apollo

We choose to go to the Moon…We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win” John F. Kennedy. These are the words that marked a new era for mankind. It was a promise to do what no nation had done, a goal so great that many scientists at the time thought it was impossible to accomplish. On July 20th, 1969, ten years after JFK’s speech, the world witnessed as Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the moon.

What was not obvious about what came to be known as Project Apollo, was the planning and the major changes that had to be made to actualize the vision of JFK. Prior to his speech, NASA had not yet sent a man into orbit and its budget was at a minimum centered on other less ambitious projects they had. But landing men on the Moon and safely returning to the earth by the end of the decade required a paradigm shift on how space exploration was approached, a sudden burst of technological creativity, and the largest commitment of resources than ever before. Whether it is achieving an astronomical goal as sending a man to the Moon or improving your health by losing some weight or changing your diet, some planning and changes must first take place that will bring about a change in mindset, improved creativity, and realignment of resources.

At the core of resolutions

It’s that time of the year when we make new plans or revive the abandoned ones. We call this process making New Year’s Resolutions, which is basically making a firm decision to do or not to do something to achieve a greater goal. Unfortunately, statistics show that most people stick to their resolutions for only seventeen days. I believe that making New Year’s Resolutions is perfectly an okay practice, but the problem is that we often don’t understand where we need to draw the power to keep them.

Understanding the core of a resolution, which is vision, is the first place where we find the energy to keep them. The most potential resolutions that we can ever make are those that are tied to a vision. So, the question that we must always ask ourselves as we sit down to write our resolutions is what I refer to as the vision question, which states, “What do I see?” Seeing could be in any area, personal life, relationships, professional, or family. Without a clear vision that is outlined (before making resolutions) anything we decide to do will not be achievable. The second thing that’s at the core of every successful executed plan, like the Moon landing, is strategy. And that’s is where I want to spend the rest of today’s post on. And as a teacher, author, and speaker Lee Bolman said, “A vision without a strategy remains an illusion.” I want to share with you three simple yet powerful strategies that will help you achieve your vision. Let’s get started:

1.         Predetermine your daily ritual

Deciding to pursue a new and challenging goal or simply deciding to improve an area of your life in order to see remarkable change will require new habits. Since our habits are the product of our choices, we achieve new habits that allow us to achieve our goals by predetermining our daily rituals.

Daily rituals are the things we decide to do every day without fail. To do them daily, we must have the right qualities. First, they must be as easy as possible to do, or we will find ourselves dreading to do them. Second, they must be fun to do. Third, they must be satisfying. A good example that I can share with you in which I have implemented daily rituals with the three qualities I have mentioned is in writing. My daily ritual is writing. To make it as easy as possible. I have developed a writing using my phone’s Notes App. To make it fun, I write my lightbulb moments in paragraphs and share with my friends, which generate lovely dialogues. To make it satisfying, I elicit feedback from a few friends who I know will provide both positive criticism and encouragement. So, think about your vision and come up with daily rituals that will build winning habits.

What is most important is to determine your daily rituals, which are in alignment with your vision because it reduces friction to achieving your vision. Many habit experts have noticed, we decide our future based on the habits we have chosen. While deciding on your daily ritual announces new habits that you want to build, announcing your goals or making them public is the second strategy for sticking to our vision.

2.         Make your goals public

When JFK announced that before the decade was over, an American would set foot on the Moon, he elicited one of the most powerful energies to achieving vision; the power of commitment. Making your vision or goals public is the most important step to building commitment to any undertaking. While you don’t have to tell the whole world of your goals, making your vision public, in any way, is compulsory if you will overcome the temptation to quit using the power of commitment.

Making your goals public can take several forms. The first one, which serves as the foundation of all other forms of making our goals public is writing them down. You must transfer your goals from your head to paper. Writing down your vision invites other regions of your brain to be encouraged with your vision. The second form is making it known to your inner circle. Your inner circle could be your friends, close family members, mentors or coaches. Letting your inner circle know of your vision is important in expanding your vision. They often provide critical feedback that helps implement your vision and make it watertight before sharing to the public. They also provide encouragement. Third and final form in making your vision known is going public.

Whichever way you decide to make your vision public, what’s most critical to keep in mind is to make sure you deposit enough commitment in your vision early on. Because commitment is what keeps one going when the going is hard. And your level of commitment determines your level of success on any goal; high commitment big success, low commitment, small success. But it’s impossible to maintain commitment without a standard or way of measuring progress. This brings us to the third and final strategy for sticking to our vision, which is developing and using what I refer to as a progremeter

3.         Develop and use a ‘progremeter’.

Without a way to measure your progress, it’s impossible to remain committed. This is where the third strategy, developing a system to measure progress, comes in. From the two words, progress and meter, I coined the word progremeter. In order to last for more than seventeen days and stick to our goals until we see remarkable results, we must develop a way of accessing the progress we make in actualizing our visions.

Despite having different visions and thereby different systems to access progress, there are three things that all systems must account for. First thing is accountability. Your progremeter must have a way to inform at least one member of your inner circle of your progress. Second, your progremeter should have away to compile a progress report. This could be as simple as journaling. It is important when it comes to auditing and reflecting on your vision. Third, it must indicate your milestones. Knowing when you achieve your milestones is a great way to remain motivated. In addition to accounting for progress a good progremeter will help you identify your personal strengths and weaknesses.

What’s Next….

In summary, when you have a strong connection between your vision and your resolutions, anything is achievable once you apply a strategy that works. What I have shared here is only a foundation that you can use to achieve any goal you have in 2020 and beyond. Next week we will look at habits.

Happy New Year! I pray you prosper in all you do.

Keys to Walking by Faith

Prerequisite

Walking by faith is the single most powerful quality that will enable you to do things you thought were impossible and take you to places you hadn’t imagined. It will open the doors of abundance and unlock your potential. But walking by faith requires vision. It’s impossible to take a step of faith without vision. The best definition of faith I have come across is this, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. The second half of this definition, evidence of things not seen, is only possible by vision. Therefore, vision is the prerequisite for walking by faith.

Vision is the ability to see beyond what’s on the surface or the current conditions. It’s seeing beyond what your natural sight enables us to see. Vision provides us with the reasons to take action in our present moment to create a new reality. It also ignites in us the courage to take the steps of faith.

Size of steps

Walking by faith is taking the steps towards what you have visualized. It’s taking actions that will lead to achieving what you hope for. It’s making decisions that aligns your current actions to your future desired outcome. Often, whenever we hear people talking about walking by faith, we tend to think it’s always referring to the big moves in life, but what I have discovered is that walking by faith is not measured by the size of steps taken but rather by number of steps taken. Whether it’s taking a small or  big step, or making a small  or  big decision, What counts is that we are moving towards what we envision. There are three  keys that must be in place if we are going to walk by faith to fulfill our vision. That’s what I want to share with you in today’s post. Let’s get started:

1.     Hope of the invisible

The first key to walking by faith is having hope. The first section of the definition of faith above, faith is the substance of things hoped, shows that hope is the connector of visible and invisible things. Hope is the bloodline of walking by faith. While walking by faith is taking actions (visible), hope is the roadmap that directs us from within towards our desires (invisible). We move to places of hope. We act because there is hope our actions can bring change. Where there is no hope there is inaction and destitution looms.

The opposite of walking by faith is walking by fear. Fear clouds our thinking and makes us walk in the dark. But when we choose hope, fear dissipates. Hope shines light in the darkness and guide our steps.

Hope not only guides us, it also brings forth belief. It ignites in us passion to something in the present moment that looks impossible. With hope in place you unlock the second key to walking by faith, which is believing you can do the impossible.

2.     Believe you can do the impossible

While hope is the bedrock to walking by faith and guides our steps, belief is the energy through which we make the steps; It powers the steps we take to achieving greatness and It is the second key to walking by faith. 

Believing you can do the impossible empowers you to walk by faith in three ways; first, it activates your willpower. Your willingness to do anything is dependent on whether you believe in possibilities. You are automatically unwilling to do what you don’t believe to be possible. When your belief activates your willpower you become confidence in starting and following through on your goals. Second, believing you can do the impossible will activate your imagination. Imagination is dull where there is no belief. Believing in making the impossible possible activates your mental faculties to start generating new ideas. Third, believing in doing the impossible activates your creativity. Imagination and creativity increase our capacity to start seeing new possibilities when we are faced with what might seem to be impossible to others. When these three, willpower, imagination, and creativity are activated, we start to realize something very important.  We need others in the journey of conquering mountains, doing the impossible things of life. We realize that we need fellowship with people of faith, which is the third key to walking by faith.

3.     Fellowship with people of faith

Walking by Faith is a behavior that is adoptable. No one person is born knowing how to walk by faith. In whatever situation that you have ever walked by faith, you learned how to from someone else . You learned how to believe in the impossible when you watched your parents or close friends chose to remain hopeful in hopeless situations, when they decided to take actions that at the moment seemed to yield no results, and what they believed in themselves to do things that seemed like a mountain. Keeping fellowship with people of faith is setting yourself up to pick up the habits that allows walking by faith. Fellowship in not limited to religious settings. Fellowship is any company of people we keep of whom our energies resonates in the same frequency. 

While we can classify hope and believe as potential energy for walking by faith, fellowship is what turns that potential energy into kinetic energy. People of faith, through fellowship, will turn your potential energy into kinetic or in other words make you an action-oriented person in three ways. First, they feed your faith. The people around us can only feed us with two powerful emotions, fear or faith. While people who feed you with fear will always tell you what’s impossible, people of faith will feed your faith through encouragement by showing you the possibilities. Second, they create a positive atmosphere around you. People of faith always have an elevated perspective in life. They view life in a positive way because they understand that there is already too much negativity in the world. They speak possibilities and hope in light of hopeless situation. They think of what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable and things that are of excellence or praiseworthy report. When you are around such people, you will know because you will leave encouraged because of the positive atmosphere they create. Third and most important, they direct you to resources. The most transformative benefit having fellowship with people of faith is that they are always supportive. While people of fear are always fixated on the impossible, people of faith see possibilities for themselves and others around them. This always leads them to naturally find resources to help them accomplish their vision. When we are in the company of people of faith, they are quick to point us to the direction of resources.

In summary, whenever our faith is feed, a positive atmosphere is created.  We are directed to resources. We are empowered to take the step of faith in response to the hope of the invisible we see through vision. And we begin to act on our belief of doing the impossible.  We begin to walk by faith.

What’s Next….

In a few days we will be starting a new year. I am convinced that walking by faith is what can make our future better than our past and present. So, a question I will leave with you today is this, what fellowship do you keep? Do you surround yourself with people full of fear or full of faith?

The Keys to Productivity

Value of time

In an interview done for a Netflix documentary, Inside Bill’s Brain: Decode Bill Gates, the interviewer asked Bill Gates’ Executive Administrators, “Is he on time?” Referring to Bill Gates. She replied, “He is on time to the minute every single meeting without fail.” Then she added, “Time is the one commodity that he can’t buy more of. It’s a limited resource. It’s finite. He’s got the same 24 hours in a day that the rest of us have.” As I write this and reflect on Bill’s interview, we have spent 353 days so far this year and the one major question that is at the center of my mind is this, what’s the value of the time that we have got in our hands?

Without much debate, we can agree that time is one of the most precious nonrenewable resources we are all given to use, exploit, and utilize with all other resources. With time you can dig out gold. You can refine crude oil into different petroleum products. And most importantly you need time to tap into and expand your second most valuable resource, your mind. Time is the main thing that you must have to be productive. And productivity is the true indicator of the value of time.

Deliberateness

To be the richest person on the planet for years, Bill Gates uses the two most valuable resources, time and the mind, to produce the highest value through Microsoft and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and improve the quality of many people’s lives. This provides us the definition of productivity, which is the ability to use the resource(s) we have to generate more value in order to positivity impact lives.

Further into the interview I referenced above, Bill Gates advised, “You have to pick a pretty finite number of things to tell your mind to work on. You should decide what should you care about.” In essence Gates was unveiling the first step to productivity given that we all have the same amount of time; deliberateness. Anybody can be busy but not everyone can be productive. Busyness doesn’t really need anyone’s effort but being productive calls for one’s intentionality: It requires deliberate thinking and actions. This is why in today’s post I want to share with you the keys that you can deliberately use to unlock productivity in your work. I have seen the keys work for me in the last one year. Here they are:

1.     Staying organized

Looking for misplaced items is an enemy to productivity. Being productive at any work requires us to use time in the most efficient way. But whenever we take time out of what’s important to look for something that is misplaced, we are not being efficient with our time. Staying organized is the antidote for not wasting time looking for misplaced items. As simple as keeping your workstation neat might look, it can improve your productivity significantly.

Staying organized helps productivity in three major ways; first it helps you find things easily and faster. Placing items in designated places, whether tangible items such as tools or intangible items like your files on a computer, will greatly save you a lot of effort when it comes to retrieving them for use. Second it smoothens the workflow. Whenever you take time to look for something that is not immediately available, your thoughts are taken away from the important work to a less important task that could have been avoided if there was some organization. Third, it eliminates potential distracters. From experience, I have discovered that any time I step away or leave what I am doing to go in search for something, I find other things that grab my attention away from the important work. We get distracted easily with unimportant tasks when we are not organized. Finding the best way to stay organized, wherever your workspace is, will enable you to make the best of the time you have and also will support the second key to productivity, a disciplined life. 

2.     Choosing a disciplined life

Choosing a disciplined life means directing your life in accomplishing what you set out to do. It is sticking to a task until you get the results you want. It’s impossible to be productive without being disciplined. It is when you have conquered the temptation to quit or you have not allowed yourself to be lulled into inaction by fear of failure, that you have tapped into the second key to productivity, a disciplined life.

Discipline will always outperform intelligence. As the greatest investor of our time, Warren Buffett, once said “We don’t have to be smarter than the rest; we have to be more disciplined than the rest.” With discipline you can put yourself through a learning process, such as going through school, so as to achieve what you wanted to achieve. Also, it is with discipline that the smartest people can learn the patience to produce results, since being the smartest person doesn’t always means achieving anything. In other words, we can agree with Jim Rohn’s statement, “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments.” It allows anyone to achieve productivity in their lives.

Discipline is something we are born devoid of. It is something we choose and weave into who we are. I tend to think of it as a muscle that we must develop. Anytime you choose to do what is important and difficult over what is less important and easy, you begin to develop a disciplined life. When we weave discipline in our lives, it aids our productivity in two major ways. First, it helps us set our priorities and keep them, and second, it helps us develop persistence, which is crucial for sustained productivity in life. What’s even more important about choosing a disciplined life is that it allows you to start using the third key to productivity; focus on a task until its completed.

3.     Focusing on a task until it’s completed

A task can never be classified as productive not unless it is completed. This could be measured in product output or milestones achieved. Remaining focused on a task until its completed is the third key that you must use to experience productivity.

Focusing on an important task means saying no to all other tasks. It is focusing all your resources on finite objective until you achieve the best possible results. Apple Inc. founder, Steve Jobs is known to have said no to hundreds of potential products that Apple Inc. could have made in order to produce the few superior products that they are known for. He is quoted saying, “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are.”  The way I look at it is, whenever we say yes to one thing, it automatically means we say no to all other things. Therefore, I always remind myself to be very careful with my yeses.

Focusing on a task is important to productivity since it allows us to direct all our efforts to one thing until we get results. Remember this, focusing on a single task with all your effort is like converging sun’s rays on a paper using a magnifying glass until a fire is started.

In summary, when you stay organized, choose a disciplined life and remain focused on a task until it is completed, you will develop a habit of never stopping until your goals are achieved. The habit of sticking to a goal or a task until it’s completed is the master key that the super successful people use for productivity.

What’s Next….

Next week, I will share with you the keys to walking by faith. Before then, here is a question for you. What value has your productivity placed on your time in 2019? Answering this question will help you evaluate your 2019 and set you up for productive 2020. Try it.

Three Keys to Cultivating Creativity in Your Life

Instinct

What instincts do you possess? Often, whenever we hear the word instincts, we frequently connect it to animals. I believe, unlike us (humans), animals still heavily dependent on their instincts for basic survival in the wild. We have developed a dependence on the technologies that we have created to navigate our new world. But despite the advances in technology there is an instinct we can’t afford to lose and must be constantly sharpened if we are to excel in the economic world we live in, which is the instinct of creativity. This is because creativity is the key to solving problems and innovation in the market economy.

If you’re a parent or you are involved in the lives of children, you would agree with the observation that creativity is a human instinct that we are born with. Unfortunately, when you turn your attention to the adult population, you would realize another observation, that as we age most people lose their creativity; they settle for the norm of the day. This is evident by the number of adults who sit on their untapped talents, complain about their jobs, and experience a sense of helplessness. I am convinced that if we don’t yield to the factors that kill our inborn creativity, such as settling for average or narrow mindedness, we can use our God-given ability to be creative and build a life of significance that does not settle for average. But to do so, we need our greatest asset; the brain.

Powered by the brain

Your mind is the most potent asset that could transform your life and the lives of others through its output. Depending on what you’re feeding your mind, its capacity can be expanded to levels unimaginable. Your mind is the powerhouse for your creativity. It has been labeled the first computer ever built. It is an input output system, which mean the quality of what you put in your brain determines the quality of what you get. Our thoughts are a reflection of what we consume. When it comes to creativity, we are to feed our brains with ideas, and through the millions of neuron connections in our brains, the ideas get reshuffled, tweaked, and refined before being released as an output.

While creativity is inborn, it requires a mind that’s fed with the proper substance (great ideas) so that it can grow and expand as we age. Oftentimes, when you see adults who aren’t creative, it’s not because they were not gifted with creativity, it’s because they allowed their creative instincts to wither and dry off. The good news is that whether your creativity is dried up or you don’t consider yourself creative, you can always revive or improve your creativity. Today’s post I want to show you three keys to either jump start or expand your creativity. Let’s get started:

1.     Exposure

The first key to creativity is exposure. Exposure is the gateway to new ideas. Growing up I was privileged to visit many places around my home country. Travelling not only allowed me to visit different places geographically, it also allowed me to meet many people who had completely different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives on life than I had. I got to learn from the stories of different people. Traveling and listening to stories of people can greatly expanded your exposure. And as my mum would say, “traveling opens up the mind to new ideas”.

Nature, art, and people’s experiences are some of the things that can expand our creativity. Walking on a nature trail; visiting an art museum; or meeting new people, can greatly induce and enhance our creativity.

Since traveling is not always possible, I have three places I go to without leaving my geographical location. My first best place to go is into books. Books are an oasis of ideas. They are a great avenue to expose yourselves to other people’s ideas and experiences. A book that’s connected to an area of your interest will always expand your creativity. My second place to go for creativity enrichment are documentaries. I love watching documentaries that will teach me new things. Documentaries are great because they are a collection of facts that have been verified and well organized. I find value in them especially during my downtime. The third place I go for exposure is in podcasts. Nowadays there is a library of podcasts online that can offer great value for creativity. It’s a matter of deciding the topic you want to learn more about, and you can find all the resources online. Once I amass ideas, I incubate them.

2.     Incubation

It’s estimated that an average human brain has about eighty six billion neurons and each neuron may be connected to up to 10,000 other neurons. They pass signals to each other via as many as a thousand trillion synaptic connections, equivalent by some estimates to a computer with a 1 trillion bit per second processor. In other words, your brain is a super computer, which serves as an incubator for your ideas. Incubating ideas simply means allowing ideas to sit your mind long enough to connect with other thoughts.

Incubating ideas allows two important things to happen. One, the ideas develop as they are linked to other ideas that might have seemed distant when viewed independently. Two, you gain a deeper insight as you incubate your thoughts. So, as simple as it might look, allowing your mind to sit on ideas is a very critical step to creativity. And only when we incubate our ideas, are we able to share them in a “grown” state.

3.     Sharing

The final key to creativity is sharing your ideas. Releasing your ideas from your mind is the way you amplify your creativity. The simplest way to have more of anything in life is to share more. This is also applicable to the ideas you generate, because sharing makes room for more. The more you share your ideas the more creative you become.

Beyond generating more ideas when you share them, three things will happen to the ideas you share. First, a shared idea gets improved. When you speak your ideas out loud with others it means you also get to hear them out loud. If you share with ten people, it means you get to hear the idea ten times. This way you get to receive feedback that helps improve the quality of that idea. Second, a shared idea creates opportunities. A shared idea could become a project your boss asks you to do or it could be the root of a business that you didn’t see until you shared it. Third, a shared idea becomes impactful. An idea that’s only in your head is not powerful unless it is released. When you share ideas, you give them permission to impact the world. The beautiful thing about sharing ideas is that the impact it has is much greater than you originally imagined.

In summary, creativity is a human instinct that’s powered by the mind when we expose ourselves to new ideas, incubate those ideas to grow and make new connections so as to produce artistic work.

What’s Next….

Physician, psychologist, and author of Six Thinking Hats, Edward de Bono once stated, “Creativity involves breaking out of expected patterns in order to look at things in a different way.” So, I would like to end by encouraging you to break out of expected patterns, especially in thinking, and find new ways of looking at things so that you can elevate your creativity. Next week I will share with you three keys to productivity. 

Reflection: Getting the Most Out of Your Experiences

Time to Pause

We are in the time of the year where we stop, take time out of our schedule, and reflect on how we did so far. Reflection is a systematic approach of reviewing our past and using the report we generate to improve the present and plan for the future. It is the means through which we get the most out of our experiences by turning them into lessons. I have observed that reflection ensures we learn something from every situation; no experiences goes to waste. It is the gateway to counting our blessings.

Gratitude Builders

What is one thing you are grateful for today, this week, last month or in this season of your life? Is there anything to be grateful for after going through experience A or B? I refer to such questions as gratitude builder questions. I use them to prime my reflections. I have discovered that when I locate something to be grateful for in my past, I approach reflection with an expectation of benefiting from it. Negativity, like regret, doesn’t lock me up in my past. So, before I share with you three areas, we should focus our reflection time on, I encourage you to pause here and think of one thing you can be grateful for this year. As you will discover, every time you prime your reflection with gratitude, it will become easier to pull value from reflection time.

A promise for you:  As you become intentional about taking substantial time to reflect, you will unlock the potential for growth in the coming season of your life.

In the remaining weeks of this year, I will share with you the following. Three areas to focus your reflection to get the most out of your experiences (Today’s post).  Then I will share with you three lessons I have learned from my reflection as follows: Keys to creativity (next week); Keys to productivity (third week); and Keys to walking by faith (fourth week). In the final week, I will share Three strategies for sticking to your resolutions. Now let’s get started with the ‘3Rs’ for maximizing our reflection.

Relationships

The relationships you have will determine the quality of life you live. They create an environment that will either make you flourish or wither.  Good relationships allow us to grow to our fullest potential. Your view of the world is largely dictated by who we surround ourselves with. And it’s through the human connections that you have that resources and opportunities come to you. This is why the first area to focus on in our reflection is in relationships. And here are three facts you should always remember.

First, all relationships don’t carry equal weight. Some relationships are more valuable than others. So, all relationships can’t get equal allotment of our resources. Second, the value of a relationship is dependent on the investment made in the relationships. Relationships are like bank accounts, if we invest in them by depositing value into them, they appreciate in value, and if we withdraw more than we deposit they become bankrupt. Third, the value we bring into a relationship is determined by who we become. It is impossible to add value into a relationship if you don’t have value in you. If you increase your value, for example by reading good books and gaining new skills, you find more resources to bring into your relationships. The opposite is true, if you feed on negativity, your thoughts become toxic and your words poison all your relationships. Remember, you give who you are. Knowing these facts about relationships have allowed me to come up with three questions that I use to reflect and evaluate my relationships. They are:

  1. What are my top valuable personal and professional relationships? This question allows me to prioritize my relationships and assess how I have spent my resources on them and see if and where I need to make any adjustments.
  2. How have I invested in my valuable relationships so far? This question helps me to assess the quality of what I bring into the relationship and find ways to increase the value of what I bring.
  3. Who am I becoming in my relationships? This helps me assess my character for it is the embodiment of who I am. This enables me to look inward, not to point fingers and to take full responsibility of my relationships.

Responsibilities

Your duties are the litmus test to your growth. Well-handled responsibilities are the evidence of who you are at a personal level. It doesn’t matter your status or the position you hold, there are always responsibilities accorded to you and demand your attention. Reflecting how you handle your responsibilities will reveal two things about you.

First, your responsibilities will tell you how people view you and how much they can trust your competence, an attribute of growth. If you focus on growth long enough, your competence will rise, and people will notice it and give you more responsibilities. Side note, people avoid responsibilities because they fear growth. Second, your responsibilities will tell you about your potential to make an impact. People with the highest responsibilities have the highest potential for impact in an organization or in society. Highest responsibilities don’t necessarily mean the quantity but certainly means the magnitude or impact. You could have many responsibilities but with little magnitude or you could have very few responsibilities with great magnitude. I use the following two questions to review and access my responsibilities:

  1. What were my responsibilities and what are their impact factors? High impact factor responsibilities are those which influences more people and their returns are highest. This question helps me prioritize my responsibilities. For some I gather more resources to achieve them while others I delegate. Don’t ever leave any responsibilities unattended even those of low impact. It’s better not to take new responsibilities or delegate them.
  2. How did I do in each and every responsibility that I was given? This allows me to go back on each responsibility and grade myself. It helps me to know which responsibilities I did well and what made them successful. Also, which ones needs follow through.

These two questions also help usher me into the third and final area of my reflection, returns.

Returns

The returns or outcomes we receive provide vital information about two things in our lives; the quality of our decisions and the robustness of our systems. The quality of our decisions determine how we live, and how we live determines what we get out of life. Good decisions raise our returns since we take calculated risks and maximize our opportunities. Bad decisions only lowers returns since they leads us to waste a lot of our precious resources like time. The systems we have in place allows us to implement the decisions we make. Good decisions with a bad system or poor decision with a good system will not work. We must make decisions and have a robust system in order to experience high returns. So, I use two questions to reflect on this area:

  1. What decisions did I make and how did they impact my life? This allows me to go back and examine each major decision I took and assess the change in action or behavior they brought.
  2. What systems do I have in place to enable me to follow through on my decisions? This allows me to assess whether I have a system for each action-oriented decision that I made and to determine if the system is the best one for the particular decision.

Without taking time to reflect, it becomes impossible to improve your relationships, execute your responsibilities excellently, and maximize your effort for impact (returns). 

What’s Next….

The immediate step that can guarantee your success at reviewing your year and unlocking your potential for growth is to; schedule a time to reflect, pick a location where you will do it, and be completely honest with yourself as you reflect. Next week I will begin sharing with you some insights from my reflections.

Crossing the Finish Line Well

The Delta Effect

I love nature. The spectacular landscapes created by the American Appalachian Mountains, the great Plains of Africa, and the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system: They are all amazing and fascinating. But what I find most powerful and remarkable are the great rivers of the world. The Nile, which is the world’s longest river, is so powerful that it transforms every land it passes through.

A river is symbolic of a transformative process that begins small but as it progresses its impact is massive. The greatest impact of a river is felt at its end. It forms a geographical feature known as a delta; a finger-like feature formed as a massive river branches out to form distributaries that drain the water into an ocean or lake.  At a delta, all the sediments, the fertile soil, that was collected as the river flowed downstream are deposited. Making the delta region to be fertile for farming and home to a varied wildlife. 

Like a river that ends at a delta, we can agree that in any process or journey of life, we can come to the end and harness the value we have accumulated along the way. The experiences, lessons learned, and wisdom gained could be the fertile ground to plant our next goals in life and avoid the pitfalls of many one-hit wonders. This is when we can say we have crossed the finish line well.

Stages of progress

As we have learned in the last few weeks, there are different stages of progress that we must go through to see the fruits of our hard work and commitment to making progress in any area of our lives. We must have the ability to turn big ideas into big results, learn complex and hard things, and have endurance in life. Today’s post is focused on how to end well; crossing the finish line, the final stage of progress. I believe that the end of progress is important because it determines if you are able to have serial success: that is, as we close one process and start another, you are able to keep producing more success. I plan to share with you two things that facilitates serial success; a mindset and an attitude that you must have not only as you progress in life but most important as you cross the finish line in any race of life. Here they are:

1.     Growth-mindset

For a long time, I was planning my life around my goals. All these changed when I turned 29 years. I was working my first corporate job in a field that I went to college for. One afternoon, as I was taking a “reflection walk”, it hit me that I had accomplished all my major academic and professional goals; I was exactly where I had planned to be in life. But then, I quickly noticed danger lurking ahead. I had observed that most of the people I was working with at the company were quite successful; majority had advanced degrees and were working in good positions. However, they also seemed to be unsatisfied. Their dissatisfaction was evident by their daily complaints about their careers. The danger was being trapped in a career that I had worked hard to have. This was as a result of living by goal-mindset versus living by growth-mindset. Don’t get me wrong, goals are fundamentally important, but it has to be based on a long-term growth plan.

A growth-mindset is essential when we are going through life and most important when we are coming to a transition, like how I was transitioning from academics to working life, because of three main reasons. First, a growth-mindset allows you to look back and analyze your experiences. This turns your experiences into a school. You look at your successes and ask yourself what are the key decisions that made your success possible. You also look at your failures and ask yourself what you would have done differently to avoid the failure in future. Second, a growth-mindset, allows you to look at your present stage and analyze your present opportunities. Often, one-hit-wonders, people with only one success, miss to look for opportunities when they hit their success. They party longer and when they are done celebrating, they feel the weight of going back for the next race to a great burden. They settle for one success and that’s all they are known for. Anytime you are successful at anything, don’t stay on the podium too long but rather go back and train for more battles and successes. Third, a growth-mindset allows you to look forward with anticipation. You look forward to applying whatever lessons and wisdom you learned in your past to your present and future opportunities.

I can assure you that a growth-mindset will assure that you achieve all your goals and live a purpose driven life. When I started living from a growth-mindset, not only did my approach to progress in life get transformed, I experienced a shift in attitude. I started having an attitude of gratitude in every step of my journey, especially when I approached the finish line.

2.     Attitude of Gratitude

The most challenging part of any progress is finishing well. Most people quit right before their breakthrough. It is when you approach the finish line that you need to put all your effort. Often, discouragement looms in the last half a race. What I have discovered is that when you are on the final stretch of any process, it is the attitude of gratitude that enables you to mass-up the last ounce of energy to make it to the finish line.

An attitude of gratitude reminds you of three things. First, it reminds you of the people who have come along the way to help you get where you are. You remember who is on your team and the people who are cheering you on. Lack of gratitude often make can make you feel like you are all by yourself and makes you susceptible to discouragement before you cross the finish line. Second, it helps you realize the great opportunity you have had to be in the race despite the pain you have gone through or are still going through. As I am working on my PhD. I realize that an attitude of gratitude is important to remind me of the opportunity I have had to be a PhD. student. This has helped me to remain on course. Third, an attitude of gratitude allows you to be a giver. Once you are grateful it is impossible to be selfish. Gratitude make you want to share with others the valuable lessons you have learned along the way and to provide support to others who are on the same journey you are on. This helps you to cross the finish line with others. Those in front of you become your mentors in the next race and those behind you become your mentees.

Finally, an attitude of gratitude has helped me discover that success and satisfaction intersect at the realization that it’s God who blesses me with the ability to do what I do, and it’s the people around me, like you as you read, who support me do what God has enabled me to do. I am grateful to God and to you (the reader) for without you I would not be enjoying the process of writing.

What’s Next….

This week we are celebrating Thanksgiving and I have a challenge for you. Before the end of this week take time and write a personalized letter (email can work) to at least three people who have greatly helped you in any journey you have taken this year.

Until next time, Happy Thanksgiving.