Friday, December 24, 2010

The Animals Were Singing.......

What’s the big deal about Christmas? Why do we celebrate the birth of someone who died over 2000 years ago? Why does everything in the whole world have to come to a stand still to remember and celebrate this day? The interesting thing about it all is this – his birth wasn’t really celebrated. His birth sure didn’t appear on the national dailies of his days. Was it to happen in today’s world, you can bet it will be on facebook, twitter and other social media. But not then. There were no fun fares. No fire works. No special team of Doctors ready to help with the delivery. It was an ordinary day. Were someone to chance upon the sheep stable on the outskirts of Bethlehem that morning, what a peculiar scene they would behold. The stable stinks like all stables do. The stench of urine, dung, and sheep reeks pungently in the air. The ground is hard, the hay scarce. Cobwebs cling to the ceiling and a mouse scurries across the dirt floor. A more lowly place of birth could not exist.

Off to one side sit a group of shepherds. They sit silently on the floor, perhaps perplexed, perhaps in awe, no doubt in amazement. Their night watch had been interrupted by an explosion of light from heaven and a symphony of angels. God goes to those who have time to hear him—so on this cloudless night he went to simple shepherds.

Near the young mother sits the weary father. If anyone is dozing, he is. He can’t remember the last time he sat down. And now that the excitement has subsided a bit, now that Mary and the baby are comfortable, he leans against the wall of the stable and feels his eyes grow heavy. He still hasn’t figured it all out. The mystery of the event still puzzles him. But he hasn’t the energy to wrestle with the questions. What’s important is that the baby is fine and that Mary is safe. As sleep comes, he remembers the name the angel told him to use . . . Jesus. "We will call him Jesus."

Wide awake is Mary. My, how young she looks! Her head rests on the soft leather of Joseph’s saddle. The pain has been eclipsed by wonder. She looks into the face of the baby. Her son. Her Lord. His Majesty. At this point in history, the human being who best understands who God is and what he is doing is a teenage girl in a smelly stable. She can’t take her eyes off him. Somehow Mary knows she is holding God. So this is he. She remembers the words of the angel, “His kingdom will never end.”

Meanwhile, the city hums. The merchants are unaware that God has visited their planet. The innkeeper would never believe that he had just sent God into the cold. And the people would scoff at anyone who told them the Messiah lay in the arms of a teenager on the outskirts of their village. They were all too busy to consider the possibility.

Those who missed His Majesty’s arrival that night missed it not because of evil acts or malice; no, they missed it because they simply weren’t looking. Little has changed in the last two thousand years, has it?

The circumstances surrounding his birth however did not diminish the concept. A king was born. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isa 9:6). In our world today, people are often remembered for the problems they solve. Of course, we know some people because of the problem they created (remember Osama Bin Laden?). However, they are not often remembered for long, neither are they celebrated. Solving problems is one of the ways that one can be remembered for a long time to come. Faraday is often remembered today for solving the world’s electricity problems. Jesus, the reason for the season today, solved the greatest of man’s problem – SIN

When God created the world, everything in it was good. There was no problem at all, until sin came in. The fall of man when he sinned exposed him to all kinds of things imaginable. Sickness came, Poverty got hold of him. Death overpowered him. Fear gripped him. Man entered into the “crisis” mode as a result of SIN. Sin is a sinker my dear readers. It sank the destiny of man, and still does till date. The greatest hindrance to enjoying a good life is Sin, and Jesus came to solve that problem. By hanging on the cross, he paid the debt he didn’t owe; all because we owed a debt we couldn’t pay! Celebrating Christmas without understanding this is just like celebrating a mass. Christ is what makes an ordinary mass become Christmas.

As you celebrate Christmas today, ponder on these things. Ponder on the greatest love story ever told – the story of a man who laid down his life for his friends.

Merry Christmas to you all.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Wanted: A Loyal Friend.

I recently heard the story of two young men, Jim and Philip. They were the best of friends. They did everything together. They went to high school and college together. They played sports together. Even after college, they both joined the marines. They were inseparable. And one day, they were out on the battlefield in Germany, in the midst of a very fierce battle. Gunfire was everywhere. Bombs were exploding. It got so bad that they were given the orders to retreat. As the men were running back, Jim noticed that his friend Philip wasn’t with him. His heart was gripped with fear, he panicked. He rushed over to the commanding officer and requested permission to go back to the battle zone. The officer said “Are you crazy? You don’t have a chance. I will be committing suicide going back in there”. Without missing a bit, Jim turned around and ran back, defying the orders. In a few minutes, the officer saw Jim hobbling back across the field, carrying the lifeless body of his friend Philip. He screamed at him “I told you not to go. You could have been killed. I knew your friend was already dead”. Jim said “No sir, you were wrong. He was still alive when I got there, and his last words were ‘I knew you would come back’ ’” Anytime I read or hear this story, I am always close to tears. Even as I write this, I marvel at the level of loyalty exhibited by a friend. Awesome!
Jim said “No sir, you were wrong. He was still alive when I got there, and his last words were ‘I knew you would come back’
We live in a world where selfishness seems to be the rule of the day, and personal gain the objective of most relationships and endeavors. One of the most honorable character traits a person can develop is the ability to be loyal, whether to family, friends, an employer, or clubs and organizations to which we may belong. There are too many fair weather friends these days! There are too many people who will only stick with you when things are perfect, when the going is good and when all seems to be going well with you. The next minute that things change, they take off. They bad mouth you. They join others to run you down. I can’t think of a better place that this plays out than in sports world – one moment you are the hero. A couple of weeks later, you have a couple of bad games and everybody is booing you and trying to run you out of town! We need friends who are committed to us for a long haul. We need people who will be by our side, committed to us through thick and thin. A true friend defends, a true friend restores and a true friend is committed.

Perhaps the most familiar story in the Bible about loyalty is found in the book of Ruth. Really, the whole book is the story of Ruth's mother-in-law, Naomi. She, her husband and two sons had traveled to the land of Moab to escape a famine in Israel. Naomi alone survived and with her were the two Moabite widows of her sons. When she decided to return to Israel, the women embarked with her on the journey. She, however, urged them to return to their birth families. One did. The other, Ruth, swore to go where she went, to die and be buried where Naomi was buried, and to adopt Naomi's God. As a result of this commitment to be loyal to Naomi, Ruth found a new and affluent husband and became the grandmother of King David and a direct ancestress of Jesus Christ. Her loyalty booked her a place in history books! Chances are that you don’t even remember the name of the other woman, do you?
We need friends who are committed to us for a long haul. We need people who will be by our side, committed to us through thick and thin
Another story of loyalty in the Bible that really moves me is the story of David and Jonathan. Jonathan knew that God had chosen David to be the next King of Israel after Saul (Jonathan’s father). To his father’s surprise and dismay, Jonathan was still very loyal to his friend David. Infact, he schemed severally to save his friend David from being murdered by his father Saul. Now, that’s interesting. Jonathan knew that only David stood between him and the throne of Israel. He also knew that God had chosen David. He decided to be loyal to him, even till his death! What an absolute show of loyalty. He was with David all the way – during the good times and the bad times, during the time of war and the time of peace. I like the way his loyalty was summarized.
Jonathan, Saul's son, visited David at Horesh and encouraged him in God. He said, "Don't despair. My father, Saul, can't lay a hand on you. You will be Israel's king and I'll be right at your side to help. And my father knows it." Then the two of them made a covenant before God. David stayed at Horesh and Jonathan went home.1 Samuel 23: 16-18). 
A friend strengthens. A true friend lifts up. A true friends stays with you, in your low moments.

In the New Testament we have the moving account of Peter's failure to be loyal to Jesus in his final hours. At the supper in the upper room Peter had vowed to lay down his life for Jesus. Jesus, however, knew better; and later that night outside the temple court Peter denied not once but three times that he even knew Jesus. When he realized what he had done, he wept bitterly. The story has a happy ending, however. For, although Peter failed in his loyalty to Jesus, Jesus continued to be loyal to him and after his resurrection entrusted his mission to him once again. There are several people today who will behave like Peter. They are with you only when everything is going on smoothly. They deny you vehemently when you are in the midst of troubles. Unfortunately, that is the time that you really need them the most.

Loyalty is unwavering in good times and bad. (Proverbs 17:17)
Loyalty is what you do, not what you say.(Matthew 26:33-35 and 26:69-75)
Loyalty is in your heart. It is willing and not reluctant. (Psalm 78:8)
Loyalty can be demanding.(Exodus 17:8-13)
Loyalty may involve sacrifice.(2 Chronicles 11:13-16)

Everyone needs a true friend, especially when you are down. It’s easy to cheer people when they are on the mountain top. It’s easy to cheer people up when things are going their way. But a loyal person, a true friend, is going to be there cheering you on, even when nobody is around. That’s the type of friend we all need! That’s the type of friend we should all be!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Laws That Made Nations Great (Part II)

If nothing else, the responses I got from those who read the 1st part of the write up will definitely compel me to finish it up. And I intend to do that – not sure I will complete it in this post, but maybe the next

There has been a lot of debate, before and after our (Nigeria’s) 50th anniversary celebrations. While a number of people feel strongly that there is nothing to celebrate, a number also feels we have a lot to rejoice about. I am not about to join the debate. No matter which side you belong to, at least one thing is clear – Nigeria cannot be referred to, today, as one of the world’s great. While me might have made some strides, we are still way behind other nations of the world. In my last post, I started sharing some thoughts on the laws that made nations great. No nation or individual has achieved greatness without them. They are simple but profound laws, and they hold sway anywhere and everywhere in the universe.

The Principle of Hardwork – Rewarding Excellence and Merit and not Quotas

The Principle of Integrity

The Principle of Frugality

Frugality is the practice of minimizing waste. It can be related to the idea of being conservative or conserving resources. It is getting more done with less.
Waste neither time nor money, but make the best use of both. Without industry and frugality, nothing will do, and with them everything. Benjamin Franklin
One of the greatest problems we have in our nation today is that people live beyond their means; they spend more than they earn! I have worked for a multinational for the past 7 years. Despite the fact that I feel that the company pays fairly and competitively, I am always amazed whenever the month is drawing to a close. People are constantly checking their emails for payment notifications. Most are waiting anxiously for their salaries. They’ve even finished spending it before the earn it! Most times, it is even spent on frivolities, liabilities and things that are just status symbols. This is a major evil. No one becomes great without learning to spend less than he earns!

The same is true for our nation and continent. Do you know that Africa has 40% of the world’s natural resources, despite the fact that it has only 10% of the world’s population? Amazing! We need to ask how these resources are being managed. What happened to the gold mines of South Africa? How are the rich oil wells in Niger Delta managed? Aren’t we a prodigal nation? Any wonder why we export crude and import it back as petroleum products?

According to a recent report in a national weekly newspaper, the country currently spends about $1.7 million (N200 million) to maintain a senator, while about N150 million is spent on each member of the House of Representatives annually. For instance, a former Senate president had 32 cars in his official quarters! When a state governor is travelling within the country he moves with a large convoy of vehicles — mostly bullet-proof cars — and a large retinue of officials who are usually quartered in the best hotels in town at the expense of taxpayers. According to the report, a former governor had three different houses on one street in an expensive suburb of London, whereas John Major, former British prime minister, left No 10 Downing Street, his official residence as prime minister, and went to rent a flat somewhere in the same neighborhood.
Wealth can only be accumulated by the earnings of industry and the savings of frugality.John Tyler
What % of your income are you saving? From my experience in the school of success, you are not yet ready for greatness, until you are able to save/invest about 20% of your income on a consistent basis. This is what great individuals and great nations do. Despite having a net worth of $62 billion and being the world’s richest man, famously frugal investor Warren Buffett still lives in the same home he bought for nearly $31,500 some 50 years ago! I am not sure you can say anything close of any Nigerian!

The Principle of Respect For Credit

A couple of months ago, the whole nation was startled by the news of distress in our banking sector. After an audit by the Central Bank of Nigeria, it was discovered that many of the “big” banks were practically at the brink of collapse. Amongst other problems, there was the issue of people not returning money they had borrowed from the banks. People were borrowing large sums of money, and were not fulfilling their commitments of returning it back as at when due. The list of “big” debtors was published in many dailies. I was awed by our lack of respect for credit in our nation.

This of course makes it very difficult for Nigerians to get lines of credit outside the country. Our fellow Nigerians has proven, time and time again, that we lack a culture of respect for credit lines. I heard that in the late 70’s and early 80’s, Nigerians schooling in the UK had easy access to credit. You could practically walk into any bank, and without any collateral, borrow money to pay through school with just a promise to pay back. Your word/promise was enough security for the loan. By the mid 80’s, it was almost impossible to even open an account in the UK if you carry a green passport, not to talk of applying for a credit line! What happened? You guessed right – majority of Nigerians who too loans never paid back!

Disrespect for credit is a killer. It is one of the reasons we are backward as a nation. Most people will not do serious business with Nigerians except you are paying cash! You can’t imagine how many wonderful business deals passes us by because of this limitation.

Even at individual levels, this cancer eats deep. Have you borrowed someone money lately? What was your experience? I sure do hope that your experience was better than mine. People come back to you with all manner of reasons and excuses why they can’t pay back as at when due. Of course, this eventually limits what they can get from you in future. It’s very difficult to borrow people money today without signing a legal agreement. You may never get the money back.

For any individual or nation to become great, we must have a deep seated respect for credit.

Phew.....i have to pause now. I'll complete this series in the next post. Till i come your way again, keep shinning!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Laws That Made Nations Great

Last weekend, I had the privilege of listening to Professor Osibanjo (former Attorney General of Lagos State, and a Pastor at the Redeemed Christian Church of God). He was speaking passionately about the laws and principles that made nations(like America, Britain, China e.t.c) great. I sincerely wish that I could force them to listen to his thoughts at the next Federal Executive council meeting in Abuja. I wish I had the power to force every State house of Assembly not to seat until they have listened to his teaching 3 times over! He was so spot on. Most importantly, I remember thinking to myself “All future leaders of our dear country need to start thinking of this now, even before they get into office”. This is what is motivating me to write this, sharing some of his thoughts, and spicing it with what I have learnt and seen about these principles. I know that most of you reading this will one day, not too far from now, be playing key roles in the leadership of this country. Most importantly, these laws and principles will work for individuals as much as it will work for a nation.

Life is governed by laws and principles. When these laws and principles are followed, then you have no choice but to reap the reward of it. When they are not, the same happens – you reap the reward! Principles are no respecter of persons. They are true anywhere, anytime and to anyone wherever you are in the world. Take the principle of gravity for example. Anything that goes up must come down. It doesn’t matter if you are the President of America or just a poor wretch by the road side. If you jump up, you will come down! Except overpowered by a greater law (law of aerodynamics, the law of gravity hold true for everyone, everywhere. You can pray more than praying mantis. You can speak multiples tongues, but all these will not are subject to principles that govern life

Most of us are not progressing as individuals, and our nation is backward compared to others, because we have little or no respect for life’s principles! An average Nigerian will rather pray than obey simple principles. Permit me to share with you some of these simple, yet profound principles that will certainly catapult us, as individuals, and as a nation, from where we are now to where we have always wanted to be.

The Principle of Hardwork – Rewarding Excellence And Merit And Not Quotas
I've always worked very, very hard, and the harder I worked, the luckier I gotAlan Bond
Many people think that hardwork is a curse. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Hardwork is the only substitute to a hard life. Either your work hard or you live hard. The choice is yours. Golden opportunities are nothing to laziness but hardwork makes the commonest chance golden. Unless you are willing to drench yourself in your work beyond the capacity of the average man, you are just not cut out for positions at the top. Believe me.

The dictionary is the only place in the world where “success” comes before “work” just because of the alphabetical arrangements of things. Work always comes before success, anywhere in the world. Show me a lazy man and I will show you a man who has kissed success goodbye. A wise man puts it in a wonderful way “show me a man who is diligent in his work, I will show you a man who will stand before kings and not before ordinary men”. The diligent and hardworking hand will always bear rule.

As a nation, we breed laziness! Research shows that a Chinese worker is about 6 times more effective that a Nigeria worker! I am sure you will believe that even without any research. You can see it all over the place. Have you been to a government Secretariat lately? Have you tried getting a 1 page latter signed from any ministry? You just wonder what the people there are doing and why it will take 1 week to get a letter signed. I am afraid to say that our nation will not change much until we adopt the pay by the hour culture. This is what happens in the developed nations of the world. They pay according to the hours of work you put in! Here, once you are on the payroll, you get paid for working 8 hours per day even if you don’t show up. It’s a shame.

I took statistics of public holidays in Nigeria in 2007. The ratio of work days to holidays between Jan and April is approximately 8:1. It’s like having a holiday once every 2 weeks! For me, that is an invitation do disaster. It’s a reflection of the state of our economy. Our over-dependence on oil gives us liberty to declare public holidays at will. Whether people are at work or not, the oil wells are producing oil!
I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is the moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle-victoriousVince Lombardi
To worsen matters, excellence is not rewarded. We will rather reward people according to quota system instead of merit. In a football team, we MUST have representations from all geopolitical zones of the country, whether they merit it or not. I am tempted to mention names but i won't. Lol! We must obey federal character. Have you seen the list of those that were honoured with national awards of late? You will cry – governors disgraced out of office, politicians with integrity issues, and people who have spent a very long time in service (their contribution is immaterial). Until we start rewarding excellence and merit as a nation, we are not yet ready to become great! It is that simple.

The Principle Of Integrity

This is perhaps the greatest bane of our nation. Our nation is in short supply of men and women with personal integrity and honesty. With more sophistication, it’s even easier to throw integrity to the garbage bin. From the salesmen on the street to the CEO of multinationals, from the Student Union Executives of our colleges to the National Assemblies of out nations, people have underestimated the importance of consistently living up to a set of ideals. What a tragedy!

We live in a world that has become so obsessed with success and material wealth at the expense of all else. It’s very rare to see men and women of integrity who would hold on to their righteousness by all means. “The end justifies the means” is now the motto of several people, all in a bid to amass wealth.

As I write this, I can remember an old Ghanaian fable that I read some years back. I think I should share it (again) to drive home my point. Here….

“An aging king woke up one day to the realization that should he drop dead, there would be no male in the royal family to take his place. He was the last male in the royal family in a culture where only a male could succeed to the throne - and he was aging. He decided that if he could not give birth to a male, he would adopt a son who then could take his place, but he insisted that such an adopted son must be extraordinary in every sense of the word. So he launched a competition in his kingdom, open to all boys, no matter what their background.

Ten boys made it to the very top. There was little to separate these boys in terms of intelligence and physical attributes and capabilities. The king said to them, "I have one last test and whoever comes top will become my adopted son and heir to my throne." Then he said, "This kingdom depends solely on agriculture. So the king must know how to cultivate plants. So here is a seed of corn for each of you. Take it home and plant and nurture it for three weeks. At the end of three weeks, we shall see who has done the best job of cultivating the seed. That person will be my heir-apparent. "

The boys took their seeds and hurried home. They each got a flower pot and planted the seed as soon as they got home. There was much excitement in the kingdom as the people waited with bated breath to see who was destined to be their next kingpin one home, the boy and his parents were almost heartbroken when after days of intense care, the seed failed to sprout. He did not know what had gone wrong with his. He had selected the soil carefully, he had applied the right quantity and type of fertilizer, he had been very dutiful in watering it at the right intervals, he had even prayed over it day and night and yet his seed had turned out to be unproductive.

Some of his friends advised him to go and buy a seed from the market and plant that. "After all," they said, "how can anyone tell one seed of corn from another?" But his parents who had always taught him the value of integrity reminded him that, if the king wanted them to plant any corn, he would have asked them to go for their own seed. "If you take anything different from what the king gave you that would be dishonesty. Maybe we are not destined for the throne. If so, let it be but don't be found to have deceived the king," they told him.

The D-Day came, and the boys returned to the palace each of them proudly exhibiting a very fine corn seedling. It was obvious that the other nine boys had had great success with their seeds. The king began making his way down the line of eager boys and asked each of them "Is this came out of the seed I gave you?" And each boy responded, "Yes, your majesty." And the king would nod and move down the line. The king finally got to the last boy in the line-up. The boy was shaking with fear. He knew that the king was going to have him thrown into prison for wasting his seed.

"What did you do with the seed I gave you?" the king asked."I planted it and cared for it diligently, your majesty, but alas it failed to sprout." the boy said tearfully, as the crowd booed him. But the king raised his hands and signaled for silence. Then he said, "My people behold your next king." The people were confused. "Why that one?" many asked. "How can he be the right choice?" The king took his place on his throne with the boy by his side and said, "I gave these boys boiled seeds. This test was not for cultivating corn. It was the test of character; a test of integrity. It was the ultimate test. If a king must have one quality, it must be that he should be above dishonesty. Only this boy passed the test. A boiled seed cannot sprout." ”

The single most important quality you can ever develop that will enhance every part of your life is the value of integrity. Integrity is the core quality of a successful and happy life. Having integrity means being totally honest and truthful in every part of your life. By making the commitment to become a totally honest person, you will be doing more to ensure your success and happiness in life than anything else you can ever do.I mean that in every sense of it!

Will you stand up to be counted with men of integrity?

I have 4 more principles to share with you. Can I ask you to be patient until my next post…..?

Till then, keep on winning.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Living On The Coke Side Of Life (Part II)

In my last blog, I started sharing the story (and lessons to learn) from a product that has become one of the most powerful brands in the world – Coca-cola. I shared on how this brand has travelled to more parts of the world than any other product known to man. Go to any nook and cranny in the world, and you are likely to find a bottle of Coca-Cola there! It’s amazing. This brand is sustaining several glass industries in the world. It is sustaining thousands of sugar plantations all over the world. How did a recipe from a relatively obscure part of Atlanta turn into a global brand, enjoyed by over 1 billion (yes, 1 billion) people every day? How did this brand become the most recognized product in the world, as well as a common link between cultures and countries, people and places?

In the last post, i shared two of the lessons to learn from this brand (please refer to the last article posted) and in this post, I will be sharing two more.

Add value and get value back

This is one of the most basic rules of success. There are many young men and women today who go into business, looking at what to get! Getting value (monetary or otherwise) is not difficult, if you know the right thing to do. And the right thing to do is “Add Value”! May I say that your current level of income is a function of the value (either real or perceived) that you bring to the table? The more value you give, the more value you get.

One of the striking things about Coca-Cola is the value they seek to bring to their consumers and customers. A look at its renewed vision shows clearly why it’s the leading brand in the world

• To refresh the world...
• To inspire moments of optimism and happiness...
• To create value and make a difference.

What value are you bringing to the table? What value do you want to be paid or compensated for? What problem are you solving for people that they should pay you for? Coca-Cola is refreshing the world. They are inspiring moments of optimism and happiness. They create value and make a difference…..and we are all rewarding them with market share!
May I say that your current level of income is a function of the value (either real or perceived) that you bring to the table?
Ideas rule the world

I recently read a story about Bill Gates, perhaps the richest man in the world that interested me. He was traveling through a particular airport and was asked by the custom officers if he had anything to declare. “Nothing, but a billion dollars worth of ideas” he declared. Interesting, isn’t it?

Take a moment and look around your environment. Everything you see from your laptop computer to Post-It Notes® started as an idea. The universe itself started as an idea in God’s mind. The software in your two and a half pound brain spends twenty-four hours per day producing and processing ideas. When your brain is in sleep mode we call the idea production "dreaming." When you are awake and looking out the window, we call it "daydreaming." When you are awake and focused on a task we call it "thinking."

The greatest problem faced by developing countries is not money problem. It is not power problem. It is an idea problem. Ideas are superior to money. They bring in money. Ideas are more powerful that the best currencies in the world. Infact, permit me to say that ideas are becoming a currency of the future. For example, exchange an idea with an associate at lunch. You both walk away with two ideas. If instead, you just exchanged one dollar bills at lunch, you'd both walk away with one dollar. Ideas rule the world.
The greatest problem faced by developing countries is not money problem. It is not power problem. It is an idea problem.
The brand Coca-Cola started as an idea in someone’s mind. In 1889, a man, by the name Asa Candler, bought a formula and a 3 legged brass kettle containing a mixture of lime, cinnamon, cocoa leaves, and the seeds on a Brazilian shrub from a druggist, Dr John Pemberton. Together with an idea he had about marketing, he turned this formula into a money spinner! Ideas indeed rule the world.

I hope we can take a cue from these great lessons from the Coca-Cola brand, and also line on the Coke side of life! It’s an interesting part of life to live!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Living On The Coke Side Of Life

About this time last week, while on vacation in Atlanta Georgia, I had the opportunity of following the story of one of the world’s biggest and most popular brands. Several things interested me about this brand. This brand has travelled to more places in the world than the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s in more hands than the Bible. It has penetrated into cities, towns and villages that the gospel has not dared! It is perhaps the largest consumer of glass in the world today. This brand is sustaining several glass factories and sugar plantations around the globe today – perhaps the largest consumer of both. I am sure you can guess the brand I am talking about now. I am talking about Coca-Cola. Coca Cola sells 1.4 billion servings each day. You could show someone a Coke can and they'll be able to tell you what it is, even if they live in Tokyo. No other brand is as recognizable as Coke is.
This brand has travelled to more places in the world than the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s in more hands than the Bible.
A visit to the World of Coca-Cola Centre will be inspiring for anyone. You will practically see how this dream, and this product evolved to be a world brand and then you ask yourself – why not me; why not now? A friend of mine always put it in a nice way – if not now, when. If not me, then who!

It was in 1886, and in New York harbour,workers were constructing the Statue of Liberty. Eight hundred miles away, another great American symbol was about to be unveiled. Like many people who changed history, John Pemberton, a civil war veteran, and Atlanta pharmacist (yes, pharmacist!), was inspired by simple curiosity. He loved thinkering with medicinal formulas, and one afternoon, searching for a quick cure for headaches, he stirred up a fragmant, caramel-coulored liquid in a three-legged pot. When it was done, he carried it a few doors down to Jacob’s pharmacy. Here, the mixture was combined with carbonated water and sampled by customers who all agreed – this new drink was something special. So, Jacob’s pharmacy put it on sale for five cents a glass. Pemberton’s bookkeeper Frank Robinson named the mixture Coca-cola, and wrote it out in his discticnt script. To this day, Coca-cola is written in the same way.

If not now, when. If not me, then who!

About nine servings of the soft drink were sold each day. Sales for that first year added up to a total of about $50. The funny thing was that it cost John Pemberton over $70 in expanses, so the first year of sales were a loss.

There are a couple of lessons to draw out from the Coca-Cola story

Start with what you have

This is one of the prominent things in the Coca-Cola story. Sometimes, we are bugged down by trying to figure out all the tiny details before starting anything. We want to have everything ready to go before we take any step. Most times, we focus on what we don’t have rather than what we have. Pemberton started the Coca-Cola company with what he had – a formula. At that time, he didn’t have any business or marketing experience. He could have held back because of the many things he didn’t have but he didn’t.

There’s a story that explains this in a deeper way in God’s word. In II Kings 4: 1-7,there is an account of a woman that shows the power of starting with what you have. The woman, a widow, had a peculiar problem. He late husband left her and her sons huge debts to pay! And as far as she was concerned, she didn’t have the wherewithal to pay these debts. She did what was very logical to do – she ran to the man of God for help (since he husband was also a prophet when he was alive). I am sure she was expecting a display of a miracle. However, the man of God asked a very instructional question.
“Elisha said, "I wonder how I can be of help. Tell me, what do you have in your house?" "Nothing," she said. "Well, I do have a little oil."
As far as she was concerned, she had nothing, except a little oil. Guess what? That little oil was enough to get what she wanted. This woman was focusing on what she didn’t have. The man of God drew her attention to what she had! What do you have? May I challenge you to start with that, and then see how you attract and get what you need.

Don’t be afraid to fail

In case you are not aware, Coca-Cola did not make any profit in the 1st year! First year sales closed at a loss. Infact, Pemberton, who invented the mixture, died 2.5 years after his discovery. However, the seed of greatness for this brand has been sown and just needed time to germinate.

One of the best lessons I ever learned was that it was OK to fail. It is OK to make mistakes. Failure has a wonderful way of teaching you lessons, sometimes very painful lessons, that you can use the next time you tackle a problem. You may not learn the lesson the first time, or the second, or fifth time, but eventually each failure will teach you something you can use later.
Don’t be afraid to fail. Every successful person has failed at some time. Everybody that plays it safe, they’re never going to fail, but they’re never going to be a big success,”
How did I learn this? By recognizing one crucial thing – no one starts off being the best at something. All the greats of anything did it through hard work, something you can read about in Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers and his 10,000 hours idea (that to truly master something you need to spend 10,000 hours on it). And you know what? The first thousand hours were probably filled with failures.“Don’t be afraid to fail. Every successful person has failed at some time. Everybody that plays it safe, they’re never going to fail, but they’re never going to be a big success,” said Peter Kim, Hudson Jeans CEO, requoted from a Los Angeles Times article.

(To be continued)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Are Your Customers Satisfied?

One of the things that I have enjoyed the most during my trip to the US is the excellent customer service that I get in most (almost all) of the places I have been to. I see, clearly, what is lacking in most of the developing countries like my country Nigeria. Last week, I walked into a car rental store to rent a car. I had my fears, since I was presenting a Nigerian international drivers license and a Debit card. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the kind of service that I got at the counter. This lovely woman was willing to do more than she was paid to do, and win business for her company. During the process, my brother in law’s fiancĂ©e, who had booked with another company, canceled her reservation with that other company and instead got a car from this woman. Imagine!

About 2 years ago, I went into a Mall to buy a camcorder for family use. I had been told that I will get the specification I needed at an affordable price somewhere in this Mall. The Mall had several electronic shops with about the same price for all items. I got into one and started looking around. No one attended to me personally. No one took notice of me. Every of the staff went about their normal business. I asked a few question about a particular brand I love and got mono syllabic answers. Predictably, I didn’t buy anything from them.

I went in to another store close by…infact right beside the 1st one. The difference was astonishing. I was warmly greeted by a staff. He asked me what I wanted to buy and gave me a small lecture on what to look out for. When I was considering buying a particular one (just because of the brand name), he explained to me, and demonstrated to me why he thinks I won’t like it. He suggested another brand that had about the same features, was cheaper and had better handling. He then proceeded to convince me that I was buying the best camcorder of the year in that category. He brought out a magazine that showed the award for this brand and then went ahead to do a demo recording for me with this camcorder! Did I buy it? Of course yes! In no time, I was counting the money at the cashier’s!

What made the difference between both stores? Definitely not the price. Not the size of the store. Not the name. It is called Customer Service. This is what is lacking in most organizations and companies that keep them small…especially in developing countries.

World class organizations have since discovered the value of service to their customers. Improving customer service is one of the top five anguishes for CEO's today. The creation of memorable, positive customer service - service so good, so unique, so different, that it takes the customer by surprise and leaves him with a smile on his face and a story to tell- is in high demand in organizations today.

Let’s consider a few customer service tips that will give you and your company a competitive advantage.

Identify and anticipate needs. 

Customers don't buy products or services. They buy good feelings and solutions to problems. Most customer needs are emotional rather than logical. The more you know your customers, the better you become at anticipating their needs. Communicate regularly so that you are aware of problems or upcoming needs.

Make customers feel important and appreciated. 

Treat them as individuals. Always use their name and find ways to compliment them, but be sincere. People value sincerity. It creates good feeling and trust. Think about ways to generate good feelings about doing business with you. Customers are very sensitive and know whether or not you really care about them. Thank them every time you get a chance. This is perhaps one of the customer service tip that is missing in the 3rd world countries. They look down on customers. They let their moods affect how they treat their customers. Any wonder why they are still 3rd world?

Give more than expected. 

Since the future of all companies lies in keeping customers happy, think of ways to elevate yourself above the competition. Consider the following: What can you give customers that they cannot get elsewhere? What can you do to follow-up and thank people even when they don't buy? What can you give a customer that is totally unexpected? Be willing to go the extra mile. Be willing to do more than what is required. This will without doubt give you an edge over competition.

Know how to apologize. 

When something goes wrong, apologize. It's easy and customers like it. The customer may not always be right, but the customer must always win. Deal with problems immediately and let customers know what you have done. Make it simple for customers to complain. Value their complaints. As much as we dislike it, it gives us an opportunity to improve. Even if customers are having a bad day, go out of your way to make them feel comfortable.

Be a good listener. 

Take the time to identify customer needs by asking questions and concentrating on what the customer is really saying. Listen to their words, tone of voice, body language, and most importantly, how they feel. Beware of making assumptions - thinking you intuitively know what the customer wants.

Get regular feedback.

Encourage and welcome suggestions about how you could improve. There are several ways in which you can find out what customers think and feel about your services.
Listen carefully to what they say. Check back regularly to see how things are going.
Provide a method that invites constructive criticism, comments and suggestions.

Treat employees well. 

Employees are your internal customers and need a regular dose of appreciation. Thank them and find ways to let them know how important they are. Treat your employees with respect and chances are they will have a higher regard for customers. Appreciation stems from the top. Treating customers and employees well is equally important.

You are in business to service customer needs, and you can only do that if you know what it is your customers want. When you truly listen to your customers, they let you know what they want and how you can provide good service. Never forget that the customer pays our salary and makes your job possible.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Do What You Say You Will Do!

Working for a multinational in the last couple of years have taught me a lot about making commitments. The rule about making commitments is so simple that it is unbelievable. “Do what you say you will do”! Which part of this simple sentence is difficult to understand? The truth however is that most times, most of us to not keep our commitments. Interestingly enough, people will remember when you break promises, but they don’t remember when you help them out,

People expect you to fulfill your promises. Going out of your way to keep a commitment isn’t going to be remembered. But people will remember when you screw-up. Even if the screw-up is accidental, that broken commitment is going to linger for a lot longer than a spectacular success.
...90% of the world's problems result from people failing to keep their commitments.
It’s easy to forget this imbalance when you make commitments. Since breaking commitments has a much larger weight than helping out, it’s important to do what you say you’ll do. Usually you can’t repair a screw-up with a single offer to help out. It is astonishing that 90% of the world's problems result from people failing to keep their commitments. Heads of state, CEO's, family members and friends, every missed goal or uncompleted task can be traced back to someone not keeping their end of the bargain.

We all make commitments every day. Some seem small and insignificant-agreed upon time to meet, a promise to run an errand or a promise to follow-up. Others are ostensibly bigger and more important-a formal contract or legal document, etc. It is important to consider all commitments equally important, because this is the way trust is built and maintained. A person's reputation is built upon their ability to make and keep commitments. Your life will work better when commitments are carefully made and diligently kept.

Following this basic advice, there are a few conclusions about being a more reliable person and making sure your relationship accounts don’t go into debt:

Make Promises Infrequently

Don’t be hasty with your commitments. If something is important to someone, make sure that there is an almost 100% certainty you will be able to follow through. It’s better to explain, in advance, reasons that would prevent you from committing, than to back out later.

Write Down Commitments

If you make a commitment to do something, you should be writing it down in front of that person. Not only does this help you remember, it signals your level of commitment to the other person. It is not good practice to make offhanded commitments that isn’t stored anywhere.

Don’t Say “Maybe”, When You Mean “No”

If you won’t be able to do something, say so. You may feel you’ve left yourself a clever escape route to avoid making a commitment. But what you’ve really done is made a smaller promise. Backing out of a maybe isn’t a complete screw-up, but it still hurts your relationship more than if you were assertive enough to say “no” in the first place.
If you won’t be able to do something, say so.
Don’t Forget Your Ongoing Commitments

Whenever you agree to do anything, the commitment should be placed into your to-do list, calendar or whatever organizing system you have. Even if your commitment didn’t have a specific deadline, keeping track of where you’ve agreed to help is important.

What’s Unimportant to You May be Crucial to Another

It’s easy to evaluate the importance of everything in terms of our own goals. I might get a request from someone that is unimportant to me, but extremely important to that person. It’s easy to push aside items that aren’t priorities for you. But if those items also happen to be priorities for other people, you may break an incredibly important commitment without realizing it.

If People Aren’t Reliable, Call Them on It

I wouldn’t recommend getting into a fight. But if someone is building a deficit in your relationship bank account, let them know. Often busy people won’t even realize they are being completely unreliable. If you let them know that you’re disappointed that they haven’t followed through on their promises that give them the option of gracefully scaling back their commitments or being more responsible in the future. However, be sure to do to others what you want done to you

By paying careful attention to the commitments you make, tracking them and developing the habit of keeping all your commitments you will be known as a person of integrity. Your life and the world around you work in direct proportion to the quality of your commitments.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

2010 Vs You - What's The Score At Half Time?

One of the most unimportant statistics in a football match is the score at half time. I remember watching the final match of the Confederation Cup at about this same time last year. The United States team was two goals up by the break. If the game had ended then, they would have been champions then, and for the next 1 year. All that changed in the second half when the almighty Brazil scored 3 great goals to win the tournament. Last night/early this morning, the half time whistle for this year sounded on all of us! The referee has called for a time out, and it provides a wonderful opportunity to review the strategies of the first half, and decide if we will still continue with it, or make some changes.
One of the most unimportant statistics in a football match is the score at half time
Every new day, new month, or New Year, provides us with an opportunity to start again, but more intelligently. Today presents such wonderful opportunities. It is a great opportunity to look back at the last 6 months and evaluate how far, or how not far, we have gone. I encourage you to take time out in the next few days to do a thorough evaluation of the last 6 months. I can predict to you what will happen at the end of the year if nothing changes now. You will get exactly the same results that you have got in the last 6 months! Remember the definition of insanity. It is “doing the same thing in the same way, and expecting a different result”. My question to you as you read this is – do you like the results coming your way in the last 6 months? Are you satisfied with the level of success you have enjoyed in the 1st half of the year? If your answer is NO, then, something needs to change in the 2nd half. Once this happens, the result at half time will be immaterial.

Take Stock
May I encourage you to balance your account for the last 6 months? Take stock of the important things in your life. How have well have you done in your relationship with God? How well is your finance doing versus your budget? Are you making considerable progress? Sometime earlier in the week, I took stock of my spending/expenses for the last 6 months. I was humbled. I saw areas where I didn’t believe I was spending as much as I was doing. One of the smartest ways to progress in life, is to take stock at intervals. That’s what a smart football team does at halftime.

Focus on your strength
When people evaluate themselves in this part of the world, there is a great tendency to always focus on their weaknesses. Let me explain using this example. If you have a child that came home with the following scores - English Language (85%), Mathematics (92%), Physics (87%), Biology (50%) and Chemistry (90%)- which subject teacher are you likely to recruit for him/her soonest? My guess is that you will be recruiting the best Biology teacher in town to help your ward become “all rounder” by improving his/her Biology scores. This may be far from being right! While I am not advocating that you close your eyes to obvious opportunities in your life, I am insisting that you should also place close attention to your strengths. In the example above, the ward in question can go on and become the best engineer we have ever seen, without improving much in his/her Biology scores! What are the things you did so well in the 1st half of the year? What are the things that brought you’re the best results? Plan to focus on them and repeat them, even in a better way, in the 2nd half of the year.
The greatest definition of insanity is this - doing the same thing in the same way and expecting a different result.
Improve your opportunities
Like I said earlier, I am not asking you to close your eyes to your opportunities. You will need to do something about them too. Write down somewhere the list of things that didn’t go your way in the 1st half of the year. Write down the things that didn’t work so well. What are you going to do about them? What skills are you going to acquires to do better? What relationships are you going to cultivate to improve in those areas? What seminars are you going to attend to bridge the knowledge gap? What habits are you going to bade farewell to in order to reach your goals? My advice is that you pick 1-2 opportunity areas that you want to focus on and deal with them squarely.

Adjust Your Sail
Have you ever wondered what goes on in the dressing room at half time? Anyone who has played a team game will remember those half-time discussions with the coach when things have gone badly and everything depends on going back out for the second half and turning the game around. It’s like being on the sea during a stormy weather. Survival depends largely on how well you can adjust your sails accordingly. Sometimes, you change strategies in the dressing room. Sometimes you change people or players. Sometimes you change the pattern of play. Sometimes, you just motivate the people to use the same strategy in a better way. Eventually, for any change to be effected in the 2nd half, something has to change in the dressing room. Do you need to change your strategies? Maybe it’s your association that needs to change. Maybe it’s just down to your attitude. Adjust your sails accordingly

Give Thanks
Many times, we think about the things we do not have and forget to appreciate God for the things we have. Someone who doesn’t have a car yet is angry. He is not thankful that he a pair of legs to walk! He is taking the ability to walk for granted! Someone is angry that he doesn’t have a job yet. He should be thankful at least that he has an opportunity to go to school and get a degree. I know you are behind on your dreams and your goals but be thankful for the ability to dream in the 1st place! Don’t forget the many things that the good Lord has done for you. He gave you life, and that alone is worth every other thing in the world. Count your many blessings. Don’t discount them! When you learn to thank God for what he has done, you compel him to do what is left. Have a thankful heart.

As we begin the 2nd half of this year, I comment you to the hand of his Grace. May the almighty God add the “extra” to your “ordinary”, so it becomes “extraordinary”. Remember that you have another opportunity to start again- albeit, more intelligently. All your sins/mistakes/errors of the 1st half of the year are hereby forgiven. Go and sin no more!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Change Your Life Forever

I recently came across a powerful quote by Dwight D. Eisenhower that got me thinking about the power of our choices. He said, and I quote “The history of free men is never written by chance, but by choice - their choice” Powerful. In my humble opinion, I think it’s not only the history of free men that is written by their choices. It is the history of everyone. You are where you are today as a result of the choices you made, or you did not makes, yesterday. The choices we make today will colour the spectrum of our life in the future.
The history of free men is never written by chance, but by choice - their choice.
The direction of our lives is determined by the choices we make every day. They accumulate and add up to our ultimate destiny. Success in life is not a gift. It doesn’t just fall on people like ripe pawpaw! It is a choice that you have to make. You are a direct product of your choices. You are going to live tomorrow with the consequences of today’s choices. It is futile to squander today and hope for a generous tomorrow. Everything that happens in your life-both what you are thrilled with and what you are challenged by-began with a choice.

Here are some choices you can make - choices that will create for you a life of abundance and prosperity in all areas of your life.

1. Choose to become balanced spiritually, emotionally and physically. Our lives are best when we have these three major areas in balance. Never leave God out of the equation of your life. Infact, He needs to take first place in everything. That is the starting point. Spend some time cultivating your spirituality. Spend time to develop your emotional health. Spent time to be physically fit.

2. Choose to grow personally. This sounds simple but many people only wish to grow personally. They never choose to grow by taking action, such as actually exercising, saving more money etc. Make a decision today to be a person who is on the never ending journey of personal growth.
It is futile to squander today and hope for a generous tomorrow.
3. Choose to always treat others right. We come across all sorts of people, many of whom will treat us poorly. We can choose to treat them right, no matter how they treat us. When they lie, we will tell the truth. When they cheat, we will play by the rules. We may get the short end of the stick some times, but in the long-run we will win. And most importantly, we will be able to sleep at night!

4. Choose to break a bad habit. Take the big ones first. Tackle it head on. If you don't know what it is, ask a friend. Then spend every effort you can to break that habit. Forget about the others, as you will get to them later. Stop smoking, get out of debt, lose your excess weight. Exercise the power to choose!

5. Choose to work smarter. Many people I work with feel like they are out of balance. One of the first things I do is try to find out how much time they are wasting at work, which makes them work longer, which throws the rest of their life into chaos. Getting your work done by diligently working in the time you have will free your life up extraordinarily. Read up my earlier article on working smarter.

6. Choose to see your work as a way to help others, and not a way to make money. If you put your heart into helping others, the money will most assuredly come. Spend time helping others grow and your finances will grow with it. This is a profound truth.

7. Choose to sow more than you reap. There are many takers in this world, but our lives will be better as we become givers. The world will become better as we become givers. Give away your time, give away your money, give away your love. You will most assuredly get it back in many folds!

8. Choose to get home for dinner more often. The family is the most important group of people you will ever belong to. Make a decision today to grow in your relationship with your parents, siblings, spouse and children. This one choice you will never regret.

9. Choose to be positive. A positive mental attitude will surely put you miles ahead of your peers. Never say never. Attitude can make or mar your life. Attitude, more than aptitude determines your altitude. It is more valuable than skill. Choose a positive attitude and things will start to work for you

You have a chance today, to change your life forever – make the right choices


Sunday, April 25, 2010

It's Good To Work Hard. It's Great To Work Smart

I am one of the last persons in the world who would tell you not to work hard. I know that hard work is the only substitute to a hard life. Hard work makes the commonest chance golden. However, it worth reminding you that working hard must also be tempered by working smart, or you might just be wasting a load of effort. There is a reason why we were born with both muscles and brains. We should use both…..and definitely not in proportional ratios.
There is a reason why we were born with both muscles and brains. We should use both…
Consider the story of two lumberjacks in a tree-cutting contest. Both were strong and determined, hoping to win the prize. But one was hardworking and ambitious, chopping down every tree in his path at the fastest pace possible, while the other appeared to be a little more laid back, methodically felling trees and pacing himself. The go-getter worked all day, skipping his lunch break, expecting that his superior effort would be rewarded. His opponent, however, took an hour-long lunch, and then resumed his steady pace. In the end, the eager beaver was dismayed to lose to his "lazier" competition. Thinking he deserved to win after his hard work, he finally approached his opponent and said, "I just don't understand. I worked longer and harder than you, and went hungry to get ahead. You took a break, and yet you still won. It just doesn't seem fair. Where did I go wrong?" The winner responded, "While I was taking my lunch break, I was sharpening my ax."

Hard work will always pay off; smart work will pay better. Remember back in school, there were the people who studied all day and all night, but still struggled to pass exams?(I hope you are not one of them).Then there were the people who studied hard but also found time for a game of basketball (or time to attend fellowship) and still aced every test and exam. Both groups studied the same material, attended the same lectures, were taught by the same professors, and took the same test. Was the second group just that much more brilliant? Maybe, but my money's on the way they approached their material and learned how to study. If they were smart, they applied those same principles after graduation: work hard, but also work smart.
Hard work will always pay off; smart work will pay better.
That's a lesson that can be learned by even young children. A little girl visiting a watermelon farm asked the farmer how much a large watermelon cost. "Three dollars," he told her. "But I only have thirty cents," the little girl said. The farmer looked around his field, and feeling sorry for the little girl, pointed at a small watermelon and said, "That one's thirty cents." "Oh good," she replied as she paid him, "Just leave it on the vine and I'll be back in a month to get it."

Call it creativity, call it ingenuity, call it whatever: I call it using your head. Knowing how to analyze a situation and how to execute an action plan will put you ahead of the game in the long run. There's nothing wrong with having a leg up on your competition - it's how you win. The combination of hard work and smart work is the formula for success. Think about what needs to be done, and then think again about the best way to accomplish it - not necessarily the way you've always done it, or the fastest way, and certainly not the hardest way. Never make work harder than it has to be. That's just a colossal waste of time.

Perhaps the ingenuity award goes to the fellow who came to the Canadian border on his motorcycle, carrying two saddlebags strapped across his seat. The border guards asked the obvious question, "What's in your saddlebags?" "Rocks," was the reply. So the guards emptied the bags to check out his story. Sure enough, all they found were rocks. So they sent him on his way. The next week, the same fellow came to the crossing, again on a motorcycle, again with the same payload. The guards checked once again, and found more rocks. Off he went. The scene repeated itself weekly for several months, until finally the guards couldn't stand it any longer. "We know you are smuggling something across the border, but every time we inspect your saddlebags we find only rocks. Please tell us what you are up to, and we promise not to turn you in." "Well," the fellow replied, "It's really very simple. I'm smuggling stolen motorcycles."

Moral of the story: It's good to work hard. It's great to work smart. But it's best to work hard and smart.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

It's Alright To Dream Again.

Have you ever been in a situation where all hope seems lost and it’s like you’ll never come out of it? Have you ever had a situation that just proves impossible? Have you ever been in the middle of a crisis and you can’t think of a way out? Have you ever believed so much in a thing and it didn’t work out the way you planned it? You are not alone.
Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Madgalene came to the tomb and found that the stone was rolled aside from the entrance. John 20:1 – Living Bible

It’s a dark Sunday morning. It’s been dark since Friday. It’s been dark as a result of events that have took place that Friday.

It’s been dark because of Peter’s denial. He had denied his Lord and Master on three different occasions. On one occasion, he swore that he never knew him when confronted by a teenage girl. It was still dark.

It’s been dark because of the disciple’s betrayal. No one except John had the courage to travel with Jesus all the way. They were all scattered abroad. They ran for their dear lives. Permit me to say that it was not only Judas who betrayed his Lord. Majority of the disciples did. They fled when Jesus needed them most. It was still dark.
Permit me to say that it was not only Judas who betrayed his Lord. Majority of the disciples did.
It’s been dark because of Pilate’s cowardice. Read the account of Jesus’ betrayal and you’ll be amazed at the cowardice of a whole King. His name Pilate means close pressed or firm. You will agree with me that he was anything but firm on this particular day. He was been controlled by the crowd. He yielded to their wish even though he was dead sure it was a wrong thing to do. It was still dark.

It’s been dark because of Christ’s anguish. He must have gone through so much pain. How about a slap from one of the military officers after blindfolding him? What about the crown of thorn placed on his head? What about the heavy wood he had to carry most of the way down to Golgotha? What about the stripes that had to go round his exposed body? Consider the spiting, cursing and humiliation. What about the spikes that went through the hands that healed the sick? Oh, what anguish? No wonder it was still dark!

It’s been dark because of Satan’s glee. There was a party in hell over the events on Friday. As far as the devil and his agents were concerned, they were in charge now. The Son of God was dead and it was their time. It was still dark.

All these happened since Friday but it was still dark on Sunday morning. The only ember of light this morning was a band of women standing at a distance from the grave. They were the last to leave Calvary and the first to arrive at the grave. However, this morning promises nothing except an encounter with a corpse. They never imagined this could be the 1st Easter. They are not hoping the grave will be vacant. There was a time they dared to dream such dreams but not now. It’s too late for the incredible. The feet that walked on water have been pierced. The hands that cleansed lepers have been stilled. There noble aspirations had been spiked to yesterday’s cross. Their dreams appear dead and long forgotten.

Have you ever got to a junction like this in your life? A junction where everything seems dark? Where there seems to be no way forward? Where everything just appear gloomy? Before you give up and throw in the trowel, can you please follow me and see what happens afterwards?

Though it’s been dark hitherto, a miracle was just around the corner this Sunday morning. A double surprise was waiting for these women in quick succession!

First, the stone of the sepulcher had been rolled away! They must have been thinking of how to gain access to the sepulcher on their way there. But to their surprise, the stone was no longer there. As if that was not enough, they couldn’t find the body of Jesus in the grave again. While still wondering what could have happened, an angel explained to them that Jesus was risen as it’s been written! “You cannot be looking for the living among the dead”, the angel said. Suddenly, the darkness since Friday began to lift! A fresh hope sprang up in these women and later in the minds of the disciples.

After all the darkness, light shone. The greater the darkness, the brighter the glory of light. No wonder it was a special Sunday morning, one that we still celebrate till today. It was a morning with a great message of hope. That resurrection morning had a great message – It is Alright to Dream Again! Yes it is. The resurrection of Christ gives you this opportunity to dream again!

Happy Easter!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Making The World A Better Place

Let me start this discourse from a verse of the Bible that I saw in a different light recently. It’s one of the words of David, a man who we ought to listen to. Hear him in Psalm 131:1

Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me. - KJV
God, I'm not trying to rule the roost, I don't want to be king of the mountain. I haven't meddled where I have no business or fantasized grandiose plans.                                                - The Message

I suppose that most people want to make the world a better place. I have often heard people aspiring for leadership roles in order to make the world a better place. “If I can become the President of the Unites States, then I can change the world” they think. Chances are that several of you reading this will never become the president of your countries or even the governors of your State. Despite that, you still have a very good chance of positively changing your world….yes, your world. If you can change your world (the world around you), then, you can change the world. If you make the world around you a better place, then, the world would have become a better place. This was simply what David was trying to say above. He simply said – Look, I don’t want to meddle with areas where I have no business. My heart is not haughty and my eyes are not lofty. I don’t intend to be the President of the United States. I don’t intend to change the world by becoming a rocket scientist! I will only concern myself with things I can handle. I will solve the problems around me, and in my own way contribute to solving the world problem. What a wise counsel! The best way to change the world is to concentrate on your own world.

Do what you can to show you care about other people, and you will make our world a better place.
 In order to make this simple to understand, permit me to share with you some ways that I sincerely believe you can make your world a better place.

Be Original

Every creature of God is unique in some way. God made us in a special way to fulfill a special assignment. No two individuals in the world are exactly alike, we are told. Everyone is unique and carries unique abilities to do certain things. When you are original, you will add something to the world that only you, and no other person, can add. Stop trying to be like someone else. The only thing you can be by copying someone else is 2nd best! Be yourself. Be real. Be original. You can make the world a better place by manifesting your peculiarity. Your uniqueness is a solution that our world has been waiting for. Don’t deny us.

To the wrongs that need resistance, To the right that needs assistance, To the future in the distance, Give yourselves.

Be Upwardly Mobile

In other words, GROW. Learn more every day. Don’t remain where you are and where you have been. Do you know how automobiles were operated in the early 90’s? There was a time when motor vehicles were started from outside of the vehicle! There was a time that the doors open backwards. However, all that is history now. There has been a tremendous improvement in the way automobiles are made today, and our world is a better place for it. You can make the world a better place by GROWING. Are you a motivational speaker? Then learn more about motivational speaking. Learn more about how to make sense with fewer sentences. And then you can be sure the world will be a better place. Are you a medical Doctor? Learn more about your area and help discover vaccines for currently incurable diseases. You won’t need to pray further about making the world a better place. Don’t stop learning. Don’t stop growing. Keep moving forward and never stop. Don’t stop improving – and then your world will be a better place. You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end each of us must work for his or her own improvement, and at the same time share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful.

Be Selfless

This is one of the best ways to make your world, and the larger world a better place. Be Selfless. Think about others. Don’t build an empire around you and around your immediate family. Seek the good of others. Help someone in need. Sponsor someone to school who cannot afford it. One of the bane of Africa today is selfish leadership! People go into leadership thinking about themselves and their future. They are not thinking about the people. They are not solving problems for the people. The same is true in our offices, homes and on the roads. Why will someone break traffic rules? Why will he want to drive ahead of others who are on a queue? Listen. It is very natural to be selfish. It is natural to put yourself 1st ahead of others. But, it is not Godly! When you learn to consider others ahead of yourself, you are making our world a better place. Our nation and our continent will be a better place to live when we have selfless leaders and followers alike.

The best way to predict the future is to create it.
 I will continue the 2nd part of this soonest....

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Don't Make Excuses; Make Things Happen!

A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet, he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ But they are alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me’. Another said ‘I have just bought five yokes of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out, Please excuse me’. Still another said, I just got married, so I can’t come.’…..
Believe it or not, I read this account from a book…the greatest book ever written. Before making my points, I need you to understand the story very well.

Can you imagine getting an invitation from the President of the United States for a dinner? How would you treat such invitation? Would you need a reminder before honouring it? I bet you won’t. You’ll probably hang the invitation somewhere that you’ll see it everyday. Everyone around you will also know you have a date with the President. Every other thing will take second place. All other appointments will be rescheduled. And many more

He who makes excuses, accuses himself
 This did not happen in the story above. Here, the man that invited his fiends for dinner was kind enough to even send a reminder just before the party started. However, all his invitees began to make excuses. I did a careful analysis of their excuses and found out that they were really excuses. Nothing else.

Take for example the 1st guy. His excuse? ‘I have just bought a field and I must go and see it’. This guy must be a professional excuse maker. He didn’t just get the invitation the day before. Why on earth will he fix inspecting his field on the same day with the party? Afterall, the field is his. He can choose to go and inspect it the day before, or the day after the party! Besides, when do you go to inspect a field? Probably early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Right? The guy was invited for a dinner! He could still have made it if he really wanted to come! He was just making up an excuse to be absent. And that’s how excuses are. They are “made”.

Excuses are lies we tell ourselves to avoid dealing with unpleasant truths. But as long as we buy into those excuses, we can never move past them. Instead of addressing the underlying problem, we merely hide the symptoms. One of the most important steps in personal growth is to uproot excuse-making and confront the real issues behind the excuses with consciousness and courage. A wise man puts it right when he said “Excuses are the trademarks of failures and mediocres”

We are all manufacturers. Making goods, making trouble, or making excuses
 What excuses do you have that is preventing you from moving on to success? I can bet you that no excuse is good enough for failure. Will you please join me in examining the most common excuses people make and their underlying truths?

I don’t have the time

This is perhaps the commonest excuse I have heard in my life. How many times have you heard yourself or someone else make this excuse? There is nothing that can be farther from the truth. One interesting thing about time is that it’s the most evenly distributed of God’s gifts. Everyone on the planet has 24 hours. A rich man in his palace has 24 hours and so does a poor man on the street. Whatever happens to you in life depends on how you spend or invest the time you’ve got.

In all honesty, if you do not have time for anything, it simply means that thing is not important enough to get a chunk of time from you. You’re really saying, “That just isn’t important enough to me.” I don’t have time to exercise. I don’t have time for a relationship. I don’t have time to start my own business. Of course you have time. You have as much time as anyone else does, and other people are already doing these same things. The difference is that they make it more of a priority in their lives than you do. You aren’t a victim of circumstances. If you don’t like your circumstances, change them.

The real problem therefore is not lack of time but lack of will. Look at what you really devote time to everyday. People devote time to marginal activities like watching TV everyday and yet do not have time to do things they want us to believe they are committed to. No way. If you are really committed to a thing, and if it is very important to you, you will surely have time for it. You have 24 hours everyday. Go and make the best use of it.

I don’t have money

There are many people going about today fantasizing about what they’ll do if only they have the money. “If only I have money” is the common excuse of such people. In my opinion, our greatest problem in the world is not money problem. It is an idea problem. Money always flows in the direction of ideas.

If there’s something you want, “I don’t have the money” is no excuse for not getting it. You can always earn the money or find a way to get the item at reduced cost. The truth behind “I don’t have the money” is “I don’t want it badly enough.” If you want something real bad, you will think through how to get it. In that moment, ideas of how to get it will surely come to you.

Think of it for a moment. Have you ever had to get something by all means that you didn’t have the money at first to get? Did you eventually get it? I know most people will answer a “yes”. Not having money is surely not a tenable excuse.

Excuses are the tools with which persons with no purpose in view build for themselves great monuments of nothing.
 I don’t have the connections

This is a common excuse with those who thinks getting to the top a matter of who you know. They feel that they are where they are because they don’t know the right people to help. “I don’t have the necessary connection” is a nice way of saying “I am not willing and ready to cultivate the relationships I need to reach my goals”. That’s the real truth behind that excuse.

I am sure you know that you are 5-7 people away from anyone on this planet. Yes, you are. You can create and cultivate any relationship you so desire. I am not saying that this easy and will be a walk over, but it is possible. You can get connected to top people in your field of endevour for instance. You can, if you are willing to cultivate the relationship.

I don’t know how

This is one of the feeblest excuses of all. I don’t know how to make a web site. I don’t know how to write well. I don’t know how to get a better job. Are you capable of learning? Did you stop after learning to crawl, complaining, “I don’t know how to walk?” The truth behind “I don’t know how” is “I’m unwilling to learn.” In other words, you have to admit that you’re lazy. And you need to do something about that. Are you willing to invest time in learning anything you need to learn? Anything that is worth knowing is worth learning.

The only man who is really free is the one who can turn down an invitation to dinner without giving an excuse.
 I challenge you to keep learning and shatter the myth of this excuse.

Once again, don't make excuses; make things happen! Make changes. Then, make history