December 30, 2018


The best thing about pushing self- imposed limits is that you discover there is more to challenge.
 - Omonaikee 

In last year's end of year post, I wrote a post I titled "The year has not ended" to state the obvious- it's not over, there's much to do. The end of the year is an opportunity to start the new year early not wake up in it late. I also wrote "Launch in 30 days" in relation to new year goals, which I came back to read several times in the year to remind myself not to be limited by the assumption that things would take more time, money or effort than I thought I had without first testing that this was actually true. 

Some things you think you’d need a year to do can be done in 8 weeks, others you think you’d need years worth of savings to accomplish can be done in months worth of instalments and things you think you’ll only be able to complete when your skills are at expert level or when you have more experience, education or resources may well be satisfactorily executed at the level you are right now. Click here to tweet this 

This year, I bought things and experiences I couldn't afford because I realised it was only my thinking that limited me. I questioned my phobia for debt, interrogated why it was common sense to save or pay bills not spend and gave in more to the demands of my inner child with the same consideration I would show my daughter every now and again when she wanted chocolate, juice or TV instead of commonsensical options. 

I did not cancel my gym membership even if it made financial sense to do so. I swung my hips at Zumba and regret not being bolder or I would have twerked along with my eccentric instructor and the sexy ladies who were up for the fun of the challenge. I punched hard at fit boxing, played hard at kick boxing, worked my way up to level 12 on the cross trainer and splurged on clothes, hair and makeup *because why not?

I drove for the experience of driving and it didn't matter if I was chaperoned, car hiring or testing for a license. It mattered that I speed, I revved and I learned even when it was at the expense of common sense.

When I played student, I uncharacteristically relied on my study group on my MBA to do the work contributing scantily because my head was in my nest waiting to hatch a baby. 

When I played worker, I caught a train to far away New gate street where I had my three pound meal deal lunches from Tesco and wandered sometimes buying, sometimes window shopping. I travelled hours in the belly of the dragon that is London's underground, snaking through tunnels, conveyed by escalators along with the other characters I studied as we grunted in the smell of soothe and the icy cold air the train left in its wake. 

When I played housewife, I regained my curiosity in the rows of spices, baskets of vegetables and packets of carbs that didn't come labelled as rice. Seeking variety to spice my life, I bought cumin and tumeric, aubergines and nectarines, beetroot and celery, asparagus and cauliflower, mushrooms and shrimps, barley and Bulgar wheat, turkey and pork. I cranked up the oven, bought a food scale, measured my food, sized my portions, counted calories and tailor made my menu. 

When I played mum, I created tradition, taking the best of Christmases past to create a blend of the Christian Christmas with carols, services and the message of the birth of Christ; the Nigerian Christmas of Christmas cloth, Christmas rice, Father Christmas and meal sharing and the Westernised Christmas of jingle bell choruses, decorated fir trees, snow and gingerbread men, and Santa with his reindeer driven sleigh.

I pushed the limits. And in this end of year's post I'm challenging us to push them further in the new year.

Consider how much of your inherent potential you can release if you overcame the critic in your head that creates the self doubt, fear of failure and vote of no confidence which interferes with your performance to the point where you don't do what you think yourself capable of or never find out how great you can be at it. Click here to Tweet this 

This inner critic comes from voices we have internalised that tell us how to live and be and see ourselves and others in this world. In learning this way, we loose sight of our own initiative to learn as opposed to the initiative of the people around us to teach; our own knowledge about how we learn as opposed to the way we learn to learn in the school house and the way we operate and create naturally as opposed to the way we see or are told about how others operate and create. 

We don't teach a child how to cry, suckle. It's in them. 

Littleman figured out how to crawl on his own.  He wanted to move so he did. 

When Angelface was learning how to talk, she repeated the sounds she heard over and over until they began to sound like what we said. She did not bash herself for not saying them 'correctly'. I believe she heard every sound we made but was saying what she could pronounce with her limited diction, expanding them in the process. She laughs with self awareness when I imitate her pronunciations and say "schweeping" instead of "sleeping" which shows she recognises the difference.  

Now that she has the lexicon to express herself in the way 'I understand', I can suddenly hear things she has been 'saying' from day 1- "what's this?", "what's funny?", "where are you going?", "who's that?",  "It's scary.", "I like it.", "I want to come down.", "I want that not this.",  "I want food.". 

We forget this intuition and this way of experimental learning as we enter the 'system'. Even worse, we stop seeing that initiative in our children and treat them like robots needing constant direction, teaching them not to think but to rely on us to do their thinking for them. As we progress, we stop learning or hide our need to learn under the hubris of expertise especially in environments like the workplace where I've seen people pretend to know to survive. Environments where we loose out individuality for the badge of uniformity as we think of what people think, look to them for what to think and how we're supposed to think to fit in there. But when we go back to being observers, thinkers and practising learners, we create ways of being and feats people describe as out of the box- but that potential had been there all along.

What I write is first a process that begins with the narrator in my head narrating to me what I am observing. There is no instinct to learn how to write it down, no concept of trying to write- it is written at the speed of thought. There is also no concept of form like book or page. What is understood, observed just is- seen in an instant. There is no definition of what is speaking like writer, narrator, author or blogger- just the I am that I am. Here and lost in the subconscious before you can even define it.

Imagine then what is possible when we remove external limitations of methods we think we have to follow, standards we're judging our output by and the boxes and titles we're trying to fit into.

So here's this end of year's challenge for the new year- release your potential- raw and untainted! Lets see what this baby can do! 

And if you want to do something, do it. If you want to be somewhere, go. If you want to experience something, make it happen. Cut through the things you put in the way and just do it!

Lets keep the conversation going in the comment section, I'd like to hear your thoughts!

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*because why not- Taken from "Becoming Michelle Obama" by Michelle Obama


August 22, 2018

Life is difficult. For everybody.

In a world where people shouldn't have problems, life shouldn't be difficult and mistakes aren't supposed to happen, our expectations become the obstacles to facing the truth. The biggest scam of all is that we keep looking for the reasons people we see, know, love and hear about have problems, make mistakes and face difficulties because we think that in doing so we can avoid their misfortunes. But isn't it really to keep ourselves from accepting reality- that life is difficult by its nature, that humanity is flawed and problems are a normal and regular part of life? Isn't it so we can remain comfortable but blind to the inevitable and the very things that make us human- mistakes, even death?

"Life is difficult" reads the first line of one of my favourite books, The road less travelled by M. Scott Peck. When I hit huge bumps in the road a few years ago, I knew I needed more than the tools I'd been given to navigate the journey ahead. I started to search for information outside the things I'd grown up hearing because the frames for problem solving I'd learned up to that point didn't work in this new place I was in.

Now when I hear "You should be happy" or "You deserve to be happy", I understand that it comes from a good place but I know that not only will I not always be happy as this is unrealistic, happiness isn’t all I need. All the facets of human emotion and experience- loss, death, disappointment- have something to teach. Happiness alone isn’t enough.

Now when I hear a pastor say ‘As you step into the week, this and that will happen’, I don’t jump in that air to claim it. Not to say there is something wrong with the saying or the claiming but I just know life is not always like that. And I can't go back to being na├»ve as I was before I realised I needed new ways to cope when things didn’t go my way not a sense of entitlement that only good things should happen and when they didn’t it was my fault because I didn’t pray enough to ward them off or I wasn’t wise or experienced enough to avert them.
A favourite saying between my mum and I is that the person with the problem is considered stupid by everyone else. By that we refer to people's tendency to offer unsolicited criticism and theoretical advice, burdening a person who's already down. It's the "If to say na me" syndrome which means a person believes what happened to you couldn't happen to them because they'd have done things differently. In theory.  

We like to believe simplistic conclusions that say someone died, lost their marriage, job, home, money, or children because they were careless or made a mistake. And this is not to say people's actions sometimes have no role to play in their problems but to disabuse the harsh notion that a person is solely responsible for causing the difficulties life hands them as if, if the person had any idea that their actions would lead to loss, they'd still take them.

The reality is calamity happens to us all and the reason people die is because people die. The reason people suffer loss is because it's just what people do! We need to not only be kinder to ourselves as human beings but accepting of our common reality so we can show kindness not judgement to ourselves and others when befallen by calamity.

This week I got reconnected to a group of girls I haven't seen in over a decade. It's been such a heart warming thing to happen- finding old friends who've been long loved and lost. A conversation I had with one of them, showed me how much I have shifted from an entitled mind set that things should work my way, people should like, respect or agree with me or my life should not only look great to people, but should feel great for me. All. The. Time. 
She'd asked after my children (unbelievable I have those, lol!). I shared photos. She didn't know I'd been living abroad. I shared that I'd been for a few years. "I'm glad you're doing awesome", she said. And I was.

Except something was niggling in my head as I read the screen. Quickly, before pausing to consider if she would misunderstand, if I would look bad, if she'd think I wasn't doing as well as she imagined, I typed in response- "I'm doing life. Sometimes it's awesome and sometimes its not."

Was is it that I didn't want her to fall for the hype that two bright eyed children and living outside Nigeria meant my life was awesome? No, not only would she not fall for it if it were untrue but there was no hype to fall for. Just this golden truth I'd picked up since she'd been gone. This salvation that life isn't always awesome and that's not a bad thing. Certainly not a thing to leave out of the conversations and the pictures. At least not with her.

In fact, problems are good. There is nothing else like the confidence boost you get from solving your own problems and creating space for yourself to be seen, heard and respected because your opinions, your preferences and the space you occupy in a team, family, group and in the world matters regardless of age, background, ability and gender.

You matter! Don't wait for us to validate or agree or respond as if you do. Make us because you believe it for yourself! Or better still ignore us completely and make space for yourself whether we let you, support you, shift for you or not.

And if all else fails, face those difficulties of life knowing you are not one but legion and you're coming against those problems on the shoulders of everyone you've known- the classmate, the co-worker, the fellow chorister, the old friend, the father, the mother, the brother, the sister, the gone but not forgotten, the Creator of life- and take courage!

March 01, 2018

Launch in 30 days!

I started writing this post as soon as the narrative started to dictate itself in my head. Not a day after or several weeks later when I could make it “perfect” and not in the morning when I’d have had my beauty sleep and gotten seated at my desk with my preferred tool of choice- my laptop.

How many things do we think of doing then post date because we think we’ll need more time than the moment to plan and execute “ properly”? And is our delay really in the interest of perfection or in the service of procrastination?

For instance, a few minutes ago I was going to jot down the title for this post in the notes folder on my phone to develop into a blog post “later” so I could get back to reading 72 pages of annual letters written by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos to shareholders. I estimated it would take too much time to log into my blog’s back-end, construct my thoughts into words and go through the process of polishing it into a satisfactory version I could publish. I even imagined I could struggle to conceptualise my delivery and the thought of finding, plugging in and powering up my laptop was enough to demotivate me. While making this split second decision, I was largely unaware of this permutation taking place in my mind and had it not been for the counter thought to eat my own dog food and launch sooner rather than later as the title of this post suggests, this much needed blog update might not have happened.

How many times I have engaged in this thoughtless assessment of how long it will take to do something and how difficult it would be, I don't know. And how often I have let a formulaic approach to a task that could be done in different ways and in non- linear steps deter me from starting, I can’t tell but I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in miscalculating how much it will cost to have something or how difficult or complicated it will be to attain something based on untested assumptions.

I’ll give a good example of how my own miscalculation frequently led to procrastination and consequently under performance. I used to be intimidated by the volume of reading material I had to digest for my MBA modules until I realised the number of pages do not equate to reading speed or time needed to complete the reading. I discovered I could consume a large portion of material fairly quickly if the content sufficiently captured my interest and was easy to digest and could retain from quickly scheming through material that was more difficult, sufficient information to help me ask informed questions, search easier sources or decide if it was not relevant to my objectives for reading.

Essentially, I didn’t need to know everything to pass or understand everything in detail to function in my academic environment.  But setting the perfectionist goal to do so would not only have  been self limiting but could set me on a vicious cycle of discouragement from doing the very thing I was trying to do- learn. More to the point, I was often wrong about how long this learning would take and almost always found that an hour and half could get me really far.

Like the message of my end of year post last year, some things you think you’d need a year to do can be done in 8 weeks, others you think you’d need years worth of savings to accomplish can be done in months worth of instalments and things you think you’ll only be able to complete when your skills are at expert level or when you have more experience, education or resources may well be satisfactorily executed at the level you are right now.

But you won’t know until you subject your assumptions to questioning and instead of concluding based on them, find out the facts by asking someone who’s done it before, going to that place where they are doing it and making enquiries or actually engaging in the activity to assess your performance, speed or potential in real time. And where there is a real skill gap, you won’t know if it can be covered pretty quickly if you don’t take a step. It’s surprisingly easy to learn new skills in this era of knowledge sharing and with detailed how- to videos, books, courses and articles available for free online. Many self service platforms have unbundled the mysterious world of complex industries like music and book publishing, making what was not available to us before today’s possibilities. The answer may not still be ‘No’. While we might need to let go of our traditional ways of doing things (e.g blogging on a phone rather than a laptop) or push ourselves outside our comfort zones, there is definitely a way out there to do, have and be what we want.

I started this article by writing it as soon as that writer in my head started narrating it to me. Not a day after or several weeks later. Not after the inspiration had waned and long before I would have ruminated over it, regurgitating and chewing till it lost its taste. And no, it didn’t take more than a minute to log into my back end as I skipped powering my laptop, and I didn’t struggle with articulating my thoughts but rather enjoyed polishing sentences and organising paragraphs so hardly noticed the passage of time. While its possible that a later version of this post would have been more perfect, I doubt that my level of satisfaction with it at this moment will differ significantly, more so because it is no longer an idea sitting in my notes folder like several ideas yet to be executed, but it is now a completed piece of work- launched!

So I’m throwing out the challenge. Over the next thirty days, whatever your mind thinks to do, be it as little as sending an email you’ve decided needs sending or executing an idea you have clarity about, it might not take as long, be as hard or cost as much as you think- launch with speed!

January 28, 2018

I don't know how to write a book!

There I've admitted it.

If you're new to this blog or haven't visited in a while, I've been writing trying to write a book for a while now and I've nursed the ambition to write one long before I recognised I wanted to. So to discover after all this years of pent up passion and repeated attempts that I don't know anything about writing books is rather disheartening.

In fact, once I started out trying to learn how a book is written, I realised I preferred wanting to write one to actually writing one. There is sufficient satisfaction to get a high from talking about writing a book, writing about how I am trying to write a book, researching about the writing process (of which my favourite part is finding experiences of newbie authors that mirror my own experience of frustration), getting angry each time another person has written a book and I haven't (you know how you are sure you can do something better than someone except you haven't done a thing despite your "being better" and they have results to show for actually putting in the work and going through the process) and playing with story lines and characters in my head that I don't need the lows of staring at a blank page struggling with the thought that this isn't something I can do.

But again, I always feel that way when faced with writing a paper for one of my many MBA modules. In fact, I am always sure that I not only don't know what I am doing but that I can't do what is being required of me. This has happened so often now that I have started to recollect and recognise more incidents of debilitating self doubt each time I have attempted something new, past and present.

Luckily, I've been around that block enough times to understand that if I can stick out the discomfort of the learning curve and get to the other side, I will start to see the patterns, recognise the formula and find what works.

So writing a book (for me) has been a humbling process- one that is easier said than done. 

I don't get to be good at it right away or on my first try not even because I've written a blog for ten years, maintained several journals of various shapes and colours through the years or contributed great content to a handful of magazines- online and print.
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