7 Corporate Sins to Avoid

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There is no leader without flaws and neither is there an organization that is perfect. Corporate leadership however needs to realize that according to the late Dr. Edwin Cole “the character of the kingdom emanates from the character of the King”. Leadership has a major role to play in ensuring that the organization survives any economic weather that seeks to destroy the ship. In fighting economic woes and pressures, there are however corporate sins which are tantamount to you digging a grave and writing an obituary for your business. I am probably mentioning these not as a way of exonerating myself as a leader but pointing something that I have done or seen first-hand.

1.   Failure to see value in employees – no matter how amazing your vision or idea is, it requires more than just the founder to get it off the ground. You need to ensure that you hire the right people or at least people who can be trained to give you value. Having them on your team is not a guarantee that they will produce value; take a step further and ensure that you value their contribution and reward them accordingly left your business becomes training ground for other companies or markets.

2.   Investing blindly without due diligence – no entrepreneur throws money around like grain. You are not in business just to gain the title of business man or woman. You are in a business because you want to make money. Before you run with your ideas (or fantasies) you need expert advice on feasibility of the idea. Before any mergers and acquisitions please read widely about the business you want to acquire lest you be deceived into buying a shell that may never develop into something of value.

3.   Refusal to move with the times – the business landscape is forever changing. Your business probably has smarter, faster and more agile competition than it had 2 years ago. Consumer appetites keep evolving. Spending culture is forever changing as well. As a smart entrepreneur your role is to keep studying the trends and immediately positioning your business to remain relevant to the customer. Mobile Technology is bringing another fresh form of competition. If your business was to manufacture cameras or take photos you now have families having their own state of the art mobile phones taking better pictures on the go. Adapt or die.

4.   Taking customers for granted – Your business exists to solve a customer need. Getting a customer is one thing. It is a costly exercise but keeping one happy is a venture you need to invest in. Customers can easily move next door because there is now a multiplicity of options. Customer centricity remains a key element which determines if people will stay with you or not. Never assume that customers are still with you. Do surveys from time to time. Do “brand health” checks using independent companies. It is easy to go bankrupt as customers leak one at a time until you have no-one to serve. Customer remains king / queen as the old adage goes. Pay attention to their cries even those cries that are not outwardly expressed.

5.   Paying lip service to quality issues – The business environment is very turbulent the world over. Markets are shrinking, competition is biting every day. As such, business people tend to try and “cut corners” as a way of staying profitable. In Zimbabwe we have seen customers rising to complain about how quality of products have gone down over time. If one customer takes to social media to complain about your quality of products and services, bear in mind they have a sphere of influence that feeds from their palms. Sooner or later your brand goes down the drain. You have yourself and your team to blame. A pork pie making company in Zimbabwe had a rude awakening when one customer started posting about the reduction in the amount of meat in a pie. They have since corrected this but it cost them a lot to repair damaged trust as the complaint went viral in no time.

6.   Dicing with financial indiscipline – You can tell who a person really is when there is enough money around them to spend on anything they want. You then see priorities shifting. As an entrepreneur, the biggest you can ever make is assuming every dollar in the bank is yours and therefore you start making personal decisions on money that is not even yours. That is greed. It is easy to spend the tax authorities’ money on holidays only to come back and experience serious garnishes. We have seen a proliferation of companies closing down all because they used money meant for other statutory obligations. We have even seen law firms spending trust funds meant for customers. Whatever line of business you are in, only spend that which is yours.

7.   Lack of Corporate Governance – This is closely tied to sin number 6 above. I would like to single this one out completely. Businesses grow and succeed to the level of leadership they have. The board oversees the organization setting policies and helping with strategic direction. However, there are boards that exist to meet and have coffee while the house burns. There are CEOs who tell the board what to do especially if the CEO is the founder. This defeats the whole purpose hence accountability, transparency and effective decision making flies through the window. As a founder, pick people whose voice you respect, people who can tell you to your face when you stray not people who will applaud you for your dumbest decisions just to stay in position as a board member. If your organization is ungovernable then you either remain a “brief case” organization or you prepare to close shop someday, soon. 

What are your experiences? What have you seen in your own world? Share with us in the comments section. Let’s talk about this.

7 Mistakes to Avoid in Life

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Picture Courtesy of theodysseyonline.com

It takes one missing brick on a wall to cause the total collapse of the same no matter how good looking it is. Similarly, it takes one link in a strong chain to cause the total disintegration of the same. I have spent a significant amount of time studying key pillars for success in life. The attainment or failure to achieve boils down to how you put the bricks of the success wall together. I have observed in my life some of the things which I had overlooked and were slowing me down immensely in terms of achievement of my own goals. I will share with you a few key links which when they are missing in life will cause an immense dislocation. There could be many more but these stand out for me.

  1. Life without purpose – A life that lack the reason for its own existence is not usually a fulfilled and fruitful life. A fundamental question in life is “why am I here”. Whether you believe it or not there is reason why you had to show up and not another person. I discovered my purpose not so long ago which is summed up “I exist to uncover greatness in others through inspiration”. My purpose fuels me. It is the reason why I woke up to write this article. What is yours?
  1. Existence outside of relationships – you were not born in a vacuum and neither were you created for solitary confinement. Human beings are created for communion with other humans. We need others to grow mentally, physically, emotionally and in every other area of our existence. I have noticed that the more I isolate myself, the less I grow as a person as my purpose relies on relationships around me. Everyday ask yourself “who is in my circle”. What are those people doing in your life?
  1. Living only for yourself – this is closely tied to the point I just raised on relationships. There is a huge temptation to live for yourself and your family only forgetting that you need to serve other people beyond your own clan and lineage. Serving others does not always mean you are losing money. It could mean mentoring and coaching someone who is trying to find their way in life. It may mean sharing the little food you have just so that another person can afford a smile. When you see me do charity work it is not because I have excess, I have been raised to know that sharing is caring. Do you care enough about serving others?
  1. Mind that refuses knowledge – every day that you exist on this earth is important in as far as your mental development is concerned. It is easy to think you have reached the pinnacle of information acquisition when in actual fact you need to develop and feed your mind every day. The most dangerous things in life are those we don’t even know. Ignorance is a serious epidemic which you must always work to reduce in your life. No matter how much they call you a learned person, you need to ensure that you are growing your mind daily. Read a book, watch the news, attend a seminar – just do something about increasing the quantity of what you know.
  1. Expenditure without reason – you can always tell what a person values by what occupies their priority list the moment they receive money. One thing that derailed me especially soon after I left college was financial indiscipline. I remember music used to occupy my budget, that is if I had a budget. I used to get money and simply spent it without planning and I would wonder where my money was “disappearing to”. It is the small things such as having a carefully planned budget that determine how much progress you make in life. Take care of these small issues and the bigger picture will soon take shape.
  1. Acting without careful thinking – every day we make decisions. Life is a series of decisions. It is important for you to exercise your mind before making a decision. This is why you cannot enter into a day without a plan. Work on a simply action list a day before and as you go through your day start ticking the items off. As you go through the day, never be under pressure to say stuff without carefully processing whether it is necessary or not. Words by their very nature can damage others around you. Your maturity is in knowing when to act and when to speak.
  2. Mistakes that don’t cause learning – I have made a number of mistakes in life but I don’t bury my head in the sand. I have made decision in life that nearly decimated my own life but I don’t wallow in self-pity. I simply learn from my mistakes and I move on. I have realized that I will not always have things right. No matter how much of an expert I may think I have become, there are things I will continue to learn out of every mistake I make. It is a waste of time to make the same mistake daily and not learn from it. Also learn from the mistakes of others.

7 Great Desires Every Human Possesses

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Every individual is wired to gravitate towards a certain set of desires. There are desires you are born with, which grow with you over time and then there are those which develop as you raise your level of awareness. As an individual, it is vital to understand what other people desire so that you are best positioned to tailor a response and action plan to meet or surpass those desires. It is when you meet their desires that you are considered to have made a difference in their lives. It does not take rocket science to understand an individual. Simply check what the person desires, meet the desire and you will surely become their best friend.

  1. Desire for leadership and influence – Everyone is born with genes that gravitate towards leadership. In any situation, a human being seeks to understand who the leader is. In other instances a human being has an inborn desire to just lead whether someone asks for it or not. With leaderships comes influence and that is the cry in most hearts. Personally, wherever you put me, I find myself taking a leadership role sometimes subconsciously. Why is that so? I would be fulfilling an innate desire to lead and be a person of influence.
  1. Desire for achievement and recognition – People generally have a desire to be valued and taken seriously. There is an inborn quest for achievement which purchases the much needed recognition. No matter how much you thwart this desire, it remains strong. One may not achieve in academics but you may see them desire to achieve in sports. There is certainly at least one area in your life from where you derive recognition through high achievement. What is that one area? As for me, I am a natural high-achiever who detests underwhelming performances in whatever I do. I always have goals ahead of me which I aim to achieve. With each achievement comes recognition.
  1. Desire for affirmation and encouragement- Human beings thrive on affirmation and encouragement to do greater things. Greatness can be ignited when there is a voice that gives the much awaited hope and encouragement. Do you desire to see other people around you rising in their performance? Just affirm them, show you believe in them, encourage them and watch. Personally if I am affirmed, I rise like a lion wanting to conquer the impossible. Even the motivator that I am also desires to be motivated by others from time to time.
  1. Desire for power and authority – this is a desire to be seen to be in charge with everything under control. Power and leadership are different. There is an innate desire to control and manipulate situations or overrule the status quo. Authority exercised outside of proper channels becomes illegitimate. Mankind desires to be seen to be having the power to cause change and make things happen. There is nothing that beats the feeling of being given authority over a task or project. I am a friendly leader but I am also very firm and I take authority when I see situations getting out of hand.
  1. Desire for success and significance – with this is the desire to be financially secure, wealthy and happy. People work and toil seeking success and a happy life. It does not come easy most of the time. It comes after repeated efforts to consistently produce results. This desire can be one of the most frustrating as it calls for the individual to put effort to bring it to pass. It is also terrible if you have a warped definition of success-centered around accumulation of things. You will see a lack of money as not being successful whereas you can have all the material resources in the world and lack peace, direction, purpose and happiness which are all critical for success.
  1. Desire for networking and companionship – Mankind was not born for independence but for community. There is an inherent desire to always want to network with others and have mutually beneficial relationships. Relationships are more important than cash or education. They take you further than your imagination. The reason you develop your linguistic abilities in life is so that you commune with others, you understand those around you so as to better serve them and also place a demand on those serving you. That is a desire for community and social networking. The success of social media platforms in our generation is a testament to the fact that networking is in all of us in varying proportions.
  1. Desire for knowledge and wisdom – This refers to the enriching of the mind. Every mind desires to know and store more. Wisdom is the detonation engine for ignorance. Everyone has a desire to always explore more. Sadly some sit on this desire and stagnation settles in leading to boredom, depression and in some cases loss of life. As you grow physically, your mind always desires to accumulate more information. Unfortunately with this desire comes the accumulation of junk which is sometimes hard to let go as it then ferments into your character.

7 Important Personal Attributes

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An individual is the sum total of his/her personal attributes. You can tell who a person is by assessing how they behave in given circumstances or situations. People are bound to be different hence there should never be an expectation that people will be the same one day. They may agree on one issue strongly but be at a different tangent on a separate subject. The differences that people have make this world a wonderful place to be, it becomes so colorful and pleasurable to stay in. In this article I look at what I consider the important facets to an individual. These are attributes which when you possess you begin to stand head and shoulders above your own peers.

1. Pro-activity in situations – to be proactive is to be able to discern what needs to be done and then do it without even waiting to consult and follow the red tape. A proactive individual is preferred for leadership positions because sometimes you will not always have people to consult over an idea. As a leader you will have situations when you have to create or control a situation rather than always having to respond to what has happened (reactionary or reactivity).

2. Persistence to the end – This is the ability to be able to continue steadfastly at something in the midst of adversity and immense difficulty. People who persist to the end have a winning attitude, never giving up because of impending failure. Persistence is the willingness to push until there are results showing. Many people have great potential but lack the urge to push to the end.

3. Patience in tribulation – patience can be defined as the capacity to tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without becoming angry or upset. In life one may experience delays in getting what one needs, patience is important. Things may not happen according to your own timing or your own thinking but one has to develop tenacity to be solid, to hold on even when it does not make sense.

4. Peace in the midst of turmoil – When one is at peace they are free from disturbance, anxiety or stress. Peace is contentment with what is. It does not mean the absence of turmoil. One has to maintain their cool even if in the midst of chaos and threat of danger. Peace is a mental state that one must pursue. It therefore calls for one to master the art of ensuring that nothing ever disturbs the processes in the mind.

5. Personality that is pleasant – people who exude pleasant personalities create friends and network easily. These are people who know how to relate with other people. Roles that require human interaction such as leadership, customer care, sales, help desk and so on require someone who is friendly. Pleasant should never be confused with weak. These people are friendly and yet firm on their convictions and beliefs.

6. Positive character at all times – No one ever wants to be close to people who are always negative. Positive thinkers look at the brighter side of life, the side of possibility, the side of hoping against hope. These are constructive, optimistic and confident people. A positive person can easily attract a job or favor while a negative person looks on.

7. Professionalism and good work ethic – Professionalism is the competence or skill expected of a professional. A professional who is guided by a set of moral principles will always go far and beyond and ordinary person. When at work such an individual will not abuse company resources such as time, finances and so on. If you lack in principles then any behavior is acceptable to you.

More than just reading this article, make it a point to begin to do something about what you have read. Head knowledge is only important to the level of your willingness to implement what you read.

7 Issues Everyone Must Confront In Life

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One thing most people shy away from is confrontation. Not everyone is wired or born with genes that encourage that. I am one person who was born an expert at running away from confronting situations, people and circumstances. I would find the smart way out, creatively avoiding confrontation as much as possible. As I grew up I realized that for my success and future prospects, I needed to be intentional about the things I needed to confront. For a long time I thought other people needed to help me confront the issues but I soon realized it was my sole responsibility. It is a life-long process. Below are some key issues you need to confront.

1. Past – Many fail to make strides into the future because they have literally given license and rights to the past issues to jump into the present. Face your failures and learn from them, look at your successes and aim higher. Don’t rest on them. Your past remains your past. You have no control over it. Today you have a chance to rewrite the “new past” that will be talked of in your future. Confront your issues so that you don’t keep blaming it on what happened before. Take responsibility with both hands now.

2. Purpose – There is no one who can stand with others and claim not to have purpose. It is there. You may not know it yet. Your job is to confront this issue genuinely seeking to find where your passions lay. You cannot roam around resting on the purposes of others. You have your own mandate why you occupy space. Discover it and run with it. The longer you take to confront this matter the shorter you may live a fulfilled life. You only get fulfilled when you do what you love best even without being paid for it. In 2010, I had to search deep within asking myself the question “why do I exist? What do I want to be remembered for?”. After a series of strategic sessions with myself I discovered that my purpose is “to create greatness in others through inspiration”. That alone sparked the journey I am on today.

3. Personality – no one can ever deal with your personality better than yourself. People usually shy away from who they really are when no one else is watching. A good personality is usually the one that stands heads and shoulders above others receiving so much favor with man. If you fail to confront your own personality you will always think people are hard on you. Be realistic about this issue. Your life depends on your person-hood or personality. What kind of person do your friends think you are? Kind? Mean? Generous? Embrace the feedback and make amends where you fall short.

4. Perception of self – How you see yourself matters. Look in the mirror and be objective about what the mirror communicates back to you. See your own perception. Hear yourself speak, see yourself smile. If you do not know what you are good at, people will take you for granted and ride on your low self esteem. Square your shoulders always and realize you are somebody. People’s perception is usually determined by the way you perceive yourself. They simply come along to endorse how you see yourself. If all you see in yourself is a grasshopper then you will soon be hopping around. See the giant that rests within. See the successful person you are becoming.

5. Present circumstances – Where you are presently has a bearing on how far you will go in life and how fast that will take. Where you are now should be scrutinized in view of the vision you set for yourself. If you cannot interrogate your present circumstances then time will fly past and you are bound to be in the same place in the future. You can change your present circumstance for the better. Some of the situations we go through in life are not necessarily to harm us or prove that we are failures, they are probably there to make us stronger. You cannot issues by pretending that they don’t exist or by sweeping them under a carpet. Your present challenge will not go away simply because you have incubated it. If anything, it could be growing and you will still need to face it when it now a mature challenge.

6. Plan for the future – You should not just stumble on your future. You should plan for it and ensure you walk into a defined and well envisioned future. If you cannot see yourself in the future then you will not be able to walk towards it. I like a quote I saw once that said “the best way to predict the future is to create it”. There are things in your future that you can control. You have a part to play in determining what that future is. Start what you plan and finish what you start.

7. Potential – You are as good as the potential in you that is realized. It is not good enough to say “I think I am capable of this” when in actual fact you are not prepared to confront what you are good at. Unrealized potential remains exactly that. It remains a pie in the sky, a wish never realized. Everyone is somebody even when no tag is put on their forehead. You have potential only if you exploit it to the maximum. Expose yourself to environments and situations that enhance your growth and development. Who says you are not the next best story.

7 Ways to maintain your reputation

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Your name is one of the greatest assets you have. Your name builds and defines your reputation. Reputation is about one of the most important tools you carry around. When your name is mentioned in a conversation what are the perceptions that come to mind? Are the views and perceptions positive in any way or your name has become synonymous with all kinds of negativity? In no way am I asking for you to reform into an angel because I am sure there are enough angels already. You just need to be you, the original you. There is no one without weaknesses. In no way am I encouraging lawlessness and upholding of the shortcomings. One has to be seen to be making an effort in the direction of transforming weakness to strengths. Reputation must be safeguarded with all the energy available. Habits you entertain, words you speak without thinking, actions you take without careful analysis and thoughts you entertain tend to shape the brand that you become. Let me help you with a few hints to maintain or safeguard your reputation.

1. Meet your promises – whenever you say “I will do it”, mean it with you heart. People trust you until you prove that you are not worth trusting. It is better to say no and still go ahead and work on the assignment than to give an impression that you will work on it and disappoint people needlessly. Sometimes it is hard to say no but this frees you from pressure and people will appreciate your candidness. I suffered from this issue for many years where I took on tasks which I knew had become one too many. As a result it reduced my effectiveness and my frustration shot through the roof. If you promise someone, it is incumbent upon you to fulfill the promise no matter what cost you have to face.

2. Communicate progress and constraints – Your reputation can be marred easily because of constraints and problems that emanate from the task you have taken up. People will assume you are making progress and yet you may be facing challenges that can be alleviated. Communication will solve most worries you carry. People will appreciate your communication and possibly prepare themselves for potential delays or chances of non-delivery. Communication is a soft skill that lacks in most people but fortunately you can learn it.

3. Mind those you linger around – friends and accomplices shape your reputation. Choose how you want people to know you by selecting the correct set of friends. It is easy to become “guilty by mere association”. Always ask yourself what your friends are known for. Your brand reputation can easily be painted or lumped together with those you spend time with. It is good to relate with people but not everyone you meet should come into your inner circle. If friends are taking you nowhere then it is time to safeguard your reputation by keeping them at a distance. Always watch for feedback from those you consider to be close in terms of where you are taking your reputation. Make corrective action before there is irreparable damage.

4. Be careful with financial integrity – Some people will be fine with everything else until money comes into the equation. They will sacrifice their name and reputation for a few dollars. At the end of it all, integrity is one of the most important facets you require. Integrity is cultivated even at the point when you are dealing with small amounts. It sounds obvious but there are people who are not scared to snatch that which is not theirs whether from an employer, friend or even family member. Live within your means, in fact as much as possible try and live below your means. You will not have the urge to impress people with money that is not available which usually leads to debt and all kinds of chicanery.

5. Watch events and places you attend – The places you visit, the times you are seen in certain places are all building or destroying your name. It is not every event that you are invited to that you should feel compelled to attend. There are places that are only visited by a certain type of people. People make assumptions and based on those your brand reputation or equity is impacted. While we are encouraged never to judge people, unfortunately in the world we live in people will make judgments quietly at your own detriment.

6. Always clarify expectations – You may have hidden or unclear deliverables that can mar or destroy your good name. Always verify that you are working on the correct expected piece of work. There is no point attempting anything until you are clear that you are doing something as expected by your customer. Never be afraid to verify what the instruction is. You will save yourself a lot of time and resources. More importantly you will satisfy your customers. If in doubt, simply ask. Don’t be selfish with your ignorance as that impacts people’s perception of your own work ethic.

7. Mind your language – This relates to both telephone conversations and online activity. The tone by which you address others can be attached to your name. Ever been told that “the internet never forgets?”. It is so true. There are issues we post online which may have negative connotations resulting in them causing people to think of us as full of negativity. We post those words and in years to come when we now run for positions that require a certain type of person we are then found wanting.

This is by no means not the full list of things you need to look at but a starting point for you to ensure that you reputation is kept in check. I am hoping this will lower your reputational risk.

7 Guidelines to a Productive Day

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How many times have you set to attack a day and yet towards the end of the day you could hardly account for the running you did all day? How many times have you entered a day with no clue what you wanted to achieve but in the end still remained frustrated and unproductive. These are commons situations that professionals face daily. One’s productivity is a result of intentional and deliberate decision to aspire for and work towards productivity. You can never attain what you cannot measure. You can never enjoy life in the absence of productivity. Life calls for you to be proactive and deliberate about your own happiness as a professional. Happiness is a result of all that is desired being achieved within the set time. This article was birthed out of several disruptions to my fruitfulness. I watched and monitored how my time had been wasted and sought to change the way I did things. It worked phenomenally for me and I know it will work for anyone who is deliberate and intentional.

1. Determine you major and minor goals for the day – The main issue is knowing which issues are important and which ones are secondary to the main purpose. If you fail to plan your day, anything that comes will destroy your attention and focus. You will be tired after running around and yet not have the desired result. Work with the desired result in mind. Start what you plan and finish what you start. I have noticed that if I get into a day without clarity of what I want to achieve, disaster and fruitlessness become imminent.

2. Stick to your plan– It is one thing to have a meetings schedule, it is another ball game to stick to what you purposed in 1 above. It calls for a high level of discipline to do so. Avoid over stretching meetings unnecessarily. Stick to the point. Stick to the budget. Whatever was not planned for at the start of the day may not suddenly be the main focus for the day. There are exceptions to this but in general terms, what was planned should be accomplished. Prioritize issues based on importance and urgency.

3. Watch out for disruptions – While you are planning your day, other people are planning their appointments with you but they feel that there is no need to inform you. Watch out for such time wasters. People must get used to booking appointments to see you. Anyone should have a diary that they can stick to in order to be organized. Watch out for unplanned visitors and calls with no real value or agenda. Over time, my friends and family have come to realise that without an appointment, it is almost impossible to hijack me.

4. Occupy the idle moments – There is a lot stuff you can cover in between meetings or while driving from one place to the next. You can use that time to listen to an audio book. You can use waiting time to catch up on the news and so on. There are things you would rather not do during prime time, when you mind is fresh. I made a point not to read the newspaper at the start of the day. Newspapers tend to carry depressing issues which can scuttle your effectiveness and focus. When I am waiting for someone who is late, I use that time to write until the meeting starts. I have no business whining, I rather work as I wait.

5. Put reminders on the computer or mobile phone – alarms will ensure you don’t forget what you have set to do. I carry my phones with me as they help me stay organized. I set the reminders; synchronize my phone with other gadgets that I use more often. It works like magic for me. As you get busier in your career, you may require someone or something to keep you reminded of the things you need to achieve.

6. Avoid over-promising your stakeholders – Productivity is usually scuttled because you would have promised far too many people big things that are not attainable in the given space of time. Be realistic with your promises. People will judge you based on your commitments to them. I am not afraid to advise those who have expectations from me of the amount of time it will take however long it maybe. This is better than promising heaven on earth.

7. Measure, correct and journal your experiences – You can never improve on something you are not deliberately recording and revisiting. You should be able to measure or score against all given tasks how productive each day was. When you journal you are able to come up with lessons on how to make it better the next time.

If you feel this article is of great help, share it with someone or with your team. I am committed to your effectiveness and success.

7 Steps to successfully bounce back from failure.

 

Bounce Back(Picture Courtesy of Infospace.com)

As a motivational speaker and author, I find myself motivating people to succeed more than I write about how they can manage life beyond failure. I have had a fair share of successes in life but guess what; I do have a number of areas that have collapsed as well. Being a high achiever that I am, failing has often left a sour after taste in me. I remember once going through half a year of not sleeping for more than 2 hours every night simply because my business was going nowhere in a serious hurry. The thought of being called a failed businessman paralysed me. Interesting enough the moment I let this get to me I saw every facet of my life crumbling. I could not exercise any longer, my family time resembled a funeral state, I could not eat well, I could not rest, my finances started depleting and more-so I totally failed to pray. I lost friends simply because of the negative energy that I trafficked in. This article is meant to show you how I bounced back.

  1. Acknowledge that you have failed – living in denial of the fact that you are in a failed situation enslaves you and keeps you moving in circles with no sign of an exit window. If you don’t admit it, you will not exit it. As a matter of fact you will become so comfortable in your failed situation such that you will desire to lay eggs in there and relax. Remain uncomfortable with failing.
  2. It is OK to be emotional – People handle failure differently. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Some find it easier to cry it out in order to let go of the situation. Word of caution though – just don’t make crying your career. Put a life span to it. The reason behind this is that while you are busy crying, you will be even worse when you then see how many opportunities to succeed you let go in that perpetual emotional state. By the way, it is OK for a man to cry. (I know most men do not agree).
  3. Identify learning points – Every failure is an opportunity to learn how not to repeat the same mistakes. Take a notebook and journal what happened and what you glean from it. It is definitely wasteful to fall and not derive a lecture from the fall. The whole thing becomes pointless and a sheer waste of time. I have respect for people who have failed before because of the depth and breadth of wisdom they possess. Noone can take that away. Just as you identify learning points, also reflect in past successes however small. Think about how those made you feel. See yourself succeeding again even better than the last success you can still remember.
  4. Be resolute about trying again – I grew up rehearsing the statement “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again”. This remains true. If you fail X times, the formula for success = trying again for the X+1 time. We would not see the inventions and innovations we enjoy today if people had not made a deliberate resolution to bounce back from a failed situation. Life is a series of decision and risks. Not every decision we make in life will come out right. However, once one decision fails you rise and make yet another decision.
  5. Laugh at your mistakes – We sometimes take ourselves way too seriously such that when we fail we wait to be buried. Create humour from your mistakes. It is supposed to be disappointing but seek to turn the tables just so that you preserve the last bit of hope inside you. Tell yourself that you are not alone and that failure was not invented just for you. The more you laugh it off the more you don’t focus on quantitative analysis of what you lost. Besides, there is no use mourning over spilt milk. Laugh at yourself. Laughter is great medicine.
  6. Watch what people say to you – I believe in networks as powerful sources of support. People will call you to try and console you. Sometimes the more calls you get the more you feel like a totally useless person. There are those who will simply call to try and add insult to injury by sarcastically telling you how they are so glad you fell. Manage what enters the gates of your soul – what you see, what you hear. Take time away from those who sap your energy away. Identify those who really are interested in your success and stick around those.
  7. Watch what you tell yourself – People may never talk to you about your failure but the person who will try and over-emphasize it may just be yourself. In your mind there could be a conversation between the “sober you” and the “dejected you”. Just realize falling or failing does not make you a complete failure. Refusal to make another attempt is what seals your fate. Just remember X+1 formula above. As you make strategies to bounce back, avoid such statements like “What is history repeats itself? What will people think?…”. Realise that as individuals we are walking on different lanes. Your success should never be bench-marked against another person lest you slip into severe chronic depression.

The next time you fail in something, just remind yourself of someone who also failed before and bounced back. That person is me. Am I now failure-proof? Certainly not, but I keep moving FORWARD.

10 Key Networking Principles

Business Communication Duplicate modelPic Courtesy of Profiles International

In close to 20 years of professional experience, I have interfaced with a number of people and I have seen a common thread that has hindered their progress in life and more-so in the corporate world and that is the lack of a key soft-skill called “Networking”. Below is a quick compilation of thoughts around the subject which can help you become an effective net-worker.

  1. The people you are afraid to meet & network with are willing to meet with you as long as you know what to say when you meet them. I have met a number of notable people in my life including prolific entrepreneurs, Presidents and professionals. I must admit that at first I was afraid but I soon snapped out of this mode and became a networker by choice.
  2. If I know you and you know someone then I can access them through you. Such is the power of networking. Don’t be an island. You are always 2 or 3 people away from the person you have always wanted to meet. Never think there are people who are unreachable under the sun.
  3. There are doors that are better opened for you by others than you battling all your life without success. Networking does work. I have lived this message in my career. It was through networking that I have travelled the world speaking and inspiring people.
  4. The power of networking is that you can accelerate the rate at which you learn by tapping into the expertise of those around you. You shouldn’t wait for the classroom to reduce your level of ignorance. Leverage on the power of networking and you will succeed. When you are in a network. In my network are mentors and protégés. While I learn from others I pass that knowledge to the next generation of leaders.
  5. Don’t go into networking only for what you can get. Relationships are a two way street. Be prepared to give of your substance. People are wary of parasites that only seek their own satisfaction. As long as a relationship has mutual benefit, it remains solid and strong. Even millionaires have needs too. It may not be money but maybe encouragement. Go into networking with the right motive. If all you see is you getting richer then you are sincerely mistaken. Start afresh. You don’t turn to your network only when you have pressing needs you want met but also when you have a contribution to make.
  6. In your daily networking, don’t take people to be stingy when they don’t have a clue what your needs are. Not many can guess. One thing I am not afraid to do is asking. I have noticed that in life the gap between where you are and where you need to be could be a question or just opening up to a person who has the means to get you there.
  7. Your skills benefit you if you expose them to people who feel they are valuable. Don’t be skilled and poor. Start networking. I noticed about 5 years ago that I had a skill that could benefit and inspire humanity but this kind of skill could only be useful to others if it was given to them. This is why sharing inspiration is a way of life for me.
  8. Your network is so powerful to the point of determining your net worth. Your worth is not just measured in money terms alone. When you are involved in networking, you grow in wisdom and knowledge through the multiplicity of skills and talents around you. The associations you have can either lift or reduce your profile so network with wisdom. You may not have huge material resources but the moment you start networking, your resourcefulness spirals exponentially.
  9. It’s not the number of followers you have that matters, it is your ability to feed them enough to keep them in your network. It feels good to be popular but popularity that does not help those who follow you is futile. Of what benefit are you to those who follow you? If people leave you worse than when they came to you then you stand to destroy your network.
  10. The skill of networking doesn’t come naturally to many people. The good news is that you can learn and be a master at it. I am a product of efforts by many mentors around me to get me to become a power net-worker. I owe it to lessons learned over the years and my willingness to implement something which seemed foreign at the beginning.

This list is not everything there is to know about networking but I am only hoping that it will ignite your passion to start doing something about gaining this soft skill.

 

Towards a Better Africa – 16June – Norway

On the 16th of June 2015 I had the awesome privilege to officially open the Bergen Afro Arts Festival in Bergen, Norway. This was the day of the African Child hence the topic “Towards a Better Africa”. Find the abridged transcribed presentation below.

Brothers and Sisters
Both near and far

We are gathered on a very important day in the history of Africa. June 16 is a day that will be remembered for generations. We reflect on the impressive boldness of young men and women who stood up against the injustices of the day to usher in change that many enjoy to this day.

As we celebrate the Day of the African Child, we must repeat the message that the continent of Africa expects the youth of today to follow in the footsteps of the 1976 youth and become agents of change, this time in the continuing struggle to achieve the goal of a better life for all our people.

Whereas the youth of 1976 fought against inferior education as part of the struggle for freedom, today’s youth should confront illiteracy and lack of skills as part of the struggle for development.

History is only useful to the degree that we can draw lessons from it that we can use today to chat the course for the future. Below are some lessons we can use to work “Towards a Better Africa”

1. We need a legacy mind-set.

  • As African youths, we have a mandate to build lasting value rather than focussing on scattering value. We have to realise that future generations rely on what we are building today and they will hold all of us accountable for the actions or lack thereof from the present generation. We marvel as we reflect on the legacy and heritage from events in the 70s. The bravery and determination of those young people will be talked about for generations. What will our own generation be remembered for? Lost generation? Most divided generation? A generation that failed to think of the future but chose to satisfy the hunger of the moment? Should our legacy centre on how intolerant we were for immigrants that came into our space to the point of burning them alive? What is the one indelible contribution that we seek to bring to the table as young Africans regardless of where in the world we are living now? If we can find that one thing, let us work on it.
  • As leaders of the future, we have to be thinking of the future we desire to see and not be confined and constricted by the dictates and demands of the moment. Tomorrow is shaped by today’s actions. Today is the tomorrow we spoke about yesterday. What we do today is either shaping or destroying our heritage and legacy.

2. We need a winner’s mind-set

  • Success and failure have one common source or denominator. They are both products of the mind. We have to win in our minds before we can win with our hands. The biggest battle we will ever face in life is not physical; rather it is between our ears. If you go to the battlefront with a defeatist mind-set, you would have sealed your fate. It is called a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we continue to think that we do not amount to anything we will succeed at being nonentities. If we think we are candidates for greatness, everything about us will be mobilised to make sure that success is attained speedily. The mind reminds the seedbed for success. It is also the factory for failure. We need mental re-engineering or re-wiring; we need a thinking that does not propel our inferiorities, inabilities, insecurities and shortcomings, but one that sees possibilities and opportunities beyond measure.
  • For us to shape our thinking we need to start speaking and affirming ourselves about what is possible. At the same time we need to guard what we listen to. We are products of what we repeatedly hear. What you hear over and over again, you begin to believe, what you believe you start promoting, what you promote you being to do effortlessly, what you do repeatedly forms your habitual life, your habits generate a successful future or degenerate into failure. You are where you are today as a result of the mind-set you have built over time. We have to start speaking those things that are not as though we have attained them. Our experiences have shaped our mind-sets and therefore it is time to shape the winner in us through what we say. We therefore need to be careful what we say about a fellow African. We have to keep raising each other, encouraging each unto great works.

3. We need solutions driven mind-set.

  • There is no amount of feeling sorry, mourning or complaining that will ever change our fortunes as young Africans. Africa’s turnaround is premised on creation of solutions daily for the ever-changing shape and magnitude of African problems. Regardless of location, the African child needs to drive solutions where it matters the most, the homeland we all love.
  • There is no challenge facing Africa that does not have an expiry date. Every problem has a solution laminated on its body. The challenge is; are our eyes open to see beyond the challenges to reach for the opportunity and solution. We have to start getting our hands dirty, rolling up our sleeves and work towards a better Africa. They say success comes before Work only in the dictionary. If we all embrace a mind-set that we are the solutions that Africa needs, we will pull in the same direction and cause an unprecedented turnaround.
  • Africa is not short of ideas, what I find lacking across the continent is the willingness to implement ideas – make them a living reality – make ideas solutions to African problems. A lot of young people cry across the continent. The cry is centred around lack of opportunities and yet all they need to do is implement what is already in the mind. We should never die while holding to seeds of our own greatness. You never know who will benefit from your idea.
  • Money flows in the direction of value. We must quit wishing for prosperity of the continent when we are not willing to trade our solutions for the value we wish to have. Do what you can with what you have to get what you want. It does not matter what area of endeavour you are in. We must disabuse ourselves of the notion that you only succeed in specific fields. For as long as you are willing to work on solutions and you do so with excellence, people will scramble for your attention.
  • Lets start what we plan and finish what we start. Who are we waiting for? The season for waiting for those outside Africa to bring aid is long gone. It is time for a fair exchange of value. Let us see Africa for what it can be rather than focus on what it used to be known for. We have a responsibility to reshape Africa’s fortunes.
  • We have enough consumers across the continent; we need more contributors. We must not rest on what already is but also look on what we can create now.

4. We need a mind-set that makes decisions, now

  • We will never achieve much as a continent if we are not willing to make decisions when called upon to do so. Yes, decisions mean some level of risk. Our generation has to realise that where there is no pain there is no meaningful gain. We always think we have time hence we have become procrastination experts. The fortunes of our lives and those of the continent could be buried in the graveyard of procrastination. Our generation loves to create comfort zones rather than working through pain and discomfort to create a solid and sustainable future.
  • A generation that opts to enjoy the comfort and security from its mother’s nest may never develop the capacity to fly. We cry for economic independence while we enslave our minds from taking responsibility for the continent’s outcomes. We need a mind-set change.
    We can blame historical injustices all we like but until we make a decision to shape our own destinies and create new path, the wilderness will forever be our habitat.
  • Decision-making is not easy simply because with every decision you make comes a responsibility for the outcomes whether good or bad. That becomes the hallmark of maturity.
    Time is impatient with us. It will never wait for out indecisions. We have to bite the bullet, decide now to move forward. We need to shift our minds from the crippling, retrogressive and lazy mind-set of entitlement towards a progressive and sober mind-set that moves with the times.
  • The greatest asset that Africa has is in the collective mass of intellectual capital in its people.
  • We cannot move Africa forward while holding onto yesterday’s ways of doing things.

Charge:

  • The time has come for the youth of Africa to arise and not merely rest on yesterday’s achievements.
  • The time is now for the African child to take responsibility for his or her advancement.
  • Today is the day when the African child needs to be reminded that he/she has an equal chance of making a lasting contribution.
  • It is not the time to downplay each other’s ideas.
  • It is not the time to pull each other backwards.
  • It is not the time for a hand-out but for us to give each other a hand up.
  • It is not time to mourn over lost opportunity, but a time to create new opportunities.
  • It is not time to be angry at yesterday’s injustice, but the clock is ticking for us to shape a brighter tomorrow.
  • Let us therefore rally with a new sense of urgency, to harness potential into one space and forge ahead in unison.

Let me end my speech today by reciting a poem from my anthology, “Showers of Inspiration”. It is my belief that Africa can only move forward if its people learn to understand the Power of the mind.

My mind, my life

A mind released, permitted and sanctioned
A mind free to blossom, dream past boundaries
A mind resistant to status quo to the core
A mind restless, ruminating and flowing
A mind so pregnant with thoughts to overflow
Where nations are built, one thought at a time

A mind so captivating it makes others wonder
A mind with scintillating ideas never experienced
A mind seemingly strange, definitely rare by nature
A mind so unpredictable, uncontainable yet stable
A mind so creative, a factory feeding the soul
Where greatness germinates and success abounds

A mind I won’t disown till death do us part
A mind detesting conditioning formulating wonders
A mind capturing history making new mysteries
A great calculative reasoning engine
A composed garden where the future is planted
Where decisions are designed and action is weaved

A mind so focused, undeterred by history
A mind pushing past pain, set for the ultimate
A mind resisting negativity
A mind holding fast to possibilities
A mind so hopeful and optimistic
Where productivity is the mission and bedrock

A mind that breeds awesomeness
A mind affecting society positively
A mind fashioning lifestyles of human nature
A mind so deep, the base is not known
A mind I love to own and carry around
Where my life rests, the epitome of my success

May God bless Africa and its people.

I thank you!!!