As we sojourn in life, events of variable proportions will confront each of us, and the strength to defeat some of the most intimidating situations will come from our individual perceptions and how adequately we can respond to the demand for inner strength. Let it be noted that strength is first of all a state of the mind than a tangible reality. Our beliefs, our thinking, our mindsets, principles, values and rules determine how strong we are in situations. In my coaching sessions, part of what I communicate very strongly is the truth that people should not believe in happiness as they believe in the force of joy.
Every day, I remind myself of my inner responsibility to my outer roles. I have accepted that I am the singular engine, under God, that can give myself the best help, the best support and the best push. I have accepted that our world is full of ups and downs and composure is a critical resource for the discerning, regardless of the odds. I have accepted that the human mind cannot outgrow seasons of crisis; the human mind must simply learn to overcome every contrary situation.
I believe it is in this continuous exchange and overcoming platform that life shares its meaning. It is my responsibility to maintain my composure regardless of the odds. Self-pity is a formidable adversary; and a life of excuse will always be weak, irrelevant and unrewarded. No matter my lot in this life, i have accepted that happiness is artificial and joy is an inner duty to self. If i am joyful, i will be happy. Someone can drink a bottle of beer and be happy instantly. That’s not real. That’s pseudo… since the drink will wear off and the person is back to reality…back to life. Happiness attempts to suspend the issues, leave the moment and leave the problem unsolved. It is a temporary and scripted idea of peace. You will always wake up from the dream if happiness will be your only tool.
Happiness attempts to keep hope alive without specific actions to take to engender a positive, realistic and sustainable way forward. Happiness runs away from the present to hide in the thought of an impossible and unrealistic future. But joy is the governor of the moment. It maintains tranquillity in the face of the strongest adversity. Joy knows that all of life is in phases and every circumstance is built with its capacity to do two things, (1) to present its own opportunities and (2) to fade away.
Life is fleeting. Every situation or circumstance is built with an inherent capacity for temporal relevance and value. Everything. Pain or bliss. Good time or bad time. Up season or down season. Theory or philosophy. System or structure. Law or policy. Person or thing. Blessing or curse. There’s nothing with the right to exist that does not possess its inbuilt capacity to naturally fade in potency as time passes. Great souls must live by this high code that the world is filled with PEOPLE and that God rules in the affairs of men. That beyond hard-work and labour, providence is a major decider of man’s greatest breakthroughs. That life must be a balance of fun-times and serious exchange. That while there is time to do the needful, there is no time to do everything we wish. That we need people but we cannot carry everyone along. That problems are constants and in their solution is the rhythm of life. That only fools work to solve a fact instead of working around them.
You don’t solve facts; you solve problems and work around facts. One of the greatest experiences of the human life is when it is able to truly know that man is by nature a 3-Dimensional Being: a LIFE-GIVER, a COMFORT ZONE, and a CHANGE AGENT. Man is an extremely creative animal with a reasoning and innovative capacity to improve his life as necessary. The human spirit is the most important tool for future relevance, for continuity, peace and meaning; and is totally unbreakable and only defeated by ignorance, fears, opacity and choice. Freedom is a constant and bondage is man-made; and is only sustained by fault. Victory is a right and defeat is nothing but a pathway; while failure is a very strong ladder. Pain is a tool and ignorance is a gift. Man is born with a critical deposit of light but he learns his darkness and incubates his folly.
To live is responsibility and to die is great gain. Breath conquers things, but financial and material success is the lowest expression of meaning. Singleness is an opportunity and marriage is sacred. Profit is a cost and a very important means to more meaningful ends. Violence is for the weak and dialogue is a tool. Existence must not be a SELFISH expression of cause and mission, but an AMAZING OPPORTUNITY to USE TIME, contents and POWER to ESTABLISH meaningful ECONOMIC and SOCIAL order for a world always desperate for it. Mediocrity, corruption, hatred, lies, treachery and evil have a life-span without capacity to sustain themselves and will always be outlived by truth, righteousness, peace and joy.
TIME is always COMPRESSED and COMPLEXITY is always INTENSIFIED. Then, PEOPLE COME and GO but THE MOUTH of the PEOPLE TO RE-ECHO THE CONTENT of HISTORY will ALWAYS REMAIN. That the NAMES of EACH of us will be RECORDED in HISTORY to be RE-ECHOED by the MOUTHS of the PEOPLE FOREVER, for good or bad, or NEVER RE-ECHOED because the existence was too cold and timid to generate ATTENTION. TOMORROW’S PEACE will be CREATED TODAY by those WHO CARED not only for it…BUT also for the MOUTHS and HEARTS of the PEOPLE COMING AFTER. Love conquers all and man is designed with the natural ability to CARE and EMPATHIZE. All of what I have shared here represents what I know to be inner strength. This is the mentality that can thrive in any situation and from any location. For this kind of mind, everything is an advantage. I hope I have helped a bit? Let me get your feedback here.
It may not be out of place to conclude that Odunjo’s poem, which was taught in schools to millions of children form part of Yoruba philosophy on dignity of labour. If my logic here establishes common grounds of agreement between us, then permit me to share certain principles of Yoruba philosophy’s perspective on hard work, which I believe we have ignored for too long to our costly detriment. The idea really, is to widen our perception so that we can take critical instruction and subject our mentality to necessary adjustment for our own good. Remember, principles are universal, application are peculiar.
The tragedy I found is that we have presented hard work as an independent variable, which is able to deliver priceless value, when it is strictly adhered to. We have promoted the foregoing at the expense of the salient truth which Odunjo renders as ‘BÍ A KÒ BÁ RÉNI FÈYÌN TÌ, BÍ ÒLE LÀ Á RÍ.’ As I have interpreted before, it means if you have no one to lean on, you share same character traits as a lazy man and you will be adjudged so by your observers. As I gave this a deeper thought, my former experiences of failure began to tally with this priceless truth. I began to see with the benefit of hindsight that it is not enough to be hard working; it is always enough to work smart. What does it mean to work smart here? It means to seek meaningful collaboration. In today’s parlance, you may call it strategic alliances. It means, a hard working man is not man, who keeps working. A hard working man is a man, who understands how to strike strategic alliances in critical areas of his life in the pursuit of an identified mission.
Your ability to know when to seek collaboration is the true character of a tough mind. This is contrary to what many of us have believed before now. Many of us believe that a man or a woman’s measure of toughness is how much he/she is able to go without seeking for help. The Yoruba philosophy again is instructive here. It says, ‘a ni kan rin lo n je omo ejo ni ya,’ meaning, the snakes become easy preys to the hunters because they do not crawl in groups. The snake is a lone ranger. Imagine that all the species of snakes craw in group, the haunter, who will subdue them would be adjudged to have done what Napoleon could not do.
Harry S. Truman, the thirty-third President of the United States (1945–1953) submitted, ‘It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.’ President Barack Obama was interviewed by Time Magazine of December 29, 2008 and he revealed as his winning formula when he said, ‘I don’t think that there is some magic trick here. I think I’ve got a good nose for talent, so I hire really good people. And I’ve got pretty healthy ego, so I am not scared of hiring the smartest people, even when they are smarter than me.’
Strategic alliance is the way to go if we must give full expression to our God-given potentials. The movement that leads to relevance is the one that applies the kind of wisdom that serve your cause and mission—The greatest of which is God. Then find people, coaches, mentor, and value adding relationships. One of the greatest phrases you can hear is the admonition to connect for your greatest emergence. And know this: ‘The best of you is not always in you’
Of all the lessons I have learnt from my failure, nothing rivals the impact of the ‘unconscious loss’ in my mind. It is such a terrible state to be in. It is terrible because it is imperceptible, barely felt or accurately appraised.
What characterizes a state of ‘unconscious Loss?’ It is a human state of existing on a wrong path or in a wrong position of life and not knowing you are there. It is a vicious state of mediocrity, passivity, complacency, weakness, lack-luster performance, smugness, vanity, narcissism, self-absorption, egotism, selfishness. Simply stated, it is a spiritless existence.
What grieves me is what I know to be the end, the disaster and shame such a life will permit, manage, promote, recycle and transfer to the next generation. It is a precarious situation because the damage is colossal and never truly estimated until death. Can I ask what your benchmark is? Are you measuring yourself against what you could have done or simply what you have been able to do? Life is never only about what you achieve but also about what you could have achieved. What I often wonder is whether people are conscious of this gap especially in their daily lives and whether they are mentally engaging themselves to develop and deploy the skills that will salvage a meaningless daily existence.
For those who recognize this gap, they will do well to make the necessary efforts towards change, be willing to make mistakes and understand that it might be the path to the quality of life they seek. However, what is sad is that a majority live counter to course correction. They often prefer to fully explore the wrong path they know its leading nowhere. I say this because I have been there. How long individuals remain in this state will be a function of their drive to learn and improve their lives.
What I am advocating is that people everywhere must recognize their own incompetence and the value of a new skill or way of thinking that will move them onto their next stage. Failure to do this is a disservice to the achievement of their full potential. This is because the impact of the unconscious loss cannot be measured. It will escape even the most thorough scrutiny. It is an imperceptible or intangible experience and its intangibility doesn’t excuse its lethal status instead it defines its viciousness and threats. You are never able to estimate what could have been if you had done things differently. This loss is characterized by missed opportunities, unutilized potential, misplaced priorities, wrong commitments, underutilized resources, lost fervency and zeal, mismanaged lives and loss of time.
The best way I can capture this is when someone contracts HIV/AIDS through sexual intercourse. When it happens, no alarm is triggered, no pain is felt and life will continue but never the same again. If undetected for long, he becomes a death bomb waiting for the firing squad that will slay the last vestige of his immune system.
However, we can salvage this loss by making a decision to start living an intentional, purposeful, impactful and useful life. Often the wisdom of others especially mentors, coaches will be needed to help discern and avoid such losses through due assessments that comes from accountability. Also important is a personal commitment to meditation, reminiscing and revaluation which will be highly relevant to discern the propensity for loss before it is experienced.
It is imperative to recognize that one of the most active weapons we possess as people for growth and advancement is the ability to acknowledge and correct our errors. To lose something and to be conscious it was lost is a misfortune but the greatest disaster comes from losing something and not being conscious it was lost let alone being able to measure the impact of the loss.
What I lose and I didn’t know will not hurt me in the conscious realm but it will hurt my subconscious. Its impact might not be known in my reality but in the compromise of the quality and value of the end my life could have experienced. Truly, only eternity can judge this. I challenge you to arrest the ‘unconscious loss’. ‘We still can determine today the content of the future through the responsibility we accept in the present using humility, candour and courage’. This is the Life!