Monthly Archives: July 2014

Slowly, Steadily, Surely.

I once saw a quote. Can’t remember it verbatim at this time, but it looked something like this:

One of the worst ways to live through your twenties is to be overly concerned that you should have made it already.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes, I get apprehensive that gradually the years are rolling by and if I’m not accomplished before the big 30, then I’m in deep shit.

Yes, some people make a whole lot of sense of their lives even in their teenage years or early twenties. Yes, it’s awesome to be a force of nature already at an early age. Yes, you could actually have made it (relatively) perhaps if you had put in a little more effort at some point.

But then, IT IS WHAT IT IS. You are what you are this very moment. And getting worked up over why you’re nowhere near where you think you need to be will not solve a single problem. The only thing it will achieve is to put unnecessary pressure on you.

True, there are a good chunk of your contemporaries making waves as it were, moving faster than you, but then, you guys can’t exactly move at the same pace.

As long as you know you’re improving daily, carefully treading the path to self mastery as well as mastery of some skill you intend to be great at, then all is well with the world.

By perseverance, the snail reached the ark.

Have a smashing week ahead.

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What Do You See When You Look In The Mirror?

Lucas’ mother, Karen travelled to Italy for a few weeks to take a catering course. While she was away, Lucas, under the supervision of His uncle, Keith, stayed out late at night often, got a large tattoo on his upper right arm (an action his mother wouldn’t have approved of), got drunk once or twice and generally became a little bit loud, defensive and aggressive. One day Keith simply looked him in the eye and said:

You might wanna take a long hard look in the mirror and see if the person looking back at you is the kind of person you want to be.

I doubt the mirror Keith was referring to was the physical, shiny, glassy surface we all are used to calling mirrors. It seems to me that Keith simply wanted his nephew to make a careful assessment of the effects of his recent actions in the eyes of others. He wanted Lucas to judge for himself if the person he was becoming could be regarded as a responsible person in the eyes of those around him.

Today, we’re all faced with the most potent mirror ever; the thousands of pairs of eyes we encounter at home, on the streets, around every corner, in our offices and even in transit every day. Every single decision of ours resulting in either a mindless or deliberate action is always placed under severe scrutiny by those we see around us on a daily basis.

Some people believe that how they see themselves is all that matters. But really, we have to realize that the effect our actions have on others goes a long way in determining what is projected in the ‘mirror’.

The positive or negative attitudes you portray are used by people as tools in deciding the kind of person they see you as, and in the end, through their eyes (their disposition towards you), you can tell what kind of person they think you to be.

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I like the effect of the cylindrical block above. It goes to show that you are always going to be examined from different angles, and whatever anyone sees projected on the wall as he/she beams his light on you (the block) is what he/she thinks of you.

It implies that it is well possible to mask a part of yourself from people, only presenting to them what you want them to see about you.

If that works for you, FINE! Always remember though that you can hide from a million external mirrors, but you can never hide from a single internal one.

You are what you are, and that is all you are. There is no hiding from yourself.

You have a choice, either you keep doing all you’ve been doing, or you change some part(s) of you that might come off as undesirable as far as others are concerned.

Whatever you decide, a million eyes are always watching you.

In the end, it’s all about you. It was never about them.

Bonne weekend!

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TGIF and other random stuff

I’ve found that the TGIF thingy is applicable to two sets of people:

    1. Those who find their jobs pointless and non-stimulating and so look forward to the weekly opportunity (the weekend) to take a break from it.
    2. Those who find their jobs very demanding (and even perhaps interesting) but wish to ‘catch a breath’ before they continue again.

Whichever category you fall into, Thank goodness it’s Friday!

Just yesterday I was reading about some workplaces actively acting more autonomously these days and surprisingly getting astonishing results in terms of increased productivity, loyalty and overall satisfaction of their workers.

This development is a happy one. It rips to shreds the notion that without forceful control, the individual cannot perform his best work.

The truth is that people are mostly more capable of doing meaningful work without being hassled or autocratically supervised than “management teams” think.

But of course, there has to be a basic (threshold) level of motivation a fellow has before he can perform optimally without being watched by the “eagle eye” of some boss. In essence, if a fellow doesn’t feel much inferior to a contemporary in the same sector in another organization in terms of his worth (how he’s being treated and how much he’s being paid and how important his contributions are), he’s a lot less likely to jump ship, seeking “greener pastures.”

Generally, people become more intrinsically motivated when they have reasonable control over their TASK, their TIME, their TECHNIQUE and their TEAM.

Google, realizing the importance of giving considerable autonomy to its employees give them “20 percent time” every week to “do their thing”. As a result, features like Google News, Orkut, Google Sky, Google Talk, Gmail, Google Translate have been developed by employees during the “20 percent time” they have to themselves to do “free thinking work”. Of course, these innovations are still credited to Google as a body and not those individuals since they (Google) didn’t simply sign away the time to the employees that developed those products/services.

Anyway, before things get any more complicated, let’s just say that the job that provides its workers with a more autonomous control will most definitely trump the one that requires stringent management and shit.

It’s not surprising that one of the presiding partners of a reputable law firm in New York recently declared: “This is the time to get rid of the billable hour.”

I’m sure he said this because he realized that the law practice is not the kind of routine job that should be treated like optimal results can be obtained every other hour. The truth is that every case is different from the next and so to allow the creative juices of lawyers to flow freely, one needs to cut ‘em some slack and allow them do their best work without heaping upon them the pressure of meeting up to a certain number of billable hours.

There are still numerous routine jobs that require strict time adherence to get the same results in basically the same time frame, but then, those are not the creatively inclined jobs that can change our world radically.

The revolution is starting anyway, so I imagine that very soon, there’ll be more jobs willing to allow the employee to express himself freely and thus do his best work without being bossed about. Isn’t that what is important afterall?

Anyway, legally or otherwise, where I work, I mostly have control over my time, and this helps me to be more productive and happier.

I don’t know about you, but if the TGIF is greeted with severe relief almost every week, some people begin to decide it’s time to start seeking a new job, so that it won’t [expletive]ing matter whether it’s Tuesday or Saturday, they’ll be happy to do “stuff that matter” any and everytime, and might in the end even sacrifice their weekends voluntarily.

LOL. You should know I’m laughing hard at myself over my AUTONOMOUS muse this morning, but believe me, I set about to write on something very different, but my fingers would have none of it as they hit the keypad furiously time and again, hence, here we are.

Well, nothing more to say.

Cheers to the frigging weekend!

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CARROTS AND STICKS: Tom Sawyer and the white wall

In Mark Twain’s book The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer, Tom is faced with the arduous task of whitewashing Aunt Polly’s 810-square-foot-fence. He’s not ecstatic with the assignment. “Life to him seemed hollow, and existence but a burden,” according to Twain.

But just when Tom has nearly lost hope, “nothing less than a great, magnificent inspiration” bursts upon him. When his friend Ben walks by and mocks Tom for his sorry lot, Tom acts confused. Slapping paint on a fence isn’t a depressing chore, Tom says. It’s a fantastic privilege – a source of, ahem, intrinsic motivation. The job is so captivating that when Ben asks to try a few brushstrokes himself. Tom refuses. He doesn’t relent until Ben gives up his apple in exchange for the opportunity.

Soon, more boys arrive, all of whom tumble into Tom’s trap and end up whitewashing the fence – several times over – on his behalf.

From the episode, we see that “Work consists of whatever a body is OBLIGED to do, and Play consists of whatever a body is NOT OBLIGED to do.”

Another related scenario is one that involves wealthy gentlemen in England who drive four-horse passenger-coaches twenty or thirty miles on a daily line, in the summer, because the privilege costs them considerable money, and because they consider it fun. If these men were offered wages for the service of driving those coaches, that would turn the routine into work and they would resign because it would cost them nothing, and then they’ll be doing it together with men of lower standing – who would be driving not for pleasure but for the remuneration – which inherently diminishes their level in the society.

A third scenario is one that involves donation of blood. From studies, it has been observed that the offer of money to people in exchange for collection of blood from them reduces the overall turnover of blood in the bank. This is because, the act becomes less than noble, and most people donating blood prefer the nobility and kindness attached to it to remain intact.

The point of the three scenarios above is to propose that sometimes, rewards can perform a weird sort of behavioral alchemy: They can transform an interesting task into a drudge. They can turn play into work. And by replacing intrinsic motivation (doing stuff just because one wants to) with extrinsic motivation (rewards), one can send performance, creativity and even upstanding behavior toppling like dominoes.

In short, NOT EVERY TASK NOR EVERY ENDEAVOR WILL YIELD A BETTER OUTPUT ONCE A PRIZE IS ATTACHED TO IT. It is fitting that you do not attempt to make EVERY cause you engage in to be about incentives. Some things are best done for the sake of doing them.

Cheers to a fruitful day!

P.S. – I recommend Daniel Pink’s Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us for a more lucid understanding of today’s post.

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My School Days – A flash from my yesterdays

Heyyyyyyy guys! Top of the hour!

What’s there to talk about today?

Let’s start with two episodes that happened to me back in Secondary school:

One night, me and three friends trudged along to see one random movie at the assembly hall (that was our standard ‘film show’ venue), Baracuda, I think was the title. I held the torchlight – my torchlight – loosely, leading the way since I had the sole source of illumination amongst us, swaying my hips rhythmically to some inaudible ‘jam’. I was in high spirits, perhaps as a result of getting double ration of our traditional meal of beans-and-yam that night. Oblivious of my surrounding, I swung the torch here and there carelessly, until a dude sporting a yellow hood snatched it from behind me. In my mind, he must have crept up close to ensure a smooth execution of his task so I felt it had to be someone very familiar. When he kept running even as I kept moaning “Behave yourself naa”, it dawned on me that I had been robbed of my precious torchlight. Needless to say, it left a sore taste.

A few days after, I experienced my first fall-flat-on-the-ground-while-trying-to-sit.

Well, the concept is a lot simpler than the compound hyphenated phrase above makes it look… Bottom line is I got to my class, put my books on my desk, balanced well, and realized I kept falling freely till I hit the floor and my white trousers got all stained in the arse. I looked around and everyone was laughing. I couldn’t help but laugh at myself also. The chair had been pulled out from underneath me the very moment I was to hit the seat.

Those two incidences set the tone for my expression of caution till date. I literally look “over my shoulders” whenever I need to do anything, cos you never know who you can’t trust.

Okay, I know I said two, but here’s a third:

I’ve always had a reputation for an aversion for/of (grammar?) examination malpractice of any form, and as you would expect, a good number of my classmates were repulsed at my “unwillingness to be helpful in dire conditions”, and so I wasn’t surprised that I was hardly shown any reasonable sympathy when wrongly accused and punished by an overzealous teacher, Mr Aliyu, for the same offence in my penultimate year in Secondary School. To my colleagues, it was a case of “so what do you have to show for your ‘holier than thou’ resolve now?”

Then again, I almost pissed in my pants in my final year in the university during the final exam for one course, EEE 505 as failure stared me squarely in the face. Anyway, I had to ask a friend close by for help as I didn’t want to fail, but then, he couldn’t help much. Needless to say, I was ashamed after the exam that:

1. I broke my resolve. 2. I wasn’t well prepared and it put me in a difficult position.

Anyway, I learnt two things from those episodes.

    a. If you have principles (of any form) you hold dear, be ready to face criticism(s), especially in vulnerable moments. Also be ready to suffer even when you think you have done no wrong.
    b. If you know you want to show the world you have some strict principle/standard, always prepare yourself to be in the best position to uphold your code, else, you just suffer the ignominy of being a hypocrite, or on the other hand, you’ll be forced to ‘bow to Baal’ just to make headway in some respect.

Yah! That’s all I have in my arsenal for now. I’m outta here!

Carpe Diem!

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THE PROOF OF DESIRE IS PURSUIT

In my experience, I’ve come to find that talk is cheap

An opinion, decision, or ambition is easy to conjure up and sputter out

But when it comes to execution, many a folk is found wanting.

You see, it isn’t enough to have clarity of purpose

Nor is it anywhere near sufficient to have an awesome dream.

It means nothing to having the principles of life flowing from your tongue

No one gives a hoot about who you say you are

All that matters is what you do.

What you do afterall – not what you think – is what you are

Know this for sure;

Actions prove who someone is. Words prove who they wanna be.

Dreams remain dreams, Decisions remain pointless

Resolutions stay fictitious as long as you keep waiting

There’s only one way you can make the world believe you desire what you say you desire

And this is by going after it one way or another.

So today, forget about running your mouth as regards what you “want to do” or who you “want to be”

Just do something.

THE PROOF OF DESIRE IS PURSUIT!

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It’s a jungle out there

It’s a jungle out there

The ecosystem has different levels

Some are meant to eat, some to be eaten

Some to hunt, some to be hunted

Destiny isn’t fate,

It’s all in or nothing.

    The qualities you possess determine if you fight or hide

    Your resolve determines how long you stay in the game

    What it takes to survive differs from what it takes to thrive

    Just like rocks and blocks differ in strength and length.

    Sheer luck doesn’t exist,

    Fortune they say, favors the brave.

    Forget half-hearted excuses

    It’s a jungle out there

    It’s either you give your all or you give nothing.

As you step into the week, take a proper evaluation of where you are and try to figure out all you need to do to get to where you want to be.

The world is moving, people are doing stuff that matter. The moment you slack is the moment you’re left behind.
Do what you have to do so you can do what you want to do.

Happy hunting! May the odds always be in your favor.

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