Sometimes in life, we experience a chapter of incidents that traumatize us or even plunge us into a state of depression. Some instances of such traumatic experiences can range from losing a loved one, separation in a marriage union, a heartbreak, the loss of a job or business venture, just to mention but a few. Traumatic experiences, whatever it is can devastate us as human beings emotionally. In life, we can encounter sorrow—a state of deep distress, sadness, or regret. It is a bog of despair that can draw one into its cryptic abyss of gloom and a possible eventual doom if not handled timely. Should we drown in this despondent bog? I would say, “No,” in my notebook. Sometimes, we may just need to learn to move forward. A Kristina McMorris once stated that “The whole world can become the enemy when you lose what you love.” This can pan out to be true if we do not take care. It is therefore imperative that we know we handle tough times when we experience them.
Watching my wife’s video as she tells the story of some of the tragedies that she has faced in life, plunges my mind back to the emotional storms and trials that she went through—it was not an easy road, to say the very least. Losing loved ones is a very severe and painful pill to swallow, especially at a very young age. For her, it was like passing through fire or the eye of a needle. It was a time of absolute grayness considering the fact of her situation—losing both of her parents. However, in all these things and through it all, as we (i.e., her loved ones and I) encouraged her to stand steady. She is slowly-but-surely learning to move forward. She is now channeling her emotions and energy towards helping others that have passed through a similar fate. Her experiences also cast my mind back at a loss I also experienced. Many years ago, I lost my immediate elder brother to kidney failure. Although I was quite young, it was also a sad moment. It was not a pleasant experience to say the very least. It was heart-wrenching to watch my mother sorrow over my late brother. I too had to learn to move forward from the loss.
“Stay focused on what is ahead. Keep your eyes on the mark. Don’t allow skepticism rob you of the potentials of your tomorrow. Learn to move forward. Forward ever, backward never.”
This video is very encouraging and has a message that we can all learn from. “Experience is life’s best teacher,” they say. Some of the happenings that we experience may be negative and could lead to a series of unpleasant emotions that could have a lasting impact on our lives. Hindsight makes us look back at all that we have faced. We begin to think of the “what if’s” and the “what-could-have-been.” We start to imagine what life could have been if we did not pass through those circumstances. When we drive, we look through our windshield to see ahead of us. As we maneuver our automotive, we peer through the rearview mirror to see what is behind us with a passing glance. However, our foremost concern is to focus on what is ahead of us in other to avoid a wreck. That is the reason why we have a wide front windshield and just a small mirror to give us a quick glance at what is behind us. As we move forward, we must learn to focus on what is ahead of us.
The moral of the video is to ensure that we are not just dwelling on the past, thinking about the “what if’s” and the “what-could-have-been.” As we saw in the analogy above, we drive our cars with a focus on what is ahead of us. We do not operate our automotive with our focus on the rearview mirror. Doing so puts us at risk of colliding with upcoming traffic or running off the road. On a similar note, we must learn to continue moving forward so that we do not wreck our present lives. Yes, we cannot erase the fact that we have experienced grief in our past. Sorrow could plunge us into a state of pessimism as we begin to look at life only from a negative perspective. An unknown author once said that “Pessimism is an investment in nothing; optimism is an investment in hope.” Dwelling in the past will make us lose sight of our present possibilities and experiences. When we look through the rearview mirror of life, it should spur us on forward. We must learn to hang on to our present hope for the sake of our possible future. Sometimes, we just must learn to move on with our lives.
15 Reasons Why Inspiration is a Core Leadership Trait
Do you wish to learn what it takes to influence or inspire great followership as a dynamic leader? Do you want to understand why we believe inspiration is a core leadership trait? Well, look no further. Join us in discovering these reasons and become an inspirational leader today! Please, read all about it!
Effective leaders express various potentials (i.e., traits or attributes) that distinguish their leadership qualities as exceptional. Traits are distinguishing characteristics or qualities, which may be unique to one’s personal nature. In the leadership macrocosm, there are various theories of leadership (e.g., Contingency, Relationship, Situational, Behavioral, Participative, Management, “Great Man,” Trait, etc.). According to the Verywellmind, the Trait Theories of Leadership assumes that “people inherit certain qualities and traits that make them better suited to leadership.” The Verywellmind espouses the Trait Theory of Leadership spawns from the “great man” theory of leadership that was first proposed by Thomas Carlyle in the mid-1800s.
“Inspiration is the greatest gift because it opens your life to many new possibilities. Each day becomes more meaningful, and your life is enhanced when your actions are guided by what inspires you.” — Bernie Siegel.
Without delving too much into the origins of various theories, so far, in this leadership discourse on Oaekpost, we are establishing that there are core leadership traits (CLTs) that we see in leaders in various industries. So far, we have looked extensively at the following CLTs in leadership—decisiveness, empathy, and optimism. We dove in extensively to explore each of these traits, establishing various reasons why they are CLTs. In the spirit of this leadership discourse, we are moving forward to study inspiration as a core leadership trait.
Inspiration is defined as being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially when creative. While various elements distinguish leaders, inspiration also sits confidently as a core leadership trait, among other characteristics that determine excellent leaders: honesty, integrity, commitment, passion, decision-making capabilities, accountability, and empowerment. The facts that we will expound on in this piece prove that inspiration is a CLT. Hence, in this article, we will be looking at fifteen salient reasons why inspiration is a core leadership trait and why it cannot be substituted, unlike every other attribute.
The concept of leadership is all about making a positive effect (i.e., impact) the results in a shift towards good positives (i.e., influence) via animated action (i.e., inspiration). Making maximum impact involves hard and intelligent work that yields results. To attain full results comes from excitement in the work you and your team are doing. Getting your teammates to operate at this level as a leader requires getting them excited (i.e., inspiration). Inspiration is akin to an aquifer that springs from the depths of the soul from within yourself. It requires you to tap into the subterranean wells of positivity deep within your subconscious.
15 Reasons Why Inspiration is a Core Leadership Trait
Creative leadership is a process that has three constituent parts. The first is an electric inspiration. It is an energy that keeps pulling you up when you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders like Atlas. The second is execution, and it goes hand-in-hand with inspiration. Inspiration without hard work can never get the job done. Finally, the third is the release, the product of the invested effort. For leaders to attain the heights of effectiveness and achievement, inspiration and action are vital. Inspiration is the spark that leads the pack/group. Let us now investigate the fifteen (15) reasons why inspiration is a core leadership trait. Let’s go:
Inspiration allows discerning leaders to always find the bright side to issues of different nature. Leaders who understand the essence of inspiration understand that gloom and doom only accomplish nothing. Because of this, they find themselves hopeful in all situations, challenges, and adversities. Effective and efficient leaders stay positive by not losing out in the face of unexpected challenges, as doing otherwise communicates a wrong message to their followers. Inspiration as a leadership trait in leaders radiates positivity. While a leader may be very passionate about what he does, inspiration would see them weather storms seamlessly.
In almost all situations, inspirational leaders are found to be grateful. Gratitude is their attitude. They take praises when they should and, in turn, share it with others when they are duty-bound to do so. Leaders like this understand that nothing weakens the commitment and dedication of a team as much as the thought that their efforts go unnoticed. In the business space, leaders who fail at appreciating their employees are always at risk of high turnover, lower output, and decreased commitment, which would only help the business retrograde into nothing. Maybe this is why inspired leaders hand their followers’ some small gesture of gratitude when it’s most appropriate. To be quite honest, a little praise and thank you here and there for a job well done never hurts.
Inspiration sees. Many leaders steer positions of leadership with enviable farsightedness and vision. Great leaders are known for their strength in articulating vision clearly that people don’t have any reason to fear or have doubts in their minds. The “I Have a Dream” Speech of Martin Luther King Jr. seems to be an obvious example. Inspired leaders are always convinced about their future and express it through words, actions, and beliefs. Consider inspirational political leaders that are forthright in their disposition; these individuals precisely know the goals they want to achieve for their followers. These passionate leaders go the extra mile to achieve a proposed vision for their people and themselves.
For instance, President His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is undoubtedly a sage and visionary leader. According to the Gulf News, Sheikh Zayed, “in the 265-page book, Zayed a Nation in One Man, is written in English and Arabic, made history by turning an arid and hostile desert into a green and hospitable environment. In addition to his ability to use the country’s resources to bring about enduring prosperity to his people.” His leadership is nothing but visionary. Many countries could emulate his example in accomplishing visionary feats. Organizations lacking visionary leadership will eventually collapse.
Inspirational leaders are always good speakers, mainly because they can communicate their ideas brilliantly. However, that doesn’t stop them from listening. They are often the best listeners. They understand the difference between hearing and listening. While the former presents someone who isn’t interested in what others are saying, the latter depicts someone who wants to respond appropriately to others’ commentaries. Listening to others is also one of the most significant signs of respect. Hearing people and pretending to listen to them, in other words ignoring them, is abhorrently disrespectful.
In the business space, brilliant inspirational leaders practice an open-door policy, which allows their team members to opine when they want to. Thus, they see them contribute their ideas to achieving organizational objectives. Inspirational leaders listen to their followers and cull information to transform their organizations. No individual is a no it all. These passionate leaders are attentive listeners, and this positions them as accessible. The art of listening to them is an information harvesting farm that allows them to lead with charismatic and transformational effectiveness.
It is tough to find an inspired leader who isn’t a good communicator. If there is; then, the percentage would be pretty insignificant. The fact is that the inability to channel inspiration into proper communication routes only births nothing. A leader who is incapable of communicating effectively has stopped his own progress. Inspiring leaders understand they have to take the right amount of time to share their thoughts and ideas if there would be growth. The lack of communication can lead to misunderstood messages, hurt feelings, and incorrectly completed projects or assignments, which is not beneficial.
One exciting aspect of inspiration is that leaders who inspire are almost always trustworthy (i.e., dependable, or reliable). Leaders who don’t motivate their employees, followers, and partners to always look up to them and tell the truth are doing something wrong. They need to go to the drawing board and begin instilling this vital quality in them. Trust is the crucial link in the success of every organization. When employees and followers respect and admire the leadership they receive, inspiration can follow. Trustworthy leaders are the ones who challenge decisions and actions head-on. They often have a strong bias for action, and other leaders and followers always look up to them for guidance.
Passion has been known to be one of the most pleasing drivers of inspiration. In the same way, having enthusiasm for a subject or course is totally personal. The excitement that an inspirational leader exudes is also subjective. Passion is the push that propels passionate leaders to inspire their followers. They must light the fire within themselves and unleash the flames on their followers. If a leader cannot explain why he does what he does, his says, his actions, and what drives his decisions, he isn’t fit to be a leader, not to talk of being an inspirational leader. Inspirational leaders keep their dreams, goals, and vision at the forefront of their minds while ensuring their followers aren’t just following but convinced of why they are following.
Aristotle rightly posited that courage is the first among other virtues that make others possible. Inspirational leaders are almost always bold. In nearly all cases, people are careful in selecting who they follow. They need to be sure their leader is courageous (i.e., bold, brave, fearless, unafraid, daring, spirited, or gutsy). More often than not, stalwart characteristics and inclinations get others going when the going gets tough. The courageous disposition of the inspirational leader is encapsulated in the famous saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” A phrase often attributed to both John F. Kennedy’s father and the American Coach K. Rockne. It was also popularized by Billy Ocean’s homonymous song.
“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
No one is perfect, even the inspirational leader. However, it takes extraordinary courage for an individual that others see as gutsy to accept the weakness that a mistake portrays. However, courage nudge a leader to fess up to his fault when he finds one. They do not start trading blame with their followers or fellow leaders. Embracing that one is wrong may seem like a weakness of its own. As a matter of fact, accepting that one is amiss in an issue is an extraordinary strength on its own.
In the Battle of Thermopylae (480 BCE) during the Persian Wars, it took courage for the Spartan, Leonidas, and his three hundred Greek soldiers to resist the Persian King Xerxes I and his horde of soldiers at the mountain pass of Thermopylae. They fought the advance but failed. They fought to the death! However, this is definitely a lesson on inspirational courage. Whether they lost or won, they inspire us to stay courageous no matter the might of strength of the resistance.
“Spartans! What is your profession? HA-OOH! HA-OOH! HA-OOH!”
Inspirational leaders are risk-averse. Meaning that these leaders courageously take calculated risks. It highlights the leader’s strength of having a strong bias for action. We must note that being risk-averse does not mean that the outcomes of such decisions are always positive. Some may turn out positive or negative. When the former happens, it is a feather of tacit knowledge experience that goes to the cap of this leader. However, when the latter happens, an inspirational leader gets back to the drawing table to work something new out with his team.
According to John Maxwell, a good leader takes a little more than his own share of the blame and a little less share of credits. Inspiration does a lot in helping leaders understand this very fact. An inspired leader understands that he needs to celebrate his employee’s or follower’s success as much as he celebrates his, which clearly explains generosity—the inspirational leader gives liberally, many times more than they receive. They are not selfish. They live out the phrase, “We rise by lifting others.” It’s also common among these leaders to inspire their followers to do their very best—not for personal gains, but to show care, love, and affection for individuals.
It is in the habit of inspired leaders to be humble. C. S. Lewis feels humility is not about thinking less of oneself but in the thinking of bringing oneself down. Inspired leaders don’t allow authority and power to get into their heads, and it doesn’t stand in their way when they make decisions. Humility is the key to success for inspirational leaders. Humility is the compass that prevents them from losing their ways in the macrocosm of leadership. It keeps them grounded and curbs their enthusiasm for overindulgence in the fruits of success. Humility is the barrier that halts arrogance and any self-indulging trap in inspirational leaders.
In the business world, it’s common to find this type of people jumping on the odd jobs, or better still, joining their employees at work. They don’t mind working shoulder-to-shoulder with their followers. They never look down on their followers with an air that they are better than those that follow them. They are never full of themselves. For inspirational leaders, humility is the catalyst that keeps them surging forward. It’s always challenging for them to ask what they can’t do from those they employ. If they send their followers to the trenches, be sure that they will not hesitate to jump into those trenches themselves if push comes to shove. For inspirational leaders, their true north is humility.
Inspiring leaders are authentic in their words, actions, dealings, doing, and undoing. Hubert Humphrey opines that leaders are who they are, and they speak from their guts and heart. Inspired leaders are always honest in their dealings, which they preach to their followers directly or indirectly. Inspirational leaders are authentic (i.e., genuine, or real). Their authenticity is the magnetic draw that keeps their followers following. They don’t send their followers looking to understand their ways on a wild goose chase. That is a share waste of time. Why waste valuable time unraveling the mystery of why their leader isn’t coming out straight to them? Such would quickly erode their confidence and trust in their leader and job. However, it’s important to note that they are not always perfect but earn respect by standing by their talk—they talk the talk and walk the walk.
Inspiration help leaders figure out that they should be approachable to ensure their employee and followers’ growth, development, and progress. Also, they are always open to challenges, criticism, and viewpoints different from theirs. Inspirational leaders understand that restrictive workplaces or organizations (i.e., environments where people don’t speak up, offer insight, and ask questions) will stifle progress. Such places often never experience sustainable development and growth, as everyone keeps bottling up their negative notions, where they should be speaking out. Convinced leaders create an atmosphere that relaxes everyone while ensuring the free flow of ideas and thoughts. Their approachability fosters a learning environment culture.
Michael Armstrong explains the connection between inspiration and accountability with a brilliant illustration. He said in Ancient Rome, there was a common tradition with engineers who constructed arches. Whenever they were done creating one, as they hoist the capstone, the engineer who worked on the arch essentially assumed responsibility for it. He does so by standing under the arch. The action shows he is accountable for the stability of the outcome of his structure. It inspires his workers and everyone else on the stable quality of his work.
Inspirational leaders are accountable for their actions. Such accountability shows their transparency and sincerity and drives up their credibility with their followers. Such leaders tend to always have the back of their followers. They don’t throw blame and shield themselves from accountability when the situation calls for it. Inspirational leaders know that they are not above the law. They take responsibility for their action, which draws respect from their followers. One line is standard with this kind of leadership; they are almost always never afraid to say the buck stops at their desk.
Leaders with a sense of purpose don’t lead by pointing and telling people the direction. They show their followers by heading to the place and making the case. These are the words of the late Ken Kesey, the American novelist, essayist, and countercultural figure. Inspired leaders understand the difference between a sense of purpose and vision. At the same time, the former involves understanding why you are heading for where you are going. The latter explains the clear idea of where you are going. It’s common knowledge that people are always happy to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Leaders with a sense of intent help materialize the dream—via purpose, they lead the way while others follow.
Considering all the factors above, inspirational leader knows that they don’t just all work out at once. A Big Bang Theory does not happen and causes the manifestation of all these qualities in a whoosh! They understand that they get perfect gradually, adopting the ‘slow and steady wins the race’ mantra. They are adept believers in the stick-to-it-iveness philosophy. No matter the obstacles they face in the way, they persevere. They lean on the staying power of will as they cultivate and grow all the reasons we have mentioned here and beyond. Inspirational leaders have grit, are diligent, have stamina, with a firmness of purpose to achieve. Their cups are always overflowing with Sitzfleisch, and their followers benefit from this flow.
If you must become an inspirational leader, too, then it’s okay if you act on these qualities one after the other. Start by embracing and working on all the traits we have mentioned above. The attributes are—positivity, gratitude, vision, the art of listening, practical communication skills, becoming trustworthy, passion, courage, generosity, humility, authenticity, approachability, accountability, purpose, and a stick-to-it-iveness or persistent mentality. The more instinctive you get, the better you internalize the features.
“If you believe in yourself and have dedication and pride – and never quit, you’ll be a winner. The price of victory is high, but so are the rewards.” — Bear Bryant.
I’m sure you have learned a lot about what it looks like to be an inspirational leader. Are there some reasons you feel should have been on this list? Do you have testimonials or stories of inspirational leadership in action? Please, be sure to comment and let us know. While I’m sure you would improve yourself, note that if you work on stuff you like and are passionate about, you don’t need a master plan. Everything would find its way of falling place. Wishing you every success as you embark on your journey on becoming an inspirational leader!
Is the Bible the Only Word of God?
Scriptures refer to any writing or book, especially when of a sacred or religious nature. In Christianity, the Old or New Testaments’ sacred writings constitute the Holy Scriptures, which is the Bible. Is the Bible the only Word of God? Find out more via this intriguing long-form piece. Please, read all about it.
Is the Word of God written in the Holy Canonized scriptures, the Bible, the only Word of God? The question above is something I have been asking myself for a while now. I will provide my thoughts and answers as I am inspired to write like the old greats, who also wrote under the inspiration of the Pneuma of God (i.e., Holy Spirit). What I write will make many minds tingle in awe or wonder. Some will question these writings, as I expect all my readers to do. All I write is a heavy burden on my heart to explore and share. So, as you read, ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand the words you read in this piece. I hope that this piece draws you closer to God through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Amen. However, before I delve into that question, “Is the Word of God written in the Holy Canonized scriptures, the Bible, the only Word of God?” Let me explore deeper into the Scriptures as the Inspiration of God.
“God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.” — Martin Luther.
Paul, writing to Timothy in a letter, said, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”1 The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write a letter of encouragement to Timothy, his mentee. He obeyed and penned all down according to His inspiration and direction. Under canonical acceptance and description as scriptures, his letters are sanctioned as part of the Bible. He heard what the Spirit of God was saying through him (Paul) to Timothy, and he wrote it down in the letter as directed in obedience. His quirks are always faithful to the heavenly vision, even in his capacity as an inspired letter writer.
Now, Peter writing to the Messianic church communities (i.e., Christians scattered throughout the then Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia), states that the epistles or letters of Paul are scriptures. He says that “Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.”2 Peter here acknowledges that the Pauline letters were part of the inspired sacred scriptures. If Peter refers to Paul’s letters as “Scriptures,” then, “What are Scriptures?”
#1. What are Scriptures?
We can over-egg the pudding, expounding the word “Scripture.” Dictionary.com affirms that scripture is “the sacred writings of the Old or New Testaments or both together.” It also means “any writing or book, especially when of a sacred or religious nature; or just a particular passage from the Bible.” (NB. In the case of this piece, we refer to scripture as Christian Scripture). Following the above definitions, when Paul wrote his letters, he was quoting from the Old Testament, a text complete at that time. However, the breadth of Paul’s assertion of “all scriptures” would consist of any writing that is deemed authoritative enough to be read publicly in the church. Hence, for a more rigorous emphasis, “a scripture would be any writing that is deemed authoritative enough to be read publicly in the church at large.” At the end of the first century, the four gospels and the Pauline epistles were under the classifications as “Scriptures.”
“I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by those who were inspired. I study the Bible daily.” — Isaac Newton.
All Scriptures are God-breathed. The breath of God is the life of God. The breath of God is the Word of God. He spoke His Word—He breathed His life—and all that is, became real at His express command. The Holy Writ establishes that “The Lord spoke the command, and the world was made. The breath from his mouth created everything in the heavens.”3 The breath of God is the Spirit of God. To support this point, the Holy Writ further establishes that “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”4 From what Job said, we can see that the breath of God is the all-powerful force that gives life through His Spirit.
In the context of Paul’s assertion to Timothy, we can affirm that God breathed His life through His Word, which is Spirit,5 through Paul to Timothy through his letter. Miraculously, God communicated His Word to men and led them to write these words down for permanent preservation. These men wrote then the very Word of God, inspired and unfailing. The fact is that “What He (God) did yesterday, He (God) is doing today, and He (God) will do tomorrow.” Nevertheless, we cannot disprove the individuality of literary style. However, the very words Paul wrote and the ones that believers of God write today rise through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says that “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”6
The Bible says in 2 Peter 1:20-21 that “knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as the Holy Spirit moved them.” (King James Version (KJV)). The Word of God in the Bible is a product of God’s inspiration. No prophecy (i.e., the anointed proclamation of words of edification, exhortation, and comfort; a prediction at times) recorded in Scripture or Bible is of private interpretation. Prophecy does not arise from man’s will but via holy men of God who spoke as the Holy Spirit influenced them. The writing in the Bible is God’s Words, given by God to holy men, under the persuasion of God’s divine power through the Holy Spirit, the Inspiration of God.
#2. The Profitability of Scriptures
The Bible is not a mere collection of human stories, fables, myths, or merely the construct of human ideologies. It is a collection of writings birthed via the breath of God—His Word, His Spirit, in His Person. The writers wrote all that God instructed them to write. God, the Holy Spirit, revealed His person and plan, via His Words, to certain believers—then and now. These believers then wrote down these messages for His people and the world. All scriptures are profitable to transform us via its influence. Hold fast to it.
“Hold fast to the Bible. To the influence of this Book, we are indebted for all the progress made in true civilization, and to this, we must look as our guide in the future.” — Ulysses S. Grant.
The whole process of God’s revelation and move encapsulate “Inspiration,” which is “a divine influence directly and immediately exerted upon the mind or soul.” In their unique historical and culture-themed context and settings, these writers wrote with their unique talents, language, and style under the power of the Holy Spirit. Their target audiences were/are the minds of all humanity. They wrote down authoritative words then, and this practice continues today.
All Scriptures are God-breathed. It is the life of God, the Word of God, and it is the Spirit of God, all in unison. Apart from being infallible (i.e., trustworthy, or sure), it is also beneficial—it is advantageous towards causing a positive change in our lives. It is transformational. There is benefit or usefulness in every scripture—whether it’s the genealogies or even obscure passages—there are benefits, they are all helpful. But the million-dollar question is, “How are the words in scripture beneficial?” Let’s explore these pluses:
#2.1. Scriptures Teach Us
Scriptures possess the capacity to teach us what is true and what is not valid. The scriptures are profitable in teaching us the mind of God in many areas of interest as it concerns the Trinity, angels, man, sin, salvation, sanctification, the church, and future events to come. There is a need to reject any teaching contrary to biblical doctrine. We must be apt to leave, correct, or replace it with a more accurate instruction from the scriptures.
#2.2. Scriptures Reveal Our Errors
The same way a tactical flashlight dispels darkness at great intensity, the scriptures are also beneficial in casting light directly on things in our lives that are displeasing to God. They are suitable for standing against the arrows of errors thrown at us by the enemy. They are potent in making us realize what is wrong in our lives. Biblical truth in scripture owes no apology to error. It exposes all who err against what is right with no remorse. The scriptures reveal our mistakes and rebuke us lovingly.
#2.3. Scriptures Correct Us
Scriptures straighten us out. Scriptures don’t only point out the errors in the labyrinths of our subconscious and our waking lives. It also provides us with a blueprint of how we can correct ourselves. It is like a Global Positioning System (GPS). When you are traveling with a GPS, and you miss your way, it alerts you on the error you have made. However, it further remaps your route to reconnect you to your initial established path or trail. Scriptures, in a similar vein, is the GPS of your Soul. When you err, it alerts you of your error. However, it goes beyond that as it charts a new pathway to bring you to your expected end in the journey of life.
#2.4. Scriptures Offer Righteous Instruction
The scriptures offer moral instruction in the way of holiness—it teaches us to do what is right by showing us how to please and glorify God. It guides us on how to live and lead a godly life. It fleshes out all we need for life and godliness. If we walk with the Words of scriptures, it will rewrite the script and codes of our ungodly nature for good, better, and best. Running the rewritten code of our transformed lives results in a more beneficial outcome that delivers an expected end. Purpose in action becomes the expected end or output.
Scriptures or the sacred Words of God to us will make us winners. It is potent to transform. It is expressly powerful to deliver a power punch to anything that opposes our existence. God spoke yesterday, and we have it in the Bible document. We have seen that the scriptures are beneficial for teaching us what is true and realizing what is wrong in our lives. We have also seen that scriptures straighten us out and lead us to do right. Now, the question is, “Is the Bible the Only Word of God?” Let’s finally tackle it.
#3. Is the Bible the Only Word of God? Exploring Propositions
Is the Bible the Only Word of God? I would say, “No.” Before you begin to chew me out or call me names and shut me down—hear me out first and let us reason together on the premise of scriptures. In his message to Timothy, Paul said that “The inspiration of God gives all scripture.” The word inspiration means “an inspiring or animating action or influence. It is a thing or person that inspires. In the context of this writing, to inspire means to communicate or suggest by a divine or supernatural influence.” In Theology, as we previously covered, “inspiration is a divine influence directly and immediately exerted upon the mind or soul. It is the divine quality of the writings or words of a person so influenced.”
“To what greater inspiration and counsel can we turn than to the imperishable truth to be found in this treasure house, the Bible?” — Queen Elizabeth II.
What was given by the inspiration of God was spoken and some written. The Holy Writ establishes that “There are many other things Jesus did. If every one of them were written down, I suppose the whole world would not be big enough for all the books that would be written.”8 We can establish from this statement that not all that Christ did and possibly said was recorded verbatim—it obvious if that if you try to write them all, not all books in the whole wide world could ever contain them. Do the “many other things Jesus did” not written make them less the words and acts of God? God moved in Time past and sundry manners. We learn of Him because inspired people wrote of what they saw and heard from Him. God is still speaking today as he did yesterday.
To provide a perspective to the question, “Is the Bible the Only Word of God? Let us logically analyze some premises by looking at facts from the written word. Here are the assumptions:
P1 – God is always Speaking.
P2 – God is Constant.
We can prove the above premises via the Bible. Let us start by proving the first premise, P1, which establishes that “God is always speaking.” There are numerous positions in the Bible that support P1. There will be no room to contain all the facts; hence, we will highlight some of those positions as proof.
“God is always speaking, and He doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon.”
God is always speaking—in every place and moment. His voice is always audible to all via his spoken and written word (Bible). He speaks through circumstances in our lives, chaotic or random. He is always talking. However, to hear Him, we must tune to the frequency of His voice. If you are off frequency, you will not hear Him.
The Holy Writ says that “God speaks in different ways, and we don’t always recognize his voice.”9 He establishes that “My sheep know my voice, and I know them. They follow me.”10 Furthermore, “And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.”11 Also, God says that “The Spirit shows what is true and will come and guide you into the full truth. The Spirit doesn’t speak on his own. He will tell you only what he has heard from me, and he will let you know what is going to happen.”12 Much more, He establishes that we should “Ask me (God), and I will tell you things that you don’t know and can’t find out.”13 God speaks to us continuously via the Bible too. It states, “Everything in the Scriptures is God’s Word. All of it is useful for teaching and helping people and for correcting them and showing them how to live. The Scriptures train God’s servants to do all kinds of good deeds.”14 Finally, in proof of P1, the Holy Writ establishes that “Long ago in many ways and at many times God’s prophets spoke his message to our ancestors. But now, at last, God sent his Son to bring his message to us. God created the universe by his Son, and everything will someday belong to the Son.”15 I can go on with this proof; however, let us proceed to the following premise, P2, that “God is constant.”
The premise, P2, stipulates that “God is constant.” In essence, this means that God never changes or waivers. God is more constant than Pi, π. We can trust Him to always remain faithful to Himself. The Bible establishes that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”16 The Bible also confirms that “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.”17 Hence, you can never attribute a Delta (∆), the mathematical symbol for change, to God. Also, the Word of God establishes that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”18 It also stipulates that “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?”19 The Bible also states that “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”20
Again, further proving the second premise, P2, the Bible states that “Of old, you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end.”21 It also states that “Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.”22 It also says that “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.”23 Also, the Holy Writ further states that “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”24 It also posits that “Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast.”25 His abounding love and omnipresent grace are also never-ending as we can see in the statement that “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”26 In conclusion of the proof of P2, the Word states, “To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”27
We have taken the liberty to extensively expound and delve deep into the proofs of both premises, P1 and P2. In proving P1, we can ascertain that God is always speaking to us humans in various ways via the multiple scriptures. His voice is always there to guide us when He nudges us in one direction or the other. God always guides us through constant speech towards the truth via His Omnipresent, Omniscient, and Omnipotent Spirit. When we ask Him of anything, He speaks back to us. We can honestly say that “God is always speaking,” making P1 valid through the scriptures.
Concerning God’s unchangeable and constant nature, while looking at the proof of P2, we can say that God is the same through all times and seasons. He declares that He does not change or waver in His personality, and we can always take that to the bank. There is no variation in God—He is constant. While all things in the flesh and spiritual change, His Word stands forever. Via many scriptures, we can genuinely assert that P2 is valid that God is constant.
Hence, we can draw a Conclusion (C1) that because God cannot change, He will never stop speaking, quod erat demonstrandum (QED). So, although the words in the Bible are His, which He will never contradict, it is not the only Word of God. Let us now establish some facts based on the analysis of the two premises above as we look at some logical arguments that expound further that the Bible is not the only Word of God.
#4. The Bible is NOT the Only Word of God—Our Argument
After looking at the analysis of the above premises, we can conclude that God is always speaking, and He never changes. Hence, can you then say that the inspiration of God is finite in the context of what He spoke? Can we conclude and say that the only Word of God is what we have in the Bible? It cannot be because the inspiration of God is infinite. We technically cannot box God into one book, the Bible. All the books that inspired men and women ever wrote and that will ever be can never contain all God has spoken, all He is saying now, and all He will ever say through all eternity.
“Unlimited books cannot contain the awesomeness of God’s provocation or wisdom. It is more expansive than broad and more profound than the deepest depths. We cannot fathom it even if we tried.” — Ogbonnaya Agom-Eze.
The Holy Spirit moved holy men who were careful to speak and write their supernatural nudging in some cases. Some were inspired to write their past, present, and future. However, the words given do not sum the totality of the inspiration of God. The triune Godhead is Omniscient, so it is impossible to compute the totality of the inspiration and Wisdom of God. Unlimited books cannot contain the awesomeness of God’s provocation or wisdom. It is more expansive than broad and more profound than the deepest depths. We cannot fathom it even if we tried. We cannot restrain His inspiration—it is more comprehensive than all the macrocosms put together. We cannot contain His wisdom.
Hence, asking, “Is the Bible the only Word of God?” I would say no with a high emphasis via the above-mentioned biblical proofs. Why? Because the inspiration of God is infinite—it is limitless. It has no beginning nor end. God chooses what to communicate, and He shares it with holy men and women that He inspires. As God spoke to the holy men and women of old, He is yet speaking today to all those who are careful and cautious enough to listen to Him in holy fellowship.
Note the emphasis on holy fellowship. God will share the deep and Holy things in the limitless seas of His inspiration, wisdom, and knowledge to those who align to His nature of holiness. He is of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong.28 God is forever looking for men and women to talk to in holy fellowship, to say the very least. Many are not in unison with him due to the stain of separation—sin.
However, when we make peace with God via the Way, the Truth, and the Life He has provided (i.e., through Jesus),29 He begins to forge a bond with the individual. In constant fellowship, He continues to speak. And if holy men and women today are careful and cautious as the holy men and women of old, they would be prudent to hear and record what God is saying to the world.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God believe also in me.” — Jesus Christ.30
Many years ago, in Church Sunday School, there was a song we used to sing at my childhood church. The Sunday school teachers always use this song in a game-like fashion to pick students to recite a verse of scripture that they know. At the end of the class singing the musical verse, the teacher points out a student. The student must stand up and recite a bible verse from memory. The lyrics song are as follows:
God has something to say, God has something to say, Listen, listen—pay great attention, For God has something to say!
In line with this Sunday School song, I can say that God always has something to say. When we read the Bible, God speaks to us via the prophecies and the promises recorded therein. However, aside from what we have on record in the canonical scripture, He is yet speaking today. However, one thing is sure is that God will never contradict Himself—His words a sure and steadfast—more steadfast than the Rock of Gibraltar or any mountain in the world or universe at large. He will constantly affirm and support what He has said in Time past.
God speaks to us in the present. His words now do not contradict what He said in the past. He supports it wholly because God cannot lie or contradict Himself, as we have seen and show in the premise above, P2. Hence, I believe that God is not constrained to just what is in the Bible. He always has something to say. So, as He speaks, He will constantly affirm what He spoke in time past, what He says in the present, and what He will say in the future. Hence, via proof, the Bible is not the only Word of God.
God cannot contradict Himself. He spoke to us in the past. God continues to talk to us in the present. He will continue to speak with us in the future. The Time, Space, and Matter continuum cannot constrain the Almighty God. He is the author of Time, Space, and Matter and is unaffected by them. Hence, He is outside the Time, Space, and Matter continuum. He is greater than the trinitarian trinity of all things created. He is outside of and sees all of Time (i.e., Past, Present, and Future). He is outside of and more expansive than all of Space (i.e., length, width, and height). He is outside of and more substantive than all Matter (Solid, Liquid, and Gas). He is God. He is the I AM constant.
“God is bigger than people think.” — Jimmy Dean.
God is beyond the Time, Space, and Matter continuums—He is outside them. God is constant. He is always speaking. We cannot contain God nor His Words in a book, even the Bible. As much as the words in the Bible, via proof, are not the only Word of God. The fact remains that God will never contradict Himself. God can choose to share His inspiration of past happenings that no one knows about through the immense and limitless treasuries of His wisdom. He can decide to share the future adventures we have yet to see come to manifestation. Continuums (i.e., Time, Space, and Matter) cannot contain nor constrain Him because He is outside of them as they are His creations. His inspiration is infinite and not constrained by any limitations. So, drawing a second Conclusion (C2), to say that “the Bible is the only Word of God” is to contain and restrain His limitless and constant personality and inspiration.
The long-form treatise you are reading is a nudge to introduce you to the person of God. The piece is not to dissuade you from reading the Bible. Contrary to it, it encourages you to get into the adventure of studying the Bible even more. It is a nudge for you to develop an intense relationship with God that is beyond and most excellent than all continuums. The humbling thing is that He is desirous of a deep and passionate connection with you. In the link comes communication. You will speak to Him and hear Him speak more words to you.
However, the fact remains that we are not robots, cyborgs, or Artificial Intelligence (AI)—we are humans. He does not program us to relate with Him automatically like we program robots or AIs to respond to what we want them to do. As humans, we have free will to say yes to a relationship or no. When we willingly connect with God, He is bound to always speak His words to us, beyond more than we could ever ask or think.
Once again, “Is the Bible the Only Word of God?” No. Hearing more of God begins at reconciliation and continues with a relationship with Him. The Bible says that “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”31 Next, He wants a relationship with us. The Holy Writ says that “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”26
A relationship with God consists of several things. In finalizing this discourse, let us condense what a relationship with God that will draw out more of God’s words via his constant speaking and communication with you. First, a deep connection with God starts with building a bond of trust— “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”32
Second, we must embrace absolute devotion to Him (i.e., worshipping and praising Him only and always—you cannot have any other God before Him.33 Third, we must constantly communicate with Him (i.e., prayer,34 listening/hearing,35 and writing down/recording36 what He says to us). Fourth, we must serve Him as we relate to Him.37
“I believe that God is not constrained to just what is in the Bible. He always has something to say. So, as He speaks, He will constantly affirm what He spoke in time past, what He says in the present, and what He will say in the future. Hence, via proof, the Bible is not the only Word of God.” — Ogbonnaya Agom-Eze.
Reconciling and relating to God are the bedrocks that will elicit more Words from God. Once again, “Is the Bible the Only Word of God?” A “No,” is my answer with a Quod Erat Demonstrandum (QED). Do you disagree with the position of this piece? I clearly would love to hear your opinion with proof (i.e., back up your positioning of reason with facts from the Word of God (i.e., Bible), experiences of your walk with God, etc.). Let us have a healthy discussion in the comments.
. 2 Timothy 3:16-17, New King James Version (NKJV). . 2 Peter 3:14-16, NKJV. . Psalm 33:6, Easy-to-Read Version (ERV). . Job 33:4, English Standard Version (ESV). . John 6:63, NKJV. . 1 Corinthians 2:13, NKJV. . Ephesians 5:13, Modern English Version (MEV). . John 21:25, EXB. . Job 33:14, Contemporary English Version (CEV). . John 10:27, CEV. . Isaiah 30:21, ESV. . John 16:13, CEV. . Jeremiah 33:3, CEV. . 2 Timothy 3:16-17, CEV. . Hebrews 1:1-2, CEV. . Hebrews 13:8, ESV. . Malachi 3:6, ESV. . James 1:17, ESV. . Numbers 23:19, ESV. . Isaiah 40:8, ESV. . Psalm 102:25-27, ESV. . Psalm 119:89, ESV. . Psalm 33:11, ESV. . Psalm 90:2, ESV. . Psalm 119:90, ESV. . John 3:16, ESV. . 1 Timothy 1:17, ESV. . Habakkuk 1:13, ESV. . John 14:6, ESV. . John 14:1, ESV. . Romans 5:10, ESV. . Proverbs 3:5-6, New International Version (NIV). . Exodus 20:3, ESV. . Philippians 4:5-7, ESV. . John 8:47, ESV. . Habakkuk 2:2 and Revelations 1:19, ESV. . 1 Samuel 12:24, Colossians 3:23-24, and 1 Corinthians 15:58, ESV.
Defeating Chucky – How to Beat Dire Life Albatrosses
We all know the scary Chucky. This piece attributes traumatic experiences and life albatrosses as synonymous with the horrendous Chucky who fights lethally dirty! Please, read all about it as I share insights on the existence of Chucky through life’s challenges and how to deal with them.
We all know Chucky—yes, scary Chucky? If you are a fan of horror stories, then you must have watched Chucky from the late 90s till date, as the franchise keeps us on the edge of our seats with each release. As horrible as Chucky the serial killer is, many people have asked if Chucky truly exists. What if it genuinely exists but not as you see it in the movies? Chucky could exist through horrendous life’s challenges that we experience. We must approach them head-on and deal with them.
“I don’t run away from a challenge because I am afraid. Instead, I run towards it because the only way to escape fear is to trample it beneath your foot.” — Natalie Comaneli.
As we see in the movie, Chucky is that fictional serial killer that we are all afraid of, a point noted. We hide in closets avoiding the sharp blades it wields without mercy. We find a way to run out of the closet seeking help. However, that person we’re running to for assistance is also running from Chucky. One second you feel you’re safe, and the next second, Chucky is right behind you. Okay, not to scare you, the truth is that most of us have faced Chucky one way or the other. Some of us are still facing Chucky through life’s challenges that could be horrible or traumatizing.
What are these Chuckies? What are these traumatic experiences that we are ascribing the appellation “Chucky” to in this piece? By the way, “What is a traumatic event?” According to Healthline, a “traumatic event is an incident that causes physical, emotional, spiritual, or psychological harm.” Some examples of these traumatic experiences include physical pain or injury (e.g., severe car accident), serious illness, addictions, war, natural disasters, terrorism, witnessing a death, rape, domestic abuse, workplace abuse, incarceration within the criminal justice system, betrayal, etc.
The shock and effect of these life-attacking Chuckies can be devastating. On many occasions, many people live with the impact of these traumas without addressing them. Memories of their experiences often haunt many, that it at times cripples their will. Not managing the effects of these dire life albatrosses can be devastating to the victims of these traumas. This opinion piece gives Chucky victims a way of escape and a road map towards healing.
5 Ways to Beat the Chuckies of Your Life
Are you currently running away from Chucky (life’s horrors)? Here are practical ways to overcome complex challenges that life throws at you. Please, note these are the personal opinions that I proffer. They aim to guide you on how you can begin defeating the Chucky (i.e., trauma) that currently haunts you. However, if you find yourself in a terrible place, we recommend that you not substitute the advice here for professional advice. We advocate that you seek immediate professional help to help you dig yourself out of the hole you find yourself in today. So, what are the ways to beat the Chuckies of your life?
#1. Take a Deep Breath
Let’s start with the breathing technique. Breathe in, breathe out. Could you do it again like up to 10 times? How do you feel? Great right? Okay, let’s face it. Life horrors can be challenging. It could come in the form of depression, loss of a loved one, failure, or something scary or something that hurts deeply. To face these challenges, we recommend you take a deep breath. You can defeat Chucky no matter how difficult it will be at the end of the day. The truth is that it will be difficult, and not everyone will survive it. However, you’ve got to be strong so that you can be among the survivors. Just breathe!
#2. Stop Hiding
Now, come out of your closet. It’s okay. I know you feel safer hiding in there. Oh, you’re not in the closet? You’re finding refuge somewhere. You’re still hiding because you are so afraid to face your reality. Sadly, you can’t hide forever because Chucky still lurks around and knows where you are, earnestly desirous of slitting your throat. No matter what the tough life challenge is, you can’t always run away from it! So, pull yourself together and stop hiding.
#3. It’s All in the Mind
Your mind is so powerful! If you can fight the battles in your mind, you can overcome anything that life or Chucky throws at you. Unlike what’s seen in horror movies that even the brave gets killed. In reality, you start by defeating Chucky in your mind. How do you do that exactly? It begins with changing your beliefs and creating new realities. If you believe that Chucky can defeat you, then no matter what you do to protect yourself, you may still be defeated because you have not defeated Chucky in your mind.
“Battles are fought in our minds every day. When we begin to feel the battle is just too difficult and give up, we must choose to rise above our problems.” — Joyce Meyer.
I used to run away from Chucky a lot, just like many people do today. I hated life. The fact that I was facing complex life challenges made me question my existence. I lived a defeated life, always running and hiding from the truth. Even those I took solace in were tired of hearing my life horrors because they too were facing their own Chucky. I was so tired of being defeated that I consciously decided to win the battles in my mind through daily victory affirmations! As I did that for days, weeks, and months, I started winning the defeat matches in my mind. I started creating new realities for myself. You, too, can start experiencing the freedom that comes with new realities after defeating the horrors in your mind.
#4. Face Your Fears and Fight
From my experience, winning the battles in your mind helps you challenge your current reality. Stop giving Chucky room to defeat you when you are more robust than it is. Yes, it will be challenging, but you can win this. You have been able to defeat the horrors in your mind. You can now brace up and fight because your life depends on it. Beating the addiction, the pain, the struggles, and other life horrors you may be facing can come to an end. It may be a slow fight because the more you fight, the more Chucky claws hurt your mental health and psyche-skin. The more you face Chucky one on one, the more you’re likely to be wounded by its sharp blade but keep fighting.
#5. Clean Up Your Wounds and Own Your Scars
You’re bleeding. The fight with Chucky was bloody, but one person has to win, and that is you. Congratulations! You’re a survivor, and the story ends beautifully because of the victory. You look back and stare at Chucky’s dead body, and you’re proud of yourself. No one else could have defeated Chucky, but you and you did it. Now, this is how it feels when you have overcome horrible addictions and painful losses. Or life’s frustrations that weigh you down and seem to suck out the life from you slowly. Just like how Chucky slowly kills its victims when it chooses to.
The truth is that it is challenging to eschew Chucky 100% of the time. We all face life challenges from time to time. When we encounter Chucky, we first need to recline and take a deep breath, clear our minds, and then strategize an attack. Second, we need to stop hiding from the Chuck that plagues us. We must muster some courage to fight back! Third, remember, it is a thing of the mind. Use daily affirmations to build new realities. Fourth, face Chucky and fight. It’s as simple as that! Fifth, clean up your wounds and own the scars of the battle.
“Challenges are what make life interesting. Overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” — Joshua J. Marine.
Once again, as stipulated above, this article can be the first point of action against any Chucky that battles you. However, do you feel like you are at a deep end of a situation? Is Chucky is choking the life out of you? Do you feel like giving up? We advise you to seek professional help ASAP. Don’t fight the battle alone if you need to. A problem shared is a problem half-solved. Don’t let your life albatross win! You’ve got this! Defeating your Chucky is possible!
Breaking Free from the Rat Race Lifestyle
According to Lily Tomlinson, the problem with the rat race is that even if you win, you are still a rat. There is more to life than being stuck in a rat race that leaves one empty at the end of it all. Knowing how to escape the rat race lifestyle is essential to living a more fulfilling life. Please read all about it here.
Have you ever been so engaged with too much activity that drained you of so much energy, time, and resources? Despite all your efforts, you are still left with a sense of underachievement. Have you been so engrossed with chasing a dream that was never yours? Yes, it wasn’t your dream, but you chose to be a part of that dream because of pecuniary gains that will accrue because of your association with the pursuit. You may very well be stuck in a Rat Race loop—like a hamster, running around on the crazy loop of routine and repetitive life sans all fun and a sense of fulfillment.
“Alive or just breathing?” — Unknown.
How about celebrating Fridays because you are running away from your official obligations? What you thought was a channel of making money and meeting your ever-increasing needs has suddenly become a chore. It is now replete with dreadful thoughts of waking up on a Monday morning to continue the routine of turning up in your office and signing off before the close of working hours. You’re suddenly stuck in a monotonous loop filled with perfunctory activities that must take place to fulfill a ritual, all in a bid to prove that you exist on the face of the earth.
Are You Part of the Crowd?
Are you part of the crowd? Are you part of the rat race? By the way, “What is a rat race?” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines rat race as “a strenuous, wearisome, and usually competitive activity or rush.” Wikipedia defines rat race as “an endless, self-defeating, or pointless pursuit.” When we engage in this lifestyle, we ignorantly enmesh ourselves in an inordinate search. A quest that is laced with competition for wealth, power, and fame. This is precisely how the pressure and demands of this world have conscripted many of us to live.
“The term Rat Race comes from the race between two rats to get the piece of cheese at the other end of the room. First, by trying to outrun each other. In the process, they spend more energy than the reward is worth.” — Dr. V. Subramanyan.
When it becomes evident that the overhead is rising, the monthly and yearly expense seems to be overshooting, making it difficult for the meager income to satisfy the ever-increasing expenditure. When it appears as if you have been left behind in the affairs of life, your schoolmates that were once your play pals are no longer giving you the same “class” handshake. These are some likely scenarios that plunge us into this race. In the words of Ogbonnaya Agom-Eze, “The rat race is all about keeping up with the Joneses. Because of this, we are on our marks, getting set to run the rat race of life. At the boom of the gun, we sprint, pushed by our insatiable cravings.” Now, that is food for thought.
Once these scenarios are given thought to, without considering the basics, the natural thing to do at this point will be to explore every available option that presents itself as an avenue for making ends meet. We start scampering through life like two rats running across the room, expending more energy than it’s worth to gnaw our desires on the cheese of life. This is where this irreverent pursuit sets in. At this point, caution is thrown to the winds.
A mad completion sets in and schemes are hatched on how to outsmart a colleague. The goal is to get ahead of them or get a promotion before them by hook or crook. Standards are compromised, character and integrity are never mentioned, all in a bid to make ends meet while neglecting and trading the core principles of life. All these actions have obvious negative and terrible repercussions when disobeyed, but only a few think about this before making that move. This, in summary, is what the rat race means, and this is how it is seen in our society today.
There is a Higher Plane to Operate and Live In
We can live and operate in a higher plane to help us transcend above the rat-race lifestyle and mindset. We can top the rat-race lifestyle one step at a time via the way and discovery of purpose. If we strive to discover and pursue purpose, we can live a more fulfilling life. There is a reason why we are here on planet earth, and it is tied to solving problems and meeting needs. A life based on this ideal brings relevance, satisfaction, and joy devoid of self-defeating, needless, and pointless pursuit.
“Knowing your life purpose is the first step toward living a truly conscious life. A life purpose provides us with a clear goal, a set finish line that you truly want to reach.” — Simon Foster.
When we focus on our purpose, this needless, self-defeating pursuit or entangled in the rat race becomes a thing of the past. Every individual here on this planet earth has a reason for being here. That reason is seated deep within us, crying for expression. It is that silent but loud voice within our spirit, resident in our core, trying to express itself through ideas and thoughts that momentarily flash through our minds. But in ignorance, we have neglected their nudging. We ignore their calls and continue walking on the common paths of life that mar us rather than make us into who we are meant to be.
According to Etymoline, the earliest use of this term was in 1934 about aviation training. The terminology connotes a simple game of “follow the leader” in fighter planes. The leader does everything in the book—Immelmanns, loops, snap rolls, turns, always turns, tighter and tighter. In the game, other pilots try to follow in pursuit. The game, strenuous at best, was a fiercely competitive struggle. Or simply think about a rat wearing itself out running in a maze, the same way people in life get entrapped in a rat race.
Little wonder our activities as individuals can be likened to the strenuous pursuit of an air rat race. Or being compared to the rodents in a maze. We use the term “rat race” to qualify our actions when it lacks such a definite and straightforward approach in its pursuit in life. The rat race is a strenuous and endless pursuit of means. It’s like a dog chasing its tail.
How Do We Beat This Trap?
What do I do to exit the hamster wheel of the rat race? Discover what it is you are here for. This will require a careful but assertive introspection. Look within yourself. When you do this, you will likely find that which you have been looking for outside. This will require asking cogent questions. Give attention to the ideas and thoughts that flash through your mind. Once those ideas and thoughts come, write them down.
It doesn’t end there; you need to act by taking steps to see that they come to fruition. Everything we see today once existed in the thought realm. It was an action that moved them from the thought realm to the realm of existence. You can have all your dreams, purposes, and passions in the world. However, the process becomes futile if you fail to act on them. So, what else do you have to do to escape the rat race of this life? Let’s see:
It will require focus to achieve anything of worth, even to break free from the rat race you are in. Most individuals today lose focus due to pressure from the challenges of life. When you discover your “Why,” the end product of the pursuit will not be immediate. There will be adverse circumstances contrary to your expectations that will arise. But for you to see your “Why” materialize, you must remain focused. The Pinhole camera and the magnifying glass show us the power and effect of focus from elementary physics. Such clarity and penetration will be the resultant effect that will accompany your pursuit when you remain focused.
Another word for determination is the firmness of purpose. This is your resolve to go through whatever challenges that will arise during your pursuit of purpose. One of the things that will help your resoluteness will be your ability to concentrate, refusing to be swayed by the loud voices that will try to persuade you to renege on your resolve to go ahead with that which you have discovered; to be your “Why.”
“No individual has any right to come into the world and go out of it without leaving behind him distinct and legitimate reasons for having passed through it.” — George Washington Carver.
Our inability as individuals is to discover and focus on our Why, is what plunges us into the rat race in the first place. The American motivational speaker, author, and minister, Eric Thomas, Ph.D., said that “The discovery of your WHY and an answer to your WHY brings to an end this “Rat race.” When you find your WHY, you don’t hit snooze anymore! You find a way to make it happen!” Developing the inherent potentials that will aid us in bringing our Why to the point of value. Our inability to do this most times is the reason for so much frustration that is common in our societies today.
Our relevance is tied to the solutions we bring to the pervading problems bedeviling our families, communities, and our nations at large. Finding that pain point to provide a solution is a sure way to break free from the rat race plaguing many. These solutions are found in our Why. Everything created in life offers a solution to a particular need and is tied to your Why. We must focus our gaze on our Why. After discovering it, we must show great determination to act and break away from the rat race that holds us back from becoming our very best. Go ahead, find out your “Why!” With your contribution and mine, the world will become a better place for us all.
Pay Attention to the Road Stupid!
Some people live in the past so much that they forget to live in the now. We can learn from the past, but we should never pitch our tents there. Let us look forward to the prize ahead in the future by building in the present. Using a driving allegory, let us understand more about this. Please, read all about it.
Some people live in the past so much that they forget to live in the now. The past is an astute teacher that instructs us on previous happenings that allow us to live better in the present to have the future that we desire. Albeit an intelligent teacher, we cannot remain perpetually in his classroom. We must quickly apply the lessons we garner from the past to the present. Our present determines our tomorrow.
“Step on the past lessons and transcend. Dwell on past laurels, and it will likely drown your present like a millstone hanging around your neck.” — Ogbonnaya Agom-Eze.
Dwelling perpetually in the past will make us miss out on the present happenings that determine our tomorrow. Whether good or bad, lessons from the past can positively or negatively affect our everyday living. Learning suitable lessons from the past helps us shape our present for the better. We grow, we evolve, we become the very best that the universe has to offer. Wrong lessons of the past can either become mistakes we can avoid in the present if we heed their lessons. However, we can repeat mistakes of the past if we fail to learn.
Hence, we only need a quick glance back to the past—learn and move forward to become that person that destiny intends us to become. Once again, dwelling on the past, whether good or bad, can negatively hamper our present, which affects our future. No wonder many end up having ghastly Destiny-Accidents that dot their lives and existence. In the words of Robert Plant, an English singer and songwriter, once said that “The past is a stepping stone, not a millstone.” Step on the past lessons and transcend. As you wade through the waters of this life, don’t dwell on past laurels. Doing so would likely drown your present like a millstone hanging around your neck.
A quick glance back to the past is akin to the automobile driving process in some ways. But how? Have you ever wondered why you have one big front windscreen in your car and three small rearview mirrors? When driving, you look forward to the road via your front windscreen, right? As you go, you take swift glances backward through your rearview mirror at the center of your front windscreen. Or you use your side rearview mirrors to monitor your left and right sides as you flow and navigate through. Sometimes when driving, you may need to turn to the left or to the right quickly to check your blind spots.
However, when you drive, you focus 99.5% of the time on looking at the road ahead. The other 0.5% of the time is spent using your center rearview, and two side mirrors to take a quick glance backward or to the sides. In addition, you also take quick glances at your blind spots to make sure that you are not missing anything. The essence of this all is part of the defensive driving process to ensure that you are staying clear of others on the road. Although the hypothetical percentage of viewing the sides and rear while driving is infinitesimal, it could be the key to a life-or-death situation on the road. Also, these days, people take quick glances at their phones while driving—a bad and dangerous habit, to be honest. (NB. Don’t text and drive).
The previous paragraph explains the normal process of driving. We spend the predominant amount of our driving time paying attention to the road ahead. We do our best to avoid distractions while we survey the road as we drive. However, what would happen if you flip the script in percentages? If you spend 99.5% of the time looking backward and 0.5% of the time looking forward on the road through your windscreen, what will happen to you as you drive? Umm, your guess is as good as mine—you instantly become a danger to yourself and others on the road. You will most definitely have an accident on the road, and may God help you if you survive the crash. Pay attention to the road stupid!
Don’t get me wrong, the past is essential. There are things in everyone’s past that teach them—successes, Relationships, Trauma, etc. Harvey Mackay, an American businessman, author, and syndicated columnist with Universal Uclick, once said that we should “Learn from the past, but don’t live there. Build on what you know so that you don’t repeat mistakes. Resolve to learn something new every day. Because every 24 hours, you have the opportunity to have the best day of your company’s life.” The past is a learning place, not a dwelling place. Take a glance at it and let it inform your present.
So, regarding the past, we are meant to take a quick glance at it, learn, and continue moving forward. Focus on the road ahead—focus on your destiny, goals, ambitions, and purposes so that you can get to your destination in one piece. However, we must spend 99.5% of the time looking ahead; looking to the past should be 0.5% of the time. Just the same way, we take agile glances at our center rearview and two side mirrors. Flip the percentages in this metaphorical analysis. If you spend 99.5% of your time looking at the past losses and victories you have experienced—you will soon be a goner. You will crash your destiny so bad that you will become history yourself.
Friends, do you think that Paul of Tarsus was a boneheaded idiot when he made that statement in Philippians 3:12-14 that “I have not yet reached my goal, and I am not perfect. But Christ has taken hold of me. So, I keep on running and struggling to take hold of the prize. My friends, I don’t feel that I have already arrived. But I forget what is behind, and I struggle for what is ahead. I run toward the goal, so that I can win the prize of being called to heaven. This is the prize that God offers because of what Christ Jesus has done?” (Contemporary English Version (CEV)) Far from that, he was a sage at best to say that “we keep our eyes on the mark, the bullseye ahead,” so that we don’t shipwreck our individual causes.
“Life is a culmination of the past, an awareness of the present, an indication of a future beyond knowledge, the quality that gives a touch of divinity to matter.” — Charles Lindbergh.
So, what has happened has happened—we cannot change the past. What is behind us are lessons. We can only pick up the blocks of history to build the edifices of our tomorrow in the present. The building blocks of your historical heritage are of no use when you remain in the past. Even if you had a DeLorean to go back in the past, it is still not humanly possible to build in the past. We can only create now. So, don’t be stupid to not pay attention to the road of your destiny. Pay attention to the road. Keep looking ahead to the end of your purpose and destination. Feed the data from your past into the Central Processing Unit (CPU) of your present. Use this information to write the program for your future. Carpe diem!
15 Stratagems for Bouncing Back When Out of It
Are you fed up with everything? Are you at the point where you are ready to throw in the towel? Don’t give up yet—don’t give in at all. Learn the fifteen things you can do to pick yourself up when you are at your wit’s end! Please read all about it!
Life is indeed a rollercoaster. We are constantly in the game of Life’s ups and downs, and quite honestly, we sometimes do feel burnout and get to the point of wanting to give up. But we don’t have to give up. As the saying goes, if life throws you lemons, make lemonade out of it. Simply put, you don’t have to hit rock bottom before you get out of the rut. Use the challenges that life throws at you and make something good out of it. Make good use of the difficult times in your life.
“I have to pick myself up every day and say, ‘The show must go on,’ meaning Life as I know it must go on, whatever the obstacle is, I know I can handle it, and I can get through it.” — Jennie Garth.
No one’s life is perfect; we all have one thing or the other that poses a challenge. Chances are, the bills we must pay, the family we have to provide for, the work we have to go to, or perhaps the fact that you are out of a job are all good enough reasons to weigh us down. Life always has a way of hitting us from various angles that could hinder our psyche and will to continue. However, what you make out from those circumstances is what matters most. Our approach to these life changes is what makes the difference at the end of the day.
For example, you’ve been to several job interviews and only get rejection letters. It’s depressing. However, it is not enough for you to give up. Your problem may not be a career dilemma. It could be financial problems, health issues (e.g., the COVID-19 Pandemic), mental health variances and exhaustion, relationship issues, and other forms of stress. Ask yourself questions, how can you re-strategize? What can you do differently? Where can you make lifestyle adjustments to help better your current circumstance? These questions will help to offset the idea of giving up.
“Failure at some point in your life is inevitable, but giving up is unforgivable.” — Joe Biden, 46th U.S. President.
Many things could cause us to get fed up with Life. However, the rule of the game is never to give up. Thomas A. Edison once said that “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” Getting fed up and giving up should never be our option. Because of this, I have put down the following practical steps that will help you learn how to overcome self-rejection and regain self-confidence. You will be a much happier person and live a fulfilled life. Let’s dig into some of these steps:
#1. Call a Spade a Spade!
Let’s be honest here. You cannot tackle a problem if you don’t first admit there was one. You must come to a point whereby you tell yourself the truth. You must keep it real and acknowledge that something is not going the way you want it. Don’t sit and pretend that everything is fine when you know it is not. Instead, sit yourself down and think about it for a moment. What are those things that are not working out for you right now? Once you have a clear admittance that something is not right, you can start all over again.
#2. Discover Who You Are
You won’t appreciate yourself if you don’t know your true worth or what you want to make out of Life. Self-awareness is essential when you are on a journey of picking up yourself. The fact remains that if you don’t know your worth or who you indeed are, you might continue on a cyclical journey. No one wants to be called a champion in the game called circle. You want your life to be full of purpose and meaning.
“Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you; they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.” — Bernice Johnson Reagon.
To help you drill down this point more, first, try out a personality test. Second, take a pen and a small notebook, find a quiet corner, or time and write down your likes, dislikes, personality traits, hobbies, and family history—you can ask family members to help with the family history. Third, once you’ve done that, take some time and reflect on your notes. These questions should give you a better understanding of who you are at the end of the day. They would help you know who you want to become.
When doing the personality test, be honest to write both your good and bad traits. The truth is that we are all made up of both good and bad characteristics. If you are hot-tempered, funny, attractive, hostile, sensitive, open, defensive, etc.—write what pertains to you down. Doing so will help you distinguish the good from the bad. It will also help you start working on improving these bad traits. The good news is that there is room for change if you so desire.
“I think self-discovery is the greatest achievement in life, because once you discover yourself and accept what you are, then you can fulfill your true potential and be happy.” — Marco Pierre White.
This simple personality test exercise allows you to define your characteristics, know yourself better, see yourself in a well-adjusted manner, and above all, inspire you to become self-aware and make changes. If you wish to take a more profound journey to discover who you are, grab a copy of the book, Unearthing Your Latent Potentials: Discovering the Gems of Your Subliminal-Self by Ogbonnaya Agom-Eze. The author takes you on a practical journey that gives you answers on who you indeed are.
#3. Have Self-Confidence
Once you have discovered who you truly are, embrace it and have confidence in your ability and qualities. In the words of Marcus Garvey, Jamaican political activist, publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, and orator, “If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life.” Having self-confidence boosts your energy to focus on your goals and keeps you motivated. Realistically, confidence is not an attribute one is born with, to say the least. It is a virtue or trait that you cultivate over time. The more you practice, the better you will get at it.
#4. Appreciate Yourself
Why wait for others to appreciate you? Every individual is unique and has different purposes. No matter how awkward you might think you are, appreciate yourself! Your uniqueness distinguishes you from everyone else because that is your unique identity, and you can use that to change the world. Enjoying yourself requires you to own up to your imperfections. After all, no one is perfect. Also, dwelling more on your positive traits rather than negatives will help you see yourself in a good light.
#5. Be Grateful
Having a grateful attitude will help you to pick yourself up quicker. Why? Because it allows you to appreciate people and things around you. It also opens your eyes to realize where you have come from, which gives you a humble perspective of Life. You may not be where you want to be at the end of the day, but it often is quicker for us to forget what we had or where we used to be. Joel Osteen, the American pastor, and televangelist, once said that “Choosing to be positive and having a grateful attitude is going to determine how you’re going to live your life.” So, it pays to be grateful for where you are now and your accomplishments thus far. Being thankful is a conscious choice that you must make. You must be intentional about it.
“Every day, I like to wake up and remind myself to be grateful for the simple things.” — Miranda Kerr.
One effective way to develop a grateful attitude is by keeping a gratitude journal. Create a journal daily for a week or as you wish, write down things that you are thankful in Life for as it comes to you. Start from your body, walk your way down to your personality. Write about what people say they like about you. For example, do you like the shape of your nails, your dressing, your hair, the tone of your voice? Put them down. Do you like that you are a confident individual—you are not shy, or you want to see the best in people—write them down. Has someone ever said they like the way you speak, your smile, or that you have a lovely voice? Write them down. By the time you carry out this exercise for a week, you will have many things to be grateful for at the end of the day.
#6. Think Positive
To be successful in the journey of becoming your best self, you need first to be proactive and develop a positive attitude about yourself. How do you achieve that? Think positive about yourself, and you will see that self-transformation working its magic. Stop thinking of all the things that could ever go wrong or how people will judge you. Channel your energy on how you can succeed at something that seems challenging to you. The more you think positively about yourself, the more it will reflect in your actions, and without any shadow of a doubt, you will feel a sense of satisfaction with yourself.
#7. Speak Positively About Yourself
It is possible to think positively about yourself without verbalizing it. There is power in positive self-speak. The speaking aspect of it makes it more real. It gives you a sense of ownership. It reinforces what you believe in because words are compelling. What you say about yourself can either motivate you or demotivate you. It could nudge you into actualizing your dream self, or it could destroy your future eventually.
“Live life to the fullest and focus on the positive.” — Matt Cameron.
Self-talk reaffirms your purpose in Life. The more you speak positively about yourself, the more you will believe in the meaning of why you are here. Rather than saying ‘I can’t,’ substitute it with ‘I’m able to.’ Your words define you. We end up becoming what we speak about ourselves. Our words are catalysts that motivate our becoming whatever our mind creates. We are what we think. We become what we think because we speak what we believe. What we think and what we say is concomitantly in pari passu. So, do yourself a favor and talk positively about yourself.
#8. Spend Time with Positive People
The company that we keep says a lot about who we are and who we eventually morph into—bad company corrupts, good company elevates. Spending time with positive people is very transformative. Associating with such people helps shift our perspective about Life and readjusts our mindset to positive thoughts too. It also influences our behavior and choices. They make us believe in ourselves and achieve our dreams.
#9. Stop Complaining
Complaining without trying to change your situation doesn’t make it any better. It’s ok to vent concerning the things you are going through occasionally. However, it would help if you never made it a habit to always complain about everything. In the words of Harvey Mackay, American businessman, author, and syndicated columnist with Universal Uclick, “Life isn’t fair. It’s true, and you still have to deal with it. Whining about it rarely levels the playing field, but learning to rise above it is the ultimate reward.” Whining or complaining never makes things better. Learn to arise the problems you have.
“A little less complaint and whining, and a little more dogged work and manly striving, would do us more credit than a thousand civil rights bills.” — W. E. B. Du Bois.
So, when next you are about to complain, stop, think, and ask yourself if it is worth it. Complaining is a limiting action—you make no progress. It makes you toxic and disgusting to others when you are always angry and complaining. In the words of Dennis Prager, the American conservative radio talk show host, and writer, “Complaining not only ruins everybody else’s day, but it also ruins the complainer’s day, too. The more we complain, the more unhappy we get.” Stop it already! Complainants are petty and only adds stress to us. The truth is that it is an unnecessary exercise. Please give it up as it will help to reframe your mind.
#10. Quit Pleasing Others
It is good to be nice to people, help them, and do nice things for them. However, please, please know your boundary. When we aim to please others at our own expense, we deny ourselves the care and attention we need. You need to know your limit and learn to say no sometimes. Pleasing others doesn’t make you any better person than you are already.
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” — Arthur Ashe.
Often, people are not aware of the way they made you feel. On many occasions, if they treat you in ways that are not welcoming to you, they probably didn’t mean to many times over. Most of the time, the people you are trying to please don’t appreciate your effort, and that’s why it is essential to know when to draw the line. Care and love others but remember to love yourself in the process.
Can I drop this here? Everybody must not like you no matter how hard you try. I know it sounds harsh, but without any apology, it is the truth. You can never please everyone, even if you try. Some people are deliberately difficult. You must be intentional in cutting such people off as they are chronic timewasters. So why waste your time, energy, and resources trying to please someone who does not care or appreciate your efforts. Like the quote says above, “…do what you can,” even when it comes to pleasing others.
#11. Stop Comparing Yourself with Others
Comparing yourself with others can be very draining and bad for your sanity. It spawns from the pursuit of always keeping up with the Jone’s. It won’t get you anywhere. Stop trying to be like everyone else. Just be yourself! Be grateful for what you have, where you are in life, and who you are! Because if you believe in yourself, you should also be thankful for where you are going.
“Enjoy your own life without comparing it with that of another.” — Marquis de Condorcet.
You may not know the secret behind that person’s life that you are wasting your time comparing yourself with and trying to compete with them. Instead of comparing your status with someone else’s, invest your time and energy developing and improving yourself. You can spend some time and money if needed and learn new skills and hobbies. Doing this can make you a better person to the person you are comparing yourself with after all is said and done.
#12. Get Your Hands on Your Passion
Find what you are good at and explore it more—get your hands on your passion factor and keep it there. It may be that you have the skills to write, and you’ve never discovered that you would love writing until you tried it. The moment you wrote a piece, you felt relaxed, and most importantly, your audience loved it; you then began writing more frequently. Your passion could be anything! We encourage you to lay your hands on it and never let go if it is something positive. Nurture it and grow it until it becomes an enormous metaphorical oak tree of achievement that you could ever envision!
“You can do anything as long as you have the passion, the drive, the focus, and the support.” — Sabrina Bryan.
Spending time doing what you love can be an excellent way to detox your mind of all the negatives. If you are not sure what your passion might be, ask yourself what you love doing in your spare time—that could be the clue that makes all the difference. Do you love knitting, cooking, walking, reading, exercising, or even chatting to friends? You never know; you might start making a living out of your passion once you’ve discovered it. For me, I love baking as a means to de-stress. You could explore how you can start a talk show if you love chatting. Just get your hands on what you love doing and do it more.
#13. Help Someone
I know you might say, “Umm, wait a second, am I not the one that needs help here? Hey! You can help someone pick themselves up when you are on the journey of picking yourself up. No matter how deep or down you think you are, some other person may be in a more precarious state than you. Someone out there needs your help and your time. You may not have the resources to offer to them, but your time and words of encouragement will make an impact in their journey—intentionally lookout for someone to help. There is a satisfaction that spawns from such altruistic action that allows you further heal and transcend.
#14. Just Be Yourself
Being true to who you are is good for your mental well-being. Your mental health is crucial, especially when passing through the doldrums of pain and life pressures. Being true to who you are will help you realize when you need help. If you are true to yourself, you should know the point when you can’t take it anymore and that it is time to speak to someone and seek professional help. In the multitude of proper counsel, there is safety. If you’re tired of everything, it’s okay to ask for help.
“Be yourself, but always your better self.” — Karl G. Maeser.
Be true to yourself. Seek help when you are tired of living! Seek counsel! Don’t take matters into your own hands. Being fed up is normal, but you must never do anything harsh. Some people feel like when they are in that state, they should end it all. Does killing yourself solve the issue? No, it doesn’t. Suicide is the coward’s way out of a bad situation. Be yourself, but always seek help when you feel like you can’t take it anymore. Seek counsel! Seek help when you are in your depths.
Just be yourself! Stop trying to keep up with the Jone’s. Don’t pack undue stress on yourself when you know you can’t handle it anymore. Free yourself from the maze of trying to be someone else. Emulation will emasculate the will of your true personality and purpose. Quit trying to be a people pleaser, quit complaining, quit comparing yourself with others! Stop and be yourself! Believe in your intrinsic values! Pursue the golden goals that stipulate your personality with a positive mindset and indulge in your unique attributes.
The last point I will cover in this piece, “15 Stratagems for Bouncing Back When Out of It,” is the factor of prayer. I don’t think that this piece will be complete without covering prayer. As a Christian, I will share my perspective on prayer and how it can help you pick yourself up when you are out of it. I believe that there is a God who is forever powerful, all-knowing, and ever-present in the lives of those who believe in Him. He is a God of relationship and wants to always communicate in the place of prayer with His own.
“Darkness comes. In the middle of it, the future looks blank. The temptation to quit is huge. Don’t. You are in good company… You will argue with yourself that there is no way forward. But with God, nothing is impossible. He has more ropes and ladders and tunnels out of pits than you can conceive. Wait. Pray without ceasing.” — Hope. John Piper.
No matter how down in the dumps you may be, God is forever near to pull you out. Cultivate a praying habit. Oswald Chambers, the early-twentieth-century Scottish Baptist evangelist, and teacher said, “We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.” Focusing on your difficulties will only cause you to sink deeper and deeper into the solar plexus of your problems. William Temple, the English Anglican priest, who served as Bishop of Manchester, Archbishop of York, and Archbishop of Canterbury, once said that “When I pray, coincidences happen, and when I don’t, they don’t.” Prayer is the master key that can help you pick yourself up. Instead, when you pray, God will pick you up. I have done it, and He did it, time and time again.
Some people may choose to oppose me for stipulating prayer as a way to pick yourself up when you are out of it, mentally or physically. The opposition may be because you do not believe in God. Oh well, I can’t help you on that note because of your apathy in saying that God does not exist. From my experience, God exists. From all the pointers I have given you via this piece, this point is the most compelling. The reason being that prayer changes things.
Praying uplifts, you from the darkest dungeons that you may ever be in, to say the very least. No matter what we are going through, we can always look up to God for help. He is always present to answer. Mr. T, an American actor, television personality, and retired bouncer, bodyguard, and professional wrestler, once said that “God is on my side, and that’s all I need. I get up in the morning; I pray to God. I don’t pray to the president, the governor, the mayor, no black caucus, no this and that. I pray to God, and that’s the end of it.” I resign with that.
In this piece, we have seen fifteen steps to use and pick ourselves up when in a dark and lowly place. First, we must keep it real by being brutally honest with ourselves and the situations we are going through. Second, we must go the extra mile in discovering our purpose. Learning who we are gives us better clarity and direction when facing scalar situations. Third, we must cultivate the art and virtue of self-confidence.
“To me, if life boils down to one thing, it’s movement. To live is to keep moving.” — Jerry Seinfeld.
Fourth, self-love is very vital. As much as we love and care for others, we must learn to appreciate ourselves. Fifth, we must become intentional in cultivating an attitude of gratefulness. An attitude of gratitude opens the doors to greatness. Sixth, it would help if you become a positive thinker. We become our thoughts—as a person thinks, so is he/her. Seventh, you must learn positive speak—as a person thinks, so they speak. As you talk, so you eventually become.
Eighth, spend time with positive people—Iron sharpens iron. The positivity of such people will eventually rub off on you. Ninth, stop complaining. Being a whinner only makes you toxic. Complaining does not solve any problem at all. Stop it already! Tenth, don’t be a people pleaser. I am not saying that you should not be nice to people; however, remember to love yourself when loving others. Eleventh, stop comparing yourself to others. You are just packing a Herculean load of stress on yourself! Be you! Enjoy yourself and the process of your becoming!
“Life is about how much you can take and keep fighting; how much you can suffer and keep moving forward.” — Anderson Silva.
Twelfth, get your hands on your passion, and don’t let go. It is an excellent way to detox yourself when you are going through the doldrums of life. Thirteen, help someone! No matter how bad you think life is treating you, someone has it worse than you have it. There is healing in helping someone worse off than yourself. Fourteenth, just be yourself. It is as simple as that, to be honest. It will help your mental outlook. Fifteenth, pray. God can help you out of any dark hole.
10 Signs that Child Discipline Has Gone Virulent
Discipline is a gift that we give to our children that turns nobodies into somebodies. However, disciplining our children can quickly get out of hand and become abusive. In this piece, we explore various ways that disciplining our kids can go overboard. Please read all about it.
Nature thrives on balance and moderation; when you disrupt that balance, all hell breaks loose. Too much of anything can interfere with its natural course, as well as too little of it. Therefore, the excessive disciplining of a child can cause harmful disruptions in their life. In far more cases, parents guilty of this don’t realize the consequences of their overzealousness in imposing discipline on their wards. In fewer cases, the parents don’t know that they’re over-disciplining their child; hence, the need for balance and moderation.
“Home is, I suppose, just a child’s idea. A house at night, and a lamp in the house. A place to feel safe.” — V. S. Naipaul.
Ultimately, we must educate ourselves about the difference between right and wrong discipline. The Trinidadian-American actor, dancer, musician, and artist Geoffrey Holder once said that “Education begins at home. You can’t blame the school for not putting into your child what you don’t put into him.” There are ways to know that you are going overboard. We must learn when to stop and retrace our steps before we do irreparable damage that we would end up regretting. Parents must be honest with themselves and determine whether they have gone overboard. This way you’d be able to make improvements.
Consider this piece as a freebie in helping you add value to your mind when disciplining your ward and child upbringing. Some people raise their kids the best way they know how to or mirror how their parents raised them. The strategies they deploy may be wrong, but they stick with what they know. So, consider this piece as an avenue for you to stretch the horizons of your knowledge as a parent. You should be ready to make changes where necessary. Should the need arise, you may need to meet with a child psychologist or therapist to wade into an already dire situation. Whatever it takes that is positive to make the necessary corrections must become the answer.
You may have to humble yourself to the point of accepting honest feedback from your children without being arrogant or bossy about it. Some parents find it challenging to be humble when corrected rightly by their wards. Children are very good at observing—they soak up information like a sponge or preferably Sodium Polyacrylate, the water-absorbent material in paper diapers. They learn more by watching what the adults and peers around them do. When a parent disregards their opinion, feedback, or contribution, they take a cue from this and subconsciously learn that their views are unnecessary.
While this may not always be the case, sometimes, children are forced to view things via this perspective because they live in an atmosphere where silence thrives. Parents should learn to communicate clearly with their children. Instructions should be given out of love and not out of anger. Parents must maintain a high level of emotional intelligence at all times when dealing with their wards. Doing so will bar parents from venting their annoyance on their innocent children who may know nothing about what they are doing.
10 Signs that Disciplining Your Children Has Gone Overboard
Some people hang on Proverbs 13:24, which says in the New Living Translation that “Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them.” There is often a misinterpretation of this verse to mean that physical punishment is the only way to discipline a child—that is not true. A Crosswalk.com study by Kyle Blevins, does a great job expounding this verse.
“Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them.” — Proverbs 13:24.
The rod does not solely mean instilling discipline via spanking alone; far from that, to be honest. The rod leans more on instruction, teaching kids via guidance and appropriate discipline as the occasion demands. It is more of a process of positively influencing behavior in children, not about punishing them, as many parents erroneously believe. The proper act of discipline should be constructive and never destructive. Solely physically punishing your child will eventually destroy them psychologically. Good discipline should cultivate self-discipline that makes them better. It makes them grow into well-rounded adults who are emotionally and socially stable.
Child discipline that has gone overboard is a sign of negative parenting. You see this evidence when parents constantly fight or quarrel, entertain no negotiations, dishing harsh punishments, speaking down on their wards, being unsupportive, continually yelling, indulging in an unhealthy lifestyle, etc. An unknown author once said that “If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn. If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight. If a child lives with fear, he learns to be apprehensive. If a child lives with pity, he learns to feel sorry for himself. If a child lives with jealousy, he learns to feel guilty…” All that is stipulated here are all products of negative disciplining of children.
However, on the split end of this spectrum, this same unknown author stipulates that “If a child lives with encouragement, he learns to be self-confident. If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient. If a child lives with praise, he learns to be appreciative. If a child lives with acceptance, he learns to love. If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself. If a child lives with recognition, he learns to have a goal. If a child lives with fairness, he learns what justice is. If a child lives with honesty, he learns what truth is. If a child lives with sincerity, he learns to have faith in himself and those around him. If a child lives with love, he learns that the world is a wonderful place to live in.” Disciplining your ward should be a guide to achieve these grand ideals.
The ability to catch yourself when you are straying from positive parenting is very crucial. That is the core of this piece on discipline, especially when it has gone south and overboard. In the words of Gabriela Mistral (pseudonym for Lucila Godoy Alcayaga), the late Chilean poet-diplomat, educator, and humanist, “Many things we need can wait. The child cannot. Now is the time his bones are formed, his mind developed. To him, we cannot say tomorrow; his name is today.” Today, if you have gone overboard in meting out discipline, there is still a scent of hope. So, let’s look at some of the signs that show that punishment in child upbringing has gone overboard.
#1. You Don’t Give Your Children Room for Expression
Kids are expressive. You want to give them the chance to be themselves as you raise them. Although it is common knowledge that children are inexperienced in so many life matters, it is still relevant to give them the chance to express themselves. When you are too strict on your children, it could lead to them becoming bottled up, and they wouldn’t want to speak up again. Several research and studies have shown that strict parenting produces children who become adults with behavioral problems. Indeed, this isn’t what you’d want for your children, or is it? Think long and hard on this and make a change before it is too late. Give them some room to express themselves.
#2. When You Over Threaten Your Child
How many times have you or someone you know threatened a child that you’d do something nasty to them if they failed to comply? Without knowing it, you are teaching your child to misbehave. Constantly threatening your ward can harden them. The child gets used to the threat and ends up saying to himself, “After all, what is the worst thing that could happen if you follow through with your threat? Hit me? Oh well, I am already used to that,” alluding to the fact of the parent’s habitual threats and actions. For such a child, they’re no longer bothered about the dangers and parental hostility because it has become a pattern for them. A better way of speaking to kids is via a calm and gentle tone and language choice. The core is gentle guidance that speaks to the heart of their subconscious. That will make the most impact, ceteris paribus. A word is enough for the wise.
#3. Intruding into Your Child’s Personal Life
Children grow to become teenagers and then youths and consequently are young adults before they morph into other phases of human existence. Their growth comes with a new sense of responsibility and maturity. For instance, telling a child that they must study medicine, or a particular course of study is the wrong way of doing things. Children want someone who listens and understands them. They should have some sense of independence and freedom of choice. The worst thing you can do to your ward is to rob them of their sense of choice and autonomy. If they don’t get this from their parents, they won’t feel accepted. Curb your excesses, give them some breathing room to be themselves.
#4. Excess Do’s and Don’ts
When you make too many rules, it can lead to information overload. The art of imposing too many restrictions—excess dos and don’ts—comes from an authoritarian perspective—an anaconda leadership style. It is very constricting and stifles the psychological life out of its victims. While this is something that can affect adults significantly, think about the repercussions of this on kids. One of the problems that can come from setting so many do’s, and don’ts is that you find it difficult to follow through on kids to know whether they’re keeping to those rules. When you notice this sort of pattern in your approach to parenting or notice it in other parents, it’s mostly a sure sign that discipline has gone overboard. Taper down on being too restrictive. Give your kids some breathing room just to be themselves.
#5. Not Being Available
Not being available for your children has a way of affecting their inner core. It may lead to a sense of displacement in some children. It may make the child feel unloved. When parents become autocratic in issuing orders to their children, they will find it challenging to comply with particular instructions, as we stipulated in the previous paragraph and point above. Are you the parent who always shouts at your children? And yet you don’t make out time to be there for them! Such children will never confide in you. They will drift away from you and find other people they will confide in, which is never a good sign of positive parenting.
“At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.” —Jane D. Hull.
Not being available could mean that you are never there at pivotal moments in their lives. You hide behind the cloak of always working. Because of this, you never attend their school functions that require their parents to be there. You are never there to assist them with their homework. Even when you are home, you never have their time because you are now a victim of Mobileholism—your life permanently revolves around your mobile phone and other handheld devices. You are never present; you are not there in their lives as their childhood quickly passes by. These become lost moments as you end up losing your kids to the confidence of other adults or peers. On many occasions, the influence they get is not always positive. Please pay attention to your wards, do not neglect them. Be present!
#6. Always Monitoring Your Child
Do you often monitor your child’s every move? You always want to know all your child’s friends, where they go, what they do and shouldn’t do, etc. You are overbearing and constantly in their business. You scarcely give them room to learn some sense of independence or discover their individuality. We call such micromanaging parent the helicopter parent. While these things show that you are concerned as a good parent, they can also scare away your child. Children, because they are humans just as adults, also deserve some form of space. However, the kind of space they need isn’t as big as that of an adult.
“Now that I have kids, I’m probably more overprotective than I’ve ever been. My wife’s nickname for me is ‘red alert.’ I sometimes check just to see if the kids are breathing. But I try not to be a helicopter parent.” — Matt Damon.
For instance, while it is good to know your child’s kind of friends. However, it is wrong to prevent your child from having any friends in your neighborhood. Caging them in could be because of the assumption or actual knowledge that most kids in that community are a terrible influence. Or, you may feel that other kids may not come from a privileged class like yourself or whatever excuses you decide to give. As much as there may be wisdom in censoring community relationships, human beings are social creatures—we want to forge relationships with others. No child or human being, for that matter, loves isolation. Children do better in their Education when they have the chance to socialize and play with their friends. Don’t incarcerate your kids to the social cages of lonesomeness.
#7. Is Your Child Withdrawing from You?
We always teach our kids not to talk to strangers, which generally makes them withdraw from people they don’t know. However, it is another thing for children to remove themselves from the parents of their parents. In the latter, it could be that the parents are too strict on the child or children. They don’t allow the child to have friends, speak up, express themselves, and open up on things he’s going through, and so on.
Some parents often spiritualize things in their homes. They teach their children to commit all their problems to God in prayer without striking a balance. That is all well and dandy. However, parents are part of the agents of an answer to a child’s problem. Children should be free to discuss whatever they truly feel with their parents. The validation of their ward’s feelings is part of the answer to those issues. Parents must take proactive steps to address those issues as it builds a deeper child-parent bond of confidence.
#8. Your Kids Don’t Want their Friend’s Home
One of the things that can affect a child’s behavior negatively or positively are actions or inactions that hit at their self-esteem. For instance, when a parent shouts at a child before their friends, they feel awful. Such a child wouldn’t want his friends to come home, or on the other hand, his friends wouldn’t want to go to their house the next time. The reason for this is that that parent’s action has sent a wrong signal to his friends. The parents of your ward’s friends may not want their kids coming over to your house if they learn of your hostile characteristics. Such a scenario will impact the psyche of your child negatively. If this word gets out, it could make your kids become bully victims as other kids will make fun of them for how bad their parents are. As much as you are trying to raise your kids, it would be best if you continued to work on yourself to expunge contrary characteristics that will influence your kids negatively.
#9. Becoming a Control Freak
When a parent affirms a child, it brings out the best in such a child. It boosts their ego and sense of importance. Conversely, using curse words or swear words on a child if they fail to meet a certain expectation or standard is not only cruel but inhuman. Doing this affects the self-esteem of your child. Parents need to watch what they say and need to be cautious of how they use words with their kids, too. Don’t be a control freak with your kids. As much as goals and expectations are set for them to attain, give them a break—let them breathe! Give them some space!
#10. All Work and No Play
“All work and no play make Jack a dull boy,” the famous saying holds for every child. It would be best if you gave children time to unwind. The practice in most parts of the world today in schools is the gradual emphasis on innovative learning. Most of the time, this occurs at the expense of the child’s psychomotor skills. Schools, not just in developing nations but also in developed ones, tend to emphasize computer skills, laboratory experiments, and several other activities geared towards improving the child’s mind without taking cognizance of the child’s need for play.
When a parent emphasizes reading and studying and deprives a child of time to play to instill good discipline, it is clear from such a scenario that discipline has gone overboard. In the words of Mark Wahlberg, the movie actor, “There’s nothing like seeing the smile on my kids’ faces. Laughing together. Playing. It’s the best.” You should seek to strike a balance in this area of your kid’s lives. As much as we want them to work and achieve goals, they must also relax and play.
Where do We Go from Here?
Discipline can go overboard in so many ways, as stipulated in this piece. Yelling at children most of the time before you get your message across to them is part of this. It is a dysfunctional way of instilling discipline. It shows that things have gone wrong and that the parent lacks the capacity for good parenting. Such a parent must develop how to approach parenting (NB. The piece you are reading is an excellent inception point for such erudition).
“Discipline is the refining fire by which talent becomes ability.” — Roy L. Smith.
Hence, a parent must establish the qualities of genuine and sincere affection, sympathy, and empathy for their kid and should be able to know when to bring discipline into the equation as a measure to guide their ward. Learning these qualities is not automatic. It requires parents to become intentional learners. All pride must bow before the due diligence of patient scholarship. Don’t be that parent that claims to know everything even in the face of apparent ignorance of being in the wrong. Be teachable. Remember, the inculcation of the said positive qualities above must be timeous.
Part of the things to be learned will be how to listen effectively to your children, communicate with them, discipline, and overlook certain behaviors. Pointing out all the flaws of a child is a wrong approach to parenting. No one wants to be a victim of a demeaning barrage, not even children. They’re humans, and even if they are young and lack experience, they have emotions and feelings that require validation. Hence, parents must go the extra mile in learning when to take a chill pill when disciplining their kids. You don’t want to become an abuser. It would be best if you learned patience when raising your children. Kids will be kids.
“If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.” — Jackie Kennedy.
If their parents remind them constantly of the things, they do wrong, then that’s a problem. The parent needs to seek a solution instead of passing the blame to their wards continually. It isn’t the child’s fault that a parent cannot control their anger or tantrums. Over time, children will see a parent who yells at them much of the time as a weak and insensitive parent. They may not voice this opinion to their parents but do this inward, a seed of bitterness sown. In the long run, they probably may lose trust in that parent and possibly, respect.
We cannot completely rule out discipline; doing so is prepping the societies that we live in for moral decay and dissolution. However, we cannot approach discipline with ignorance. The Holy Writ establishes that “The Lord corrects those he loves.”1 In the same light, we must teach, guide, and correct our wards from a place of love. We must “discipline our children while they are young to learn. If you don’t, you are helping them destroy themselves.”2 You would be doing yourself a tremendous disservice if you shun discipline completely.
“Discipline is the hidden ingredient that turns nobodies into somebodies.” — Unknown Author.
We must approach discipline in positive parenting with wisdom and caution. H. Ross Perot once said that “If you have but one gift to give your children, let it be discipline.” It may be a gift and tool that helps us in giving guidance to our kids. However, we must watch ourselves so that we don’t go overboard as it negatively affects child development. Parents must be mindful of this aspect of raising their kids. We must do everything in moderation, even discipline.
. Proverbs 3:12. . Proverbs 19:18.
Strategic Living as a Lifestyle
Strategic living as a lifestyle is possible. It is a mindset thing. It is an attitude thing, which also determines your altitude in life. To find out more about how you can cultivate this mindset, please read all about it.
Are you aware that you can learn so much from life when you closely observe the happenings around you in your everyday life? Hidden in plain sight are sundry nuggets of wisdom and erudition waiting for discovery. There’s so much knowledge to acquire when we are open to lore and mindful that life itself is a teacher. Life is like the game of chess. It takes us being intentional and strategic to make these life discoveries, ceteris paribus.
“When things do not go your way, remember that every challenge—every adversity—contains within it the seeds of opportunity and growth.” — Roy T Bennett.
How would you react to challenging situations that occur without notice in your everyday lives? Your perspective regarding issues in life is of great importance because it will, to a large extent, determine how you confront the vicissitudes of life. Strategic living as a lifestyle is about being intentional and having a positive attitude in every situation. Let me share a story with you to give you some insights.
It Pays to Be Strategic!
Once, on a sunny and hot tropical afternoon in the bustling city of Port Harcourt, Rivers State in Nigeria, I had an interesting experience with my car keys that taught me a life lesson on strategy. The event happened way back before the advent and prevalence of remote keyless system (RKS) fobs. I had driven to a business meeting with a client. After the meeting, I came out to notice that my car key had a slight bent to it.
“Strategy is about making choices, trade-offs; it’s about deliberately choosing to be different.” — Michael Porter.
Upon close examination, I felt the bent would not affect the keys’ usage. But to my utter dismay, it did. It not only got stuck in the ignition but also got broken while trying to start the car. This left me distraught with no other alternative than to look for a nearby locksmith where a new key can be cut for me from the original since I couldn’t go back home to get the spare key. Little did I know that this was the beginning of a learning experience for me.
As I sat down to watch my attending locksmith choose from an array of assorted shapes of keys. I learned that the idea or strategy was to select a particular key with a form that would fit the broken key I came with. After careful selection, I watched as he slotted the chosen key into the cutting machine. Whirling as it went, the key-cutting machine followed the patterned grooves on my old broken key to shape what would after now become my new car key.
Suddenly like a thunderbolt from the blues, it struck me! When keys are cut, they are shaped to open a lock. The cut is the definition of the key’s purpose to open the lock that it is meant for, all things being equal. It hit me that if my car was parked out there without the key, it could not start. My car key aims to help me crank my engine up and give it life and action. It will remain parked, stationed in a fixed place, useless, and occupying a space that ought to be used for some other thing.
In a similar vein, many of us are like the broken or absent key that is not fulfilling the purpose of cranking up the engines of myriad pervading problems. Many of us have refused to embrace the divinely programmed challenges designed to shape or cut us into becoming the “keys” to various successes. Keys that should unlock the doors to these problems in our immediate societies, churches, communities, and the world at large. It pays to be strategic to make this self-discovery.
How Do You Handle Dicey Situations?
How are you reacting, embracing the problems and challenges that come your way? How do you handle the dicey situations that you face in life? Remember, the locksmith first had to choose the blank key that resembled my broken key before he could cut or shape it. In the same way, there are issues in life that you are patterned after to become a solution to it. There is a cause to the cutting and shaping of your life experiences. It will help you eventually serve a specific role.
“Sometimes we learn the lessons of life through pain, melancholy, and the vicissitude of life, and sometimes we learn the lessons of life through joy and comfort. Whatever the case may be, the most important thing is the great lesson we learn out of the lessons life teaches us. If you fail to learn the lessons greatly, life will teach you a great lesson.” — Ernest Agyemang Yeboah.
You are destiny’s choice to go through your present life challenges. You have been chosen to be fashioned, prepared for a specific reason. You are destiny’s choice to become a solution to that problem in your family, society, and country. But you must yield to the shaping, tampering, and conditioning process. Because through these processes, a better you will emerge. Leaving you better and well suited for the part that has been allotted to you by destiny.
I studied Materials and Metallurgical Engineering in college. While still in school, part of our industrial training program was exposed to different methods of heat treatment that materials go through to toughen them. One such treatment is called annealing, a heat treatment process that alters the microstructure of a material to change its mechanical or electrical properties. It is used to reduce hardness, increase ductility, and help eliminate internal stresses.
Suppose materials are subjected to such a complex process to attain a suitable strength that will enable them to go through the rigors associated with its eventual usage. In that case, the challenges that come with life are how we as humans are toughened to be fit to face and handle life’s dicey situations. For these materials to attain such strength, their microstructure which is a crucial determinant to their mechanical and electrical properties, is altered. That is the same way that our makeup, our default mode, is changed when we willingly submit to being trained by the vicissitudes of life.
You Can Do It!
Brace up; you are fit for it. You just have to be tenacious and stick with it. You can make it happen. Gold had to go through fire to become marketable. For diamonds to appreciate in value, they have to go through a cutting and polishing process. Crude oil must go through the laborious process of factional distillation to be turned into various petroleum products. Iron ore has to go through the high temperatures of the Bessemer converter to be turned into steel.
“I think you grow wherever God plants you. I hope I’m growing as a person of faith, as a Christian. That should be our number one objective in this journey of life. That all starts with a personal, intimate relationship with Christ and then being in prayer every single day about all of those things—being tenacious about it.” — J. C. Watts.
In the same way, you must go through cutting and shaping to become the key to many successes. No one says that it will be easy; however, the product of the process is effectiveness and efficiency in your role and purpose in life. In the words of Christian Louboutin, the French-Egyptian fashion designer, “You need to believe in yourself and what you do. Be tenacious and genuine.” You must believe in yourself. You must trust the process as you are shaped for a strategic life of purpose.
How can I equip myself to face these challenges squarely and come out victorious? I want to share a critical factor: if we have a firm grip on it, we can do life effectively and efficiently, irrespective of whatever challenges will confront us. It is a word that has often been neglected and downplayed in the scheme of things. However, it determines how we approach life and the results we get out of life if given attention. What is the word? Mindset. As the word sounds, it is defined as the established set of attitudes held by someone. One word that stands out in this definition, which also gives meaning to this statement, is attitude.
Attitude is primarily what makes up an individual’s mindset and plays a crucial role in determining how our mindsets are shaped. What is it, and how important is it? Attitude is the way you approach life. In a simpler term, it’s your angle of attack. It is the way we express our thoughts and feelings. Our attitude takes form or shape after series of repeated events that lead up to a set of beliefs that things will turn out in a particular way. This outcome forms what is called expectations. Our attitude is determined by our expectations. This is why we react either negatively or positively when confronted by a challenge in life. But it can all be changed by changing our core beliefs.
See the Challenge as a Learning Experience
Adopting strategic living as a lifestyle is all about being teachable. Teachability is the ability and willingness to learn. This attitude enables you to be open and receptive to whatever life throws at you while at the same time learning from it. Bearing in mind that whatever lessons learned will become an added advantage for you in the future. It is often said that evaluated experience is the best teacher. This willingness on your part will position you in such a way that you critically evaluate the experience to learn from it.
“Believe in yourself, take on your challenges, dig deep within yourself to conquer fears. Never let anyone bring you down. You got to keep going.” — Chantal Sutherland.
The structure of a traditional educational system requires that you first learn a subject matter and then get tested on that body of knowledge. It takes a series of repetitive learning to sit and pass an examination or test. It is akin to what is obtainable in life. Life has been made so that you can only be promoted to another level of life when you have passed an examination it set for you. Life tests us intermittently, even in our ignorance, to see if we are ready for the next level of our situation. Most times, we fail these tests owing to wrong mindsets exhibited through bad attitudes.
Are you ready for the next challenge? Are you prepared for the next learning experience? Are you prepared to duke it out with the next challenge in your process of becoming strategic and practical? Strategic living as a lifestyle begins at the junction where you start surmounting the challenges that life throws at you. You must tenaciously fight every challenge. You must adopt a winning mindset in other to become the champion of your own fate and destiny. You must see all challenges as a learning experience. That is the path of continuous improvement. That is the path of becoming strategic in your daily living.
You Can Become a Better Person
We are products of circumstances. Our present cases in life result from the things we encounter in life and the experiences we have had to go through to reach the point where we are now. The summation of these circumstances and phases of life is the personality that is seen today. Understanding this life process puts you in the right frame of mind to know that you are a work in progress that gets better with the exposure that life takes you through.
“Circumstances does not make a man they merely reveal him to himself.” — Epictetus.
Most times, I’ve also realized that we as human beings prefer to remain in our comfort zone. We wish not to be overstretched. Most times, we are oblivious that challenges stretch our experiences to new frontiers most times in life. By seeking to eschew challenges, we ignorantly miss grand opportunities that would have launched us out to a bigger and brighter future that we have prayed and desired for.
With all certainty, if we approach life with these mindsets, we will become victors and not victims in this game called life. We can become champions in life by adopting strategic living as a lifestyle. Understanding this statement will make you submit to this experience. Gladly go through this furnace of fire called challenges. You will come out refined and empowered. Become tenacious through the experiences that you encounter. You will come out shining, radiating, and you’d be glad you did.
15 Reasons Why Optimism is a Core Leadership Trait
Optimism is a positive mental state that propels us to become. It is simply expecting the best possible outcome from any situation. You cannot be a leader and not hone the trait of optimism. In this encephalic long-form piece, we explore fifteen reasons why optimism is a core leadership trait. Please, buckle up for the journey and do read all about it.
Optimism is a mental attitude reflecting a solid belief or hope that the outcome of a particular endeavor will be positive and desirable. It is simply expecting the best possible outcome from any situation. An optimistic person attributes internal, stable, and global explanations to good things. A misanthropic person is not someone anyone wants to be around—someone who has darkness always hanging over them. If such a person is a leader, no one would want to follow them. Optimists make history. Optimists make the resounding difference. In the same light, followers will follow leaders who make history and a difference that shakes the very foundations of mediocrity.
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every opportunity.” — Winston Churchill.
On the other hand, leadership is the simple method of motivating people mentally and physically to achieve a common goal. Influential leaders must possess certain qualities or traits and skills that can provide direction for their followers. These qualities or attributes include honesty and integrity, good communication, creativity and innovation, passion and commitment, optimism, and confidence. Various leadership styles exist, such as autocratic leadership, laissez-faire leadership, democratic leaders, situational leadership, transformational leadership, etc.
No matter what type of leadership style a leader deploys, if they lack an optimistic outlook, it defeats the whole purpose of what they are looking to achieve with their followers. How many soldiers would follow a cynical general into battle? If such a general does not inspire confidence in his troops, he is straight out of luck as he will fall in action as the enemy will claim a victory. How many of you in organizations want to follow an opposing leader? That negativity spreads like metastasizing cancer that wreaks havoc on the body politic of the organization. After all, said and done, optimism (i.e., a disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome) always aims to paint a new and bright day!
A. Why Should a Leader Be Optimistic?
Leadership is quite an arduous task and, as such, is not for the faint-hearted. It is a lot of work to be a leader. As a leader, you manage a sleuth of things—emotions, beliefs, varying commitment levels, and buy-ins, performance, conflict, customer satisfaction, to mention but a few. If a leader does not have the true grit or capacity to perform, there is a problem. The dilemma becomes more complicated when a leader does not see the bright side of things. It is harder to lead from a bleak belief when trying to manage a broad spectrum of objectives.
“Pessimism is an investment in nothing; optimism is an investment in hope.” — Author Unknown.
There will be times where circumstances don’t go well as planned, and the leader faces the dilemma of motivating his followers to action or proffering solutions to the identified problem. In the face of troubling circumstances, leaders must stand twice as tall. In situations that make people panic, should the leader buckle under the weight and burden of the problem? Doing so will scatter those already looking up to him as a vector to give them some direction. This very purpose makes optimism a core leadership trait that everyone at the helms of the affair must cultivate.
Optimism is the super telescope that sees through the dark clouds of pessimism (i.e., the tendency to see, anticipate, or emphasize only bad or undesirable outcomes, results, conditions, problems, etc.). An optimistic leader sees the opportunity in every difficulty. That ability to see is the reason why a leader must become an optimist. The optimist must be able to keep their eyes on the prize. By so doing, they can guide others who don’t see the big picture.
“Pessimism is an investment in nothing; optimism is an investment in hope.” — Author Unknown.
Optimists are usually more successful than their pessimists’ counterparts because they see opportunities in every problem and instill courage in their followers rather than give up. Rather than seeing obstacles, they see opportunities. Instead of seeing the pains in a catastrophic situation, they see a pain point needing a solution. Optimists attempt to turn every problem to their advantage to create chances that everyone can benefit from at the end of the day.
Leaders must be optimistic in other to make full proof of the benefits of optimism. Leaders must embrace optimism as a trait that helps them carry the weight of responsibilities that come with the territory of being at the helm of affairs. Optimism is the oasis in the desert of negativity, non-progress, and pessimism. Hence, optimistic leaders are the metaphorical aquifers of institutions and organizations that keep all things green and productive. Accordingly, we can pellucidly say that optimism is a core leadership trait that all leaders need to their quiver full of features.
B. 15 Reasons Why Optimism is a Core Leadership Trait
The vital essence of leadership is to move forward. A leader should courageously lead his followers across obstacles and circumstances to a place of victorious progress. The fact we stipulate here ties into what Nicholas M. Butler, the American philosopher, diplomat, and educator, said that “Optimism is essential for achievement, and it is also the foundation of courage and true progress.” A successful leader must then stand on the core pedestal trait of optimism to forge forward with their followers.
“I believe any success in life is made by going into an area with a blind, furious optimism.” — Sylvester Stallone.
Optimism is a core leadership trait that leaders must imbibe because you cannot achieve anything of significance sans hope and confidence. The spirit of hope and faith is at the very nucleus of optimism. Building monuments for optimism is a norm. You don’t see institutions or organizations erecting monuments to the pessimist. Optimism is like the sun. It is a radiant source of light and power that dispels that dark shrouds of negativity. The leader that is an optimist is the harbinger of a can-do spirit and mentality. So, why is optimism a core leadership trait? Let us look at several reasons why it is so. Let’s go:
#1. Optimists are Innovative
Innovation is one of the greatest keys to the growth of any company. It is what distinguishes between a leader and a follower. Optimists don’t get too comfortable with the status quo. Their can-do disposition is what sets them apart. When others hesitate, they advance on the new ideas that create new opportunities and profits. They constantly come up with new concepts, new business plans, and strategies, bringing about innovation. Because of this, they are always open to thinking outside the box.
“Optimism is essential to achievement, and it is also the foundation of courage and true progress.” — Nicholas M. Butler.
Leaders who embrace optimism as a core leadership trait are always open to a new mindset, leading to new results. Because mindset is everything, a confident and positive one propels creativity, which is intelligence having fun. A new mindset is at the core of innovation. A new mindset thinks outside the box, which ushers one to discoveries. Old ways won’t open new doors, and optimism paves the part to creativity for those leaders that possess it.
#2. Optimists are Future Orientated Thinkers
According to psychologists, optimists are less susceptible to the psychological phenomenon known as the “Recency Effect.” The terminology means that the most recent experiences we go through are the ones that we are most likely to remember. We assume that these experiences will continue in the future. Carmine Gallo, a Senior Contributor at Forbes, establishes in “5 Reasons Why Optimists Make Better Leaders” that “Optimists see the big picture.” They are often immune to the recency effect, and they do so by seeing a more panoramic view of a situation rather than being narrow-minded in their perception. Pessimistic leaders can’t see a clear path ahead. They only see doom and gloom. Hence, optimism as a core leadership trait will battle the recency effect.
“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” — Winston Churchill.
For example, if a person keeps applying for a job and keeps getting turned down, there is a tendency that such as person will discontinue seeking jobs or going for interviews. They might be on the lookout for other means of employment (e.g., self-employment) rather than wallow in self-pity. An optimist is a big picture thinker and has a positive view of the future. They would not be looking at what is happening right now or what happened in the past. Leaders that are optimists look at the possibility of the great things that could happen in the future. They glue their eyes to what is ahead of them. The lookback momentarily via the rearview window to the past. They learn from the past, educate themselves in the present, and aspire to a greater tomorrow in the future.
#3. Optimists Go for Gold
Another reason why optimism is a core leadership trait is that optimists go for gold. They get to work on their strengths or talents instead of concentrating on their weaknesses. Optimists focus on what they do. They also focus on what they can learn to do well—call it their opportunity if you like. They focus on what they excel at, which gives them a competitive advantage over others. Optimists don’t concentrate on anything they aren’t. Instead, they highlight the areas of their strength. Leverage their opportunities. Improve on their weak spots, and watch out to eschew anything that is a threat.
“I am a stubborn optimist: I was born an optimist and will remain an optimist.” — Kofi Annan.
Optimists go for gold—they seek the best to win the prize. Based on the facts in the preceding paragraph, a great book that all my readers need to get and add to their book collection is Unearthing Your Latent Potentials: Discovering the Gems of your Subliminal-Self. Call it an optimists manual. I wrote this book to help all my readers to discover their strengths, leverage their opportunities, work on their weaknesses, and eliminate all threats. The Prairies Book Review wrote a great piece on it, recommending it to everyone in their statement, “Urgent and actionable, this passionate manifesto about the unlimited possibilities dormant inside all of us will be a welcome addition to any reader’s bookshelf.” Do yourself a favor, grab a copy and go for gold as an optimist.
#4. Optimists Avoid Negativity
Optimism is a core leadership trait because it allows you to sieve out negativity—that is, negative-minded fellows or pessimists out of your life. Optimists try all they can to avoid negatively adverse environments, people, and circumstances. Once an optimist knows a person to be a faultfinder or a chronic skeptic, who put in effort doing their very best to corrupt your mindset and thinking, optimists do their best to keep their distance. Doing this helps to keep only the most hardworking and positive-minded individual as part of the team and the negative Nancy at bay.
“People deal too much with the negative, with what is wrong. Why not try and see positive things, to just touch those things and make them bloom?” — Thich Nhat Hanh.
Optimists are responsible for keeping themselves, and their followers shielded from harmful or toxic pessimism. In the words of Michael Jordan, we should “Always turn a negative situation into a positive one.” Optimism as a core leadership trait cancels out the negative while bolstering the positive. A negative mindset is like deadly metastasizing cancer that you must eliminate, all things being equal. Inculcating optimism as a leadership trait helps leaders build a shield that protects them from negative influences, and they flourish in turn.
#5. Optimists Have a Winner’s Philosophy
Optimistic people always focus on the positive aspects of a situation. Their view of life is different from that of a pessimist—they have a winner’s philosophy. An Unknown Author once said that “As you travel through life, whatever be your goal, keep your eye upon the doughnut, and not the hole.” What does this mean? Optimists focus on the substance of the matter—the focus is on what adds paramount value. They don’t focus on the void and things of negative value. A success mindset is the terra firma of value.
“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” — Albert Einstein.
Hence, optimism as a leadership trait allows optimists to focus on what matters. Leaders as optimists have hope and believe in a better future. They focus on opportunities instead of obstacles. They understand what motivates and inspires them to live a successful and fulfilled life. Success to them happens first in the mind before it translates to physical reality. Negativity and fear do not belong in their world, and they see them as inhibitors to their success in life. They transform the obstacles of negativity become stepping stones to greater heights.
#6. Optimists are Problem Solvers
Optimists try to identify what they can change and take action, controlling what they can handle in the face of challenges, failures, and adversity. Pessimists cower at problems, while leaders that lean towards optimism take the horns of the raging bulls of difficulties that they face. Rather than seek an excuse to deflect a problem, optimistic leaders move towards the situation, looking for solutions in the process. Hence, they have a strong bias for action.
“Pessimists are toxic. I love optimists—and by that, I don’t mean people who are unable to see challenges. Optimists are solution-oriented.” Ivanka Trump.
Optimistic leaders also try to look for ways to control situations that are almost beyond their control. Why? Because they believe that no problem is uncontrollable. They are constant solution seekers. Optimism is a core leadership trait because it allows leaders to troubleshoot circumstances that they encounter. They are solution harbingers that You can accomplish great things if you decide to control the things you do have power over.
An optimist seeks to improve situations. They never want to leave a position as they found it, especially if it is contrary to the norms of efficiency and logical productivity. Instead of only analyzing the issues surrounding a problem, they always find solutions. Optimist leaders use a solution-based approach to inspire creativity and innovation.
#7. Optimists Lead from Within
Achievement requires optimism and actual progress, and you build exceptional leadership on the foundation of optimism. Optimistic leaders must “lead from within.” The phrase “leading from within” means leading with a cool, calm, and collected disposition. Optimism as a leadership trait allows leaders to lead from a position of tranquility—when everything is in a state of Brownian Motion or chaos; they remain level-headed while exercising a strong bias for action because they believe in the possibility of a positive resolution.
“I don’t go by the rule book… I lead from the heart, not the head.” — Princess Diana.
Leading from within as a factor of optimism as a leadership trait allows the leader to act rationally and not from a reactive standpoint. When tempers are flaring, and others are anxious, such a leader with this attribute is the calm that placates these emotions. Such a leader is the voice of reason that inputs logic and understanding in the chaotic situation to tranquility. Leading from within allows optimistic leaders to make decisions from facts, not from erratic feelings. Facts have no feelings.
Optimistic leaders who lead from within nudge them to make decisions standing on a neutral, unbiased pedestal. Confident and positively inclined leaders don’t take sides. They listen to all the relevant parties to gain knowledge and understanding about the matter from a neutral position and decide based on facts about the issue. They make their subjective suggestions after comparing parties’ positions to the absolute objective truth about the matter.
When optimistic leaders champion causes from within, they do so from understanding and not from a position of ignorance. They understand the status quo of controlling narratives. Doing so allows them to forge forward with their new and current narratives to move the pack forward. Optimistic leaders who lead from within have a great depth of self-knowledge—they know who they are, what they believe in, their knowledge, or general-purpose.
#8. Optimists Are Apt Communicators
Optimism as a core leadership trait is heavily dependent on the art of effective communication. You can have the best ideas globally; however, having those ideas is futile if you can’t communicate well. Optimistic leaders are intentional and positive in their communication. The keyword and adjective here that qualifies communication is positive, emphasizing what is laudable, hopeful, and of good intention. Pessimistic leaders can be deliberate; however, they often lean towards negative communication that dampens motivation and throws the wrench of skepticism into the wheel of their dialogue.
“As a leader, you must consistently drive effective communication. Meetings must be deliberate and intentional—your organizational rhythm should value purpose over habit and effectiveness over efficiency.” — Chris Fussell.
Optimistic leaders build camaraderie and community via effective communication. In the words of Brian Tracy, the Canadian-American motivational public speaker and self-development author, “Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.” Hence, optimistic leaders must embrace the art of effective communication in other to communicate their positive thoughts intentionally with meaning. The PsychCentral title, “Five Easy Steps to Better Communication,” is a great place to begin learning the art of effective communication.
Optimistic leaders can transfer their energy and motivation to people via effective communication. It also helps them create and keep long-term relationships. They use this tool to unearth the wrong notions that spawn from pessimism. Optimists are comfortable communicating and sharing their desires for a better future or better solutions. They choose to speak ab imo pectore while using data and facts to fortify the foundations of their said meaning.
#9. Optimists are Business Starters
An optimist sees opportunity where others see a closed door, pain point, or difficulty. Others see these variations as obstacles or impossible insurmountable boulders. In contrast, optimistic leaders see these as possibilities for something big. You can’t tell me that the likes of Jeff Bezos, Bernard Arnault, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, etc., are not optimists? These fellows and more not mentioned visualize the possibility of things becoming where others dare even to walk or dream. Their business empires are dominating the world today and creating business economies for the society at large.
“Starting a business is not for everyone. Starting a business—I’d say number one is — have a high pain threshold.” — Elon Musk.
Optimism as a core leadership trait is a hallmark attribute that helps mold the mind of business starters or entrepreneurs. For instance, when the economy is down, and unemployment data is rising, the pessimist uses those factors as excuses to stay still. The optimist refuses to let these macro-economic trends limit their imaginations. For instance, the CBS News report by Aimee Picchi establishes that “Billionaires got 54% richer during the pandemic.” It is their wits and optimism at work.
Nothing will dissuade them from creatively sustaining their businesses in tough times. Optimistic leaders are the maestros at leveraging pain points. Nothing prevents them from starting businesses that ultimately put people to work. Where others see obstacles, they see stepping stones. Where others see the speckled night skies, they see an opportunity for exploring a new frontier. That is the power of optimism as a core leadership trait—leaders who possess this trait move on to become great business influencers and entrepreneurs. Where others are afraid to take a step, optimists take a leap of faith in starting new business ventures.
#10. Optimist Behaviors are Infectious
Being rationally optimistic can be contagious. Outstanding positive leaders carry their followers along by displaying positive behaviors that become a significant catalyst of influence. As mentioned above, via good communication, promising leaders can communicate their intentions and mannerisms effectively that their impact and draw becomes organic. People naturally flow towards them. That is the draw that we see with great motivational speakers and personalities.
“A healthy attitude is contagious but don’t wait to catch it from others. Be a carrier.” — Tom Stoppard.
Optimists know that their behaviors and outlook will impact everyone around them, especially their followers. So, they try always to maintain a positive outlook. In the face of unfavorable circumstances, they remain optimistic. This positive outlook will, in turn, have a positive effect on the people around him. Promising leaders invest a lot in developing a healthy attitude, which can be pretty contagious. Sound energy is infectious.
#11. Optimists are Not Risk-Averse
Optimistic leaders are not risk-averse (i.e., the reluctance to take risks or tending to avoid risks as much as possible). An optimist is a risk-taker and is comfortable making tough decisions when it comes to it. We have seen the connection between optimism and entrepreneurship—optimistic leaders take risks to start business ventures and become entrepreneurs. Pessimists are risk-averse. Because of their skeptical viewpoint on issues, they often lean towards avoiding risks as much as possible. Great ventures are a function of risks. How will you know if you can or cannot do something if you don’t even try? From what Mark Zuckerberg said below, we can technically say that ‘failing to take risks is planning to fail.’
“The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” — Mark Zuckerberg.
Optimistic leaders accept the reality of failure and the possibility of making mistakes. Although promising leaders focus on productivity, excellence, and efficiency, errors are bound to happen. We are not at all perfect; we stumble at times. However, it should be a learning process in the journey of becoming our best selves ever. Optimistic leaders view failure or mistakes as an educational opportunity and a path towards progress. They see failure and setbacks as a part of life, as a part of the necessary process of becoming. So, optimistic leaders encourage their teams to learn from the situation quickly and move forward. The goal is not to make the mistakes a repetitive process. When the mistakes become redundant, then these leaders dig deeper to ascertain the root causation of the problem and the reasons for the failures to learn.
Hence, optimistic leaders don’t come barreling down always at their followers at the first instance of a mistake. That will send a shockwave of fear down the rank and file, making the organization risk-averse. Optimism as a core leadership trait is the root for creating a learning organization (LO) (i.e., an organization that continuously learns through its members individually and collectively to make a sustainable competitive advantage by effectively managing internally and externally generated change).6 Optimistic leadership plays a role in fostering the warm ambiance that bolsters the characteristics of a LO. Such LO characteristics are cultural values, leadership commitment and empowerment, communication, knowledge transfer, employee characteristics, and performance upgrading.6
We make the following reflexive deductions from the study of Yuraporn Sudharatna and Laubie Li that: Optimistic leaders foster a culture that continuously learns. A culture that supports its partners to try new things, whether success or failure, is the outcome. Hence, partners here are not risk-averse, encouraging an ambiance of sharing without retribution, promoting an enhanced sense of psychological safety. Optimistic leadership achieves non-risk-aversion via commitment and empowerment via the funnels of vacillating communication channels that give and receive. All this promotes the osmosis and diffusion of knowledge among employees and leadership alike. Optimistic leadership tracks all this to foster performance and efficiency.
#12. Optimists are Adaptable
Optimism is a core leadership trait because it makes leaders more adaptable (i.e., adjusting oneself readily to different conditions). Optimistic leaders are quick to respond and adapt to the situation at hand. Courageous leadership fosters an atmosphere of innovation and creativity in organizations, where people are not afraid to challenge the status quo and out-of-the-box thinking. The adaptability process creates the wiggle room for mistakes, as stipulated in the points and paragraphs above. It creates a culture of experimentation and risk-taking.
“To create an organization that’s adaptable and innovative, people need the freedom to challenge precedent, to ‘waste’ time, to go outside of channels, to experiment, to take risks, and to follow their passions.” — Gary Hamel.
Adaptability makes optimistic leaders very flexible. In the words of Mandy Ingber, a yoga instructor and a former actress, “No matter what twists and turns your life offers you, your ability to be adaptable and flexible will help you to stay open to all of the hidden gifts that difficulty may offer.” Hence, no matter the twists and turns or curve balls that life throws at the optimistic leader, they never take their eyes off the ball. They adapt themselves and adjust, shifting to counter the effect of the outside force. In Chapter Seven of my book, Unearthing Your Latent Potential: Discovering the Gems of Your Subliminal-Self, I allude to Le Chatelier’s principle of equilibrium. When optimistic leaders shift to adapt to outside forces that disturb their sense of balance, it is akin to what happens in this chemical principle.1
We cannot overstate the power of adaptability as a factor of optimistic leadership. Adaptability ensures versatility, longevity, and resilience. Promising leaders latch on this quality to go the long haul in accomplish greatness. Hence, should something go amiss, they will want to get their teams moving forward and back on track as quickly as possible. If teams make mistakes, these leaders will want to know what went wrong. They want to know what they can do differently to avoid making the same mistakes in the future.
#13. Optimists Embrace Continuous Improvement
Optimism is a core leadership trait because leaders embrace continuous improvement (i.e., incremental and breakthrough improvements to products, services, or processes). Optimistic leaders never want to stay stagnant. Continuously, they want to be developing themselves and their team. There is absolutely no room for stagnancy. There is an onward ever, forward ever mentality at play. Their ability t look ahead propels them towards giving their very best and motivating their team to achieve the same thing. The goal is to be better than they were yesterday.
“Strive for continuous improvement instead of perfection.” — Kim Collins.
Optimistic leaders leverage continuous effort as the fulcrum that allows them to make a difference. They lean on this as a way to unlock potentials in themselves and their teams. The goal, as the quote by Kim Collins, the former track and field sprinter from Saint Kitts and Nevis, establishes that the goal is not perfection. The goal is, therefore, not ceasing in becoming better daily. For optimistic leaders, you find the secret of their success in their daily routine. Hence, by sticking with it, promising leaders grow their strengths and that of their teams.
An excellent go-to model for optimistic leaders is the plan-do-check-act (PDCA) cycle. Once again, my book, Unearthing Your Latent Potential: Discovering the Gems of Your Subliminal-Self1, is a personal development PDCA cycle primer that takes you on a journey of discovery. What do you do with your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats after you discover them? You develop a plan (Plan-phase), act on them (Do-phase), monitor your progress (Check-phase), and keep acting on them if all is well, or go back to the drawing board if something is amiss (Act-phase). Optimistic leaders improve via the PDCA cycle.
#14. Optimists Reason with Uncertainty
Optimism is a core leadership trait because leaders reason with uncertainty (i.e., not definitely ascertainable or fixed, as in time of occurrence, number, dimensions, or quality). Life is full of uncertainties. There are many things that we are not sure of in life. However, we live through these indeterminacies comfortably, albeit with some apprehension. Valid reasoning becomes very problematic when the information at hand is uncertain. Our ability to reason under these conditions as humans are also known as probabilistic reasoning.2
“Exploring the unknown requires tolerating uncertainty.” — Brian Greene.
We can’t avoid uncertainty in our daily life. You don’t know if you will live the next minute. We are often unsure of what to eat, what to drink, and even what to wear. We are uncertain of the stock market. Making decisions usually involves uncertainty for leaders. However, to deal with these uncertainties intelligently, we must resent them well and reason about them.3 The ability to reason often allows us to determine what is happening in the world, how we should react to it, and how the world should behave. Uncertainties complicate reasoning and muddy the waters. We often adopt traditional reasonings (e.g., formal, procedural, or analogical) to make sense of things. However, uncertainties (e.g., noise, uncertain change, ignorance, etc.) can sometimes make formal reasoning difficult.4
Optimistic leaders are willing to go the extra mile through the sundry methods of reasoning with uncertainty. These methods could be symbolic, statistical, or fuzzy logic. Delving into each of these methods would be going beyond the scope of this piece. The summary is that optimistic leaders wish to shun every ounce of skepticism and go the extra mile to deploy unconventional methods to find solutions for themselves and their teams. In the words of Tim Crouch, an experimental theatre-maker—an actor, writer, and director, “Uncertainty is a very good thing: it’s the beginning of an investigation, and the investigation should never end.” The never-ending investigation is the hallmark of continuously improving the status quo, albeit the mechanisms for solution are unconventional via reasoning with uncertainty.
#15. Optimists Believe in the Power of Teamwork
Optimism is a core leadership trait because these leaders believe in the power of teamwork. Optimistic leaders don’t go it alone—they believe in forging ahead with teams. There is power and strength in collaboration. One person can only accomplish but so much; however, when you bring others into the equation, you multiply the chances of achieving more. In the words of Mattie Stepanek, an American poet who died at the age of thirteen, “Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” Teamwork fosters strength in the light of vision and purpose. It builds trust, which further builds speed.
“Teamwork makes the dream work, but a vision becomes a nightmare when the leader has a big dream and a bad team.” John C. Maxwell.
Optimistic leaders believe in the power of teamwork and do everything in their ability to build a functional and cohesive team. It does not take one musician to make an orchestra—you need a group of musicians to form a symphonic orchestra. The critical adjective of note here is symphonic. For a team of instrument-playing musicians to produce a melodic tune of note, they must be in sync, knowing their part and timing of when to play their role during the symphony. It does not take a bead of water to form an ocean—you need an infinite number of drops to create seas. It takes teams to build great brands, and optimistic leaders understand and live out this factor.
When a house operates in unison, it stands; however, a house divided stands no chance of staying together. An enemy might defeat one person, but two people can stand back-to-back to defend each other. And three people are even more potent. They are like a rope that has three parts wrapped together—it is tough to break. Pessimists, valid to their nature, are already skeptical about anything of note working. Hence, the purity of collaboration for the greater good of a cause is already tainted. Optimistic leaders embrace the benefits of cooperating. They understand that teamwork promotes the sacrifice of selflessness. It supports corporate accountability to the cause of success.
Optimism is a core leadership trait because leaders understand the value of leveraging the team members’ strengths. Every team member contributes something unique that makes the brand or organization a well-lubricated and cohesive unit. For instance, Oaekpost is my dream. However, from the drawing board, as I crafted this platform into reality, I knew that I could not do it all alone. The Oaekpost vision is beyond me, and my sole capacity to deliver cannot make what I envisage for this company a reality. I am now building a team of folks who believe in adding value to minds. Everyone on my team has their specialty. Our success depends on it. If you must gain a competitive advantage in your niche, you must cultivate optimistic leadership with teamwork as your pivot point.
C. Optimism Must Be Rational
In this piece, we have seen “15 Reasons Why Optimism is a Core Leadership Trait.” Despite all these positive reasons that this piece profers, optimism must be rational (i.e., it must be agreeable to reason, reasonable, or sensible). We must strike a balance on how we lead, with our hearts or with our heads. As a leader, you must have a metaphorical sieve of commonsense in your mind that helps you assess when things are going awry. It is a fact that optimism can pose challenges. Hence, we must exercise some sense of caution. On the web platform, Verywellmind, Elizabeth Scott, in her article titled, “What is Optimism?” highlights some potential pitfalls of optimism. Let’s look at them and then some more. Let’s go:
#1. Optimism Bias
As much as optimism is a good thing, there are times that we do not weigh the result of our optimistic choices carefully and rationally. Optimism bias is “the overestimation of the likelihood that one can experience good things while avoiding bad things. There is an underestimation of the risks of experiencing negative outcomes.”5 Although it is excellent to be risk-averse, optimistic leaders must also weigh the costs. While they should always focus on the positives rather than the negatives, they should never underestimate the risk of encountering a negative outcome. Don’t let yourself descend into the quagmire of despondency via a blind and stubborn optimistic outlook that is not working. If the strategy is not working, be humble enough to go back to the drawing board and re-strategize. Optimism must be rational.
#2. Poor Risk Assessment
Elizabeth Scott establishes that “When people are overly optimistic about something, they may be less likely to think about all of the potential risks and take steps to mitigate those issues.”5 For instance, a very recent example is the actions of the Trump Administration at the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The 45th President, President Donald J. Trump, was overly optimistic that the COVID-19 Pandemic would quickly pass. You can give him an A+ for sticking with his message. However, the facts in this scenario were saying otherwise. His administration started making efforts after the Pandemic ran away and became more challenging to manage, wreaking havoc with many deaths in its wake, a clear example of inadequate risk assessment. Optimism must be rational.
#3. The Optimist Pride
Here is an optimistic leader or person championing a cause and sticking to a message. As it stands, things are not going according to the presumed plan. The optimist pride prevents the leader from rolling back and re-evaluating the process and message. Their concern is much more, “What will people say? They will say I am a failure. They will mock the process and my message.” So, they stick to a failing message that eventually leads them to their doom. Pride goes before a fall. So, the optimistic leader needs to shelve their pride and go back to the drawing board and re-plan at this juncture. When it no longer makes sense, make a change. Optimism must be rational.
#4. Toxic Positivity
Can optimism become toxic? Elizabeth Scott establishes that “Sometimes people tend to overvalue positive feelings while ignoring or even repressing negative ones.”5 Being an optimist is fantastic. However, we should never invalidate the psycho-emotional feelings of people who are going through the eyes of the needle. Optimistic leaders need to have empathy to understand what others may not be encouraging emotionally. Your goal as a promising leader is to infuse a sense of hope and validation. Optimism must be rational.
“Toxic Positivity (noun): The overgeneralization of a happy, optimistic state that results in the denial, minimization, and invalidation of the authentic human emotional experience.” — The Psychology Group.
In the leadership sphere, optimism is profitable for coping, managing stress levels, reinvigorating physical stamina, and developing resilience to pursue goals and objectives. Optimistic leaders focus on the ‘good’ in life and are grateful for it. However, optimism becomes toxic when we ignore the ‘bad’ in life and suppressing the emotions that ensue. It is like missing a crack in a dam and not fixing it. With time, the gap will continue to grow until it causes the barrier to come crashing down if not caught and resolved timely.
There are times that we experience negative emotions, even in the leadership circle. For instance, optimistic leaders should be careful of suppressing the feelings of their followers. If there is resentment in the rank and file of their organization, then it is best the face is head-on and address it. Using positive speak to suppress emotions will only do more harm than good. A time will come when the emotions under suppression will explode and lead to more catastrophic ends in the organization. It is here that empathy has its way of helping to address these negative emotions. Optimism must be rational.
“Despite all these positive reasons that this piece profers, optimism must be rational (i.e., it must be agreeable to reason, reasonable, or sensible).” — Ogbonnaya Agom-Eze.
Other sources also highlight some of the considerations of optimism. In the title, “3 Times Optimism Does You More Harm than Good,” Amy Morin of the Business Insider posits some concerns of too much optimism. They are as follows: exaggerating the positives, being overconfident in one’s abilities, and overestimating your chances of success, are some matters that characterize too much optimism. We can go on delving into the various cons of optimism. However, it is evident that the positives of optimism far outweigh the considerations.
D. What is the Conclusion of the Matter?
Optimism is a core leadership trait that I urge every leader to invest the time to cultivate. Optimism is a call for us, for leaders to do better, and consider this piece to be that clarion call. Optimism seeds our minds with the seedlings of a can-do attitude, spirit, and mentality. In the words of Dylan Taylor, an American executive, and super angel investor, “There are really four ‘headlines’ for me: honesty, integrity, hard work, and what I call a ‘can-do’ attitude. You could call that ‘can-do’ attitude optimism, but it is not Pollyannaish optimism. Rather, it is a ‘we’ll figure it out’ type of mentality.”
“We should celebrate when optimism and hard work triumph over cynicism, lethargy, and fatalism.” — Sadiq Khan.
Similarly, this piece does not advocate Pollyannaish (i.e., unreasonably or illogically optimistic) optimism. We establish the need for leaders to embrace and cultivate the trait of optimism. However, we also advise that optimism must be rational—it must never be unreasonable or illogical. Leaders must approach optimism with an ounce of commonsense. We are wide awake here, talking about something sensible and practical that leaders can adopt to change organizations. Optimism is an investment in hope; pessimism is an investment in nothing. So, consider the time you have invested in reading this long-form piece as an investment in hope and value.
So far, this piece establishes fifteen reasons why optimism is a core leadership trait. First, optimists are innovative. They don’t get too comfortable with the status quo. Hence, they unleash their innovative and creative genius by thinking outside the box. Second, optimism is a core leadership trait because optimistic leaders are future-oriented thinkers. The recency effect does not truncate their vision—they see the big picture. They are the watchmen standing on the towers of their organizations and see the distance. They can see danger approaching from afar and can prepare their organizations for the onslaught of variations in other to secure a win. Third, optimistic leaders go for gold—they seek the best to win the prize. Fourth, they eschew the negative. Optimism is a shield that protects leaders who possess it from the rain of the arrows of pessimism and negativity. Fifth, they adopt a Winner’s Philosophy—they work towards winning consistently.
Sixth, optimism is a core leadership trait because it makes leaders into problem solvers. They don’t shy away from problems—they are solution seekers. They are leaders that continuously seek to improve situations. Seventh, they always strive to lead from within (i.e., leading with a cool, calm, and collected disposition). They are not erratic and do their very best to be rational always. Eighth, optimistic leaders are apt communicators. What good is it to have great ideas on how to improve your organization, and you lack the craft of efficient, communicative delivery? If you can’t communicate effectively as a leader, then you are just fooling yourself. Optimism will nudge you towards honing the art of your communicative skills. Ninth, optimistic leaders are business starters. They visualize the possibilities of things becoming, and they make it happen. Tenth, promising leaders have contagious behaviors. They will influence their followers to become their best selves ever in the spirit of productivity and profit.
Eleventh, optimistic leadership is not risk-averse—those that are reluctant to take risks never achieve much in life. How will you know if you can or cannot do something if you don’t even try? Twelveth, optimistic leaders are adaptable—they are apt at adjusting themselves to different conditions. Organizations are constantly changing. Hence, you need confident leaders to be the captains of your organizational flotilla. They will help you navigate and sail the forever-changing seas of circumstances. Why? They are adaptable; they can handle the pressure without breaking. Thirteenth, they embrace continuous improvement—they never want to stay stagnant. They always have a forward-looking outlook towards personal, leadership, and followership development. Fourteenth, optimistic leaders reason with uncertainty. They are constantly honing their craft of probabilistic reasoning as they face life and business uncertainties. Finally, the fifteenth, spirited leadership believes in the power of teamwork. You can’t go it alone—teamwork makes the dream work.
Optimism has a lot of solid points back it as this piece establishes. However, there are some considerations that we should note as we study optimism. The first is optimistic bias. Good things happen for sure. However, you must never underestimate the risks of experiencing adverse circumstances. Second, optimism that is not careful could make you neglect proper risk assessment. Third, beware of optimist pride. Stop concerning yourself with what people say. Doing so could nudge you to a place of pride and inaction. Remember, pride goes before a fall. Fourth, beware of toxic positivity. Don’t suppress negative emotions when they arise—deal with it head-on so that it does not fester.
As I finalize this piece, I read William Ernest Henley’s (1849-1903) poem Invictus and the last verse of this poetic piece speaks to my inner optimism. It says,
It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.
Optimistic leaders are the captains of the souls of organizations. They must:
- Mind their decks before any egoism. The matters of the many come first before the issues of self. They address all before they address themselves.
- Look to the considerations of their followership and organizations before their selves. They serve their ship altruistically.
- Embrace knowledge and rationality before making utterances to affect the status quo positively.
- Hold the power staff of veracity and will never allow the Balrog of Cant to pass. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set them free.
- Believe in the phrase ‘learning is earning.’ They learn, earn before they leap to action. Knowledge is paramount to the optimist’s success.
- Adapt to change over stasis. From the decks of the organizational galleons, they look beyond the raging Davey Jones Locker of the status quo.
- Believe the phrase, “more act less lag, more act less yap.” They don’t sit around lagging and yapping—they talk the talk but also walk the walk.
All these lie within the soul of the optimistic leader. Optimistic leaders are the captains of the souls of organizations, and these mantras should guide their sail.
“You really need to love something or someone in order to work hard enough to be very successful. You have to believe in something and have a certain optimism. Faith and optimism come from love.” — Maya Soetoro-Ng.
I can say with full enthusiasm that ‘I am a full-blooded optimist.’ My creed is that ‘I have hope and confidence in success and positive future. I expect good things to happen to me in all areas of my life. I am intentional about life and believe that all things are working together for my good. My future is bright—though I walk through the dark labyrinths of life, I always see the glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Negative happenstances will not crush me; they are only molding me to become my best self ever. Challenges are not obstacles; they are only stepping stones for my ascendance to greater heights. I am mindful. I am grateful. I am alive. I am a leader. I am an optimist.’ Make this your creed too.
- Agom-Eze, O. (2020). Unearthing your latent potential: Discovering the gems of your subliminal self. Ounioae Books.
- Aitken, C., & Mavridis, D. (2019). Reasoning under uncertainty. Evidence-Based Mental Health, 22, 44-48. Retrieved from Evidence-Based Mental Health.
- Halpern, J. Y. (2017). Reasoning about uncertainty. The MIT Press. Retrieved from Google Scholar.
- Huber, M. (2015). Reasoning with uncertainty. Retrieved from ranger.uta.edu.
- Scott, E. (2020). What is optimism? Retrieved from Verywellmind.
- Sudharatna, Y., & Li, L. (2004). Learning organization characteristics contributed to its readiness-to-change: A study of the Thai mobile phone service industry. Managing Global Transitions, 2(1), 163-178.
4 Moms’ Advice on Managing Motherhood & Career
Motherhood is a beautiful journey, and you can still live a life of purpose building your career for a brighter future. Four career moms share their advice on balancing motherhood and career. Would you please read all about it here?
Balancing motherhood and career isn’t a walk in the park. There are days you feel like you are being stretched in several directions as you try to achieve everything on your work “to-do” list and managing activities in your home. You want to have a great career as a woman, but sometimes there’s the mummy guilt. You want to be a great mother, and sometimes you may go hard on yourself for slacking on your goals. Most career moms have experienced this, and it is normal.
“I think moms put a lot of pressure on themselves trying to balance it all. It’s never going to be perfectly balanced—the sooner you know this, the sooner you can relieve some of the pressure you put on yourself.” — Denise Richards.
Motherhood is a fulfilling journey, but it can be overwhelming making the home and career happy, especially when you have a baby or babies that take up much of your time and attention. Sometimes we lose ourselves doing that, and we desperately look for answers. We look for solutions on how to balance both because our happiness matters too. The perfect work-life balance might seem unattainable, but you can still blossom in your career and your role as a mother. How is this possible? Let’s look at the thoughts of four career moms. Let’s go:
4 Moms’ Advice on Managing Motherhood & Career
It’s possible to have a flourishing career and family as you keep evolving in your life’s journey. No one says that our career should be the end of our family life or vice versa. It is possible to have the two and strike some balance in managing the pressures of the two. To achieve the two requires strategy and unflinching effort. In this article, four moms share how they successfully manage motherhood and career so you can get inspired.
#1. I Have 3 Simple Catalysts to Living an Unshakable Life—Mofoluwaso Ilevbare
Mofoluwaso Ilevbare is a Global HR Leader and Executive Coach. She’s also the Co-Founder of Trailblazer Femme that empowers ambitious women globally to live boldly in their unique voice, strength, and brilliance.
“My goal is to trigger a hunger for finding purpose, possibilities today rather than waiting till you grow older or retire.” — Mofoluwaso Ilevbare, The Guardian.
Here is her advice to career moms:
Mofoluwaso Ilevbare (MI): Firstly, I don’t separate motherhood from building a career. These are all dimensions of the same life. So here are three simple catalysts to living an unshakeable life:
#1.1. Build a life, then Career:
MI: I designed a life vision board that defines my personal and professional being. Define the kind of life you want to live, who you want to become, who you want to live life with, and then make career, relationship, and other life choices that move you in the direction of that vision you see for your life.
#1.2. Define Your Boundaries:
MI: Life management is more about energy management. Am I 100% present when at work and 100% present when at home? What are my values? What will I not compromise? Setting work and family boundaries have helped me to juggle the many dimensions of my life.
#1.3. Stop Trying to Be a Superwoman 24/7:
MI: One of the many mistakes career moms make is trying to do and be everything to everyone. We all have an area to occupy in the world and a mission to accomplish. Own your space and get help with rest. Save your energy trying to be a super mom and instead find ways to create more time for pampering yourself or spending quality time with your kids. Sharing the load with my husband, family members, friends, and many artisans makes life beautiful.
#2. Balancing Can Be Done—Tolulope Olorundero
Tolulope Olorundero is a global public relations consultant and board advisor. She is the Principal Consultant at Mosron Communications—a boutique public relations consulting firm working with B2B organizations across sub-Saharan Africa. She is also the Founder of Nigerian Women in Public Relations (PR), an independent social impact organization for practicing and aspiring PR women of Nigerian descent.
Here is her advice for career moms:
Tolulope Olorundero (TO): Six years ago, when I started my journey to motherhood, I could not have imagined the many sacrifices I would need to make—both for my career and my children. I recall, not so fondly, the anxiety and worry I had to deal with the days I had to be in the office and getting back late to pick up my son from the crèche.
“A solid support system is the only way to cope as a working mom.” — Tolulope Olorundero.
TO: After my second baby, though, I resigned. And I started my own company, a public relations consulting firm, from the dining table in my living room. Then I hired a live-out nanny. She would come in daily, clean the house, pick the boys from school—which was just a 5-minute walk from the house then. A solid support system is the only way to cope as a working mom.
TO: As the boys grow older, I continued building my business from home—managing staff and clients worldwide. They know when mummy is in her office—then she is busy. Once I close from work, though, I am all theirs. Work is not allowed to intrude during mummy-time. It is a balancing act, but you can do it.
#3. Envision the Kind of Life You Want, & Get Help When Necessary—Dr. Bunmi Akinkugbe
Dr. Bunmi Akinkugbe is a physician in public health practice in Atlanta, GA. She’s passionate about what she does and serves as a Lifestyle and Career Consultant for Immigrant women in professional careers. She helps them flourish via the platform Thrive in the US. She’s also the Co-founder of Trailblazer Femme (An Executive Hub for Career Women).
Here is her advice to career moms:
Bunmi Akinkugbe (BA): The term ‘successfully combining motherhood and career’ will be different for each person as everyone has their definition of success, and we’re all different. We also go through different phases of life. As the saying goes, “Life is in phases….”
“Life is in phases….” — Dr. Bunmi Akinkugbe.
BA: Here are my six tips to successfully combine career and motherhood:
#3.1. Prioritization is Key:
BA: Prioritize by giving attention to the needful at every point in time. When you are at work, focus on work. When you’re home, focus on the home. Try to limit distractions. Give undivided attention to the task at hand, even if it’s just for little chunks of time.
BA: The second tip is to practice “Essentialism” (NB. Book by Greg McKeown). The term means making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy to operate at your highest point of contribution. In other words, say ‘no’ to energy-draining activities and time wasters, so you can focus and say yes to what is more important to you.
#3.3. Incorporate Simple Daily Habits:
BA: Incorporate simple daily habits that help to run your life smoother and make things easy for you. In the words of Mike Murdock, “The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.” Embrace simple daily habits. These help you to set your rhythm.
#3.4. Establish a Plan:
BA: Establish a plan or structure to streamline your work and family dynamics. Planning can involve having routines and schedules. So that—for the most part, and at every point in time—everyone knows what they need to be doing—at the same time staying flexible to accommodate unforeseen circumstances.
#3.5. Solicit for Help When You Need It:
BA: Solicit for help from every avenue available. Have your partner or family members assist you with some things. Delegate to assistants. Surround yourself with a supportive network of friends and family. Soliciting for help applies especially to young moms—get a trusted nanny or sitter, cleaner, or support group that can help you.