What is worse than suffering?

Psst: I’ve moved. Visit me here http://streetsideconvos.com. Maybe the new blog will be for you. Maybe not.

I spent most of my childhood in a city that some people have called ‘particularly aggressive’ haha. Lagos is a very interesting city to be in. It brims with life and this undeniable sense of hustle which I already wrote about here.

Everywhere you go someone is fighting to stay alive. The young girl is hawking groundnuts and walking long distances on foot so she can get by TODAY. A loved one dies, we mourn and then we move on because we must still put food on the table and find a roof over our heads.

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Riding home in the keke napep. I prefer it to motorcycles lol

We don’t make excuses- we improvise instead. One day it was raining and I had to run an errand and I and my brother took a tricycle (keke napep) home. The tricycle rider had this improvised curtain thing that he threw over the sides of the tricycle so that he could still keep his business going even in the rain.

Life is so unpredictable so you have to be prepared- you have wake up earlier just incase there is traffic, it is flooded, or the roads are bad or something.

People are up as early as 4 or 5 to get to work because they want to beat traffic which is crazy in Lagos.

You go to the market, bargain for food, go to the gas station, buy diesel for your generator, turn it on and deal with the noise pollution because there is no power supply. By the time you come to the end of the day you are exhausted and ready to sleep and even then you may have to fight off mosquitoes if you didn’t spray an insect repellent or if you kept your doors open too late.

Get the picture?

Life is a struggle and that struggle is normal- nothing to complain about or blame anyone for.

You feel alive. You feel something and everyday feels new, and pregnant and promising and troublesome but fulfilling.

Then we come to North America or maybe another ‘developed’ country and struggle is not really something that is normal. You go through life pretty okay. Where your Nigerian counterpart would have to save money for months to pay cash for a house or a car, you just get a mortgage. Where someone else might be homeless if they lost their job, you could at least put it on the credit card for a while.

We become zombies. We can’t really say we are thriving but we are okay that’s for sure. Okay is worse than suffering. When you suffer you feel, and you activate that fighter in you. But when you are okay, anything that demands a little more out of you starts to seem like a chore and slowly your warrior instinct starts to die.

The instinct in us all for greatness and for survival is primal. Its raw and its intense and it can overcome anything.

Even in ‘developed countries’ everyone I have met who is truly fulfilled with their lives had a lot of fighting to do. They had to fight all the limiting beliefs and the resistance within, then they had to fight without- and stand up for themselves, stand up for their dreams and discipline themselves to get there.

So you can choose to be fooled by the illusion of comfort and numb down that warrior instinct in you but it is a dangerous place to be.

When you come to the end of your life how will you convince yourself that living a complacent life was the best of use of your time?

There are too many zombies in the world- thinking what others want them to think, living their life how ‘normal’ people live it, letting people talk them out of the future they came into this world to create.

But the instinct for greatness is in all of us and we must resist the complacency in our culture that keeps us too comfortable to act.

Feel the warrior instinct in you- the desire for more, the desperation, the zeal. Stop trying to numb it down, instead feed it. Guard it jealously and instead of discarding it from fear- TRUST that it will find expression. I think that is one of the noblest things to do with our brief lives.

“You get in life what you have the courage to ask for- Oprah Winfrey”

On that note I leave with you the broadway version of Fela’s Zombie 🙂

Happy Monday.

Ps: Join the conversation by leaving a comment. Is your warrior instinct alive and well, dying, or on the way to coming alive again?

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What they didn’t tell you about change

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My first week in Calgary- somewhere in Inglewood

If you know me decently enough you will probably know that I moved to the States recently. Please forgive me if I am behind on responding to emails or comments, its been busy 😉

Last week I met up with friends to say goodbye and it finally dawned on me that I would never call Calgary my home again. Next time I’ll come as a visitor and while I would still know all its corners so well, it wouldn’t be the same. Some people that I met in Calgary will go just like me. Everything will reshuffle.

While I have made so many major moves in my life, it seems that as you grow older you start to be more reflective about choices. It don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing.

Especially since I will be in Colorado for a while, I had those moments of wondering-  should I or should I not, will it be worth it? Don’t I need to just dig in my roots somewhere?

Am I sure? Really sure? Really Really sure?

While I don’t have an answer to that question, one thing I know for sure is that this year God has been calling me forward into that sense of focus that comes from trust.

Life only happens once so how could we be sure of anything?

We could never really be sure of every move. We could never predict if it was right or wrong, we can never predict how it will change us, we can never predict how it will work out, we can never predict how it will impact our relationships. The best we could do is trust and to die trying to follow that sense of calling that only us can really understand.

I knew those tears were coming eventually, I just couldn’t really figure out when. Its always been the same. It would start with apathy and just doing all I needed to do but my breakthrough always came after I cried it out, grieved that part of me that is dying and finally embraced that part of me that is reborn.

Even as I sorted through clothes figuring out what to take and what to leave behind, so would my emotions and personality and relationships be sorted out too, sieving out what’s not helpful anymore and strengthening new connections.

With every transition, whether it is committing to a relationship, moving to a new place, moving houses, welcoming a child or saying goodbye to loved ones who pass, that liminal space between one end and one beginning can be very complicated.

While we are told that its for good, and to be strong and to be excited, I think we also need to begin to say that its okay to not be excited. Its okay to not be sure. Its okay to grieve even when we are supposed to be excited about good news. Grieving simply means we are closing one chapter and in the same way letting a new chapter unfold.

So if you are like me and you have moments where you think you are supposed to be excited but find only apathy or maybe apprehension, remember that it is more complicated than that. Give yourself room to grieve. Then let go- and TRUST.

My tears are so powerful. After them I become ready to move on and start another new beginning.

in Stanley Park, Vancouver

How to find peace of mind- Change the locks

Have you ever had a great insight while sleeping? Image

I have. I did a quick youtube video to share an insight that has been on my mind all week.

It is on having peace of mind – something we could all use.

Watch it- especially if you are the creative, intuitive, analytical type- like me- haha

How to sell yourself better (7 tips)

Psst: I’ve moved. Visit me here http://streetsideconvos.com. Maybe the new blog will be for you. Maybe not.

So from running a non profit to business to meeting new people to successful  interviews etc  I thought I should share some tips I have learnt in selling myself. This is going to be one of the longer posts but it will have as much value.

First of all why sell yourself? 

When I talk about selling yourself, I don’t mean anything flaky or sleazy, I simply mean letting people see how awesome you are.

People have limited time, their own needs and so no matter how awesome you are, you may have just a short window of opportunity to leave a good first impression that can make or break an opportunity. In that sense we are always selling ourselves whether it is to get into school, to get a promotion, to get an idea going, to get a cause started, to get a proposal approved, to get a date, get a friend, get a mentor, to get support for a cause etc.

Good thing is now the barriers to entry are so low- you can make a difference or connect with people just sitting behind a computer. However since the barriers to entry are low, you also need to be able to stand out.  Here are some tips on doing that.

1) See yourself/cause/business/idea from the other person’s perspective

 A lot of times I have made the mistake of seeing things from my own perspective only.

For example, for our non-profit start-up, we first started off writing things very technically, forgetting that not everyone had the same technical background as we did or as much time. Eventually we learnt to write things not just from our perspective but in a way that it was easily accessible to others.

This applies to your idea, or cause or during your interview. You want to make sure that you are not caught up in your little world but take some time to put your third party hat on- what do your customers need? What does this person need from your services? What are they looking for and how can you make things easier for them?

This changes the way you communicate your story.  It makes you want to keep things clear and simple. It also makes you communicate from the stance of how the other person can benefit from what you have to offer instead of just how good you are.

People care more about themselves no matter how amazing you are and when you focus on their needs you are in a better position to get your point across.

2) What is the story behind the story?

The person who tells the best story gets to write history. Stories give us meaning and hope and help us understand. Our whole lives are a conglomeration of stories that lead up to who we are today, and when we are selling ourselves people want to know not just the facts and figures but ‘Why’?

Why is this important to you? What’s the heart behind the fact?

If you are really doing anything worthwhile to you I am sure you have a ‘Why’.

Perhaps you can wear it on your sleeve more often.

3) Add value

Why should someone have you in their life? On their twitter feed? Facebook friend? In their inbox? In their company?

How are you going to make someone’s life better for meeting you? Or from reading your posts?

Making yourself an asset to others means you actually have to make a choice to add value to people’s lives every where you go. Be an asset, be an uplifter, be a blessing everywhere you go. When you see something of value, share with people. When creating a good or service, make sure to go above and beyond in adding value to people’s lives. See yourself as an asset and a creator not just someone who is here to use the earth’s resources unnoticed and then go away. Let this change the way you interact on social media and in real life.

4)  Big picture thinking

Our culture operates on trust. And as you move further in a transaction whether financial, emotional etc people will keep unconsciously wondering, can I let you in? Can I trust you to deliver if I make a commitment? If you are taking people further along the commitment hoops can they come through and trust you to guide them without red flags going off here and there?

Whenever you are presented with any opportunity, always think about the big picture.

Instead of thinking sale, think building relationship. Instead of thinking customers think about how you can build a community around this shared experience or story or cause or product. Instead of thinking manipulating people into a sale think understanding people so much that they want to announce you and share your amazing work.

Be someone that cares.

5) Farm don’t hunt 

I was listening to a podcast on social media examiner where they talk about being a farmer instead of a hunter. A hunter just goes out in the wild to hunt game but the farmer takes the time to plant, water, watch, wait before harvesting. Same thing with our relationships. You don’t just want to go collecting things from people even when you have not invested in the relationship. Instead nurture relationships, be a friend, care about people and their dreams and goals and at the right time they will be more than happy to be there for you.

6) Be comfortable in your own skin

When I had an interview recently where they were going to select like 4 candidates out of over a hundred applicants, something in me told me I would get the opportunity. I felt like one of the key reasons why I would get it was I was just myself. I was able to see the people evaluating me as just ordinary people- I didn’t over inflate them or underestimate them. They were just people like me- imperfect but amazing – and I didn’t have to pretend or be nervous, I just had to be myself and connect to my heart.

No one is asking you to be all glossed up or perfect but you do have to be comfortable with yourself. One thing that helps is to see everyone as human. We are all special but don’t need to be overhyped or undervalued. You are just as amazing as your boss or whoever is evaluating you, and you can be yourself so you can connect with your heart instead of being nervous.

7) Have you noticed? 

Selling yourself is not really about you. Selling yourself is about being human and genuinely serving others.

Here are links to some people I have learnt a lot from in communicating better and serving others better. I will add to the list as I remember.

More resources: Michael Stelzner, Sandi Krakowski, Montina Portis, Seth Godin

Do you have any more tips? Do share below, and if you found this useful then be nice and share with your friends 😛