Finding Ourselves in our Stories…

Finding Ourselves in our Stories…

Taking a quick, retrospective look at the things I’ve been privileged to learn in my few years alive, I can’t help but notice the incredible, formative power that stories wield…

Let me bring things a bit closer to home.

In the past 1 year, I vividly remember just about 3 of all the books I read. Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘Outliers’ and ‘What the Dog saw’ would be a classic case in point. If you’re familiar with Gladwell’s writing style, you’d recall the fact that he mostly recounts real-life experiences of people, remarkable or regular, and then he does something strange. Just as you’re about to figure out what the bottom-line of the story is, he leaves you in this unnerving limbo, which, in trying to make logical sense of what you’ve just read, your mind frantically starts putting fragmented pieces together, searching for some sort of meaning. The final arrangement of these separate pieces could have a thousand permutations, enough to create millions of unique narratives/lessons for each individual that reads his literature. I particularly remember sitting and staring blankly for about 20 minutes on my bed after reading the final chapter of ‘Outliers’. It was, to say the least, a revealing learning experience. And I still haven’t gotten over it.

Same thing goes with such books as Ofili’s ‘How Stupidity saved my life’, C.S Lewis’ literature and John Kotter’s ‘Our Iceberg is Melting’, albeit that writing styles are significantly varied from one author to another, first being lifestyle, second, Faith and third, business.

Now, where was I going with this? Okay… yes. I remember.

Well, personally, I’m highly of the opinion that this life we lead is just too complicated… interestingly beautiful… too magnificent… too diverse… and too flanked with constantly alternating, dynamic variables for anyone to claim to know it all… or as a matter of fact, claim to know anything at all – not to talk of flaunting our opinions as supreme or foolproof. Why? Because our experiences, situations, exigencies and configurations differ, and most times, do so by more than just a long shot. I, for example, would most likely live an entirely different life from some other guy who shares the same birth-date, time & place with me. Yes, it goes that deep.

So, all this begs one simple question – For anyone burdened with the highly indispensable role of knowledge transfer… a parent, teacher, writer, blogger, sibling or leader… what are the best ways to go about creating relational, interpersonal or social influence in a way that is void of bias and can relate to any target audience?

Well, I think the answer might be quite simple.

We need to tell more of our own stories.

Those real, honest, transparent and unbridled stories.

We need to be a bit more vulnerable, sometimes laying down our entire psychological line of defence… gently cracking open the oyster not minding whether there’s beauty within or not… We need to share the good, the bad and the ugly side of our stories, sometimes in reversed order. We need to, for once, get off our high horses and our incessant creation of make-believe mannequins signaling the flawed fact that we have everything figured out, or that the world works our way, or that we’re incapable of making mistakes.

Now, the creative outlets for these stories might differ – it could be a pen or a keyboard, a tongue or braille, across social media or across the dinner table… But if we look to make true impact, the message within our narratives need to remain the same.

So, what do I know? Well, I’m not sure. But here’s what I think.

I think we’re called to be a little less judgmental and self-sufficient – to be unafraid of coming across as ‘imperfect’, ‘damaged goods’ or ‘less than ideal’. And to do this, we’ve gotta tell our real stories, pacified with even the slightest glimmer of hope that in this brief journey called life, by sharing the very essence of what makes us ‘be’, we could, perhaps, find the very thing that we have been searching for all along…

Our true selves.

Take it with me…

In a land there’s a town…
And in that town there’s a house…
And in that house there’s a baby…
And in that baby there’s a heart I love…
I’m gonna take it with me when I go.

– JJ Heller.

Thanksgiving

I’d still give thanks…

Practice Being Unselfish…

Practice Being Unselfish…

Great leaders often have great egos, and therein lies great danger. In ‘The Empowered Communicator’, Calvin Miller uses the form of a letter to describe this problem and the negative impact it has:

‘Dear speaker, your ego has become a wall between yourself and me. You’re not really concerned about me, are you? You’re mostly concerned about whether or not this speech is really working…about whether or not you’re doing a good job. You’re really afraid that I will not applaud, aren’t you? You’re afraid that I won’t laugh at your jokes or cry over your emotional anecdotes. You’re so caught up in the issue of how I’m going to receive your speech, you haven’t thought much about me at all. I might have loved you, but you’re so caught up in self-love that mine is really unnecessary. If I don’t give you my attention it’s because I feel so unnecessary here. When I see you at the microphone, I see Narcissus at his mirror… Is your tie straight? Is your hair straight? Is your deportment impeccable? Is your phraseology perfect? You seem in control of everything, but your audience. You see everything so well, but us. But this blindness to us, I’m afraid, has made us deaf to you. We must go now. Sorry. Call us sometime later. We’ll come back to you when you’re real enough to see us… after your dreams have been shattered… after your heart has been broken… after your arrogance has been wrecked with despair. Then there will be room for all of us in your world. Then you won’t care if we applaud your brilliance. You’ll be one of us.’

 

Ref: The Word for Today; 19th April 2015.

For Paul…

For Paul…

There was something about Paul…

Maybe it was his blue eyes…

Or his humanitarian work.

His gentle smile…

Or his riveting talent.

His humble beginnings…

Or his passion for marine life.

His saviour complex..

Or the fact that he acted an entire movie in a car.

His high spirits…

Or his love for dogs.

His simple lifestyle…

Or his final curtain call in Furious 7.

His message…

Or the fact that on his last ride, he actually had just finished reaching out.

His individual strength…

Or the emotional roller-coaster his crew and brothers faced, acting without him.

The memories his movies bring…

Or the blend of ethereal soul in his beautifully-lyriced tribute song.

 

Well…

There are not many actors whose absence touched me like Paul Walker did.

And, now… maybe I know why.

 

We don’t have all the time in the world…

Make a difference today.

Sky Full of Stars

If you didn’t smile throughout Coldplay’s ‘Sky Full of Stars’ Video, your normalcy might need to be questioned…

A Year of Favorites…

A Year of Favorites…

I love the ambience that emerges at the end of every year… regular activities come to a weird, screeching drag… clients stop replying mails… sometimes, vacation autoresponder mails take their place… suddenly, people become all jolly and greet-y… fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters and lovers travel from far and wide back to the place called home, even though for a moment… things are all warm and fuzzy inside… people sleep far more hours than they could possibly dare on regular days… chickens dangle helplessly from the firm grips of passers-by… cheap fireworks light up the air… phones buzz with recycled and re-worded festive-season messages… the escalators in shopping malls resemble secondary school staircases immediately after a Monday-morning assembly… consumer goods retailers, entertainment destinations and eateries experience huge, upward sales spikes…

And the stories go on and on…

You know, people always advise that, at the end of the year, you’ve gotta sit down and take a long, hard, analytical look at the past 11+ months and figure out stuff… like what you did right… what you did wrong… what you could have done better and stuff…?

Well, I think that’s lame.

Just kidding. It’s totally necessary.

Anyways…

2014 has been an awesome year. It’s been a year of random discovery, new beginnings, hard lessons, bold steps, blinding reality, a number of firsts, weird laziness (I can count the number of times I jogged this year on less than 10 fingers), but generally, a year that could be greatly improved upon.

Although work was a major part of my 2014, I’d keep this post as work-free as possible… Maybe save it for later.

So, let’s see… what to talk about besides work?… *long, awkward silence…*

Yes. Favorites. In no particular order, here are my 2014 favorites:

Favourite song: Jeez. This is hard. I’d have to say no answer. Too much of a commitment.
Favorite video: Darwin Deez: My DNA.
Favorite artiste: Adam Young.
Favorite Animal: Guinea Pigs
Favorite Mode of Communication: SMS
Favorite Talk Show Host: Jimmy Fallon
Favorite Comedy Skit: Continental Breakfast (Key & Peele)
Favorite Traffic Radio Station: My 6-CD Changer
Most-visited Site: HBR
Favorite Movie: Edge of Tomorrow
Favorite Book: What the Dog Saw – Malcolm Gladwell
Best workout song: Man Up Anthem (116 Clique ft Lecrae, Trip Lee, Kb, Tedashii, Pro, Andy Mineo and Sho Baraka)
Indulgence of the Year: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Day Zero Edition; PS4.
Favorite Hangout Spot: The office (Yeah, it’s fun like that)
Most awesome experience: Travelling 5 Northern states in 3 days by road.
Most frustrating experience: Getting the new driver’s license.
Most inspiring Bible Verse: Romans 12:1
Best Movie Song: Atlas – Gone, Gone, Gone – Phillip Phillips (Amazing Spiderman 2)
Best Animation Song: I will survive (Rio 2)
Best Game Theme Song: Everybody wants to rule the world – Lorde (Assassin’s Creed)
Favorite Band: Switchfoot.
Best use of Synth Effects: Wolf Bite – Owl City
Best Old-School Artiste: Frank Sinatra
Best “I don’t know why this song keeps getting to me” Song: Just James – J Moss.

There’s a million other things, moments and experience I really loved in 2014, and maybe I’d update this list before the year runs out, but I guess that’d be all for now.

And finally, thanks for being part of my 2014. Yup, I’m talking about you. Yeah. You with the eyeball.

Thinking out loud about home cooking…

Thinking out loud about home cooking…

Just recently, while driving in traffic and flicking aimlessly through radio stations, I heard the most beautiful song ever. First, Olisa Adibua of Beat FM played a couple of Nigerian covers for the song, and then the actual song itself.

And the words got to me.

Anyways, contrary to my usual habit of writing down any of the words that I could pick up from the song to Google later on (that’s how I discovered a huge chunk of the songs and artistes in my playlist), I had the time to memorize just one phrase.

It turned out to be Ed Sheeran’s ‘Thinking Out Loud’.

So, I’ve rocked the song since then, and this evening, while running a Google search on Ed, I stumbled on the music video.

Awesome video. But that’s not what this post is about.

Before the video played, YouTube served me an ad. It was almost 5 minutes in length, and although I usually skip long videos, I stayed on this one a bit:

And it brought me to tears. The tears didn’t reach my face though… it just soaked my eyeballs… (this is my sorry attempt at trying to be manly).

Anyways, I really love the way video advertising is going. It’s gonna be a huge part of 2015. But it’s not just gonna be about selling products – it’s gonna be about selling a story… selling a dream… selling golden and irreplaceable moments… selling hope. At some point, the product would not matter anymore… not as much as the movement.

I mean… after seeing the video, would you believe me if I said Western Union sells just plain old, ordinary money transfer, right?

I’m just thinking out loud.

The Four-Pronged Pocket Square

The Four-Pronged Pocket Square

Indeed, I’d never look at a four-pronged pocket square the same way again.

Tuesday’s Terrible Traffic – The Timeline

Tuesday’s Terrible Traffic – The Timeline

Today, 6:07pm: Mostly due to the incessant rumbling in my tumbling, I recall that I haven’t eaten anything since morning, except for a Sausage Roll (Gala) that I forcefully stole from a staff after a client meeting, and the Cabin biscuits that I dug out from the office locker upon my return from the meeting. So, as the responsible body owner that I am, I decide to go get something to eat.

6:18pm: Walking along my office street leading into Allen Road, I decide to call a friend of mine to lay my burdens (of how hard it is to find decent talent in Nigeria) upon him, asking if he could help us scout for new recruits. I walk into the Allen Avenue main-road and see the usual, long evening traffic. Something seems a little off though – just a few cars have their engine running. Maybe just a coincidence. Still on the call, the network decides to misbehave. *** was at it again. I lose the call and use the next 2-4 minutes trying to reconnect, all the while pacing the front porch of the eatery that I’m gonna get chow.

6:23pm: I’m done with my call. On the other side of the road, the car engines are still off. I walk into the restaurant and order something rewarding – Two wraps of Fufu with Vegetable and Fish. No takeaway this time. I need some reflective, alone, non-office time –  just me and my chow. There’s no Malt, so I decide not to get any other drink.

6:30pm: Chomp. Chomp. Chomp. Down goes the chow. It isn’t microwave-warmed but who cares? Hunger knows no temperature. I absent-mindedly watch the Allen traffic. Nothing seems to be wrong. Then I recall the order of the cars I saw during my phone call – a black Ford Explorer, a Lemon-Green Toyota Camry, a Dark-Green Mini-Jeep (couldn’t catch the brand) and a Black Honda Civic. The same cars still sit idly there. “Maybe it’s just another happy coincidence,” I think to myself.

Then the dude in the Mini-Jeep steps out.

He starts stretching. Taking air. Roaming the tiny range between his car door and the demarcating road kerb.

I’m a slow eater (most of the time), so time flies, naturally. Nothing to entertain me but the random stretching dude and a bunch of static rides. I’m thankful that I’m not in that traffic, but then it starts to worry me.

6:43pm: Done with chow, I order a takeaway snack. The lady at the till takes forever to get change for me. No pressure, I tell myself. Inner peace… (it’s weird, but a fat Panda always comes to mind when I’m trying to fake inner peace).

Then I hear a rev of hope.

6:49pm: The rumbling of car engines. The inaudible and inexplicable aura of expectation oozing from the previously-frustrated motorists. And then they move! Yes, they move!! Finally!!! Yeah!!!!!.. yea… wait.

They move, but not for long. The cars screech sadly back to a halt.

Since I’m already a part of these guys’ reality show, I decide to estimate how many metres they moved. Gosh. I can categorically say that they moved the equivalent distance of the single pace of a bamboo-stick-legged masquerade.

Give or take, three or four complete rotations of their Goodyear tyres.

And they are back again. Stand still. The dude in the jeep, without hesitation, jumps out again. Seems he really loves the thrill of idle traffic. Or maybe that’s how it’s been for the past hour. The least he can do is revel in the moment.

Lagos Traffic.