Starting and Finishing

Starting and Finishing

I had a camp crush.

Oh, Sorry. My apologies. Let me give you a little background information first…

I did my national youth service camp in a distant northern Nigerian state – A long, long time ago… Like, a really long time ago!

Background information over.

So, yes…

I had a camp crush.

You guys know how camp works now… 3 weeks of exhaustively routine activity. The least I could do was have a camp crush. Cut me some slack here.

Dark, slim and really pretty, she wore braids (well, almost all the girls in camp did…),  was extremely reserved and refreshingly well-composed (refreshingly, because a terribly huge percentage of the camp girls were just plain razz). She was in platoon 3 (I was in 2…) and she happened to be one of her platoon’s two ‘sub-commanders’ (I really don’t know the army lingo for that, but she was one of the two people leading her platoon’s parade group, apart from the platoon commander).

A year older than me, (well, more than 95% of campers were older than me… don’t be so quick to judge), she studied accounting in one of the most popular schools in Nigeria (and no, I wasn’t stalking her that badly – they usually announce the names, schools and birthdays of the platoon commanders on parade day).

She was a decent girl. Funny thing is, I don’t recall her name. How embarrassing.

Anyways, I always encountered my camp crush in a number of places throughout camp. And her behavior was always consistent and impressive.

Just the way I liked it.

But here’s the thing…

I never spoke to her. Or approached her. Or even heard her voice.

In my room (sorry, extra-large hall) of over 210 boys, only 1 guy knew about my camp crush. I think his name was Segun. I told him towards the end of camp . And I did so because he was in her platoon, and in my ‘grand scheme of things’, I needed him to help me do something.

A few days to the end of camp, I wrote a letter.

It was a simple letter… If I recall properly, here’s part of what I wrote:

“Hi there,
You seem like a really decent, well-behaved and quiet-spirited young lady (maybe a little too quiet sha)…
Keep it up.
BTW, your about-turns are really terrible. You should consider turning to the left instead of right for a change… 🙂 ”
– Truly, A distant admirer. (then I wrote the last 3 digits of my NYSC number.)

I sealed the letter with a stapler (heaven knows where I got that stapler from…) and gave it to my ‘alarina’ to help deliver it to her. So, he did. Well, I never really asked what happened, but he said she read it and smiled.

Later that day, my buddy, out of curiosity, asked me a question…

“if you like her, why not go talk to her?”

And my answer was simple…

“Well, I don’t like starting stuff that I can’t finish”

And that was it. I was over my camp crush.

Seriously, as much as it seemed like it, this wasn’t me chickening out or something…

The thing is, honestly, I already had someone back at home, and as much as the idea of getting involved with another girl might have, frankly, been fun (tsk tsk, men), it wasn’t really worth my time. Mind you, there was really no moral-high-ground-standing here.

It was just plain logic.

I think we’re all called to finish the things we start. And start the things we can finish. Along the way, things might not turn out as planned, they might turn out better, or worse… or maybe not even work out at all. But I think it’s still worth putting in the effort.

So, yeah, the lesson for today is really simple – start what you can finish. Simple advice.

Afterword: Yes, if you wonder what happened to my camp crush, well, nothing much. I have a video of the entire camp, and every ‘once in a blue moon’ when I watch the video, I always show anyone who cares to listen, who my camp crush was…

*pauses VLC player* “Yes, that’s her! That’s her!!!

You’re Not Alone…

You’re Not Alone…

I believe that the moment we realize we’re not alone… that single moment… turns out to be the most liberating discovery in the world. Suddenly, we don’t have to strive so much. In our imperfection, He is made perfect. In our weakness, He gives us strength. And yes, It’s Jesus I speak of. And He’s real. Very real.

That’s what I believe.

Need I say more?

Punctuationless Press Release: The Ram

Punctuationless Press Release: The Ram

And so I was passing by a flooded road earlier today and I took a sec to look at the surroundings around me and to my right was some random ram surrounded by 4 or 5 hefty dudes and the random ram was big and brown and looked really stubborn like it knew it was gonna be killed the next day so the dudes were dragging and pushing and trying to move the ram but the ram was like no one can move me ama stay here all day baby cos am planted firmly in still waters which was actually true cos the ram was like knee deep inside the water on the flooded road and the dudes were frustrated battling water and trying to move the ram but the ram became more stubborn and was not even looking at them but looking into the distance probably checking out another ram chewing cud and then one of the dudes decided to take it up a notch higher and brought out a long whip and started flogging the ram but the ram was like I was born for this baby you can beat me but you cannot bring me down you can scatter my wool but you cannot break my soul I am here to stay and I felt sorry for the 4 random dudes but then I had to keep moving cos I had a meeting and I could not let one random ram and some random dudes fascinate me so much to the point that I would actually park get down from the car and join the dudes in the struggle against the doggedly stubborn intensely passionate and dedicated white but now turned brown ram

The End

Face The Sun

Face The Sun

In time, all the flowers turn to face the Sun.

Grateful

Grateful

I spent the majority of last week basically lazing at home, repaying nature (whom I cheated pretty badly) and listening to Asa’s latest album ‘Bed of Stone’. The song that earned most of my replays was ‘Grateful’, for many reasons. Firstly, I just loved the song – her creative mix of Yoruba and English, the whole calmness to it… the way she integrated mainstream worship songs. And the jumpy, change-in-tempo ending of the song? Priceless.

But most importantly, what struck me about the song was its message – “You don’t have to wait till you feel the pain. You can start right now… It’s not too late to be grateful… “

Well, the past few days have not been particularly pleasurable, as my body finally demanded payback for all the beatings I had put it through. Let’s just say I’m more than happy to be hale and hearty again. But I learnt a few particularly good lessons along the way.

So it didn’t really come as a surprise, when, the first time I logged into Facebook after recovery, I saw that a good friend of mine had asked me to participate in a “7 days of gratitude” challenge (this one doesn’t involve buckets, so put your buckets down, please. Thank you).

So, for the next few days, I’d be documenting anything and everything that I happen to be grateful for.

Well, today, I’m particularly grateful for life.

For second chances and the million other chances you get after that second chance.

For those days you wake up beaming from ear to ear. Clueless as to why you’re that excited.

Most importantly, for those random moments – Stepping out for fresh air and the weather happens to be just perfect… or resting on the shoulders of a loved one… holding them closely in your arms. Hearing one of your favorite songs being used in a DSTV advert. Being tapped by someone to help him cross the road. Or realizing that the last time you actually sat down to watch TV was during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and now, the next time was more than 5 months after, during another World Economic Forum in China. Or sitting in the courtyard, covered with a bed-sheet, composing a blog post, while the clouds get heavy, the smell of the neighbour frying plantain is in the air… and you feel the wind against your back. And the million other moments of serendipity in each and every day of life.

To me, the random moments are what make life truly beautiful.

And for these, I’m truly grateful.

There’s so much to be thankful for – Josh Groban

This isn’t the end…

This isn’t the end…

As you might know already, Adam Young might be the only artiste in the world that I know the lyrics to all his songs. That, in itself, should speak a whole lot.

Well, this song came out a few days ago, and I thought to share it with you. It speaks about love, forgiveness and hope in the midst of pain. Most importantly, it signifies the role of a father.

Everybody. Dance. Now. A Simple Lesson in Leadership.

Everybody. Dance. Now. A Simple Lesson in Leadership.

Caveat: If you’re using a PC, please use an earpiece. Today’s lesson comes with a song ☺

In the past few months, along with my business partners, I’ve been privileged to lead an expanding team of young people, and one of the most vital lessons I learnt along the way, apparently, was from the song “Everybody Dance Now” by C & C Music Factory.

Old school stuff.

You guys should know the song. Few words used. Mostly incoherent (in the actual sense of the word). A Techno-ish beat. Some screaming woman melodiously demanding for “The Music”.

Caution – This song might make you want to move your body.

But anyways…

As a leader, most of your time would be spent on giving instructions to those who (are crazy enough to) believe in your dream by working for, or with you. And if you look closely at the title of that song, it sums up the 3 most important factors needed in giving instructions:

Everybody: This word indicates generality, but for the purpose of this lesson, let’s tweak it a bit to signify specificity. As a leader, every instruction you give must be assigned to a specific person, or a specific group of people. That way, if things go south, everyone knows whom to hold responsible. In the same light, if things go perfectly well, you know whom to appreciate.

Easy lesson, right? Maybe. But in real life, it’s much easier to just throw instructions into the air, and hope that someone would be pro-active enough to catch and execute it. That almost never works.

Next up…

Dance: Instructions must be clear and concise. I mean, how clearer can the instruction “Dance” be? (I know there are over a million dance steps you can ask them to do, but just… stay with me here). Try as much as possible to explain, very clearly, what you need that person/group to do, and then eliminate any grey areas that might affect the execution of those assigned duties.

Now: Instructions must have a timeframe. A clear-cut timeframe for execution. This timeframe must be followed up very closely… almost vehemently. If not, it would never get done. Why? You might ask? It’s because things are easier left undone. Sad truth. Have you ever noticed, if you have a faulty electronic device (a shaky phone charger or adapter for example), that it seems like the device is more comfortable when it’s off? But in order to switch it on, you have to bend it a little here, and hold it down there, and steady the device a bit, before it finally comes on?

Yeah. I know. It’s annoying. I feel your pain too.

Lastly, instructions must be followed up. Not in some boring kind of way (a la the carrot-or-stick method), but in an innovative way. Test different methods of following up instructions. Find out what works. And don’t be afraid to shake things up a bit.

But, in getting people to get things done, never, ever step on people’s heads, or treat them like slaves.

Never. Never. Ever.

Now. Everybody. Dance.

Stunt Doubles

Stunt Doubles

Yesterday, I went to the movies with a special friend. After much coercing and a little concession, I got to choose the movie we’d watch. And trust me, the last thing I’ll choose to spend 2 hours on is a chick flick. I’d rather go for movies with things flying around.

So we saw The Expendables 3.

In a nutshell, it was awesome. Even after delivering on its promise of things flying around, it was much more. Blazing guns, flying knives and close-up shots of popping muscles, the whole crew was on point. Gibson, Ford, Crews, Statham, Stallone, Banderas, Li, Couture, Snipes, Schwarzenegger, the fighting lady and the younger crew… everyone was simply awesome.

And as much as I’d love to go on and on about the movie itself, where I picked today’s lesson was, in what seems to be a twist, the movie credits.

I’m rarely in a rush to run out of the hall when the credits are rolling, as, you all know, these movie people, most of the time, slip in some sort of epilogues and cameo appearances in there (a la Thor 2, Captain America: Winter Soldier, A million ways to die in the west… etc.). Also, I’d rather not bump into people battling glare and trying to find their way down dimly-lit stairs on their way out of the cinema hall.

So we just sat there.

Each character was re-introduced with special effects… For example, Terry Crews, in his usual boisterousness, held a gigantic gun (that looked like it was supposed to be attached to a Humvee/Helicopter) as if it was a handbag. Everyone else was featured with some special scene from the movie as well.

And then the credits started rolling. So we figured… maybe there’s no extra scene in this movie after all. So we got up to leave.

As we were leaving, my eyes caught something in particular. Something, surprisingly, I’d never seen in movie credits before.

Stunt doubles.

Each major character had a stunt double. Well, from my little understanding, a stunt double is someone, usually a trained professional, who does most of the dangerous stunts you see the actors doing. So, for example, when Antonio Banderas was free-running (jumping) down a building, trying to impress Stallone, he most likely wasn’t the one actually doing it, but his stunt double.

Besides, these guys are like, really old. They had to have doubles.

But I digress.

And that got me thinking…

Throughout the movie (the part that people actually watch), you never see the face of the stunt doubles. Just the actors. Most likely, these guys do more strenuous work than the actors themselves. But in the end, the actors take most of the glory. Not too fair, right? But you know the funny thing?

That’s how it was meant to be.

And then, I figured out something…

Our relationship with God is also quite similar to the above-stated analogy. We are here on earth, battling the elements of life… making the tough choices… pulling the stunts… crisscrossing the terrain… roaming the range… doing the flips… and getting our hands dirty. But in what would seem a little strange and less-than-logical, in the end, we’re to give God the glory. All of it. We are to be satisfied with the world looking at us, and instead of seeing us, seeing Him. Even more, we shouldn’t be bothered when all they see is Him – and none of us. Why is this, you might ask?

Because that’s how it was meant to be.

Boy, is it a long and humbling process.

“Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” – 2 Cor 10:17

Stuff I’ve learnt growing older

Stuff I’ve learnt growing older

I drafted this post about 5 months ago (on my birthday to be precise), but never really remembered to post it till recently.

Growing older, I’ve learnt a whole lot (naturally). And once I turned a year older, that seemed like the perfect opportunity to share a few lessons that have really stuck. My first intention was to make a list that correlated with my age, but on second thought, I settled with listing out just 14 points. It’s obviously not an exhaustive list, but 14 seemed like a pretty justifiable figure. So, here are a few things I’ve been privileged to learn in my little life here on Earth:

When there’s life, there’s hope: Whoever came up with that quote was clearly on a roll that day.

Babies are cute (most of the time): And they have no worries (well, for most of the time too). If that’s reason enough, then let’s strive to make the world a better and healthier place for the new babies coming into the world, if not for anything else.

There’s a compulsion to walk: At some point in the life of a baby, it just gets tired of crawling… then it starts walking… then it falls… then stands up again. Then it starts screaming at people who pick it up for too long… because it just want to get down and… well, walk some more. Respect the growth process, but never stop moving.

A Social Media Tip: Don’t use Social Media to vent your anger. In my opinion, neither should you use it to vent happiness. In short, stay emotionless for most of the time. if you’ve got an ulterior motive for tweeting, blogging, posting a status update or uploading a picture, just sit there and do nothing. The feeling would pass. Share your deep feelings with close friends, family and loved ones instead.

Sometimes, Drastic Steps: In the movie ‘Family Weekend’, Emily was so frustrated with the ‘dysfunctional’ in her house that she had to ‘kidnap’ her parents and, well, deal with them. It wasn’t easy for her, but they were all better for it. Besides, the song by Katie Herzig at the end brought a tear or two to my eyes. But that’s another story entirely.

You’re not Indispensable: Don’t let anyone tell you that you are… or that they can’t do without you. Or their life would be incomplete without you. If they do tell you, just smile. Don’t believe it. It might be difficult at first, but people would always move on. They’re built to move on. We’re all built to move on. And that’s the basic truth.

Carry the World: Dedicate yourself to a cause much bigger than yourself. It’s what makes life really interesting. Every other thing is, quite honestly, just survival.

It’s hard to let go of the past: Past glories… past failures… it’s hard to let go. But we really do not have a choice but to let go and move on. I’d argue that Nature agrees, as it’s actually quite difficult to walk backwards for a really long time. So, keep moving forward.

Stay Focused: Have your main goal… and let everything else be secondary.

Work Hard: There’s still no substitute for sweat equity.

Work Nimbly: Learn to be adaptive to change. With the shocking tales of the once-been behemoths turning irrelevant within a surprising period of time, it seems like the world is moving faster than anyone can fathom.

Put action to your words: The world is filled with too many people talking… just talking; too many free-readers arguing at the newspaper stand… too many unfulfilled promises and overpromises. It’s a long and humbling process, but we need to learn to walk our talk.

Let your words be Life: Expletives and poorly-thought-out speech, as much as they seem ‘hip’, won’t do much for those listening, as well as for those speaking.

Lead Right: A mentor of mine recently told me, that “True leaders live in the future. They only come back to the present to carry everyone along with them.” Naturally, that got me thinking… ‘how possible is that, to constantly live in the future?’ And I figured something out. It’s not the easiest of things to do. But if I’m not ready to lead right, there’s no use in starting in the first place.

Socks

That seriously annoying, but obviously helpless moment when you’re about to leave for work, and you bring out 8 different socks – But none of them are a match.