So it’s the end of the month again, the time when I write an article and ask people to read it. (I’ve come to accept the humility required to be a writer). Anyway, I thought about my contribution to the month of March and the temptation to write something about growth and its correlation to spring was strong; a New Year’s Resolution refresher course of how it’s never to late to change. But I digress.
Over the last three weeks, I attended a leadership course here in Lagos and between the characters I came across, the feeling of going to school all over again, and note passing (business owners used this as a marketing medium…swimming instructors, event planners), I learned enough to want to share something on here. While it’s impossible to distill a three week course into an article, I intend to leave you with 5 points on what it means to live a life of excellence in our (less than excellent) country. Before I start, I’ll provide the definition of what I refer to as “excellence.” From what I have learned, it is a state of mind that requires the constant effort of being the best person you can be; this spans from the way you treat yourself to the way you treat others.
I’ve spent majority of my life comparing the difference between Nigeria and other (more developed) countries but it never dawned on me to create my own standard of excellence. Regardless of the state of my country, I am responsible for my role in society. So please stay on this tab and let me know what you think 🙂
1. Get your act together. When I started writing these articles, I made an effort to avoid sounding like a broken record or coming off as preachy. I’m beginning to see how important it is to do background work before declaring something to the world. For 3 weeks, I listened to people from different backgrounds (finance, legal issues, counseling, business, ministry etc) and they were able to leave an impact because they were well-versed in their field. Getting your act together just means dedicating time to yourself. Read more books, attend more conferences, learn to set quiet time for yourself to mediate. This will lead you to new insights that will, hopefully, change your perspective on the type of impact you would like to make on the world.
2. Develop a plan. It’s all nice and dandy to have a vague idea of what you would like to do (e.g. change the world, be a leader etc) but you’ll need a plan. It means setting your priorities straight. There’s a quote by Dorothy Canfield Fisher that captures this point: “If we would only give the same amount of reflection to what we want out of life that we give to the question of what to do with two weeks’ vacation, we would be startled at our false standards and the aimless procession of our busy days.” Amazing, but true. Changing the world is very possible if you first start out with a plan. Set goals and objectives for your time on earth.
3. Act. A point that stuck with me during this course was the fact that Nigeria has problems and, with this, the opportunity for problem solvers to come to work. The big picture is daunting but when you approach things from your point of view (the value you would like to add), life is a breeze. For example, ignorance and illiteracy are problems that writers and filmmakers can also solve. We’re all teachers in our own right.
4. Get back up. Setting a plan is useless if you haven’t figured out how to be flexible. Plans only work if you know how to adapt them. Most successful people today point out that failure is inevitable and the wisdom gained from the lessons learned propelled them to success. Are there times you want to throw in the towel? Times when traffic, temperamental electricity and corruption stop you in your tracks? Stand up and walk to your prize. Henry Ford once said: Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal. Get back up and be focussed.
5 Lead by example. Very early in the course, it was established that majority* of our leaders in the political sphere were not role models. So what happens when you have no one to look up to? Or when bad examples are set before you? Some people give up on the whole system, while others follow the bad footsteps. I’m here to say that your choice begins with you. Leading by example is not acting like you are the next Obama or forcing your ideals down other’s people throat. It’s coming to terms with the person you are and developing the light within you. It is getting help when you need to and helping out when you can. Commit yourself to excellence and people will be drawn to that.
*there are also a number of public figures who have set a good example!