The Holy Book says that knowledge puffs up. However, knowledge also appears to be a cure for pride.
I met a middle level Police woman recently. Through her, I’ve met about 6 other Police officers (Nigerian Police) who are admirable, respectable, well-comported, and forward-looking. It felt unbelievable.
One of them has read “all the books.” In fact, the next time I see him, I’m going to confirm that we have the same mentor. One is a knowledgeable lawyer. Another is young and beautiful, with nice make-up. One is gallant; he successfully single-handedly put armed robbers to flight after his colleagues fled the heat!
When I could stomach the glaring disparity anymore, I asked why there was so much humility and friendliness at this level of the Police force as against the abrasion one normally experiences with the Police generality.
Without batting an eyelid, my friend replied, “Knowledge!”
She pointed out that those officers we generally encounter and dislike are usually the most junior in the force and that they have been told how much powers they have as representatives of the Government. The knowledge of this power puffs them up and makes them abrasive.
However, at her level, they have come to realise that the greater part of life is outside the uniform. Hence, though they are probably more aware of the authority of a Police officer, they have learnt to be first a man or woman, then a Police officer.
In corroboration, one of her colleagues told of a trip he needed to make for the burial of his dad. Unfortunately, his car could not do the long distance. However, a new civilian friend lent him a car for the trip. He prides himself in the fact that he has never tortured anyone in his long career–not even those he charged to court. He says that everyone cooperates when treated with respect.
Well, that’s the lesson: more knowledge reveals our ignorance and weakness to us–that should make us more humble.
Looking at the Nigerian Police again, reorientation is ongoing at all levels. And with what I have seen, I am hopeful!
The 2016 Rio Olympics have come and gone but the stories and after-tastes linger. Usain Bolt is celebrated for his triple-triples (3 gold medals in 3 successive Olympics). The video of the transformation of Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time is now popular. It shows how reconciliation with God can set one on the path of peace and happiness. If a much celebrated Olympian could fall apart, many people can!
However, even as a celebrated swimmer, Phelps began preparing for Rio in 2014.
The Nigerian Olympians made the news. Their outfits were not ready, hotels were not booked, flights were not arranged. The event must have come as such a terrible surprise. The participants were largely self-trained, self-motivated, and self-sponsored. The soccer bronze medal “against all odds” earned the team the applause of the world.
The Kenyan representatives, after 6 gold, 6 silver and 1 bronze, refused to enter Kenya with a triumphant entry: the event management was a historical flop for them. It is reported that some of the government officials in charge have been arrested.
An African president was said to have ordered the arrest of his participants at Rio. Would you consider it a surprise to find Nigerian names among the representatives of Bahrain then? Or to find that most of the representatives of the Arab nation were Africans?
For some years, I kept wondering what the best definition of success could be. Cars? Houses? Vacations? Or high-handed indulgence? Then I heard this from Sam Adeyemi, “Success is the achievement of goals!”
“Wow! So simple; so meaningful!”
If you have no goals, you would not be able to call any achievement a success!
I was fine with that till I heard Sam Adeyemi’s mentor, David Oyedepo, “Success is the achievement of goals in succession.” He explained that if your goals do not grow, you cannot be successful. That means that if I set a goal to earn $100 monthly and I leave it at that forever, achieving it may not be called success after some time. After all, the gnawing effect of inflation ensures that yesterday’s dollar is always stronger than today’s. Or shall we call the Nigerian soccer team a success for winning bronze 20 years after winning gold?
If we could follow the national teams for the next two years, we would be able to tell the successes of the 2020 Olympics long before the games begin.
Some nations will begin preparation immediately. They will provide training facilities and place their athletes on salary–no man goes to war at his own expense (1 Corinthians 9:7). When they hold their national celebrations, their President would set new goals for them: x gold, y silver, z bronze!
Looking beyond the nations, in our individual lives we need to work out our success too!
– Set growing goals
– Prepare all it will take to achieve them
– Do not wait for luck
“MEN OF ACTION ARE FAVORED BY THE GODDESS OF GOOD LUCK” ― George S. Clason, The Richest Man in Babylon
I think most people knew only of Muhammad Ali’s shows, not his real life.
Some of his statements that made great impression on me are these:
- When I look at the world, I see that many people building big beautiful houses but live in broken homes. WE spend more time learning how to make a living than we do learning to make a life.
- Throughout my life, I never sought retribution against those who hurt me because I believe in forgiveness.
- Why not hold a competition of love instead of one that leads to jealousy and envy?
- One person with knowledge of his life’s purpose is more powerful than ten thousand working without that knowledge.
- Each time I thought I had achieved my life’s purpose, I discovered it was only another step in my journey. I thought boxing would help me be that public Black role model who was missing while i was growing up. I thought my purpose was to be that hero who showed children that Black is beautiful. I thought my purpose was to be that champion who showed White people they couldn’t treat Blacks like second-class citizens. I learned that all of these accomplishments were important, but even moe important, I gained a platform that allowed me to carry out my real mission, which has been to encourage all people to respect each other and live in peace.
- I just stood there as I watched Sugar Ray Robinson turn his back on me and walk away. Although I felt hurt and let down, I decided that I wouldn’t let my disappointment get the best of me. I was going to be different when I became a great boxer. I would be the kind of champion that fans could walk up to and talk to. I would shake their hands and sign every autograph, even sign some autographs in advance so that when I Was in a hurry, I could still hand them out to people assuring everyone went home happy.
- I looked at my gold medal and said to myself, I’m the champ of the whole world, and now I’m going to be able to do something for my people. I’m really going to be able to get equality for my people.”
- At that time, I chose to join the Nation of Islam, which promoted Black pride and independence. When I became a member, I was fighting for equality and Black pride at the same time.
- Even my own name, Cassius Marcellus Clay, wasn’t really my own. Cassius Marcellus Clay was a White man from Kentucky who owned slaves. So I was named after a slave owner, and to me, my name represented hundreds of years of injustice and enslavement.
- Why should we keep trying to force ourselves into white restaurants and schools when White people didn’t what us? Why not clean up our own neighbourhoods and schools instead of trying to move out of them into the White people’s neighbourhoods?
- My fighting had a purpose. I had to be successful in order to get people to listen to the things I had to say. I was fighting to win the world heavyweight title so I could go out in the streets and speak my mind.
- I was too busy selling tickets, playing around, and trying to promote my fights with my greatest asset–my mouth! I never took the verbal sparring seriously. It was all showmanship, which I learned from one of the best, Champion Wrestler Gorgeous George.
- I talk to God every day. If God is with me, no one can defeat me.
- What gives a person the strength to stand up for a cause, remain strong on the battlefield, endure all that may come in life? What gives us the power to have patience and the will to endure? It is the heart.
- Some people are so decent, loving and compassionate that the purity of their heart is almost visible. Some people have to struggle a little more to make these qualities a part of their being. Some people have to really work at just being civil. Some people seem to work at hardening their hearts so that even the least bit of compassion or love won’t scoop out. I think though that everyone has the capacity for love, kindness, and compassion.
- Giving because you genuinely want to help a person or a worthy cause while remaining anonymous is true charity.
- True success is reaching our potential without compromising our values.
- Success is not achieved by winning all the time. Real success comes when we rise after we fall. I am grateful for all my victories, but I am especially grateful for my losses because they only made me work harder.
- Jimmy ‘s death was a powerful lesson in the midst of all the activity and preparation for my job–a boxing match–of how fragile and precious life is. We must always be mindful that each day is a gift from God that can be lost at any moment.
- You don’t really lose when you fight for what you believe in. You lose when you fail to fight for what you care about.
- Suppose a man told you that he had seen a big factory where everything was running smoothly, without any owner or manager. Suppose he insisted the factory had been built all by itself, that even the machines had just appeared out of thin air and were now running like clockwork, producing wonderful products. Or would you believe that an electric bulb could generate light all by itself? Could even the great philosophers convince you that the fabric from which your clothes were made had not been woven itself? f we find the examples unbelievable, how could we possibly believe that the universe works so precisely without a Creator?
I think I read somewhere that Muhammad Ali said that anyone who believed his showman statements was crazier than himself! He saw boxing as just a job from which true living was separate!
All in all, I think Muhammad Ali gave time to reflect on his life and did not get carried away with success.
We have a lot to learn from him.
So Muhammad Ali is dead.
He used to be the epitome of strength. He was the superman who was said to often refuse to wear seatbelts in planes. Some audacious quotes credited to him include (www.usatoday.com):
“I”m so mean, I make medicine sick.”
“He’s (Sonny Lister) too ugly to be the world champ. The world champ should be pretty like me.”
“I’ve wrestled with alligators. I’ve tussled with a whale. I done handcuffed lightning. And throw thunder in jail.”
These quotes are however between 30 and 40 years old since he suffered from Parkinson’s for over 30 years. First, I wondered that Parkinson’s is not a disease of former boxers. Then I imagined what it would have been like for a strong man to become weak. Would he have been heartbroken? Or maybe depressed? Did he ever come to terms with his ‘new’ reality? Or did he live the rest of his life in regrets?
Then I found a book written by Muhammad Ali in 2004, titled The Soul of a Butterfly. The contents are so refreshing and reassuring. He made such statements like:
“During my boxing career, you did not see the real Muhammad Ali. You just saw a little boxing and a little showmanship. It was after I retired from boxing that my true work began.”
His audacious and popular quotes were just like statements from a movie! One just wonders how many people on earth know that he did not even take himself so seriously!
“When I look at the world, I see that many people build big beautiful houses but live in broken homes. We spend more time learning how to make a living than we do learning to make a life.” Hmm! His life was not about strength and boxing. He must certainly have lived a full life even in his weakness!
“Over the years my religion has changed and my spirituality has evolved. Religion and spirituality are very different, but people often confuse the two. Some things cannot be taught, but they can be awakened in the heart.” Truly, as someone said, “He who has an argument stands no chance with him who has an experience.”
“No matter where I go, everybody recognises my face and knows my name. People love and admire me; they look up to me. That’s a lot of power and influence for one man to have, so I know I have a responsibility to use my fame the right way!” Wow! All politicians and spiritual leaders need to learn from him!
“People say that I gave away too much money during my boxing career. They write about how some people took advantage of me, stole from ,e and how I let them get away with it. Even when I knew people were cheating me, what was important was how I behaved, because I have to answer to God. I can’t be responsible for other people’s actions: They will have to answer to God themselves.” M. Ali’s strength was more within than outside!
“At night when I go to bed, I ask myself, ‘If I don’t wake up tomorrow, would I be proud of how I lived today?’ With that question in mind, I have tried to do as many good deeds as I can, whether it is standing up for my faith, signing an autograph, or simply shaking a person’s hand.” The words M. Ali should be remembered for are those that most people do not know!
He appeared limitless, but he knew his limits and boundaries; and he hitched himself to Him who has no limits. He built strength within himself to carry his frame when most of his physical strength was gone! I doubt if he could have died depressed or heartbroken!
Outside the Austrian Parliament building is a statue of Athena, the goddess of Wisdom. Certainly, all leaders especially national leaders could do with more wisdom . However, the citizens find it hilarious that while decisions are being made within the Parliment Building, Athena stands outside.
Unfortunately, that is not a strange setup in the real world of today. That is one reason why the solutions to many problems appear to be with someone who is not in the room. The best of all is if we have the right idea to solve the problems we are bound to encounter.
We have certainly seen some people who seem to know the right words for the moment–they seem blessed with a gift of persuasion. We have seen those who know the right idea for each situation. When these ideas are followed, everybody leaves happy. Sometimes, we tend not to be wise enough to adopt those ideas and we pay for it.
Desirable as Wisdom is, sometimes we long for it without knowing how to access it.
One key step to wisdom is knowledge. If we do not know appropriately, we cannot make the right decisions. Have you ever heard a speaker who impressed you so much? She probably studied the subject to the point of mastery.
When we know all there is to be known, our decisions will certainly be superior.
To mentor means to raise a less capable person to the point of expertise or increased capability. Mentors usually give tasks and challenges to help the mentee grow. The mentor supervises/watches the mentee and gives correction where necessary until the mentee can go it alone. The mentee practically gets to sit on the shoulders of the mentor to see further than he/she could ever see alone.
Many say that experience is the best teacher. While truly the lessons of experience are indelible, it is unfortunate that the lessons of experience are painful. For example, you could meet a man who is most patient while driving on a single carriageway. He will not dare to overtake at a corner. Why? He did it once and it nearly cost him his life.
I’d rather learn by other means than by experience.
In the Christian bible, several people showed wisdom that was really beyond them. For example, there was a craftsman who was chosen to help Prophet Moses with his work:
Then the LORD said to Moses, 2“See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— 4to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 5to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.
A similar thing happened in the New Testament:
13When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
5. Introspection / Thinking
Putting it all together is thinking. If one has a bad experience but does not reflect on it, no lesson would be learnt. If one studies for the sake of study rather than to learn and apply to current/future circumstances, no lesson would be learnt. If one has the best mentor teach and guide through stages of life but one does not think about it all, no lesson would be learnt.
Hence, those who appear to be the wisest usually take time out to think.
Anybody can be wise!
Some time ago, a friend shared with us about his daughter’s conversation with her mum. She told the mum that her after-school teacher should be fired. Why?? He teaches to molecular depth whereas daddy teaches to atomic depth. For a ten-year-old, that is phenomenal.
I have observed that for a twenty-something-year-old-lady whose dad is an engineer but does not like mathematics, without fail, her dad travelled a lot while she was growing up.
There is a friend who was phenomenal with mathematics when we were in the same class decades ago. While we were awake, alert and struggling to get the correct answers to maths problems, he would be asleep in class. Then when the teacher could get no one else to answer his question correctly, he would wake Tee up, and Tee would answer the question correctly.
Decades later in a class reunion, Tee shares the secret. His mum used to be a teacher. During the holidays, she would teach him the work for the whole of the next term. Then she would make him answer all the questions in the textbook; ALL! It was the same system for him right through primary and secondary school.
Bad of him to just be revealing a good secret after about 25 years.
However, I think that there’s a level of academic achievement that a teacher may not be able to stir up but which could be very easily done by a parent.
So be there to plant the seeds for the tomorrow you want to see.
Been many years since I left secondary school. When it was approaching twenty years, a friend set up a WhatsApp group and we just seemed to find everyone again. Some had passed on, and we had become very well distributed across the globe. Shapes and sizes had morphed in several ways. Finally, we had a reunion! It was my recurring pleasure to greet the ladies with titles. I would tell them that if I dare call them by first name in public, I could get a slap from a passerby for being such a rude youth! That always made everyone laugh. And they’ll usually add, “You are not a serious person!”
In time, the greetings and hailing on social media began to appear too many. Often times topics of discussion were not of interest. Because of global dispersion, the group was active like 24/7. Then the group limit of 100 was attained. A second group was formed. It turned out to be a more quiet group and some of us began to “decamp” to the more quiet group.
Nevertheless, greeting and sharing memories still felt weak to hold us together long term. Then a banker dropped an article on economics and we discussed it, and it was great. Then someone proposed a book review. The idea was quickly embraced and criticized at the same time. We eventually created a new group with a membership of about 8% of the whole.
However, in this one-book-per-month group, we began to get closer, to ask questions and to share experiences: how we got into careers, how we made money, how we lost money, how we lost jobs, etc. As the months progressed, people began to share how points picked from a book (which they would not otherwise have read) have positively impacted their lives.
We began to look forward to our periodic one-chapter-a-day group chats. And then we began to meet one-on-one to discuss life and business.
Looks like we have finally found value in our coming together after decades. As long as it’s the book-club-chat, no one complains of too many messages; some apologise for not showing up; others take position to ask pungent questions that do give direction. However, purpose defined helps maximize value in togetherness.
In 1998, I saw a Nollywood movie (I can’t remember the title) in which the daughter of a wealthy man got into the University. She misinterpreted it as freedom. She lived such a life that her parents were not aware of; she could not afford that. In time, she took ill. She was diagnosed with HIV. Then, her father had to be brought in. As though it was not incurable, the doctors laboured but the disease wore on. The father kept upgrading to bigger and better hospitals. When it was obvious that she was dying, the father called the Chief Medical Director and said, “Doctor, please do something; I want to spend money.” The doctor responded that there was nothing they could do as the disease was yet incurable. Summarily, she died. That was the first time I saw that money sometimes fails.
After each of the world wars, Germany was reported to have had to redenominate their currency by dividing by 1,000. There was the story of the man who went to buy a loaf of bread with a wheelbarrow full of money; it took so much to buy bread. On the way, he was distracted and by the time he came to, someone had poured his money on the ground and made away with his wheelbarrow. The money was so useless that the robber poured it on the ground. That is another example of the failure of money.
In more recent times (2015), Greece was running out of money. People had money on record, but in reality, the nation was out of funds. Money was rationed, and the nation could only beg to borrow more. Again, in contemporary times, money failed. Reminds of the primordial days of trade by barter, when no one needed money.
Why then do we have so much faith in money?
Why does money give us so much assurance of security?
If we bear in mind that sometimes money fails, we would not lean so much on money.
For wisdom is a defence as money is a defence,
But the excellence of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to those who have it.
My Holiday! That would have been the title of the first essay to be written in English class if we were in Primary 3 in the 1980s.
Christmas holiday was great fun for me. Apart from meeting numerous friends, I think that finally, I had one Christmas without overeating. Very great achievement that has taken decades! One other very interesting thing for me was driving through various cities! I basically saw four cities. The attempt to visit a 5th was not successful. The 4 cities are in South West Nigeria: Lagos, Ibadan, Oshogbo and Ijebu-Ode. There were other smaller townships along the way that need not be discussed.
After “The Man that tamed Lagos” Babatunde Fashola left office as Governor of Lagos, complaints have been rife about the tardiness of the new Governor. Then two notable things made the news:
- The Police and other law enforcement agencies in Lagos were rebranded. For years, Lagos is the only state where I would drive around without policemen stopping me to look for what is not lost. Outside Lagos, Policemen could stop you and ask questions that I would leave you to determine the qualifying adjective: Where did a young man like you get money to buy this car?
- A road at Ayobo, a Lagos community, was said to have been constructed in 6 weeks! That is not a sign that impossible things are happening, but that Project Management is improving in Nigeria…at least in Lagos!
The city/state is relatively clean compared with the others.
More road projects seem to have been executed in the past 8 years than in any other time prior–so some development is noticeable. However, also noticeable is the return of refuse heaps.
In 1996, I was at my first job ever. My boss left the office and got into some road blockade that took so long. Eventually, they found that a train broke down at a road crossing! He would have waited, but there was a refuse heap by the road which made the experience hellish. So he wriggled out of the traffic and took another route trying to get home. Lo and behold, he got there and there was heavy traffic. Investigating, he found that the train he left at Bodija Crossing had been fixed. It got going and at the road crossing at Sango, it broke down again! He was irate…He left the country not long after. Things however got better with time.
Those refuse heaps are back on all major roads in Ibadan. Three things seem to be responsible:
- Ingrained poverty and culture of disconnection (what is my own with it??)
- Non-payment of salaries started by the state government
- I-don’t-care attitude on the part of the government officials. How do you drive around freely when your incompetence is on display??
I estimated my drive from Ibadan to Osogbo to take me not more than one hour; the last time I went on that trip was in 2004. I was very wrong. All the federal roads were fine, but to turn into the road leading to Osogbo at Gbongan (a town between Ibadan and Osogbo), I had to look for a motorable opening in the bush! The much heralded overhead bridge had been abandoned uncompleted, and overgrown with bush!
To be sure I was not mistaken, I asked someone for the way and he told me I was on course! It is unimaginable how bad the road now is. It took two hours to get to Oshogbo from Ibadan. Ultimately, I had to engage Google Maps as it kept appearing as if either I was on the wrong road or the town had moved to another location! I had to see the distance from a digital map.
The roads in the city showed signs of attempted-development. But everything had been abandoned. And there was plenty of red dust to show for it. I empathized with people living in that town! I actually blotted out at a point, “Are you guys sure you have a Governor in this state?” And they were quick to give me a sarcastic answer.
Here again, the heaps of refuse had taken over the highways. The incumbent Governor however succeeded in putting up two fly-overs in 4 years. Furthermore, the abandoned reconstruction of the arterial road has been resumed albeit at a slow pace.
We need all hands on deck, especially hands experienced at positive transformation. We should no longer stand aloof and watch others do whatever, while we criticize on social media or expect God to do something!
Be more involved in your nation in 2016!
There are some horses that roam my neighbourhood. There tails are long with long hairs. The tails serve to protect the “exhaust” from especially flies. With the long hairs, the tails also serve to remove flies from the body. I noticed that for goats the tails are very short and usually standing straight rather than covering the exhaust. There are hairs serving to keep flies out. I’m not really sure what they use their tails for.
For the squirrel, the tail is long and bushy–seemingly as big as the squirrel itself. Apart from covering, the tail is used to achieve balance while climbing or running on narrow paths. At times, the tail is packed behind, at times it is stretched out and swaying from side to side. The tail of a dog shows emotions. It wags when happy, and hides when afraid. Fishes propel themselves with their tails; birds steer and balance with theirs. Crocodiles can kill with their tails while monkeys climb trees with theirs. Man has no tail, neither do gorillas. Each specie is equipped with exactly what it needs!
The tail is like the provision that God has put in the life of each man. You are equipped based on what you are set to do! If the squirrel wears the tail of a horse, it won’t be able to climb a tree because of it’s weight. If the horse wears the tail of a monkey, it won’t have as much capacity to deal with flies and other insects. No other tail could help the crocodile get food like the tail of a crocodile.
As one year ends and another starts, we tend to review and forecast. Oftentimes, we emphasize what we would need to do what or be who we should. Let’s try it differently this time: what do we have that points at what we should be doing? What does this tail of mine say about what I should be doing? What capacity do I have that indicates some direction?