The Magic of Mistakes

IF YOU ARE like me who tend to give so much credence to precautionary measures before attempting any task, you most likely are yet to experience the real magic of mistakes.

It doesn’t matter how careful we are, mistakes are just inevitable. 

Often times when I hear myself or others saying something like; “If I had known what I knew now 10 years ago, my life would have been a lot better,” I shrug my shoulders and wave my head.

The truth is, if you hadn’t gone through that experience of 10 years, there’s no way you could have learned what you now know. In retrospect, it is the lessons you learned from the series of mistakes you’d made in those 10 years that has combined together to turn you into the kind of personality you have become today.

There’s a marked difference between the system of learning in our traditional schools and that of the real world. In school, you are thought the lesson before the experience. But in the real world it is the other way round. The lesson is learned via the experience.

This is why mistakes are detested in the world of traditional schooling. In school the more mistakes you make, the less intelligent you are thought to be.

If you are going to thrive in the real world, you must have a different view on mistakes that you had while in school. You must recognize that there’s a clear distinction between “school smarts” and “street smarts”

School smarts does not give room for learning via mistakes because it perceives them as not being smart.

On the contrary, street smarts encourage learning on the go. As King Solomon of Ancient Israel wrote, “Wisdom is found in the street.” In the street, as you make attempts to achieve your goals, you have much freedom to make as many mistakes as possible. For that’s where the magic lies.

Every mistake is a big opportunity for learning. You learn so much more from making mistakes than you could possibly learn from not making one.

Can you remember the frustration you went through as you struggled to learn how to ride a bicycle. While all your friends are busy riding, all you find yourself doing is climbing on the bike this moment and immediately falling off the next. You make mistake after mistake until suddenly, a whole new world opens up to you and you start riding like a pro. That’s the magic of mistakes.

I think I have a quick advice to offer you today.

Since mistakes are inevitable in the real world, don’t work hard at trying to avoid them. Instead work hard at understanding the art of making a mistake and gaining deep insight from it.

At that point where you figure that you’d made a mistake, you may feel upset but the truth is if you are not careful, such feeling will deny you the benefit of enjoying the real magic of the mistake.

If you allow your feelings to rule over your judgments when you make mistakes, you will find yourself exhibiting one or more of the following characters:

1. The Liar: You will hear yourself saying such things as; “Not me, I didn’t do it. No, no, no. I don’t know how it happened. This means lying to yourself about the mistake that you’ve obviously made.

2. The Blamer: You will say things like; “It’s not my fault, she’s the one responsible.” “This wouldn’t have happened had I come from a rich family.” And so on.

3. The Justifier: You will find ways to justify the actions which led to the mistake. You will hear yourself  saying things like; “Well, I didn’t have any other option.” Or “I would have made it if I had more time and money. Or “I had to do it because everyone else was doing it.”

4. The Quitter: You say things like; “I told you that this thing would never work. This is just too hard and it’s probably not worth it after all.” 

5. The Complainer: You will hear yourself uttering words like; “Why me? What have I done? Why is all this happening to me?” Or “I’m finished!” Or “Nothing I do ever works.”

6. The Denier: In this case you tend to bury your head in the sand like the ostrich. That is you deny that the mistake did occur by ignoring it. You hear yourself saying things like; “No, nothing wrong happened. I mean, it’s not that bad. Things are still fine.”

When either of these characters suffice in your moments of mistakes (which evidently is unavoidable), you are most likely going to frustrate the power that’s trapped in them.

This is June. The sixth month of the year and the last month of the first half of 2017. 

You have probably made more mistakes than you’d anticipated before this year began. Perhaps, you’ve tried many things that failed. 

This is what I suggest you do this month:

Throw aside your ill-feelings. Travel the memory lane and bring up those instances where you’d made mistakes. Take responsibility for them. Allow the responsible you to take control of your thinking. 

Instead of lying to yourself or looking for who to blame or complaining or burying your head in the sand, ask yourself this priceless question; “What invaluable lessons can I learn from these series of mistakes? What is it I’m not doing right? What can I do better next time?

Note the lessons down and determine to integrate them in your next line of action whether in your personal or professional life. If you practice this, I assure you, the remaing part of the year will be full of uncommon realities for you.

It will be like magic!


The Power of Failure…how to profit from failures

ARE YOU IN the league of folks who are afraid of failure?

Are you one out of the countless many who for the perceived shame and embarrassment often associated with failure have remained indifferent about taking worthwhile steps towards success?

Just a moment. Let’s talk about this thing called failure.

What’s failure? What’s your paradigm about the whole concept of failure? Is success really possible without failure? What about the fear of failure?

Let me begin by making this all important point: 

“One of the highest motivation for success is the fear of failure.”

Fear of failure is not a bad thing. In fact, it is one of the most powerful tools successful people leverage on to achieve uncommon success.

The fear of failure is not a problem per se. It is what you choose to do with it that counstitutes a major part of the problem.

The fear of failure is a valid tool designed to keep us from the thought of living average, mediocre lives. The persistent feeling or thought of the possibility of failure is programmed to motivate us out of our comfort zones. Unfortunately, in most cases the opposite is what happens because we fail to channel our fears in the right direction.

The one thing about successful people is not that they don’t have the fear of failure lurking around their minds. It is that they have trained their minds to turn every thought or fear of failure into a massive weapon to achieve the success they want.

To enter this league, you need to teach yourself how to do the conversion. Two things are what I wish to pound my hands on.


The primary reason we don’t profit from failures is because of the interpretation we give to it, or the basic understanding we have about it which is overly erroneous most of the times. 

This erroneous ideology about failure is more or less instigated by the society. The society where we live trains us to constantly see failure from the negative angle.

Nowhere is this paradigm more pronounced like the school system where the grading system is nothing more than a caste system.

The concept of failing in school and its perceived implications is the chief reason majority of us do not know how to profit from failure.

The key thing is to repeatedly see failure through a positive lens.

You see, the desire to succeed is the acceptance of the existence and possibility of failure. It is the realization that the equation of success is never complete without some kind of failure.

You can’t have a bold claim on success when you have not tasted failure firsthand. Failure is the proof of success.

Do you want to succeed? Then get ready to fail again and again. 

Am I attempting to promote failure, and probably give you a reason to become comfortable with your failures?

Not at all.

I’m only trying to lay out the facts on the table for us to behold. I’m only painting a picture of failure that would aid our interpretation of it in a way that would bring us the success we crave. The very one we deserve.

I’m only saying you should learn to factor in failure as part of the major process that leads to success. In fact, the quickest route to success is nothing more than failure. There’s indeed more to that but this is just a basic and indisputable reality.

You see, the business of building a profitable career around your deepest passion is not a bed of roses. It’s a journey that brings you face-to-face with unprecedented realities of failure.

This has been my experience for as long as I can recall.

To succeed in navigating the path and reaching your expectation, you must train your mind to always see failure as part of the whole process. Otherwise you ain’t ready yet for the greatness you say you desire.

The second thing that aids your ability to tap into the power of failure for conversion into a weapon for success is, REFINING FAILURE.

By this I mean, being able to extract useful information from your failures which you can leverage on to make better choices. 

For me, this is the game changer.

I see failure as a feedback mechanism in the wheel of success. It tells me one of two things or both: that there’s something I’m not doing or that there’s something I’m not doing right.

Your job in this context is to find out which it is so you can quickly pick up from where you left off.

Failure is like a parcel. It contains within it certain specifications necessary for your next move. It provides useful information for the next big thing on your path to success.

The time we spend brooding over our failures and getting unnecssarily embarrassed or depressed can be used differently – for learning purposes.

That’s the key. A learning attitude towards every failure you suffer is what refines and turns it into a rich commodity.

Failure has monetary value. There’s an unmined gold trapped within every failure.

What do I mean by this?

When you hear about people making 6 figures from books, online courses, consulting and the likes, what do you think it’s all about?

Obviously it’s all about profiting from their failures. Such products or services are nothing more than an attempt to bring to light the lessons learned from their failures to help others get the same or similar results they’ve succeeded in getting.

So aside utilizing the lessons we learn from our failures to arrive at our expectations, we can also utilise them to create valuable products / services that can aid other people in their own journeys. By so doing, we not only get the opportunity to help others but also to earn profitably in the process.

I hope you now see how it works. That there’s even huge financial benefits embedded in your failures. 

To distil it down, this then is the procedure:

1. See your failures through a positive lens.

2. Extract the lessons contained in your failures.

3. Convert the lessons into a process or system that can be replicated by others.

4. Package the process in the form of valuable products / services   

5. Start selling

You Need Boy Boy Job

I AM ONE of those who have a bad feeling about jobs. 

Apart from the feeling of losing the freedom for my time, I feel it’s foolhardy exhausting my strength on a job that doesn’t pay me what I’m worth.

I had a foretaste of what it feels like to be on a job, especially one that you have no interest in, and which pays you a meagre sum, during the compulsory 6 month industrial experience as an undergraduate.

After walking the streets of Enugu state for a month plus without getting a suitable place for attachment, I finally was received by a paint manufacturing industry.

My experience in that company is indescribable. I felt used. In fact I was used. I prayed for the six months to roll by as quickly as possible. I kept counting days. I dreaded waking up to see the dawn. I anticipated break hours. I wished for holidays. The situation almost cycloned my mind into a state of depression.

This partly contributed to why I didn’t feel like securing any company work after my service year. 

Statistics reveal that most people are not happy with their jobs. And that many workers in an organization wish they could break off and start their own stuff. 

The problem at times is, it’s not always easy to start. Starting means entering into the realm of unpredictability, not knowing where the next income would come from or making due with erratic paychecks  for a very long period of time, may be 5 years or more.

This week I started an internship with a company which would last for a period of time. I needed to gain some experience in the field.

Having being on the job for just 3 days, I can’t help but keep reading the faces of the employees. It is obvious a greater percentage do not have any forward projection. They are just in this job for as long as it lasts. If it goes down, they go down with it. Many seem to have future plans but had grown comfortable overtime with the paycheck and other income benefits.

While I’m not here to say you shouldn’t pick a job or you should resign from your current job, I wish to let you know that staying on a job indefinitely is a wrong move.

The employee-mentality is one of the worst enemy of human evolution. And let me quickly say that employee-mebtality is not necessarily about whether you are on a job or not. You can be on a job yet may not have an employee-mentality and vice versa.

The employee-mentality is a spirit.

When you are on a job without any exit plan, you are a serious candidate of this spirit.  When you are on a job and start getting comfortable with the paycheck, this spirit is at work. When you are laid off from a job of five years plus and you are busy seeking for nothing more than a new job, you are a slave to this spirit.

The average human was not born to be an employee. Unfortunately this is what we are taught in school. 

I remember the days gone by when if you hear that a classmate of yours dropped out of school to go do boy boy job, you privately start feeling pity for him while thinking of yourself who is still in school as the lucky chap.

This seems to be a correct judgment until after a while when you are faced with the reality of life.

As local as boy boy job may sound, it represents the best structure of a life work pattern. The idea of boy boy which in a more refined launguage refers to “apprenticeship” is, to me, the only true purpose of job-seeking.

Apprenticeship is designed to keep the apprentice under a master in a particular area of practical knowledge for a specified space of time within which the apprentice is expected to learn and integrate core skills that would qualify him / her to kick-start his / her own journey of independence.

You don’t find a job to stay in it. You find a job to learn some vital skills for self dependence. This is why you must define the job you are taking in terms of purpose and duration. 

What are you? An employee or an apprentice?

Are you on the job to earn and stay on? Or are you on the job to learn and move on? 

Whichever is your answer is what defines whether you are an employee or an apprentice. That’s what decides whether you have an employee-mentality or not. That’s what determines how you interpret a job loss. That’s what tells how far you can go in your career / life work.

You sure need a boy boy job!!!

Spark Up Your Creativity

HAVE YOU EVER imagined the possibilities of thinking in different ways? The possibilities of creating something new in your work and in your life.

Creativity is an inborn ability, and thankfully it can’t be lost, neither does it depreciate with time like naira or dollar.

Creativity only goes into hiding and a state of dormancy from lack of use. It can be tapped and revitalized upon demand. You don’t need to worry about whether you can be creative or not. You need only accept the idea that you still possess what was given you at birth – the inherent wisdom, intelligence, and creativity that constitute your particular brand of genius.

You are a creative genius. 

You have the capacity to forge new perspectives and rearrange the old in a novel and exciting way. Your creative storehouse is enriched with the wisdom of the ages, the understanding of the present, and the vision of the future.

It is not lack of creativity that you suffer; it is lack of the skills and tenacity necessary to constantly tap into your creative genius.

Creativity thrives with your thinking skills. And there are just about 7 bold ways I’d suggest you start thinking if you desperately want to start harnessing your creative juices beyond what you’d ever imagined.

1. Think Association

One of the phenomenal things about the mind is its ability to build connections between dissimilar ideas. Your mind cannot deliberately hold two separate ideas without eventually forming a connection between them.

Through association we can remember places, persons, and things.

The highly creative genius is forever associating ideas and concepts and seeking always to build connections.

Once you become aware of this as a reality you will automatically begin to see the connections between the multiple ideas in your mind, leading to greater creativity.

2. Think Substitution 

Most innovations in the world today are byproducts of substitutional thinking. For example, at one time, the transistor replaced the vacuum tube, and now the computer chip replaces them both.

When you think substitution, ask yourself how you might replace a different material or process with what is currently in use. What can you remove and what can you add that would probably produce an alternative effect, or perhaps the same effect but more easily and faster?

This is how Bill Gates of Microsoft and Steve Jobs of Apply Inc. took the field of computer technology to the next level.

The key is to never assume that anything is indispensable – feel free to substitute. Feel free to put Z in place of A. Take a look at everyday products and services. Perhaps there is a substitute that will work better or last longer, or cost less or be more durable, and so on.

3. Think Rearrangement

Do not be stumped with logical thinking pattern. Organized thinking has its great proceeds. But to pump up your creative flow would demand being a little more irrational in your thinking.

That is, shift things around. Turn products or ideas upside down, inside out, reverse the order – rearrange things. Put C before A and Q after Z.

Salespeople are known to use this creative technique to discover new applications for products and new ways of emphasizing customer benefits. You too can leverage on this method to initiate new use of a particular product or service in your organization or career.

4. Think Big

Think bold. Think no limits. Think big stuffs. 

Picture a skyscraper, jumbo jets, giant soft drinks, large economy-size products – what is it they all have in common? They are of greater benefit because they were made larger.

At the time when android phones and iPhones were introduced in the market, Steve Jobs started thinking of the possibilities of making something bigger, something in-between the smartphone and laptops.

Most people doubted the sellability of such an idea on the basis that it doesn’t stand a chance in the midst of the ongoing competition with smartphones.

However, Jobs went ahead and executed the idea. That is how the iPad was born. And today it has sold more and generated greater revenue than the former.

The implication is that by increasing size, or thinking big, you can add more value as well as greater possibilities in the use of a particular product or service.

5. Think Small

While there are dividends in thinking big, there also are great benefits in thinking small.

A quick way to illustrate the power of thinking small is by considering the transition from the macrocomputers to the PCs. 

IBM was the ruling company when it came to computers. A time came when a young man called Bill who worked in the organization came up to them with his idea of a personal computer which will be built using a smaller kind of software.

IBM rebuffed the young man’s idea by saying that it is not possible. The young man resigned from the company and that was how Microsoft was born – an idea which revolutionized the computer industry completely and holistically.

Think of ways by which making a particular product of service smaller, you can improve on its features and functionality.

6. Think Combination

Almost everything in nature including you, is a product of combination of different elements. Oxygen and hydrogen as separate elements have a use, but by combining the two elements, water, a new product which serves different unique purposes is produced.

Music and comedy are two separate kinds of entertainment. But someone decided to combine them together, and as a result the musical comedy was born.

Sometimes the power of combination is seen by uniting or integrating the mundane or common into a new product or service. Everything you see, hear, smell, taste or touch offers great opportunity to consider new combinations.

7. Think Adaptation

Adaptation is about thinking of adapting old things to new uses, or old methods to new applications. 

The phonograph record and motion camera originally developed for entertainment have been adapted today for learning and education.

The truth is that throughout the remainder of the decade and beyond, we will see the result of individuals thinking adaptation and coming up with concepts and ideas worth millions.

Will you be among this group?

The only limit to what you can achieve by adapting the old to the new, is the limit to your own creativity.

Since there’s no limit to your own creativity, the possibilities are therefore endless.

Would you like to learn about the 3 levels of creativity and how to unleash your own creative genius? I have this special gift for you. It’s a report that will show you the step-by-step procedure you can utilise daily to harness your creative potentials to the fullest.

Get the gift here >>>

What are You – A Conformist or An Explorer?

IMAGINE YOU’VE volunteered for a study. You arrive and sit at the end of a row that has four other participants.

The presenter gives you two cards: one has one line, and the the other has three lines.

You are asked to compare the length of the one line with that of the other three to determine which one is the same length as the original line.

The other participants give their answers one by one. They unanimously give an answer that’s different from what you have, and which also is clearly wrong.

The question is this:

When it’s your turn, will you change your answer to match theirs, or will you stick with your own answer?

I can hear you saying; “I will definitely stick to my answer.”

Well, you may have to think again because the results of the above exercise shows there is a great probability that you would change your answer.  

Studies upon studies reveal that humans tend to believe what the people around them believe, and they tend to accept as truth the ideas handed over to them from their social environment.

If you find yourself among a group who are singing and dancing to a beat, the chances are very high that you would soon join in. Perhaps not immediately, but sooner than later, especially when you watch other persons who come in after you join in the same behavior.

This is called social conformity – a type of social influence that results in a change of behavior or belief to fit into a group. And it’s the reason for the biased approach to life that we are often entrapped in. As a matter of fact, most of our decisions are greatly influenced by what is or is not socially acceptable.

This could be logical but the problem is that many atimes what is socially acceptable isn’t always the right or the best thing to do in certain cases.

When you hear the gold mantra, “be yourself,” you wonder why it’s usually a hard feat to undertake. Shouldn’t it be the easiest thing to do – being yourself?

Perhaps that’s what it ought to be. But on the contrary, it’s not. 

Social conformity is the reason it can be so tiresome to be yourself. We live in a world that’s constantly pressing us hard to fit into a particular predefined mold irrespective of whether that mold fits our personality or not.

Being yourself in a world that’s constantly pushing you to conform to a known standard, a particular pattern of behavior, is the biggest war you will ever wage in life after the battle of the mind.

This concept is so critical that even the Scripture had to warn us sternly against conforming. It says; “Do not be conformed but be transformed…”

The scenario described at the beginning is actually part of a famous experiment conducted by a renowned Psychologist in the early 1950’s to determine how often people conform and why.

In the experiment, the person at the end of the row (you) is actually the only participant. The other four are actually actors, who purposefully gave the incorrect answer.

It was observed from the experiment that a total of 75% of individuals subjected to this exercise conformed. That is, they joined in with the other four to give the incorrect answer even when it was clear to them it is incorrect.

The implication of this result is that 8 out of 10 persons today are social conformists – acting based on what seems socially acceptable or readily permissible.

Why is this so?

Social conformity is driven majorly by two forces: the desire to be “liked or accepted” and the desire to be “correct”. Psychologists repectively call them “normative” and “informative” types of conformity.

These two forces are the reason most of us tend to conform to an existing reality or pattern of behavior without asking questions.

It is the reason we will follow the majority to engage in stupidity even when the signs are obvious to us.

In my soon coming book – The Lies They Told Us In School, I devoted a particular session to explain how this phenomenon plays out and how it has stunted the evolutionary pace of the educational system, as well as its debilitating effect on the average student.

The aforementioned two forces can manifest in different forms:

__The desire to feel right

__the desire to feel part of a group

__the desire to gain social approval and acceptance from members of a group 

__the desire to avoid being criticized

__the desire to avoid being ignored

__the desire to behave in a manner that is perceived to be right or correct

__the desire to avoid feeling inferior to others.

For fear of appearing like a social misfit, most of us hardly attempt to shake things up a bit around us. This is why we are not evolving as we should. This is what stunts our growth.

Life is meant to be explored (howbeit within the perimeters of reason and morality). But this cannot be done from a conformist standpoint.

Where does inventions come from? 

How did mind-blowing ideas that has brought uncommon social advancement and human development come about? 

The answer is simple.

Some folks dared to think and act in socially “unacceptable” ways. This group refused to give in to the pressure to conform to an existing norm. They preferred being tagged “socially-incompetent” over staying stumped in a particular mold.

The desire to explore the depths of life was far more intense than the desire to be accepted or the desire to be “correct”.

There’s no doubt that social conformity is one of the biggest obstacle to personal evolution.

The key however, is to know what is socially acceptable, but to still go ahead and explore other boundaries.

Be an explorer not a conformist.

Give yourself the permission to venture into unchartered territories against all odds.

They say you must finish the food before eating the meat. Try otherwise.

They say you must write with your right hand. Try the left one.

They say you must do it this way or that way. Try the other way.

This may appear to many as being rebellious. “Who are you to challenge an existing protocol or norm?” could be the question. 

As much as possible turn deaf ears to such mundane talks. As long as you have the conviction, and as long as what you are doing is within the realms of reason and morality, it can be anything but rebellion.

You may be tagged a social misfit. You may be rejected by friends and even family. But one thing is certain, you will soon discover something beyond what already exists. And when that happens, the world which once rejected you will be left with no other option than to consult your expert knowledge.

Sooner than later the same world that wanted you to conform will be compelled to pay you to be yourself.

So will you continue to conform? Or will you learn to give yourself the permission to explore the many-sided dimensions of life.

The former will keep you at a spot, at the same level with everyone else. But the latter will move you to a higher orbit in the shortest possible time.

There’s no future in being a conformist. Life is to be explored. So be the explorer. That’s where the future lies.

The Day Before Yesterday…

I STOOD IN the midst of him lost as it were, in the realm of unknown thoughts, eyes rolling from one corner to another unable to catch any particular sight.

Every item in the living room appeared awkwardly strange. 

For example, the ceiling fan seemed to be flying at an entirely different axis, as though it had lost its coordinate and is about falling off its hook. The strangest part is how I could be sweating profusely down my pants when this three bladed object above my head was at top speed.

“This boy, so you go to school to play away your time eeh!?” he thundered.

“Not………so…..daddy,” I stuttered. 

Not that I was a stammerer but the condition in which the question was put forward to me called for a stutter.

“What is this? he queried. You mean I am wasting my money sending you to…”

The next thing I heard was his slipper tip tapping the souls of his feet in very fast motion making that scuffing sound as he disappeared into his room.

I already know the meaning of that. 

In fact, that tip tapping movement accompanied by the scuffing sound is one I and my sisters have become very accustomed with, one we are not comfortable with not because of the sound itself but because of what follows it.

Whenever daddy walks off like that, be sure that as he reappears, he’s not going to be alone; his “akpuluekwe” (cane), as we call it in our Igbo parlance, must be a faithful occupant of his right hand as he shows up.

My report card whose content was the bone of contention laid carelessly at a corner. As I took a cursory gaze at it, I wished I could swing my hands in one motion and change it into something more palatable, something that would send  chills of smile across daddy’s moustache-filled temple. 

Early on, after I got the report card and had seen my position in the class engraved in blue ink, 32 out of 32; I had fantasized with the idea that 32 wasn’t a bad score after all, that 32 out of 32 meant I scored everything good.

Nonetheless, as I arrived home and dropped my report card in the waiting hands of daddy, it didn’t take more than a few seconds to snap out of this senseless fantasy.

So the moment daddy zoomed off in that tip tapping note which I had become very familiar with, I didn’t need a soothsayer to explain to me what the future held for me at that very point. The future was as bright as the sun. And it’s a future every child who knows the bitter taste of “akpuluekwe” as it lands on a succulent buttocks never dreams of.

Realizing by now what would be my fate, I began to shout for help even though I knew it was pointless.

Daddy reappeared with “akpuluekwe”.

What happened next is better experienced than told. 

Within splits of seconds, my whole body was in so much pain with bumps and bruises in different parts of my tender white skin.

I was sobbing in Chinese language. You know that kind of sobbing when you are full of cries within but are trying hard to lock them off because you’ve been warned that if you’d cried out, more spanking would follow.

That holiday I was grounded. It was Christmas holiday but unlike other Christmas seasons, there was no much freedom to get all wrapped up in the spirit of yuletide. While others jumped around like a free bird, I was locked up in a corner all by myself to learn the never ending timetables and solve many more arithmetic problems than can be imagined. 

I presume this was how my isolated nature was developed. As I was compelled to face my studies squarely, my feeble mind was unconsciously adapting to a life of solitude. I unwittingly began to lock away from the outside world of people and things while embracing more of the inside world of thoughts and feelings.

Obviously this was advantageous for teaching me focus, whose primary purpose was for better academic performance. But the flip side produced a state of the mind that sees the world out there as a foe.

As I look back objectively at this event, I remain grateful for how it shaped my academic life. Nonetheless I wish I had been spanked for a different reason…for failing in business or even anything else as silly as climbing that mango tree against all odds…

The Strength of Strategy

Recently on my facebook timeline I attempted to dish out some of my ideologies about the true status of our system of education.

I must admit, it was a hard step to take considering how controversial some of the points are.

In this report I wish to posture one of the rationales for my line of thought with respect to the pending dichotomy between what we learn in school and what is truly obtainable in real life. 

*Complicated vs. Complex Problems.

We live in a culture that’s constantly changing in a rapid manner. The problems confronting the world today, especially third world countries like Nigeria are far more different in nature than what it used to be.

The problems we face in our culture today can either be classed as “complicated” or “complex”. 

A clear understanding of the difference between the two will enable you as a thought leader to master to a reasonable extent the recurring real life problems that exist within your organization or industry.

Complicated and complex are not the same. The only similarity they share is the fact that they both deal with a difficult situation. But on a broader scale, they differ considerably.

When a problem is complicated, it has one predefined solution. It means the problem is dependent on just one variable. Find that one variable and the problem is gone.

On the other arm, a complex problem is dependent on many variables. You can’t solve a complex problem without a basic consideration for all the variables.

I am going to use the game of chess and the jigsaw puzzle in a nutshell to illustrate this difference.

If you are familiar with the brain behind the jigsaw puzzle and chess game, you can easily relate with the remarkable difference between complicated and complex realities.

A jigsaw puzzle is an example of a complicated reality. It is difficult to solve but has a unique solution. Once you are able to find the missing link between the highly interconnected pieces that forms the whole, you quickly get the puzzle fixed by assembling the pieces together into shape. 

A jigsaw is just a game of logic. It demands rational thinking style.

Conversely, the game of chess is a complex reality because while it is difficult to solve, the solution is dependent on multiple variables inclusive of the 16 independent and interdependent pieces comprising of the king, queen, rooks, knights, bishops and pawns. These represent the variables. Without a deep understanding of these variables in the chess game, a player is bound to lose to an opponent.

So unlike the jigsaw puzzle, the game of chess is a game of strategy. It demands guerrilla tactics or strategic thinking style.

The difference between complicated and complex problems can also be likened to the difference between sending a rocket to the moon successfully, and getting a child to succeed in school.

While the former requires less of strategy and more of logic, the latter requires more of strategy and less of logic.

As a leader in your industry or organization, your ability to solve complex problems is what distinguishes you from everyone else. 

Complicated problems do not require any much of strategy to get them solved. All it demands is the use of logical and technical expertise to implement a predefined process or procedure that tackles the problem once and for all. 

On the other lane, to arrest complex problems, strategy is key because complex problems deal with multiple independent and interdependent factors which are constantly changing. 

The more I think of this key differences, the more I get to appreciate the role of strategic leadership in championing economic revolution in our present culture.

The problems we face in our culture today are not complicated, they are rather complex. From social crisis to political instability, the problems are just complex in nature.

Hence the need for strategic leaders.

What are the skills, dispositions, and core competencies that provoke strategic leadership? 

How can you develop the capacity to become a strategic leader in your industry and in the world at large?

The answer lies with what is called LIFE-SKILLS. 

What are Life-skills?

They are those essential skills that equip and empower individuals to constantly rise above the challenges of an ever-changing world like ours.

Life-skills is a composite of about 6 set of skills.

Unfortunately the one system which is supposed to imbibe this set of skills in individuals, a system where we spend a larger part of our childhood and adolescent age, does not seem to readily acknowledge the essentiality of these skills, nor does it have the expertise necessary for integrating them in the individuals that pass through it.

You know the system I am referring to right? Yes, I am talking about the school system.

Because I wouldn’t want this report to be unnecessarily longer than it already is, I will highlight the 6 components of Life-skills in a later report. But I will expound them in a book I am planning to publish this year entitled “The Lies They Told Us In School: rebuilding the base for educational revolution.”

Please your comments and feedbacks to this report are highly coveted by me.

Thank you!

Redefining Intelligence

It is always common in our culture when the word “intelligence” is mentioned, to quickly equate it with one’s academic performance in school. The “A” students are always regarded as the intelligent or smart ones. And by such interpretation, anyone with low academic performance is technically regarded as one lacking intelligence.

The truth of the matter is that school’s concept of intelligence is essentially flawed. Consequently, it has both limiting and delimiting effects in that it renders powerless and useless the unique capabilities of those whose intelligence do not play out in accordance with such concept.

And just so you do not think I am making this argument out of a biased mind, I was an “A” student myself while on campus. I made a CGPA of 4.68 making me a first class material and the best graduating student in my department.

So you see, I am not of this opinion because I fared poorly in school. The truth just needed to be told.

__You are a Genius.

There are many lies they tell us in school. Lies that end up frustrating and short circuiting our ability to evolve in more meaningful ways. Lies that stampede our natural growth and development. Lies that practically degenuises us.

Personally I have identified over 10 of such lies they tell us in school. And I hope to make a book out of it sooner than later.

One of my favourite quotes was made by a man called Buckminster Fuller. It says, “Everyone is born a genuis, but the process of life degenuises them.”

When I consider the implication of this statement, it appears that the one common process that degenuises us is what we are taught in school. Let’s not get it twisted, school has contributed and is still contributing immensely to the world.

However, it is evident that the system of education we adopt is not a holistic one. We employ a system that favors one kind of intelligence over others. A system that makes losers out of those who do not perform well as students in particular core subjects.

Everyone is a genius. And that includes you. The problem is not with whether you are a genuis or not as it is with what the system has taught us to believe is a genius. The system teaches us to believe that a genuis is one who makes straight “A’s” in school. One who maintains excellent academic records throughout school life.

Is that what a genuis is?

I don’t like going too far these days to sight examples. But allow me to remind you that many of the founding fathers of modern science like Albert Einstein and Henry Ford never did well in school. In fact, Albert Einstein was once referred to as a “retard” by his class teacher. Yet he’s the same person who set the world towards a new course by his phenomenal invention of the theory of relativity.

What does this tell us? It tells us that our definition of genuis and concept of inteliigence needs an urgent readjustment.

If I should define genuis in the context of this new reality, it will be this; “Genuis is the ability to excel at something.” A genuis is not necessarily good at everything. But s/he is naturally good at something. In fact, a genuis usually has a special ability in one area while being pretty average in other areas.

Now by this new definition, help me answer this two questions:

Is there something you are good at? I’m sure there is.

Now answer this next one,

Are you a genuis? Your guess is as good as mine.

The problem with school is that rather than help us find our own genuis, it forces us to accept the genuis it feels we should be.

__The 7 Intelligences.

Early last year, as I was reflecting over the concept of intelligence, I stumbled on a book that talked about “Frames of mind: the theory of multiple intelligences.” The book was published in 1983 by Howard Gardener, a professor at the Havard Graduate School of education.

He identified 7 types of intelligences that plays out at different degrees in different individuals. I will just highlight them and their key traits.

1. Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence

They are basically word-oriented folks. They naturally enjoy reading, writing, and storytelling. Folks with this intelligence are more likely to pursue a career in the field of law, medicine, literary art, and journalism.

2. Logical-Mathematical Intelligence

They are numerically inclined. They naturally love dealing with numbers, figures, patterns, strategy games and experiments. They are more likely to tread the path of engineering, applied sciences, banking, and accounting.

3. Body-Kinesthetic Intelligence

They are practical people. They love relating with things physically rather than theoretically. They are more likely to pursue a career as athletes, dancers, actors and craftspeople.

4. Spatial Intelligence

They are visually-oriented. They see and appreciate pictures, images, and colors more than anything else. They gravitate more towards careers like interior decoration, event management, fashion designing, architecture, and graphics designing.

5. Musical Intelligence

They are musically inclined. They naturally drift towards anything musical; rhythms, pitch, melody and timbre. For them, everything is about the beats and lyrics. They are likely to find careers in the musical performing arts more interesting than anything else.

6. Interpersonal Intelligence

They are excellent communicators, displaying a high level of sensitivity to other people’s moods, feelings, temperaments and motivations. They tend to go into careers as sales managers, speakers, preachers, politicians, teachers and social activists.

7. Intrapersonal Intelligence

They are the self-driven type. They enjoy the inner world of their own thoughts and feelings. These are the self-starters. Usually they take on the role of therapists, consultants, entrepreneurs, and CEOs.

There are 3 important revelations Howard made through his proposition of a multiple intelligence.

First, his work revealed that there is more than one intelligence. And the school system apparently does not recognize all of them.

Second, the intelligence that’s dominant in a person determines largely his/her learning style. In this manner, most students perform poorly in school because the school system does not put their learning style into consideration while teaching. Typically, this culture forces the students to adopt a learning style that slows down their learning pace making them appear less smart than their counterparts.

For instance, while a Verbal-Linguistic intelligent person may learn a concept faster by simply reading about it, a Body-Kinesthetic intelligent person learns faster by application or practice. The former goes intellectual the latter goes practical.

Lastly, Howard’s concept of multiple intelligence reveals more than anything else the reason being an “A” student in school doesn’t guarantee and translate into success in the real world.

__The Success Intelligence.

It is obvious from the foregoing that if we bank on the kind of Intelligence that school focuses on, to define success in the real world, we will set ourselves up for one of the most traumatic experiences.

Of all the intelligences identified by Howard, intrapersonal intelligence stands out. It is the one intelligence that flows into how other intelligences are maximized. Remember, we all have these intelligences but at varying degrees, with one being more predominant than the rest.

Intrapersonal intelligence is what it takes to thrive in the real world. And this is the reason most students tagged brilliant in school do not always end up accomplishing any phenomenal feat in the real world.

This one intelligence often referred to as emotional intelligence is what one needs in order to master his or her own genuis. The more introspective and internally motivated you become is what decides how fast and how much the unique intelligence you have will emerge and bless the world.

This is the intelligence that school is supposed to pay more attention in helping students develop. Unfortunately, this is not the case. They rather put us in a mold that shuts down completely the activation of the one intelligence required to provoke the genuis in us to emerge. Yet they call us stupid when we fail to keep up the pace.

The key that liberates few of the majority that are victims of this menace is self-education. It means taking responsibility for yourself to do what school has failed to do.

Until this happens, the genuis in you remains locked up. Will you take charge? It is often a hard decision to make but one that certainly worths it in the end.

Just bear in mind that you are super smart.