Monthly Archives: June, 2012

Newspaper boy who became president of his country

By ‘Femi Asu

Before December 30, 2010, I did not know him from Adam; I got to know him as a result of my tendency for impulse buying when it has to do with books, and it has always done me a world of good.

That afternoon, as I am wont to do, I stopped by to check out the books displayed by a roadside vendor. One of the books that caught my fancy was “Ignited Minds – Unleashing the power within India” by APJ Abdul Kalam. Having browsed through its pages, I decided to buy it. And I did. To be sure, I was glad I did because I relished it to bits. The central theme of the book is to motivate India’s people, and its youth.

I had cause to refer to it this week. Reason: On Thursday, I stumbled on the story of a newspaper boy who became a president. Not just a president, but a president who impacted positively on his country. While I was reading the story, the name of the boy rang a bell. But I could not put my finger on where I had come across the name until I read the part that mentioned the books he has written. The book I bought two years ago from the roadside vendor is one of them. I wondered why I did not know that he was once a president. I later discovered that he wrote the book before he became president.

I am ever so delighted to share with you the story of the boy who rose above the odds that were stacked against him while growing up to become a man of vision, a change agent and one of the finest presidents India has had.

It was the English bard Henry Wadsworth Longfellow who said:

“Lives of great men all remind us

We can make our lives sublime

And, departing, leave behind us

Footprints on the sand of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,

Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,

A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,

Seeing, shall take heart again.”

I sincerely hope this story will leave you with some nuggets of inspiration. Enjoy.

Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, usually known as Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, was the 11th President of India, serving from 2002 to 2007, he is one of the few presidents who have touched the hearts of the people that is why during his term as President, he was popularly known as the People’s President. In India he is highly respected as a scientist and as an engineer. He is popularly known as the Missile Man of India for his work on development of ballistic missile and space rocket technology.

Abdul Kalam was born in Rameshwaram presently Tamil Nadu in British India in 1931. He spent most of his childhood in financial problems and started working early in his age to supplement family’s income.

His father, a humble boat owner, Jainulabdeen, was a devout Muslim and a close friend of the Rameswaram temple priest. Kalam was brought up in a multi-religious, tolerant society; one with a progressive outlook. His father often quoted from the Quran to make the young Kalam see the world without fear. He had seven siblings, and a doting mother who, at times, made chappatis (a simple wheat flatbread typically baked on a hot griddle) for Kalam, while the others were given rice as Kalam’s day would start at four in the morning and end at 11 pm.

His father wasn’t educated, but he wanted Kalam to study. Kalam would get up at 4 am, bathe, and then go for his mathematics class, which was taught by a teacher who took only five students in the whole session; and bathing before class was a condition he had laid to all his students.

After his morning class, Kalam along with his cousin Samsuddin went around town distributing the newspaper. As the town had no electricity, kerosene lamps were lit at his home between 7 pm and 9 pm. But because Kalam studied until 11, his mother would save some for him for later use.

Being a bright student, Kalam always had the support of his school teachers. Schwarzt High School’s Iyadurai Solomon often told Kalam that if he truly, intensely desired something, he would get it. “This made me fearless,” said Dr Kalam. And outside school, Ahmed Jallaluddin, who later became his brother-in-law, and Samsuddin, encouraged Kalam to appreciate nature’s wonders. So at once, while growing up, he was exposed to a religious and a practical way of looking at the world.

The flight of birds had fascinated him since he was a boy, but it was years later he realised that he wanted to fly aircrafts. After finishing school, he took up Physics at St Joseph’s College, Trichi, but towards the end he was dissatisfied. When he discovered aeronautical engineering, he regretted having lost three precious years. But he was glad to have discovered Leo Tolstoy, Thomas Hardy and F Scott Fitzgerald and other English poets in his college years.

At Madras Institute of Technology (MIT), Chennai, where Kalam studied aeronautics, he learnt an important lesson: the value of time. He was leading a project on system design, when one day the principal walked into the class to see his work. He appeared dissatisfied and told Kalam that he wanted the project finished in the next two days; else his scholarship aid would be withdrawn. That unsettled Kalam; years of his father’s hardships would come to naught. Kalam worked without food and sleep. On the last day, his professor came to check on his progress. He was impressed and said: “I was putting you under stress and asking you to meet a difficult deadline,” recounted Dr Kalam.

Although Kalam has led several projects in his professional life, he’s treated each like his last. Such was his passion. No wonder, he’s always led projects. His advisor, Major General R Swaminathan explained Kalam’s success as a leader. “He has this unique capability of being a boss as well as a worker. He can take on any role with ease.”

When Dr Kalam’s first major project SLV-3 failed the first time, he was almost shattered. Also, around this time, Kalam’s childhood mentor, Jallaluddin, died. “A part of me too passed away…” said Dr Kalam. But he never thought of quitting after SLV-3. “I knew that for success, we have to work hard and persevere.” And so, SLV-3 was launched again, this time with success. He drew strength from philosophy, religion and literature to tide by his professional setbacks; also a life with few companions. In time, he also learnt to deal with professional jealousy and uncooperative team members.

Success followed Dr Kalam. Prithvi, Agni, Akash, Trishul and Nag missiles were huge successes. He is one of the most distinguished scientists of India with the unique honour of receiving honorary doctorates from 40 universities and institutions. He has been awarded the coveted civilian awards – Padma Bhushan (1981) and Padma Vibhushan (1990) and the highest civilian award Bharat Ratna (1997). He is a recipient of several other awards and Fellow of many professional institutions.

Dr. Kalam took up academic pursuit as Professor, Technology & Societal Transformation at Anna University, Chennai from November 2001 and was involved in teaching and research tasks. Above all, he took up a mission to ignite the young minds for national development by meeting high school students across the country.

In his literary pursuit, four of Dr. Kalam’s books – “Wings of Fire”, “India 2020 – A Vision for the New Millennium”, “My journey” and “Ignited Minds – Unleashing the power within India” have become household names in India and among the Indian nationals abroad. These books have been translated in many Indian languages.

He is always full of ideas aimed at the development of his country. He is one of the few presidents who have touched the hearts of so many poor children in the country. Because he also came from a poor background, he knew the power of education in changing one’s future. His focus is on transforming India into a developed nation by 2020.

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The Secret of Tiger Wood, Arnold Schwarzenegar and Jack Niclaus’ Success

When I was very young I visualized myself being and having what it was I wanted. Mentally I never had any doubts about it.

– A. Schwarzenegger

What do some of the world’s most influential and successful people have in common?

They all use the practice of visualisation to realise their dreams and goals.

Visualisation is a powerful technique, just read these success stories if you have any doubt:

  • Jack Nicklaus has won a record 18 professional majors and is considered the best golfer in history. He has described how he used visualisation extensively to help him prepare and win at golf.
  • Tiger Woods was taught how to use visualization and imagery when he was a boy by his father, Earl. Tiger visualizes exactly where he wants the golf ball to go. Tiger Woods uses visualization to become one of the best, if not the best, golfer in the world today.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger, five time Mr. Universe, four-time Mr. Olympia has not only used visualization for athletic success but also credits it for his success as a movie star: ”When I was very young I visualized myself being and having what it was I wanted. Mentally I never had any doubts about it.”

Jose Silva, founder of the original Silva Mind Control Method, pioneered a powerful technique called creative visualisation.

This involves visualising the end result of your goal or desire while you are in the alpha level of mind (a mental state of relaxed awareness). The concept of visualisation techniques has been known for ages.

Visualisation should be done in the “present tense”. Let’s say you’re looking to own a brand new car. You want to visualise yourself in the car and feel the moment as if it is happening this instant and not at some time in the future.

In other words, feel the sense of joy in owning the car, rather than the sense of wanting or the sense of desire for the car.

To visualise effectively, Silva suggests creating a mental screen in front of your eyes. This should be like the screen you see in a cinema. It should be forward, in front of your eyes, and raised at an angle of around 20 degrees. The screen should be at least 6 feet in front of you. Make the screen as large as you can, almost like a movie screen in a cinema.

Try it now

Close your eyes and visualize the mental screen, raised slightly 20 degrees above the horizon, and at least 6 feet in front of you.

When you perform creative visualisation, you will project images onto this screen.

If you are looking to improve your sports skills, visualise yourself playing the game perfectly. See yourself making perfect moves, shooting every basket, making the perfect swing. Feel the joy you feel when you play the game well.

If you are looking to shed some pounds, see yourself healthy and fit. Feel the joy of having a beautiful body. See people complimenting you.

If you’re in sales, you can see yourself making the perfect pitches. See your monthly commission statements showing ever-increasing figures.

The truth is that visualization works in a combination of ways.

First of all, it activates the law of attraction.

Secondly it unlocks the motivation inside that you need to strive for your goals. When you remind yourself daily of how good it will feel to achieve your biggest dreams, you will more so motivated to strive for them. This motivation will allow you to take the steps needed to fulfill your dreams – and feel like fun along the way.

Lastly, it burns the mental picture, feelings and emotions into your subconscious mind – a very powerful tool. Once your subconscious mind latches onto an idea, it begins to work without you. Your subconscious can effortlessly lead you to your goals, if it has the right impression.

So follow in the footsteps of some of the most successful people in the world and start visualizing your dreams today. Not only is it proven to work, its fun too.

Culled from Silva Life System

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What Makes Respected Achievers Different

By David DiSalvo

I’ve been working on a research project for a few weeks that involves identifying the characteristics that describe highly driven, achievement-oriented people who are also among the most well-respected in any organization. The intersection between drive and respect is an important one, because we all know people who are highly driven but think nothing of running others over along the way. And, we know examples of people who are respected but stagnant.

What follows is a taste of things to come, but here are a few initial thoughts on what makes respected achievers different.

1. Tempered Tenacity

Respected achievers are incredibly tenacious. They do not allow obstacles to stop them, at least not for long, chiefly because they’ve trained their thinking to immediately seek out other ways of reaching a goal. To a tenaciously driven person, there is never just one way to get there, and no one will convince them otherwise.  However, the sort of achiever we’re talking about also keeps the well-being of others in mind, and if one of those alternate routes will result in unnecessarily harming someone else, then that route isn’t an option, period. To the respected achiever, it doesn’t have to be, because they know there are other ways to get where they want to go even if it takes longer to get there.

2. Consistent Commitment

Another hallmark of respected achievers is that they do what they say they’ll do. They don’t spin out an elaborate vision, get others to buy into it, and then run off to the next big idea because it has sparked their interest more than the first. While nurturing multiple visions is fine (assuming they are manageable), the respected achiever sets a high standard for her/himself that what they commit to do on a project, they fully intend to do and will make every reasonable effort to make it happen. Granted, failure or unforeseen circumstances are always a possibility, but those are the exceptions. The respected achievers’ standard of following through is consistently maintained whether or not adversity materializes, and others know that when they collaborate with a respected achiever it won’t be a waste of their time.

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Don’t let a lack of schooling be an excuse for not getting an education

By Zig Ziglar

My Executive Assistant, Laurie Magers, has worked with me for thirty-five years as of June 27, 2012.  Although her formal education ended with the tenth grade, Laurie is far more educated and competent than any college graduate I have ever had in that position.  Here’s why.

Laurie clearly understands that you can finish school—and, incidentally, she encourages everyone to do exactly that—but you never finish your education.  You can make school easy; that’s not true with education.  Many times it’s very difficult and it is a lifetime project.

Laurie keeps her dictionary handy, reads a lot of exceptionally good material, attends seminars, is a student of human nature and learns constantly.  The result is significant.  When anyone on our staff has a question about grammar or punctuation, they go to Laurie and get her input.  Several years ago we conducted an evaluation of our key employees, and Laurie graded out at slightly above the Master’s Degree level.  The exciting thing is that she has not really done anything that’s not available to most people who will be reading this piece.

Commitment, persistence, and a plan of action will provide you with the education you need to climb much higher on the success ladder.

The message I’m communicating should be quite clear: Don’t let a lack of schooling be an excuse for not getting an education.  I can assure you it will affect your personal life, your family life and your career.  So, get that education and I’ll SEE YOU AT THE TOP!

#Zig Ziglar is known as America’s motivator.   He is the author of 31 books.

Adapted from The Ziglar Weekly Newsletter, June 26, 2012 Edition.

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*You may also like to read this piece: “What are you reading?!” Here is the link https://standoutandreign.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/what-are-you-reading/

22-year-old Nigerian makes history in United States

By Segun Olugbile

A 22-year-old Nigerian, Emmanuel Ohuabunwa, has made history at John Hopkins University, United States of America.  Ohuabunwa from Arochukwu, Abia State, has done the nation proud by becoming the first black man to make a Grade Point Average of 3.98 out of 4.0 to bag a degree in Neurosciences in the university. He was also adjudged as having the highest honours during the graduation that was held on May 24 this year.

For his efforts, he has won a scholarship to Yale University to pursue a degree in medicine. Besides, he has been inducted into Phi Beta Kappa Society, a prestigious honour group that features membership of 17 US Presidents, 37 US Supreme Court Justices, and 136 Nobel Prize winners.

According to Wikipedia, The Phi Beta Kappa Society is an academic honour society. Its mission is to “celebrate and advocate excellence in the liberal arts and sciences” and induct “the most outstanding students of arts and sciences at America’s leading colleges and universities.”

It was founded at The College of William and Mary on December 5, 1776, and thus it is the oldest honour society for the liberal arts and sciences and among the oldest undergraduate societies in the US.

In an online interview with our correspondent, Ohuabunwa, who was born in Okota, Lagos and attended Lilly Fields Primary School, Lagos, said he left Nigeria after his junior secondary school education at Air Force Comprehensive School, Ibadan, Oyo State.

“My parents moved the whole family when I was 13 years old. I was about to begin SS1 at Air Force, Ibadan. When I got to the US, I was enrolled with my age mates, which meant at 13, I was in middle school. I went to Fondren Middle School, which was in the middle of the ghetto. That was one of the darkest years for me because I encountered a lot of peer pressure. Some of the students, ignorant about Africa, bullied me and called me names such as ‘African booty scratcher’ because to them, Africans were dirty and scratched their butts all the time.

“Some asked me if I lived in mud huts and ate faeces for breakfast. I remember one day, when I was walking to the school bus, a boy came from behind and punched me in the face, called me an African and walked away. It took everything in me not to retaliate. I knew that God had put me in the U.S for a purpose and it did not involve fighting or selling drugs or doing the wrong things.

“My experience during that year gave me a thick skin. I learned to stand for what I thought was right even when the opposition seemed insurmountable. I also learned to look at the positive in all situations. Even though these kids were bullying me, I was still gaining an opportunity to school in America and nothing would stop me from making the best of this opportunity.

“The shocker was that the kid that punched me in the face was black. I would have expected the blacks to be nicer to me. Nevertheless, I don’t blame those kids because they were ignorant about Africa. All they knew about us was the stuff they had watched on TV or documentaries, showing primitive African tribes, living in the jungle and making noises like monkeys.

“In regards to the whites, there might have been some minor episodes but again I don’t blame them for it because it is a problem with stereotypes,” he said.

But in spite of this humiliation and racial prejudice against him, the first in a family of three was not discouraged. He faced his studies and was always coming top in his class. After he completed his middle school education, he passed the entrance examination to DeBakey High School for Health Professions. It was at this school that his interest in neurosciences and medicine started.

“By the second year of high school, we were able to interact with doctors, nurses and other administrators in the hospital. The more I learned about medicine, the more it felt like the thing God was calling me to pursue and by being in the US I got a lot of people to support me to do this. Even though in high school, I got to see first-hand what it meant to be a doctor. We studied advanced anatomy and physiology, learned medical terminology, and learned important skills, such as checking blood pressure, pulse rate, and many more.

“I knew I wanted to go to the best school in the US. I had heard that Johns Hopkins Hospital had been ranked the number one hospital in the US for the past 21 years and I wanted to be in that environment.’’

Worried that his parents might not be able to sponsor him to the university, Ohuabunwa purposed to work very hard. He did and when the result of the PSAT came, he performed so well that he won the National Achievement Scholar.

By virtue of this award, he received certificates of recognition from various organisations including senators from the Congress of both Texas and the US. He also received scholarship from the University of Houston; Rice University, Texas A&M Honors College and many more.

He had also won the Principal’s Award during the annual awards ceremony at DeBakey High School.

“During our graduation ceremony at DeBakey, I also won the Award for the Most Outstanding Senior Young Man and the student volunteer award for my volunteer activities in the State of Texas,” he said.

But his breakthrough came when he won the Bill and Belinda Gates Foundation full scholarship to any university of his choice. He worked hard and gained admission to Johns Hopkins University to study Neurosciences.

But why Neurosciences, Ohuabunwa said, “I studied Neuroscience, because I was fascinated with the brain, its control of our behaviours and how various diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, lead to a decline in its activity. I also minored in Psychology because I wanted to understand disorders in the psyche. What causes bipolar disorders or schizophrenia. I did not just want to label them as crazy but to understand what causes these conditions and how we can treat them,’’ he explained.

But what does he consider to be the missing links in the education sector of Nigeria when compared with that on offer in US, Ohuabunwa said unpredictable academic calendar, corruption, examination malpractice and inadequate funding were some of the problems confronting his home country’s university sector. These, he said, were absent in the US.

“There were a few problems with Nigerian higher education that contributed to our emigration in 2003.  The first was the number of strikes that occurred in schools. It took my uncle seven years to graduate with a degree that should have taken him only four years. A second problem was the corruption. We had heard of people going into universities, because they paid someone to look the other way. I also heard of a few cheating scandals, where people would pay someone to take their exams for them or get a copy of the exam a few days before,” he said.

But is he saying that US university system has no such problems at all? Ohuabunwa said, “Although this sometimes occurs in the U.S, it is less common because of the strict security. I remember when taking the Medical College Admissions Test,  test required before one can matriculate into medical school, each student had to get his fingerprints taken every time we entered and left the hall. The whole place was packed with cameras and security staff that monitored everything we were doing. The exam was computerised to make sure that no one saw the test before the actual date.”

Another difference, he said, is that America rewards hard-work while the system also emphasises on a balance between academic life and extracurricular activities.

On how he won the scholarship to Yale, Ohuabunwa said his 3.98 GPA in Neurosciences, and many awards he had won and God’s grace, contributed to his winning the scholarship.

“As at the time of my application for medical school, I had a 3.98 GPA of a 4.0. This made me  the only black student inducted into the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa. I was also awarded the Becker Family Scholarship for being the most outstanding student in the Neuroscience major at Johns Hopkins University. Furthermore, by God’s grace, I took the MCAT and scored in the top five percentile.

“That, combined with my hours of volunteer service in different hospitals across the US allowed me to gain acceptance into every medical school I applied to, including Harvard, Yale, Johns Hopkins, Columbia, and Cornell. As the time came to make a decision, I had narrowed it down to Harvard and Yale. Both schools, I enjoyed visiting. Nevertheless, while my parents prayed, they asked God to give us a sign of what school to attend. A few days later, I received a letter from Yale Medical School, offering me a full ride scholarship for all four years. That was the sign from God,” he said.

But would he come back to Nigeria after the completion of his programme, he said yes.

“I am absolutely interested in the health care policy decisions in Nigeria. Because there are many changes that need to occur, I will not rule out the possibility of coming back after my studies, in order to join hands with the leaders to make these changes possible.’’

He added that his ambition is to become a medical doctor specialising in brain surgery.

“Two weeks ago, my grandmother passed away after a long battle with strokes. Even during emergencies, it was difficult for her to get to the hospital, let alone get treatment. This is a common theme not only in the health care system of Nigeria, but in different countries in the world, where the poor get neglected.

“Second, Nigerian hospitals lack the infrastructure required to compete with major hospitals around the world. It would be an honour to one day contribute to this transformation that is necessary for improvements in Nigeria’s health care sector,” he said.

He, however, advised Nigerian youths who have the wherewithal, to go abroad to study. Ohuabunwa also called on  wealthy Nigerians to invest more in the education of the poor rather than in acquisition of material things.

Ohuabunwa, however, said that his parents, who he described as his greatest role models,  contributed a lot  to his academic feat through Godly training, counsel and guidance. He also did not forget the impact  that his short stay at Air Force school had on him.

“I was definitely not the brightest at Air Force. At that time, I felt like I spent more time running away from seniors than focusing on my studies. Nevertheless, I learned three things at Air Force that have served me well in the US. I learned discipline, adaptability and resilience. These attributes helped me a lot in US,” he said.

Source: Punch

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Think Like An Optimist

By Brian Tracy

Everyone wants to be physically healthy. You want to be mentally healthy as well. Think about it. Don’t you? The true measure of “mental fitness” is how optimistic you are about yourself and your life. In this piece, you learn how to control your thinking in very specific ways so that you feel terrific about yourself and your situation, no matter what happens.

Control Your Reactions and Responses

There are three basic differences in the reactions of optimists and pessimists. The first difference is that the optimist sees a setback as temporary, while the pessimist sees it as permanent. The optimist sees an unfortunate event, such as an order that falls through or a sales call that fails, as a temporary event, something that is limited in time and that has no real impact on the future. The pessimist, on the other hand, sees negative events as permanent, as part of life and destiny.

Isolate the Incident

The second difference between the optimist and the pessimist is that the optimist sees difficulties as specific, while the pessimist sees them as pervasive. This means that when things go wrong for the optimist, he looks at the event as an isolated incident largely disconnected from other things that are going on in his life.

See Setbacks As Temporary Events

For example, if something you were counting on failed to materialize and you interpreted it to yourself as being an unfortunate event, but something that happens in the course of life and business, you would be reacting like an optimist. The pessimist, on the other hand, sees disappointments as being pervasive. That is, to him they are indications of a problem or shortcoming that pervades every area of life.

Don’t Take Failure Personally

The third difference between optimists and pessimists is that optimists see events as external, while pessimists interpret events as personal. When things go wrong, the optimist will tend to see the setback as resulting from external factors over which one has little control.

If the optimist is cut off in traffic, for example, instead of getting angry or upset, he will simply downgrade the importance of the event by saying something like, “Oh, well, I guess that person is just having a bad day.”

The pessimist on the other hand, has a tendency to take everything personally. If the pessimist is cut off in traffic, he will react as though the other driver has deliberately acted to upset and frustrate him.

Remain Calm and Objective

The hallmark of the fully mature, fully functioning, self-actualizing personality is the ability to be objective and unemotional when caught up in the inevitable storms of daily life. The superior person has the ability to continue talking to himself in a positive and optimistic way, keeping his mind calm, clear and completely under control. The mature personality is more relaxed and aware and capable of interpreting events more realistically and less emotionally than is the immature personality. As a result, the mature person exerts a far greater sense of control and influence over his environment, and is far less likely to be angry, upset, or distracted.

Take the Long View

Look upon the inevitable setbacks that you face as being temporary, specific and external. View the negative situation as a single event that is not connected to other potential events and that is caused largely by external factors over which you can have little control. Simply refuse to see the event as being in any way permanent, pervasive or indicative of personal incompetence of inability.

Resolve to think like an optimist, no matter what happens. You may not be able to control events but you can control the way you react to them.

Source: Brian Tracy’s Success Newsletter

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A TAG IS NOT ENOUGH

By Adeleke Adeite

Your appearance attracts attention; your aptitude attracts appreciation but your attitude attracts affection!

No matter how painted a woman is; if she is not loaded, she will only be accepted today to be rejected tomorrow.

No matter how handsome a man is; if he is not honourable, he will only catch the eyes only to cloud the skies.

Real men women look for the right substance and not just romantic supplies.

Reasonable clients look for beautiful packs with the best package in them, no matter the price tag.

Your lovely lips may be keen at kissing but that will never keep a purpose-driven partner if your lies keep killing their kingdom.

It is not how well you can twist your tongue but how well you can tame it.

You may have the face of a flower but its fragrance will flare like flame if your inner features are not favourable.

Relevance is not about being photogenic but being futuristic. Your reputation is how well you relate as a role model or real model.

Your exquisite eyes may be good at winking, but if it does not see hope, it may never win the heart of a man with a wise world.

It is not about how well you can wink but the worth of who your wink wins.

A terrific tree is good, but no matter how beautiful its leaves, fruits and branches are, if they are not useful, the tree will be abandoned or cut off.

As you package your body to make it beautiful, polish your brain and make it bright; paint your behavior and make it blissful!

What makes treasures is not the titles and tags they carry but their true content!

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#Adeleke Adeite is a graduate of Economics Education from the University of Ado Ekiti. He is a poet, motivational writer and songwriter. He has over four International Poetry Awards to his credit and has won lots of member contest on PoetrySoup International. He is passionate about building positive mindsets in youth . He fervently believes he is a product of God’s grace. He can be reached on princepart@yahoo.com

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‘When I was living in the mud house, I knew it was not going to be a permanent abode’

By ‘Femi Asu

Dr. Otive Igbuzor, the Executive Director of the African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development has stressed the importance of personal goals and vision in combating poverty.

Speaking at the 1000 Points of Light Summit, last Saturday, Dr. Otive wowed the youthful audience with his speech titled “Heads Held High: Maintaining Self-Esteem, Personal Goals and Vision in the Midst of Poverty”. 

Said he: “The challenge of poverty is probably the greatest challenge of our time… Individuals have roles to play in combating it. It is possible to escape poverty through personal vision and goals. You have to know that as an individual you are created for a purpose. That is why it is important for you to understand your purpose; it will give meaning to your life, it will simplify your life, it will give a proper focus and it will motivate you. You must understand your purpose.

“There are three key things you need to understand and know for you to hold your held high: purpose, success and happiness.

“You must define for yourself what you think success is and you must understand that success is a journey.”

He defined success as “knowing your purpose in life, growing to reach your maximum potential and sowing seeds that benefit others. It is in that context that you can have a meaningful life.

“Happiness is not about the amount of money that you have; it is the joy that accompanies positive activity. Happiness is a lifestyle. Happiness is an attitude. Happiness is contentment. Do not use others to determine whether you will be happy or not.”

He asked: “Where does success come from? Success comes from the spirit – if you look at the stories and biographies of many successful people, however defined, you will discover that they had some inspiration. The second source of success is the mind. The kind of thoughts in your mind determine a lot.”

“I come from a very humble background, but my parents were not poor because they were rich in values and ideas…I lived in a mud house, my ‘bed’ was made of mud covered with mat… There are certain things you must do as an individual that can make you come out of poverty. If you are disciplined, you work, you save and you invest, you can come out of poverty.

He gave the audience seven keys for combating poverty.

Have a vision. Let your dream be big. Vision is very important.  When I was living in the mud house, I knew I was not going to stay there. You must create a vision of where you are going to.

Have a plan. Vision without a plan is a fantasy. What plan do you have to make your dream a reality? Those plans must have priorities and targets. You must find the capacity to concentrate on one priority at a time.

Have focus. You must talk and think success. You must persevere. You must ignore distractions. The future is a clean slate and it depends on what you write on it.  If you remain poor, don’t blame your father or your mother; they are not responsible. You are responsible for what you are going to become.

Be informed. You must secure all pertinent information concerning your vision. Internet has equalized everybody in terms of access to information.

Create a climate of confidence. Excuse no matter how beautiful is not an alternative to performance.

Help others to become successful and build relationships. What you make happen for others God will make happen for you.

The God factor. You can be strategic, hard-working, but you also need God in your endeavours.”

“To move out of poverty, the beginning points are the riches which you already possess; your talents, your networks, your positive mental attitude”

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Dr. Ezekwesili, ex-World Bank Vice President inspires youths in Lagos

By ‘Femi Asu

Last Saturday, many youths converged on Olive Tree Auditorium, Banana Island, Ikoyi, Lagos, courtesy of 1000 Points of Light, an initiative that seeks to raise the ability of youth to effectively and intelligently engage their leaders, government and environment on national and local issue in a peaceful but potent manner. It was indeed a summit for change agents as distinguished public intellectuals engaged the participants.

Delivering the keynote speech at the event, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili said the summit was her first public outing since she relocated to Nigeria after her tenure as World Bank Vice President for Africa.

She told the youthful audience: “I consider your generation a turning point generation for the continent…I love the fact that you consider yourself a point of light…If you are going to be a point of light, you have got to understand what you are up against.”

Speaking on “Confronting Poverty”, the theme of the summit, Dr. Oby said: “Nations are poor because there are constraints and obstacles to growth that they have not been able to tackle. Poverty is a result of an obstacle to growth. When nations are poor, inherently they have a larger colony of poor individuals… Africa has a larger percentage of its population being poor.

“There are three types of poverty. There is poverty of access, poverty of power and poverty of money. Poverty of access means the poor essentially have no access to basic necessities and infrastructures that will enable them overcome poverty. Poverty of power means the poor most often are marginalized in the environment of politics. Even though they are already trapped in the environment of non-availability of useful services…they still are not offered the voice to ask for a new paradigm, a new set of policies, a new engagement from government to provide those services.

“Poverty of money is as a result of lack of jobs or regular stream of income. The poverty of access and the poverty of power lead to the poverty of money. These three types of poverty require a focus at the individual level. At the government level, we have found that nations overcome poverty. With sound policies, nations can support their citizens in lifting themselves out of poverty.”

“The private sector has a role to play in overcoming poverty. Many of you are trapped in a consciousness that should end with our own generation: thinking that a university degree is an automatic access to government. Your generation must understand that you are the private sector.

“Individuals must position themselves to tackle poverty. The individual efforts at self-improvement in order to capacitate himself or herself to take opportunities that are available is critical. There is the effort at improving your knowledge, your capacity, your skills. For many of you, unfortunately, that has not been the case…

She expressed worry over what she called “contemptible life of ignoble ease” which is being celebrated by many youths, adding that “effort, hard work and productivity cease to matter.”

She warned the participants: “Your generation is also the generation that faces the greatest competition…the only way you can ‘rep’ in a competitive world is to be adequately prepared, you must be intellectually sound and competent. Your world is a world where your competitor is no longer the next Nigerian youth, it is the next citizen of the world

“As an individual, you have tremendous opportunities. Don’t complain about the constraints. Access to technology is important for your generation as an opportunity. Technology has democratized know-how. Today what you know is without boundaries… The world of the internet opens you up to the lowest cost of knowledge. Knowledge has never been cheaper and it is to the advantage of Africa.

“You have got to re-prioritise. Your priority have got to change. Information is power; it’s no longer cliché, it’s real. Access to information is the most liberating context within which your generation is growing.

“You should be busy with the most relevant knowledge on how to tackle a problem… There are many problems needing to be solved at the individual level. Develop a brand for being a problem-solver.

“You have greater opportunities than your forebears. The saddest thing that can happen to you is to sit here lamenting and complaining that you don’t have opportunities… You need to unlock your mind. Unlocking your mind is so key at the individual level.”

She asked the participants: “What kind of choices are you making? The set of choices that people make today will determine their tomorrow. As it is with nations, so it is with individuals. What choices are you making with the time that you have been given? What do you invest your 24 hours in? The ones who make the right choices are those who use their 24 hours a day to define a vision for their lives. What is you life vision?

“You are actually a solution to a problem – that is the reason you are here. Have you bothered to sit down and write down what you perceive as your life vision? Your life vision will determine your choices.”

The former Minister of Education stressed on the importance of skill-based education, saying: “Understand your skills, what are the things that stand you out? You have got to know your limitations and know the strengths that are available to tackle the limitations.

“At the individual level, it is important that we should overcome the poverty of power. The most powerless set of people are those who have indoctrinated themselves that they are powerless. You’re not powerless… Build a power base with your colleagues and form a coalition of minds… You cannot work on the issue of accountability until you understand what needs to be accounted for. Educate yourself in basic economies, understand the issue of governance… The budget of a nation is the most important instrument of policy direction.

The role of government in ensuring sound macro-economic policies is key in tackling poverty… It is at the local level that poverty is tackled; so engage… If you do not demand for accountability, they don’t offer it on a platter of gold.

She also noted that government cannot be the answer to every problem.

Said she: “You must be ideas people; what’s your idea? This continent is dependent on you. As you write your vision statement also write your ideas plan. Your idea might just be the solution to a problem. What are your ideas?

“Why wake up every morning waiting for the day to come to an end? We need to be ideas people; Ideas rule the world. Innovation is the capacity to find new ways for doing old things – things that we’ve known. Actualize your thought process.”

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You Can Connect With Absolutely Anyone If…

 

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

I don’t care what your goals, industry or interests are, there’s no getting around it: Personal relationships run the world. But why is it that some people seem to build instant rapport with most anyone they come across, while others are left with a network of one?

  1. Be genuine. The only connections that work will be the ones that you truly care about; the world will see through anything short of that. If you don’t have a genuine interest in the person with whom you’re trying to connect, then stop trying.
  2. Provide massive help. Even the biggest and most powerful people in the world have something they’d like help with. Too many people never reach out to those above them due to the fear that they wouldn’t be able to offer anything in return. But you have more to offer than you realize: write an article or blog post about them, share their project with your community, offer to spread their message through a video interview with them. Give real thought to who you could connect them with to benefit their goals. If it turns out you can’t be that helpful, the gesture alone will stand out.
  3. Pay ridiculous attention. It’s nearly impossible to genuinely offer help if you don’t pay attention — I mean real attention, not just to what business they started or what sport they like! Do your research by reading blog posts, books and articles about the connection beforehand. Learn about their backgrounds and passions. Invest genuine time in learning what really matters to them and how you can help.
  4. Connect with people close to them. Most job openings are filled through networking and referrals, and making connections is no different. You automatically arrive with credibility when referred to someone you want to meet by a mutual friend. For example, I recently wanted to meet a best-selling author, and it turned out we had the same personal trainer. In reality, that fact means nothing, but in the world of social dynamics, it’s gold! Spend more time connecting with your current network of friends and colleagues and see where it leads.
  5. Persistence wins most battles. If you can’t get a direct referral, simply click send on that email or leave a message after the beep. But do not stop there, as most the world tends to. The first attempt is just the very beginning. Realize that the first try may get you nowhere, but the fifth or the tenth tries are the ones that start to yield results. An unreturned email or voicemail doesn’t mean they don’t want to connect with you. It’s your job to be persistent! I sometimes get hundreds of requests in a day from readers who want to connect, but only about 2 percent ever follow-up. Don’t be in a hurry, but don’t be invisible either.
  6. Make real friends. Think about how you’ve made the friends you have. That’s all this is. You only make friends with people you genuinely want in your life. The same rule should go for bigger-name connections. Don’t over-think it. Be human, be helpful and most humans will happily be human in return, regardless of who they are.
  7. Remain unforgettable. All of the above are simple — yet sadly underused — ways of standing out. Send birthday cards. Mail your favorite book with a signed personal note from you on the inside flap. Send them your family Christmas card. Be genuinely helpful. You’d be surprised how the simplest things actually never get done. Being memorable isn’t as hard as some think!

It all comes back to helping others. If you spent 100 percent of your waking hours thinking about how you can help absolutely everyone you come in contact with — from the woman who makes your latte, to the top authority in your industry — you will find everything else tends to take care of itself. The world will suddenly be in your corner.

Source: Forbes

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