Welcome to the year 2021. One prays that it will be a refreshing departure from the year of horror – “annus horribilis” – that 2020 was. With the discovery of a vaccine for the dreaded virus COVID-19, one can only hope that the world would be able to breathe a considerable sigh of relief and we can return to our reasonably normal life. I want to thank God who enabled me to keep this column going even when I went through a bereavement and an attack of COVID-19 in succession. I look forward to a positively eventful 2021 full of cheering news and heartwarming opportunities.
If you know anything about Rugby or what Americans know as football, you will know what a touchdown is. A touchdown is the winning move a player makes when he is able to touch the ground with the ball behind the opposing team’s goal line, scoring six points in the process. In aeronautics, it is the point at which the wheels of an aircraft make contact with the ground during landing. If the plane’s touchdown is successfully done, it is almost a given, barring an act of God, that the landing will be smooth and with no untoward incident.
While I was meditating on a winning strategy for 2021 irrespective of whatever challenges it throws up, some ideas jumped at me and I will be sharing them over the next few editions of this column. The ideas cover a wide spectrum of our lives viz; relationships, finances, personal growth and effectiveness. In no particular order, I will be sharing highlights from my personal notes on these ideas that will help make the necessary touchdowns for victory in the new year and even beyond. This write-up is not about an investment or career guide but I will be concerning myself with often-ignored soft skills which, if thoroughly imbibed, will ease your way through the challenges of the new year.
The first thing to learn to do is to live a planned life. A goalless life is a directionless life that ends up nowhere because it sets no target to aim at. Goals help to set priorities and help us to know what requires pursuit and what needs to be forsaken. In the words of Segun Olugbemi, a very dear pastor friend, what you denigrate depreciates and what you celebrate appreciates. When a man lives his life by a compass, he quickly understands that not everything or everyone that seeks his attention is deserving of it. Sometimes, distractions come wrapped in attractive packages.
By goals, I don’t mean some beer-parlour concocted, alcohol-induced ‘resolutions’ made on New Year’s eve and which only endure as long as the effect of the ‘spirit’ that birthed them but are forgotten and junked within a few hours after they were made. I am referring to a well-laid out vision and action plan for the year and beyond!
Stop expecting from man what only God can do. Do not deliberately set yourself up for disappointment by expecting too much from people. At the onset of a project or idea, our first instinct even before we have prayed about it is to come up in our minds with a list of people we would or should be getting in touch with to facilitate execution. No doubt, we cannot effectively get anything done without people. But we should be open about WHO will be relevant to our desired outcome. Sometimes, many of the people that we think would move things forward for us may not be the instruments that God has in mind to use for that purpose. By all means, ask people for help when you need it. However, resist the urge to be bitter against them when they don’t or cannot give it. Unknown to you, their troubles at that time may be bigger than yours or perhaps you knocked on the wrong door. Simply assume that God didn’t place the capacity in them at that time and move on.
When I was battling for my life in the isolation centre with COVID-19, I received several calls for financial help. Many of the callers did not even know that more than half of the time, I didn’t have the energy to pick the phone. I know that many of them may have felt offended or snubbed, but what could I possibly have done in that situation?
Check on people more because you care, not only because you need their help.
This leads me to the next point. No matter how busy you are, if you sense a burden to call or visit someone, don’t delay. It is not important whether they are deserving of the call or visit or not. There may be a role you need to play in their life at that time. One of the most devastating experiences I had in this area happened many years ago. For several days, I had the urge to call a particular person but I was too preoccupied with other things and I kept pushing the idea forward. Not long afterwards, I learnt that the person had died! When I knew the cause of death, I felt so shattered, moreso when I had a gnawing feeling that I could have done something to help.
If you want to make significant progress in the year, you must learn the art of asking questions. The more you ask questions, the more you stumble on answers and the more questions you ask, the more answers you get. In life, when the student is ready, the teacher will show up! Seek knowledge like you breathe oxygen. There is hardly anything the human mind cannot find answers to if it addresses itself to it. When COVID-19 first struck, humanity felt so helpless about it and so many lives were lost. In a short period of time, as questions were asked about the manner of manifestation and the progression of the disease, humanity started gaining mastery over its management. Less than one year after its outbreak, humanity found a vaccine against the disease.
Knowledge is the oxygen of development. Our mountains simply assume the size of our ignorance. The first type of knowledge you need to seek is of the mind of God for your life within His overall programme for humanity. Don’t float through life without a definite direction. As I indicated in this column a few weeks back, you must find your IKIGAI, the very essence of your being and embrace it. The world rewards you in line with your distinction and not for what you do like everybody else.
Know and master your environment or you will end up being a victim of it. Most people simply give in to happenings and circumstances in their environment without any attempt to deconstruct the environment and change its paralyzing narratives. This is the reason why people look for validation for their inadequacies through referenced collective dilemmas. The thought is that if it is happening to several people in the collective, then it must be a status quo that cannot be changed. You cannot gain mastery over an environment or circumstance that has conditioned your thinking… continued.
Remember, the sky is not your limit, God is!
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