Reflections at the end of 40…

What a year it’s been!

I wind down this milestone year with a lot of gratitude and look forward to the future with hope. Hope. The future is as bright as the promises of God. I used to have a T-shirt with that inscription and I loved it. As a practice, I frequently reflect on what I have experienced and learned. I try to do this often and it helps me stay focused on what is important to me, crystallize the learnings, and look ahead with a growth mindset.

This is how I ended up writing “Jungle Dance” because I was reflecting on the end of my thirty-fifth year and looking ahead. I had planned to write a book on these reflections but instead of 35 things I have learned in 35 years, I decided to put the answers to the questions I had been asked about my journey into a novel. I remain grateful to Agana, Deborah, Robert, Aaron, Joseph, Abigail, Victor, and Gloria – your questions on life and work influenced the plot of “Jungle Dance”, thank you.

Here are my forty reflections at the end of my fortieth year. These reflections have not been listed in any particular order.

Enjoy the read!

1. Be grateful

Always say thank you to people who help you and be grateful for the things in your life. Mean it. Even when you’re paying, be grateful. It’s nice to be a grateful person. Wake up grateful for life and say thank you to the Giver.

2. Intentionally enjoy life

I mean, plan for some enjoyment. Do you know why?  Life is unpredictable, be deliberate about enjoying life in all seasons; when things are going well and even when things are not going too well. When it’s time to relax, do it big!

3. Speak up

You have a voice for a reason. It is your tool for differentiation, impact, and influence. So, speak up! Even when you don’t think you’d be agreeable. Your values are a badge of honor. Live by them.

4. Work hard

Hard work makes a big difference. You cannot be great just working from 9 to 5. I am often asked how I can do the many things I do. Here is the hack: I’m a hard worker. Working from 9 to 5 is for the average person. You can wake up early before the world does and work. You could also stay up later than usual to work and sleep after. I don’t mean just working on things related to your job. Your work, and why you are here on earth go beyond your job.

5. Align your confessions with your prayers

If you pray one thing and say another thing, your prayers will be an effort in futility. When you pray, declare, out loud, but to trusted people, your expected outcome, and do not allow anyone to negate it.

6. Choose the company you keep

Be intentional about being around the right crowd all the time. Forget about what the wrong crowd will say when you walk away. Your future is more precious than their opinions.

7. Be present for the people you love

Being present means your time, attention, and resources are available to your loved ones. Love them out loud. Appreciate them and tell them how grateful you are to have them.

8. Constantly learn new things

New learning comes with new energy. So rather than get comfortable with the familiar, add one more step. Learn one more thing.

9. Dance

Dancing is good exercise, and it releases happy hormones into your system. So whether it’s at a party, at home, or in church, move your body. You can simply read this point as “have fun.”

10. Pray!

I am a Christian and I believe in prayer. When you pray, you interact with God. This should not be only done in corporate settings but when you are alone, as an individual also, pray. Be intimate with God and speak to Him with sincerity.

11. Sleep

Know how to rest. Sleep is NOT for the weak. The ability to sleep is such an underrated blessing.

12. Build competence, consistently.

You need a skillset to effectively deliver value and that value is what the world needs. So work diligently towards building competence always.

13. Charge for your services!

There is a place for doing things for exposure or because you need to learn and develop skills. However, you need to know when it is time to charge for the services you render.

14. Be discerning as you commercialize your craft.

When it’s time to fully monetize a craft from a hobby into a business, by all means, charge for your service. However, recognize that there may be some individuals and situations that may require you to reconsider your fee structure, offer a discount, or do it pro bono. Consider this as an option also.

15. Be true to yourself.

Don’t lie to yourself, ever. If you like something, you like it. If you don’t like something, you don’t. You can lie to everyone but don’t lie to yourself. Accept yourself as you are and then work to become better.

16. Speak kindly to yourself.

You are with yourself all day, every day, all the time. Be kind. Speak to yourself kindly and extend grace to yourself. When you make mistakes, do not hate who you are. Be kind to you. Treat yourself well, this also means you do the right things to stay healthy.

17. Don’t make temporary things permanent.

In life some things are temporary. Even some relationships. There are people you meet, and they are only to be in your life for a season. Don’t allow temporary people or situations to create permanent damage in your life. You should be able to know what a fleeting temporary experience is so be careful that your actions and decisions do not have lasting consequences. For instance, a colleague at work and their attitude should not make you alter your values and principles. In the same way, do not sacrifice your future for something that is temporary or material and can easily be replaced.

18. You need good friends

You need good friends. And yes, adult friendships are hard but not impossible. I recently had a lunch meet-up with two of my friends that took us three months to plan. But it was worth the intentionality and the wait. Once you put some effort and commitment into it, you should be fine.

19. You do not have a clone, manage yourself

When you are a multipotentialite, you will encounter numerous opportunities that seem exciting to you. You will be tempted to do a lot of things, but you are responsible for ensuring that you do not stretch yourself too thing. Remember that you do not have a clone, there is just one of you. So, prioritize your time and focus your energies on the tasks that make a difference.

20. Love your family

They are very important to your well-being. Especially if you have an immediate family- spouse and children, don’t make them an addendum to your life. They are the main thing.

21. Accept yourself!

Self-acceptance is a thing. You are not the other person and even if you tried your hardest, you won’t be them, ever. At some point in your life, you have to accept yourself for who you are. Your history, your journey, your strengths, your warts, all of it. That’s you.

22. Be happy with who you are

Like yourself. Too many people are so focused on changing into something else that they never really like themselves. Improvement is great, but as you are now, you must like yourself too. You need that sense of esteem to move ahead. It’s what gives you confidence, it’s what gives you the energy to get better. Even when you make the silliest mistakes, don’t hate yourself. Feel bad but love you, always.

23. Serve

A leader must serve. The higher you go, the more you need to remember that leadership is service. Seek to serve.

24. Appreciate compliments

When someone compliments you, say thank you, and don’t downplay the moment. You negate your good feelings by saying, “Oh it’s nothing”. Just say thank you and smile. Feel the moment. You are worth it.

25. Be Decisive

Make decisions quickly and stop dilly-dallying. Sometimes we waste time and miss great opportunities because we are afraid to decide or because we are afraid to act. Determine that your decisions are yours to take, and the consequences are yours to bear. So, act.

26. Ask for help!

Sometimes it takes a village to help you achieve your goals. If you are overwhelmed and not as productive as you believe you can be, it’s a good idea to ask for help and be willing to pay for it if that is what is available.

27. Accept help

Being able to properly delegate key tasks means that you have to be able to accept that you cannot do everything yourself and once someone else is involved, the execution may not fully meet your standards. The helper may not accomplish the task exactly how you want it, but the task will get done. Asking for help isn’t enough, you also have to be able to accept help.

28. Respect your pace

You are on your journey, and you are going at a pace that is unique to you. Honor your pace. As you proceed, focus on what is your path. Don’t put pressure on yourself by trying to run at someone else’s pace. Their hustle is not your hustle.

29. Say No

When you don’t want to do something or are unable to, be upfront about it and decline. Don’t say “yes” to a request and then start ghosting or tossing the person about. You can simply say, “I am unable to assist you at this time”,” I am not in the position to assist”, “I’d have loved to, but I currently have a lot on my plate. Maybe next time”.

30. Give honest feedback in a kind manner

A good person would appreciate honest feedback and work to improve but when you’re unkind, they will block you.

31. Appreciate effort

When you provide feedback and the person improves, acknowledge their effort. Say, thank you for trying, for doing better. Even if they are not fully where you want them to be, still be appreciative. It is what you appreciate that appreciates.

32. Listen to your conscience, it is your compass.

All of us have an inner navigation system – our conscience that helps us make decisions. It nudges us based on our values, aspirations, and principles. It is healthy to listen to its promptings. If you continue to go against it, you will sear it and that’s a dangerous place to be.

33. Focus

Learn to block out distractions and work on what needs to be done. There is life beyond all the activity on your phone.

34. Read

Reading is good for your brain. Reading is an exercise for your brain, it keeps you mentally healthy and intelligent. Read to gain new knowledge as well as for entertainment. Read as much as you can.

35. No experience is wasted

My first job after high school was as a nursery schoolteacher. That experience has helped me understand early childhood development and manage my three champs.

36. Start your career with a learning mindset.

When you start your career, be focused on learning skills and building capacity. Be like a sponge. Open your eyes, your heart, and your ears, and learn. The plan is to develop competitive skills and be in demand.

37. So big yet so small!

The corporate world is a small place and you are likely to interact with former colleagues after you leave an organization. So, work with the knowledge that you are building a reputation. Whether its former bosses recommending you for roles, former colleagues being key decision-makers on projects, or just being in positions where they can vouch for you, I have come to believe that colleagues are important to your network. Be a good colleague to them.

38. Be a professional

A professional recognizes that you don’t have to be friends with your colleagues to work with them, but you have to be cordial to succeed as a team. I mean, they don’t have to come to your house, you don’t have to be their besties, etc. but a professional will be respectful (regardless of age or position), courteous, considerate, and yet principled. A professional gets the job done. Once you start backbiting, gossiping, giving cold treatment, and all that dull stuff at work, know that you are simply not being a professional.

39. Show up

When you are at work, show up. Bring your mind, heart, and soul to the job. Don’t be at work, pretending to work. Don’t be at work and be murmuring 24/7. If you’re going to be in a workplace, work. If you can’t work, don’t be there. Show up by how you look, what you wear, and how you present yourself. These are all pieces of your professionalism.

40. Be an ethical professional

Have standards and clear guidelines for why you do things. Don’t make decisions on a whim. Have a professional basis for them – i.e., have a clear sense of risks, how to mitigate them, and why your choice of action is good for the business, “I just felt like it” does not belong in a management meeting.

Bonus: If marriage is in the equation for you, think about who you marry as an important part of how your career and life pans out. You need a teammate at home that supports your ambition and growth. Not a competitor and not a cold shoulder.

Thanks for reading and thanks for being part of my year! As someone who reads my work, you are appreciated.



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