By Tunde Oseni, PhD
‘The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams’. So goes an anonymous saying. We all need dreams. Not just because dreams come true but also because a life without dreams is an empty life. Dreams in this context are not what we see when we are fast asleep but rather what we passionately think about and enthusiastically imagine becoming realities in the nearest possible future. Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, former President of India, said: ‘The dream is not what you see in sleep; dream is which does not let you sleep’. That’s a food for thought indeed. Dreams are therefore the stuff of which success is made of. The good news is that dreams that we hold dear can come true if we tap into the power of big dreams. Dreams come true.
I know that dreams come true because I once dreamt that I would get education at the premier university in Nigeria: the University of Ibadan, and I did; dreams come true. I once dreamt that I would like to make a first class honours degree, and I did; dreams come true. I once dreamt that I would do my postgraduate studies at the first university in the United Kingdom and one of the oldest and the best in the world: the University of Oxford, and I did; dreams come true. While at Oxford, I did dream that I would do my doctorate in a top-rated university in the UK: the University of Exeter, and I did; dreams come true. I not only researched at Exeter, but also taught students from all parts of the world. Wow! Dreams indeed come true. It may interest you to know that I was not born with the proverbial silver spoon, but I was, metaphorically speaking, born with a spoon, the spoon of pursuit of excellence, the spoon of courage, the spoon of hope. Continue reading “Dreams Come True” »
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In January 2013, I was at a petrol station (gas station as the Americans will say) to refill the fuel tank of my car. As the petrol attendant was refilling the tank of my car, I heard a voice. The voice was so distinct and mellifluous that I could not ignore it. “Could you please give me N50?” (Fifty naira is a Nigerian currency) I looked towards the left and right to ascertain the direction where the voice emanated from. I asked the petrol attendant if she had said anything. She answered in the negative. At that point, I carefully searched for the owner of the voice. After some time, the voice repeated what it initially said “Could you please give me N50?” This time I knew where it came from. It was the voice of a demented woman that sat very close to the entrance of the petrol station. I was shocked, to say the least, because of the impeccable Queen’s English spoken by the mad woman!
Meanwhile before the mad woman asked me for a token of N50, one of the petrol attendants had asked me for a tip. I asked the petrol attendant to tell me how much she wanted. Her response: “Give me anything”. I juxtaposed the response of the petrol attendant with that of the mad woman. And I began to wonder how an insane person could be specific about her demand, while a sane person was asking for anything. While I gave the mad woman what she asked for, I used my discretion to offer to the petrol attendant what I thought she deserved. I wanted to give her more, but since she asked for anything I gave her what I considered to be anything! Continue reading “Life Gives You What You Ask of Life” »
Purpose, according to Encarta Dictionary, means “reason for existence; the reason for which something exists or for which it has been done or made.” To everything there is a purpose. Nothing exists without a reason. When God created man, He had His reason for doing so. He created man to have dominion, to subdue and to multiply. To have dominion, subdue or multiply therefore man must understand his make-up; he must know what makes him tick and what comes to him naturally. Yes, naturally! No one or nothing can thrive well outside his/its natural habitat. If you take fish out of water, for instance, it is an invitation to doom. So, to be able to fulfil purpose in life one must operate within one’s natural habitat.
In the round leather game, one name that has been a recurring decimal, especially in the last one decade is Mourinho. José Mário dos Santos Mourinho Félix, or simply José Mourinho is a Portuguese football manager, currently the head coach of Real Madrid. He is commonly known as “The Special One”. Mourinho is regarded by some players, coaches, and critics as one of the best football coaches of all time. Mourinho started out as a player and eventually switched to management. After working as a physical education teacher and spells working as a youth team coach, a scout, and an assistant manager in the early 1990s, he became an interpreter for Sir Bobby Robson. He worked with Robson at Sporting Lisbon and Porto in Portugal, and Barcelona in Spain. He remained at the Catalonian club after Robson’s departure and worked with his successor Louis van Gaal.
He began focusing on coaching and impressed with brief but successful managerial periods at Benfica and União de Leiria, taking the latter to their highest ever league finish. He returned to Porto in early 2002 as head coach, winning the Primeira Liga, Taça de Portugal, and UEFA Cup in 2003. In the next season, Mourinho guided the team to victory in the Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira, to the top of the league for a second time, and won the highest honour in European club football, the UEFA Champions League. Mourinho moved to Chelsea the following year and won the Premier League title, the club’s first league title in 50 years, and the League Cup in his first season. In his second year Chelsea retained the Premier League and in 2006–07 he took the club to an FA Cup and League Cup double, though they finished as league runners-up. He often courted controversy for his outspokenness, but his victories at Chelsea and Porto established him as one of the world’s top football managers. Mourinho left Chelsea in September 2007, amidst reports of a rift with club owner Roman Abramovich. Continue reading “Jose Mourinho as a Metaphor of Purpose” »
In my over 3 decades of existence on the surface of the earth I have had the opportunity to interact with three different teachers. I have been impacted one way or the other by all of them. My experience in life has made me to tag two of them as ‘rich teachers’, while the other one a ‘poor teacher’.
In 1984 I lost my father to the icy hands of death. He died at a tender age! Despite the fact that he died young, he achieved so much. He actually became a director in one of the Agencies of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at 38. This is not a mean feat! I work 9-5 with an Agency of government today and I know it is not easy. My father was the breadwinner of the family. He was our all-in-all. When death called, events in our family took a downward trend. My mother was petty trader with just a First Leaving School Certificate! Things got so bad that we could hardly have a meal per day. Despite the downturn, she did not give in. The situation brought out the best in her.
One event that qualifies her as one of my rich teachers happened in December, 1984. During the festive period, everybody was preparing for how to make the period a memorable one. People were buying new clothes, chickens, goats, rice and all sorts of things. We became crestfallen and dejected because we knew nothing of such would happen in our homestead. But my mother shocked my siblings and I. She invited a tailor to our house to come and take our measurements. At first, we thought she wanted to do ‘April Fool’ for us, but this was December. We reluctantly allowed the tailor to take our measurements. After the tailor left, we enquired for where and how our mother got the money to buy a new cloth. She further amazed us with her response “I took out some of my old wrappers and loosened them.” From this singular event, she taught me to always turn problems into opportunities. Instead of brooding over any situation, she taught to think out of the box and make the best of the situation. With the simple solution she proffered to a hitherto big challenge in our eyes, we had a swell time at Christmas as we wore something ‘new’. My mother was a rich teacher; she taught me by example. She introduced me to “Problem-Solving 101”. Continue reading “A Tale of Three Teachers” »
By Tunde Oseni
Success is a relative term. It means different things to different people. Nevertheless, we all know successful people when we see them. According to The Pocket Oxford Dictionary (e-version), success means ‘accomplishment of an aim; favourable outcome; attainment of wealth, fame, or position’. People admire success and society rewards it. Simply, to me, success is what you achieve as a result of a calculated effort. This is what I mean: you succeed when you set a goal and meet it.
Let us begin with the story of a ‘skinny kid with a funny name’ who attempted to give life a shot with the hope that his country had a place for him too. Barack Obama overcame the stereotype of being born by a white mother, who later died of cancer, and a black father, who he truly never knew. He was raised by his maternal grandparents in Honolulu in the State of Hawaii and went to college with the full hope of making it despite odds. Barack studied Political Science at the Columbia University, worked as a ‘community organizer’ in the Southside of Chicago and went to read Law at Harvard University where he rose to become the first black President of the venerated Harvard Law Review. Barack then became an attorney, elected a state senator, appointed an adjunct professor, and then elected as a national senator, and eventually the first man of his skin colour to become the President of the United States of America. That is success.
Now, success is not just about becoming a president or a governor or being awarded a Nobel Laureate. Success comes in different garbs, colours and sizes. At times success may connote such a simple achievement as getting one’s dream job. For instance, one of my friends, Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata Jnr., now CEO of CFA Leverage, shared with us how elated he became after securing a job with Globacom Limited. He said he was hopeful that he would secure the employment despite the discouragement by many of his contemporaries who insisted that getting such a job with a big Telecoms required ‘connections’ and since my friend didn’t have one he would fail. He succeeded.
I believe that anybody can set a goal, make calculated effort, through organised planning and self-motivation, and reach that goal. It is however important to differentiate between good success and bad success. This may be a paradoxical way of looking at the concept of success. But we probably do need to classify some success as good and some as bad in order to separate what is truly glorifying from what is merely vain-glorious. Continue reading “Defining Success” »
I had a conversation with a friend who has just been fired from his work. He told me that when his manager invited him to get a cup of coffee, he considered it a chance to have discussion around promotion, pay raise or a new assignment. He was performing well at work and getting positive feedback from colleagues and supervisors. But a few minutes into the coffee session, his manager broke the news. “You’re fired”, may be in a more diplomatic way but whatever form it took, it translates to one thing, he was fired.
We’re told that if we to do the right thing at the right time and get ourselves at the right place at the right time, we can ensure job security, promotion, and stability and happiness. In truth, even after we’ve done everything right, even after you’ve done what your manager expected you to do, and have been voted the employee of the month, change suddenly pops up. And sometimes change can be big and unpleasant. Continue reading “The Unexpected Coffee Break” »
Giving back to the community is a noble thing, but a ‘giving back’ that is inspired by a mere feeling of pity for the other folks accomplishes little, in fact, it may do more harm than good. Pity makes you impose yourself on the people and prescribe to them your solutions. Empathy gets you into partnership with the people and communities to solve problems. Before you embark on any volunteer program, community service, charity project, clarify whether it is driven by pity or empathy.
A couple of weeks ago I was with my mentor in his office. I went to him not to be lectured, but for a different purpose. As I was about to tell him my mission, a woman came in. This woman, apart from being a veterinary doctor, also holds a Ph.D. in Innovation and Technology Management. She wanted my mentor to drill her for the interview she was to have the next day. Without blinking an eye, my mentor, in his characteristic manner, immediately began to ask some questions on current affairs. At a point I was wondering why my mentor would be asking a Ph.D. holder such ridiculous questions. To my dismay, she could only answer 1 or 2 out of almost 15 questions she was asked. Continue reading “How Old Is Your Knowledge?” »