Non-judgmentalism and the Concept of Listening

Today, in a world of labels and phobias, I see a new problem seriously taking centre stage across the globe. And on the long haul, we would be lesser for this if we don’t quickly nip it in the bud.

Whether you call it profiling or labelling, we simply aren’t listening to people who think or believe differently from how we do, simply because of a fundamentalism bias that says we have the superior argument or conviction and they don’t; or blankly, because we are conservative and the liberals are wrong; or because we are white and we find ‘Black Lives Matter’ putridly offensive. The idea that people should just be quiet because they don’t share the same views as us. And therein lies the problem.
People are people. And something fundamental about people is their right to differing opinions, views and causes of action on issues.
And a point to note is that human beings are tribal and tend to drift towards commonality because of the safety and convenience  of conformity. But to allow this tendency to drive your every action is to deprive yourself of the greatest opportunity of being human; the opportunity to learn.
As a person of faith, my beliefs about being non-judgmental are solidified by the words of Jesus at his famous Sermon on the Mount:

Judge not, and you shall not be judged.

Not judging people on the basis of our beliefs allows us to soak in their perspectives and learn from them. It gives us access into the deepest recesses of another because listening is how you connect to the heart of another.
There is a common usage in Nigeria which says,

‘The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.’

While this may be true for some, I hold a different view. The way to any person’s heart is through your ears…and this only begins to happen when you take off the blinders of personal bias, race, religion or political affinity…and just listen without judgement.


Eating Wrong: Making A Simple Shift From Processed Foods to an Organic-based Diet

Human beings are the only creatures who literally eat themselves to death.

I mean, it was a moment of truth for me just watching people at a nearby grocery store in the neighbourhood-where I go to shop-just buying stuff I know would literally kill them off over a period of continued consumption.

Being a public holiday in Nigeria, more than the usual number of people were in the mall, lined behind their shopping carts, flanking the twelve cash registers. Most of these people, sedentary, were literally buying sugars. Beers here, yogurts there, and all kinds of sodas. 

It made me think about life expectancy in this part of the world, currently averaging at 53 for both sexes and how a drop would be inevitable in a few years if we don’t change.
The rule of thumb to healthy dieting is to eat more grown foods than processed foods. 
Eat more fruits and drink more water. As a person of faith, the Bible guarantees human beings a 120-year lifespan as I believe. But it is one thing to be given a gift and a completely different thing to receive it.

It is time to make a change. Happy Easter!

Change Your Social Orbit

Your social orbit says a lot about where you are headed in life. ‘Show me your friend and I will tell you who you are,’ goes the saying about how associations underpin identity. 

I heard a story this morning that drove home the need to constantly upgrade quality of people we associate with. 

Pa Joseph Kennedy, a leader in the Irish American community of his day, one-time US Ambassador to Great Britain and father to three of America’s iconic political leaders, John Fitzgerald, Robert Francis and Edward Moore was in the habit of hosting world leaders at his home and allowing his children-from a very young age-interact with these highly influential people. And though it may seem that the Kennedys were  the most influential political family of their time, it didn’t happen by accident. 

Think about it, the three Kennedy boys help offices between themselves as House Representative, Senator, US Attorney General and the President of the United States of America. Pa Kennedy’s diligence at managing the social orbit of his children played a huge role in the maverick political contributions of his sons to the free world; from putting a man on the moon to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that enabled black Americans the right to vote.

If for the Kennedys managing their social orbit was the secret, it can be yours too. Forget about the past and live like you have a bright future ahead of you, because you do.  And the best way to live your life with zest and power is to associate with people of zest and power. 

You are in the wrong company of friends if you are the smartest, wealthiest or most influential. The way upwards is to band with people that stretch you; who in some way, can teach you to do better. 

Friend, if your identity is tied to your social orbit and you are now seeking to reinvent yourself, your business or career, then it begs to say that only one thing is needful:

Change your social orbit

4 Classes of Assets Revisited

Assets are things that put money in your pocket while liabilities take money out. A typical example would be a car purchase. If you bought the  car for your personal use, it is a liability. It would take money out of your pocket for gas and maintenance from time to time. But if you converted the same car into a taxi, it would immediately become an asset. Why? Because your taxi would put money in your pocket from time to time. Simple…!

Now the money game that gets you to the place called financial freedom is played by owning more assets than liabilities.

Owning assets is therefore a strategy of the rich and here’s the four different classes of assets, that if properly harnessed, can make you financially free.

  1. Business: Owning a business is route to financial freedom in the sense that your business pulls in a certain income from it activities.  Facebook, Google and PayPal are businesses that started from scratch and have made its owners financial free. You might consider  starting a business.
  2. Investments: Owning an investment like shares in a company can be a lucrative way to financial freedom in that over time you can grow your return applying the concept of compounding interest. Compounding interest has been called the 8th wonder of the world and if you keenly devote yourself to learning about it, it will certainly make you rich.
  3. Real Estate: Owning commercial property is another major way out of financial bondage. For this, I would refer you to the game of Monopoly. As long as there are people, there will always be renters and cash flow from this asset class. Owning a house or more that you can let out to others has been an age long way to freedom. Though capital intensive in certain parts of the world, property owners have for over centuries been known among the world’s rich.
  4. Commodities: Owning commodities in form of oil, metals or agricultural produce is another avenue to financial freedom. Because of the value the world has come to place on commodities, owning them has simply become a must-have for people looking to make it out of the rat-race.

These asset classes require in depth personal study. Look at one or two that resonate with you and make a plan of action.


Depression: Let’s Talk

Many people approach the subject of depression from areas -I think-they find safe. Some people look at depression from the standpoint of religion. They think that depressed people are people without any faith-based hope and then pontificate about spiritiality in a way that defeats helping sufferers.
Others, particularly in third world countries, look at it from economics; their cause of depression being impoverishment of all sorts; and how people’s economic inabilities provide a very succinct environment for depression. And yet these people-in my estimation- misconstrue suffering with depression and end up describing something else.

Then, there are the nerdy ones who look at depression purely from the view point of medical science. In their definition, depression is a mood disorder; a mental sickness characterized by prolonged spells of sadness and disinterest; often  managable with a class of drugs called antidepressants. For these ones, depression has little connection with a man’s spirit or his body. It is a mind sickness and that’s it. And in their own words, they’d say, ‘Get tested’ or ‘Get help.’

But depression is more than a condition of prolonged sadness. It is the offshoot of a misalignment between the spirit, mind and body. You see, even though science fails to acknowledge the Spirit that man is because it fails explain what animates a man’s body, something certainly separate a living man from a corpse that died a moment ago. So settle this, you are a spirit, living in a body and you have a mind. But for the purpose of this post, allow me to describe each of these as a component of a whole, even though it doesn’t truly do justice to man’s composition.

In any case, your Spirit, Mind and Body need nurturing by way of inspiration, mental stimulation, food and exercise to required proportions that differ from person to person.  You (spirit) need to be inspired by words, pictures and acts every day; the same way your mind needs to be stimulated with things that keep you positive and hopeful; the same way your body needs food and exercise. 

As a person of faith, while I understand that clinical methods for dealing with depression have proven effective in some cases because of how these remedies deal with mind-based depression, they have failed woefully when the source of the depression arose out a deficiency in the spirit or the body. It is how medical science came up with the term, ‘incurable depression’ which some are now using as a case to support doctor-assisted suicide for patients diagnosed with it.
My point is, once there is a misalignment resulting from a prolonged neglect to feed any one of these three-Spirit, mind and body-with the appropriate stuff, depression happens.

But…let’s talk.

A Tribute to Heartbreak

My finest work she helped produce. In those moments, feeling rejected, Heartbreak was God’s gift; the first journey to myself. Oh how my heart bled with tears, from pain I couldn’t describe. I blamed Him yet somewhere in the very recesses of my being, I knew she was a girl I could not keep. For my poetry, Heartbreak I thank you.
And then, there was my friend of nineteen years; my buddy and best brother in the whole wide world. I mean, we shared a space and even a name while we were together, so close I knew when he was leaving, but couldn’t get myself to own  a life without him. And even now, in this moment, I see your face God’s wealth. You left me wealthier with a spirituality I could never have had. And for this, Heartbreak I thank you.

Heartbreak was born on Sunday; the day she said she loved me. Her eyes, most alluringly, said, forever. I agreed, succumbing to the beauty of her blackness. But it was not to be. Time away from each other watered down our love into a type of spite that felt like sprinking salt on a wound, half healed. It hurt but I could cope with it, for a while…waiting to see if Sunday would come around again. Looking  backwards, I didn’t wait in vain. She made me pray until I saw a vision of my prize. Sunday finally came…after a Saturday of wining and great feasting. ‘You should have waited, ‘ she said. But I was still too drunk from the day before; from how it doused all the pain with the vision of happily ever after and the stupor of saying to someone else, ‘I do’. Heartbreak you did that and for it I am thankful because you taught me to have little patient with people who do not listen to you.
But happily ever after wasn’t enough. The flower of dreams was not to be at all. She bloomed late and in the while I waited, I wanted something more. So I traversed the Sahara, somewhat hopelessly, looking to find the thing I missed. I mean, they said the was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But I reached the end-or so I thought I did-and still…nothing!

One day while wandering  through this vastness of sand called life, I struck gold, I thought. The thing I saw glistened in the sun. It was gold. I was sure it was. And as I tried to reach out to touch it, it was gone. Heartbreak herself had played her last trick on me. Subtly? Yes. But this time, the vault was wide enough  for me to slip through. And there she was, The Muse. Heartbreak gave me something more than gold…my personal legend in the famous words of Paulo Coehlo.

Thank you Heartbreak !

The Four Ways To Allocate Money

In my book, The Code: A Simple Story About Raising Women, a fictional story embedded with ten principles for parenting girls, I write about the need for mothers to mirror the four ways of allocating money to their daughters so that it becomes ingrained to the point where their financial freedom, self-expression and influence is greatly enhanced. 

And because of the neutrality and universality of these principles, (which is why they are principles in the first place) anybody, business, government or nation can apply them for results. You can get The Code: A Simple Story About Raising Great Women free on Amazon Kindle. (today only)

So dive in with me:

1. Money is first for Investing. Every penny that comes to you must have a portion that you invest. Investing guarantees that you have money in the future to solve problems and live responsibly. One day, you may retire or want to afford yourself something ostentatious. You may want to leave a legacy for your children in form of an inheritance. Investing a portion of your income will help you with this. Have a wealth tax (a fixed percentage of your income) you apply on yourself so that, come what may, you ensure your ‘investment money’ is deducted first because of the future you want to have.

2. Money is next for saving. You save money for the rainy day. And while many may think that planning for emergencies is fine, rainy days could also mean days of opportunity. Have a portion of your money saved to cash in on financial opportunities.

3. Money is then for spending. After you have invested and saved portions of your money, and only then, should you spend on your needs. And this is the tricky part. People are hard wired to spend first because of the general orientation about money. But money should be spent third. 

4. Money is lastly for sharing. There is a stewardship part to how we use money. The  world’s richest man, Bill Gates says, 

‘Money has no utility to me beyond a certain point. It’s utility is in building an organization and the getting the resources out to the world’s poorest.’ 

Sharing with others shows that we understand our connectedness to them; that we are our brother’s keeper and the money we make is a kind of trust from God to help improve ourselves and the world around us.

If you don’t train yourself to handle money like this, financial freedom will be elusive except you get financial miracle. And even at that, you won’t be able to sustain it.

A word of note:

  • Investing creates money for the future
  • Saving creates money for emergencies and taking opportunities
  • Spending meets your needs
  • Sharing creates goodwill

Have a great week!