My Child Must Be A…

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Growing up as a Nigerian child can be mentally hard. Pardon me for generalising; Yes! I know Nigeria is enormous with over 250 ethnic groups and I cannot speak for everyone but I have found out that Nigerian children, no matter where they grow up, are raised in similar ways.

I was in South London sometime ago and a Nigerian woman complained bitterly about the academic capabilities of her 6-year old daughter (Yes! You read that right). She feels the daughter isn’t as smart as her peers and this makes her worry. She had already planned that the little girl would be a doctor in future and as a result, she hired a private tutor to teach the child after school hours which means the little girl arrives home at about 5pm every weekday.

Many Nigerian parents, just like the aforementioned lady, put pressure on their children, especially the oldest child, to do well in academics. Infact, they have unrealistic expectations that you must be the best at everything; it is not debatable. Even if you get an A and finish as the second best student, they will probably still ask, “The person that came first, does he/she have three heads?” Thereby making their children too result-oriented.

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It is absolutely of great importance that parents support their kids’ academic pursuit but there is growing concern that Nigerian parents put too much pressure on their kids beyond their capabilities and abilities. Whilst some parents want their kids to study 24 hours of the day (TDB) with minimal or no play time, in hope they will grow to become the next Albert Einstein, others favour and praise the academically sound ones over the poorly academic ones.

Putting children under intense pressure can be devastating to their psychological development. Consequently, they develop a certain type of mentality that makes them believe they are worthless without academic success thus cultivating sibling rivalry.

Some children may also develop perfectionistic traits as they put too much pressure on themselves to please their parents and other family members. In my little experience so far, many believe they are only studying for their parents, not for themselves, but are afraid to voice their opinions. Many struggle to establish autonomy and often succumb to depression, sickness, alcohol and drug abuse, psychosis, emotional trauma, low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence.

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Parenting is hard work; it must be said that parents who put too much pressure on their children never do it with the intention to harm them. Naturally, everyone expects a profitable return on the investments they make and parents are no different. They want to see a return on the investment of money/time that goes into raising their children (school fees are not easy to come by).

There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting high targets for your children however when these expectations seem to overhelm them, there is need for us to re-evaluate and soft pedal a little bit. Nigerian parents need to realise that every child is different; some are early developers whilst others are late developers. Also, not all children will be academically sound and the best you can do is to encourage them to be better whilst exploring other talents/skills your kids possess.

Some parents do this because they want their children to achieve more than they did. Recently, psychology experts revealed that parents who put extreme pressure on their children are only trying to live/achieve their failed dreams through their children. This gives them great fulfillment and pride, as some see it as a “straightforward validation of their parenting skills.” Professor Brad Bushman of Ohio State Univerisity, who coauthored the research said, “Parents then may bask in the reflected glory of their children, and lose some of the feelings of regret and disappointment that they couldn’t achieve these same goals.”

Furthermore, the emergence of social media (Facebook, BBM, Twitter, Whatsapp, Instagram etc) have unintentionally heaped pressure on many to achieve and some extend this pressure to their children. We are always notified about the events in everyone’s lives – especially their achievements so there’s increased pressure on kids to excel academically so parents can secretly boast that they have the best children ever.

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A child should be allowed to follow his/her own path in life, not the path of his or her parents. All he/she needs is parental guidance and support!

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Good Health is Underated

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“To keep the body in good health is a duty…otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind clear and strong” – Budha

As we go through the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we often lose focus on what’s really important – we tend to forget just how important good health is to leading a successful life.

Health, they say, is real wealth but
not many individuals make out time in their busy schedules and lifestyles to care for themselves. We are so engrossed in our ambitions and aspirations, without realising all these are meaningless in the absence of a healthy lifestyle. However, health is dynamic; our health levels change in tandem with our changing lifestyles.

Good health is a priceless asset to oneself, his family and nation at large – it is a heritage to be passed on due to the importance of heredity in this respect. Consequently, it is a burden not just to oneself but to one’s family and one’s nation to maintain good health.

I found it alarmingly disturbing that something as important as health of the citizenry was played down by erstwhile President of Nigeria, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and his successor, Muhummadu Buhari during the Presidential elections campaign. Whilst focusing mainly on infrastructure, economy and anti-corruption; both paid no heed to the words of
Will Durant, who said “The health of nations is more important than the wealth of nations.”

A decline in health levels of the citizenry will affect almost everything – including economic growth/development via total factor productivity. An ailing citizenry lack zest for daily pursuits hence retarding the pace of functional activity and economic development. This provides an insight why  underdevelopment persists in our country despite the massive turnover of Nigerian graduates year in, year out.

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Health is central to one’s whole personality and optimal state of well being. When discussed, people have varying definitions of health but most focus on the conditions of their bodies – physical aspect of health. Although physical health is important to overall health, our social, emotional/mental and spiritual health are just as important as physical health. According to World Health Organisation (WHO), Health refers to a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

Good health is pivot to human happiness – a state of the mind – through well-functioning mind and emotions. Everybody lusts after happiness and desperately relishes the pursuit of this holy grail.

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Attaining/maintaining good health is not a single-action but continuous process. People practise good health in diverse ways ranging from food, exercise, rest, cleanliness to social interactions. I am not a dietician so I can’t offer you expert advice on what to eat to maintain good health but I do know this..exercise and sleep really help.

Adequate sleep and exercise are extremely important to staying healthy both in body and mind. Arianna Huntington, the owner of Huntington Post, described sleep, in her book Thrive, as “the most underrated health habit”. Sleep can stimulate imagination/innovation, enhance one’s memory and attention, ease stress and depression, and boost one’s performance/grades but lack of sleep has a huge effect on mental health, hormonal imbalance and susceptibility to heart disease and diabetes.

Furthermore, exercise, for the body and mind, is highly recommeneded to be done as often as possible. Whilst the recommendation of physical exercise is common with various workout manuals and videos out there, mental exercise is often neglected but is vital as well. One can also exercise his/her mind by learning new things everyday, reading a book, doing cross word puzzles/scrabble/sudoku, calculating sums in your head etc.

The importance of practising good health is evident in every aspect of one’s life, including your relationships. Without good health, we fall short of the joys and pleasures of life – our aspirations and ambitions. Always remember: everybody dies but not everyone lives. Start living today.

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Self-Respect, Yes; Self-Obsession, Nay

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I had an epiphany recently; I have come to accept that everyone (whether male or female, young or old) in this world of ours is in sales business. We are all trying to sell something; whether it is oneself, a product or service.

Irrespective of your age or occupation, you have to sell yourself to move ahead in life. You have to overwhelm the opposite sex to win their love/affection, impress your teachers during assessments to pass, convince your potential employer that you are the next best thing after party Jollof rice during a job interview or market your product/service to attract customers.

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Sales business is all about the buyers and sellers who are emotional beings. Buyers need to be convinced of you as a person, your product or service to be interested in what you have to offer. Hence, a seller requires emotional intelligence (empathy) as well as self-respect, self-awareness, self-motivation, ability to listen, integrity and honesty to successfully deliver his/her pitch and make a sale.

The Igbos often say “Otu isi kposa ka aga esi goru” which simply means what/how you sell is what/how people will buy. Buyers don’t care or want to know how great you are until they understand how great you think they are. Infact, there is a myth that boastful and loquacious sellers have little or nothing to offer. Hear Frank Underwood (a fictional character in the TV series House of Cards), “Pay more attention to the print it is far more important than the selling price.”

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A seller that can control his/her words exudes confidence and self-respect. A strong sense of self-respect helps one fulfill his/her potential, develop healthy relationships with buyers and make them see you as a person worthy of respect. Absurdum est ut alios regat, qui seipsum regere nescit. Robert Greene once wrote, “A person that cannot control his words shows he cannot control himself, and is unworthy of respect.”

Nevertheless, there is a thin line between self-respect and self-obsession. In a desperate attempt to raise our self-respect, many cross this line and succumb to narcissism or self-obsession. While there is little or no doubt that people with low self-respect are often depressed, jealous and lack motivation, self-obsession can also be a conundrum. Richard Boyatiz, a Professor of Organizational Behavior, Psychology, and Cognitive Science at Case Western Reserve University, once said in a lecture, “To large extent, our strengths and weaknesses are like a yin yang. They are in the context of each other. Any strength taken to extreme can become a weakness.”

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Self-obsessed individuals or narcissists are overconfident and have an unquenchable thirst to be perceived as the most important person in the room even if it means saying ill things or putting others down to feel good (a trait they share with individuals with low self-respect). It makes them feel significant hence they derive their sense of self from being good at something.

Self-obsession has more in common with low self-respect than we perceive; just with a different expression. Just like individuals with low self-respect, narcissists tend to get angry and aggressive towards those who make innocuous comments that irk their ego and make them feel bad about themselves.

Furthermore, they are often killjoys, flaunt and strut their accomplishments, compare a lot and hang out with people they feel are on their level. Human beings rarely accept their own feedbacks and narcissists are no different. However, facts are stubborn things and paying close attention to your own feedback (the most important information in this our sales world) will help you become a healthier, smarter and happier sales professional.

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Having a healthy respect for others is crucial and cannot be overemphasised. Strive Masiyiwa, one of Africa’s richest business men and most generous humanitarians, wrote on his Facebook page, “Being business minded requires you to approach things with humility and respect.” These two leadership traits will help you interact with your buyer(s) in a way that makes them feel valued and appreciated. Consequently, building longlasting partnership/relationship with your buyer(s). Always remember, a seller is nothing without his/her buyer(s) and individuals don’t need to be  important to be a potential buyer. Hear Bishop T.D. Jakes, “Take your time to enjoy your relationships. Nature teaches us, there’s no fruit without relationships..you need people. Surround yourself with good ones.”

The need for self-respect in sales (life) have led many to turn a blind eye to their shortcomings and flaws thereby developing a quasi-understanding of themselves. If you are in pursuit of self-respect, then you must have to accept yourself (including your limitations) and work everyday on becoming better. Investing in yourself is the best investment you can/will ever make. A good sales professional invests in his/her education, development and personal motivation; these are prerequisite tools.

Are you a good salesman?