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!

Thank you for making out time to read this article. If you have enjoyed it, please comment and share your views on this issue. Also, do like, share and follow the blog.

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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.

Thank you for making out time to read this article. If you have enjoyed it, please like, share and follow!

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?

Oliseh: The Right Man for Super Eagles?

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I had predicted it a few months back whilst discussing with the Nigerian football legend and some tweeps on the social media platform twitter. Now it has come to fruition, Sunday Ogochukwu Oliseh has been appointed the new coach of Super Eagles on a three-year deal.

There is something refreshingly exciting about Oliseh. Speaking at a recent TEDxEuston event, he enthused education made the difference in his career hence he assumes this herculean task with huge expectations from his employers, fans and international community.

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With the political fighting and misgivings in the Nigeria Football Federation, unnecessary disciplinary sanctions and poor results on the field, Nigerian football is in dire need of a new direction. And in my honest opinion, Oliseh is the man to navigate us through this journey towards football El Dorado.

As a footballer, he was a leader of men, passionate and a rock in the middle of the park. Post-football career, Oliseh has a carved a niche for himself in football punditry and analysis but illustrious football and punditry careers are seldom prerequisites for managerial success. Just ask Graeme Souness, Ruud Gullit and John Barnes.

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There is a myth that good players hardly make it in management/coaching; his former 1994 class members (Austin Aguavoen, Samson Siasia and Stephen Keshi) all tried to change the country’s fortunes with mixed outcomes but in Oliseh, the Super Eagles have a man with good knowledge of the game highlighted by his excellent analytical skills and strategic thinking.

No wonder the NFF President Amaju Pinnick hailed Oliseh as the “Pep Guardiola of African Football” at his media unveiling. Although the hype is an unnecessary one, it depicts the wealth of knowledge, aura, exposure and charisma Oliseh exudes.

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Just like Guardiola, Oliseh takes the mantle of Super Eagles with little management experience; he had only managed Belgian lower league side Vervietois between 2008 and 2009. Guardiola had been in management for just a year (from 2007 – 2008 with Barcelona B team) before he went on to revolutionise and bamboozle the world with beautiful tiki-taka football.

To achieve the Guardiola-esque success of adding realism to romanticism, Oliseh needs to think before he dreams; both juxtapose reality. And go for players who fit the bill to play for this dream team.

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It is encouraging to hear he shares one’s view about the current state of our football; we lack quality players. He stated, without mincing words, in his first press conference that only players playing in the top division at home and abroad will wear the Green and White of Nigeria henceforth. The only exceptions, according to him, would be young talents who have put in tremendous shifts at youth levels.

This may sound harsh or “unnecessary” as my friend described it but one has chosen to see it as ploy to encourage the current crop of players to work harder and earn moves to top football leagues rather than settle for obscure countries just for financial gains, which has become endemic. As a result, competition for places on the team will enhance, with only players who merit a spot on the team, called up. This is evident in the current Football Transfer Window; we have witnessed a huge merry-go-round amongst European footballers in search of regular first-team action to boost their chance of being amongst those invited to the Euros party.

Nevertheless, it is time for Oliseh to match his words with action. Managers are judged by performance on the field (results) and not by their preparation/analysis. And Oliseh won’t be an exception!

Nigerian Football: Which Way????

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Sitting here, relaxing and surfing the internet for the latest football Transfer News, I noticed a common ‘anomaly’ amongst Nigerian footballers.

All the Nigeria International footballers that have been linked with a move away from their respective clubs, attracted interests from relatively small clubs in top European leagues or clubs in Turkey and other obscure countries.

With all due respect to these clubs, every fan wants to see his countrymen sign for top European sides and I am no different. It signifies the quality of footballers the country churns out year after year.

A lot of fans have forgotten what it feels like to see a good number of Nigerian footballers show off their skills at the biggest stage, the UEFA Champions League (UCL). Former Chelsea manager Roberto di Matteo made every African football fan proud when he listed four Africans in his squad for the 2012 UCL final against Bayern Munich, which they won on penalties.

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These Africans include: John Mikel Obi (Nigeria), Michael Essien (Ghana), Salomon Kalou & Didier Drogba (both Ivory Coast). Hence, Mikel became only the third Nigerian to win the UCL after Kanu Nwankwo and Finidi George (with Ajax in 1995).

David Olatokunbo Alaba, Nigerian-born Austria International, would have become the fourth Nigeria International to win the UCL when he won the title at Wembley with Bayern Munich in 2013 against fierce rivals Borussia Dortmund  if Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) had approached him on time to switch his allegiance from Austria.

Just like Alaba, there used to be a time when Nigerian footballers attracted or commanded a starting berth at top European clubs.
These footballers were termed the “Golden Generation of Nigerian Football”. The Kanus, Georges, Babayaros, Wests, Ikpebas, Amunekes, Okochas, Okechukwus, Olisehs made headlines across the globe and caused a bidding war amongst top European sides after their heroics at 1994 CAF African Cup of Nations in Tunisia, 1994 FIFA World Cup in United States and 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

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Kanu Nwankwo and Finidi George moved to Ajax Amsterdam in 1993 and went on to win the UCL in 1995 under the tutelage of Louis van Gaal. They also returned to the same stage a year later but were unlucky to succumb to Italian giants Juventus on penalties. Kanu moved on to Inter Milan and Arsenal amassing a number of trophies to become the most decorated Nigerian footballer ever whilst George moved to Spanish club Real Betis in 1996 after his proposed move to European heavyweights Real Madrid collapsed.

Celestine Babayaro joined Belgian club Anderlecht in 1994 and became the youngest player to play and receive a red card in a UCL game aged just 16years 86 days. He spent three years in Belgium before joining Chelsea, where he won the UEFA Cup Winners Cup and UEFA Cup in over 200 appearances for the London club.

Emmanuel Amuneke, the 1994 CAF African Footballer of the Year, represented Portuguese club, Sporting Lisbon between 1994 and 1996 under late Sir Bobby Robson. In 1996, Robson left Sporting for FC Barcelona and took Amuneke with him, however, his time at Nou Camp was cut short by a knee injury.

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Sunday Oliseh, who is fondly remembered for his thunderbolt winner against Spain at the 1998 FIFA World Cup, played for Ajax Amsterdam, Juventus and Borussia Dortmund.

Victor Ikpeba, the 1998 CAF African Footballer of the Year, played for AS Monaco and Borussia Dortmund in France and Germany respectively with distinction.

Now fast forward to the current crop of players avaliable to the Super Eagles coach for selection and only Victor Moses, Peter Osaze Odemwingie, Ogenyi Onazi, Vincent Enyeama, Kenneth Omeruo, Elderson Echejile, Joel Obi, Ahmed Musa and John Mikel Obi stand out. Mikel caused a tug of war between Manchester United and Chelsea in 2005 before eventually settling for Chelsea. He has gone on to play in UCL and FA Cup finals as well as make the bench for the UEFA Europa League and Capital One Cup finals. He is hot on the heels of Kanu Nwankwo and may usurp the latter to become the most decorated Nigerian footballer ever.

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Others, including Taye Taiwo, who shone at 2005 FIFA World Youth Championships with Mikel, have failed to live up to expectations. To be fair to Taiwo, he started his career on a high and went on to play for Olympique Marseille and AC Milan but lost his form and confidence in 2011 aged just 26 and hasn’t recovered ever since.

There are three main reasons why I think Nigerian footballers aren’t the lure of leading European clubs anymore. The first is age; a number of Europeans still believe Africans and South Americans lie about their ages hence most prefer to take their chance on young players that can offer their clubs a good number of years in return for the astronomical figures they command.

The second is lack of ambition; Africans, rather Black men in general, are often known to become complacent once they achieve their dream. Most Nigerian footballers could care less about winning laurels and trophies. They are in the football business, just for the money considering their family backgrounds. Football has taken many from bottom to the top of the food chain. However, they fail to understand that a player that aims for titles and shattering records will make more money.

The third is lack of quality; the naked truth is that if these players were quality, most managers would take a chance on them irrespective of their limitations. A lot of managers questioned ages of Kanu and Taribo West but it didn’t deter them from signing both players.

To solve this conundrum, the NFF, Nigerian Premier League clubs and national team coaches have to invest heavily in scouting networks to discover quality players who are hungry for success on all fronts.