How Sports Prepares You For Entrepreneurship (part 1/2)

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It is no news again that the unemployment level in the country, particularly among youths, is alarmingly high. The President Goodluck Jonathan-led Government tried to curb this problem through encouragement of entrepreneurship
and small business development. As a consequence, many Nigerian youths have embraced enterpreneurship as an alternative career choice.

Participating in sports can actually help prepare the Nigerian youth for enterprenurship. Personally, I have been playing and watching sports since I was 5. Even though I don’t get to play and watch sports as much as I would like anymore, I have come to realise there are interesting similarities between sports and enterpreneurship.

Passion
This is a very key element in sports. If you are passionate to be the best in the sports you love, you can take that passion into everything you do, including enterpreneurship. A passionate person is always ready to go extra miles and get things done. This is essential in enterpreneurship. Most entrepreneurs are driven by a passion for their business. It is the force that keeps them working when things are falling apart.

Work Ethic
Sports is the epitome of hardwork, desire and dedication. Sometimes talent is not just enough. There is a common saying that “Hard work beats talent if talent doesn’t work hard.”  Sports can prepare one for the rigours and uncertainty that come with the enterprenuerial journey. Take heed to the words of former American baseballer, Derek Jeter, “There may be people that have more talent than you but there is no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.”

Preparation
Former American swimmer and nine-time Olympic champion, Mark Spitz once said, “If you fail to prepare, you are prepared to fail.” Preparation is crucial in sports. Every sportsman trains and prepares very hard to have a competitive edge over his closest rivals. The same happens in business; it is hard to see a successful entrepreneur wake up one day and start a business the next. He must develop his invention idea into a product, find the right market for his product, determine how to reach them and also come up with a detailed plan on how to beat his/her competition, and that takes time and effort. It must be said that preparation is not a guaranteee that one will be successful but it increases the odds. Always remember the words of late Joe Paterno, American college football hall of famer “the will to win is important but the will to prepare is vital.”

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Self-Confidence
Self-confidence, not self-obession, is crucial to success in all aspects of life. Without self-confidence, we struggle to fit in. Sports helps raise the confidence level of an individual and this can trickle into all areas of the individual’s life. According to Dan O’Brien, former American decathlete and Olympic Gold medallist, “For many of us, who struggle with ‘fitting in’ or our identity – sports gives us our first face of confidence. That first bit of confidence can be a gateway to many other great things.” An enterprenuer must be self-confident to reach the zenith of his/her endeavours. Self-confidence allows one to take calculated risks but without self-confidence one will be scared to take risks and even if/when you do, nobody will believe in the risks you take.

Self-Discipline
This is one special quality that many successful people have acknowledged can lead to greater success, accomplishment and happiness in life. No personal goal or achievement can be reached without self-discipline. Lou Holtz, American College Football Hall of famer, once said, “Without self discipline, success is impossible, period.” Weakness for the bottle and women, drugs and gambling have ruined so many people. Sports can help one develop self discipline that can lead to success in all areas of life. This is in line with the words of Bob Cousy, a former American Basketball player, “Sports gives your life structure, discipline and a genuine, sincere, pure fulfilment that few other areas of endeavour provide.” In Sir Alex Ferguson’s book with Sir Michael Moritz, Leading, he praised Cristiano Ronaldo’s self-discipline not to deface his body, smoke or drink. He also said that Ronaldo keeps himself at about three kilograms below his natural weight to help him maintain his pace. Ronaldo is smart enough to know that if he doesn’t stick to his healthy lifestyle, he will regress. Every enterprenuer needs Ronaldo-esque self-discipline inorder not run his business into the ground.

….To be continued

The Olajumoke Orisaguna Story: From Inspirational to Exploitation

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I’m pretty sure that most of you must have read or heard from someone about the story that has made the country and international community buzz in recent weeks – the story of Olajumoke Orisaguna, the bread seller turned model.

Olajumoke, a 27-year-old mother of two, was just jejely doing her thing; hawking bread well set on her head in Sabo area of Lagos when she innocently stepped into a photo shoot of popular photographer TY Bello with Nigerian-born British singer Tinie Tempah.

The picture came out ‘perfect’ and she looking like a professional model. TY Bello took her under her wings; gave her a make over and helped her to feature on ThisDay’s Style cover. Ever since then, she’s been featured on CNN, BBC, Huffington Post, and virtually everywhere online.

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The genesis. Source: TY Bello

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I was really happy for Olajumoke and her family, and I likened it to the case of one stumbling across a new talent when we least expect it. You know how sports scouts go to games to watch a certain player and discover another talent altogether, much to their own surprise. Yeah just like that! After all, nobody is talking about Tinie Tempah who was supposed to be the main subject of the photo shoot.

I can imagine how many pastors who have used or planning to use Olajumoke, as a focal point, to prepare their semons since the story broke out. And telling their congregations to tap into such blessing when praying.

However, the Cinderella story of Jumoke went from inspiring to weird for me when I heard a luxurious apartment company in Lagos had given her a new apartment. I mean, there could be workers in that company who help in building those luxurious apartments but don’t live in one or even have a roof over their heads sef. But hey, we only get what we negotiate for and not what we deserve in life right?

The endorsement deals didn’t stop there. StanbicIBTC and PayPorte have also made her their brand ambassador, with the former awarding her two daughters scholarships up to university level. The National Identity Management Commission also hopped on the bandwagon when Jumoke paid a visit to their University of Lagos (UNILAG) office to register for her national identity card. They posted a picture of Olajumoke with one of their staff on the Commission’s official Twitter account with the caption “Olajumoke knows she needs NIN. She walked into a NIN centre yesterday unsolicited. Olajumoke is smart. Be like her.”

Olajumoke has become an overnight celebrity – a brand –  however I find this sudden metamorphosis tainted with hypocrisy and opportunism. The height of it came last week when Jumoke was scheduled to give a motivational speech at a conference in Abuja even though she doesn’t speak English fluently.

I am aware that the media love a sensational story and the story of Jumoke certainly offers them such sensationalism. As a result, everybody wants a piece of her as this seems to be the easiest path to embrace news headlines.

I had thought Olajumoke was feted by corporate bodies for humanitarian purpose or corporate social responsibility (CSR) but it has become a curious case of exploiting an innocent victim – a case of “Who no like to embrace the winner?” Just pause and ask yourself if these sudden philatronpists would have ever noticed Olajumoke on the streets or even bothered to buy the bread she sells when Shoprite bread and the like dey!

There are many people like Jumoke out there; still hawking one thing or the other or even positioned in front of strategic places asking for alms, who never get noticed or helped. Also, some of these big shots have househelps who have lived with them for years, who yearn for the smallest grain of such benevolence bestowed on Olajumoke.

Sooner or later, this story will fade out and  media will find something else to have their interest piqued. As a consequence, I sincerely wonder what will happen to her and her family when this honeymoon is over. Would she still have a luxury apartment? Would she make it in the modelling world? Would she set up her own beauty salon(s)? Would StanbicIBTC honour their promise and ensure her kids are educated up to tertiary level? And most importantly, would her family still be together? I guess only time has the answers to these questions.

Despite all these uncertainties surrounding this story, one thing is certain, the lady and her family definitely need all the protection they can get right now. I really hope her story won’t be a serious instance of “if you are reading this, it is already late” in the end.

Don’t Mock Me, Teach Me

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“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid” – Proverbs 12:1

How often have you heard people say, I can’t marry a woman that doesn’t know how to cook? Or I can’t be with someone that doesn’t know the difference between your and you’re (grammatical errors)? I reckon that these have led to the demise of many promising relationships.

First and foremost, I love food. Ah! Food is life. In Nigeria, there is a common saying that “the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” so I do believe a woman ought to possess great culinary skills.

However, as I grow older (and wiser I hope), I have come to accept that not every woman produces magic in the kitchen and not everybody is grammar-savvy. Nobody knows it all and we all have flaws; even the shortcomings of the genuises among us may come easily to those with the lowest of IQs.

As a consequence, I have come to realise that everybody has something to teach you and what really matters is being teachable. So the most important question ought to be is she willing to learn how to cook? Is s/he eager to know the difference between your and you’re?

Teachability is not something you can force on anyone; it is a choice. We choose whether to react positively or negatively to other people’s views and ideas. Jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong once said, “There are some people that if they don’t know, you can’t teach them.”

Naturally, we abhor criticism and negative feedback. No one likes to be criticised so we tend to develop strong resistance and reluctance to it.

This problem is often exacerbated if one possesses any of the six things that can make people arrogant: power, fame, intelligence, affluence, talent and beauty. No matter how powerful, famous, intelligent, affluent, talented and/or beautiful we are, if we are unteachable, it will be hard or almost impossible for us to reach our full potential in our endeavours, careers or relationships.

Hence, being teachable is crucial in self-development and self-education; it is the most important skill in life. Teachability is linked to having an unquenchable thirst and deep appreciation for knowledge.

Your immediate contacts, friends and family are always willing to share their information/knowledge if you are willing to learn from them. Every coach/manager from all walks of life loves anybody that is teachable. They are often happy and eager to help anyone who is not conceited to ask questions.

So go ahead and ask questions for everyday is an opportunity to learn something new. And if someone doesn’t know what you know, try correcting/teaching them before mocking them.

Opinions and Attention

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Naturally, I am not attracted to groups so I try not to join any but life has presented me with different reasons, at different stages and on different occasions, to do so. Right from an early age, I had to join the Bible, quiz and football clubs to hone my academic and soccer abilities. This continued as I grew older and I proceeded to join a research team as a post-graduate student.

There are several reasons why one may benefit from group inclusion. Just like me, many join groups for purposes of social, spiritual, educational and political change. These groups afford us the chance to meet up and have different interactions with others.

However, there is something about groups I abhor. Groups tend to promote crowd mentality amongst their members. And this doesn’t align with my belief. I believe one has the right to think freely on his/her own. According to Mark Twain, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority. It is time to pause and reflect.”

Groups often infiltrate the minds of their members thereby making them see themselves in a positive way and others (opponents & people dissimilar to them) in a negative way. For example, back in secondary school, it was deemed wrong/degrading for members of certain groups to relate with members of other groups. As a consequence, social distance is created.

Social distance is based on the concepts of race, ethnicity, class and status. It reflects the degree to which people are willing to accept or reject social intercourse with others with different social characteristics.

Social distance succinctly explains why we disregard the opinions of those we feel are below us e.g our gatemen etc because their ideas and dreams seem bare and ordinary to us. So we only bother ourselves with opinions of those we feel are above us or on the same level with us.

In every organisation or institution, low-rank individuals often pay attention to the affairs of high-rank individuals. This explains why rich people pay little attention to those below them. Daniel Goleman in his article “Rich People Just Care Less” published in the New York Times, wrote “The more powerful pay less attention to us than we do to them, in other situations we are relatively higher on the totem pole of status — and we, too, tend to pay less attention to those a rung or two down.”

Think about this: when a rich/successful (wo)man says something, whether it sounds smart or stupid, people are awed. In contrast, many might turn a blind eye to a well-thought analysis offered by a poor wise man. No wonder King Solomon, who many believe to be the wisest man that ever lived, said in Ecclesiastes 9 vs 16, “Wisdom is better than strength, those who are wise will be despised if they are poor. What they say will not be appreciated for long.”

In this information age, your long-term success depends on winning the attention of others. According to Steve Rubel of Edelman, “Attention is the most important currency that anybody can give you. It’s worth more than money, possessions or things.” It’s not easy to gain people’s attention. It requires hard work, determination and time.

Nobody pays attention to someone who shares a common opinion (only famous people are an exception to this). We rather turn our attention to people who we deem threats, superior or have uncommon opinions.

Therefore, to leave your mark and make a difference, you have to focus your attention inward and be bold enough to challenge the status quo. Only then will people pay attention to you.

Slow and Steady

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I was going through my records recently and came across an essay I wrote in my teen years. Back then, I wasn’t a fan of writing so you can imagine how good or bad the essay was.

Although I loved scribbling things on anything that was close to me whenever I found myself holding a pen or pencil, I hated writing essays. I never paid attention in class; I found the stories & novels boring when they were read out in class. I prefered to watch a movie adaptation of the novels.

This continued until a friend
of mine who I usually depended on during assessments ridiculed me and this made me angry. I channeled my anger towards learning literature on my own. I would spend time correcting and correcting my essays till I was satisfied.

The first time I actually wrote an article was back in 2008 on a hospital bed and since then, I’ve come ease to myself into it – slowly but steady. I am still learning though and do have writer’s block once in a while.

The mordern world depends on technology and thence built on speed and immediate results. As a result, we are often in a hurry to get things done. Even when it isn’t necessary, we act and feel something is on our heels.

However, the process of learning is a very slow one. Any business, skill, vocation or situation worth learning or mastering, requires time, effort and focus. Philip Stanhope once said “Whoever is in a hurry shows that thing he is about is too big for him.”

It is important for one to have a sense of urgency for whatever s/he is doing however we often mistake hurry sickness for sense of urgency. Sense of urgency is the ability to identify things that require urgent attention and acting upon them ASAP but when one is in a hurry, s/he feels there’s need to rush everything even when there’s no reason to.

Assuming you have been given a deadline to submit a coursework/project/proposal. A person with a sense of urgency will start working as soon as possible, giving himself ample time to finish and go through his work over and over again before the deadline. In contrast, someone who is in a hurry will rush the work and give little or no room to cross-check his/her work.

You can’t get much done if you lack sense of urgency but by doing things hurriedly, we reduce our effectiveness, lower quality of our work and possibly make avoidable mistakes. Take heed to the words of Earl Monroe, “Just be patient. Let the game come to you. Don’t rush. Be quick, but don’t hurry.”

There’s no need to be in a hurry. Be quick but agbana speed. Speed kills. Slow and steady wins the race.