PhD Chronicles: Part IV

Growing up, I had this mindset that I didn’t have to toot my own horn for anyone to appreciate and understand my worth. It is either you see it or you don’t – your loss anyway. I was conditioned to believe that it is bragging and no one likes a braggart hence I talked less and did more.

However as I grow older, I have come to understand that I need to unlearn that. Self-aggrandisement is really key and crucial to your future achievements. You may be very special but you have to sell yourself to be recognised.

Sales is something we do everyday – be it a product, person, service or even an idea. We are always trying to sell ourselves to others to accept us. And this ability to sell and persuade others is linked to our innate understanding and definition of ourselves.

Selling yourself short is one of the reasons why your special attributes are not recognised by your potential employers and/or clients. Have you noticed that people who can talk or sell themselves very well whether they bullshit their way through a conversation or interview often land the best deals? He or she may be less talented or smarter than you but she understands something about social intelligence, which is selling yourself the right way.

This is where most intelligent people fall short. They often lack the courage and boldness that less intelligent people do. They often focus so much on themselves and forget that you have to be able to get the attention of your audience or prospective employers by selling yourself the right way.

You have to sell yourself the right way to open and get in the door first before anyone can be able to recognise and appreciate your worth. When you say ‘no’ to new opportunities or ideas that seem daunting, play down your own accomplishments, steer the conversation away from yourself or refuse to put yourself out there for whatever reason, you are inadvertently selling yourself short.

What this translates to whomever is listening to you is that you lack confidence, undervalue yourself and overvalue others, put up with things you shouldn’t and don’t demand respect. As a result, you’d end up in toxic relationships and have minimal experiences because experience is what separates the chaff from the wheat.

No one likes that person that goes on a monologue about their achievements. However, you’ve worked extremely hard to be where you are today so own your story and tell it with zest. Find a balance and design your life the way you really want it to be. Be self aware to identify your weaknesses but focus on challenging and mastering yourself so that you can project yourself to a whole new level.

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PhD Chronicles: Part One

This year, I became a student again; went back to the University for a doctorate degree. And the journey has an interesting one, I must say.

I never envisaged that enormous stress and intrigue accompany the program. No pain, no gain right? Abeggi! The stress is on another level; it is nothing compared to anything I have been exposed to.

Prior to starting in January, I read a lot of articles on the mental health of PhD Students. I had always wondered why there were loads of articles on this but months down the line, I completely understand now.

I never thought that the PhD would end up being a dual degree – yes! it automatically comes with a degree in self understanding. I have come to understand that there are certain things about myself that I never thought and/or knew were there. Maybe these things have always been there and I turned a blind eye to them.

The first thing that I noticed was my apparent lack of social skills or conversation confidence. And I need this skill more than anything else to get to the level I am aiming for. Without this skill under my belt, I will not be able to charm/engage/learn from others, progress in my career, network, sweep the woman of my dreams off her feet, and most importantly, get ahead in life – become a billionaire dawg!

In his book, Mastery, Robert Greene identified social intelligence as one of prerequisites for success and mastery in our individual endeavours. Without social intelligence, we lack the ability to read others, and thence misread their intentions and become emotionally drained by the endless political intrigues and battles. Without social intelligence, one won’t be able to sustain success attained because this involves consistent interaction with others to learn from them, network with them, and sometimes even be able to work well within a group or workplace.

This year, I have fallen out with a lot of people including my landlady, co-workers and housemates. And this triggered some self-reflection. When you fall out with a lot of people, something is amiss so I needed to identify and rectify it.

You see, the reason I never knew that I had this problem was the fact that I have always seen myself as a “people’s person“. I get along with people so easily and make so much effort not to be a nosy parker or have others up in my business (see my previous post on this). On my day, I can light up the room and make everyone laugh.

I questioned myself a lot this year and it didn’t help my case. Like many other PhD newbies, I struggled with the impostor syndrome, and it left me holding onto what’s left of my self confidence. This created self defeating thoughts in my head; that I am not good enough.

Unfortunately, this translated to other parts of my life without me even noticing it. I couldn’t get my research story across – and this made me feel completely inadequate. A friend and an ex, once told me that my self-confidence level was too high, and because of that I come of as arrogant, proud and condescending.

I couldn’t believe that there would ever come a time that I would feel this insecure about myself. I mean even in my weakness, I believed there was some sort of strength in there. Maybe, I was wrong.

But the first and most important step towards solving a problem is identifying the problem. So once I did, I set out to solve it. First thing I did was to delete all the social media apps on my phone (except whatsapp), turned to literature to know and sound more confident about my research, and talk to people randomly (about anything) on the bus, pubs/clubs, at work etc complimenting and hugging them along the way.

I am going to do this for the rest of the year and review how far I’ve gone and level of progress I’ve made after that. I will certainly share my chronicles with you as I go on this journey.

Wish me luck.

What do you think about social and conversation confidence? Do you have or lack it? Please leave a comment in the comment section.

Spoil Yourself with Consistency


A friend of mine has been wooing this particular girl, on and off, for some years now. They started out as friends with nothing attached but along the line, as it often happens in this kind of scenario, one party fell for the other. 

The girl remains unsure of the guy’s intentions even though the guy had made his feelings known to the girl. She cited his inconsistency as a major reason behind her confusion.

Just like the girl, every human yearns for consistency in his/her relationships. Relationships don’t develop overnight; they take time. It takes consistency. We like to see others make a consistent effort to be in our lives. This makes us feel wanted and happy. 

So why don’t we apply the same principle to everything we do? After all, consistency is not exclusive to relationships; it is the key to everything. It is the mother of mastery. Consistency creates integrity and integrity breeds trust hence it makes you relevant, accountable and reputable. 


Throughout my life, I have struggled with consistency in certain areas of my life and daily routines. For example, I started this blog a few years ago, to write atleast 3/4 articles a week but there have been many times that I have gone months without writing. Often times, I blame it on writer’s block or busy schedule but I don’t want to give excuses anymore so I am tasking myself with atleast one article a week. From one, I can go to two and then 3-4 just as it was when I started off.

According to Aristotle, “we are what we repeatedly do.” Our daily routine goes a long way in determining the trajectory of our lives. To achieve “elephant-sized” dreams, you have to take it a step at a time and do it over and over again. Consistency makes our routine which seems tedious at the beginning a subconscious one.

For instance, exercising is tedious for many but if you choose a workout routine that works for you and repeat it everyday (even if it is for 5-10minutes), the results will shock you to the point that you may not be able to stop. This is because we do things over and over again until it becomes who we are hence the reason why repetition trumps intensity. 


The 21/90 rule states that it takes about 21days to create a habit whilst takes 90days to create a lifestyle. However to become a master in a particular area, one must dedicate atleast 10,000hours to that particular activity. 

Consistency strengthens self-discipline and disciplined actions, when done consistently, lead to positive results. There’s a Chinese proverb that says that “no one who rises before dawn 360 days a year fails to make his family rich.” This is valid because our willpower is strongest in the morning but wanes as the day wears on. American writer Mark Twain famously said, “eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

However, it must be said that whichever frog you feed your brain consistently, be it positive or negative, it will become a part of your lifestyle so focus on the things that will help you grow as an individual. 

The brain is such a powerful tool that it creates a neural pathway for everything you feed it, be it thought or action. The more you repeatedly feed it the same thing, the stronger the neural pathway becomes and with time, the brain adopts the neural pathway you’ve practiced the most. 

This is why it is a Herculean task to make a change in your life because the brain has gotten used to the neural pathways you’ve strengthened over time via repeated actions and thence will try to override the new neural pathways that will drive the desired change. 

Often times, we get frustrated, give up and revert to our old ways but it is important to be gentle and patient with yourself. If you miss a day or two in your quest, don’t lose hope. Keep at it, spoil yourself with consistency and you will get the same end result that you seek.

What are you consistent in? What are you trying to be consistent in?

    Letter to Myself: Try To Make Peace With It

    When people look down on you, it will definitely hurt but try to make peace with it. This doesn’t mean that you should be a doormat – that’s a sign of weakness but what people think of you matters little compared to what you think of yourself. Always remember, how you react when people insult you reveals a lot about you. Nobody can make you inferior without your consent so why give people this power over you? Fight your insecurities, build your self-esteem and develop yourself into an asset.

    When you experience failure or rejection from friends, a potential partner or employer, it will definitely hurt but try to make peace with it. Don’t throw tantrums. Don’t let others control your emotions. Most times, failure/rejection comes with indelible lessons when critically analysed. These lessons often have the potential to propel you to greater heights in your personal relationships and/or chosen career.

    When things aren’t going accordingly for you, many will desert you and it will definitely hurt but try to make peace with it. A friend once told me “We often think people have forgotten us. The moment you become successful, it will surprise you who has your digits.” so chase success. See this as a way to remove the chaff from the rice.

    When friends and loved ones are always out to cheat you because you have a kind heart, it will definitely hurt but try to make peace with it. Just remember that every transaction is a true test of one’s integrity so see this as an eye-opener and never do business with them again. Our actions and attitude are a reflection of our innermost values, beliefs and expectations. Once beaten, twice shy.

    When people hate you for no good reason, it will definitely hurt. Try and have an introspection to know if you really are the problem instead of getting mad. Anger sometimes means fear so always ask yourself what are you afraid of? If/when you are convinced you aren’t the problem, try to make peace with it. Smile and talk to them when you see them, it will make them uncomfortable thus giving you power over them.

    When people gossip and bear false witness against you, it will definitely hurt but try to make peace with it. Everyone gossips but make a conscious effort not to pay much attention or gossip about others. Rather let them gossip about you. No one pays attention to those they feel are below him/her. We rather pay attention to those we think are on our level or above us.

    When people mock your efforts at learning something new, don’t be discouraged rather make peace with it. Everyone starts off as a novice so your case isn’t different from others. Keep at it and practice everday till you achieve mastery in that area. There’s no skill you can not master, we just lack the zeal, focus and determination to see it through.

    In all, try and have a realistic approach to life. Always look at every possible angle before you leap. Weigh both the positives and negatives but don’t be afraid to leap regardless.

    P.S. 

    Everyone wears their hunger and haunt. We demonstrate our true values in our actions especially when we are under pressure so pay more attention to what people don’t say. Nevertheless, find atleast one good thing to say about others despite your differences with them. Also, always own up to your shit. Abhor the victim mentality. Don’t blame others for your woes because “no one finds themselves in circumstances. We create our own circumstances.” So before you blame others, check thy self. When you make mistakes, be on top of correcting those mistakes then try again and again and again.

    Self Made: An Illusion

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    Growing up, I was a huge rap fan. I still am but not like I used to. I got to a point where personal glorification and self-aggrandisement of rappers almost left me gasping for air. As American rapper Jadakiss rhetorically asked in his 2004 hit-track Why, “why do rappers lie in 85% of their rhymes?”

    To be fair to these artistes, their sounds and images are often being pressed on them by their record labels. Thence, creating a certain persona – an individual who grew up in the ghetto and had to delve into/overcome a life of crime, women and drugs to get away from poverty – a sensational story that gets the attention of the public. The music industry is all about business after all and money has to be made.

    As a result, rap artistes end up projecting an image of a self-made successful individual who started from humble beginnings to get to where s/he is today. The self-made man is the ideal of the American success story; the core of American ethos.

    This explains why Jeb Bush, a former two-term Governor of Florida State, son and brother to former Presidents of the United States and grandson of a (long-term) United States senator, played the self-made success card when he unsuccessfully campaigned for the Republic Party Presidential candidate nomination early this year. I found it ridiculous and funny; a classic case of delusions of grandeur.

    This is someone whose first job after University graduation was with Texas Commerce Bank, partly owned by his father’s friend, James Baker. He may fail to acknowledge it but his background played a huge part in his success.

    Last year, Alex Leary, the Washington bureau chief for the Tampa Bay Times, wrote in his column, “…but family pedigree played a clear role, allowing Bush to immediately land a lucrative job with an ambitious real-estate developer. It also gave Bush an advantage in local politics, irritating more established figures.”

    It got me thinking about the world’s fixation on producing self-made men and women. The world is awash with stories of self-made millionaires. But is it really possible for one to get ahead in life without external help from others? I sincerely don’t think so because we live in a world that is inter-connected and inter-dependent. Rather, I think the theory of self-made man is an ego-fuelled illusion coated with falsehood.

    Certain factors, outlined by Malcolm Gladwell in his book, Outliers: The Story of Success, play both positive and negative roles in one’s success journey. These factors include environment (when and where you were born and raised), parental upbringing (what your parents did for a living and circumstances surrounding your upbringing) as well as culture (inherited traditions and attitudes).

    Warren Buffet, one of the world’s richest men and the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, echoes this view: “I personally think that society is responsible for a very significant percentage of what I’ve earned. If you stick me down in the middle of Bangladesh or Peru or someplace, you’ll find out how much this talent is going to produce in the wrong kind of soil. I will be struggling 30 years later.”

    I am not trying to playdown the essence of hardwork, effort, talent, determination, or mental strength in our success pursuit. These are all core ingredients of success but the aforementioned factors afford us an opportunity which only the prepared ones like Buffet (who possess the core success ingredients) take.

    Take for example, parents, family members, communities, guardians, Government, Scholarship boards and philanthropists pay the school fees of many students but the onus still lies on the students to put in the hardwork and effort to graduate. Those who pay the school fees create the opportunity for good education whilst the prepared student takes it with both hands, studies and graduates.

    Another classic example (for football lovers) is the story of Marcus Rashford. The then 18-year-old was given an opportunity by erstwhile Manchester United manager, Louis van Gaal, to make a name for himself in a crucial Europa League encounter. The prepared youngster took the opportunity with both hands, scoring a brace in the match as his team ran out 5-1 winners against Midtjylland on the night.

    It is evident that we all need someone to give us that big break, which we all yearn for. This may come from friends, family, teachers, mentors, coaches, antagonists, well-wishers, acquaintances, students…the list goes on and on. It is only pride, arrogance, ignorance, delusion or insecurity that can impede one from recognising the invaluable contributions and investments of others. As Fredrick Douglas aptly said, “opportunity is important but exertion is indispensable.”

    What are your thoughts about the idea of being self-made?