“Your journey to leadership is likely to take many unexpected turns. Life is full of challenging situations, including ethical dilemmas, midcourse career changes or burnout, seemingly intractable interpersonal challenges, marriage and family issues, failures, and loneliness. At times, you may feel you are losing your way or have gotten off course from your True North. Getting back on track alone is very difficult, perhaps even impossible” (Bill George). That’s why you need a coach.
If you’ve followed me on social media over the last few days you should’ve noticed a couple of posts about my excitement to train a group of Medical Superintendents in Ghana on Emotional Intelligence (EQ). Of course everybody needs (EQ) but one reason doctors in particular do is that they tend to think because they are smart and got into med school they would be successful in life and leadership. To our rude shock (and I say ‘our’ because I am a doctor myself), after a certain threshold, intelligence (IQ) doesn’t matter anymore, and what gives the winning edge to succeed is all EQ.
NO ONE CAN HELP THEMSELVES WITHOUT BEING HELPED
After an hour of training on what EQ is, five reasons why it’s key and how to acquire it, I left them with Boyatzis’s theory of self-directed learning. I first encountered this during my read of Primal Leadership, a book he co-authored with the chap who most popularized EQ from 1995 till date, Daniel Goleman. Boyatzis’s map (see below) begins with a hopeful “Who do I want to be?”, a picture of your ideal self. This existential question is at the very apex of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (if you remember); it is a question of self-actualization. But the next question, which in my opinion really should be the first, is ‘Who am I?’, your real self.
Integrating those two questions reveals one’s strengths (where your ideal and real self overlap) and your gaps (where your ideal and real self differ). Your learning agenda or growth plan, therefore, basically involves building on your strengths while reducing your gaps. And so you begin: experimenting with new thoughts (head), feelings (heart) and behaviours (hands). Practicing your new behaviours actually results in building new neural pathways to success/mastery.
But here is the kicker: Central to all of these points, steps, and pathways is “DEVELOPING TRUSTING RELATIONSHIPS that help, support and encourage each step in the process.” Again, that’s where a professional coach comes in. Even in this so-called ‘self-directed’ learning, no man is an island and needs the vital trusted relationships to make their growth and goals happen.
Do you have someone that will tell you the truth and to whom you can tell the truth? Do you have the authentic relationships and customized resources to clarify your beliefs and values and understand vital personal and professional issues and receive honest feedback when you need it most?
A coach’s responsibility is to provide content, insight, tools, wisdom, framework, ideas, and feedback. YOUR responsibility is to move from awareness to action and accountability. Our coaching provides many structures for you to meet your individual and organizational goals.
For John Maxwell certified coaches like myself, whether it’s one-on-one executive coaching or one-on-few, we like to say that the objectives of coaching include, but are not limited to:
- Discovery of personal identity, emotional needs, purpose (vision & mission) and values
- Crafting of personal, professional and corporate Growth Plan
- Adding an objective and supportive third party to your leadership team
- Increasing accountability of your personal and professional goals
- Improving specific skills related to your role. Such as managerial skills, communication, conflict resolution, time management, productivity, and effectiveness
- Sharing best practices from other organizations that have done similar work
- Reviewing strategic business decisions related to operations, customer service, marketing, financials, and more
- Being a sounding board
- Preventing problems, thereby avoiding expensive, time consuming or embarrassing actions
- Supporting your growth past your limiting beliefs
- Conflict resolution
- Creating a team atmosphere
- Relationship development for success and significance.
COACHING OPTIONS (FOR C-LEVEL EXECUTIVES, OWNERS & GENERAL MANAGERS)
Coaching Categories: Depending on your goals and budget, at YAW PERBI we offer Green, Blue and Gold level coaching. Currently only Gold services are available, and they are limited.
Time & Place: All coaching programs require a minimum time investment of 6-12 months. Coaching is a marathon, rather than a sprint! Depending on whether Green, Blue or Gold level, the coaching package includes 2, 3 or 4 sessions a month lasting approximately 60-90 minutes. Sessions can be at your office, my place of business, or a mutually agreed upon location. In these days of COVID-19, online coaching is our mainstay via Zoom. Phone coaching is also an option but I prefer to see the individual to observe body language and such.
Special arrangements: Sometimes included in a gold package is two full days of shadowing, facilitation of a two meetings of your choice (up to 2 hours each), and unlimited phone calls and emails in between sessions. In addition, you or any of your employees will benefit from a 25% discount for any company training/workshops.
Other coaching services: Group Coaching, Sales Coaching, Couples Coaching, Business Partner Coaching, Youth Coaching, Relationship Coaching, Genogram Coaching and more (they include these but not limited to them).
Payment arrangements: These are to be made before services are provided, and as agreed upon via this website, mobile money, PayPal, cheques or bank transfers.
Miscellaneous: We will always be punctual. If you need to reschedule, 24 hours advance notice is required or one-half of the coaching session is lost. If for some reason I need to reschedule and do not do so with a 24-hour notice, you will be credited with an additional one-half coaching session, at no additional charge. Our coaching relationship is completely confidential. We will never share your identity or any information about you with any other person or organization without your expressed consent. In the unlikely event that there are concerns that need to be referred to another professional, I may be able to make that suggestion to you.
Completing our coaching relationship is a mutual decision. While my retention percentage is very high, there may come a time when you determine that it is time to complete our coaching relationship. If and when that time comes, I expect that the coachee will give me at least four weeks’ notice. That will give us time to summarize your growth/learning and strategize your next steps.
Our services are unconditionally guaranteed. If at any time you feel that you are not getting the support, honesty, coaching, or training that you expect, then you need to tell me.
If you are serious about growth, success and significance you need a coach. The proof of your commitment is your investment of quality time, best effort and substantial money. Even as a coach, I also have a paid coach. Everybody needs somebody to coach them. So! Make arrangements here and now for a 30-minute exploratory call to see if we would be a good match.
Your vision, mission and values constitute your DNA, personal and corporate. Here’s why and how.
Whether one-on-one executive coaching or one-on-few, an exercise that energizes me most is getting into personal/corporate vision, mission and values. Once, I was invited to be a keynote speaker at an organization whose founder and CEO I greatly admire and respect. After the plane ride and having rested up, I got to their premises and looked round their impressive corporate building (no mortgage; all already paid for). I couldn’t help noticing the huge murals that spelt out the organization’s vision and mission. They were literally bill boards all over the walls trying to spell out why they existed and what they sort to accomplish.
Then I began to be concerned as what had been stated as their vision looked like what should be the mission and the mission was… well, let’s just say I was concerned. How was I to bring this up to the ‘big man’ without offending him too much, especially knowing how vital vision, mission and values are in giving life and forming persons and organizations? Without a deep and urgent intervention regarding the writings on the wall, I was afraid the writing was on the wall.
SOME CORPORATE SCIENCE
Permit the doctor in me to explain some fundamentals about DNA. DNA is the material that carries all the information about how a living thing will look and function. Each piece of information is carried on a different section of the DNA. These sections are called genes. DNA is short for deoxyribonucleic acid. It is in every cell of every living thing, even your fingernails! DNA is tiny but consequential; scientists need to use very powerful microscopes to see them. DNA has a complex structure but basically looks like a ladder that is twisted into a spiral. Each piece of DNA has two long strands (like the sides of a ladder). The two strands are joined together by chemical bases that form the rungs of the ladder.
Person and organizations are living things also. Vision, mission and values are the stuff that carry all the information about how they will look and function, survive and thrive. Vision and mission are akin to the two helical strands of DNA and values are the pieces that hold both sides together like the rungs of a ladder. This is the biochemistry of corporations.
Do you know that what determines how you look (eg. colour and texture of your hair, colour of your eyes and skin), how your lungs work, your blood type etc. are all determined by DNA? There are about 3 billion pairs of the chemical bases on the strands that connect with the other strand. The order in which the bases are arranged is very important. It forms a code that tells cells to make certain kinds of proteins. The differences in these proteins is what makes different living things—such as a plant, a panther, and two different people—different. You and I are different as persons, so are Unilever and Microsoft, or F.C. Barcelona and Manchester United, based on DNAs. Arsenal’s DNA codes for redness and Chelsea’s for blueness.
When DNA works correctly, it helps keep the body functioning properly. DNA helps cells to make proteins, which the cells need to live. DNA also allows living things to reproduce. The genes in DNA pass along physical traits from parents to children. Sometimes there are mistakes in DNA. These mistakes are called mutations. They can cause diseases and other problems.
Here are two disturbing observations I’ve made regarding vision, mission and values. One is the peer pressure of having them because just because ‘everyone else does’ and it’s in vogue. This pressure to look good because you have a mission statement on your office wall has gone even to the extent that people even look at those of companies or persons they admire and just blindly copy them as their own! Imagine my body copying your body’s DNA! The other disturbing observation is that people have no idea which is which (particularly vision and mission) and have them all over the place! If you need personal or corporate coaching to get this right, please do! This is vital. Vision, mission and values are really the life-giving, life-forming and life-replicating essence of persons and organizations.
VISION & MISSION
Vision is literally what we want to SEE. It is about Being. Think of it as a noun. Mission is what we want to DO to see what we want to see. It is about Doing. Think of it as a verb.
So for example, my vision for this executive education company YAW PERBI is to see a flourishing global ecosystem of authentic leaders characterized by healthy growth, holistic success and lasting significance. Consequently, our mission is to offer authentic and customized relationships and resources to C-level executives to grow personally, succeed professionally and become significant corporately.
Another family company that is into library services for children is known as Perbi Cubs. That company has a different DNA from YAW PERBI, though both entities bear the name Perbi and have some things in common. The DNA of Perbi Cubs is different because its vision, mission and values are different. The vision of Perbi Cubs is to see EVERY African family successful as a product of an enlightening culture of leisure reading. And what are they doing to see what they want to see a.k.a mission? To deliver an evidence-based, literacy-promoting endeavour to an engaged community of families hungry to know more so they can be more, do better and succeed.
Yet another family business, Trenor Coats & Gowns Ltd., has had a vision since its founding in 2009 to be a leader in the textiles care industry in West Africa. The mission is to provide customers with world-class textile care services driven by state-of-the-art facilities, trained and dedicated employees, and superior customer services.
By now you’ve had enough to chew on regarding the double DNA helix of vision and mission. I’ll save the rungs of the DNA, values, for a later blog.
AT THE END OF THE DAY
Individuals and organizations ought to make the time to clearly hone out their clear vision, passionate mission and compelling values. This is a fundamental function of leadership. The help of a coach or consultant is highly recommended. It must be done right. I strongly advise individuals to make sure that their personal DNA aligns with the corporate DNA of whatever organization they work for/with (or seek to work for/with). DNA is life. No DNA, no life; bad DNA, bad life–be it personal or corporate. Choose life!
Like leadership, there are umpteen definitions of culture. My favourite is the simplest. Culture, whether ethnic or corporate, is simply the way things are done here. How things are seen to be done at YAW PERBI is determined, like Apple or Android, by our unseen Operating System (OS). That OS or worldview feeds our beliefs, informs our values, which in turn determine our behaviour.
As we carry out our vision and mission, here are our 7 YP values and what they mean:
1. People. We value people: People come first; not stuff. People are the only creation that bear the imago Dei (image of God). That should mean something; everything.
a. We are aware that without people we are nothing.
b. We value relationships and foster community.
c. We grow people, clarifying their identity, giving them purpose, unearthing gifts, nourishing persons to flourish.
d. We pride in, promote and protect family.
e. We offer high care to our clientele, with a great deal of empathy.
f. Our exceptional client experience leaves them feeling wonderfully valued.
2. Growth. We value growth: We grow or die. There’s no middle way.
a. We invest in ourselves and invest in others’ growth; continually.
b. We are sworn to lifelong learning in a diverse community till we die.
c. We strive to be knowledgeable and enlightened in order to succeed.
d. We expect pain to be associated with grown and have made peace with the fact.
3. Particularity. We value particularity: One size doesn’t fit all. Each client is different and has a unique life story and makeup.
a. We see and treat each person reverently, as wonderfully made.
b. We invest in getting to know our clients’ life stories, identity, purpose, and SHAPE.
c. We honour the above (a & b) by customizing our offerings.
d. We provide tools to discover and affirm uniqueness of each client and match them to the appropriate relationships and resources.
e. We pride in and promote the prestige of the executive class.
4. Excellence. We value excellence: We go above and beyond.
a. We exceed expectations as a habit.
b. We work hard and play hard.
c. We take our word and commitments seriously.
d. We do not compromise on quality–it is a virtue.
e. We do anything that is worth doing, well.
5. Success. We value success: We are passionate about all-round prosperity.
a. We are committed to the progressive realization of worthy goals and ideals; our clients’ goals are ours.
b. We inspire and motivate ourselves and our clientele to see and seize their dreams.
c. We long for holistic success.
d. We are victory connoisseurs.
6. Authenticity. We value authenticity: No fake folks or fake news, no fake products or services.
a. We lead, coach, author, speak and train with integrity.
b. We are truthful about ourselves and our offerings.
c. We can be trusted.
d. Our ways and means are proven to produce desired results. What we promote works.
e. We are in public who we are in private.
f. We are holistic in thinking and living, in our being and doing.
g. We strive to live and lead such that those who know us and love us the best (family and friends) respect us the most.
7. Significance. We value significance: We live to ‘make a dent in the universe’.
a. We look outward, beyond ourselves.
b. We work towards things that benefit communities, nations and generations.
c. We are inspired by the thought that our best works will outlive us.
d. We bear in mind that only what is done for God’s glory by God’s grace will last.
WHAT’S COOKING & HOW WE’RE SERVING
So now, you don’t only know our menu–the vision and mission–you also know the manner in which we plan to dish it all out. I’m serving up. Take a seat.
So! This is a sequel to my previous I’m Coming Out blog. In that, I copiously explained how, “Prominent among the treasures of this pandemic cum sabbatical year has been the realization that it’s about time I did less of the work of leading corporations and charities and rather focus on raising world class leaders among C-level executives who will go on to lead many good things and many great people.” D.L. Moody once said, “It is better to train 10 men than do the work of 10 men. But it is harder.” He was right.
I am serious enough about this new direction that I’m stepping down as President of ISMCanada with effect from June 2021, Deo volente. When I agreed to this role in March 2013, and officially began in May of that year, my initial arrangement with the Board was a 3-5 year tenure. It’s been almost eight years now! I’ve done double duty. Among other things, I’m happy to have worked with an overhauled senior leadership team to steer the organization to become a Certified Best Christian Workplace, a flourishing organization.
In coming out and stepping down, I’m happy to catalyse, consult for and coach CEOs and other C-level executives in both the marketplace and ministry, as well as continue my speaking/training career which has taken me to some 45 countries of the world. As we launch the YAW PERBI brand, I would like to share our vision, mission, values, unique selling disposition and offerings with you.
At YAW PERBI, we want to see a flourishing global ecosystem of authentic leaders characterised by healthy growth, holistic success and lasting significance.
Our mission, therefore, is to offer authentic and customized relationships and resources to C-level executives to grow personally, succeed professionally and become significant corporately.
As we go about our vision and mission, our corporate behaviour will be based on the following seven things that are very important to us. We value:
In another blog I go into the fine details of what each value means and how they play out at our company.
UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITION
We know there are a myriad leadership development and executive coaching companies out there. Our bold value proposition is authentically empowering C-level executives for exponential growth in 90 days, success within a year and significance for a lifetime (and beyond).
What exactly are we offering in terms of products and services? We like to say we LIFECAST, an acronym for providing Leadership, Integrity, Family and Entrepreneurship Coaching Authoring Speaking and Training. LIFE is our content focus and CAST comprises the vehicles for delivering the LIFE. By the way, apart from the ‘C’ standing mainly for executive Coaching, it also often involves Catalyzing and Consulting. Authoring encompasses soft and hard products from (e-)books to courses.
The YAW PERBI brand communicates prestige and authenticity, success and significance.
CONCLUSION | CLARITY, NOT CERTAINTY
Even in clearly laying out our vision, mission, values, unique selling proposition and offerings at YAW PERBI, this is not only introducing you to my new brand but inherently providing a lesson for executives, many of whom haven’t clearly laid these things out for the corporations, charities and churches they lead. Even in an uncertain year like 2020, as John Maxwell my mentor says, “Individuals can live without certainty from a leader, but not without clarity. …Your people do not need certainty on every issue; but they do need clarity on every issue.”
I’m out. I’m stepping down. I’ve told you why, when and how. Not everything is certain; but am I clear?
“The world has entered an era of the most profound and challenging change in human history. Most of our children are not prepared, and we know it. Parents around the world see the change and know that the traditional three R’s–reading, writing, and arithmetic–are necessary; but not enough. Their children need to become far more responsible, creative, and tolerant of differences. They need to increase their ability to think for themselves, take initiative, get along with others, and solve problems. Business leaders are not finding people whose skills and character match the demands of today’s global economy, including strong communication, teamwork, analytical, technology, and organizational skills. They need young people who are self-motivated, creative, and have a strong work ethic. How will we bridge this ever-widening gap?” (Leader in Me blurb)
In my previous blog, I highlighted the current global leadership crisis epitomized by the likes of U.S. president Donald Trump. Yet even over a decade ago, leadership gurus like Stephen R. Covey (of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People fame) uttered the above words, speaking of an era of challenge our children are unprepared for. The present leadership crisis has been brewing for a long time. If we do nothing about it, we’ll be setting our world back generations, and for generations to come. So how in the world are we going about it, growing leaders from childhood? I’m glad you asked.
THE ROLE OF LIT
Perbi Cubs Library Service through their book collection, activities and Lions Inspire Cubs programs inspire and empower children to be ready for leadership and impact. The Lions Inspire Cubs program has featured Lions (Leaders making impact in society) like Dr. Ahitey Trebi-Ollenu, a Robotics engineer at NASA.
The final element of this attempt at raising young, holistic leaders is the newly-launched Lions in Training (LIT) track which results in medallion awards for Cubs. As a firm, YAW PERBI is working with Perbi Cubs from the grassroots with children at home and in school. We consult for Perbi Cubs, providing the theoretical basis and praxiological framework, breaking down high level leadership concepts into small bits to deliver leadership development to 7-14 year-olds. After all as huge as it is, even an elephant can be eat. But how do you eat an elephant? Bit by bit.
ROLE OF PARENTS IN LIT
I have often said that, “Charity begins at home, so does leadership.” Parents are not only the primary caregivers of children but their primary leadership coaches as well. Of a truth, “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” So together with parents, every quarter we focus on three core areas that when gotten right will have a significant change/impact in the lives and leadership of these Cubs. Every Thursday, parents receive an email to evaluate how the child did that week as leader. These three core areas of evaluation focus on various everyday practical actions and inactions of the Cubs at home and in school.
So after digesting tonnes of leadership articles and books and studying global leadership even at the graduate level, I have come to the conclusion that although there are over 360 documented definitions of leadership, leadership is basically responsibility, service and influence. The easiest way for a child to understand a ‘big word’ like responsiblity is response-ability.
This diagram (above) may seem simple but it is one of those things referred to as simplicity at the far end of complexity. It looks deceptively simple but has come through after a lot of complex thinking processes.
ON YOUR MARKS…
So for this quarter, this is how the children are being observed, encouraged and evaluated as Leaders in Training (LIT) in practical terms:
A. Responsibility is response-ability:
- Cub chooses to do the right thing without prompting.
- Cub is able to take charge of getting their school work done.
- Cub does not blame others for their circumstances.
B. Service is being of use to others:
- Cub is helpful at home and school.
- Cub willingly does their chores.
- Cub does not boss other people around.
- Cub uses their talents/gifts to help others or make their lives better.
C. Influence is producing effects on others:
- Cub exerts positive peer pressure.
- Cub affects the actions, behavior or opinions of siblings and friends in a good way.
- Cub sounds convincing in expressing their opinion.
CUBS CAN EAT ELEPHANTS
“So how do you eat an elephant?” my father would ask our little selves when we were just waist-high and get us head-scratching. If such a complex phenomenon like photosynthesis can be taught at the PhD level but also broken down so simply and taught at nursery (pun intended), then leadership can too. So even lion cubs can eat elephants. How? Little by little, bit by bit, one bite at a time.
Sixteen years ago I subtitled my ‘Youth Power!’ book, “unleashing the potential of the most powerful people on earth.” This pandemic year is giving us ample proof.
The recent George Floyd protests in the United States of America and around the world and current #EndSARS campaign in Nigeria against notorious police brutality have reignited my convictions about Youth Power!, well-documented in a 2004 book by that title. “This [#EndSARS] protest has been largely driven by young people,” I just heard from a CNN report.
YouthPower! is a revolutionary paradigm which seeks to start a fire in Young People for them to get their act together and do something significant with their lives…Now! For the last 16 years I have “been preoccupied with looking for evidence of Youth Power! all over the world and in all spheres of human endeavour since introducing that paradigm-shifting concept” in the mid 2,000s. Some other books that I have written to document such stories have included 15 Inspiring Young People and 15 Successful Global Businesses Young People Built, from Amazon to Time magazine.
Young people have a lot going for them; youth have a lot of power! First, the numbers–there are more young people on earth than ever before in the history of the world! And that is power. But wait, there’s more. Young people have influence, the ability to control people and situations–even holding governments to ransom. That is power. Young people have incredible talents and special abilities which peak at this time of their lives. We have seen how they have utilized their tech savviness and power of mobilization to literally get the government of Nigeria to dissolve the said Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) they’re protesting against on 11th October 2020. Shall we talk about the sheer passion, strength and energy of youth? Throughout the history of the world, young people have touched, shaped and shaken the world in politics, academics, business, sports, arts/entertainment etc.
More often than not, though, all this power is stored in the form of potential. The rest of the book Youth Power! is full of keys to unlocking all this power in terms of principles, the proto principle, purpose, planning, preparation, people, places, practices, pruning puny behaviours and ultimately how all of this results in pay.
YOUTH POWER! IN AFRICA
In 2005, the year after Youth Power! was published and widely distributed in Ghana, I was on a break in South Africa, after failing my final year medical school exams in Surgery. A pilgrimage to Soweto inspired me to write “a historical and tourist account of how Youth Power! that broke the back of apartheid in South Africa.” That sequel is entitled “Youth Power! in Soweto.” For the whole year I served as a doctor-captain with the United Nations Operations in Cote d’Ivoire, it was my joy and pleasure to walk scores of Ivorian Young People at the Université de Bouaké through the paradigm and practice of Youth Power! They even run a contest, translating the book into French.
Today’s protests remind me of the eternal words of one of the young student protestors back in apartheid South Africa in the late 1970s. You can see those words becoming flesh in today’s young protestors also, from Washington to Lagos:
“Our parents are prepared to suffer under the white man’s rule [or any form of injustice and brutality for that matter]. They have been living for years under here laws and they have become immune to them. But we strongly refuse to swallow an education [or whatever] that is designed to make us slaves in the country of our birth.”
As I participate in hash tagging, donating and encouraging the strong network of The HuD Group (publishers of the original Youth Power!) in Nigeria and around the continent of Africa to keep pressing for positive change, I look forward to adding to the thick annals of Youth Power!, yet another sequel: the contemporary history of Youth Power! in Nigeria.
Those who know me well will tell you I have an addiction to D.V.; no, not T.V., D.V. And it’s the smartest ones who ask me, sometimes after an unsatisfactory Googling spree: “what does ‘DV’ mean?” Let me spill the beans today.
Today is not as I had planned it. Some six months ago, Anyele and I had imagined a family road trip across the North America continent (we’ve done it once), from where we live in Montreal, Quebec (East Coast) all the way to Pasadena, California (West Coast). Yes, the trip in itself would be enjoyable but the icing on the cake would be today, my graduation from Fuller Seminary with a Master of Arts in Global Leadership. Unless you are a stranger on the planet, there’s no need to tell you why we’re stuck at home in Montreal (incidentally the Coronavirus epicentre in Canada), watching my Commencement from a laptop screen instead!
I’m not complaining; just telling my version of a story almost everyone of us can relate to. Whose ‘solid’ plans haven’t changed this year due to a certain ‘invisible’ Coronavirus? Most of us had the year quite well-laid out and then… BAM! COVID-19 hit. Tell me: how are your new year plans going?
D.V., THE WISDOM OF JAMES
It is a well-functioning human being that recognizes it is a good thing to plan one’s life, year, month, day etc. It is also a well-functioning Homo sapiens that recognizes it is human to have limits–we cannot, and do not, control everything. We get to make some things happen under our control but some things also happen to us beyond our control–like the season, the weather. We are only human (ouch, why does that hurt so much?!). God is Omnipotent (all powerful); we are mini potent. God is Omniscient (all knowing); we are mini scient (how much is your science?). God is omnipresent (present everywhere at the same time, including the future); we are mono present and can only live in the now.
Besides, God is eternal, everlasting, but not so with us–we each have an ‘expiry date.’ God is God; we are not. (S)He has no limits; we do. My mentor Peter Scazzero is spot on that “embracing our limits humbles us like little else.” In fact, the word for human in my Twi language is Odasani, literally meaning, one whose days finish. James the brother of Jesus Christ exhorts then:
13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. (James 4:13-17, emphasis mine)
D.V. then isn’t Digital Video, Domestic Violence, Daily Value, Double Vagina, Dependent Variable, Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV lottery) or … whatever else people find when they Google it after I send their minds reeling with those two alphabets at the end of my email, SMS or social media sentences? D.V. is Deo Volente, Latin for “God willing” or “if it is the Lord’s will” as St. James lays it out so beautifully in the aforementioned Scripture.
In my few years on the planet I must say that I have found my Muslim friends take the spirit and practice of Yakubu’s Scripture above much more seriously than my Christian brothers and sisters. The former often are quick to add to their futuristic statements and plans, “Insha Allah,” God willing.
HOW I GOT HOOKED
By now you’ve probably heard me tell the story of how God miraculously saved my life during this fatal car accident (picture above) on 21st July, 2008 on the Yamoussoukro-Abidjan highway in Cote d’Ivoire while serving with the United Nations Operation there. What you most likely don’t know is that I clearly bouncing up and down in my military boots as I enthusiastically went to our Radio Room at our base in Bouaké (about the middle of the country) that crisp morning and confidently said to the operator on duty in Ga (the language of the people of Accra; my wife Anyele’s tribe), the equivalent of: “We are off to Abidjan. We will be back.”
No. “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will…”I’m getting goosebumps even right now recalling my shock the moment I realized that out of the three of us who left our U.N. hospital base that morning, two of us never returned as they died in the said car crush en route to Abidjan and even I did not come back the same man who left.
Since then, I have become an extreme addict to ‘D.V.’, humbly attaching it to virtually every futuristic statement and plan I make, sometimes to the chagrin of others who haven’t died like me before. For me it isn’t only the right thing to do because Scripture says so; I’ve experienced the wisdom and reality of it several times, the epitome being July 21, 2008. To me then, to not add ‘D.V.’ to my plans is sin (James 4:17).
EVEN ROYALS ARE NOT EXEMPT
Arthur W. Pink tells a D.V. story from his perspective in his book, The Sovereignty of God, something that occurred twenty years prior:
“Queen Victoria was dead, and the date for the coronation of her eldest son, Edward, had been set for April 1902. In all the announcements which were sent out, two little letters were omitted, D. V.-Deo Volente: God willing. Plans were made and all arrangements completed for the most imposing celebrations that England had ever witnessed. Kings and emperors from all parts of the earth had received invitations to attend the royal ceremony. The Princes proclamations were printed and displayed, but, so far as the writer is aware, the letters D. V. were not found on a single one of them. A most imposing program had been arranged, and the late Queen’s eldest son was to be crowned Edward the Seventh at Westminster Abbey at a certain hour on a fixed day. And then God intervened, and all mans plans were frustrated. A still small voice was heard to say, “You have reckoned without Me,” and Prince Edward was stricken down with appendicitis, and his coronation postponed for months!”
A NOTE TO ONE WHOSE DAYS FINISH
The point is not that God is some Supreme Heavenly Killjoy, eagerly looking out for whose parade He can rain on today or tomorrow but rather that we accept we are only human and humbly add ‘D.V.‘ to our plans, great or small, as long as they extend beyond this very second. Deo Volente. “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” My days haven’t ended (yet) but my Commencement plans surely have.
Dawid has a Black father and White mother (he doesn’t say in this video but I know the family well; a year ago I was in his parents’ home in the UK), and as you might already know just a speck, a drop, of Black in your genes makes you Black (don’t ask me why).
I can really relate to Dawid’s experience of it being assumed you’re a waiter or shop attendant or security officer, even at a building you may own, just because you’re Black. Incidentally, the first time I ever stepped in London was only in transit. Typically, as a frequent traveller I would be at the airport VIP lounge if there isn’t enough time to go gallivanting in the city or I have other work to do.
Being the only one of ?two Black persons at this Heathrow lounge a couple of years ago, a certain White couple wielding their empty plates around the buffet assumed I was a server and must’ve been totally embarrassed (or maybe they weren’t) when I politely smiled and said I had no idea how to help them with their request.
As a SERVANT-LEADER learning to humbly serve all humanity like Jesus my Master, the feet-washer, I’m willing to serve anyone, anywhere, at anytime (as I’m able) at my Master’s beckoning; BUT NOT BECAUSE I’M BLACK!
Anyway! Thank you my brother and friend, Dawid, for this video.
Again, for those who really want to learn and take action about the truth that #BlackLivesMatter, over to you. Be an ally to those of us with kinky hair with the kinks in the system, even if it was built that way!
No! Today isn’t Women’s Day; that’s a different date. It is Mothers’ Day. Not every woman is a mother but every woman can, and should, be.
So everything should somehow work okay for everyone all at once so that in the end nothing means anything to anyone anymore? Political correctness will kill us if we allow it. It may sting but hear this: not every woman is a mother. Of course we want to be respectful of all people and not go out of our way to hurt the feelings of others if for whatever reason Mothers’ Day evokes emotions of pain or loss or insufficiency or whatever else. But please, let’s not minimize Mothers’ Day by turning it into Women’s Day. It’s a significant sacrifice to mother! Why do you think 125,000 babies are aborted every single day in our world?! Let’s accord those who make that sacrifice to mother, whether by biological birth, foster/adoptive parenting, spiritual direction or social mentoring, the love and respect they‘ve earned!
THE MOTHER OF MY CHILDREN
The mother of my six children deserves praise, having carried each of these in her womb for nine months and pushed them out one by one (no twins). With the toll pregnancy, parturition and parenting have had on her body and soul and strength and mind, she’s gone over and above just being a woman. Anyele is a mother who deserves her accolades.
I remember her attempting a PhD while carrying our second child. She gave birth to Ashede on a Friday (I can never forget), had papers to review over the weekend and had to be back in class by Tuesday (she was a student as well as a teaching assistant and a research assistant). As a first class graduate in Economics with two additional qualifications in Statistics and ACCA (the British equivalent of CPA) simultaneously, and clearing her Masters in Economics at McGill University within a year, she certainly had all that it took. But now her professors were dubiously asking, “why do you want a PhD?” In the end, after a year in the programme and flunking her comprehensive exams she had to exit the PhD in Economics. Of course we both knew it wasn’t for lack of competence.
Apart from the wifely and motherly tolls, she herself had lost interest in Economics at that level. It wasn’t what she had anticipated. She really wanted to make an entrepreneurial difference. She since turned her attention to financial consulting and then set up a number of real estate investment companies with properties in three countries on two continents, including AirBnBs (she’s set up 10 of them from scratch). She mainly works on these things in the afternoons and evenings while she homeschools our children in the mornings. In all of this, I haven’t even started talking about the many people she mothers through mentoring whether in our home or at church (children’s service) or lately with PerbiCubs Library Services. Last week, I watched in amazement as the children in the reading programme clocked a total of 20, 138 minutes of reading! She’s mothering scores of children she did not bear in her own womb from 60 different schools across Ghana by mentoring them with her fabulous team.
Yesterday, even from Ghana, she spent over three hours with me (in Canada) on the phone planning what next week’s homeschooling should look like, guiding me textbook by textbook, workbook by workbook, page by page on WhatsApp. Not every woman would do that. She’s a mother. Happy Mothers’ Day, Anyele.
I was a Caesarian baby. An emergency Caesarian at that. At the point of birth, I was in a vaginally ‘undeliverable’ posture, one that is technically known as a “face presentation.” After pummelling my face against my mother’s pelvis enough, Dr. Ampofo made the right call: “let’s cut her up!” The young, expectant mother who carried me in her womb while rounding up her Master’s degree in 1978, was so scared to death that she would lose her first child as her own mother Lily Nketia had. She whispered a desperate Hannah-like prayer to the Lord of life: “LORD, if you would spare this child I will offer him back to You to serve You for the rest of his life.” Go figure how come I do what I do now!
Although in academia, my mother resolved she wouldn’t ‘progress’ at the expense of her four children. She decided not to start her PhD until her youngest had reached Junior High School. She isn’t stupid; she is a mother. I was old enough to type her PhD thesis. She became Dr. Akosua Perbi only around the age of 50 and remained ‘stuck’ as senior lecturer for eons while she not only mothered her biological children but thousands more. Go and ask and you will be told. They called her “the people’s mother” on the University of Ghana campus, students and staff alike. As if to bless her with a photo finish, she became Professor Akosua Perbi barely a few days to her official retirement at 60! Why? She is a mother.
Some of her women colleagues became professor faster in the academy or earned millionaireship in the corporate world but in the end not only are all her children firm in their Christian faith (by God’s grace) and in great social standing making global impact, she is still a Fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts & Sciences (which her father was a founding fellow of) and an erudite professor with global acclaim in slavery history. You see, in the end she ‘had it all’, but not all at once.
MOTHER OF MOTHERS
I could speak similarly of the mother of my children’s mother. I find it hard to call Mama Norah my ‘mother-in-law.’ She really is my mother. She also made immense sacrifices as the biological mother of Anyele and her two brothers. Life totally changed when she was well on course to become one of the first and youngest chartered accountants and partner in an accounting firm in Ghana way back in the late 1970s. Alas, Mama Norah spent a long winter of motherhood making her complete her chartered accountancy journey only about 14 years ago. I remember clearly because I was at her final graduation ceremony as an adult, when Anyele and I were courting.
Check this out. My sister Amma just received a relatively long message part of which said, “Awww what a mother, friend, sister and a gud [good] wife. A mother who always wants to see her children happy. You always think about me. You want to see [us] go far in life. You make me happy when I am sad… Today we all the children stent [stand] up to say ayekooooo.👏👏👏👏 we love you😘😘 God bless you.” Now what you might not know is that the young lady who sent this to Amma, who is herself a mother now, was Amma’s first and longest-serving house help. “It is remarkable that she wrote this all by herself,” my brother-in-law Frank comments, “because I remember when she came she did not know the English alphabet. She learnt it in our house. We thank God for this.” Amma is a mother of mothers. Time won’t allow me to get into her mothering of scores of children through an Awana Club she pioneered in her residential area!
Even if Amma did not have biological children of her own, what a mother she would still be! For my other sister and two sisters-in-law who have no biological children yet, I want to especially bless them today for MOTHERING MANY still, from their own nephews and nieces to teaching children’s Sunday School and such. They are blessed mothers already! Surely, not being a mother by biological birth should not be an issue! Mother by mentoring!
One is free to choose career over family, body looks over pregnancy, or even wealth over children. Simply being human gives us that divine gift of choice. Some people marry their professions and give birth to accolades and wealth and despise others who sacrifice to mother. Then on a day like this too they want to steal the shine of those who mother others by minimizing it to ‘Women’s Day’ instead of the Mothers’ Day that it really is? No way! Not every woman is a mother but every woman can (and should) be a mother—by birthing, fostering, adopting and/or mentoring others. BLESSED MOTHERS’ DAY to all mothers, especially mine!
Almost all of us know more about our fields of study or specialization, from Archeology to Zoology, than we do about ourselves. Most doctors know more medicine than they know themselves; marketers more about brand identity of stuff than they understand about themselves. Why is that? That’s SO wrong!
I recently had a conversation with a 67-year old CEO of a booming business who had never done a personality/behavioural assessment in her entire life! How on earth do most people know more Medicine or Marketing (or whatever their professional field is) than Meology, the study of Me? This blog was provoked by a certain young lady I’ve known for the last 15 years. Between high school and university this gal worked at NEOwarehouse, a book/motivational media store my wife (Anyele) and I owned and run at a busy intersection in Accra, Ghana. All we saw was potential; and over the years she’s proven us right. We saw her leadership blossom as she took a cue from us and began an investment club in her university days and even served as admin. to The HuD Group in Ghana. I was not surprised when she rose through the ranks in the marketing world, working with global brands. Even when she had a stint in the USA while her husband was pursuing his PhD, her entrepreneurial nature led her to pursue one venture after the other, including online merchandising.
Recently she has been a great help with the branding and marketing drive of Perbi Cubs Library Services as we seek to raise a new generation of enlightened people of African descent who are a product of an enviable national culture of leisure reading. To appreciate her for her kind services, pro bono, we rewarded her with a gift of a DISC Personality Indicator assessment. After taking the assessment we were both eager to meet and debrief via Zoom and then I got this email on the morning of, requesting a re-scheduling of the appointment to meet herself. What? Was she not prioritizing this? On the contrary! These were her words: “My goal is to read every page and every word of my report before we meet. Yesterday was super packed for me so I couldn’t finish it. Looking at my day today, I wont have a “quite time” to finish the content and answer the questions before our scheduled time.”
I was so impressed by her commitment to be thorough about knowing her strengths and weaknesses better, her motivations and fears, her best working environments etc. that it provoked this blog. I generally do not see that same zest for Meology as the quest for other arts and sciences! In fact, I dare say that in the last couple of months many of us have even learnt more about a certain Coronavirus than we know about ourselves! Whose idea is that? How on earth does that happen? How could a near-70-year-old have lived that long, had a decent career and be running a profitable company without much Meology. How come that person knows more accounting than their personality?
THE RUSH TO DO & ACHIEVE
When a bunch of nine of us started The HuD Group 17 years ago, we were in our roaring twenties and hungry to shake the world. We were big on mission and purpose. We wanted to help everyone who would listen discover and fulfill their God-given purpose and achieve their full potential. We still do but now we know better, that IDENTITY COMES BEFORE PURPOSE. In fact, who you are is more important than what you do in many ways; but especially who you are totally affects what you do and how you do it. In fact, many of the ancients insisted that we must know ourselves in order to know God.
My friend and sage Carson Pue, demonstrates how self-knowledge and God-knowledge (since we’re made in the image and likeness of God) is the start and core of all true and lasting achievement (see below).
Honestly, a lot of times I cringe when I watch President Donald Trump. He’s achieved what is arguably the highest post on the planet but I wonder how much of himself he isn’t even aware of! These days, there’s a whole field of leadership studies known as Psychodynamics of Leadership. It is becoming clearer and clearer that the best schooling and even being a genius isn’t enough for leadership success that lasts. There is a certain degree of Meology that if not known, blindsides us and strikes us where it hurts most–not just hurts us but all in our circle of influence.
I have been fascinated about meeting me. I don’t make apologies for spending quality time learning about what it means to be a High D and High I, as I discovered a few years ago from taking the DISC assessment. And I’m happy to be giving one of the best gifts anyone could ever give to another human being: the gift of knowing themselves! Every investment of time, money or whatever resource in Meology is worth it, whether you’re as young as our mentee or as old as the post-retirement age CEO.
Taking the DISC is one sure, wise and practical step in this direction. Don’t do life without meeting you; don’t die without ever living! If there is one gift you should give yourself under the quarantine and lockdown circumstances in these COVIDic times it is this: DISCover you. Email me (email@example.com) if you need coaching. I’ll measure how serious you are by only doing it for a fee.