Success is an Attitude

Real Life Success 

Sometimes,  people the school system labelled failures can turn out to become outstanding success in life. These three people were once considered failures by their teachers:

#1. Thomas Edison: His teacher said he was “too stupid to learn anything.”  But he became  one of America’s most famous inventor with 1, 093 patents credited  to him.

#2. Albert Einstein: He did not speak until he was 3-years-old and did not read until he was 7. His  teachers described him as “mentally slow.” And many of them from elementary school through college, and even professors  thought he would never amount to anything. But Albert Einstein revolutionised the world of science through his Theory of Relativity, and became  the most famous scientist of the 20th century.

#3. Peter J. Daniels, an Australian billionaire, was told by his teachers that he was a stupid boy and would never amount to anything because he failed at every grade in elementary school.  Today he serves as a director and chairman on a range of international boards; and  his family owns the only privately-owned gold and silver bullion bank in the world.

This means that you believed a lie when you bought into the success myth:  Go to school, get good grades, and get a well paying job. The reality is that those who failed in school today can become tomorrow’s success. Life’s success hinges more on attitude than on aptitude – what you learnt in school.  Therefore, I will do two things – define attitude and explain why it determines success.

What is Attitude?

The Meriam-Webster dictionary defines attitude  as “the way you think and feel about someone or something”. It further  explains it as “a feeling or way of thinking that affects a person’s behavior.”  This means that attitude is invisible. It exist within  the mind – the inner part of a person. But,  it is  made visible  or reflected  by speech or non-verbal  behaviors such as facial expression, hand gesture, voice tone, body language  and so on. In other words, attitude is a state of mind or emotion that affects a person’s behavior.

Also, in  Matthew 12: 33-35, attitude is described in two ways. First,  as a tree. It is written: “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit.”  In other words, the fruit of the lips and actions originates from the tree of the heart.  For a fruit follows from the nature of the  tree.

Second,  as a store. It is said,   “… For out of the heart’s store come the words of the mouth. A good.person  out of the good store of the heart brings out good things; and an evil person out of the evil store brings out evil things.”  What does this mean?

Imagine  a file cabinet. Let the mind be the file cabinet,  then the files organized  within it,  attitude. Just as you look up a file to handle a correspondence, so you withdraw from your store to speak or behave in a certain way. Infact,  your words and deeds are a by-product of your attitude – what is stored in the mind. If this is so,  how important is your attitude?

Why Attitude?

The popular David and Goliath story shows us why attitude determines one’s success. It reads:

 

“The Philistine armies were stationed on a mountain on one side and Israel armies on another  mountain on the opposite side: and a valley was between them.Then a fighter came out from the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath of Gath and was close to seven feet tall. He had a bronze helmet on his head, and wore bronze scale body armor that weighed about 5,000 shekels. He had bronze armor on his legs and hanging on his back was a bronze javelin. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and the iron point of his spear weighed 600 shekels; and his shield bearer walked in front of him. Goliath stood and called out to the armies of Israel, “Why have you come out to make war? Am I not a Philistine and you Saul’s servants? Choose a man for yourselves to come down against me. If he’s able to fight  and kill me, we will be your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you will be our servants and serve us.”  Goliath added, “I defy the armies of Israel today! Send me one man so that we can fight each other.” When Saul and his armies heard these words, they were troubled and full of fear. So for 40 days Goliath came forward, morning and evening, to challenge the armies of Israel with these same words.”

But on the 41st day of Goliath’s threat to Israel, David  showed up. So that morning as David  heard the same words from Goliath, his response was different. He asked the men who were standing by him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the shame from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” And when David was  brought before the king, he said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of the giant. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” At the end of that day, a 17year old boy killed a trained warrior who had being fighting from his youth, and made the entire people of  Phillistines servants to Israel.  (1Samuel 17)

The lessons this story teaches about attitude are:

Lesson #1 – Fear (negative attitude)defeats

For 40 days King Saul and the army of Israel were defeated  by fear. The height of the giant,  his past war records and the words he uttered intimidated them.  So for 40 days they endured his insult without fighting. But in one day,  a young  David saw the same giant,  heard the same words,  yet fought and killed the giant.

Lesson #2 –  Confidence (positive attitude) empowers.

While the army of Israel was fearful, David was confident. They felt helpless and hopeless but he was bold and sure of God’s help. For he told the King, ““Let no man’s heart fail because of the giant. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” Thus, in the same situation the army was weak,  he was strong.

Lesson #3 – Success is an attitude.

Trouble reveals the inner person. That’s the reason  Proverbs 24:10 says,  “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” David had a stronger  mental capacity than the army of Israel. He could perform under pressure without falling apart. Therefore, his inner attitude of mind gave him victory over the giant.

Attitude is Altitude 

As I conclude, I will like you to remember this particular point: Fear and self doubt gives birth to an “I can’t” attitude that makes one weak in the presence of trouble. But confidence or self belief triggers the mind to figure out ways to solve a problem, and so gives you an “I can do” attitude. That’s the reason those who believe they can move mountains do, while those who believe they cannot don’t!

 

 

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Attitude is Learnt

Last time, I mentioned that one thing that will create change in your life this year is cultivating  success attitudes.  But these attitudes are learnt.

Unconscious Learning
Many people are unconsciously programmed with wrong attitude from parents, siblings,  friends, teachers, religious leaders, authority figures, media and the culture they live in. Remember that attitude determines behaviour,  and behaviour when repeated will eventually determine ones outcome. And this was represented by the formula:
A     >>    B     =    O
Where A -attitude leads to B -behaviour,  and behaviour leads to O-outcome.

Imagine a tree. It’s the root, trunk and branches that creates its fruit.  When compared to real life: the programmed mind represents the root, attitude the trunk, behaviour the branches, and fruit is the outcome. This formula can be re-written as
P    >>     A     >>    B     =    O
Where P- programming leads to A -attitude, attitude leads to B -behaviour,  and behaviour leads to O-outcome.

Therefore, as it’s in the farm, so is it also in life  – it’s the root that creates the fruit. It’s your programming that dictates your attitude.  A heart of fear paralyses the mind. It shuts of its ability and gives it an “I can’t” attitude. But, faith triggers your mind to figure out ways of how to solve a problem, and so gives you an “I can do” attitude. As Matthew 12:35 puts it: ” A good person out of the good treasure of the heart brings out good things; and an evil person out of the evil treasure brings out evil things.” In other words, if you change your heart,  you will change your fruits. 

Most people want the results of money, health, weight loss, good success,  and long life. But, these are just fruits!  All these good fruits originates from the heart – how you think, feel, and decide. Solomon, for example, was very creative because of his heart. For 1 Kings 4: 29-33, says: “God gave Solomon a great store of wisdom and exceptional insight, and largeness of heart as the sand on the seashore.  Solomon was wiser than all the eastern leaders  and all the sages of Egypt. He was wiser than anyone of his day … and was famous in all the neighboring nations. He composed 3,000 proverbs and 1,005 songs. He produced manuals on botany, describing every kind of plant, from the cedars of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows on walls. He also produced manuals on biology, describing animals, birds, insects, and fishes.”So, how do you reprogram your mind for success?

God’s Instructions
Let’s learn from God: After the death of Moses,  God taught Joshua the attitude that gives military success. He repeated it to him  three times. First, in Joshua 1:6, God said: “Be strong and courageous! For you will cause this people to inherit the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.”

Second, in Joshua 1:7, He said: “Only be very strong and courageous to ensure that you obey all the instructions that my servant Moses gave you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, so that you may have good success wherever you go.”

Third, in  Joshua 1:9, God said: “I’ve commanded you, haven’t I? Be strong and courageous. Don’t be fearful or discouraged.  For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

He also explained to Joshua that this kind of attitude comes from His Words. He said  in Joshua 1:8: “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will prosper and  have good success.”
This story shows that you can  equip your  heart for success,  you can consciously program your mind for success by the right words.

Conscious Learning
Most people with wrong attitudes are unconscious learner.  But, you can recondition your mind for success by being a conscious learner.  And  this psalms tells us how, it says:  “Blessed is one who does not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand in the pathway with sinners, or sit in the assembly of scoffers! But delights in the law of the Lord, and meditates on this law day and night.” (Psalms 1: 1-2)

Psalms 1:1-2 describes the three qualities of a conscious learner, as follows:  First, a conscious learner chooses the kind of company he or she  keeps. For  Proverbs 13:20 says, “Whoever keeps company with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.” 

Second, the conscious learner is not one who memorises bits and pieces of information in other to pass an examination. Instead, he enjoys learning,  and so gives time to study a subject until it is understood.

Third,  the conscious learner is skilled in the art of meditation. He or she knows how to be an active learner and have mastered the seven study skills, which  are:
Skill #1: Questioning – Question drives thinking and learning. Ask questions when you read the introductory part as well as the content of any material. 

Skill #2: Reading  –  Learn to read both closely and structurally.  For close reading,  stop after every paragraph or subheading to summarise in writing what you’ve learnt. For structural reading, read every introductory section closely. Then summaries in writing the big idea behind the book.

Skill #3: Writing – Learn to write summaries of the basic ideas within a text. Use acronyms, symbols, formulas, tables or diagrams to help you remember.

Skill #4: Listening – Most of us are poor listeners. When someone else is speaking, we  are waiting for the  person to stop  talking  so that we can say our own piece. And even during class, we allow our minds to wander around without focusing it on the teacher. Be an active listener – ask questions of the lecture you are receiving.

Skill #5: Meditating – Learn to focus your attention on what you’ve learnt. Think it, speak it, revolve it over and over in your mind until you can picture it. If your mind can see it, your body can do it!

Skill #6: Speaking –  If you can clearly explain something to another person, then you really understand it. Therefore, teach others what you’re learning.

Skill #7: Acting – Take action.  Anything you cannot apply, you do not yet understand it. Do everything to understand and put into practice whatever you learnt. After reading a paragraph or a book,  three questions that can help you take action are: 1. What did I learn? 2. What idea or insight did I receive? 3. What can I change after now?  What’s the ultimate destiny of a conscious learner?

Good Success
Psalms 1:3, described the ultimate destiny of such a learner thus: “He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields fruit in its season, and its leaves do not wither. He succeeds in everything he attempts.” Why does he or she enjoy good success? Since the heart of the ultimate learner is rooted in a strong and confident belief in God and His Word, he or she can withstand every negative problems of life.  As Jesus explained in Matthew 7:24-27: “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, but it did not collapse because it was founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, and it collapsed; it was utterly destroyed!””

Closing
The storms of life, which Jesus called  the rain, the floods and the winds, is common to every one. But how we respond to it is very important. That’s the reason someone said:
E    +    R     =    O
Where E -event plus  R -response  equals to O-outcome.

For instance, in the same situation that King Saul was afraid, David was confident! Where King Saul was hiding from the giant, David was bold  to confront him. Although David was younger and less experienced in battle than king Saul, his response conquered the giant. Therefore, it’s not  age and skill that determines success,  but your heart. This year be willing to cultivate a bold and confident heart because attitude is learnt.

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Cultivate Success Attitudes

Two new year habits that do not bring success  are new year resolution and prayer list. If you want to see changes this year, I encourage you to Cultivate Success Attitudes.

Attitude, Aptitude, Altitude
What is attitude? In simple terms, it is your state of mind or emotion about someone or something. A poet  explains it thus: 
“If you think you are beaten,  you are;  If you think you dare not, you don’t!      
              If you like to win, but think you can’t, It’s almost a cinch you won’t.  
                          If you think you’ll lose, you’ve lost; For out in the world we find,       
                 Success begins with a fellow’s will; It’s all in the state of mind.”

This means attitude, which is the way you feel or think, affects your behaviour. And your behaviour over time determines the outcome of your life. This can be represented as a formula:
A     >>   B     =     O
Where A -attitude leads to B -behaviour,  and Behaviour leads to O-outcome. Thus, a positive attitude leads to positive behaviour, which results in positive outcome. 
Therefore,
A      >>     A     =     A   
Where A -attitude leads to A -aptitude,  and  Aptitude leads to A-altitude.
This formula shows that it’s the attitude of your mind, not your aptitude that determines your altitude in life. In other words, your aptitude, which is how smart you are, does not determine how high you go in life.  But your attitude -how you think or feel  about yourself – does.

Why Attitude?
If positive attitude contributes greatly to success in life, why is it not taught in school? First, the school curriculum was designed to give you a handwork. That is, to make you a doctor, entertainer, fashion designer, lawyer, teacher, etc. But attitude works in the invisible part of your being – the heart. So, it requires  a teaching that will give you internal strength to face the contrary winds of life.

Second, the school uses exams to test the extent of a student knowledge. But attitude is best examined under pressure. And the way people respond when circumstances are good is different from when it is negative.  Therefore, an exam hall does not qualify as the right place for testing the success attitude of students. 

Thirdly, in school, students can pass an exam without understanding a subject. This could be because they crammed the subject, read through past questions or had questions set in the areas they studied. It’s not so with attitude!  If you fake it, it’s only for a short while.  But the real you will surely show up under pressure! The popular David and Goliath story is an example.

“The Philistine armies were stationed on a mountain on one side and Israel armies on another  mountain on the opposite side: and a valley was between them.Then a fighter  came out from the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath of Gath and was close to seven feet tall. He had a bronze helmet on his head, and wore bronze scale body armor that weighed about 5,000 shekels. He had bronze armor on his legs and hanging on his back was a bronze javelin. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and the iron point of his spear weighed 600 shekels; and his shield bearer walked in front of him. Goliath stood and called out to the armies of Israel, “Why have you come out to make war? Am I not a Philistine and you Saul’s servants? Choose a man for yourselves to come down against me. If he’s able to fight  and kill me, we will be your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you will be our servants and serve us.”  Goliath added, “I defy the armies of Israel today! Send me one man so that we can fight each other.” When Saul and his armies heard these words, they were troubled and full of fear. So for 40 days Goliath came forward, morning and evening, to challenge the armies of Israel with these same words.”

This was the military crisis that Saul and the armies of Israel were facing. For 40 days they were all defeated  by fear due to the physical appearance, achievements and words of the giant.

But on the 41st day of Goliath’s threat to Israel, David  showed up. So that morning as David  heard the same words from Goliath, his response was different. He asked the men who were standing by him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the shame from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” And when David was  brought before the king, he said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him (that is the giant). Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” At the end of that day, a 17year old boy killed a trained warrior who had being fighting from his youth, and made the entire people of  Phillistines servants to Israel.  (1Samuel 17)

This story shows that feelings of fear and self doubt gives birth to an “I can’t” attitude that  turns one into a weakling – hopeless and helpless in the face of opposition.  As a poet puts it:
‘If you think you are outclassed,  you are; You’ve got to think high to rise,
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before you can ever win a prize.
Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger and faster man,
But sooner or later the man who wins is the man who thinks he can.”

But, self belief or confidence triggers the mind to figure out ways, means  and how to solve a problem, and so gives you an “I can do” attitude. That’s the reason those who believe they can move mountains do, and those who believe they cannot don’t!

Finally, why is success attitude not taught in school? The way school grades people is different from the real world. In school, students come under two labels – those who passed and those who failed. For example, these successful people were once labelled failures by their teachers:
#1. Thomas Edison: His teacher said he was “too stupid to learn anything.”  But he became  one of America’s most famous inventor with 1, 093 patents credited  to him.
#2. Albert Einstein: He did not speak until he was 3-years-old and did not read until he was 7. His  teachers described him as “mentally slow.” And many of them from elementary school through college, and even professors  thought he would never amount to anything. But Albert Einstein revolutionised the world of science through his Theory of Relativity, and became  the most famous scientist of the 20th century.
#3. Peter J. Daniels, an Australian billionaire, was told by his teachers that he was a stupid boy and would never amount to anything because he failed at every grade in elementary school.  Today he serves as a director and chairman on a range of international boards; and  his family owns the only privately-owned gold and silver bullion bank in the world.

In the real world, those who failed in school today can become tomorrow’s success because they learnt to cultivate attitudes of success. This is the reason for the popular quote:
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. ”

Closing
A study of successful people reveals that they are simply successful failures.  These people passed the fiery test of contrary winds that everyone goes through. When they failed, they rose up and continued without giving up on their dreams, and in the end were crowned with success.

Some people give up at the first sign of opposition to their dream or vision. As for you, choose to be single minded, persistent and determined to achieve your dream this year. Be willingly to pick up yourself again and again after every defeat, and  carry on with your task until you reach  your goal. Then the world will label you “successful.” Rise up, shine! For this is your time to stand out!

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Why do Prayer List Fail?

All over the world,  many Christians start the year with a list of prayer request. What happens at the end of the year? Does everyone of them receive answers to their prayers? A capital “NO!” For just as it is with new year resolutions, so it is with a prayer list.  That’s why today I will discuss the question: “Why do Prayer List Fail?

Prayer Failure
The apostle Matthew gave us two reasons prayer fails:
Reason #1 – When you have no private prayer life, yet  you love to stand and pray in the public so that people may see you as a prayer warrior. (Matt 6:5-6)
Reason #2 – When you think that your prayers will be answered because of much speaking, and so you  pray and make use of the same words again and again. (Matt 6:7)
The apostle James further gave us two more reasons prayer fails:
Reason #3 – People ask  and  fail to receive, because they ask with wrong and selfish motives (Jam 4:3). And finally,
Reason #4 – When people pray and still worry or doubt that God heard their prayers, they will receive nothing (Jam 1: 5-8).
This year, don’t just pray! But, find out the conditions for receiving answers to your prayers.

Guaranteed Prayers
What are the conditions for answered prayers? The apostle John gave us two conditions. In the first instance, he said:  “This is the confidence that we have in Him: if we ask for anything according to his will, he listens to us. And if we are certain that he gives ear to all our requests, we are equally certain that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” (1John 5:14-15)

Did he imply that every time we pray, we should include the phrase, “Lord, if it be your will?” No, this is not what John is telling us. Let’s look at the example of Jesus. When He used this phrase in His prayer, was He aware of his Father’s will? Of course,  He was! Before they came to Jerusalem, Jesus had told His disciples over and over again that he would suffer a great deal there because of the elders, the high priests, and the scribes. Then he would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised. So, when He prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, he already knew the Father’s will.  What is John saying then? Any request that is according to the will of the Father is guaranteed an answer. Therefore,  when you pray according to God’s will,  you will surely receive the answers.

Another condition the apostle John stated, says: “If you abide in Jesus and His words abide in you, you can ask for anything you want, and you’ll receive it.” (John 15:7).  For the words of Jesus to remain in you, it means that you have given attention to it until it has become part of you. In short, His will has become your will! And when this occurs, answers to your prayers is guaranteed.

This concept is better explained by this story:
“Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread. For a friend of mine on a trip has dropped in on me, and I don’t have anything to serve him.’ Suppose he answers from inside, ‘Don’t  bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though that man doesn’t want to get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will get up and give him as many loaves as he needs.” Luke 11:5-8

In this story, Jesus showed us that prayer is a three-cord relationship between the Father, Jesus  and we.  Since He is the mediator or advocate before the Father, as long as we’re friends with Him and His words,  our prayers will surely be answered.  Do you know the Lord’s prayer? These two conditions for answered  prayer is the same thing the Lord’s prayer teaches. When it said: “Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt 6: 9-10) Therefore,  when you have met these conditions,  you can then “Ask, and you will receive.”  In fact, you can be hundred percent sure your prayers are answered, when you meet these conditions.

100% Guaranteed
However, if we see prayer as a slot machine that we put in our requests, turn the handle and then answers falls out from it, our desires will fail to materialise.  For the changes we desire this year will not be obtained by prayer alone. Our prayers must be backed by corresponding actions. For example, “if you want your business to increase, take steps  to increase its capital.” “If you want a job, don’t stay home waiting for it.” “If you want to start a business,  go learn from those who are already in that same business. ”  For just as the human body without the spirit is dead, so prayer without action is unproductive.

Then why pray? Prayer gives you confidence to take action. When you know what God has already earmarked for you, and you talk to him in prayers. You will receive the answer in your mind when you pray. Then as you take action in line with your prayers,  you will be confident that God is with you. And if God is for you, nothing can succeed against you.  Let me explain with this analogy.  A farmer reaps new fruits every season by applying the formula: Sower  + Seed  +  Soil  +  Season   =  Fruit.

Since a prayer life that reaps the fruit of answered prayers is what we want, these four ingredients must be part of our  prayer life:
#1 – The  Seed –  Just as the seed of a corn is different from that of beans, the seeds of prayer must be definite requests. Vague and generalised prayers do not qualify as seeds of prayer.
#2 – The Soil –  Every seed must be planted in a ploughed soil before it can grow. The soil of prayer is a heart of faith. A troubled and fearful heart will act as weeds – it will choke the seeds of  prayer and cause a prayer failure.
#3 -The Season –  In the natural, seeds are sown under certain weather conditions and harvested after a period of cultivation.  When the two conditions for answered prayer is satisfied, this is also like fulfilling the season for planting and reaping prayers.  And finally
#4 – The Sower – A farmer does not just put seeds in the ground and then go to sleep, waiting for harvest to come. He will water, weed, stake and carry out a lot activities until he harvest his or her crops. Therefore,  prayer alone will not change anything until you take corresponding actions.
This year, you can be hundred percent sure your prayers will be answered as you satisfy these four conditions of fruitfulness.

Closing
Although  many Christians start a new year with a list of prayer requests. But by  the end of the year, these prayers are unanswered. Why?  why do Prayer List Fail?
Reason #1 – When you have no private prayer life, yet love to stand and pray in the public so that people will think you do.

Reason #2 – When you make use of the same words again and again because you think that your prayers will be answered because of much speaking.

Reason #3 –  When you ask with wrong and selfish motives. And finally,

Reason #4 – People ask  and  fail to receive, when  they still worry or doubt that God heard their prayers.

Now that you  know the four ingredients for enjoying answered prayers, go ahead and pray. “Ask, and you will receive. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”  (Luke 11: 9-10)

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Why do New Year Resolutions Fail?

The excitement and joy of a new year is often a spill over from the Christmas celebration. And this ignites within people the desire for a new level of living. For this  reason some people make new year resolutions. Does new year resolutions really work? Today,  I will examine the question: “Why do New Year Resolutions Fail?”

Normal Routine
Imagine a man. Let’s assume he represents everyone who made a new resolution this year. This man is a hard work in his career or business, yet he smokes and is not physically fit. As the year draws to a close, the desire to change his life grips him in a fresh way. So he opts for a change of lifestyle by making a list of resolution that reads:
#1:     I want to be healthier this year. 
#2:     I want to quit smoking. 
#3:    I want to exercise regularly.

What do you think will happen? In the first week, he will do everything in his power to keep his resolutions. But by the second week, his will power will start failing him. Then as he repeatedly fails in the third week, he will throw in the towel in defeat. 

Cause and Effect
My friend, 50 percent of  the people who make new year resolutions now would have abandoned it in 30 days time and completely forgotten about it in 90 days time.  Why is this so? Why do new year resolutions fail?

To understand why new year resolutions fail, we need to go to the farm. Why? A farm operates according to the principle of cause and effect. And a failed new year resolution is simply an outcome.  Let’s find out what causes an effect in a farm from this story:  “A sower went out to sow his seed. As he was sowing, some seeds fell along the path, were trampled on, and birds of the air ate them up. Other seeds fell on the rock, and as soon as they grew, they dried up, because they had no moisture. Others fell among thorns, and the thorn bushes grew with them and choked them. But others fell on good soil, and grew, and produced fruit a 100 times as much.” (Luke 8: 5-8)

This story shows that a fruit is the by-product of four basic elements:
#1:   Sower – the farmer or gardener.
#2:   Seed – the crop that was sown.
#3:   Soil – the ground on which the seed was sown
#4:   Season – the time interval from when the seed was sown until it was harvested.

Therefore,  farmers produce fruit using the formula: 
Sower  +  Seed  +  Soil  +  Season  =  Fruit      Or  Cause  =  Effect
Since a failed new year resolution is just an effect, these four basic elements of the farm can explain why:
Reason #1:  The  Sower – Most people live life in their comfort zone. Thus, when they make new year resolutions, they are not committed to change but are merely stating their desires.  
Reason #2:   The Seed –  Just like it takes a specific seed to produce it’s kind of fruit, a vague and undefined goal cannot produce any effect.  Therefore goals  like “I want to be rich,”  “I want to be healthy, ”  “I want to quit smoking” or  “I want to exercise regularly” are doomed to fail.
Reason #3:   Soil –  If you scrutinise people who make new year resolutions, you will discover that they operate similar lifestyles with their friends.  This means that wrong friends are like bad soil, they do not produce good fruit.
Reason #4:   Season – Most people want to change now, habits that took them years to build. For a new habit to take root, it requires from 21-60 days. Yet,  many people are unwilling to invest such patience and time into a new habit.

New Habit
A farm when cultivated produces fruit in its season. And this fruit is simply an effect.  In life, every outcome is a  fruit, so results like money, health, weight loss, peace  and even failure are the fruits of our habits. Therefore, the question, “Why do new year resolutions fail?  should be “Why are old habits difficult to break? Or how do we form new habits?

A popular quotes explains it thus: ” Sow a thought, and you reap an act; Sow an act, and you reap a habit; Sow a habit, and you reap a character; Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.”  If you really want to see changes this year, you must be willing to sow new actions. This  is the reason someone defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”  Because you want a different result this year, there are four things to do differently:

#1:  The  Sower –  A strong emotional craving has a way of being satisfied over time. So, start with a strong desire to experience change. For Matthew said: “Blessed are those who  hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will have their desire (Matt 5:6).

#2:   The Seed –  Just like in the farm, an orange seed is different from a bean seed. You need to have a mental picture of your desire. And this will connect you to the force of imagination, which  operates thus: “Nothing you have imagined will be impossible for you!” (Gen 11:6)

#3:  The  Soil –  Your present outcome is a by-product of  the soil in which you bloom. To experience new results, you must be willing to cultivate good mentors and new friends. That’s why  Proverbs says, “Associate with the wise and become wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” (Prov. 13:20)

#4:  The Season – Link your new habit to your daily routine. This way it will  be easy for you to remember to practice it. And any time you fail, pick yourself up and commit to it again because you become what you consistently do. In the end, it’s your patience and compassion with yourself,  that will help you reap a  new habit.”

Closing
Why do new year resolutions fail? A failed new year resolution is just an effect.  And in life, every outcome is a  fruit. That’s why results like money, health, weight loss, and even failure are the fruits of our habits. Hence, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result” is the habit of a fool.  If you really want a different result this year, then be ready to ask yourself some basic questions like these:
Question #1 – Is my present too painful for me? Or am I willing to leave where I am to where I want to be?
Question #2  –  Can I see, hear or feel where I want to be? Or do I have a mental picture of my preferred future?
Question #3 – Am I ready to seek out mentors? Or am I ready to cultivate new friends along my dream path?
Question #4  – Am I willing to invest in a daily routine until I see the changes I want?

After you find answers to these questions, then go to work like a farmer: prepare the ground, and sow your seeds.  If you don’t give up, you will surely reap a new habit!
Finally, I leave you with this habit quote that says: “ First we make our habits, then our habits make us.”  This year, I encourage you to invest in new habits that will take you to your destiny.

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Think Business, Not Certificate

It’s Time for Change!
The Nigeria Immigration Services (NIS) recruitment exercise that ended in disaster was a wake up call to students and school administrators to think business,  and not certificate. Although the NIS advertised for 4500 vacancies but more than six million applicants applied nationwide, and from this over half a million were shortlisted for an aptitude test that ended in disaster.  On March 15th 2014,  at least 19 unemployed graduates died and many more were injured.  From this disaster, it was visible to everyone that our colleges do not prepare students to succeed in life and business, but to seek for employment.

The focus of most universities is to help students acquire core knowledge in their course of study, pass end-of-semester exams and graduate with a degree at the end of their study.  If our colleges were less concerned with acquiring  book knowledge and good grades, what will be our unemployment figures?  If our colleges were more concerned with equipping  students to be problem solvers,  what will be our unemployment figures? It’s time our colleges move from such an academic approach. Instead teach students how to build businesses, innovate in the marketplace and solve life problems.This disaster  clearly shows that it’s time to re-structure our educational system. It’s time for  change!

With over 40 million unemployed graduates in our cities, and the colleges churning out more every year,  it’s time our  schools think business,  and not certificate!  It’s time Nigerian students wake up to the reality that graduating from college or university with a degree does not guarantee employment.  In fact, the 2014 Nigeria Immigration Services (NIS) recruitment disaster was a wake up call for Nigerian students to desist from pursuing certificate. It’s time this blind pursuit of  university certificate in Nigeria gives way to the pursuit of the real thing – a business idea. It’s time for change!

Re-think Education
Why should students think business,  and not certificate? The students of today must think business and not certificate because of the global trend of unemployment. A student should embrace the fact  that learning for school is different from learning for life. In a typical course of study like Engineering, a lecturer teaches you how to design things, then he gives you an assignment, and expects you to design it according to what you were taught. At the end of your study, your lecturers have only prepared you to be an employee. For as an employee, your company will give you an assignment and expect you to make designs that are based on what you learnt in school.

On the contrary, learning for  life is learning to be an innovator or inventor. It is learning to apply the skills of goal setting,  planning,  time management and resource management to achieve a set project. Thus an Engineer, who is an entrepreneur, will set a goal of a finished product that he wants to design. He will plan  the action steps to get there, fix a deadline for achieving it, focus his time, energy and resources on it, and persist in the face of obstacles , until he creates a finished product that becomes the rave of consumers, whom he serves by  teaming up with others. Hence, learning for life makes you a business success as you serve people with your gifts and talents.

Oxfam Poverty Statistics
Why should students think business,  and not certificate?  In January 2014,  Oxfam International, a global anti -poverty group released a report  called, “Working for the Few”  that showed the unbalanced income disparity between the rich and the poor.  And some shocking statistics in this report are:

#1 – Almost half of the world’s wealth is owned by just one percent of the population.
#2 – The wealth of the one percent richest people in the world amounts to $110 trillion.
#3 – The bottom half of the the world’s population (the poorest 3.5 billion) owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world.

A look at the top 85 people on the 2014 Forbes billionaire list will reveal the identity of these individuals.  First on the list is Carlos Sim, the Telmex telecom owner from Mexico, next is Microsoft’s Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet of Berkshire Hathaway is next. This list shows that the world’s 85 richest individuals are mostly business owners. Therefore the report “Working for the Few” shows that 85 people (78 men and 7 women) own as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion people because they are business owners who employee millions to work for them.  So the possibility of reducing unemployment and earning a rich income is higher if students will acquire the knowledge of how to build businesses and apply them.

Richest School Drop Out
Why should students think business,  and not certificate? It is business owners that rule the world; and most of them are school drop out. Do you know what these products have in common –  Apple,, CNN, Coca Cola, Coco Channel, Dell , Disney,  Ford Motors, Giorgio Armani, Oracle, Microsoft,  Macdonald, Mary Kay, Ralph Lauren, and Virgin Airways? These brands  were all founded by school drop outs!

Do you know that there are at least 53 global businesses that were founded by school drop out?  Some of them are :
#1 – Bill Gates- He dropped out of Harvard university to start Microsoft. According to the Forbes billionaire list, he has held the position of the world’s richest man for thirteen consecutive years.
#2 – Mark Zuckerberg –  He dropped out of Harvard to build his company Facebook.  In 2013, He was 28 years old and worth $13.3 billion.
#3- Coco Chanel – she never saw the four walls of a school, yet was  a fashion mogul and the founder of  the Coco Chanel brand.
#4- Mary Kay Ash -she founded Mary Kay Inc, a popular cosmetic brand.
#5 – Asa Candler – the founder of the world’s most popular brand Coca Cola dropped out of school at the age of 10.

In Nigeria also,  there is a list of 15 richest individuals that dropped out of university or never saw the four walls of a school,  but have built giant businesses.  Some of them are:
#1 – Late Alhaji  Dantata – a kola nut trader started the Dantata dynasty,  his descendants are the Dangote and Dantata family.
#2 – Orji Uzor Kalu –  the billionaire founder of Slok Group was rusticated from university for taking part in students’ protest.
#3 -Rasaq Okoya –  the founder of Eleganza Group did not attend university.
#4- Cosmos Maduka –  the founder of Coscharis Group (sole distributor of BMW vehicles in West Africa) dropped out of primary school.
#5- Sir Tony Ezenna –  the CEO of Orange Drugs built his father’s patent medicine shop ( what is locally called “chemist”) into a conglomerate.
#6- Innocent Chukwuma – is the founder of Innoson Group  (manufacturer’s of IVM motors and Innoson Plastics).

Infact, Nigeria has a great number of high net worth business people  that neither went to school  nor earned a college degree in such places as Lagos island,  Ladipo, Trade Fair, Alaba International,  Nnewi, Aba, Kano, and in every major city within it.

Why should students think business,  and not certificate? Or to put it in another way, “Why would someone who did not go to school become a millionaire while the person who did is not? ” On the 2nd of January 2006, I woke up with this question.  Then, I had no answer to this question, but  today (nine years after)  I can tell you that the reason the school drop out became a millionaire is because he was a business owner.  And the only reason the person who went to school did not is because he became an employee. 

It’s time students change such an outcome. It’s time to go to school and still be a millionaire like the founders of Google,  Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who turned their Phd research project on the world wide web into a global business.  It’s time to connect your studies with your passion.  It’s time to study for business,  and not for certificate!

In closing, I leave you  with this famous quote from  Alvin Toffler, an American writer. And it says, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

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Seeing Brings Possession

Introduction
I have  learnt that the mind operates according to the computer parlance,  ” Garbage in, garbage out;” that nothing is impossible to the unlimited mind; and that “You must weed your mind as you would weed your garden” of every negative emotions of  fear, doubt, unbelief, etc. Today, I want to use the power of the mind, the faculty of my imagination, to paint a fresh picture  of my city.

My City
My city, Yenagoa,  is the capital of Bayelsa,  a state in Southern Nigeria, nicknamed , “the glory of all lands.”  The name, Bayelsa, is an acronym of three Local Government areas – Brass (BALGA) , Yenagoa (YELGA), and Sagbama (SALGA).  From  the former  Rivers State, Bayelsa was created on October 1, 1996 by the Federal Military Government of Nigeria.

My city, Yenagoa, is nestled between Warri and Portharcourt. It is a distance of  360km from Lagos, 87km from Warri and 83km from Portharcourt.  It is a metropolis teeming with people from other parts of Nigeria who are hankering for a share in its crude oil and natural gas revenue. Thus its commerce is populated by Ibos, Yorubas, Urhobos, and Hausas; while its civil service is manned by Ijaws.

Bayelsa,  a major oil and gas producing state,  contributes over 30% to  Nigeria’s daily oil production through the activities of Shell, Agip and ChevronTexaco, the three major petroleum exploration and production companies operating within it. As a result of decades of neglect by the federal government  and these major oil companies,  Bayelsa lacks  adequate  schools, hospitals, roads, airport,  and other basic infrastructures.

Since its creation, Bayelsa has had four military administrators and four elected governors,  yet the huge sums of money budgetted for development by successive government has not translated into  any remarkable change in the landscape and environment of my city, Yenagoa. Therefore,  from the recess of my imagination,  I look at my city and I paint a new picture!

In the Educational  Sector: 
I see a safe, clean, well-designed and maintained school  buildings with minimum distractions for students and staff. A healthy physical environment that ensures food protection, sanitation, safe water supply,  good lighting, violence prevention, and quick  emergency response. I see safe playgrounds with well-designed and maintained sporting facilities for swimming, athletics, foot and hand ball games, and physical exercises.

I see a school curriculum,  programs and policies that supports and promotes the notion that all students can succeed.  A mental  environment that challenges students to  learn as well as  contribute to society. In short, I see a world class school environment that  supports the mental, social and physical wellbeing of students and staff  in our  nursery,  primary,  secondary and tertiary institutions.

In  the Economic  Sector:
I see  large scale businesses – petrochemical, manufacturing, agricultural industries – occupying industrial parks and business incubation centres for entrepreneurs.  I see small scale businesses housed in shopping malls and in the central business district. I see our markets with well planned shops and organised row by row according  to the products sold. I see the provision of facilities and services necessary for the  economic well being of my city  such as roads, bridges, trains, water supply,  sewers, electricity supply, telephone and mail services, public transport and airports.

In the  Leadership  Sector:
I see political leaders whose vision is to build a city which provides the essential facilities and services that makes live comfortable for both citizens and businesses. A city with green areas and good security to enhance the health and safety of its residents. A world class city that runs seamlessly without traffic congestion,  utility outages and flight delays.

I see religious leaders who emulate Jesus Christ and build up their people to be the salt in their careers or businesses, and to light up every dark system that causes corruption in the workplace.

In the Family Sector:
I see families living in well planned and comfortable residential estates with good security system, consistent water and  electricity supply.
I see loving homes with father, mother and children living together. I see parents who invest in their children’s education and are raising  them up  to become  nation builders like Bayelsa heroes of yester years. 

Seeing Brings Possession
Why am I doing this –  seeing my city, Yenagoa, in  a new light? Seeing brings possession.This  is a principle that God taught Abraham when he faced negative business and family circumstances.

The first time God taught Abraham this principle was in Genesis 13,  After his nephew, Lot, had chosen the best part of the land for grazing his livestock,  and left him the barren part , his business future looked bleak, but God told him: “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward: for all the land that you see I will give to you …”

In Genesis 15, when God promised Abraham an exceedingly great reward, he was not interested in the blessing.  Rather he complained  to God   and  said, “Lord God What will you give me? for I have no child and my steward, Eliezer of Damascus,  will inherit all my wealth.”   The LORD took him outside and said, “Gaze into the night  sky and count the stars – if you are able to count them!” Then God said to him, “Your descendants will be that numerous.” Thus God solved his problem of infertility with this same principle again.

So how did Abraham move from barrenness to fruitfulness?  He practiced the principle of seeing before possessing. The Scripture says, “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” … Wthout weakening in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, nor the deadness of Sarah’s womb. Yet, looking to the promise of God, he did not waver through unbelief, but grew strong through faith, giving glory to God, And  being absolutely convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” (Romans 4:18-21) Then the author concluded the story of Abraham by saying that everything written about him was both  for his sake and those who will practice this same principle.

To enjoy a beautiful future, you need to  stand where you are and envision  a better tomorrow.  For the power to change the present resides within the mind – the imaginative faculty. Even Jesus Christ turned his cross of suffering into the cross of salvation by this principle.  For  it is written of Him: “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) Therefore, stop complaining and moaning about your present situation,  you can change it by this principle. Stop looking at the wrong image, for today’s vision is the seed of tomorrow’s future.  For according to Scriptures, “We don’t fix our minds on the things that are seen but on the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal, but the things that are invisible are eternal.”  (2 Corinthians 4:18)

If you are truly desperate for change, then my advice to you is: “Arise, walk through the land (of your imagination), the length and breadth of it, for God will give it to you.” (Genesis 13:17) I say to you: “Arise from the depression in which circumstances have kept you! Shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you!” (Isaiah 60:1) And make this your aim: To forget the things that are behind and to  reach out for the things that are ahead. For there is a beautiful future waiting for you. Now step into it by seeing it today!

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