ACTUALLY IT SHOULD READ; “WITH GREAT RESPONSIBILITY COMES GREAT POWER”

 

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If you have ever read a Spider-man comic, or watched any of the Spider-man cartoons, or seen any of the Spider-man movies on cinema, you must have probably come across the signature quote of the hero’s late uncle Ben; “With great power, comes great responsibility”. These words define the character, Spider-man and his complete belief in these words is what leads him to perform so many brave and heroic deeds, and make so many personal sacrifices to keep his friends and family and the entire comic universe safe. Those words are so powerful that they have found their way beyond the comic world and even pop culture into mainstream reality. So many people have adopted them as their personal mantra, and a lot of companies, businesses and initiatives use a portion of that saying or all of it as part of their Vision, Mission Statement, or corporate motto. Even politicians and religious leaders have been known to quote the words dreamed up by the late, great storyteller Stan Lee (RIP); “With great Power, comes great Responsibility”. To explain this quote I would point you to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ himself, which he spoke in Luke 12:48; “To whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required” This means that if you are blessed with great ability, resources, opportunity, or influence, you are expected to use them to better the lot of the people around you. That is what God requires of us all, and He demonstrated this severally in the bible from Noah to Joseph; from Gideon to Samson to David. When God calls you, He equips you.

 

However, though those words are 100% true, and though they represent the right paradigm with which to change the world and validate our existence, I discovered years ago that even truer than “with great power comes great responsibility” are the words “With great RESPONSIBILITY, comes great POWER!” When you accept responsibility for your life and your circumstances you accept also the ability, resources and opportunity to change it. When you accept responsibility for others you receive the power to help them. I have written before about the direct relationship between the amount of responsibility we accept and the amount of happiness we have. Now I’m writing that when you take charge of your life, you also receive the power to improve it. We can whine and complain as much as we want about how unfair life is, but until we accept responsibility for who we are and where we are, we cannot have the power, or authority to make it better.

 

As a banker I used to complain about how my efforts were not being rewarded, and how my career was at a standstill because the bosses were being unfair. But when I decided that the direction of my career and my future was up to me, I suddenly became aware of all the options and opportunities available to me, and I could take action and make decisions that made me better, richer, and happier.

 

So, in the context of the words of the immortal Stan Lee, spoken by the greatest of all superheroes; “Take responsibility to help others, but first of all take responsibility for yourself”. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and I urge you to live this festive season the way Jesus lived…by using what you have to take care of others. Check out my website www.ifeanyiubawords.com and remain blessed. Cheers!

 

PS: Thank you Stan Lee, for everything…Excelsior!

HAPPINESS COMES FROM BEING YOURSELF

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As readership of my blog grows, I find myself under greater pressure to generate content that a broader group of people can relate to. And because I base my write-ups on the lessons I learn from things that have happened to me, this has become more of a challenge. But I will always try to draw parallels that everyone can understand, and I pray that God will continue to give me the grace to do this.

 

Olaitan (not his real name) is one of those people who have that uncanny ability to fascinate and perplex you, all at the same time. We met during my first year in the university, and we have remained friends to this day. Olaitan was a Humanities major, but he would always tell anyone who would listen that he wished he were studying Medicine, or Engineering, or Art, or whatever course of study caught his fancy at the time. He was never content with what he had, or what he was doing; he could play the keyboard and the guitar quite well, but he wished he could rap and write poetry like me. He was a gifted Judoka and Wrestling champion, but he would rather envy me because of my skill in Taekwondo. Whatever talents and gifts Olaitan had, he would always say that he preferred the talents and gifts of someone else. This inability to appreciate his own strengths led Olaitan to end dozens of relationships with many lovely women, just because he would observe another happy couple enjoying their intimacy and immediately wish that the woman was his instead. To Olaitan everyone else had it better than he did, and he was never satisfied with just being himself and enjoying the things that made him unique. The last time I saw him was when he came to me to borrow money to start a business that he was not suited for, even after we all advised him not to quit his well-paying job as a Human Resources Manager at big company. The reason he gave for leaving the company was simple; people who were into that business seemed to be so happy…happier than he. Olaitan is now in his forties, but is still unmarried and unable to appreciate the good things and good people in his life.

 

As children we all envied something about someone else, and I’m certain that we have often wished we had the nice things our friends owned, which we did not have. This is normal. But at some point you have to begin to appreciate yourself and be grateful to God for who you are and what you have. This is one of the cornerstones of maturity, and until you can appreciate your own, you can never become the best of who you are. Yes, there are certain talents that shine like a beacon, but because you cannot sing or dance…because you’re not an academic prodigy, or a gifted athlete, doesn’t mean you’re not special and loaded with potential. Some people have their talents bubbling just below the surface, while some of us have to dig deep and work hard to discover our unique abilities. This is the fun of living in this world; the diversity of people. I have done some checking, and I discovered that indeed God has equipped everyone equally. He did not equip us the same; He just equipped us equally in different areas. Whatever it is someone around you has in abundance, know that you too have something else in equal abundance. That is the wonderful mystery of God that we must all appreciate. But like the servant who was given one talent (Matt.25: 14-30) we would rather hide our talent and envy those who seem to have more. Please do not do this. Be yourself all the time, and make full use of the little you think you have or are. Look at it this way; there are people who carry a heavier burden than you do. Would you rather exchange with them? So if you would not accept a heavier burden why would you envy a greater talent?

 

In conclusion, know that God does not see our service by quantity; He judges our thoughts and actions by proportion. If you believe you have little, but you do all you can with that little, you will be given more. But if you do nothing because you believe you have little then you are abusing the existence that you have been given. So please, look less at the blessings of others and more at the abundance of opportunity that you have been given. I pray God will give us all the grace to be truly happy with who we are and the strength to make the best of what we have, even as we appreciate His grace in the life of others. Check out my website www.ifeanyiubawords.com for more inspiring content. Cheers!

YOU MUST OWN IT BEFORE YOU CAN CHANGE IT

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Over the years I have posted numerous articles and write-ups on my blog and my social media pages, and each time I’m always careful to post only what I know to be truth through personal experience and many hours of deep thought and prayer. But of all the lessons and advice I have ever posted, this one is to me one of the most powerful and effective lessons I have ever learned.

 

Emeka was a young Taekwondo-ka I trained with back when I was competing in tournaments. He was one of those fellows who you would call naturally gifted; long limbs, flexible and with good reflexes, Emeka made Taekwondo look beautiful. His kicks were strong and his footwork and stances were textbook perfect. In fact, with the right training and attitude, Emeka could have gone all the way to the world championships…even the Olympics. Yes, Emeka was THAT good!

 

But Emeka had one serious flaw which I believe derailed his chances of becoming a world class martial artist. He always had an excuse to give every time something went wrong. If he arrived late for training and missed a spot on the team, he blamed it on traffic, or the rain, or something else; whenever he lost a match, he complained that the referee was being partial to the other guy; if he failed to break a board during grading test; he blamed it on the person holding the board. That was Emeka for you; he blamed everyone and everything else except himself. Before long he was dropped entirely from the team and his conclusion was that the coach was tribal and jealous of him. The last time I saw him he was hanging around the National Stadium, obese, unkempt, telling anyone who would listen about his glory days as a fighter and how the envy of those he was better than caused them to conspire against him and end his career. I tried to feel sorry for him, but it’s hard to feel pity for someone who never took advantage of his unique gifts, or took responsibility for his failures.

 

If this story does not strike a chord with you, then you’re not being sincere to yourself. Our society teaches us to hold others responsible for our failures, and blame something other than ourselves for our shortcomings. We are conditioned to believe that our poverty; lack of education; disadvantages, and even spiritual immaturity are the handiwork of “the enemy”, regardless of our decisions, lifestyle or lack of commitment. People flock to churches where they are told that unseen enemies are to blame for their lack of wealth and physical and psychological discomfort. They spend time praying and fasting against their fellow man, and seeking for miracles from heaven in the form of “covenant helpers” to magically provide them with things that so called “unbelievers” wake up and go out and achieve every day through hard work, dedication, and personal sacrifice. We are a society of blamers, and between the secular zeitgeist and the religious programming, we are taught to blame and not own.

 

Success is a process, and that process begins with first owning your reality. Whatever your reality is right now; whether it is your fault or not, you must accept responsibility for it before you can change it. When I finally decided to accept responsibility for my failures I discovered that I was no longer concerned with whom or what caused them. All I was interested in was how to change the situation. Yes there are bad people out there who seek to take from you and destroy you, but there is also a God who loves you and will replenish and multiply…all you have to do is accept responsibility for where you are and begin to work towards getting to where you want to be. If like Emeka you choose to blame everyone and everything else for your failures, you will never hold yourself responsible for your success. Remember that where you are today is as a result of the decisions and actions that you – or someone who has authority over you – have taken in the past. So if you want a change you need to accept responsibility for your shortcomings and work towards overcoming them. Are you poor? don’t blame society or government, accept responsibility for your finances and start working toward riches. Are you obese? Stop blaming your moods and circumstances and accept that it’s your responsibility to get fit. Are you unhappy or dissatisfied? Stop blaming your past, accept your present, and begin to create your ideal future now! So accept responsibility for what you don’t have today, and when you do you will become empowered to go out and get it all.

 

Because before you can change it, you have to own it. Check out my website www.ifeanyiubawords.com for more content. Cheers!

If I were to ask you to name a boxer, I can almost bet that you would say Mike Tyson, right? And why wouldn’t you? Iron Mike Tyson is known as one of the most phenomenal and brutal fighters to ever step into the ring. Virtually all of his professional victories were knockouts, and the man had a brute strength and raw punching power that the world had never seen since maybe the days of George Foreman. Tyson was incredible, and there was no one on earth who could withstand his devastating left or right hook. He used to knock opponents out in the first or second round…if they actually got that far, and after each fight his opponents always said the same thing; they were trying to land a punch or retreat, when BOOM! A single punch out of nowhere laid them out flat. For casual fans of boxing, Mike Tyson was fun to watch because his fights were over before you could even start to get bored. But that was his problem right there. Iron Mike always went into each fight looking for the single punch knockout because that was what he was used to. He was not trained to draw a fight out and exploit his opponents’ weakness. When he lost to James Buster Douglas in 1990 it was because of one simple reason; Douglas drew the fight out and made Tyson work for 10 rounds. Tyson did not know what else to do. He was exhausted. He was used to finishing opponents with one punch before round 3, and he had no answers for Douglas’ barrage of blows in the latter rounds. Unfortunately, that is also the problem with most of us. We go into situations and challenges looking for the single action that will solve the problem immediately, so that we can score a victory without exerting ourselves too much. That’s not the way life works, despite what we may have been taught, or what we see on television. Life is a drawn out encounter and you often have to go toe to toe with our problems for hours, or days or weeks or months, chipping away slowly, going through the process, before finally we achieve victory. This applies to almost everything we are faced with; whether we are trying to create wealth, or do well in school, or solve a personal or professional problem. Any boxing trainer worth his salt will tell you that you have to study your opponent, while you dance him around and throw jab after jab to weaken his defenses. Once in a while you may solve a problem with one swift action, but don’t think that you will always win that way. When you try a solution and it doesn’t work, don’t get discouraged: try something else, approach it from another angle, rest a bit, regain your strength and go at it again. People who approach their problems in this manner rarely ever lose, because they understand the reason for the process. The process builds physical and mental and emotional strength, and each problem you solve equips you with the tools to deal with the next, bigger challenge. So, don’t try to be a one technique knockout artist. David had danced and destroyed several carnivores before he came up against Goliath of Gath, and even after that victory he fought many long, drawn out battles which he won. So many churches promise their members one single solution to solve their problems, while they know fully well that this is not the truth. Face problems with faith and a determination to find a solution no matter how long it takes, because if you expect to win immediately you step into the ring, your disappointment will be even greater when you lose. Be patient and keep jabbing, dodging and weaving, and I can guarantee you that not only will you outlast all your problems; you will also develop the skills you need to solve even bigger and more challenging problems. Check out my website www.ifeanyiubawords.com for more life affirming content.

FACING YOUR FEARS

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In 2003 I took part in a tournament organized by the martial arts community in the Lagos State University (LASU). I was still a fresh black belt holder then, and I was pretty sure I was good enough to win and get the prize. Unfortunately I was very inexperienced in the psychology of fighting, and I still had some doubt in my abilities. So when I met one of my opponents before the actual fight I was totally unprepared for what transpired. His name was Yemi, and he was an overweight freestyle fighter who had a reputation for being a thug and a bully. He looked me over and told me point blank that there was no way I would last a full round in the ring with him. Yemi taunted and bullied me, and made jokes about how skinny and slow I was. He got inside my head and his words did a lot of damage to my confidence and made me afraid. By the time our fight was announced, I was so scared of fighting him that I kept stepping to the side and trying to avoid taking a hit without making any effort to attack. Yemi scored a series of easy points against me, and I eventually lost that fight. Looking back now I’m quite sure that if I hadn’t allowed my fear to dictate my movements that day, that fight may have turned out to be one of my most conclusive victories because Yemi was slow and lumbering and he kept dropping his guard like a rookie.

 

Everyone has a fear. No matter how strong a man or woman is, or no matter how bold and confident a person is, there is always something that they are mortally afraid of, something that puts them at a disadvantage. As children the sight of a cane was enough to fill us with panic and send us running and screaming; as we grew older our fear of corporal punishment was replaced with other fears and anxieties, depending on who we are and how fully our personalities formed. For many people their greatest fear is the fear of being alone and without family or friends or someone to love, while for others it is the fear of poverty and lack…and this fear pushes them to do whatever evil thing possible to make money. For others still their biggest fear is the fear of the world seeing them for who they really are. These people go to great lengths to present themselves as the complete opposite of what lives within them. Yemi made me feel fear, and because of that fear I was defeated even before I even stepped into the ring. The trick to overcoming fear is to remind yourself that the fear is in your head. Jesus reminded his disciples that even though they would have troubles and difficulties, he was always with them and he would send them a comforter in the Holy Spirit. Whenever things begin to go bad for me and I find myself gripped with fear I remember Deuteronomy 31:8 and most of the time that is enough for me to grin and surge ahead.

 

I like to present myself as bold and confident in the face of difficulty. Sometimes I tend to overdo it and come across as cocky…even arrogant. This is not usually my intention, but I have come to discover that in life the admission of fear or the succumbing to fear often brings about the circumstance that we are afraid of. Don’t let your fear dictate your actions or define your thoughts. Remember your creator and hold onto whatever word or teaching in your religion that deals with the overcoming of fear. Surround yourself with people of courage and face your fears squarely, and you will find that fear is just a bully without any real power to hurt you. For me, my biggest fear is the fear of failure, but I face that fear every day and continue to do more and more. Face your fear today, and I promise you that you will surely overcome it. Check me out on www.ifeanyiubawords.com for more messages that deal with courage and confidence. Cheers!

ROLE MODELS, MENTORS, AND RIVALS

 

Role models give us something to aspire to, rivals give us something to aim for                                                                                                                                                                                  Ifeanyi Uba

I can never forget the first day I stepped into a martial arts dojo; I was awed by the sight of my late master Vincent Makanju holding up a pair of kicking pads, while master Chris and master Nekan took turns hammering away at the pads with lightning fast, and very powerful kicks. I knew right away that I had to become a fighter and be able to throw beautiful kicks like them. It wasn’t easy to learn though; the training was tough and painful, and I sustained quite a few injuries in the process. The fact that I had trainers who demanded nothing less than 100% effort, 100% of the time made me want to quit more than a thousand times. But I didn’t quit for 3 reasons: first, I had been bullied a lot in secondary school and I wanted to learn how to fight back…like my heroes Bruce Lee, Donnie Yen and Muhammed Ali: second, I had the best teachers and mentors who believed in me and put me through hell to make me better: and third, I had rivals like Olakunle and Blanka who saw me as an opponent to defeat on their own road to greatness. No matter how much pain I was in, I knew that my rivals were right there with me suffering the same pain and learning the same lessons. And if I let up, they would surpass me.

 

Whenever I teach a class – it doesn’t matter what I’m teaching:

it could be financial management, personal effectiveness, or even martial arts or creative writing – I always stress to my students the importance of mentors, role models and rivals. If you are ever going to be the best at anything in this life, you must have all three. Role models give you something to aim for – something to aspire to…an absolute value of greatness that you want to reach, and if possible surpass in your lifetime. Lebron James and Kobe Bryant saw what they wanted to become in Michael Jordan. So you must see the target you are aiming for in someone else.

 

Mentors set you on the road to greatness. These are people whose lifestyles and work ethic give you a template to follow to success. They teach you what they know and encourage you to do more. I have always been blessed with excellent mentors and teachers who took me under their wing and molded my talents into skills. They showed me what was possible, and how I could attain it in the shortest amount of time possible. Without mentors we find life harder and our goals more difficult to achieve.

 

Rivals keep you on that road to success. The thought of losing to someone of equal ability is hard for most of us to bear, so we compete. We challenge, and we struggle not to be outdone because second place is never as nice a place to be as the top. Unfortunately society now rewards marginal efforts and mediocre results. We need to train ourselves and our children to see the importance and benefits of healthy competition, so that with the image of our role models in mind and the help of our mentors to guide us, we can strive to outdo our rivals and go in search of new ones.

 

So, which are you? As a rival you have a duty to bring out the best in yourself and in your competitors. As a mentor you are bound to teach and train your protégé to become great, and as a role model you must uphold the standards of excellence which you have provided for those of us who seek to become as great as you. I encourage you today to continue towards excellence; find yourself a role model to be like; seek out a mentor to help you; and pray for rivals. Because let’s face it…

 

…it’s just not fun throwing kicks at a bag that doesn’t kick back!

THE SECRET OF THE SECOND WIND

Recently I started going to the gym again. I had been on hiatus for over a year, and not only was it telling on my weight, it was also telling on my moods and lifestyle. So when my cousin Iyke invited me to join him for early morning workouts at the local gym, I gladly accepted. The first few times I tried to go up on the treadmill, I quickly got tired after just a few minutes and stopped. I told myself that the reason why I quit so early was because of the problems I have been having with my knees in recent years. But I knew that I was not doing myself any good by not exercising, and nothing else would return me to the fitness level I enjoyed years ago. Stubbornly I went back and cranked up the treadmill again and got on. After a couple of minutes of brisk walking I was out of breath and getting tired. But I adjusted the speed slightly, and continued. Soon I was really breathing heavy and needed to stop because my calves and thighs were getting tired. But I kept at it and after about 15 minutes, I felt my chest expanding and my breathing became easier. I was filled with new energy and I found that I could go another half an hour before I got really tired, but I had covered even more distance than I originally planned. Pretty soon I discovered that whenever I used the treadmill or any other machine for a cardio workout, my second wind comes much earlier than it did that first time, and it now takes much longer before I start to feel the effects of fatigue.

There have been many theories and reports detailing the study of the second wind phenomenon in athletes. Some scientists believe the second wind to be a result of the body finding the proper balance of oxygen to counteract the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles. Others claim second winds are due to endorphin production. Whatever it is that causes us to catch our second wind when we exercise, I want to tell you that the same thing applies to every other pursuit in life. Whether you are studying for an exam or trying to succeed in business or employment, you will find it difficult in the beginning and may quickly become discouraged. But if you keep at it and pace yourself, and keep your mind on the goal you want to achieve, you will soon pick up speed and eventually hit your stride. It is usually at this point that you become noticed and celebrated and people begin to talk about your success. They don’t see or know about the time when you struggled with whatever it is that you have mastered.

Many people quit or give up at the first sign of difficulty. We have been conditioned to fear failure so much that even the mere thought of the possibility of failing is enough to discourage most of us from even trying at all. That is when we begin to look for someone who will do it for us, or search for shortcuts to circumvent the system. Any top athlete will tell you that you must push through the difficulty and find your second wind before you can be assured of any type of success in what you are doing. So don’t quit when it starts tough, hold on, push through, find your second wind, and make that success happen for yourself. As for me, I’m still learning to apply this principle to all aspects of my life and work. Watch out for my upcoming book 360 DEGREE MASTERY, and check out my blog on my website www.ifeanyiubawords.com for more inspiring and thought provoking messages and leave me a comment if this message strikes a chord with you.

Cheers!