A number of the readers of this column have sent me notes requesting that I share with them tips I picked from the successful people I have interviewed. They want tips they can apply to their careers, businesses and life, generally. In the first part, I decided to pull out one key nugget shared by each of the persons I have had the privilege of interviewing in diverse areas. This is the third and final part. Please enjoy:
Retired corporate board room guru
BE PROFESSIONAL, DEVELOP COMPETENCE ON THE JOB
If you truly want to get to the top of your career, you must develop competence on the job. Without being seen to be competent by those below and above you, you may face some ridicule at some point and you may not get to the top of the corporate ladder.
When I returned to Nigeria in 1967 after my professional accountancy qualification in England, I started with UAC and was posted to Lipton based in Apapa. The people I met on the ground were just clerks and were far older than I was.
On my second day, (I had an office to myself) and I was barely settling down when this elderly senior Accounts Clerk walked into my office. He said, “Excuse me, sir, it is time to calculate the Variances, and it is done by the accountant.” I knew what books to ask for and he went to get them. He brought the books and stood there in front of me with his hands behind him, which I had thought was a mark of courtesy and respect. After 10 to 15 minutes, I gave the results to him and he brought his hands forward with a sheet of paper bearing the answers there. He compared my figures with his and said, “Yes, you are correct. We just wanted to test you”. That is competence and knowledge. Imagine if I didn’t know.
An investor and philanthropist
YOU CAN BUILD WEALTH IN YOUR SPARE TIME
One of my junior associates, who worked closely with me in 1984 while I was on a board in an executive capacity, was fascinated by how good I was at multitasking – pursued my academic and professional goals while in active work. He had been silently observing and wondering about how I was such a success in multitasking. One morning, he walked up to me, requesting I assist in mentoring him. He stated very clearly what he wanted to achieve in life. I gladly accepted to mentor him because I saw in him some strong determination, commitment and focus to succeed in academics. He started by obtaining a university diploma from Lagos State University on a part-time basis. He thereafter proceeded to study on the same part-time basis at the same university and graduated with an honours degree in Law. He resigned, using his accumulated savings to study for one year at the law school, only in Lagos at that time. Thereafter, he went ahead to obtain his master’s degree in Law while sustaining himself and his newly acquired nuclear family with some short-time legal practice. Currently, he has built a house in Lagos and his village, sponsored his three kids to graduation from the university and is busy pursuing his PhD and legal practice. He was thus successfully mentored to pursue and fulfil his dreams.
The second example that I would cite has to do with my upgrading the quality of personnel which I inherited as chairman of a board, overseeing two major organisations. At resumption as chairman, I had to introduce the policy that any worker seeking to attain a management position must, of necessity, have a university first degree. The policy was greeted with massive protests by workers of the two organisations. After consultation with all stakeholders, I got my board to introduce the policy of study leave with pay for all personnel who seek to obtain university degrees. Many have, over the years since, benefited from this revolutionary policy. It benefited the personnel of the two organisations, their states and Nigeria in general. One in particular, who originally strongly led the protest by the workers, later took up the challenge. He thereafter proceeded to obtain his first degree, two master’s degrees and a PhD while utilising that policy. As of today, he is the executive director-general of a national parastatal after retiring as a permanent secretary in his state government service.
As a third example, I gainfully used my evening/night times to obtain a post-graduate degree and pass professional examinations in the pursuit of my knowledge-seeking and wealth-building commitment and goals. Most times, in the evenings and at weekends, even as an executive director, member and chairman of some boards, I had to be reading lying on the floor of my offices, to read with some of my colleagues who shared common goals with me. Today, many of them have also successfully achieved their different goals. The question then is: Did God create additional time for them? The answer is capital NO. Indeed, while their colleagues were watching football, drinking and partying away their time and lives, these individuals were investing their time effectively to acquire the knowledge and literacy for building wealth.
Humans can achieve a lot if they can effectively and judiciously prioritise spending their scarce time acquiring knowledge and building wealth for themselves, their family and their nation. The key to this is multitasking. When and if we establish clear and compelling goals, we can successfully achieve numerous goals simultaneously while also excelling in them. That was my experience. While I was studying for a second degree in one of our nation’s top universities, I had to combine being the chairman of the board of two giant entities with over 300 personnel and being an executive director of another company, travelling extensively as my job required and was also supervising my property investment projects. Interestingly, I still ended up with the best result at the end of that degree program.
Looking back now, I remember how I would go for lectures immediately after office work and while using every available hour, on weekdays, weekends and nights, to study. One thing that also helped me was that I encouraged others with the same degree and professional examination goals to read and study with me. Of importance is that I did not allow any of these personal developmental goals to affect my responsibilities to my employers. The point I am making here is that a lot depends on how effectively you multitask, focus, and manage your time. I recommend reading “the tyranny of the urgent” – a short essay on prioritising and maximising time.
YOUR BODY IS YOUR BEST PHYSICIAN
I did not get to know that until I ran into a very serious health crisis. It was in the process of finding a solution to that crisis that I stumbled on this lesson I am sharing. I have since discovered that when it comes to health, God has created us with everything in us. Given half a chance, the body will heal itself. But a lot of people are ignorant of this fact. We know about everything, our computer, our phone, our television, but this body, that we need to continue to exist on earth, we don’t know anything about it. Ignorance and disobedience are the major problems we have with our health, most of the time. The body talks, if you listen to your body, your body will tell you what it needs and what it doesn’t need. If I put sugar in my mouth within a few hours, my mouth will be bleeding, my gum will be paining me and I will be feeling terrible in my mouth. So, what is my body telling me? Sugar is not good for me. If you listen carefully, your body will tell you what is not good for it and what you should put in it.
If we know about our body, we won’t treat it anyhow. Whatever you don’t know, you misuse. If you can just look at the car we drive, you can see that the car is patterned after the body. I always tell people that when you put adulterated oil in your car, what happens? You knock the engine. So the food that your body is not supposed to eat, if you put it there, your body will be breaking down. Look at the radiator, if you don’t put water into it, what happens? The car begins to overheat and the car will spoil. If you don’t drink enough water, the same thing will happen to your body. The car cannot move without petrol, the same thing if your body is deficient in nutrients, it will become weak. If the oil pump in the car is blocked, the car will not start and the same thing if the arteries in your body are blocked, the blood in your body will not flow and you are dead. Our blood carries oxygen and nutrients to all our vital organs and if this is not happening, the organs will die and we die too.
So the first thing we need to know is the body; the systems in the body. We need to know about the body and know that the body needs proper nutrition. If our body is deficient in nutrients we are going to have health problems. It is like planting on soil that is not good, what happens to the plant? So if you look at that, if your body is not having all the nutrients it is supposed to have, the body will not function properly. The human body is a chemical composition of 16 principal elements, oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, magnesium, iodine, iron, fluorine, manganese, and silicon. It is replenishing these elements in sufficient quantity in the body through live foods that will keep the body functioning properly, maintain the body, and rejuvenate the body. if these are not there in sufficient quantity, what happens? You are ageing and you will have a lot of health problems. Proper elimination of wastes from the body also is very important for good health. A healthy digestive system is crucial as it is well known that ‘Death begins in the Colon’.
Here is my point: your good health is in your hands. Don’t give authority to anybody to control your health. Doctors are knowledgeable and wonderful, and they are very essential, but they didn’t learn nutrition in medical schools, they learnt what is wrong with you and then this is the prescription. All over the world, people are running away from medication because of the side effect of drugs. So Integrative Nutrition Health Coaches are now helping people to make good food choices, modify their diet, and live a healthy lifestyle. A lot of people eat junk foods and drink a lot of alcohol, coffee, and soft drinks. These are damaging to our health at the end of the day. A lot of people, the old and young feed on sugar. Sugar is the food for cancer cells and is the reason for the increase in the cases of obesity, diabetes and hypertension. According to the title of Don Colbert, MD, book, “Let Food Be Your Medicine”.
Then, you need to sleep adequately for your body to be charged. We must be sleeping from 10 pm till 4 am. The body is charged between 10 pm and 2 am, it has been proved