The Universal Values Behind Successful People

I grew up watching a lot of successful people on TV. When I entered university, I started working part-time for the hospitality industry where I got to meet many of these people too. It always interested me how they got to be where they were. So on a faithful day, a friend of mine named Boris and I went to a cyber cafe and spent hours and days researching on successful people and what makes them unique. At first, I didn’t quite understand how important these values played in their lives until years later when I got into the professional world. Below are the five main values I’ve come to realize most of these successful people share in common.

1. Punctuality
If you are from a country like mine (Cameroon), then you will get to understand what we mean by Black Man Time (BMT). For most people, if you put an event to start at 5pm, they will show up at 8pm. As a result, a lot of things have to be dragged to wait for the late comers every time. This I got to realize is the main reason why a country or a person could remain backward in life. Successful people understand that being punctual does not make you idle or less important. It means you have no time to waste. Being punctual also means having respect for others by not keeping them wait. Above all, punctuality gives a person an unworried mind because it prevents one from guilt and confusion. The best of the things usually have a limited time. Go getters know that and that’s why they are successful.

2. Politeness
Have you ever bought something you didn’t quite want to buy? If yes, what was your reason for yielding? I can recollect many such times, especially during my trips to Nigeria. This country is referred to as the giant of Africa not just for nothing but because they know the role that politeness plays in business. Sometimes you will find a seller greeting with you big titles such as Oga (Sir from the Igbo tribal language in Nigeria), Igwe (King or Chief) just to make you feel welcome. Other times they may give you water to drink while you are looking just to make you feel comfortable. The truth is if you deny, they tell you giving you water is not a must to buy but in reality, their polite manners will make you feel it is only right to do so. This is not the same with other sellers who do not even greet you when you walk into their shop. When we are polite, we soften other people’s minds. We calm down the stress they would have likely poured on us. This in turn may make them feel nicer towards us which could lead to other benefits. This is what successful people understand and do often as they know they may need you someday.

3. Cleanliness
Many people usually admire celebrities for their style. The ones that dress well are usually more celebrated than others that just have skills. Successful people in general are keen to keep their self image. They know the role cleanliness has in branding. This is not only bodily cleanliness but also environment. Most often they are very disciplined with themselves or their employees to ensure cleanliness of the office no matter how modest it is because they know the psychological influence it has on their clients. They also understand that once everywhere looks clean, their mind can easily feel clean too giving them the clarity they need to handle their affairs.

4. Orderliness
Most successful people are very organized people. They know what they want and what it takes to get there. They understand that if they do not put things or ideas in an orderly manner, it will be hard for them to find them and achieve their goals. They keep their environment tidy, and this helps their mind to stay organized as well. Being orderly means being realistic. A lot of unsuccessful people just follow the wave wherever it leads them, and this is why they find it hard to succeed. The truly successful ones understand that the miracles that happen are often a combination of many planned activities that have finally materialised into something great.

5. Self-discipline
If you observe the life of people who are successful, most often you will realize they have some key things they are highly self-disciplined about. It could be having routine exercises, yoga, meditation, prayer, reading schedule, diet plan etc. Could you believe Donald Trump has never drank alcohol? He said that recently as reported by CNN. Anyone can say trash about him but the truly objective can attest to the fact that getting elected to be president is not the same as riding a bike. I was also marvelled when I watched the Oprah Winfrey show and realized that Gangster rapper 50 Cent does not drink or smoke! There’s a lot we often assume by the public life of people but if we get really close to them, most often we will realize there are some strict acts of self-discipline they keep which is the reason for their success.

All the above values together with the practice of mindfulness and meditation  will allow a person to further attain peace and happiness as a result. I may have spoken about these values for success, and one may mistake it for financial success. No, no, no! When I talk about success here, it merely means being extremely good at whatever you do. You must not be a celebrity like musicians or athletes. You might be that classroom teacher that is known by the entire school for being the best at what they do. It may be hard to practice all these values but committing to practice just one such as punctuality can turn one’s life around.

The Art of Improvisation

Have you ever planned something so well only for the plan to be upset in the last minute as a result making you feel confused? Many of us would love things in life to always go as planned. We work so hard in calculating every step on the way with the hope that everything will go as perfectly as we wished it to be. Sadly, that’s not always the reality. Sometimes things go wrong but we still have to get the intended result. Hence, this becomes the million dollar question: how do you make it happen in the midst of a sudden change? This is where the art of improvisation sets in. In order to improvise and fix the situation, you need the following:

1. Keep your composure within
Sometimes when we talk about keeping composure, people think it means you should be slow when in reality you need to be fast in order to fix the situation. Keeping composure here means that your mind should not be in a haste or panic even if your body needs to move faster. Good athletes for instance run fast but their mind is still centered, and that is why they can resist for a longer time. Keeping calm within will give you the right wisdom you need at that point in time.

2. Use your intuition or discernment
Listening to yourself is one of the greatest skills you need in order to manage an unpredictable situation. Sometimes you can’t get the maths right by logical reasoning but that inner voice tells you, it is possible. The way to practice building your intuitive strength is to have a daily routine of reflection. It does not need to be long, 10-15 minutes is okay for a start.

3. Observe and Empathise
We are often in a haste to make decisions without observing what might be the current state of affairs. Situations are best judged by what is observed in the present moment and not much reliance on what seems similar to apply previous knowledge. When we observe keenly, we need to also empathise. It’s not always about doing what we want to do but also putting ourselves in the position of the other party to see if we would like what we intend to do.

4. Read, play and live!
It is often said the more you read, the more you know which is quite true. However, reading alone is not enough. It has to go with having a life of experiences. This may be travelling, playing games, hanging out with friends or volunteering at a community center. All these little but different experiences is what forms together the wisdom you need to improvise when the need arises. So, get out there and live your life!

5. Be flexible
A lot of people fail when their plans change because their mind is so limited to what they had previously conceived. Life is impermanent and so we have to be flexible at all times for the unforeseen. Do not be afraid to try something new. There’s nothing wrong in trying if the previous is already obsolete.

I’ve been travelling as a project manager for the last four years dealing with circumstances and people from different cultural backgrounds. This has taught me how to think out of the box as things do not always go as planned. However, improvisation does not only have to be in a negative situation. You could also improvise to take advantage of an opportunity that was not in your initial plan. I remember arriving at a conference last year in Pointe Noire, Congo without my bags and resource materials because the airline delayed them. Instead of panicking or cancelling my presentation, I chose to forget about my initial plan and spoke from my heart based on how I read the audience. They could feel my truth, and I could feel their concentration. Till today, this happens to be one of my most impactful events out of more than a hundred gatherings where I’ve been a speaker.

Comment développer une mentalité «anti-balle» pendant la crise camerounaise?

Que faites-vous lorsque votre ville natale devient un lieu en proie au chaos constant? La première pensée est de s’enfuir. Mais pour aller où? Nous ne pouvons pas contrôler tout ce qui se passe à l’extérieur, mais la seule chose que nous pouvons contrôler, c’est notre esprit (état d’âme). La façon dont nous réagissons aux situations dépend de la qualité de notre esprit. Lisez cet article pour savoir comment développer une mentalité «anti-balle» pendant la crise camerounaise?

Peur, doute et panique

Je viens d’un endroit qui était autrefois une référence de la paix mais qui est aujourd’hui devenu un carrefour de la violence quotidienne. Bien que la possibilité de fuir puisse sembler la meilleure option, de nombreuses questions me viennent à l’esprit dans cette chaleur influente de la crise anglophone au Cameroun. Qu’en est-il des objectifs que tu as pour l’endroit où tu as passé toute ta vie? Où iras-tu si tu pars? Peux-tu vraiment fuir ton esprit?

Cette crise a commencé par une manifestation pacifique contre le gouvernement en raison de la marginalisation (de la minorité anglophone opposée à la richesse de la majorité francophone) et une demande de retour au fédéralisme. Comme c’est le cas pour toutes les manifestations qui ne sont pas gérées de manière efficiente, cette situation s’est aggravée, de la paix à la violence et à la quête de la sécession d’hostilités. Pendant que cette bagarre persiste, l’homme que je suis, est celui qui finit par être confus au milieu des deux partis violents.

Cet état d’esprit, composé de la peur, de doute et de panique, est celui qui est partagé par plusieurs membres de ma communauté. Ainsi, lorsque vous regardez autour de vous et que vous réalisez qu’il n’y a pas besoin de s’enfuir parce que les enjeux et l’amour pour la patrie l’emportent, la seule solution est de trouver un moyen de faire face à la situation. Cette conception est ce qui m’a conduit à faire un voyage de rétrospection où j’ai décidé de faire appel à un savoir-faire acquis dans un pays très éloigné de chez moi.

La Visualisation et le jardin de fleurs

Avec un groupe de jeunes épris de paix, nous avons créé le club de La paix de Buea, dont l’objectif est de permettre aux jeunes d’être calmes et résilients face aux coups de feu fréquents dans le quartier. Nous utilisons la méditation ou la pleine conscience, un outil de gestion mentale que j’ai appris en Thaïlande pour aider l’esprit à se déconnecter de l’environnement physique négatif. Cet outil nous aide également à créer une autre réalité imaginaire que chacun de nous visualisons pour ressentir le plaisir d’être dans un environnement positif comme sur la plage, dans un jardin de fleurs ou partout où nous aimerions être.

La preuve que la paix intérieure est la solution

Cet exercice mental a prouvé son efficacité en ce sens qu’il aide véritablement les participants du club à mieux gérer la situation chaotique de notre communauté. Lors d’une de nos rencontres, un participant nommé Joy déclare: « Je me sentais comme si je flottais, léger comme un ballon pendant l’exercice. Le mal de tête avec lequel je suis entré est soudainement parti! ». Beaucoup d’autres ont déclaré que l’exercice leur a donné un sentiment de liberté et de paix au lieu de la peur constante et de l’énergie négative engendrées par le son des coups de feu.

En définitif, le chaos n’a pas pris fin dans la région, mais nous, les membres du club, ne ressentons pas l’effet comme d’autres parce que nous savons comment contrôler notre état d’âme. Par conséquent, la méditation est devenue un gilet par balle pour notre esprit. Nous espérons que nous pourrons atteindre plus de personnes avec cette approche de la paix fondée sur l’intérieur.

Developing a Bullet Proof Mind Through Cameroon Crisis

What do you do when your hometown has become a place of constant chaos? Sometimes the first thought is to run away. But running to where? We can’t control everything that happens externally but the one thing we can control is our mind. How we react to situations depends on the quality of our mind.

I come from a place that was once a reference of peace but has become a hub for every day violence. Though the option of running away may sound considerable, there are many questions running through my mind in the growing heat of the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon. What about the stakes you have in the place where you spent your entire life? Where do you start from if you leave? Can you really run away from your mind?

Fear, doubt and panic
This crisis started as a peaceful protest against the government for marginalization (of the English speaking minority as oppose to the affluence of the French speaking majority) and a request to return back to Federalism. As it is with every protest that is not tactically handled, this too aggravated from peaceful to violent and a quest for secession. When this tussle persist, the regular man of which I’m a part of is the one that ends ups confused in the midst of both violent parties.

This state of mind comprised of fear, doubt and panic is that which is shared by many in the community. So, when you look around and realize there is no need to run because the stakes involved and the love for patriotism supersedes any other, the only way out is to find a means to deal with the situation and not run away from it. This conception is what led me through a journey of retrospection where I decided to make use of a skill I once learned in a country far, far away from home.

Visualization and flower garden
Together with a group of peace loving youths, we started the Buea Peace Club which aims at empowering the minds of youths to be calm and resilient towards effect of the sound of frequent gunshots in the neighbourhood. We use the tool of mindfulness meditation which I learned in Thailand to train the mind to disconnect from the negative physical environment and create an imaginary one of everyone’s choice where we visualize, focus and feel the pleasure of being in a positive environment such as a beach, flower garden or anywhere we love to be.

These mental exercises have proven to help the participants of the club deal with the chaotic situation in the community better than before. In one of the sessions, a participant named Joy said: “I felt like I was floating, as light as a balloon during the process. The headache that I came in with has all of a sudden gone away!”. Many others said the process gave them a feeling of freedom and peace instead of the constant fear and negative energy brought by the sound of gunshots.

The chaos has not ended in the region, but we – the members of the club – are not feeling the effect as others may because we know how to control our mind. Hence, meditation has now become the bullet proof of the mind. Hopefully, we can reach out to more people with this approach of peace that is grounded from within.

How Can Music Sustain Peacebuilding?

The existence of music is almost as old as the evolution of a human. Words in melodious sounds used in conveying information to a particular group of people constitute the entity of music as a cultural symbol. Different types of music are peculiar for different cultures. For example, the Yorubas* have their orin ibile (traditional folk songs) while the Doualas in Cameroon have Makossa. But how could music bring more peace to the local communities and the world?

Need to sensitise people

In international relations, a dispensation of peace is not just the absence of wars but the presence of cultural and economic understanding by all parties. As per Eastern philosophy, peace is a state of mind.

However, diverse forms of violence, insurgency activities, and ritual killings are prevalent in the world today. The source of these gruesome acts exists amidst the grassroots of each society. It has to do with the selfish mentality of humans to amass all for themselves and leaving others deprived. The major cause of violence can be attributed to this disorientation. Therefore, there is an urgent need to combat this and sensitise people on the importance of building and sustaining world peace. At this juncture, the impact of music cannot be overemphasised.

Cordial relationship

Music integrates mind, body, and spirit thereby connecting the inner self to the outer world in order to create a connection of inner peace, motivation, instruction leading to a deep understanding. Music serves as an entertainment tool which makes occasions lively and peaceful. It subsequently creates cordial relationship among the people and promotes societal norms and values.

Ogunrinde (2013) posited that African music practices are first and foremost meant for and directed by the community’s ideology, economic, social, religious, recreational tendencies and rite of passage rituals. Thus, there is an inseparable link between the community way of life and musical practices. This shows that music is an effective tool in peacebuilding in every society.

Sustaining peace

Music is not only useful in preventing conflicts but in sustaining peace. A composition by late Samuel Akpabot titled Cynthia’s Lament, in 1963, explains it. The Nigerian composer and Cynthia Boudreau, a 16-year old white woman, were denied service in a Pittsburgh hotel on the basis of racial discrimination. As the young woman fled the scene tearfully, Late Samuel made a musical piece (Cynthia’s Lament), thereby preventing the issue from degenerating into conflict.

Also, the concert organised by Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said in 1999 developed into a permanent programme which unites Israeli and Palestinian musicians. This permanent programme tagged West-Eastern Divan Orchestra has enabled the sharing of knowledge and comprehension between people from societies historically known as enemies. This shows the impact of music in sustaining peace among societies in the world.

In addition, the famous British singer John Lennon used music in his peace activism which had so much impact that the perpetrators of war could not stand it and decided to take his life. Even decades later, Lennon’s music still lives on and has been performed at the UN by nowadays singers in an effort to sustain peace.

Reduces violence and heals trauma

Further research explained that music, as well as other forms of cultural expression is a vital resource in the healing process of individuals and societies who have been afflicted emotionally and mentally. This is with reference to communities who lack peace as a result of wars and crisis. Examples can be seen from Ivorians in West Africa and South Africans who all used music as an escape from the violence and trauma they were going through, and till today music is still a strong cultural export of these countries. The influence of musicians like Espoir 2000 in Ivory Coast , Brenda Fassie and Lucky Dube of South Africa cannot be undermined when it came to curbing violence and especially apartheid and other forms of discrimination.

From the critical points mentioned above, there is no gainsaying that music is a powerful tool for building sustainable world peace in the globe. Therefore, all strategies should be employed to build capacity by sensitizing, developing knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that prevent conflict. Music is an integral part of this as it enables inner peace in human beings and connects it to outer peace inevitably leading to sustainable world peace.

If you are a musician, why not make it a commitment to have at least one song in your album that inspires peace in the world? Sounds great, right? Together we can change the world not just by talking or writing but also through creativity and entertainment. Peace In, Peace Out!

Photo source: lee-pigott, Unsplash

*Yorubas – tribe in Nigeria

**Makossa  –  traditional music of the Duala tribe and from which most contemporary music originate in Cameroon

Pourquoi nous continuons à échouer en Amour

Le concept d’amour a existé aussi longtemps que la race humaine. Pendant des siècles, les chercheurs ont essayé de trouver différentes définitions de l’amour, mais cela ne suffit jamais en raison de la complexité de ce mot ou sentiment magique. Tellement de fois j’ai essayé de comprendre ce que signifie ce mot, mais il n’a jamais été facile de trouver une compréhension à cent pour cent du mot.Le concept d’amour a existé aussi longtemps que la race humaine. Pendant des siècles, les chercheurs ont essayé de trouver différentes définitions de l’amour, mais cela ne suffit jamais en raison de la complexité de ce mot ou sentiment magique. Tellement de fois j’ai essayé de comprendre ce que signifie ce mot, mais il n’a jamais été facile de trouver une compréhension à cent pour cent du mot.

L’amour pourrait-il être un mythe ou une ruse? Est-ce juste un concept créé pour rendre les gens heureux et vulnérables en même temps? Ou est-ce vraiment la clé du bonheur éternel? Quel est ce sentiment qui fait qu’il est difficile de s’endormir sans que la tête tourne comme un carrousel? Ce sont quelques-unes des questions que beaucoup d’entre nous posent surtout quand nous nous sommes retrouvés dans une relation infructueuse auparavant.

Nous ne réalisons pas que l’amour est le même
J’ai vécu dans ce monde pendant au moins un quart de siècle, j’ai eu ma propre part de relations délabrées avec différents types de personnes dans le monde entier. J’ai finalement pensé que beaucoup d’entre nous n’aimaient pas la bonne façon. L’amour signifie la même chose partout, et la bonne application de celle-ci apporte le même résultat. Je pourrais commencer par vous demander, comment voulez-vous être aimé? Je sais que la réponse à cette question peut être une liste interminable, comme si je voulais recevoir de l’attention, recevoir des besoins matériels, ou être complimenté très souvent ou ne jamais être trompé.

Que diriez-vous si nous inversons la question ci-dessus, comment voulez-vous donner de l’amour? Ça vaut le coup d’y penser, n’est-ce-pas? Mais le problème ici n’est pas seulement de donner mais plus de donner ce que nous avons. Il n’y a aucun moyen que vous puissiez vraiment aimer quelqu’un si vous ne vous aimez pas assez. La durabilité de chaque relation dépend énormément de l’amour de soi profondément enraciné avant d’aimer une autre personne. Souvent, nous avons échoué avec l’amour parce que nous essayions si fort de faire plaisir à nos partenaires que nous avons en quelque sorte diminué notre propre valeur ou plutôt parce que nous nous attendions à recevoir davantage que ce que nous étions prêts à donner. À mon avis, il s’agit de trouver un équilibre entre s’aimer et donner de l’amour à un autre.

Etre comme un pilote avec un avion
Si vous passiez plus de temps dans votre propre développement personnel, vous vous sentiriez plus confiant et finiriez par développer votre amour-propre. Cela vous rend prêt à être dans une relation amoureuse sans nécessairement être trop attaché, dans le besoin, vulnérable ou égocentrique. Vous donnez simplement de l’amour naturellement, sachant aussi quand trouver un équilibre sans se sentir coupable ou en faisant en sorte que votre partenaire se sente moins important. La meilleure façon d’aimer est comme être un pilote avec un avion, sachant quand voler haut, monter et descendre sans accident. Tout comme un pilote, cette compétence n’est possible que si vous investissez en vous avant de pouvoir gérer les émotions d’une autre personne.

Il est donc nécessaire d’identifier aussi le fait que nous ne pouvons pas agir pour investir en nous-mêmes si nous n’avons pas cherché à l’intérieur pour voir si ce manque d’amour vient d’une expérience dans nos vies telles que l’enfance ou autre. Il en va de même pour comprendre et traiter avec un partenaire insécurisé ou dans le besoin. Il m’a fallu des années de contemplation avant que j’apprenne enfin l’art de la méditation qui m’a appris à observer sans attentes et à laisser aller, en particulier les auto-négociations négatives ou les suppositions. Cette compétence m’a aidé à débloquer certains des mystères de l’amour et des relations.

Trouver l’équilibre
Vous vous demandez toujours comment commencer à vous aimer, à trouver la paix intérieure et à avoir de meilleures relations? Essayez de méditer 15 minutes par jour pendant au moins 21 jours et vous pouvez vous remercier plus tard. S’il vous plaît ne prenez pas cela en mal; partager mon opinion ici ne signifie pas que je suis un expert en amour ou en méditation. Je travaille toujours pour aussi évoluer sur ce plan. Ce que je peux dire, c’est que je me sens plus équilibré dans mes émotions maintenant que je ne l’étais auparavant. J’espère que vous trouverez également votre équilibre. Joyeux mois d’amour!

Photo source:  Akexandra GornUnsplash

Why We Keep Failing At Love

The concept of love has existed as long as the human race. For centuries, scholars have tried to come up with different definitions of love but it never suffices due to the complexities involved in this magical word or feeling. So many times I’ve tried to understand what this word means but it has never been easy to come up with a hundred percent understanding of the word.

Could love be a myth or a trick? Is it just a concept created to make people happy and vulnerable at the same time? Or is it really the key to eternal happiness? What is this feeling that makes it hard to go to sleep without one’s head spinning like a carousel? These are some of the questions that many of us ask especially when we have once found ourselves in an unsuccessful relationship before.

We do not realize love is the same

Have lived in this world for at least one quarter of a century, had my own fair share of messed up relationships with different kinds of people worldwide, I figured eventually that a lot of us are not loving the right way. Love means the same everywhere, and the right application of it brings the same result. I might start by asking you, how do you want to be loved? I know the answer to this question may be an unending list, such as I want to be given attention, provided with material needs, or complimented very often or never to be cheated upon.

How about if we reverse the above question to, how do you want to give love? Worth thinking, right? But the issue here is not just about giving but more of giving what we have. There is no way you can truly love somebody if you do not love yourself enough. The sustainability of every relationship depends hugely on deeply rooted love of self before loving another person. A lot of times we failed at love because we were either trying so hard to please our partners that we somehow diminished our own value or rather because we were expecting too much than we were ready to give. In my opinion, it is about striking a balance between loving yourself and giving out love to a significant other.

Like being a pilot with an air-plane

If you spent more time in your own self development, you would feel more confident and eventually develop self-love. This makes you ready to be in a loving relationship without necessarily getting too attached, needy, vulnerable or egocentric. You just give out love naturally, also knowing when to strike a balance without feeling guilty or making your partner feel lesser. Loving the right way is like being a pilot with an air-plane, knowing when to fly high, higher and descending without a crash. Just like a pilot, this skill is only possible when you invest in yourself first before you can be able to manage the emotions of another person as well.

It is necessary therefore to also identify the fact that we cannot take actions to invest in ourselves if we have not searched within to see whether that deficiency of love comes from an experience in our lives such as childhood or another. The same goes with understanding and dealing with an insecure or needy partner. It took me years of contemplation before I finally learned the art of meditation that has taught me how to observe with no expectations and let go, especially negative self talks or assumptions. This skill has helped me unlock some of the mysteries of love and relationships.

Finding balance

Still wondering how to start loving yourself, finding inner peace and having better relationships? Try meditating 15 minutes a day for at least 21 day and you can thank yourself later. Please don’t get it twisted; sharing my opinion here does not mean that I’m an expert at love or meditation. I’m a work-in-progress, and all I can say is, I feel more balanced in my emotions now than I was before. I hope you find your balance too. Happy love month!

Photo credits: Finn Hackshaw,