Creativity tips for a productive 2018: Part 2

Hello readers,

I’m sure you’re excited about the new year 2018!

Did you see yesterday’s post? Okay, it was not yesterday and I apologize for that. However, it’s great that we are here today. I’m excited to share this productivity tips with you and this part will be plastered with infographics you can download and share. The previous post of this two-part series can be viewed here.

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Today, I’ll continue by debunking the myth of the “Once in a Lifetime Opportunity.” Heard that one?

 

I think a “once in a lifetime opportunity” happens more often than we are told to believe.

Imagine a world where you are banned to a life of misery if you do not take a once in a lifetime opportunity at 23 or 15 (because I heard that when I was 15). I guess whoever coined that term was just trying to get his kids to be serious and not play away their lives. He wanted to say “do not waste your life!” with a bit of drama.

There are many opportunities to do deep work, share your passion and create masterpieces so do not be rushed. However, there’s no better time to prepare and hone your craft than now!

And if you missed today’s opportunity, start tomorrow.

 

I perceive that the reason why the idea of a once in a lifetime opportunity seems widely accepted is that, while opportunities abound in life, you may not always be prepared to walk into them. Often, when the so-called door of opportunity opens, many writers do not always have the assurance of mastery and a box (or hard drive) full of first drafts but are full of mere intentions.

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Start today. then repeat tomorrow.

Stop thinking that “consistently and “daily” are two separate words.

Why do you think most people bathe and brush every day? The simple but elusive answer is that most people have been doing it for most of their lives. I am one of the hundreds of millions of people who find it difficult to hold my brush and hit the showers the second time (at night.) Why? Is it because I have unhealthy practices? No, I do! I think it’s because this is something most people try to learn after they are formed. Give that same person some motivation and time – and it will promptly become practice.

You surely remember a drill that you had to undergo while in elementary school – the multiplication table. Why do you think we were able to all memorize up till 12 X 12 by the time we graduated from primary school? Were we all smart? No!

Well, yes – because we did it every day! Smart move!

I  discovered that unlike 1 to 12, we were not required to learn 13 X 13 onwards and as a result, only a few people do know the multiplication table from 13. We were not required to read and learn it every day but introduced to calculators! So mastery is curated in the furnace of consistent practice.

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Consistency is a great virtue to help 2018 be a productive year. However, I must be quick to point out that writing consistency is not the same as publishing frequency.

Stop feeling like you need to get out your message right now!

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Write consistently, but you do not have to publish what you write a few minutes after you do. A few cases may differ, but for 99.99% of writers including me, we can wait a few hours to edit, scratch that – and rewrite; show our peers for critique before sharing if we choose to. While publishing frequency depends on your purpose, writing consistency should always go on.

Take copious notes.

Most of my completed works started as paper clippings, ideas scribbled into sheets, several journal posts and in recent years Google Keep, Apple Note, and Evernote entries. Sitting down to write or create is what you must do, but the short insights that come to you on the go as you practice daily life often become the spice that infuses realness into your work. They will seem sketchy at times, but only until you sit down to flesh them up.

Keep a notepad handy or download a note-taking app!

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Stop giving people permission to gauge your dreams

I met more people that did not believe that Donut could be produced and distributed free without debt than those who cheered me on. But it didn’t matter to me because, at that point, the passion that prompted me was too strong to be checked by expectations or peer pressure. I wish I have that pump every day!

Not everyone will understand or agree with the magnitude of your dreams, and surely not everyone will encourage you to take the steps to achieve them. In fact, in my experience, more often than not, you will find you are surrounded by well-meaning loving but complacent family and friends, who would rather play it safe. Often these people have put out discouragement not from a place of contempt but a place of fear  – they have dreamed but have not been courageous enough to pursue or stay on track.  They dropped out of the race and their misery only loves company. Do not join the band!

Step out of the judgment zone. Step out of the pressure. Let the expectation that compels you to be internally generated. Do or Do not. There is no try.

Record your voice and try writing prompts.

This is one huge productivity hack I have found useful. Sometimes, when ideas for work in progress hit me while engaging in an activity that makes it difficult to put a pen to paper, I simply pick out my voice recorder app and pour my mind. Then I can transcript later. Hearing your own voice boosts your morale and gives you hope for what’s possible. If you hit a block of ideas, try writing prompts. You can find great ones over the internet.

Unplug.

You cannot create masterpieces in front of the world. Trust me, distractions were present in the creative life before technology, and internet only makes it worse. Remember that for every one of the planned writing time you spend on the internet (except for research), you are shortchanging yourself. You are basking in the transient delights of internet communication, wallowing in self-pity when you view the plastic pictures of your fake virtual friends and making zero progress. Only deep work becomes a masterpiece and I have learned from experience that the greatest secret to creating deep work is to completely engage your mind in the process – this made possible when you unplug.

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Create a community

I have found creative communities help boost motivation. While I can’t always reach my mentors I have creative friends who are always available to add stokes to my fire. By their critique, my work becomes better. This year, find friends who you can learn from, bounce your ideas off of, share insights with and enjoy mutual edification. Sometimes, they are all you got, and all you need to supercharge!

The next step

While life is a continuum and the yearly demarcation of time merely serves to give us a framework to structure life, there’s so much to look forward to in 2018 – Yes, YOU can start fresh and intentional!

Happy New year!

Toluwanimi

 

Creativity tips for a productive 2018: Part 1

Hello Writer and Creative,

If you live in the real world, you will agree with me that great feats are hardly achieved accidentally. Historical and current examples of men and women who have done great things with their lives show us that more often than we realize, excellence requires intentional diligence and consistency.

A few days ago, I posted the image below on my Instagram:

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As we pack shop out of 2017, I felt everyone needed a reminder to introspectively evaluate 2017 and plan to maximize the opportunities of 2018 (because there will be lots of them). If you still think that opportunity comes once in a lifetime, you need to read my last post here.

“2018 is going to be a great year for the intentional creative.”

In 2018, I want to be a better writer, an intentional creative and an enthusiastic learner. I have been researching tips on how this can be possible and I felt to share with you what I found proven and practical. In this post, I will be sharing a trait I observed is present in all successful writers and creatives, called Consistency.

Consistency.

You probably know that one of the secrets to staying fresh and energetic is to write on a regular schedule (and the most consistent example is daily), and though every good book on writing maintains this as crème de la crème of writing advice, most writers find it difficult to practice. Yet, I can with near certainty, say that more than half of wannabe and accomplished authors will add any form of this golden word to their new year resolutions as 2018 draws near.

So what can we do about this?

They say, it all starts in the mind. I agree.

Start by agreeing with the fact that you will not find the time to write. The time to write will not show up like a lost toy you found inside the sofa while spring cleaning the house nor will you find it like a digger in a gold mine. You will have to create the time. Understanding this is the beginning of successful hustle. Though it feels good to bask in the delights of the few and far between child prodigy stories that have not gotten us anywhere than make us dreamers and wishers without any fire in our bones, I’d say that in 2018, start working on your craft. Whether you are talented or not, you need to put in the work.

I was not known to be the coolest guy in elementary, or high school (at least I didn’t think so), but I was known to be the guy that was very gifted in the arts. Anyone who wanted something drawn in school, or painted at church came to me. Friends who needed essays written, re-written or edited came to me. I have worked on many books, magazines, design projects for individuals and organizations since high school and I am a published author. Some have called me a naturally talented creative.

Guess what? It doesn’t matter.

It does not matter because I have met people who are not “naturally talented” but are now well-respected experts in the career they chose, simply because they put in the work! Interestingly, I also discovered that many people who are considered ungifted are just lost. Wait until they find their path and realize the power consistency.

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While you cannot overemphasize the importance of a consistent practice of craft, your writing does not need to be perfect. What prospective medical student thinks he can perform open heart surgeries while still taking pre-med biology?

It’s… wait for it... the stupid one.

Sounds harsh, but it’s true! And I’m not saying the writer who thinks he can produce a masterpiece fresh off the start is stupid. I am just saying it’s okay if your first few compositions are not perfect. So, step one – Decide to consistently practice your craft – every day in 2018. How?

Just do it.

I know it sounds cliche, but the moment you remember you have to write, just write. The world will not end, and surely that episode of Stranger Things you are watching will wait.

Sometimes this writing practice will not always have a purpose other than to hone your craft.

We often wish every stroke of our pen or clang of the keyboard results in a masterpiece that will be adored by millions. Writers who consider themselves missionaries – who favor a specific sub-genre or theme – more often than others fall prey to this mindset. That is why we stare at the blank screen or paper and wait – for the muse – but end up writing nothing. You do not always have to write according to your selected theme. Your writing practice today may merely be to fathom the world sanctimonious – by finding ten synonyms or antonyms and using it in different ways within a conversation. On other days, it may be putting a backstory into your lead character’s life. Sometimes, it may be reading a prose written by someone you respect or writing the draft of the story you aren’t sure how it’s going to end. Sometimes, its using computer-generated writing prompts!

Quality is often extracted from quantity.

I secretly wish everything I create becomes a masterpiece, but I know that nothing in life works like that. We celebrate the great artists, composers, and writers of old but do you realize that for every famous work of Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simon, there are hundreds of paintings that weren’t so famous? Have you seen how many sketchbooks accomplished artists keep? Ever heard of rough drafts? No one sees those, yet they form the foundation for masterpieces and bestsellers.

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The thought that the world has to see everything you write is the beginning of frustration, because, truthfully, we usually start with nonsense. Get used to it. One of the most celebrated American writers of the last two centuries, Ray Bradbury reportedly said “every writer has a million bad words in them.  The sooner you get through that first million, the faster you get to the words worth sharing.” Another writer, Malcolm Gladwell proposed that 10,000 hours of deliberate practice are needed to become world-class in any field. While I do not necessarily fix an arbitrary number to it, I agree with the attitude of consistent deliberate practice behind those words. The sooner you can get beyond 10,000 words or 10,000 hours, the earlier you can start creating enthralling masterpieces.

The movie Starwars was not shot a few hours after the scriptwriter came up with the story – it surely took months and years of work! An accomplished athlete is not one who stumbles onto the Olympics but spends hours practicing for the games.

So why should your writing be different?

I will pause here so you can digest the words above. Tomorrow, we will dive deep into the nitty-gritty of Consistency. Stay creative!

Cheers!

Toluwanimi

Take your work seriously! (The principle of Creative Diligence)

Hi dear readers!

I’m especially excited to be sharing this post today. It has sat in my blog drafts for months because the post wasn’t ripe yet, but the recent turn of events in my life has spurred me to reopen this muse.

I am so passionate about this principle I am learning every day and I think you need to see this, especially if you consider yourself to be a creative. This article is a little lengthy but I assure you – it’s worth reading to the end.

My post is not an attack on the wonderful professions of medicine, law, engineering, economics and many more which have immensely contributed to the progress in our world today – and professionals will continue to break grounds. So, if you are very passionate about your professional or conventional path, this post is not for you. However, you are welcome to glean the principle for application in any area of your life.

My post is tailored to the innate creative who is stuck in the stereotype.

If you consider yourself to be a creative in thought or in practice – if wonderful ideas daily tug your mind seams and threaten to burst forth, if your hands are tremulous until you have penned down those lines of prose or those sketches, if you have been misunderstood by family and friends and repeatedly accused of daydreaming or being unserious, this post is for you.

You don’t have to think long or hard before you realize that every aspect of daily living thrives on creativity. We all have, time and again, benefited immensely from the imagination of creatives – from writers, artists, broadcasters, podcasters, musicians, movie producers, photographers, publishers, writers, audiovisual content creators to app developers/programmers, video game creators, animators, scientific innovators and tech gurus. Yet, the age-old conventional stereotypes have classified these pursuits in many people’s hearts as mere hobbies or at best side-gigs.

Growing up in Nigeria, I can authoritatively say that one of the surest point of parent-teen tension is when the JAMB* forms are about to be filled. Chances are higher that the typical parent will be more delighted to hear the child has chosen to be a doctor rather than a creative designer, and a few teens have, sadly, had guardians stand over their shoulder as they filled the forms so they would pick their parents unfulfilled dreams.

Very little has changed over the years, as many people feel that the professional careers, while difficult, promises financial security upon graduation. I agree. The admission requirements into college for “professional” disciplines are stringent and the competition remains record high. I also agree – I went to Medical School! The discipline exerted by the professors, the structure of the discipline, the rigors of the long years of study and the importance of the subject of the discipline (human life in Medicine for example) makes the professions very noble. I agree.

On the flip side, many perceive the creative path to be flippant, not requiring diligence and surely not noble enough to be a career path or a full-time thing. For parents who fear for their children, you will have a hard time convincing them that art is more than a childhood hobby, possibly because it is usually associated with beauty, intrigue, exhilaration, its results appeal to the soul and seems to be mostly enjoyable to the consumer, and the creators seems to be having a fun time creating, they conclude that the process should not require diligence.

Somehow, I think this mindset has slowly crept into the minds of creatives and non-conventional people like me that we seem to be complacent and submit ourselves to the cage of stereotype. We are not taking our creative crafts as seriously as we should and we feel very ashamed about it among family and friends.

We believe the lie that it’s just a hobby. Come off it, creative one!

Statistics show that the creative industry is a major driver for economic growth. In America for example, the creative industry contributed $698 billion to the nation’s economy and 4.7 million jobs (a 2015 report of the the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the National Endowment for the Arts). I can only assume that many other countries have similar data.

Think about an area of your daily life where the creative industry is not relevant? A “special” area that creativity cannot help? I’d like to see your findings in the comments below.

The myth of the starving artist is over (thank you Jeff Goins for that!) Certainly, the myth of the “unserious” is past due too. Now is time to wake up, hone your craft, launch your dream and bring beauty and impact to our world with the power of your trans-formative creativity. The potential of your creativity is only limited to the extent of your imagination and tenacity of your diligence.

The creative industry wields so much power and it requires diligence! The creative path is more self-directed as opposed to the profession, but it doesn’t take away an ounce of diligence required to thrive and create beautiful work. In fact, it should inform it.

A doctor, lawyer or any other professional will always be respected and at least be able to pay the bills but I will dare say that what makes these career paths prestigious is the thoroughness that is constructed within the fabric of training and the impact these professions have on the world.

And Creativity has that! SURELY.

I have heard of families torn apart by a promising child’s revelation that he wants to go into some form of creative industry. I feel the pain writers go through to conceptualize the many ideas that brims into overflow in their wild minds. I see the disappointment in the faces of parents when their children take on a paintbrush rather than a scalpel, and the colicky pain that surges though the hearts of a misunderstood creative.

Do you say that a writer, artist or musician (or whatever kind of creative you are) has no impact or is less important in our world?

I don’t think so.

Rather, I opine that not many unconventional people have given due diligence to pursue their paths with dignity so the society does not see it. We do not take ourselves seriously so the world emulates us!

Here, I speak to you, creative one. Gone are the days of waiting for inspiration and complacency on talent. Tim Notke is spot-on when he says that “hard work beats talent when talent does not work hard.”

Take your creative work as seriously as a physician would take his procedures and patients or an attorney will take her depositions or court hearings…

If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.

You may not be a street sweeper but Martin Luther King Jnr has you covered when he says that “No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”

If you’re called to be a writer, painter, artist, musician, or minister (yes, this applies to spiritual ministers too) in any aspect, you must realize that your generation needs you as much as it needs the doctors, engineers, lawyers and other professionals. So, the least you can do is to dignify your strategic societal position by pursuing your path not like a hobby but with much diligence and thoroughness as a conventional professional would.

Even though there are fewer formal options of training, take your calling serious, study and learn all you can from the best mentors you can find. Spend un-clocked hours honing your craft and chart paths for posterity. Show up to work even when you aren’t inspired and Sit under the Muse till wonderful ideas drop in your spirit.

Creativity is tagged unconventional for a reason – Learn to chart the trail and set your milestones as you go.

When you become an authority in this, doctors will pay to view your exhibitions. Your books will touch millions and cross more borders than you will. Lawyers will use your words as anecdotes. Engineers will pay to listen to you. Intelligent Business school graduates will queue to apply for positions at your successful start-up. Professionals will sit under your voice and listen to you deliver counsel and your compositions will sanitize the most insane minds.

“Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before unknown men.” Proverbs 22:29

If you give due diligence in your work, you will stand tall among peers and kings and command confidence.

Please, carry your calling with dignity and you will see what fulfillment lies in a job well done!

You are important. The world needs you!

Cheers,

Toluwanimi

P.S. If this post does not make sense to you, then you are conventional, but it’s okay! But at least, you can be diligent in whatever path your life will take and you MUST respect the unconventional people in your life.

*JAMB – former name of the University entry exam in my home country, Nigeria.

Finished: Nifty completion tips for the creative.

 

Whew!
I cannot believe that a whole year is wrapping up. 2017 gradually bows out. At the beginning of the year, when I was going to make one of the most difficult decisions of my life (more on that later), I wondered how I could make it through the year in one piece.
Well, here I am, in one piece… I think. The not so cold winter of 2016 gave in to a refreshing spring. Then my bland job-hunting summer and it’s challenges. Now the leaves are fallen – the penultimate month of 2017 is here. How did I make it here? What have I learnt? What am I looking forward to? I made it here by God’s grace. I’m looking forward to better everyday.
So what have I learnt?
I have learnt that the lofty dreams of my heart will be tackled bit by bit.
Sounds too elemental? Well, I find it difficult to retain.
I used to pride myself (like most creatives do) in the fact that I have a lot of ideas flying about in my head, waiting to be plucked and implemented. My mind is always active and reaching out, imagining and thinking of beautiful things to create and how to make the world a better place, but I realize that this gift can easily lead to frustration that is proportional to the size of my ideas. Each idea quickly seems like a huge task with an endless to-do list that judges me with each passing day of doing nothing.
I have this other gift- perfectionism. I just want to create the perfect work and when I do not get the perfect time, conditions or resources to create this perfect masterpiece, NOTHING gets done. I’d rather not do than to do imperfectly. Sadly, the last time I checked, there’s no such thing as a perfect creative environment. And I think this lofty unrealistic expectation has been my undoing.
I want to know the huge plan of God for my life, as in with the 4K kind of details. I want to have a perfect view of my life and purpose. “Haha,” I can imagine God laughing at me and saying, “don’t you know son, that doing this would defeat the purpose of faith?” God merely gives us manageable glimpses of him and as we grow deeper and mature in faith, we build a capacity to experience more.
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Day one of the rest of my life.
So, from now on, I’m tackling life one day at a time. 30 minutes of writing 100 words each night will lead to a short story in a month. Planning a 2 hour routine without starting will lead to – you got it right – nothing! The short story might not win awards or become a bestseller, but you would have finished and added 3000 words to your experience and hopefully, the mastery of your craft. You want to podcast, make YouTube videos, learn photography, speak in public, code computer software, start an NGO, finish a course with an A?

My nifty tip – Finished is what matters at first.

Aim for finished, not perfect. Here’s a very hard to come by wisdom – You can edit finished. You can make “finished” perfect. You cannot edit “nothing.” You cannot perfect nothing!
Get it? So here’s what I suggest you and I begin to do-
De-congest your brilliant mind unto paper.
You probably don’t know how restful your mind will be when you write down those ideas. You get to see it solidify in text blocks (on paper or on the screen) – this is the first step to getting any project done. Your story plot ideas or prototype drawing are safer on paper than in your mind especially when you don’t intend to start off the next minute. It all feels good in your head, but when you write it down, you can cut out the nonsense as you type the recesses of your mind. You will find that your mind may think you have fifty ideas when in fact, writing shows you that you only have five workable ideas. Trust me, you mind doesn’t need more junk.
Categorize your ideas or project into manageable milestones.
Yes, this is where it gets really hard. If you’re like me, you feel that the weight of the world’s problems lies squarely on your shoulders and you have to solve it fast! All at once! Dear friend, this is not usually true. At best, the pressure is called passion welling up within you waiting to be channeled into manageable milestones. Like my example above, a good milestone is 30 minutes or 100 words per day. You can always scale up those days you have much inspiration but keep a basic structure.
In graphic design, I find that telling my clients I need three weeks to work on a design is better than telling them I need a week because I have this wonderful design concept that will fit their purposes in my head. Most time, that idea falls apart as I put it on paper and I find out I need a new one. Three weeks would have worked better. I remember when I did write Donut (you can get a copy here), I had high and lofty dreams for it, but I made a plan. And Yes! It worked. When things became slow at the middle, I was able to adjust and stretch out the financing aspect of the project till we made it through. Bit by bit.
Take one task at a time.
Ideas come in cohorts, and they all seem great and ready to fly, but one action after another results in more doing. Pick one of the three hundred story ideas and start. Finish it before you pick the next one. It’s wiser to have two finished stories at the end of two months (and two hindered and ninety eight written ideas) than to have five hundred disjointed ideas but you’re too overwhelmed to start any.
Do it everyday
The wisdom behind many of the creative challenges like NaNoWriMo, Inktober and Writathon (by my friend, Samuel Osho) is to hope that your intent to finish a novel, master illustration or write consistently will be greatly helped by a daily practice which builds consistency. Do it every day. Nothing can be mastered any other way. And watch this – Even if you don’t (and you don’t have to!) share what you produce with the world daily, still produce daily.

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Reward your progress.
Yes, reward that one task you finished. Decide what the reward will be and attach it to completion of a task.
Share the process with fellow creatives.
Yes, we all need accountability and this is one area where I still need a lot of work, so I’d not say so much here. I know that constructive criticism helps a lot!
The next step.
Since I released Donut, Life has happened to me (more on this later). The most important thing is, right now, I am picking up from where I stopped. But I will not take on my ideas all at once.  My journal is full and my mind is at peace and focused on a single task ahead. One step at a time, I will gain mastery of one and then the other, until I am able to realize the most. Why not join me?
Cheers,
Toluwanimi
Do you ever experience times of overwhelming frustration because you have this so many ideas but cannot seem to get things done? Sometimes, you start, but you find it difficult to finish? I’ve been there! Have you? Can we share ideas in the comments below? Thank you!

The Uncharted path


It is pertinent to seek and discover God’s will for you – his purpose for your life. But when you then try to plan your own path in light of the insight God showed you about your future, you are trying too hard to help God. Whatever you know about your life is an impartial glimpse and you cannot set off fitting the pieces with that limited view. Actually, you can and I know you’ve tried, but you always end up feeling like someone who has been tasked with fitting the ten thousand pieces of a jigsaw puzzle whose final image is not shown to him or her.

I’ve found that after the glimpse into purpose, God’s notification comes increasingly and daily. Regardless of how much we pray, study and commune with God, the circumstances of our lives are often revealed in installments, the deep details made known only after the fact.

Joseph (in the Bible) must have envisioned a lofty future in sync with his dream but he surely would not have envisaged the alternating triumphs and challenges that would characterize his path to victory. That is what an uncharted terrain feels like – you have an idea of the future end, but it’s okay to not have the whole stretch of the journey mapped out. 

Actually, that is where the magic happens, the adventure of a purposeful life where a person has to trust God, gain victuals, build character, resilience, and humility for the glory that is ahead. Thank God we have a comfort in Joseph’s ardent faith in God. 

If you feel that God is taking you through a seemingly divergent experience quite unrelated to what you have seen, relax. Do not try to channel the path. Just be still and trust his process. Joseph’s undulating path of slavery, repose, temptation and betrayal culminated to the expected end.

For whatever it is worth, you must remember that the path that eventually leads you to the glory will not always make logical sense. But it takes perpetual faith to overcome!

If it is God’s path, it will lead you to the expected end and when you get there, you will be able to look back and see things openly and clearly.

Hold on!

Cheers, 
Toluwanimi

You can’t foot the bill – because you aren’t meant to!


I have observed that many times, when God inspires people with an idea for a life-defining project, or presents opportunities to gain knowledge and training in peculiar crafts, career or ministry, many people short-change themselves with the questions their minds ask. Even me, 8 out of 10 times, my mind fixates on the price tag, especially when I know I can’t afford it. I ask, “How much does it cost?” That becomes my excuse not to pursue my highest. 

When God presents you with similar opportunities, do you embrace it in spite of the cost?

Consider this: how much does a butler earn? Surely not enough to fund a city-wide project. Yes, you got it – Nehemiah couldn’t have funded the budget for the Jerusalem wall. Surely, Moses didn’t have some huge savings to build the tabernacle. In fact, they were never meant to. They simply said yes and watched God do his thing.

Whenever God inspires you with an idea, he never means for you to foot the bill. The one that gives the vision will make provision: what you need for the vision.

Seriously, you can’t foot the bill – because you aren’t meant to! Stop worrying about Gods prerogative.

I’d like to challenge you to ask, “How much is it worth?” rather than “How much does it cost.” Instead of ” Can I afford this?” Ask “Can I afford not to do this?”

Can you afford not to listen to God? Can you afford not to live a purposeful life? Can you afford not to make impact? Do you want to miss out on the joy of divine duty?

Truth is, God has positioned helpers on your path. But they are not in the open. They are hiding and waiting for you to decide to take on the task before they show up. They want you to say, “yes, this training or conference or class is worth much more than it costs. I can’t afford it, but I will get it.” 

The long and lonely journey to the cross cost Jesus a lot for a while. It wasn’t easy, but it was wort it. His life shows is that he asked, “how much is it worth?” 

I keep receiving calls from youth ministers from Nigeria and abroad requesting copies of Donut, and I wonder – what if I looked at the publishing cost and didn’t go ahead in 2014? I knew I couldn’t afford the N350,000 price tag but (thank God!) I did move ahead and there was my dad who agreed to take installments (there’s someone positioned closer than you think!) and the people who believed (after I did) in the vision (they showed up from the hiding places! LOL!). We did it and produced 2000 copies we distributed free! There’s more coming!

The difference between action (excellence) and excuse (mediocrity) is the question you ask, and here is it- “how much it is worth?”

Like I said some weeks earlier, only the shortsighted celebrate potential. In my opinion, only the ones who invest potential with grit to produce bountiful results ought to be celebrated.

So like Joshua Son of Nun, Get courageous! Change your question. Change your life and our world. 

To the Happy New Week,

Toluwanimi

P.S.: Maybe you think you may trust God and still end up flat on your face. Maybe that’s a valid point. Maybe it’s happened to you before… Well, here’s the thing- try again and do it right this time by making sure God is involved. Moreover, you’ll never know until you try!

Don’t lose heart

A vision is exciting. A well-laid out strategy is exhilarating. A picture of the many lives your work will touch is enough to get you started, but the day to day requirements of purpose is not always as exciting, and surely not as scintillating as the envisioned end point. 

Before you abandon that path of purpose, that calling, or that project because it doesn’t feel as exhilarating as when you first envisioned it, it involves too many days of back breaking work or terribly slow wait times, remember that the beauty of gold is appreciated and enjoyed only when it has been extracted from its ore and refined. I do not need to tell you how undesired the process is.

A beautiful vision is pleasant to behold, but a few moments later, when your expectations fail to come through, it can easily be buried under a thick dark cloud. This surely doesn’t mean that the vision is purely your conjecture. It only means that you’re started on the real process of birthing – the bittersweet labor. 

There will be lag days, there will be incredibly slow and boring phases. You will feel like you’re pushing against a wall. Promised funding will roll in sluggishly or not at all. People will not always be willing. Your first prototype might fail. Expectations might be dashed and the mediocre on the other side will scorn. 

You will be demotivated and feel very useless at those times when the process becomes a monotonous routine. When this happens, know that you are under the fire that is meant to refine you and your work, not graze you into ashes. 

At this time, you need to put in writing the big picture and the reason why you are doing this, since it’s likely the thick cloud will block the horizon. Then put in the work because this is what you have to do. Do not seek repose in alternatives.

As you keep working, Pray and Don’t lose heart.

The cloud will clear and you will see yourself rise to the rank of the accomplished.

To a purpose fulfilled, 

Toluwanimi

Inspired by Colossians 4:2, Luke 18:1 (surprisingly).

Annihilation

Hello!

I remember when I was younger and would sit with friends to discuss several issues from cartoons and video games to cars, school work and movies, then we would touch on problems in my country and some politics which for my country has always been a popular tension point. We would argue and try to proffer solutions to the problems of economic instability, inadequate social amenities ( no thanks, Social Studies for etching those words into my mind – every essay had to have those words! LOL!) and poor leadership in my country. 

Of the ideas we generated, one that usually came up was to have someone gather all the unsuspecting corrupt leaders in a mock conference and blow them up. I favored the idea because I thought if all the bad eggs were dealt with, good people will remain then we would have some peace and development. But we would struggle with the moral implications of murder until we “sight” one of our friends toss in a football.

Now I know better!


As I grew older, I realized one thing – Anhilation of evil does not come by destruction of a group or generation perceived to be wicked. I feel one of the reasons why God might have inserted Noah’s story in the Bible was to get that across. The society Noah lived in was terrible – the people’s imaginations were evil and godless and they did whatever they felt like – which resulted in evil. So God decided to wipe out the world save Noah’s family, who found favor in God’s eyes because He walked with God and was a just man. After God through a flood rid the earth of the bad eggs, we would have thought that everything would go right onward.
We all know that it didn’t. Death does not take away evil from our world.

Sadly, I know a feel people who still buy the annihilation idea, and many others who figuratively extend the idea to their daily lives – who wish their clearly wicked boss or coworker would call in sick so there would be peace in the office for a few days… get the idea?

As I mused on Noah’s story the last time I read it, I remembered the story of Jonah. For similar reasons, God was set to destroy the people of Nineveh for their extreme wickedness but gave them a warning by sending Jonah, who reluctantly shared God’s message after a failed flight attempt.
It turned out God’s word rent their heart and they did an about turn.
No one died! Epic!

Now, I rather say change happens when the word of God meets with faith in broken-hearted people, regardless of how evil they have been.

I no longer wish for an desperado to blow up corrupt leaders because it wouldn’t work – in fact, a new crop of scoundrels will rise up from their ashes. And though, sometimes I still wish some mean person will not cross my path today, I know that with faith, prayer, and the spirit-inspired message of God’s love, positive change can happen.

People can change for better – by the words that go up to God and those that will loving go to others.

Now, I can only pray that your thoughts will be renewed, your words divinely empowered and your life, an example to the evil world around us.
Cos, truth is, we all need God!

Cheers,
Toluwanimi

Baring the Writer’s Soul

“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works.” VirginaWoolf

If you close your soul to your readers – if you leave out your personal stories from your compositions, your excellent literary prowess and mastery of the craft will at best produce grandiose but impersonal works that will maybe, garner you some royalty, but will not touch any life in lasting ways. I know that is what you really desire – that your words reach out to touch your readers in transformative ways.

So, expect you’re an academic essayist with a limited theme and constrained concept bank, bare your soul before your readers.

Yes. Your Muse’s incubation of the crests and troughs in your soul is the crucible of true creativity and transformation. And if you are like me, that blessed soul of yours is the ground of all skirmishes, human and divine, past and present, and the center stage for all the dark and bright interactions of the seen and unseen forces dictating your path in life.

Your deepest fears, your goriest experiences, your loftiest desires, your biggest triumphs, and your greatest personal discoveries in life banks up in your soul, and anticipates every moment you put pen to paper and bleed. Let your readers see that drop of blood that is known to redeem – from your wholesome compositions. You will not be the first to bleed for many, and certainly not the last. And you may well find that you are enlightened and healed in the process.

“If your soul isn’t ready to he bared, then your words aren’t ready to be shared.”

Writers, I know you are scared – how can you do this? Maybe you can start by baring your soul to your Muse.

Cheers,

Toluwanimi

Do… or Do not.

My epidemiology professor includes this quote in a number of his class slides… and has succeeded in getting this wedged in my mind. Good thing though, because I have fallen into the “I’ll try” rut, time and again.

On introspection, I realize that words/phrases like “I’ll try..” “Someday, I’ll do it..” or “hopefully” are comfortable ways of expressing complacency, non-commitment, fear or outright laziness/lassitude.

Someday, I’ll start saving. 

I’ll try coming earlier to work. 

Hopefully in the future, I will enroll for that class/start the business.

Maybe I’ll try to speak to him. 

Sounds familiar?


It’s easy for our timid minds to form various humble-sounding phrases to deflect the reality of duty and responsibility for greatness in life. An epic combination is – hopefully someday, I’ll try to write everyday and maybe publish a book – or something like that.

C’mon, you know that will never happen!

This applies to every aspect of life, relationships, business, day job or passion. 

These non-committal expressions puts you and other party in a limbo that never recedes until you grow weary and forget. Reflect and compare the words you have said that includes “try, someday or hopefully” with those you said with an emphatic yes, I will/know/believe or set a definite date and got to work on it. The difference in the results are strikingly significant.

“Say Yes or No. Every other thing is nonsense.” Jesus said (well, at least, my idea of what he said in Matthew 5:37)

When I wanted to publish Donut(when I really got serious about it), I believed it, set a definite time frame, got to work despite challenges and achieved it by God’s grace. What you must know is that there are also many other things I have “tried” to do that haven’t left the “I’ll try someday” phase. Hopefully, someday, I’ll get to it! LOL!

Why do we do this? 

Laziness? Lassitude? Discouragement? Procrastination? Non-commitment? I don’t know, really but I do know that thoughts and words are indicators of the state of the heart.

Ah, Yes, there will be challenges (if you are planning to do anything meaningful with your life, expect resistance already!), but the difference between mediocrity and excellence will always be between DO or Do NOT, there is no try.

Best,

Toluwanimi