3 friends speak about personal growth — StoryVox Podcast

I asked three of my friends who I know are living intentionally to share how they build capacity in their lives, and how it changes them. I also asked them to share their top tip for effective capacity building. Listen Now.

Another episode of StoryVox is out

 Listen Now

Episode 3 of the second season of StoryVox is a follow up to the Capacity Building Episode that aired 4 weeks ago. I encourage you to listen if you have not.

I asked three of my friends who I know are living intentionally to share how they build capacity in their lives, and how it changes them. I also asked them to share their top tip for effective capacity building.

My friends

Anjola Coker is Houston Texas-based digital artist, poet, and Storyteller. In the less than 2 years we have known each other, I have been inspired by her creativity through poetry, art and film.

Toyin Ajilore introduces herself as a child of God, a warrior who sits at the intersection of education and entrepreneurship. She teaches young people to be leaders as a lecturer at the Department of Geology, University of Ibadan, and develops young entrepreneurs through ONE Foundation, formerly known as the Grassroots Business Hub, an entrepreneurship foundation that trains new business owners in Nigeria to take their business to the next level.

Samuel Osho is a multi-faceted genius who currently works as an engineer in Canada. He is skillful with words as an award-winning public speaker and writer and website designer.

How we recorded

It’s a social distancing world, so we couldn’t have them present at the studio, but we utilized WhatsApp, Skype and self-recording to make this happen and I’m so excited for you to listen and learn from this.

Jump in Now

Thank you for listening. I’d love you to share this podcast with friends. All episodes are edited to utilize as little data as possible, so tell them they can listen online or on their favorite podcast apps.

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It’s okay to panic… at first — StoryVox Podcast

This happened 16 years ago. But the details are as fresh as yesterday. I was in the second class of Junior Secondary School – what Americans would call 7th grade.

I was ready to represent my class as a lead speaker in a school debate with the 6th grade /JS1 class – our juniors. I cannot remember the topic but I do remember being excited and preparing so hard for it —I researched, gathered and practiced my points with my uncle at home until I felt as ready as anything. Set to beat ‘em all!

But on the D-day, standing before the large audience of students, teachers and the principal, as the lead speaker of my team, my confidence and enthusiasm disappeared instantly, because after the last syllable of my very impressive opening speech, my tongue locked itself.

I froze. Could not get the next word out. No. For several awkward moments, I struggled, my mind racing through the points, unable to voice them out. Everyone watched in anticipation, ostensibly praying that I would find my voice. My teammates must have been boiling furiously.

To be clear, I did not forget what I had to say. It was just that the words got stuck under my tongue. What you would call a stutter. Each second felt like a heavy weight on my chest.

Hmm… I wish I could tell you I recovered. I didn’t.

After a while, I couldn’t bear the audience’s piercing looks and wide mouths any longer. I walked off the stage, and wept sore at the back of the hall. With the lead speaker gone with all the major points, I learned my team lost the competition. Because of me. So it was a shameful loss because everyone expected us to beat the class junior to ours.

The shame was so unbearable that I did not return to school for the rest of the semester.

I vowed to myself —I would never speak in public again.

We all panic.
We all doubt ourselves.
We all have weaknesses.
And we all want to make an impact in our world.

Today on StoryVox, using one of the worst ordeals of my life, I’m sharing why it’s okay to panic. Why it’s okay to doubt yourself —at first.

And why it’s not okay to stop there.

Listen now on your favorite podcast platform.

“And because God gives us the opportunity to panic at first, we must then give God the opportunity to dispel the “I can’t” in our minds and show himself faithful.”

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It’s available on most podcast platform. Just type StoryVox Podcast.

Who will I say sent me?

Do you remember what people say when you want to do something great? What do they say when you mess up?

They say “can you do it?” who sent you in the first place?” “who asked you to do it?”

Moses knew that so well: he wanted to do something great. But he had messed up and was told “who made you a judge over us?” So he ran away. For 40 years!

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Wanna know something?

God sent you.

Now if your dreams are selfish and ego-driven, you will be up against a brick wall. Real hard brick wall. If you follow self-conjured imaginations or ambitions, you will meet a dead end. You will fail miserably or succeed more miserably.

But, if God has placed a vision in your heart and nudged you to make a difference —maybe He prompted you to start writing, pursue a particular career, start that project or join that mission trip — you will be unstoppable. If He’s saying “speak to Mica about this,” don’t be afraid. Even if you messed up the first time. Or second, or… however many times, you can pick yourself up.

People and situations will ask you “Who sent you?” and it will be more of mocking than questioning.

But you can confidently say to them, “God sent me.”

God is “I AM.” That means He’s ever present: He’s not an outdated God. He’s not in the past. He’s with you, leading you every step of the way into your great future!

He sent you!

MISTAKES X FAILURE

What do you do when you make a mistake? What should you? This nifty post gives you an idea.

What do you do when you make a mistake or fail?

If you were me, you would hate yourself, wish it never happened and try so hard not to talk about it. Sometimes, that will prevent you from doing something great again.

If you are nodding your head right now, I have a word for you.

Do not beat yourself…

The microwave was a sizzling accidental discovery during a radar test. Sticky notes came out of a failed strong-adhesive project. The potato chips was an attempt to annoy an extremely fussy customer. The penicillin was a result of an accidental culture inoculation, and the x-ray and corn flakes were also accidental discoveries.

Do not take yourself too seriously. Seriously. Okay, I meant, do not beat yourself too much.

Rather, take a second look at your mistakes or failures. You may learn something phenomenal.

Take a second look.

You may learn something phenomenal.

Check out the Instagram info-graphic here.

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Little lights

Big light, little light, we should all shine.

In retrospect, I think the childhood chorus “this little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine,” was curated to tell the child that there is a light within, a light of passion, of purpose, fueled by the intrinsic gifts the maker has deposited in all of us, it’s a reminder to let that light out regardless of how small he or she may feel.

Somehow, on the journey to adulthood, we tend to forget this.

As we all reach to attain the perfectionism our institutions have created in our hearts, the words, “You’re not good enough, you can’t do it, you don’t have what it takes.” burn their way into our minds and threaten to eat up what is left of our childhood wonder, faith and sense of adventure.

Like a little light, we consistently belittle the progress and the victuals we’ve earned in the journey so far in life, work and relationships. The weight of unrealistic expectations and our half-empty appraisal of ourselves makes us think we are never going to be prepared enough to offer much, and we think we need to have it all figured out before we can take a step in the direction of our dreams, or be a blessing to others. Often times, the feeling of inadequacy that comes with this perfectionism prevents us from believing in the process that has gotten us to where we are and venturing in faith into the things we are supposed to do. We doubt Gods ability to work in and through us.

We fail to remember that “in the dark world of doubt and mediocrity, even the smallest lamp and faintest light will illuminate hope.”

So I will not hide my light under a bushel anymore. I am a light. My source is divine. A light burns in me. It may be little or big, but I would shine. As I shine, I grow and then shine some more.

Will you join me?

A C R Y L I C on Primed Canvas | 8 X 10 inches | 08-14-2019

MY INSPIRATION

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”
~‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:14-16‬ ‭MSG‬‬

P.S. Check out my latest project here.
Thank you!

Run your own race

The pressure to perform can be as helpful as it is disastrous.

As a writer, I am torn between do it now and wait until it is perfect. For a long time, I was confused about what school of thought to pattern myself after because I didn’t want to offend the wisdom of either, as I respected and admired the work of people who swore by both.

I grew up in a time where the seven year old who makes 3.1 million dollars in first year of business and the seventy-five year old who wins a marathon got the spotlight shone on them while the thirty-five year old doing either gets a mere shrug. As a result, I have tried both – I produced work too quickly in a bid to rush up to spotlight but then realizing it wasn’t ready. Frustrated and guilt-ridden, I resorted to endlessly waiting for my work to be perfect or until I am ready.

Problem is, I never feel ready.

My perspective is broadening as I meet people everyday. The journey to purpose and significant work as creatives is often a path of undulating slopes and we grow through the process of a balance of learning and creating.

Don’t birth into the world a poorly written first draft at sixteen just because you will look cool doing it. I’d rather you give us an irresistible bestseller at twenty-two or thirty-five! You must remember that it is okay, yes, it is perfectly okay if you do not get there first or as early as you think you should. But it’s really terrible if you get there first or early and have nothing significant to offer, because you will be asked to stand aside.

There is an interesting story in the Bible (2 Samuel 18:30) where Kind David’s army commander, Joab, needed to get a message across to him. Ahimaaz thought he could run faster so off he went. He got to the king before the Cushite, who had the message, but because he had nothing to deliver, he was asked to stand aside. You see, the king will wait for the one who has something to offer, even if he arrives later.

It’s great if you do create masterpieces as early as you can, but if you can’t, it’s okay too. Do not let your performance be fraught with undue pressure to perform. The experience and maturity that comes with the diligence of mastery (or age as the case may be) is nothing to be ashamed of. Sometimes, you may have brilliant ideas, but your character is not formed – it is important not to rush the process because the wisdom you gain from the experiences on the journey is as important as the destination.

Listen. Pay attention. Learn. Fine tune. Release. Then rinse and repeat.

You don’t have to get there early because no one is observing the time. Really. No one is.

It doesn’t matter who is there right now, they will step aside when someone with something significant arrives. You don’t have to get there first because it’s not a competition. You don’t have to wait till you feel you are ready, because what you need to do is to prepare and then share it when opportunity comes.

It’s often not about when you get there, it’s about what you have to offer.

If you fall short at an attempt, shake yourself up and do it again. My advise right now is to be a life long student. Take on opportunities as they come
Do it one at a time. Do not compare yourself to other’s journey. One of the reasons why I just pay attention to doing good work rather than fussing over when and where I am published is that I am on a unique race.

Imagine you’re an athlete. You’ve trained for so long. You are ready for the meet, then when you squat on the track, the marksman announces, “hey, everyone, today, you won’t be competing against the people on the other lanes. The’re a personal creative best you’ve been equipped to achieve at this time. Today’s race will be about how much you have applied yourself to your personal best or how much you have improved since your last record…”

That’s pretty much the life we live. You’re on the same track as everyone else in the word. But you’re not running the same race. Each person has a unique set of gifts and abilities and paths of purpose to benefit the world. It is your duty to find your purpose and pursue it’s achievement.

As long as you are alive, what matters is the impact you make on other people with your work and the peace and joy you experience through the process of growth on purpose.

The creative life is a long-distance, not a sprint. And if there is one thing to take out of this article, it is this –

run your own race with diligence.

P.S. Check out my latest project here. Thank you!

We hear you!

Hey,
I see your face anytime you walk out of the youth room.
It’s downcast.
You share great life insights.
But you feel what you say is way over our heads.
You feel like it entered through one ear and got out through the other.

No.
It may not seem like that, but we hear you.
We do not hear this very often. Not in our schools, not on TV and almost surely never on social media.

So, truly, it seems like a lot to chew on, but we hear you.
We know deep down that this is the real deal.

We hear you.
We are taking it all in.
You’d just need to hang in there.

Tell us more often.
More importantly, model it to us.
Let us see the light shine from your life to our hearts.

One this is sure:
Your work is not in vain.

– a teen’s note to his youth group leader.

This sketch is dedicated to all the wonderful people that work passionately in youth development capacities all over the world. Your work is not in vain!

Cheers,

Toluwanimi

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

Don’t lose heart

What to do when the day to day requirements of purpose is not always as exciting or scintillating as the envisioned end point.

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).

Why not Philip?

DISCLOSURE: This is a long post. You might want to get your brewed coffee.

I’m a storyteller.

That means my imagination runs wild and the muse shows up at any time, and even at Bible study. When it does, though, I get so excited but here’s the caveat:

Though this might be an accurate analysis, DO NOT quote my imagination (or insight) in a theology class. I repeat, DO NOT QUOTE.

Thank you.

That said, let’s get started.

Sometimes, I like to read certain books of the Bible over again to get a storyteller’s bird’s eye view (or something like that). Recently I picked Doctor Luke’s comprehensive treatise of Jesus’ life and followed up with the sequel.

I was rounding off the tenth chapter of the sequel when I felt that lightbulb moment. Well, it was first a flicker then the light came on. God decided it was time to reach the Roman seeker – Cornelius – so he sent for Peter. Typically, God initiates the conversion process in a person’s heart but calls his kids to close the deal. He wants to involve them in the business, you know, and he needs someone to welcome him into the family and perhaps discipleship. That was easy to chew until it occurred to me that Philip, the great evangelist lived in Caesarea as well! And it would be totally understandable for God to send a close-by apostle.

Wait – here’s the flicker – why did God choose Peter?

Remember Philip, who preached to the Ethiopian Eunuch and was caught off to Azotus and preached all the way to Caesarea? Yes. Philip “the Evangelist” could do the job. He did settle, according to Biblical history, in Caesarea with his four daughters and was in Caesarea in 37 AD when Peter visited (and years after that). “Diligent seeker” Cornelius could have been received by anyone close by.

I put on my wire-rimmed glasses and squinted at the Bible map, with a mug of coffee on my free hand. Caesarea is about 32 miles north of Joppa. I drive about 26 miles to work which takes me thirty to forty-five minutes (at forty-five to sixty-five miles per hour) depending on the traffic flow. Adjusting for terrain and medium of transportation, it would take Peter about eleven hours to walk to Caesarea. But he probably rode the horse carriage with Cornelius’ soldiers, so that’s down to about five to seven hours.

Why would God call Peter who was miles away to do the job?

The apt answer is I REALLY DO NOT KNOW. But I want to share the light bulb- maybe someone will pick a thing or two.

Maybe the moral of the story is not only to tell us that God welcomes people of all backgrounds (yes He does!). Maybe it was also to tell us that He doesn’t pick people for assignments like we think He does- by the proximity of location, ease of access or some other funny criteria we conjure. I think God picks according to His transcendent purpose and he can call anyone from half way across the world to reach anyone.

I imagine also, that one of His purposes was to reach Peter and break his strong biases. At that time, Jews thought it scandalous to even think of associating with a gentile. Eating their unclean foods or visiting them was a capital no. Philip obviously had no problem with Gentiles, for he promptly sat with, preached to the gentile Ethiopian Eunuch and baptized him. So it seems to me that God wanted it to be a teaching moment for Peter (He told us that anyway in verse 28). Despite the three-part blockbuster it took to convince him, Peter later struggled with this again in Galatians 2:11-14. Old habits die hard, I guess.

I might just be wild or weirdly making some sense here.

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Either way, the point is God is not confined by zoning limitations in his dealing with man. He’s the one who initiates all eternally significant life events (which is pretty much everything that happens in this world) and provides all we need to do his will (including your flight ticket to wherever he’s going to take you).

Also, his project might actually be YOU, so don’t get disillusioned with “service” that you’re neglecting the character building process. Ask Peter.

Do not try to decipher the validity of His will by location proximity or present ease of access. It will shock you.

You “sha” know that he’s got the whole universe in his palms. By extension, God can bring a man from South Korea to serve a man in Igbo-ora, Oyo State so that he can move on to Los Angeles, California to reach someone who just migrated from Tibet.

Likewise, He can move you Katsina so you can meet your future wife/husband and then lead you both to settle at Switzerland. So God can reach you wherever you are.

It kind of adds up to one thing – stop sampling. Seek His purposes (and be ready to pack. LOL!) Here’s another curveball – you might not even know your real assignment until you get there.

Cheers!

Toluwanimi

P.S. Sometimes, it’s good to just read the books of the Bible. You might just find something interesting or weirdly possible. And in case you don’t know the books I referenced, (#cough) they are Luke and Acts. You’ll find them in a timeless library called the Bible. You should read them sometime.

What do you think about “Why not Philip?” Shoot me some comments.