Message of Hope

Aanu Damola Morenikeji (ADM) and Nigeria's President, Olusegun Obasanjo - as the latter affirms his hope for Nigeria and Nigerians

Leading the Future

ADM and some pupils at one of his programme.

Spare the Rod and Spoil the Child

Aanu Damola Morenikeji and Obiageli "Oby" Ezekwesili (CFR); World Bank's Vice President for Africa.

Award

Aanu Damola Morenikeji with the Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun after becoming the first recipient of the Ogun State Youth Award for Excellence in Health and Community Service.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Of Productivity and Growth; lessons from the Productivity Award

My phone rang. I had just received a call from the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta who also is the President, Association of African Universities. He sounded delighted to have spoken with me, and eager to see me. The phone welcomed several other calls, most from within the university intimating a pleasant urgency and some intuitive actions.

That morning, I was concluding plans to help facilitate a two-day training with some young professionals before returning to my ‘location’ for the community-based farming program. ‘Multitaskingly’, we were hosting an #OpenEd twitter discussion in commemoration of the 2014 Day of the African Child, with a focus on education of the African Child, the abduction of over 200 girls in Chibok, Borno state, demanding that strategies be renewed to #BringBackOurGirls and make schools, across Nigeria, safe for learning. Meeting the Vice Chancellor, he broke the news; I had been painstakingly selected for the Vice Chancellor’s Productivity Award by the World Bank Africa Centre of Excellence in Agriculture – the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, as part of activities for the 21st and 22nd Convocation ceremonies. Values and benchmarks for the nomination, recommendation and selection were service to the university, courage, excellence, dedication, truthfulness, new initiatives, innovation, punctuality, selfless services and academic contribution. It was indeed honour and grace!

On the D-day, I joined other eminently distinguished personalities at the University’s Heroes Day of Recognition and Excellence. I was elated as some academics and prodigies were called to step forward for honour as their citations gave convincing glimpses of their outstandingly remarkable contributions to humanity. I was fortunate to be one. That evening, I returned home more humbled with honour and thanksgiving – as the youngest awardee and only undergraduate among the honoured prodigies –, with a plaque which I must admit spackles amidst other plaques on my shelve and an adjoining cash of a tenth of a million naira which was duly invested into getting more resources that will aid the growth of other young people and mine – especially as the non-profit organization I founded, All for Development Foundation hosted the Youth Roundtable on Education and Democratic Governance seven days after the Heroes day. The day and activities surrounding it taught and reminded of some lessons. In it, I learnt, unlearnt and re-learnt. Some of the lessons include:

Consistency Pays!
Among several other lessons, the award attested and still attests to a long term belief that consistency pays. It reminds that even when what you do is seemingly invincible to everyone, keep doing it. Keep keeping on. When faced with challenges and you don’t know what to do, just keep breathing, keep believing, don’t let go, don’t give in. The towel is always there, we may decide to throw it in or use it to clean our sweats and proceed more intelligently and passionately, after deep reflective thoughts. It may be surprising to note that most of the projects I and our organization have embarked on for the last five years (since year 2009) are self-financed. However, two major things that kept us going were the strong conviction that what we did/do made/makes a difference and the people we are focused on are capable of making positive differences. The same principle may apply to whatever you are into, either as an academic or social entrepreneur, a musician or comedian, an artist or skills professional. Be consistent in what you do. You may learn from another long-term mission of mine, which is the conscious commitment to the consistent creation of value. Wherever you are, be there indeed!

Uphold Integrity
Integrity is more than just an attribute we mention when describing the type of leaders we want – within the students’ union, university senate, local, state and federal government and the entire society – Integrity is a key value which other values of accountability, empathy inter alia is dependent. Integrity is the reflection of morality of character in any and every situation. I once learnt from a wise man that integrity commits itself to character over personal gains, to people over things, to principles over conscience and to long-term view over immediate gratification.

Give recognition and show appreciation
Appreciation and genuine recognition matters. That, as I heard and later read is one of the reasons for the rebirth of the award; ‘the University believes that there is always a reward for outstanding performance and such reward will serve to encourage others to emulate those who have previously been recognized’. Taking it beyond official recognition, we can admit, after a deep reflective thought that others have contributed to our current success. The time to show appreciation is ripe. Appreciation begets more. As you walk through the crowd, walk slowly,recognize people’s efforts. Smile, shake hands, listen and truly appreciate the contributions of others on your growth. No man is self made. Everyone is a product of interactions with divinity and others. Robert McNamara, a former President of the World Bank, once said ‘Brains are like hearts – they go where they are appreciated’. Imagine a community where everyone is appreciated, celebrated – not just tolerated – for who they really are. The existence of this community – even within our immediate environment – is achievable.

Build quality networks and bridges
The Heroes day provided another platform to meet, interact and build bridges with others. Have you ever heard that our network is a determinant of our net worth? If we are assessed in terms of social capital – and not financial riches – how wealthy will you be? Everyday presents opportunities to build quality networks with people. Build an effective relationship with God, yourself and others. Don’t call God your father and live like an orphan. Though we may not be influential enough to choose our family – parents and siblings – however, we have the ability to choose our friends. Another wise man once challenged people to evaluate those they spend/invest their time with and decipher those that add more value to them and those that diminish their self esteem. This is not only applicable in business relationships, but also in platonic and other relationships. Decide who your friends are. Don’t be parasitic; invest positively in them too.

Discern the call and step up to the challenge
I would have made a very big mistake if I had taken the recognition and award as an unending call for celebration. Of course, it was, but also more than just a cherished recognition, it is also a call. It is a call to service; a call to stand tall in the face of adversity. For all young people reading this, it is a call to dream more, think more, grow more and do much more. Don't emulate the past, be the future. It is a call to build more capacity and positively influence the world within and around us. It is a call to pursue excellence through diligence; to work towards greatness, not just success. It is a call to ask ourselves pertinent questions and give honest answers. The choice is ours to heed this call.

Regardless of anything, be thankful for everything.
This is self explanatory; worry about nothing, be thankful for everything. I have never – and with grace, will never – fall prey of believing that a certain thing is not enough to be thankful for. As I mentioned earlier, appreciation is key. Permit me to set this balls rolling; I appreciate everyone that have been instrumental to my growth, everyone that I have been a blessing to, everyone that heeded to an advise I gave and got positive results. I am also appreciative of you for reading this thus far! Do the same. Love indeed!

Conclusively, productivity may not be a function of acceptance. Continue doing what is right. As young people, we have several responsibilities and rights, the future of our nation – soon – lies on our shoulders. We have to be committed to act as if our every of our action becomes a universal principle, living in respect to our values. The productivity award is a reminder to all young people that we can achieve what has been set out to achieve. Work in accordance to God’s plans for you, act diligently, seek knowledge of who you are and who you can become. In addendum to all we had discussed earlier, I urge you to treat each day with utmost commitment and sincerity. Commit yourself to honesty, reliability, and always remember this: for excellence and growth, do what you have to do, in order to do what you want to do.

I believe in you!

Saturday, 14 June 2014

The Main Thing - Reflections of Gratitude and Vision

Over the last 5 weeks, I have seen, met and heard about several other young people (and professionals) who against all odds are building capacity, and contributing to making things better.


Harnessing the transforming power of a principle-based vision and mission, creating an upward spiral of learning and living, making daily choices keenly with much #Godfidence, we should/would continually remind ourselves that the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

I am thankful for those I meet; thankful for those I connect with on social media; and thank you (yes, You!) for being you.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

World Economic Forum and the New Vision for Education

Earlier this month, I participated in the World Economic Forum on Africa held in Abuja, Nigeria. Though the forum had the theme 'Forging Inclusive Growth, Creating Jobs', I was more engage in brainstorming with other global stakeholders in the education sector on how we can effectively achieve a 'new vision for education'.

A session at the forum, co-hosted by the Global Business Coalition for Education was dedicated towards the 'New Vision for Education'. With an insightful coordination by Sarah Brown, Executive Chair of the Global Business Coalition for Education, the session focused - among other things - on discussing strategies to reshape education for Africa's sustainable long-term growth and competitiveness, by exploring approaches to define the education-employment gap, determine effective distribution infrastructure, deliver education through technology and fund education for growth. You can read my reflection here.

Another important highlight of the World Economic Forum was the launch of the Safe Schools initiative by the United Nations Special Envoy on Global Education, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Gordon Brown and the Nigerian business community.
Damola Morenikeji and Gordon Brown at #WEFAfrica

The pilot phase of the safe school initiative is meant to ensure that we have 500 safe schools in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa states and other states in the Northern part of Nigeria.

It can be recalled that over a month ago, more than 200 girls were abducted at their school in Chibuk, a town in Borno state, Nigeria, causing a continuous out-pour of solidarity to ensure that actions are taken to #BringBackOurGirls. As Gordon Brown noted, effective actions should be taken to bring the abducted girls back, ensure schools are safe for learning and deal with the insecurity challenge.

Read excerpts  of my reflection on the realisation of a new vision for education here. After reading, I would love to know what you think is missing? What should we do more? What shouldn't we do? Why? How else can we achieve this? I want to read from you!

 
I continually affirm, that with the right actions taken by the right people at the right time, things will turn out right.

Damola [@DamolaMore]

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Bring Back Our Girls: My Call for Urgent Action

It was unexpected. More than a week ago, over a hundred girls were abducted from the gated Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, a town in Borno State, north-east Nigeria. Till date, their fate is still being laid on faith.

I am disturbed that not only are there still conflicting data as to the number of girls – any of whom could have been our sister, daughter, niece or cousin – abducted, but the adverse effect of that incident on qualitative education and learning.

UNESCO’s Education for All 2013/4 Global monitoring report informs that about 5.5 million Nigerian girls are not of school. With over 10 million Nigerian children missing out of basic education, there has to be proactive urgent action to ensure that our children - who are reflections of our future - are not only in school but educated in a secured environment that encourages continuous learning and education.

The psychological trauma caused by this abduction and its consequential adverse effect on the abducted girls, their families and other young people within our country calls for huge concerns. Every additional day used in detention increases their risk of suffering from confusion, impaired concentration - and memory - hopelessness, helplessness, anxiety, fear, emotional imbalance, depression and withdrawal from the larger society.

While it is assumed that the Nigerian defense systems are making frantic efforts to bring back our girls, there is an urgent need for a consistent change in strategy – as situation demands. Bringing back our girls involves red-alert actions to be taken by government, both at the state and the center.

Nigerian child wants us to Bring Back Our Girls
Bring Back Our Girls
The Nigerian government should - if need be - involve other stakeholders in proffering a solution to this menace. Result oriented actions have to be taken urgently. The inaction, or late actions of all concerned tend to pose serious danger to national security, security of our collective lives and properties, and may make our environment devoid of increased creativity, fueling ignorance, illiteracy and poverty.

If decisive actions are not taken now, in rescuing our precious girls and making schools safer for learning, another generation of young Nigerians may be exposed to civil unrest, unemployment, poverty and increased vulnerability.

The life of every young person is important to our future; I remain highly hopeful that we will bring back our girls.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Our Responsibility as Humans


One of our responsibilities as concerned humans is to stir ourselves up to the knowledge of the truth, and stimulate one another to love, helpful deeds and noble activities.

I quite agree that this world doesn’t need more people who are doing what they think they should be doing and staying where they are out of a false sense of obligation. What this world needs is more people who are stepping into their truth, showing up fully in their relationships and work in the world, and people who are joyful, passionate and on purpose'

We can all contribute more to (personal/ #leadership / community/national/global) development by embracing this responsibility.

Let's unite and take action. We can do MORE!

ADM

Friday, 21 March 2014

Growth Galley - Be Careful of Your Thoughts [Podcast]

Great day!

It is delighting to welcome you to the Growth Galley. The Growth Galley is a periodic podcast aimed at enriching our collective growth; for us to grow right, lead right and live right.

In this episode, we are exploring the creative and destructive power of thought - depending on which you choose to explore. 

Click HERE to listen.

I will love to read / hear your view. You may comment below, send me a mail or let's connect via Facebook / Twitter.

Much love,

Damola (@DamolaMore)

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Renewing Your Thoughts and Mind [Quote]


'It is always renewing thinking about my thoughts. Sometimes, i sigh. Other times, i smile and laugh at myself.'

However, the best laughter is let out when the thought, backed up with divinely guided actions produces tremendous results. - Aanu Damola Morenikeji

#ScaleUp your thought; it is possible!
 Damola Morenikeji


Question: What measures do you take to renew your mind? Share with me via mailFacebook or Twitter.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Celebrating 'the' Woman!



Today, on International Women Day (#IWD2014), I celebrate ‘every’ woman who believes in, and recognizes the wisdom, beauty, strength and identity she possesses; every woman who upholds the values entrenched in love and empathy, every woman who sticks to speaking the truth and doing what is right  – even when it is difficult.

Today, I celebrate every woman who – though is faced with awkward challenges – finds strength and understands that there is a lesson to be learnt; every woman who – though experiences pain – is committed to the process of her physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual healing. I celebrate every woman – regardless of age category – who lives a life of honour and integrity.

I celebrate every woman who understands the power of love, words and deeds; every woman, who – though stands tall – has her kneels closer to the ground in divine supplication.

I celebrate every woman who loves and prays for her family and nation.

If any of the above describes you, congratulation! I celebrate you! Kindly extend my best regards to – share with other women – targeted in this post.

Congratulation!

Damola Morenikeji (@DamolaMore)

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Building Productive Habits as an Entrepreneur

Productivity is key as a leader and entrepreneur. I consciously remind myself that it is not just enough to get busy, but to get busy fulfilling purpose – being productive. 

Thoughts on my most productive habit as a social entrepreneur was published, along with that of other ‘successful’ entrepreneurs on IdeaMensch, under the fifth habit in the ‘35 Habits That Successful Entrepreneurs UseTo Get Shit Done.

I agree that to be excellent as an entrepreneur, you need to prioritize your daily activities, make a to-do / not-to-do list, get up early,  read, learn and grow, find your most productive time and focus. The quality of your thought is an important factor is making positive and effective impact on yourself and your environment.

As I shared ‘weaving thoughts, contrasting it with resources at hand, and continually envisioning the effect of its realization though may be tasking, but is much fun’.

Read and learn (and digest) the 35 Habits That Successful Entrepreneurs Use To Get Shit Done’ (http://ideamensch.com/35-productive-habits/).

I’ll implore you read, digest and share this post with others within your network. It is worth the time!

Stay productive!

Aanu Damola Morenikeji

Friday, 28 February 2014

Celebration and Cerebration [Thanking You!]

I am honoured and humbled by the several words, gestures and deeds conveying felicitations on the celebration of my birth anniversary. I had a great season of #cerebration. Words are not sufficient in expressing my profound gratitude.


I deeply appreciate God for the gift of life, the grace to love and be loved, and the unravelling of His purpose. Let us not be conceited by what we have collectively achieved in the past, but be appreciative that we were worthy vessels, work more on living a life available for the glorification of His purpose through our positive contribution to development.


Together, we will 'create' a better future. Thank you.

Regards,

ADM

___________
Let's connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Defining Success as a Leader [Photo]

I agree that #success is not just about what you accomplish / achieve solely in your life, it is also about what you inspire others to do.

One of the best instruments to inspire / influence others positively is your ears and deeds, not only your tongue.

How do you define success?

___
Let us connect on Twitter and Facebook.

ADM

Friday, 31 January 2014

Increasing Responsibilities: Appreciation

Appreciation is one value i cherish and live with. Daily, I appreciate God for the gift of life, and for connecting me with myself and others. Do you know what joy it brings when you explore things about yourself in ways you do not expect? One of my greatest joy is realizing that a life positively lived can influence others to talk the horns of their lives, and work on it consciously to create positive change in their communities.

It is always refreshing growing, learning and sharing with people with an unwavering commitment to #changetheworld. We truly can make our societies better through our commitment and dedication to development, and appreciation of each . This is a journey for all to take.

While taking the route of appreciation - once again - I appreciate everyone I have come across till date. I appreciate all readers, subscribers and members of my online community.

Importantly, I deeply appreciate the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta, for this feature. Reading thiswww.unaab.edu.ng/unaab-news/278-news-published-in-january-2014/16559-funaabite-shines.html ) - and a few others - increases one's sense of responsibility.

It is an amazing month indeed.

Blessings as another month begin.

ADM

Monday, 27 January 2014

Measuring Your Listening Quotient

Every great leader is a good listener. We have emphasized overtime the importance of communication in leadership development. I have learnt - through the absence of communication - how a community of vibrant thoughtful minds can become disengaged and moribund.

Listening Quotient
In as much as communication is important, listening is more important. Communication is faulty, if listening is phorny or ingenuine. I have witnessed several occasions when hearing, rather than listening is the order of the day. Thus, the essence of this post to challenge us to evaluate our listening quotients.

So, how do you measure your listening quotient? My formula for listening quotients is strength of active listening divided by unit time.

For my friends, who likes mathematics - only for the spelling, let me deviate from the mathematical expression and  highlight some key elements of active listening.

Attention
When listening to the next person that speaks with you, watch the quality of attention you give out. Let it be said about you that 'S/He listened to me like I'm the only person in the world, at that time'. Guide your attention.

Sincerity
One of the greatest gift you can give is your sincere and loving self. It is said that people do not care what you know until they know how much you care.

Minding your body
Body language plays an important role when listening actively to someone. Position your body, eye movement to be in unison with what your mind speaks which is 'I care, I am listening'. Nothing is more disappointing that observing that the person you are speaking with is hearing (not listening) what you are saying and his body communicating his absence.

It is necessary to be true to yourself and whoever you are discussing with. If circumstances will impede you actively listening to anyone, tell the person with all modest sincerity and love.

Listening is critically essential!

Question: Looking back into the last few discussions you had with anyone, how effective did you actively listen? If you were told to calculate your listening quotient, what percentage will you be rated? What other element did I not mention?

Let's connect on Twitter or Facebook.

ADM

Friday, 10 January 2014

Not Just A New Year

Just like 'that', the previous year has been stocked into the archive. A change (or in my case, flip) of the calendar comes with the courageous art/act of re-examining and learning from activities from previous years for a #ScaleUp.

Our modus operandi and modus vivendi this season should influence positive values on ourselves and impact others within our immediate and global hemisphere.

In place of letting out 'sincere' diatribe, let us individually (and collectively) committedly contribute towards making our nation (and world) better than it currently is.

Let's take each day in this year - not with the excitement of the 'new' year - but with the excitement of a new day, filled with the plausibility of a renewed you. A day the Lord has made, for us to be glad - investing - in it. The beauty of each of the 365-less days is not that it is new, but that we are being made new.

Since each day - if well lived - provides an avenue for a new and better you, i would not only wish you a 'new' year, but continually wish you a NEW YOU!

Thank you for the love and understanding you exhibited since the inception of our 'relationship'. I appreciate the advices and critiques of everyone i met through platforms of learning and sharing in previous years.

Together, (guided by the Truth) we can make our world better!

Regards,

ADM

Monday, 23 December 2013

3 Growth Opportunities for YOUng Influencers


The possibility for growth is always an indication that, as individuals – and aspiring influencers – we can always expand our capacity for our personal, leadership development and contribute to creating a world we are proud of.

After a personal and worthwhile encounter, I recommend the following growth-oriented programmes for committed minds, keen about taking actions to learn, grow impact and take positive actions:

1.      The Social Leadership Academy 2014 Fellowship.
The M121 Social Leadership Academy, U.S.A is designed to equip, inspire and connect aspiring world-changers and social entrepreneurs to make a sustainable impact on our world. Every year, they look for a group of passionate, thankful, energetic contributors in a like-minded community of emerging world-changers, discover ad utilize your strengths, and learn how to make a sustainable impact. Make your impact, as the class of 2014 starts in January 2014! Visit www.bit.ly/SocialLeadershipAcademy for more information. Application closes in a few days.

2.      DESPLAY Africa, Season 9
DESPLAY Africa – an initiative of Youngstars Foundation, with support from National Endowment for Democracy (@NED), U.S.A – is the most consistent and longest running annual youth democracy training program in Nigeria / West Africa, designed to widen young people’s democracy education and foster active youth participation in good governance processes. Application is due on Tuesday, 31st December, 2013. For more information, click here.
 
3.      Studership 3.0 Leadership Fellowship
Studership is a growth-focused youth leadership programme aimed at equipping and connecting emerging leaders for sustainable development, and promoting value-based leadership. Application for the Studership 3.0 Leadership Fellowship opens in the year 2014. Details relating to the programme will be communicated later via Twitter (@all4development).

I urge you to share this information with young change makers in your circles, and more importantly, be committed to your/their action.

Much love,
Damola (@DamolaMore)

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Get ‘Irresponsible’ - if need be!

Sometime ago, I was challenged as been irresponsible by someone I so much respect. My 'offence' was that I did not obey a conspicuously-wrong instruction that was given me. I apologized for my disobedience, and reinstated my commitment to doing continually, whatever is right, regardless of who benefits (or doesn’t benefit) from the consequences of my actions.

In our journey as leaders, we will no doubt interact with people who will love your dream, love your passion, love your character and values, but dislike you when you value your values, and concentrate on doing what is right - against their wish.

If you have faced such situation, remember this; 'You are not alone. Don't change who you are for the purpose of being liked by someone who doesn't value integrity'. Stay glued to your value system. Stay honest!

If doing the right thing, even when you are instructed to do otherwise, is seen as been irresponsible, then, be proud to be! If knowing and relating with your colleague/boss/subordinate as an individual, instead of just a dot on the organisation’s chart is seen as been un-professional, then, be proud to be professionally ‘un-professional’. If helping the needy is considered a jobless act; then, remember that empowering one more person makes your job less. When you are attacked for doing what is right – if you haven’t, be expectant, you will still be attacked – don’t get offensive neither should you engage in a squabble. Just remind yourself – and others – that only way we can get it right as a people/nation/continent is by doing the right things right.

The bottom line is this: Embrace self discipline, stay honest (in all situations), do the right things right, and love yourself for upholding your values! I will be proud of you, if you can do these.

Much love,
Damola


………………

Aanu Damola Morenikeji is considered Africa’s youngest youth intellectual and leadership development advocate. A sought-after speaker on the theme of leadership and personal growth, he is a Fellow of the M121 Social Leadership Academy, U.S.A and Team Leader of All for Development Foundation [ADM-Foundation], a non-governmental organisation focused on building young people and promoting educational, leadership and youth development. He blogs at www.admnigeria.blogspot.com.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Defining Success: How do you define success?

How do you define success? Do you define success in terms of material possession, or the amount of money a person has in bank accounts, or the financial net worth of a person? Even though these may matter to some people, I do not find riches an equivalent of success.
During a half-day private study session – on Saturday, 23rd November, 2013 – I stumbled on a definition of success written over a hundred years ago (in 1904), by Bessie Anderson Stanley in Brown Book Magazine. It read:
“He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has enjoyed the trust of pure women, the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children, who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it, who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had, whose life was an inspiration, whose memory a benediction.”
Success – just like wealth – is a product of how influential you have been in making the world a better place, in making a difference in the lives of those around us. Whether you live a hundred years – or less – if your life doesn’t influence others positively, you have only occupied space.
Change your perspective in defining success, and work towards being truly successful!
I’ll define success in leadership, as leading through happiness, while solving problems. How do you define success?
Much love!
Damola


……………

Aanu Damola Morenikeji is considered Africa’s youngest youth intellectual and leadership development advocate. A sought-after speaker on the theme of leadership and personal growth, he is a Fellow of the M121 Social Leadership Academy, U.S.A and Team Leader of All for Development Foundation [ADM-Foundation], a non-governmental organisation focused on building young people and promoting educational, leadership and youth development. He blogs at www.admnigeria.blogspot.com.