“It is only when we get kicked down that we see what we are made of. It is easy to be positive when everything is going well, but the heart of all great endeavours is the ability to stagger back to our feet and keep moving forward, however grim it gets”. ~ Bear Grylls
This is one of the most difficult and yet necessary skills to learn and master. Resilience is defined as “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change”. It is through moments of adversity that our resilience is tested and gets developed. Without adversity, there is not room for resilience. The great news is that we all have the innate ability to rise up from challenges;the question is how deep within are you digging to reach this strength to overcome the difficult times?
My resilience was put to the test during the long illness and ultimate passing of both my parents. This period lasted for exactly two years. It was the most difficult time for my family and I. There were moments where I felt that I was going to break but my siblings and I stuck together and fed each other with strength in those weak moments. During this time I had to tap to the higher power, in addition to the support from my siblings, relatives and friends. I had to see the light and silver lining amidst the dark cloud that was hanging on our lives.
I had to have the courage to carry on with life when the two people who had always been there for me, carried me, fed me, sacrificed for me, loved me, cared for me and would deny themselves so that I can have – could no longer physically do that for me and my siblings. I had to trust that I can be able to do all these things myself, without them. I had to cut all dependence from them and tap into my inner strength. I had to stand firmly on my feet and keep moving forward.
In hindsight, going through this hardship was necessary for me to do that which I was born to do. I had to endure the pain, to learn how to let go of the people that I mostly treasured and to also trust the process. The irony is that as I’m writing this, I’m going through another phase of adversity in my life; a different kind of adversity. I’m reminded of this past experience and only hope that this is yet another opportunity for elevation.
Resilient people are often admired by others. People would ask questions such as, how does she/he do it? How do they manage to keep on bouncing back? Well, I’m here to tell you that it can’t happen without going through the difficult, uncomfortable process and being stretched. It is their ability to endure the process that makes people resilient. They don’t let adversity define them nor define their destiny and they have scars to show their experiences.
They don’t allow the difficulties to paralyse them. Instead, they use it as an opportunity to re-evaluate themselves and seek growth opportunities.
How can you use your scars in a positive light? How can you turn those storms into rainbows? I believe that the storms happen for a reason. Don’t let those experiences go to waste. Don’t just survive adversity and go through it in vain but transform and triumph through it. Granted, the process is not easy and it is not fun at all. But the key to this transformation is persevering.
Having tenacity during the difficult time will bring meaning to the experience and in the process you will have a sense of accomplishment. You need to commit to making an effort and to take small steps, as long as you are moving forward.
Thato’s nuggets on building resilience:
- Actively remind yourself of the strength you have and continuouslyharness this inner strength
- See the effects of adversities as temporary rather than permanent
- Build the spirit of gratitude; every day, find things to be grateful for
- Always have positive thoughts and images of the future; let this push you to do more
- Completely get rid of the victim mentality!
“It is through adversity that our resilience is tested, that we get renewed, that we grow and that we get prepared for the next phase in our lives. Adversity is necessary and cannot be avoided”. ~Thato Dineo Belang
Speaker| Coach| Writer
Johannesburg, South Africa
Black Women Are Leading the Charge for Equity and Inclusion
Black woman- Pic: Shutterstock
A manager once told me that my peers didn’t respect me because I self-identified as “Black” first, and a “Woman” second. I know… I know, it sounds ignorant and crazy, but it really happened. It’s just one of the many micro-aggressions that I and many women of color experience in the workplace.
My response was that of a samurai warrior! My tone was even but stern, and my tongue was slick and cut like a knife, to the point that tears began to roll down the face of the person attempting to demean and degrade me. The one thing that person underestimated was my lifetime of experience as a Black woman, which inevitably gave me the strength to combat this divisive and racist behavior.
I am proud to be part of the esteemed group of Black women who are unapologetically bold about who they were born to be. This doesn’t mean that we are not accepting of other cultures and races, it simply means we are proud of our heritage and ethnicity.
During the past few weeks, I’ve been reminded of the power that lies within Black women leading the charge to drive diversity, equity and inclusion in their respective industries and communities. I had the pleasure of attending the Harlem Fashion Row’s (HFR) Fashion Show and Style Awards founded by Memphis native Brandice Daniel, a creative and passionate force for change within the fashion industry. Brandice made a call to action asking the attendees to wear “everything black”, meaning wardrobe curated by Black designers.
HFR provides a platform and support for black designers who are underrepresented in the fashion industry. Brandice founded the company in 2007 and has made great strides in advancing black designers and their work. Most notable is the collaboration with Nike and Lebron James to design James’ first women’s sneaker, the HFR x LeBron 16 and the recent announcement of HFR’s new “In the Black” e-commerce site. It’s an online boutique introducing curated merchandise from select designers of color. Make sure you check it out!
I left that event, which was held at the top of the World Trade Center Observatory, feeling so proud of Brandice and all that she has accomplished to ensure that black designers receive their fair share of equity in the fashion industry. She has overcome obstacles that would cause many to give up, but she kept, and keeps going. A true warrior in the fight for inclusion and equity!
I also attended the 2019 ADCOLOR Conference and Awards, founded by a Black woman trailblazer in the advertising industry, Tiffany R. Warren. What I love and admire about Tiffany is that she drives strategy by focusing on the intersectionality of diversity, and all of the different aspects we should consider when championing for true equality beyond race and gender. It was my second time attending the conference and awards of the premier organization that celebrates and advocates diversity in the creative and technology industries. I first attended in 2016. Not only was I was blown away by the growth of the conference over the years, I was equally impressed by the content, speakers, and the work that Tiffany and the ADCOLOR team had done to #TakeAStand for more equity and inclusion in the advertising industry.
My greatest take away from my ADCOLOR experience was that diversity is a given. It’s time we move beyond counting people and checking the box on quotas. We must ensure that women and people of color not only have a seat, but a valued voice at the table. One of many memorable quotes from the conference was, “Our activism can’t just be on Twitter; it has to match who we are in the workplace. Your character at home needs to align with your character at work” – Angela Rye. If we are fired up about injustice and inequality at home, we need to bring that fight to all aspects of our lives. We shouldn’t be required to silence our values when we step inside the workplace.
This leads me to the next event I had the pleasure of attending, Diversity Honors. Created by another dynamic Black woman Dee C. Marshall, CEO of Diverse and Engaged in collaboration with Full Color Future, a think tank and advocacy organization committed to changing the narrative about people of color in media, tech, and innovation. Dee is a force all by herself. She’s been known to be a policy influencer, and female members of Congress call on Dee to co-convene women’s initiatives, strategic planning on mobilization of women, and gathering local women leaders whenever they need a young fresh perspective on connecting with women.
The event was designed to recognize diversity leaders, game-changers, and corporate leaders across industries and sectors, as well as community representatives who have moved the needle and made bold moves to advance marginalized and underrepresented people in workplaces and common spaces. The theme for the event was “Diversity is Multidimensional; People of Color cannot be Forgotten.”
The theme speaks to the fact that many companies are attempting to make women their area of focus for their diversity and inclusion efforts, counting the advancement of white women as their big accomplishment. If they only propel white women in the organization, it does little to nothing to build a culture of inclusion in the workplace.
Minda Harts addresses this in her new book “The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table.” A recent Harvard Business Review article Minda stated, “Many senior leaders are not comfortable talking about race and they are doing their talent a disservice by ignoring racial equity in the workplace.” I wholeheartedly agree. I am baffled by senior leaders who state that they are committed to diversity and inclusion yet are unwilling to discuss the role of race in driving inequity in the workplace.
By the way, if you haven’t read Minda’s book, please do, it’s a must read for anyone looking for validation or a better understanding of the experience for women of color in the workplace. You may want to buy a few copies to gift to a few of the managers in your workplace who would benefit. I’m just saying, with my side eye, you know who they are!
Last but certainly not least, I attended the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference in addition to the Black Women’s Agenda annual town hall and luncheon in Washington DC. The content focused on issues that are preventing black progress in this country, and most importantly those issues most concerning to black women.
The fifth annual “Power of the Sister Vote” survey of African American women published by Essence magazine in conjunction with the Black Women’s Roundtable revealed the top issues that are of concern to Black women in this country.
- Criminal justice and policing reform.
- Affordable healthcare.
- Rise in hate crimes/racism
- Equal rights and equal pay.
- Gun Violence and Gun Safety.
I left DC with the affirmation of what I already knew; Black Women are fired up, convening, and planning to lead change. So, to my old manager and anyone else who questions why I affirm my blackness or my womanhood… you can have several seats!!! I am proud to be black, a strong woman, and part of the Black Women Leadership Tribe! A huge THANK YOU and much gratitude to Brandice Daniel, Tiffany R. Warren, Dee C . Marshall, Minda Harts, and to all of the countless Black Women leading the charge!
Most importantly, I commit to doing my part towards advancing progress. I know that I was in those rooms for a reason and I don’t take that privilege for granted. As a woman of faith, I know that to whom much is given, much is required.
By: Dorinda Walker, Founder and CEO of Cultural Solutions Group
NIGERIA: GLOOM OR BOOM?
Nigerians have generally become upset with the recently published names of fellow countrymen who have either been apprehended or declared wanted for financial crimes in the United States of America.
The actions of Nigerians like Thank You Jesus, Advanced Mega Plus Ltd, Williams High School, Fanta, Ryan Giggs, He is Risen, Happy Easter, CTA Finance Source, Son of God, Mansion, Zero, Mystical, GodisGod, Code, Blade, Dee Dutchman, Chima Russia, Smart, Mobility, Boss Iffy, Ifeanyi Soccer, Humble, Pastor Kc, Slim Dad No1 and a host of others including one Adegoke have severely crashed the reputation of Nigeria and Nigerians across the globe.
Unfortunately, a lot of social media reviews of this list have passed through ethnic filters and we know the reason why this is so. I’ll repeat it here again, do not do ethnic or religious profiling whenever it comes to crime. You will not like it at all when it is your turn to reap what you sow.
Some Nigerians have been mocking the EFCC whenever ‘yahoo boys’ get paraded. They question why the cops go after harmless young men and women who are only trying to survive. I am not sure if these Nigerians have also mocked the FBI and the DOJ because of joblessness. I hope they see now that such crimes are not tolerated globally and EFCC clamping down on home-based scammers is nothing extraordinary but part of their job description.
Some have tried to downplay the severity of this type of crime by comparing it to kidnapping and terrorism. I’m not quite sure these crimes are markedly different; one can even argue that these internet scams are the precursors of some ‘worse’ crimes. A scammer creates a fake persona with a name like Invictus for example and preys on vulnerable individuals to defraud them of their money. Some others are more daring and infiltrate bank accounts and corporations to siphon money. These individuals generally have flashy lifestyles and many of them have part or most of their loot in Nigeria.
Other young people envy them and covet what they have. Some learn the ropes of scamming people but a few others are pushed to crime. Some of these scammers may require protection for themselves and their assets in Nigeria and can either have government agencies in their pockets or simply finance local violent men to do the job. This may be applicable to those who do drugs as well as other shady business across the globe.
One American woman who was a victim of such crimes lost almost $30,000 to a Nigerian who posed on Facebook as an American soldier in Afghanistan. Her husband shot and killed her, her father and himself in December 2018 when he found out she was still communicating with him even after some things had been exposed about the affair. Be careful before concluding that these crimes are harmless and without casualties. There are people who have committed suicide, individuals who have been bankrupted and families that have been scattered because of these criminals.
Poverty has been blamed for pushing these men into crime but I’m sure that even poverty will deny them. I suspect greed is the major culprit. We have had cases of dismissed policemen and soldiers who either sponsored or actively participated in armed robbery; they were probably dismissed in the first place because of their greed and bad behaviour. There are not a few former bankers who defraud their employers before fleeing out of the country to enjoy their loot in saner climes; was it poverty that opened their eyes to crime? Criminals abound in government and religious organizations; I dare say that criminals who are privileged and greedy far outnumber those who are genuinely poor.
These men who defrauded thousands of people in America, did they get free visas, travel documents or tickets to get to America? Many of those paraded by EFCC are students of one higher institution or the other, will we say that they all come from poor homes hence the need to commit cyber crimes?
Some want to drive vehicles, some want to impress females while some others will say they want to liberate their people. Why cybercrime when football is there if they can’t wait for education to yield reward? There are truly poor people who have learned a skill or a trade and who have done well for themselves. We are a people that will sneer at a young man learning carpentry or plumbing but will celebrate those who appear from the blues with blings and wads of cash. We’ll probably give them front row seats everywhere and have them in all our TV and radio stations to talk about how they made it.
We know those who churn out pangolo music but who claim to make more money than Grammy nominees and winners but we don’t care and wish to make it like them. I hope those who gave Invictus their platforms to promote himself will inform young people of his crimes and ensure such never get airtime again.
The almost 80 Nigerians in this first list are definitely going to end up in the US prison system. They are fortunate that this is not Thailand or Indonesia so they can look forward to having long lives. Their investments and property in Nigeria will most likely be sold off or taken over by other opportunists so those who will return to Nigeria after their terms are not assured that they’ll meet anything intact.
The really smart ones among them will take advantage of the American prison system and learn a skill or earn a certification if they have none. Those who ‘learn sense’ may get out earlier for good behaviour while some will eventually become truly saved. I think America will correct their defects ultimately except ‘village people’ corrupt the reset drive.
It appears America is very serious this time around and more lists may be published and more Nigerians caught in the net. Some say cybercrime is payback to the masters who are long dead; they probably forget that a lot of the slave business involved Africans selling Africans for gin, mirrors, gun powder, royal garb and ornaments. An eye for an eye will only land one in jail in this day and age.
If you love that home or foreign based family member whose ways are suspect, hurry up and call an emergency family meeting to plead and pray with them. These feds are not smiling at all. They know all our aliases and fronts; they clearly have access to all the backend servers Rigobert Atiku is looking for.
Asking people to live within their means is not an endorsement of poverty, it’s probably the best advice a young person can get before lust creeps near. Fellas must understand they need not deceive to impress and ladies should not fall for fellas without origin and insertion. Parents should not push their children to take up lifestyles that’d destroy them; encourage handwork and contentment.
To the almost 80 Nigerians on list one; when there’s life, there’s hope.
Dr. Jide Akeju
Mentoring Is The New Goldmine Towards Youth Empowerment | Gbenga Adebambo
Image: Chick-fil-A Foundation
‘’We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.’’ –Franklin D. Roosevelt
Benjamin Disraeli, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom once said, “The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but to reveal to him his own.” The greatest problem of youths is not money but mentoring. Mentoring is the new goldmine for youths. Youths should stop looking for money and look for mentorship. You will need people that believe in you; people that invest in your dreams and goals. People that will bring the best and not the stress out of you in life. People that will help you make informed decisions and choices towards your destination in life. Mark Twain once said, “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great. When you are seeking to bring big plans to fruition, it is important with whom you regularly associate.”
Any concrete talk on youth empowerment is not complete until mentoring is fully integrated. That is why any youth empowerment programme that do not design mentoring into its process has already failed before take off! When youths don’t have models and mentors to look up to, they tend to go in different destructive directions. Mentoring is the most monitored, measurable and sustainable way of ensuring youth empowerment. The Oxford Advanced Learner’s dictionary defined a mentor as “an experienced person who advises and helps somebody with less experience over a period of time.” The pertinent question to ask is this: What is the older generation doing to model the youth?
Zig Ziglar said, “A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.” The youths of a nation are a deep reflection of the values passed down from the older generation. The mistake of the youth is actually a result of the failure of the older generation.
Isaac Newton once said, “If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants.” Behind every successful person, there’s a mentor who helped them along the way. Some of the most influential people in history were encouraged to succeed by some of the most well-known people of their time. Socrates mentored Plato; Plato mentored Aristotle, and Aristotle mentored Alexander the great. Alexander the great actually broke the loop because when he was supposed to be mentoring youths and building people, he was busy building empires! He died without investing into others, and his legacies also died with him.
A mentor is an embodiment of six notable qualities derived from the word “MENTOR”. He or she Motivates, Encourages, Nurtures, Trains, Organizes, and help youths Reach their potentials.
1. Motivates: Norman Ralph Augustine said, “Motivation will almost always beat mere talent”. You can be motivated and have no talent and get far, but without motivation, the talented won’t get off their couch to show the world what they’ve got. There are many youths out there that are talented but lack motivation.
2. Encourages: Plato once said, “Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow”. Your words of encouragement could be the spark that pushes a person forward. Encouragement energizes and empowers. Shawn Hitchcock said, “A mentor empowers a person to see a possible future, and believe it can be obtained”.
3. Nurtures: A real mentor helps in discovering and nurturing the gift and potentials in others. Choosing a mentor is the most critical step to success in life, be it in business, career, relationship and politics. A mentor challenges and stimulates you to be the best at all times.
4. Trains: A mentor will train you and not drain you. The people around you will either fuel you or drain you. So choose them wisely. I repeat, choose them wisely! When people have encounters with you, do you leave them drained or blessed, exhausted or fuelled? I made up my mind long time ago to always leave people more inspired than I met them.
5. Organises: A mentor reduces the degree of disorderliness in the mentee. Youths that refuse to get organized will eventually agonize! The first step to getting organized is to get your priorities right. A mentor will help you prioritize your priorities.
6. Reach your potentials: Mentors stretch their mentees beyond their comfort zone to reach their potentials and achieve great things. A mentor helps you look within yourself to fire up your hidden potentials.
Mentoring is not about making everybody else the same as you. Any man that encourages you to be someone else has already despised your purpose of existence. A real mentor understands the fact that you can never be at your best when you try to be someone else. The greatest platform that a mentor can ever give to you is to help you be yourself and express yourself. Don’t make people the best version of yourself, make them the best version of themselves. If you are not inspiring youths, then you are helping them to expire! Mentor someone, instead of casting people down and finding faults in others. Kenneth H. Blanchard in his best-selling book, ‘The one Minute Manager’ said, “People who feel good about themselves produce good results.” How you make others feel about themselves is very important. Do you make people feel better or bitter? Mentees actually need models and not critics! Mentees most times need their efforts to be acknowledged.
If all the entrepreneurs, business moguls, celebrities, politicians, artistes, philanthropists, technocrats, and professionals can reach out to mentor the youths in their circle of influence, then the world will change for the better. Successful people should go back to their communities to mentor youths. I have often said it over times that if you are not a mentor, then you are a tormentor!
A mentor is someone who builds you up, has your best interest at heart. Even in the midst of your own personal doubt, they will never give-up on you. They inspire you through their deep and tenacious belief in you. Positivity fuels productivity. Don’t expect to see positive changes in your life if you surround yourself with negative people. Try spending more time around people that infuse positivity into you and affirm your worth. As a youth, reach out to someone that is already where you want to get to in life. Book an appointment with them; buy their books and listen to their messages. Someone already has the experience you desire, locate them and glean from their wealth of experience. Mike Murdock once said, “Pay any price to stay in the presence of extraordinary people.”
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