The Lectern: THE LAW OF THE ICEBERG

Hi.

Here’s announcing the start of a new series on Words Are Work. It is called ‘The Lectern’ and is really a column for you, all of you, to express those thoughts no one ever paid you a penny for. For family, friends, fellow bloggers, writers, and – I am really hoping – readers, everybody, The Lectern is a platform beneath your feet and a microphone up against your mouth, thus the motto: That we might be read…  

If you have a piece you would like ‘read’, send it via email to ojukwumartin@gmail.com; title the mail ‘The Lectern’. And for those of us who feel the need to ‘be read’ but are yet undecided about a subject matter, send me an email and we can talk through it and select something appropriate for you. My editing and fine-tuning skills are offered free of charge too…(no cameras please)

We start off the maiden edition today with ‘The Law of the Iceberg’ which is courtesy of a colleague, Seun Abejide. Be kind enough to pen down your (chocolate-flavored) criticisms, comments and thoughts in the right sections below. Till later…have a WAW experience!

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That we might be read…

“No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.”

Ansel Adams

THE LAW OF THE ICEBERG

Bimpe is an only child, a teenager resident in Ikoyi, Lagos with her family. She very recently returned from a 3-month summer vacation in the UK – her first time ever to leave the country. While on the trip, she lived with her mum who has lived in the UK for over a decade now. Bimpe’s departure date was planned so it was concomitant with the commencement of her mother’s vacation leave, and when it came around, mother and daughter returned to Lagos together.

In the month since her return, Bimpe has taken on a superficial attitude that pisses everyone around her off. She refuses to play with her neighborhood friends because ‘they are local people’; she refuses to eat with her hands anymore and insists that her bread must always be toasted; and she skips and hops all around her house chores – ‘they could get dirt in her nails’.

One evening, her father returned from work to find Bimpe cowered into a corner by her exasperated mother who stood over her with a cane, yelling. Intermittently, she flicked the slender wood over Bimpe’s flesh in a visibly half-hearted attempt to discipline the errant child; and every time the cane brushed her body, Bimpe whimpered like a little scared kitten.

Flick! “Ouch”, she whimpered. Flick! “Ouch”. Flick! “Ouch! Mummy, you’re hurting me” she enunciated in a very nasal voice.

Now fed up with the child’s act, Bimpe’s father stepped up and took the cane from his wife. He flexed it once and let rip on Bimpe’s clothed back with the cane: WHACK!

For a split second nothing happened. Then Bimpe’s eyes widened, her face contorted into an astounded cum tortured mask and her back arched at an angle so acute that she should have cracked. Then she screamed, “CHAAAEEE!!!”

WHACK! WHACK!! came her father’s reply.

“YEKPAAAA” Bimpe yelled again, springing up. “E GBA MI OH!!!” And she raced off like an alaye cat whose tail was on fire.

MORALE: Pretend on the outside all you want, what you are on the inside will eventually, always, out-shine it.

And on that note, I present to you, The Law of the Iceberg.

Experts estimate that on the average, only 10 percent of the entire mass of an iceberg appears above the surface. What that means is that 90 percent of the mass is beneath the surface and is invisible to those above the surface. The Law of the Iceberg, as put together by Todd Duncan, states that ‘the truest measure of your success is invisible to the people around you’.

Your success as seen by people could be summarized by your income, official designation, accolades and material possessions, but the truest measure of your success, Todd Duncan espoused, lies deeper within you in the form of your values, character, passions, desires, goals and purpose in life. Most of the latter are hardly ever visible to the outside world, so that what the world actually does see is often – and should rightly be – the tip of the iceberg.

Unfortunately, the exact opposite is the case majorly among the young folks of the present society many of whom are largely empty barrels living off the cliché, ‘fake it till you make it’.

Party-pooper alert! You cannot fake it for long if you have nothing on your inside, which is why Kenneth E. Hagin said that “it doesn’t matter how beautifully you label a can if it is empty; a labeled empty can is still an empty can”. Robert Kiyosaki also intimated the ‘Be-Do-Have’ principle when he said: “Before you can have, you need to do, and before you can do, you need to be”.

Folks have tried to reverse this principle unsuccessfully. We think that if we have what certain people we term successful have then we can get to do what they do and therefore we could be like them. But we forget that we need to have roots. Deep roots.

How many times have we seen someone looking successful only to find out he was a hoax? Remember that musician who comes out with a hit song, causes raves and in six months, he’s gone? We hear nothing of the artist ever again. Also the young man who buys a new car, rents a 3 million naira apartment, marries a wife but is broke in four years, busted and disgusted begging for his next meal? Or the curious case of lottery winners?

On the other hand, there are people whose present positions in their lives’ journeys do not look like much yet they have a quiet assurance within them that makes them excel at most things. Because they have roots.

I am reminded of the very first time I watched the now famous Nigerian rapper M.I.; it was on the lunch hour show of the local television station MiTV some years ago. The little man looked tired and hungry in over-sized clothes which he probably borrowed from a bigger friend to make an appearance on TV with. He didn’t look like much. But when he went on to rap, I knew he was different; I judged him as a more than a flash in the pan. True to my judgment, M.I. has gone on to become “African Rapper No. 1”, the only Nigerian artiste ever to have sold one CD for 200 million naira.

On another pedestal, a lot of really wealthy people appear so simple that it is difficult to associate them with their great wealth. No wonder Poju Oyemade said that “highly successful people are masters of understatement.” Indeed, what we see on the outside is often not an accurate representation of how successful a person is.

Still on the earlier analogy around an iceberg, imagine sawing off the visible surface of the block of ice. What would happen next is the appearance of another tip, a dense substantial mass of ice which would float around for a while until the entire block of mass becomes stable again. in fact, a thin iceberg – one without a foundation – is more a slab of ice than an iceberg, and it would play slave to the ever-changing ebbs and flow of the tides.

In similar fashion, without a solid foundation beneath the surface of your life, the surface success may never be stable. What is on the outside is important of course – appearance matters – but it is not nearly as important as the stuff we have on the outside for many reasons, most relevant among which is the fact that the inside produces the outside.

If you are ever going to have or be anything, reader, it’s going to come from your inside before it can work on your outside.

Money on the inside, working on the outside;

beauty on the inside, working on the outside;

genius on the inside, working on the outside;

wisdom on the inside, working on the outside;

excellence on the inside, working on the outside;

success on the inside, working on the outside.

So says The Law of the Iceberg.

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By Seun Abejide

THIS THING CALLED SUCCESS (2)

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The line dragged lazily forward at snail pace, inch by inch. Up in the sky, the sun burned a loud orange, looking every inch the vengeful lover intent on seeing the earth below suffer. And suffer it did, because people hid beneath shades of umbrellas, a few sparsely-branched trees, buildings and even books. The students on the line had nowhere to hide though; the lecturer’s office was one of those buildings that were an after-thought – a lone cuboid banished to the fringes of the university premises.

The students lined up in twos – over two hundred of them – the shorter ones lobbying to partner with the taller ones for want of sun shades; their books and fans fanned the hot air aggressively, in vain. Many of them would rather have been elsewhere, but it was result day for IMB 203 – the only 4-unit course for 200level students of the department of Industrial Microbiology in the university. On such days, nobody went elsewhere but towards the scores.

They entered the office as they were queued, in twos; each duo walked into the office and up to the lecturer’s table. One after the other, they supplied their names. The lecturer checked on the large sheet of paper splayed out before him and relayed the grade to the student. They didn’t argue, there was no room for protests or corrections, not for another month at least. They smiled and profusely thanked him for nothing – if the grades were good, or they mumbled curses which sounded like thanks and shuffled out of the room with fallen faces, if the grades were terrible.

On this day, the latter was in highest demand. The results were really bad, the kind of result turnout students called ‘EFCC’ because there was an abundance of F’s, E’s, D’s and C’s with either sprinkles of or entirely no B’s or A’s. It was quite the unpleasant surprise because the course had been the easiest – by everybody’s standards – for the semester.

Bola, Ifeoma, Florence and Abdul had already gone in and only Bola had made a B–65. The others had all made C’s and they were four of the class’ five brainiest students – some cartoon freak had once referred to them as ‘The Fantastic Five’ and tacky as it was, it stuck albeit in a more refined format as F-5.

A student would hurry up to join the line, and quickly ask around, “How far? E make sense bah?”

He would be greeted with downed faces and hisses, “EFCC oh”.

“Haba, how nah?!” he would exclaim. Then quickly ask, “F-5 nko?”

“Omo, na every every oh” would come the reply. “All-man hammer better EFCC”.

“Na serious wa oh!” Then he would shake his head, cross his hands and join in the mute chorus of pounding hearts praying for narrow escapes.

This was the unspoken script acted out by every student that joined up. For Kizito, that had been half an hour ago. Now he was at the front of the line, and sympathy hung heavy in the air behind him. Everybody was sure that Kizito would hammer an F.

If his rugged Rasta-esque appearance didn’t do it for you, his slurred Ajegunle drawl intimated you of how unserious a student Kizito was. He was so unserious that many a lecturer had begged him to quit school. But Kizito always smiled his crooked smile and waved the concerns away; he wasn’t called ‘Kizikaza’ for nothing, he was quick to remind them. He was a nice guy, always armed with a joke or prank to put smiles on people’s faces which endeared him to most of his colleagues.

As he entered the office paired with Onyii, a female course-mate, the others behind mourned Kizikaza’s 4-unit failure. Seconds ticked by very quickly and Onyii exited the office. Then Kizito followed.

“ÒPÉ OH! ÒPÉ OH!! ÒPÉ OH!!!” he screamed. In one fluid motion so fast it left everyone gasping, he scooped the petite Onyii up and twirled her around. Then just as fast, he plopped her down, ran circles around an imaginary object in the sand, did a back-flip and pumped his fist in the air. His face was split in a grin that sadly, made his already rugged face assume an even scarier mien.

But the joy in him was evident as he yelled even more excitedly, “Chae! Mò tí bad gaan! I baaaaaad!” He did a quick run from the front of the queue to the back, giving high fives to everyone as he passed them on the line. People were perplexed to say the least but they found themselves – involuntarily – smiling and accepting his high-fives.

“Oluwa tó bad!” Kizikaza sang. Then he knelt and raised his two index fingers up in the air in a move so akin to a soccer goal celebration. Then he stood and executed another back flip.

“Diarisgodooooooo!” he yelled one last time and ran off.

For the first few seconds after Kizito had run off, nobody said anything as all eyes trailed his rapidly receding figure. Mouths stood agape, expressions perplexed and half-amused. Then as one, all eyes turned to Onyii who stood to the side, visibly flustered from the twirl.

“Wetin Kizikaza get?” everybody wanted to know. What was his score?

The look in Onyii’s eyes was even more confused than those mirrored in the eyes fixed on her.

“E-40” she answered, “he got E-40”


 

This Thing Called Success means different things to different people. But a lot of the time, the definitions revolve around amassed resources and met goals. In the story above, IMB 203 was the sort of course we called ‘moi-moi’ back in school – the simple ones whose lectures you only attended to catch up on old gist and whose examinations you wrote without any need for ‘cooperative union’ seating arrangements.

So when the results came out, many of the students expected A’s with maybe a few sprinkles of B’s – success. But it wasn’t to be because for some reason, the grades were terrible, nowhere near as good as the expectations had been – failure. So when it was confirmed that the grades were indeed EFCC, everybody admitted failure. Everybody except Kizito.

As far as Kizikaza was concerned, his IMB 203 was a success. It didn’t matter that he had sailed past an outright F by a needle’s width, nor did it bother him that others were grossly disappointed with their B’s, C’s and D’s. Kizito passed. That was all that mattered – success!

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Consequently, I have had cause to believe that This Thing Called Success is in fact more relative than anything else. In This Thing Called Success(1), we examined cases where success was summarized as an executive position, a good pay-package and comfort…but does that define success for everyone? What is the generally acceptable definition of success? Does one even exist?

I sought my answers from people who saw and walked this earth long before my generation did. And I got some interesting answers…

“I learned…that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success.” – Henry David Thoreau

“Success is getting what you want, happiness is wanting what you get” – W.P. Kinsella

“If A is a success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z. Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut” – Albert Einstein

Then the ones which in my opinion, hit home…

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” – Maya Angelou

“Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.”  – Albert Einstein

And then…

“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 never lacked appreciation of Earth’s beauty or failed to express it;
Who has left the world better than he found it,
Whether an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul;
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.” – Bessie Anderson Stanley

Having pondered on these, I am persuaded to posit that:

#1. Success is indeed relative.

#2. It is up to everyone to define for oneself what success amounts to.

#3. For the sake of living a truly successful life, one’s definition of success had better be less and less material.

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You now, reader, tell me, do you agree? What does success mean to you? Ponder on it, chew on it, ‘kizikaza’ on it if you must…only remember to share with us in the comments section, your view of This Thing Called Success.

 

The Kizikaza story was inspired by a friend and brother in success, Seun Abejide.

I am @ojukwu_martin on twitter

THIS THING CALLED…SUCCESS (1)

 

Because the muse hit in 2D, I’ve split this TTC post into two. This first leg is inspired by a sister’s post on her online forum where the issue was of successful women and why unhappy romantic relationships seem to be the price they pay for said success. A lot of people like to make this a ‘Just African men’ thing but for the purposes of objectivity, we’ll leave it open here.

For starters, ‘successful’ in this context refers to that woman who is clearly flying high. She’s at the top of her career, controlling power, fame and recognition, money and even men. And she is married to a man who by his bank account and social status, is not exactly Lazarus of the biblical Rich man parable but is neither Dr. Dre, post-Beats sale. They may not even be married yet; maybe the John is dating her, or wants to. Why is her success a turn-off?

Chimamanda Adichie in reference to her global success once said, “the type of man who will be intimidated by me is exactly the type of man I have no interest in”. And I can hear the sisters whooping in the house. But wait. Take a chill pill – yep, I can be hippy too – and let’s really think on this.

Why do men run away from successful women?

 angry couple02

Scenario A:

Peter earns more than Mary who he is in a serious relationship with. Mary decides to change the dining table but Peter says, “No, baby, I can’t afford it. Plus do we really need a new table just to eat?”

So Mary lets it go. A few months later she gets hired by a multinational; her new pay package is higher than Peter could ever dream to earn even with two promotions. Three months into the job, she’s on a business trip in Mainz and sees this fancy oak-wood table which literally calls her name as she passes by. She purchases it with a few dainty chairs to boot; she has the whole set shipped home. The day it arrives, she does all the moving and redecorating herself; she is going to surprise her husband when he returns from work with ‘our shiny new dining room’.

Peter comes in, having had a harried time at the office – he really should burn some black candles on top of his boss’ picture. He has just reached for a cold bottle of water in the refrigerator when he sees the table, the chairs too – WHOA! He looks around him quickly – no one – and takes a second look. It’s one very VAAIIIRRYYY ugly table but it’s new – he touches it – EX-PEN-SIVE too. He turns around and Mary is standing there beaming at him…”SURPRIIIIISE!” She runs up against him, hugs him, pecks him, she’s gushing, “Babe, you like it? Come take a closer look…”

Peter sets her away from him very roughly, eyes reduced to irate slits of black. He flings the bottle of water against the wall and positively, literally, incandescently BLOWS UP!

“Did you not hear when I said I do not want a new table? What is wrong with you, woman?” – then – “SO BECAUSE YOU NOW HAVE SOME CHICKEN FEE TO SPEND, YOU THINK YOU CAN RIDE ALL OVER ME?”

THE END.

Okay PAUSE! Now, rewind. Not at the refrigerator, keep going. Go all the way to the beginning. Unhuh…wait! Too much, go forward a bit…there! Good, stop. PLAY!

 

Scenario B:

Peter earns more than Mary who he is in a serious relationship with. Mary decides to change the dining table but Peter says, “No, baby, I can’t afford it. Plus do we really need a new table just to eat?”

So Mary lets it go. A few months later she gets hired by a multinational; her new pay package is higher than Peter could ever dream to earn even with two promotions. Three months into the job, she’s on a business trip in Mainz and sees this fancy oak-wood table which literally calls her name as she passes by. She purchases it with a few dainty chairs to boot; she has the whole set shipped home. The day it arrives, she does all the moving and redecorating herself; she is going to surprise her husband when he returns from work with ‘our shiny new dining room’.

Peter comes in, having had a harried time at the office – he really should burn some black candles on top of his boss’ picture. He has just reached for a cold bottle of water in the refrigerator when he sees the table, the chairs too – WHOA! He looks around him quickly – no one – and takes a second look. It’s one very VAAIIIRRYYY ugly table but it’s new – he touches it – EX-PEN-SIVE too. He turns around and Mary is standing there beaming at him…”SURPRIIIIISE!” She runs up against him, hugs him, pecks him, she’s gushing, “Babe, you like it? Come take a closer look…”

Peter lets her drag him. He listens with a smile and nods obligingly in between sips of his water while Mary tells him all the special things about the table. She tells him it’s vintage ‘gold’, Pharaoh’s – yes, the very pharaoh of the Red Sea story – elephants were born under it and the legs are hollow so one can store spoons and plates. Peter is exhausted but he oohs and aahs while she hops all over the place, happy as a tot in a candy store. He waits for the perfect break in her gushing, for that lull in her commentary where she takes a breath then he butts in.

“It’s beautiful, darling”, Peter says. She beams. She knows, she says. Then he adds – quickly, “let me just take a bath and we can launch it, huh?” She beams again. Great.

He pecks her and zooms up the stairs, already tugging on his tie. Mehnnn, he thinks, that table is U.G.L.Y. He can’t believe how excited one person could get over one squat ugly table and a set of even uglier chairs. The image flashes in his mind, of her hopping one-legged, gushing excitedly over the absolutely hideous table, and he chuckles inadvertently. Kai!

THE END. No, really the end now.

So my take is that it’s all about attitude. And perception. Have man and woman risen to a level of maturity where material success doesn’t adversely change who they fundamentally are? Is the man able to realize that his partner is the same – faults and points, vices and virtues – whether she earns more or not. Is the woman able to be that – the same – even when her man’s pay is doorman’s tip compared to hers?

Your perception is the fine line. If she always hated cooking, then it is in character that she hire a cook or buy take-out on one too many nights, especially if her pay can afford it. You bore it bravely when she earned peanuts but you can’t stomach it now because she earns six figures? Now you only eat freshly cooked soup, nothing over 24hours-old!

If he always was loud and never stuck a finger past the kitchen doorpost, then it is within character that even when you’re overwhelmed by kitchen chores, he’ll be outside with ears plugged shut, mowing the same lawn he had mowed only the day before. When he paid all the bills, you thought it was ‘cute’ how he evaded any kitchen duties; but because you’re now a CEO, he’s being ‘childish, insensitive and domineering’. And it’s nerve-grating to you that men cannot stand a working class woman!

And there, successful ladies and gentlemen, is where the fabric starts to rip.angry couple

So what’s your take? What’s your opinion of This Thing Called Success, in the context of successful women and their less successful male partners? Click below in comments right now and Share!

 Mention me on twitter @ojukwu_martin