Sponsor v. Mentor: Verdict👩🏽‍⚖️

Quite frequently, I get questions from younger professionals and sponsors as to who is my mentor. My consistent answer is ‘no one.’

Don’t get me wrong. My answer is borne out of the context in which the question is asked i.e. is there anyone I would typically discuss my career moves with and get steers from or that one person who I go to as an accountability partner in making career decisions or one who inspires me to be a go-getter career wise?

I patiently explain that there is no one person who occupies such a place as mentor in my life. Sure, I frequently bounce ideas off le hubz – after all what is he a life partner for if I can’t do so😁 But in terms of that formal person high up the ladder who I ask before taking steps – there’s none. I tell those who inquire that professionally, so many people inspire me so I prefer to just glean bits and pieces from different persons as opposed to one mentor to make up the unique me. And most times, I even do this from a distance. Of course, if I need to ask questions before making a move, I do so.

For me, I would choose a career sponsor over a mentor time and time again. Perhaps, you wonder, is there any difference between the two? There is.

A mentor advises the mentee; while the sponsor advocates for the career advancement of the protege. You see, a mentor tells you, do X, don’t do Y while a sponsor makes a case for you to be given X or Y at closed-door executive meetings where you are too far down the ladder to speak for self.

For me, a mentor does quite some talking while the sponsor acts on your behalf with fewer words. Sure, you’ve heard the truism that action speaks louder than words right? That right there is what a sponsor (not a mentor) does.

Of course, if you are extremely fortunate, you may have your sponsor + mentor embodied in one person. But if I were to pick one, I would definitely pick a sponsor over a mentor.

Sponsors have been responsible for my rapid career progression and in fact beyond my skills, it was sponsors that played a huge role in landing my current gig. And while there, other sponsors again make my landing soft, smooth and seamless.

Sponsors definitely trump mentors for me.

Best,

Adefolake

*image credit: http://www.google.com

My Busy Mind…🤯

It’s been a roller coaster couple of weeks. What with work pressures, concern for loved ones, COVID-19 & travel restrictions/immigration concerns and societal unrest culminating in an almost inevitable mental health pressure. I believe many can relate with these…

What does one do at such times? I mean how do you keep your sanity when it seems like everything is closing in on you?

If I said I have it all figured out, I would be lying…big time 🤥 😒

At these sort of times, my palliative has been to take it one step at a time and each day as it comes, not overburden my mind with ‘what ifs.’ ‘Cos trust me, the mind can be a fragile thing and once it tips over the edge, getting back to status quo becomes that much more difficult. I speak from a wealth of experience on this🙃

Bottomline, the worries of a day are sufficient for that day in’it? Why add more worries to the day and keep yourself busy doing nothing?

One thing is clear, worry has never solved any problems. I choose to focus on what I can control and using that to influence/change the things causing worry. And I would rather spend my time busying about actively impacting my environment in the best way I can and becoming the best version of me while at it, than staying busy moping about what could have been. Or engaging in mere academic discourses.

Suggest you do same bearing in mind that if we each did our bits, we could (positively) change the world one person at a time.

Best,

Adefolake

*image credit: http://www.google.com

The Beauty of Strategy

Away from the #endpolicebrutality convos for a minute…

Guess what? In the workplace, strategy is a growth enabler. Not manipulation, mind you *side eye. I see strategy as arranging the pack of cards which fate has dealt you with in a way that projects you in the best possible light or gives you the best possible results. What do I mean? Let me illustrate…

At some point, I wanted to upgrade my membership status for one of the professional organisations I belong to. One of the requirements was to have at least three years experience – and on an ongoing basis – as a senior manager. Well, I had the three years management experience quite alright. But you see I changed roles and my new role though infinitely more managerial, did not have a managerial sound. Dilemma.

Since I wasn’t gonna be given an opportunity to explain myself when the council was considering applications, I had to think up a solution. I recalled that I had a dormant partnership position in a family firm all along which spanned way more than three years and had not been terminated at the time. So, I’m sure you know what I did? I used that as one of my roles with the revered sounding ‘partner’ and supporting documentation as testament to my ongoing senior management role.

Suffice to say, I clinched the upgrade. I could go on and on about several other similar tales. But let me not bore you☺️

Generally, if we would just look beyond our temporary misfortunes, we can think up legal avenues to turn a seeming disadvantage into an overwhelming advantage. It’s pretty much a case of what can you do with what is in your hands? Or better still, choosing to see the same glass as half full rather than half empty.

Use strategy to turn your threats to opportunities and blaze a trail!💫🌟✨⚡️

Best,

Adefolake

*image credit: http://www.google.com

Forgiveness🧚🏽‍♀️👼🏽🙏🏽

To err is human but to forgive is divine’ – I bet we’ve all heard variations of this statement at one point or the other in our lives. But how easy is it to implement you may ask? After all, the taste of the pudding is in the eating not the looks of it in’it?

There really is no easy way around it because when the heart is hurt, like a wounded tiger, it only wants to inflict pain back to the source of the hurt. After all ‘do me I do you, God no go vex’ abi. You may be justified in revenge but to what end?

Bear in mind that the issue of forgiveness generally comes in for dealings with persons who are close to our hearts ‘cos it’s s/he who is close, who we have come to expect so much from that can hurt us. Hurt in this sense being different from plain old anger at a display of ‘stupidity’ from a random acquaintance. Most times tho’, our hurt (with our close person) is mixed with anger. What a deadly combo!

I’ve come to find that a heartfelt apology from s/he who causes the hurt relieves the heart pain till it eventually disappears. Remember the thing about ‘a soft answer turning away anger’ abi?

What then if the apology is not forthcoming, would you be justified in refusing to forgive? Perhaps, but then again, ‘to what end?’ Is it worth your loss of sleep or loss of peace? I guess at such times, you then really need to put yourself in the other’s shoes to find out if the person also lashed out at some hurt you caused him/her. Communication to understand each other’s viewpoints helps. Remember, you guys are supposedly close so even if the communication lines are now jagged, they were once straight – so leverage on that. Also bear in mind, that the real bone of contention may really be about misunderstanding each other’s intents which is why sounding out each other’s viewpoints is key.

Bottom line, seek to understand first and keep your ego aside while at it. Remember this person is or was your close friend. Of course, you are within your rights to call it quits and move on because any type of friendship/relationship is really not by force. However, you should consider calling it quits only where the person makes it clear s/he is not willing to repair the relationship in spite of your honest and best efforts. Also bear in mind that the journey to recovery for one or you both may be painfully slow. That is understandable. The key point is mutuality not necessarily equality of efforts. Remember, you both are not grace mates, so forgiveness may come easier to one person than the other.

If truly, the fellow was once your homey, you have a responsibility to make an effort to mend the bridge and when there is earnest contrition on your homey’s part, let go and let God. The icing on the cake is that forgiveness also accelerates your own healing and perhaps, you both can end up better and stronger together. Now, this is another mystery of forgiveness, because to err is human but to forgive is divine.

Best,

Adefolake

*image credit: http://www.google.com

Why Emotional Intelligence is ‘Lit’💥💫

I suppose by now, we’ve all come to terms with the fact that in this life, we cannot avoid interacting with people – both the pleasant and the boorish. That being the case, we may also have realised that just as with work, we require skills to navigate the uncertain waters of human relations.

That’s where possessing emotional intelligence comes in.

To my mind, emotional intelligence is just a fancy word for wisdom and we may have heard that wisdom is key right? Emotional intelligence is what enables us to season our words with grace or diplomacy before speaking them. It also enables us to know when to be assertive and firm. Sort of like knowing the right dosage of medication to apply to the same illness in different persons taking cognisance of their body mass and peculiar genetic situations…a real science in’it? What you say to Mr. X to get him to do your bidding is not necessarily what you say to Ms. Y to get her to do your bidding on that same thing. That’s why we all need emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence requires an awareness of self and an awareness of one’s environment (including the people in it) amongst others.

You see ehn, you do not conquer everything in this life only by book knowledge and the fact that you are the most educated person. There are softer skills everyone needs to triumph in life and emotional intelligence happens to be one of them.

Now you see why wisdom is key ergo emotional intelligence is ‘lit.’

So, if lacking, go get you some.

Cheers,

Adefolake

image credit: http://www.google.com

Negotiating Your Way Out of Unfavourable Situations

Chances are that whatever your station in life or gender is, you have had to negotiate your way out of one unfavourable situation or the other. If for some unlikely reason you haven’t, I assure you that this is one test of wits you cannot escape as long as you are a living being.

So, how does one meander one’s way out of sticky situations?

Well, I would be lying if I told you I had a quick fix, one-size-fits-all answer😁But there are principles I have applied personally which have worked for me – whether at work or at home.

One principle I know does not work is arguing because then, chances are that there would be a clash of egos and if only to ‘save face’ at that moment, your counter party may not agree with you and do your bidding.

So I seek first to understand the person’s view by putting myself in his or her shoes. I even ask hypothetical questions/paint scenarios that reflect his/her thinking. Then, because there are always at least two sides to a story, I also present the alternative scenario to get the person to wear my own shoes and understand my perspective.

Does it always work? Well many times, the counter party at least listens and considers my view point. Will s/he do my bidding? Sometimes but not always. But at least we can converse like adults and take an informed rather than a pure egoistic decision. Of course sometimes too, after considering my counter party’s view, I also shift ground from mine.

You see, this life is give and take. Ultimately, bear in mind that you can’t avoid negotiating your way through life also noting that you would always lose 100% of the chances that you do not take.

Cheers.

Best,

Adefolake

*image credit: http://www.google.com

Don’t Burn Bridges

‘Hey! I don’t need this bridge no more, so who cares if it goes up in blazes!’ You say…

But not too fast, who says never say never, huh!

Granted, we cannot say ‘yes’ to everyone and everything at the same time – it’s why there is such a thing as opportunity cost in economics. But then, we can say ‘no’ without making enemies – it’s why there is such a thing called emotional intelligence.

At a point in time, I had two job opportunities – both great opportunities by the way – a dream come true for most. But here’s the snag, I couldn’t take up both opportunities at the same time; I had to disappoint one organisation. Here was my dilemma – how to say ‘no’ without making enemies.

Of course, I could just say ‘no’ and move on. But because I knew I may be needing the rejected one later in life, I had to be creative about how I said the ‘no’ so it did not become a personal vendetta.

The thing is, in this thing called life, you often cannot get divorced from having a roller coaster ride or coming back full circle even at the most inopportune times. Hence, wisdom is key.

I kid you not, I spent a number of sleepless nights ruminating on how to say this ‘no’ even engaging with about three very senior persons in the know and of course my personal ‘yard’ people on how to go about it.

In the end, the ‘no’ was said – feelings were hurt and maybe one or two silent enemies made. But then, I tried to say the ‘no’ in such a way that there were very viable reasons behind the ‘no’ which could not be faulted. I also retained many of my senior friends in the process.

Kinda reminds me of when I need to say ‘no’ to le hubs. I mean I could very easily tell him to go to hell, but then ‘who e epp’ when he gets pissed? So I often think of how to couch my ‘no’ in a way that doesn’t alienate him – which in turn also impresses on him the manner in which to tell me ‘no’ in a respectful way.

You see in this life, choose your battles; don’t burn bridges if you can help it. Emotional intelligence is key and wisdom is supreme!

Cheerio,

Hugs,

Adefolake

*image credit: http://www.google.com

Don’t Panic!

Easy for you to say…you may scoff under your breath at the topic. Well, the truth is everyone has at one time or the other had a bout of panic attack. My point with the topic is that panic often paralyses us from dissecting and distilling issues properly. As such, we should be intentional about avoiding if even if we come up short once in a while.

I mention come up short because even I who tries to be intentional about not giving in to panic still had a panic attack of sorts a few days ago when my deliverable timeline was looming, yet my materials were not ready…But that’s not really the point of this post.

You see, about three years ago, a few of my colleagues and I enrolled for an international tax certification. I had my first shot at one of the courses and failed. Again, panic attack in retrospect. I had thought the questions to be so difficult that I got disorganised in my time planning. By the time I got to the last question which was to take about 45 mins to answer and discovered I could actually answer it relatively easily, I had just 5 mins to ‘pens up.’ Failed the course by 2 marks. Of course, I immediately gave myself a self-motivational speech on the power of 1 or 2 marks. *laughs.

Anyways, teeth gritted, I re-enrolled for that course and did my darn best to prepare, re-wrote the exam and it was a breeze or so I thought…

But when the results were released, I did not see my name in the pass list. Panic and depression mode set in. You see I did not even contemplate that there could have been some logistics issues. In my head, I had bungled the exam yet again and perhaps wasn’t any good after all.

I got talking to one of my colleagues who also took the exam and boy! I loved her spirit. She did not see her name in the pass list too but immediately said that she was sure that there was some mistake somewhere ‘cos she knew what she wrote in the exam. See confidence…! But, could she be right? I wondered. Well, being the oldest in the pack, I took it upon myself to reach out to the examiners. After all, s/he who is already down need fear no fall in’it?

Bingo! We found out our results were withheld without any notification to us on the mistaken belief that we had not paid our exam fees. Of course, we provided evidence of this and our results were released. My confident colleague and I both passed our exams.

You see, my panic mode had prevented me from seeing this glimmer of hope and but for my more confident younger colleague, I may have been shattered into thinking I was no good, either giving up the exams outright or perhaps re-enrolling for yet another retake.

Bottomline, don’t panic.

Oh by the way, I now have the international tax certification😍

Best,

Adefolake

*image credit: http://www.google.com

Feeling Useless? You may only need to change your Approach!

I recall a research paper I once wrote as part of the requirements to clinch an international tax certification. I was so sure the paper was top notch or a ‘banger’ in informal lingua. After waiting for about four months for the verdict, I received an email regretting to inform me that the research effort was not up to standard. I was advised to consider revising the paper and re-submitting. That I was crushed, is an understatement!

After overcoming the initial denial *laughs,* I revisited the assessor’s comments and found that I could address most of them by simply re-adjusting the title of my research paper to fit ‘perfectly’ with the existing contents. Of course, I had to make a few tweaks to the contents too but the big deal was really in revising my topic. This was not stated as part of the suggestions for improving the contents but to be honest, I was so inundated with several other assignments that I was willing to clutch at straws after bouncing the idea off le hubz to test viability. After all s/he who is already down need fear no fall ‘innit?’

I applied for the topic revision, it was granted, I tweaked the contents and submitted the research paper. It was a ‘banger’ and I obtained the coveted certification.

To prove this theory, I have applied it on other occasions with successful results.

Bottomline – sometimes the solution to that ‘big’ problem is merely a change of approach. The problem itself does not make you an abysmal failure. Rather, it should bring to bear your innovative prowess if you can only rise up from that self-pity!

Cheers to thinking out of the box.

-Adefolake

*image credit: http://www.google.com

Don’t Hoard Your Light🌞🔥

A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle. What does this mean? Is it enough for you to shine without imparting others? I have a little painful story to share on this that turned out sweetly in the end…

At a point in my life, I was looking for some facelift in my endeavours and came across an opportunity with one slot. An acquaintance was also vying for the slot but you see, I had a bit more of an insider knowledge.

Well, I shared my insider knowledge with this acquaintance and being otherwise more experienced, my acquaintance got the slot, not me. I didn’t know whether to be pained or grateful for helping out. I mentally shrugged my shoulders and moved on…

Some while later, the books of records were opened and I ended up getting a juicier deal than I would have gotten if things had worked out fine for me initially.

Bottom line. Don’t hoard your light ‘cos what goes around surely does come around. What is yours will be yours, though it may tarry, it will surely get delivered to your doorstep.

Best,

Adefolake

*image credit: http://www.google.com