Being a failure is a state of the mind. Don’t confuse your result with who you are. Click To Tweet

Have you ever put so much work into something and it failed?

Have you ever missed a big opportunity?

Have you ever been in a situation where it looks like you’re the dumbest person on the planet?

I’ve been there, and I know it hurts.

It hurts to throw yourself into something, and it doesn’t work out. It hurts when denied an opportunity you know you’re qualified for, and other less-qualified people got selected. It hurts to see everyone else progressing, but you’re still stagnant. 

Many people, when they experience failure, start thinking that is their destiny. They buy into what Les Brown calls “the never lies”: I’m never going to amount to anything; I’ll never be happy.

Their self-image gets destroyed by their experience and life becomes meaningless. They live day-to-day and every waking moment is mental torture. They’re like the woman in the book, The Alchemist, every day is just the same and there’s nothing to hope for.

If you’re going through a failure situation, I have good news for you: There’s a science-based formula for reinventing yourself! I know it works because it worked on me. While I cannot promise you fame or fortune, I can guarantee, however, that if you apply these principles, you will not only reinvent yourself, but you will be rightly positioned to do remarkable things in life!

3 Steps for Conquering Failure & Missed Opportunities

Step 1: Detox your mind

“Success and prosperity are nothing more than a way of thinking. We need to think differently.” – Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet Group.

woman taking photo while smiling

Nutritionists and psychotherapists have found several reasons why we need to occasionally detoxify our bodies: To remove toxins from the body, prevent chronic diseases, lose weight, enhance the function of our immune system, and so on. Likewise, we must occasionally detox our minds.

The problem with many people is that their mind has accumulated several layers of negative silos from their experiences of failure. They’re afraid of taking risks because they think they will never make it. This is what experts call associative conditioning – your mind preventing you from taking actions it links with pain and pushing you to the ones it links with pleasure.

If this is you, take heart, you can break that cycle from today! How? By detoxifying your mind!

Dr. Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University developed a groundbreaking learning theory called a growth mindset. It’s a sharp deviation from the common belief that a person’s talents are cast in stone. A growth mindset is a concept that revolves around the belief that you can improve intelligence, ability, and performance. It is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. In other words, failure is not final, it can be conquered with efforts.

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Is your life on track or are you drifting? Are you feeling stuck and powerless? Do you feel overwhelmed?

The good news is: Whatever damage negative, limiting thoughts have done in your life can be undone by you detoxifying your mind. Hence, you can begin, now, to fill your mind with positivity. You can begin to believe that things always go well with you. You can begin to believe that you’re a success. You can begin to expect amazing things to happen – and research says the universe will correspond to the nature of your song!

Mind over matter? Yes, but that’s not all. You have to take actions that resonate with your new self-image. Create a picture of who you want to be and propel your life in that direction through massive action (we’d take a deep dive into this in point 2). When you believe something, you commit to it.

Step 2: Define priorities and cut the clutters

Some people chase too many things at the same time. Their attention and energy strains between several options.

In his book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown explains that, for centuries, that word “priority” was singular. It meant the first thing. Before somewhere around the 20th century, when the plural “priorities” magically surfaced, there can only be one first thing. Today, a lot of us are choked with several first things that we’re stumbling.

We’re in motion yet without tangible results. It’s time to press a pause on your endless to-dos and check your life:

  • What have you achieved in the past two years of your business, career or life?
  • What are the failures you’ve experienced in that process?
  • Is there a correlation between your lack of focus in your success or failed efforts?
  • What is the one thing that if achieved will move your life further?
  • What has been a drag to your life that you need to let go of?

When you’re done ferreting out answers to these questions, then it’s time to commit. If you’re a business owner, you’d probably discover that your lack of focus and strategy is sapping your energy. In other words, you’re a control freak and it’s killing your productivity. It might make sense to delegate or outsource the activities that do not rank within your strengths and specialize in those you excel in.

If you’re a student, you may realize that you’re spending too much time on other stuff instead of your studies. It’s quite easy to slack at school these days. The truth is: Education is still prime, regardless of your aspirations.

See, success is not accidental. Being a “jack of all trade or gonna-doer” does not translate to success either. It makes us lousy because, as Tony Elumelu said, you can have it all but not at the same time.

Pinpoint where your time and efforts are going, set your focus on a specific target, seek mentor support in guiding your path, and, commit to a course of action.

Focus your energy on those things that move you closer to bigger opportunities. To quote McKeown, “only once you give yourself the permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter.”

selective focus photo of brown and blue hourglass on stones

Step 3: Create “A-Game” partnerships

Several research studies have tested the correlation between accountability and success, and the results always pointed to a similar conclusion: “Publicly committing your goals to someone gives you at least a 65% chance of completing them. And, having a specific accountability partner increases your chance of success to 95%.”

Why is this so? Why is there a high chance for us to follow through on a commitment to someone else than to ourselves? The reason is simple: We’re far more likely to lie to and let down ourselves than someone we trust and respect.

Believe it or not, accountability works – every, single, time.

Consequently, when it comes to choosing your inner circle, you need people who hold you to high standards. You need people who are transformational and self-motivated. This is what I call “A-Game” partners.

Says Benjamin P Hardy: “The mere fact that most people avoid accountability is a powerful reason to create LOTS of it in your life.”

Your “A-Game” partners are innovators – they are continually pushing boundaries and breaking molds. They understand they’re responsible for their lives and results hence they take action in creating the outcomes they want.

One of my “A-Game” partners is a young woman I met a few years ago. Although we come from different backgrounds, we share similar worldviews. To her, the world is binary: If you’re not winning, you’re losing. If you don’t know something, learn it.

Her unique insights and simple approach to life are remarkable. We intrinsically challenge each other to grow further and outdo our pasts.

Do you have an “A-Game” partner? Do you have someone to whom you can peel off your life without the fear of being judged or criticized? Are you carefully choosing your network or are you tiptoeing around with losers?

If you don’t have good people around you, find some. And, don’t just find one, create an army. Immerse yourself in a network of people who inspire you to become better. Remember: Relationships thrive when each party is pulling along. So, don’t just take, give back.

You can overcome failure and missed opportunities

If you’ve experienced failure or missed several opportunities, this is the time rewrite your story. Be patient with yourself as you practice the following three steps: 1) detox your mind, 2) define your priority, and 3) create an “A-Game” partners.

Being a failure is a state of the mind. Don’t confuse your results with who you are. Every failed attempt moves you further. Another thing I want you to remember is that just because someone else is prospering doesn’t make you a failure – focus on your own journey. Invest in yourself, improve your worth, become inspiring. And, the next time an opportunity comes knocking, you’d be ready!

About the Author

Tom-Chris✨ #Readyforwork
Tom-Chris Emewulu is the President & Founder of SFAN. He is an education enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, a consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana and an aspiring venture capitalist. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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There are certain traits that make you successful in a job.

In my previous article, I shared some insights into 6 biggest job application mistakes you must avoid at all costs. A gentleman reached out to me after reading the article to ask if I could write a follow-up piece on what employers look for when hiring.

I have had the pleasure of participating in numerous recruitment exercises through personal engagements with institutions like President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) West Africa (as a volunteer consultant responsible for assessing and interviewing applicants from 9 YALI West African countries including training a team of local and international assessors and interviewers), and SFAN’s job placement initiatives.

Regardless of size, industry or legal structure, the five traits below are distinguishing traits many employers look for in a prospective new hire.

  • Smartness – clever, witty, or readily effective attitude

Whenever we sit down with a client for a briefing, this is one of the traits mentioned again and again as the first thing they want from a new hire. The reason is simple — employers want someone who can get the job done. In this era of accelerated change, overwhelming complexity and uncertain work environment, very few employers have enough time to teach a candidate everything he or she needs to know. Click To TweetIt’s no longer enough to focus on the job description, you need experience and mastery of other transferable, cross-functional skills like social media, communication, email, etc. Therefore, your ability to demonstrate both industry competence and related functional leadership will set you apart.

  • Passion – strong and barely controllable desire

The business world is getting increasingly fierce, thanks to technology and competition. A passion for your work helps you maintain the level of focus and commitment required to survive and thrive. Consequently, recruiting managers are keen to find candidates who can progressively demonstrate dedication and commitment to their job. When someone cares about the job, he or she can go the extra mile in delivering above and beyond expected results — not just doing the barest minimum that earns him/her a paycheck. A candidate with passion adds great value to the company.

And, it is easy to tell whether a person is passionate or not. One meeting or interview with a candidate is enough to tell you whether he or she is passionate. I have seen that candidates that approach an interview with enthusiasm and have concrete goals for their career, a self-development plan, and are able to articulate their thoughts usually perform well on the job. As any recruiter will tell you, self-motivated candidates are like flickers of light; they help others find direction.

  • Kindness – the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate

We live in a world where everyone does not have the same starting point. Therefore, you must be compassionate and considerate in how you treat yourself and other people.

We have all heard of the power of little acts of kindness. A prominent example is the incident of August 2016 Olympics Games in Rio De Janeiro. Nikki Hamblin and Abbey D’Agostino where four laps from finishing the 5000m race when they tripped and fell. The American athlete, Abbey D’Agostino got up first but instead of continuing running, she pulled up her opponent and said, “get up, we have to finish this!” Unfortunately, shortly after that, her knee gave out; she had injured her right leg in the fall. D’Agostino was on all fours on the Olympic track, her face writ in pain.

Realizing what had happened, Hamblin stopped running and reached back for her. They continued to run side-by-side in the bottom spot until they finished the race. These women have never met each other before.

Although this might be an exceptional case, we encounter issues and situations in the workplace every day that one may be tempted to look the other way. However, one act of compassion may be all you need to make a lasting difference. And, it starts with being gentle to yourself because if you are not kind to you, you cannot be kind to anyone else.

  • Hustle – grit, a trait of perseverance

Angela Duckworth is an American psychologist and researcher. As part of her work, she spent years researching traits that make a person successful or not. From Westpoint Military Academy to National Spelling Bee to Private Sales Enterprises, one significant characteristic she learned as a distinguishing factor for success is a simple word, grit.

Grit, as she defines it is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. It is stamina, ability to stick with your future day-in-day-out, and working hard to make that a reality. Grit is living life like a marathon, not a sprint.

Our era of instagramification has led many to believe that success (in jobs and life) can be automated like social media posts and grocery orders. But then you study highly successful people and you realize that to be successful at anything you do requires a mind-blowing work ethic. Candidates that demonstrate the ability to hustle and reach for their goals will always outshine others who want things to happen by autopilot.

Research has proven that talent alone does not make a person great; the world is filled with talented failures.

The Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, Carol Dweck, popularised the idea of a Growth Mindset through her book “Growth Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”. It says that the ability to learn is not fixed; it can be learned. In other words, failure is not a permanent condition, it can change with efforts.

The stick-ability in chasing your goals, exploring your potentials and continually learning, adapting, and evolving is more important in the workplace today than any and everything else you can think of. Click To Tweet
  • Integrity – the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles

Being dependable and trustworthy one of the most important traits in the workplace. It fosters a great work environment.

No one wants to deal with someone or a company that says one thing but goes on to do an entirely different thing. We all want someone that can follow through, take responsibility for their actions and execute on commitments.

Strive Masiyiwa is the billionaire founder of Econet Wireless. His teachings are filled with stories taken from his own experience in which he steadfastly refused to compromise his principles. Masiyiwa says that integrity is one of the major reasons for his success in life and business: “In my 30 years running a business (remember I started in 1986),” he wrote,” I’ve met and known some highly gifted entrepreneurs who looked ready to set the whole world ablaze, but after a few years, some of them failed spectacularly. Whenever I looked back on what had happened… more often than not, it was an issue of integrity.”

No matter how much success a person accumulates by compromising or cheating, it will eventually fizzle away. Every culture and belief show there are no shortcuts to success. It may be painful to maintain your honest stance but in the long run, it will pay off.

In the words of Brian Tracy, self-development trainer and coach,  “there should be no exceptions to honesty and integrity. Integrity is a state of mind and is not situational. If you compromise your integrity in small situations with little consequence, then it becomes very easy to compromise on the big situations.”

Have other traits you noticed? Drop them in comments.

Tom-Chris✨ #Readyforwork
Tom-Chris Emewulu is the President & Founder of SFAN. He is an education enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, a consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana and an aspiring venture capitalist. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

If you like this article, check out this one on how to make the best of your internship. Need help finding your perfect job, reach out to us via info@sfanonline.org. Get our bi-weekly email of inspiration, career and business insights. Subscribe here

A science-based blueprint for achieving 10x faster results

We’ve all experienced that moment of great excitement as the New Year approaches —we’re pumped, the world looks small, and we can’t wait to do great and wonderful things!

Some of us make lofty resolutions like:

This year, I will be a millionaire.

This year, I will be the manager of my organization.

This year, I will find my Prince Charming.

But, as the days roll into weeks and weeks become months, the euphoria of the New Year gradually wears off.

And so does the motivation to achieve our goals until we’re so tapped out and counsel ourselves to forget them.

I’ve often wondered; why is it that many people seem to know what they can do to change their lives but don’t do those things. Why is it that some people succeed where others failed? What is the secret to achieving great results?

Come to find out, it’s all based on a simple formula — so simple that some of us ignore it.

If you are among the people who have a laundry list of excuses for why they can’t achieve their goals, well my friend, the time for excuses is over. After you read this post, there will be no reason you can’t achieve exponential results in anything you want to do. Likewise, if you want to take your result to the next and higher level, I’m about to provide you with a template for creating massive success. The principles shared herein is science-based!

How to Achieve Faster Results: A Simple Formula to Follow

Step 1: Multiply Your Goals By 10.

“Wherever it is you want to go, there is a long and conventional path, and there are shorter, less conventional approaches.” — Benjamin Hardy.

Incremental success is possible, and it’s possible for everyone. But, it takes a different mindset to actualize it.

If you want to change your life and results, you cannot set conventional goals. You have to set goals SO HUGE that it beats your mind how you can achieve it — goals that require strong faith to believe the possibility of making them happen. Richard Branson said, “If your dreams don’t scare you they are too small.”

The size of your goals determines the trajectory of your life because it raises your awareness and fuels your creativity.

Big goals attract big people. They attract the people and resources that resonate with that frequency. The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it, Michelangelo said.

He was right.

Anyone that has achieved anything worthwhile will tell you that what they had was clarity of what they wanted to do, not the process. You need to commit first and figure out the process as you go along.

Commitment produces clarity and clarity drive action; it helps you persist and persevere. In the language of research, commitment means binding yourself to a course of action.

So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable. Christopher Reeve

Step 2: Multiply Your Actions By 10.

In his book, 10x Rule, The Only Difference Between Success and Failure, Grant Cardone reduced the labyrinth of the key to achieving incremental success to a) setting targets for yourself that are 10x greater than what you believe you can achieve and b) taking actions that are 10x greater than what you believe is necessary to achieve your goals.

Says Grant: Never reduce a target. Instead, increase actions. When you start rethinking your targets, making up excuses and letting yourself off the hook, you are giving up on your dreams!

Most people give up the moment they hit roadblocks in trying to achieve their goals. They become trapped in a state of “a knowledge-action gap;” where they know what they should do but cannot do them.

As they indulge in this limiting process, their brains create patterns that strengthen the habit.

It’s what behavioral psychology calls, associative conditioning; where our brains stop us from taking actions it links to pain or reinforcing actions it links to pleasure.

This distinguishes people we call winners from losers. It’s all in the state of their consciousness.

You may have these incredible ideas and you think what’s missing is motivation. But that’s not true because the way our minds are wired and the fact about the human being is that we are not designed to do things that are uncomfortable or scary or difficult. Our brains are designed to protect us from those things because our brains are trying to keep us alive. — Mel Robbins

Stop waiting for motivation and start chasing your goals. Prime your mind that obstacles will arise — people will call you crazy, old friendships could fail, the wheels might come off — but you must keep pushing the status quo!

The question is no longer how bad you want it. The real question is; how much work are you willing to put in to actualize it?

Create an intense demand on yourself that you can’t help but respond. Hard work is your first guarantee for achieving your goals.

When you rid yourself of average thinking and average action, you improve your self-worth and metacognition.

Step 3: Set Time Aside For Re-creation.

Edith Harbaugh, the CEO of LaunchDarkly, shared her most transferable lesson from riding a bike to building startups and software with The First Round awhile back. She said, “every ride starts with zero. Once your direction is set, begin each day with a blank slate.”

But, beginning every day with a clean slate requires that you set specific time aside to measure your results and to refill yourself.

The creative process is an inside-out approach.

Like Benjamin Hardy said, mental creation always precedes physical creation. Before a building is physically constructed, there’s a blueprint.

Create a ritual that helps you to evaluate your work, reassess your strategies, realign your thoughts and redirect your energy.

Performing at your best and being in a peak state requires you master your mind and your body. The easiest way to achieving mastery over your mind and body is through good diet, proper exercise and rest, prayer and meditation, and reproducing your ideas. Science confirms your best thoughts come to you immediately following a good sleep or in an activity that pushes you to the limit.

Your mind has all the answers you’re seeking for; what you need to do is trigger the impulse that generates what experts call “fluid intelligence.”

In the words of James Allen, bestselling author of As A Man Thinketh, the mind is the master power that molds and makes, and man is mind, and evermore he takes the tool of thought, and, shaping what he wills, brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills. He thinks in secret, and it comes to pass.

Therefore, make your mind an ally and milk those thoughts through productive work every day.

Step 4: Build A Support System.

Napoleon Hill popularized the concept of a mastermind group through his classic self-help, Think And Grow Rich. In the book, Hill defines a mastermind group as “the coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony.”

Great leaders in business and corporations have known this. Though the practice and terminology may change from culture to culture, the principle remains the same: other people’s expectations of you influence how you end up.

Professor of Cognitive Robotics and the Philosophy of Knowledge, Mark H. Bickhard, wrote the following in his thesis entitled, How Does the Environment Affect the Person?

It is generally assumed that human beings perceive and understand the world through the senses and that that epistemic connection with the world occurs via the transmission of information from the world through those senses into a mind. The converse perspective on this same assumption is that the environment influences individuals, both microgenetically and developmentally, via the information that is generated in that environment and transmitted into the minds of those individuals.

Your environment has to do with who you are. Therefore, surround yourself with people who believe in you and hold you to high standards — people who help you grow and become your best self.

Surround yourself with people who help you nuance your thinking and overcome your inhibition.

If you’re the smartest person in your group, you probably need another group. Always, put yourself in a position that makes you feel like a little fish swimming in a big jar.

You grow and learn.

You become wiser.

You aspire to catch up with everyone else and your zeal to succeed will silence your fears and the desire for complacency.

Says Grant Cardone:

You have to be obsessed. Nobody has ever accomplished something incredible without obsession. The ability to be obsessed is not a disease, it is a gift. The saying “under commit and over deliver” is stupid. Instead, over commit and figure out how to show up at a higher level. Success is like a garden; you must constantly tend to it and care for it. Don’t worry about how much work it is; think about how great the results will be. Challenge traditions and established ways of thinking. Approach everything with the attitude that it can be done. Believe that you will figure it out. Don’t follow the pack; lead the pack.

Tom-Chris✨ #Readyforwork
Tom-Chris Emewulu is the President & Founder of SFAN. He is an education enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, a consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana and an aspiring venture capitalist. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Get our bi-weekly email of inspiration, career and business insights.

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Simple steps to achieving success in the New Year.

The reason for the failure of many New Year resolutions and goals is because they are not anchored on a clear vision.– Femi Banigbe

To help us explore how anyone can position himself/herself to thrive in 2017, we hosted two high-profile business leaders: Femi Banigbe, Managing Partner, Silver Rock Technologies, and Akosua Annobil, Founder, AB2020 at the second edition of #SFANLiveChat.

Here are four takeaways from the chat:

a.) Create a vision for the year, not just goals

Many people confuse goal setting with wishful thinking, Femi says, “a goal is simply a plan with a timeline while a wish is a fantasy without clear intention. Achieving your goals in 2017 will require you to clearly define your objectives.”

But, to translate your wishes into concrete actionable goals, you need to be intentional about what it is you want.

Being intentional in your goal setting requires that you “define exactly what those goals are; what the purpose behind them is and define the bigger objective. What are your goals linked to? If you can anchor them onto a bigger purpose you’re more likely to stick to them. Identify the people and activities you truly want in your life. Make quality plans and put dates in the diary,” Akosua explains.

When you have a clearly defined vision for why you want to do what you plan to do, you get to strengthen your resolve.

Your vision gives you the “why;” a purpose for what you’re doing and your goal is backed by your purpose.

“When your dream is big enough, the odds don’t matter.”— Les Brown.

b.) Leverage relationships and tech

AB2020 is one of the premier carriers of global business news, events, missions, and Africa-focused business content. A key component of Akosua’s success strategy with this venture is leveraging relationships and technology. At the end of the day, she says, “business is relationships. Networking is a must! But, it’s not a one-way street. What do you bring to the room?” Building strategic alliances with people that are pursuing similar goals with you is of vital importance.

On technology, Akosua noted that tech has provided tools, platforms, apps, and other resources that can enhance productivity at little cost. But “as much as leveraging mobility and collaboration tools is important, most of the time what you need are simple tech-based tools that can help you focus, plan, learn and manage execution. Don’t make the mistake of complicating your life with advanced tech tools. The Key phrase to remember is ‘Keep it simple,’” Femi highlights.

c.) Create a balance

Before co-founding Silver Rock Technologies, Femi worked for different fortune 500 companies in different executive positions including as the Network Support Group Manager at Ericsson, Director of Operations at Airtel Nigeria, the Chief Operations Officer at Millicom Ghana, etc. At each of these levels, he always managed to find extra times to contribute to the community by either serving as leadership and life coach or as a motivational speaker at conferences across Africa.

“The question of balance can be elusive to many,” he explains. “It’s simply focusing on what is important at each phase of your life. Balance requires self-management – ensuring that you are in control of how you use and invest your time. It involves giving appropriate amounts of attention, time, energy and resources to the important aspects of life. Be flexible and don’t be unrealistic. Sometimes we need to work a bit harder and sometimes rest a bit longer.”

d.) Think as big you can, but start small

Akosua’s job at AB2020 involves being the eyes and ears for what’s going on in African business space, and, communicating this in an inclusive manner. This could be a daunting task sometimes. She believes that to avoid being overwhelmed by your goal, you must “do whatever you can with what you have. Ask others to help…whatever you do, don’t focus on what you haven’t got!”

“Having BIG dreams and NO resources are common excuses people make,” Femi says, “big dreams are achieved in small steps. The resources you need to take the first step in achieving your big dreams are available to you if you look deeper. You have all it takes to take the first step towards your dreams. The first step opens a door that leads to many doors.”

“Every artist was first an amateur.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson


If you want to thrive in 2017, you need to focus. “Your plan will need your attention, and this may require sacrifices. To quote one of my favorite songs, ‘life is what you make it’. Whatever you have planned for 2017, start today,” Akosua emphasizes.

“2017 like every year is full of opportunities, go all out to succeed,” Femi concludes.

Be the first to learn about subsequent inspiring Live Chats by subscribing to our mailing list here. Have a fabulous New Year!

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