My father insisted that I check my blood PRESSURE two days ago. I knew I needed to... Members of my extended family have a a certain history of high blood pressure, besides the crazy stress of increasing one's standard of living in this country, coupled with our individual devils, each of us have to CONQUER. I can tell you straight up that I'm personally overwhelmed and overworked from this re-invention journey towards building my brand, i.e promoting my book, my radio show, my new community + MASTERMIND club and all my other products, services and different media platforms...Let me forget coaching a few hours a week, guesting and speaking on top international radio shows & virtual events around the world... which have somehow TWISTED my internal clock with their varied time difference.
So, I'm now constantly working round the clock amidst different time zones and I sleep only 3 or 4 hours at most, every other night. Sometimes 48 hours straight without a wink of sleep...And oh, I still have to deal with being a sometimes CRAZY mommy to my almost 6 year old little man, who by the way is starting to become very active and assertive. But I say when you are building a global brand, and a purposeful LEGACY for your son... the stress is definitely worth it all.
So I did take the test and my numbers came in great. Are you kidding me? I looked at it again. Even my father, a little surprised that my blood pressure was normal. I had initially joked that it would be off the roof to MARS...but I had somehow forgotten, that lately something had changed inside of me. And this change sort of reminded me about an article I read 3 years ago in Huffington post and how it now resonates with the life I currently have.
For some reason, no matter how stressful, challenging or chaotic things are around me...I AM HAPPY! And nothing has been able to steal it. So imagine someone being able to find joy even in the midst of chaos...Err...Yup! That's me alright and I believe there is only one reasonable explanation for why my numbers were pretty normal despite my obvious stressful lifestyle.- I believe its because I am simply living a life of PURPOSE. And that gives me joy.
Now I'm tempted to ask. Are you happy? Are you happy with the kind of life that you have? Can you imagine yourself being HAPPY even in a stressful situation? Day in, day out, we all are struggling to get out of life, everything that we desire: incredibly clean reputation, beautiful bodies to die for, strong romantic relationships, earth quaking sexual experiences, healthy family connections, meaningful friendships, financial stability, valuable alliances, dream careers, and a spiritual balance.
But since reading that post and discovering the TRUTH about who I really am and what I really want out of life (as depicted in my highly acclaimed book - THE NAKED TRUTH: Lies Stripped...). Here are a few things I have learned about being a happy woman and how you too can also draw from it:
#1. Every woman should have her own money. Huh? Duh! Well Yeah! A man IS NOT a financial plan, no matter how much he loves you and you love him. Abeg, love him enough, not to be a liability. In fact, love yourself so much more, that you become an ASSET (I can thank my mother for being an example of a hardworking woman, as well as for giving me, my first holiday job at the age of 11. And since then, I have always had a job and worked for my own.
And though some men didn't appreciate me being so independent in the past, because they would rather have a clingy dependent woman on their arm, to boost up their ego, I have refused to trade my independence for anything. So whether a man comes in to my life or he goes. Whether I remain single or married. I will always work hard to have my own money and my own identity).
#2. You may not realise this, but what may have gotten you where you are now... won't necessarily get you further: Further? You say...yes further to where you STILL need to go. And as a Re-invention Expert, I understand this a little too clearly. See, some of the skills that you have used to secure the position that you currently have in your career, such as your education, degree, technical skills, even present connections...may become less important as you continue to work through your career path. And since you have already proven yourself to be competent and skilled in that area, it is now the “softer” skills such as your emotional intelligence - empathy, sense of humor, collaborative abilities, the ability to share and connect your personal story in an AUTHENTIC way or even the acquisition of a newly acquired skill... that will get you remembered and included in certain higher profile projects to leverage new opportunities.
( For example I've always asked myself, Yes, it is true I am a celebrity here in my country (Fairly known) in Nigeria and I mean I don't have to court press here to make it to the news...I simply need to make myself available in compromising situations and I'll be attracting SCANDALS like a pair of male eyes to my boobies...Hehehe...but seriously...As an Actor, I ask myself, what are the chances that a foreigner in the deep South Texas, or faraway in Iceland would have seen or be familiar with a Nigerian movie or TV Soap opera I have featured in?,...Ha ha ha! On a scale of 1-10...The odds are...WAIT.... 0-2.
But what are the chances that the same person might stumble on an article I have written & published on the Internet or even listen to my radio show...the odds are 5 - 8. So I recognised that though, being an Actor had given me my initial claim-to-fame, It was important that If I needed to reach a newer, much larger audience who may not be interested in my career as an Actor...I needed to RE-INVENT myself and embrace all the other softer skills and talent I have, that are now helping to shape my brand and position me as a global influencer.
#3. I have learned that HAPPINESS just like love... is a decision. And that decision is in your hands...and not up to anyone else. Growing up, my childhood wasn't terrible...but I definitely had my own personal struggles here and there—like many others. I know what it means to have a good life and everything at my disposal. But I also know what it feels like to LOSE it all...or never have the things you so deeply want. Whether it is in reference to my relationships, career or even material possessions. For a long time, I allowed my circumstances to determine how I felt about myself and draw conclusions about the type of life I assumed I was destined to live. I carried that burden for a long time but realized after the birth of Ray, during my separation from my ex husband, my struggle with the on-off relationship with TIGER and a dying career, that I had the POWER to redefine how I viewed the world and how I wanted the world to view me. That with my new found power of AUTHENTICITY, I could embrace happiness by seeing all my setbacks as opportunities to GROW.
#4. Don't pretend to be strong out of fear of being vulnerable. The "Ice Cold Queen" died. I learned that, being strong just for FEAR of being perceived as being weak was pointless. And that trying to constantly fit in to societal expectation of what a perfect SUPERWOMAN is..is in fact delirious...Because EXPRESSION is a sign of strength and not weakness. No human is made of bricks...No one has it all together and nobody really needs to, because PERFECTION itself is a myth. Every person is entitled—to embrace all of their emotions, humanity, fragility, vulnerability, and complexities without fear, judgement or apologies. If you are in relationships with people who make you feel CRAZY for wearing your heart on your sleeve. It will be impossible for you to find happiness...constantly pretending to suppress what you are truly feeling.
#5. We all need a tribe: A tribe of like-minds that serve as a support system for us. (reminds me of the exclusive 3-way conversation I recently had with canadian podcaster, Frederic Bye - of CREATIVE MAGIC UNCHAINED sign up for his creatives community and get the private audio free). A lot of the times, Many find their closest friends early on in life, while others are still learning how to find & sustain meaningful friendships. And that's okay. What is important, is remembering that no man is an island...And that surrounding yourself with a circle of people who have similar principles and dreams can add value to your life. I have recently built friendships with some amazing influencers who have similar goals to mine and what to empower others...Take for example, my one year online friendship with American Author & Life Coach - Nina Bingham or Author & Motivational Speaker - Maxwell Ivey popularly know as THE BLIND BLOGGER has added way more value to my goals and dreams than some of the people I have known for 20 years. And there are many new friends like them, who have made my new journey worthwhile. We all need that tribe. If you have not found yours yet, don't stop looking because new worthy friends are looking for you, too.
#6. Strip your FEARS and develop some bare ass Courage. You can build courage by not being afraid to tackle small things or accomplish little tasks, like being the first to speak at a meeting or being the first to introduce yourself to someone that you'll like to get to know. I remember when I first started writing my "RAW & UNFILTERED" on this blog. I'm sure many thought I was insane...writing so graphically about sex...my sexual thoughts...sexual experience...sexual fantasy. Many loved it, but I also believe there were a few people who thought it was too graphic for them to handle. What many didn't know, was that I was challenging myself to find COURAGE to get NAKED, the courage to be open and transparent in the most daring of ways, so I that could one day be brave enough to share my struggles, fears and personal story without any feeling of EMBARRASSMENT whatsoever, because in reality those who know me, know that I'm not a potty mouth who talks trash...In fact, I'm a little too proper, too private. That being said, I understood that to challenge societal expectations...I would need to push the boundaries beyond my own limits. And the moment I was able to conquer being able to talk about the things that many are afraid to say...things as gritty and taboo as SEX...I knew I had earned the courage to step out of my comfort zone and share my own story of failure, and LIBERATION, without fear of prejudice or judgement.
Once you get comfortable with being courageous at achieving small things, you can become courageous at big things like quitting that bloody 9-5 job you so freakin' hate, investing in a mastermind group, approaching a stranger at a networking event, taking up new courses, traveling alone, or relocating to a strange place to follow your passion.
#7. I discovered that TRAVEL is powerful. And travelling gives you some of the biggest life lessons about culture, nature, and history. You can take that from a woman like me who hates migrating from place to place. (I hate moving around...I love my comfort zone, who doesn't?)...But what I found most poignant is that READING has become a more realistic way for me to travel and connect with others, their experiences and their cultures...(and it can be same for you especially if you can't afford splurging on travel tickets). So whilst my body may not have been to as many of the thousands of locations I have read in books...I can still describe them like the back of my hands, and connect to the experiences, because my IMAGINATION has been there and back. Do you get lost reading a beautiful piece of work? Ah Yessss! That's your mind travelling. You can also travel by connecting online to people of a different race or country to get to learn more about them.
I recently discovered hanging on one of my favourite social media spaces -TWITTER: That I am not on what many may call "Nigerian Twitter"...Ha ha ha. I seem to have more interaction with foreigners or shall I say global experts, influencers & their audience following me, that I'm also following back and learning from. And the great thing is that it introduces you to yourself... because you are forced to step out of your comfort zone, deal with being different, and learning to connect with all these amazing people in a short period of time.
#8. Life is to be lived on PURPOSE. Yup! And I have recently embraced living INTENTIONAL and having a 'presence of mind' about all the things I want out of life. The truth is that life is short and most people REGRET the risks they did not take... rather than the ones they did.
So, if you want to accomplish something major, whatever it is, take some actionable steps within the next 24 hours to get IT moving and make something happen. For me, everyday I ask myself what small thing can I do today, that will move me one step closer to my GOALS. I tell the world I'm going to do something...and I go after it with everything that I am. Its non-negotiable for me. Everyday, I take a new step that moves me closer...And its been forward ever since.
#9. Forget the fear of rejection, just ASK. I've always had a fear of rejection. Didn't know how to ask for help, ask for money being owed or ask a man to go out on a date with me...But I have learned how EMPOWERING it is to ASK for everything that you want 100% of the time. Some of us engage in such debilitating self-talk that we talk ourselves out of pursuing an interest, asking a question, or even taking a risk, because we have already convinced ourselves that we are not capable and that we will FAIL.
This negative self talk is irrational. Irrational, because in REALITY, You cannot wait for someone to read your mind. You have to go out there and be proactive about everything you want. For so long, I've always wanted to inspire the world, not just my country or the African continent...but the entire world. But how was I going to get my message out there and share it with the world, if I didn't have access to a platform or to those who could help me make it happen? How can I get booked on International shows, if they don't even know who I am or that I even exist? So I started to send media pitches to popular show hosts telling them about my brand and asking them to INVITE ME to be a guest on their show.
A few never wrote back, one replied me straight out "No! You are not a good fit for our audience, Alex..." and damn, that 'NO' felt like a bulldozer crushing my dreams. Whaaaat??/ Honestly, I sort of felt like she was racist or something. Wait! You replied me to tell me that I'm not a good fit...why? Because I'm African? Well...I brushed it off and didn't let it deter me from sending out more pitches. And since 31 January 2016...I have been featured on 15 international top radio shows & podcasts already... and I even managed to get the Master Guru himself - Maxwell Ivey who has a service to help influencers get booked on top shows... to add me to his client list...And through him, I now have several other shows booked from now to July. Same strategy for booking influential guests on my show. I simply ask them to come on.
Don't forget, the secret is in ASKING. You should never be ashamed to ask for something you want. Whether it is a job, a review, a loan, a question or even a date with that amazing guy or lady... While you may not get what you want all of the time, the practice of asking will become a habit and that habit will increase your chances of getting MOST of what you want.
#10. You have the right to CHANGE your mind at any time. Tired of being married to that jerk? Want to quit that lousy job? Thinking of canceling your subscription? Don't want to go to school? Want to travel the world, Change your course or Start a new Career? Go ahead! Walk away, Change your mind...As long as there is a valid reason.
Okay, I'm an incredibly loyal woman and I love to keep my word. Commitment is one of my top values and it is something that ranks high in my book as well...That being said, I have also learned that we make decisions based on the information that we have at any given time. And it doesn't have to BIND us...Why? There are so many times I have taken a decision that seemed okay at the time...and when new details came to light that gave me a deep feeling of reservation or a new sense of CLARITY...I still went ahead to stick with my decision because I was afraid to change my mind, but ended up so UNHAPPY. Imagine if I had taken advantage of the cues that came up later in my relationship & changed my mind...I probably would never have married my ex. Neither would I have been part of empty projects that lead no where or connected to friendships that added no value. I mean the signs of DOUBT where pretty glaring.
My point is that I have learned to trust my instinct. If I'm driving in a particular direction and its not looking safe or secure...even if its important and it seems like I have the right address...I will turn back. Same way, if I'm supposed to come to a meeting at 10 am...and I learn that the person I'm meeting, has a habit of being late and is booked in, for 5 other meetings prior to mine...I will change my decision about being at that office for 10 am, rather than sit at the reception frustrated and miserable... waiting in cue to get seen at 2 pm at the cost of losing my entire day, unless of course I decide, its worth the wait.
And many times, I have seen people stay in dead end relationships where love doesn't exist, or put up with violent and abusive partners or jobs they hate for fear of changing their minds, even given a new circumstance. Believe me seeing people making themselves, unhappy that way, makes me sad.
See if we take a decision and the information surrounding it changes...or we discover something that shows up and points to reasons why we should RECONSIDER, slow down, or run fast in the opposite direction, it’s in our every right...Because the earlier, we realise that we have the right to change our minds - The happier we can truly be.
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