My Reflections on COVID-19 Crisis (Vol 6): Welcome to Church 2.0 – A Conversation with Pastor Damilola Adeyemi

MY REFLECTIONS ON COVID-19 CRISIS: WELCOME to CHURCH 2.0

It was April 1st, 2020 when I called my dear friend Pastor Dammy Adeyemi, the Lead Pastor of Ambassadors Christian Centre, Festac Town, Nigeria, to celebrate him on his birthday. The occasion enabled us to even discuss and share with each other as we’ve done during the last twenty years. “Tolu, I saw your online reflection on COVID-19 and I share your perspectives about the potential opportunities we have this season as ministers”, he said. I had just written volume #1 of this series (you can read it here (https://tolusajobi.wordpress.com/…/my-reflections-on-covid…/). “You should come and speak at ACC this Sunday”, he requested as we were concluding the phone conversation. And so it was, on Sunday April 5, I had the opportunity to speak at AAC (Nigeria) from my home office in Canada, thanks to online technology. The preaching/seminar was followed by almost an-hour long insightful Q&A and discussion session about how the church and individuals need to position themselves during and after the pandemic (you should check out ACC!). After the service, Pastor Damilola and I spoke at length about the endless opportunities this crisis has now afforded the church. As I reflect more about the current situation and our future after this crisis, I am compelled to share some additional thoughts Pastor Damilola and I shared on the role of technology in what I would call Church 2.0.

#1. Technology, Data Analytics, and the Church

Data is increasingly being collected ubiquitously around the globe due to increased use of technology. Statisticians and data scientists, like me, have made careers analyzing this data and using the emerging information to inform policy and management decisions in several organizations. The church has been seating on this pot of gold for years and has not really tapped into the enormous power of data to inform church management, evangelization, social outreaches, and strengthening of within-organization networks. For example, data on participants’ demographics (age, sex, household size) can be used to inform planning of programs for different subgroups of the church, social media data can elicit information about geolocations of participants, tithes & offering data can provide information about the financial health of the church members, other details such as employment information can inform how welfare departments of the Church can assist members who are struggling. Every church is a mirror of the community where its members live. Church member’s data may even inform the design and implementation of social programs for the community where the church is located. While a few mega churches are already ahead of the curve, the modern church need to invest in data architecture and optimize its information to be effective in ministering to their people. Inbox me for more ideas and support if interested!

#2. Technology & the Gospel

As ironic as it is, I’m filled with gratitude for how COVID-19 has forced our churches to explore every social media/online platform to preach and reach out to the world. Seeing church services being live streamed across all social media platforms fills my heart with joy. But it’s important that we don’t forget the key lessons this crisis is teaching us: technology can amplify the gospel message. As we move into the post-covid19 era, the church needs to be more innovative in using advanced technology to push the frontiers of evangelism unlike before. This involves a bit of paradigm shift in our thinking about how church should be run and the quality of our messages. Pastors are longer preaching to the local audience but to a global audience. It’s easy to reach thousands/millions of people globally with one social media broadcast. I encourage church leaders to invest in their media department just like the music/technical department team. If you can hire a worship leader for the church, hiring tech folks & social media experts should be considered equally important. While a few mega churches are ahead of the curve regarding this, we need many other churches on board. Think about it and you will thank me later.

#3. Technology and Effective Ministry

For years, the church organization has been run from a purely spiritual perspective with less emphasis on excellence in leadership and effective management. But this modern age requires excellence in time management, public relations, people management, financial management, and leadership, in addition to anointing, in order to lead an effective ministry. Technology can help us accomplish this. Here are a few ideas. First, rather than hold service/church program every day of the week (something I call “church activity overload syndrome (CAOS)”), consider transitioning some of your activities online so as to avoid CAOS burn out. For example, transitioning bible study materials into massive open online courses, online video conferencing for some subgroup activities, use of holograms at church conventions, are examples of frontiers where can make more progress. Second, our churches can avoid burnout due to inefficient organizational processes and activities. For example, pastors can suffer burnout due to endless travel (Peru today, Australia tomorrow, Singapore the day after, etc) for ministry. The excess times spent in-between airports can be effectively managed by leveraging technology. Third, leveraging technology can lead to more cost savings especially for the smaller churches. For example, given the growing costs of running special programs, smaller churches are bound to run into financial deficits especially when hosting special programs that features “big” speakers/pastors & music ministers (e.g., consider flights, hotels, honorariums, etc). Leveraging online technology will help optimize resources and while enhancing effective ministry to the people of God. There are many more ideas, can you add to the list?

#4. The Final Word

As I conclude, let me clarify that this article is not to criticize any church organization but to offer ideas about how churches can leverage technology for management and ministry purposes. I am not a Pastor neither do I have experience running a ministry. But this conversation with my dear friend (who is a pastor) was born out of a passion to see church organizations excel in their inreach and outreach ministries by leveraging emerging technology. While some churches are already ahead of the curve, many church organizations need to do more and get on the train. Finally, it is worth noting that technology cannot replace the importance of in-person meeting of the church family neither will it replace the power and ministry of the Holy Spirit to the body of believers. Instead, technology is a tool that can amplify our message of hope and faith to a world that is already hurting. We can all do better.

Stay safe everyone!

@Tolu Sajobi 2020
https://tolusajobi.wordpress.com/

My Reflections on COVID-19 Crisis (Vol 5): A Rare Opportunity for a Collective National Reflection

Dear Nigeria,

I hope you and yours are keeping safe these days as our world deals with the scourge of COVID-19. I am disappointed by the lackadaisical attitudes some of your children have exhibited in dealing with this disease that already infected > 2 million people and claimed > 180000 lives globally. Some promoted it an elitist disease, some claim it’s a hoax, others have pushed religious conspiracy theories about the antichrist and 5G. Even more disturbing is the news about embezzlement of funds donated by local corporations and international agencies to fight the spread of this lethal disease. Who has bewitched your children? How is it that your leaders are comfortable making lives unbearable for their own brothers and sisters? My heart bleeds for the countless millions of your children who are suffering hunger, anguish, and frustration during this “essential” but unfortunate pandemic lockdown. I feel compelled to write you again to highlight the golden opportunities this pandemic has offered to inwardly reflect and take actions that ensure the deliverance and survival of your people during and post COVID-19.

#1. Make social infrastructure and well-being of your people a top priority

This pandemic crisis has brought into spotlight the depressing standards of living of your people. Poverty, lack of social support, epileptic power supply, homelessness, and terrible transportation systems have hampered your people’s productivity and security for years. Now these problems now threaten the effectiveness of your social distancing rules established to fight this pandemic. The chaos as millions of your children struggle for the survival in the last few days was absolutely a show of shame. Watching your youths declare that dying through COVID-19 on the streets is better than being killed by hunger during the lockdown is heart wrenching for any sane soul!. Recently, videos of your people citizens venting their anguish and frustration during the lockdown has begun to emerge online for the entire world to see. Nigeria….what are you going to do about it? Your country is as strong as its weakest link. Adequate provision should be made for the poor, homeless, beggars, and the sick.

#2. Invest in a sustainable healthcare infrastructure/system

The COVID-19 pandemic has tested the strengths of several national healthcare systems around the world. Your healthcare system is currently being tested right now. Considering the poor state of our healthcare infrastructure…um…hum.…let’s just hope things don’t get worse than it is at the moment. Your years of corruption and negligence of your health sector seems to have caught up with you now. For years, your leaders and rich ones often seek their own medical treatment abroad while they watch your national healthcare system crumble. Now that COVID-19 has made other countries have shut their own borders, both your powerful and the poor are now left with no choice than to be treated by the same system they have neglected for years. How prepared are you to treat the sick and infected from this pandemic if the number of cases explode among your people? The future of your people is dependent on a solid and functional healthcare system. No western or east power can save you if you won’t look inward and develop your own healthcare system. It’s high time you invested in appropriate material and human resources (medical professionals) needed provide this service.

#3. Prepare against the next wave of brain drain

Like other African nations, Nigeria has continuously suffered from brain drain; many of your brightest minds are leaving to ply their trade in other nations where their skills and expertise are appreciated. It’s time you invested in your own people and stem the tide against the drain of your best talents. You’ve had decades of being led by septo- and octogenarians in all sectors of your society; it’s an indication of your failure in leadership. It’s important that you train and raise the next generation of leaders (e.g., politicians, technocrats, business men, scientists and artists) who are equipped with the right set of values to lead your people into the future. Else, you risk losing your very best to the next wave of brain drain., which is bound to happen post-COVID19 as other nations seek to rebuild their economy.

#4. Invest in your education as much as you pray

It’s no news that your people are quite religious and superstitious; God, miracles, and prayers are central to the fiber of your multiethnic society. No wonder religious leaders hold significant sway over your people. But religion has permeated several aspects of your society so much that it has inhibited critical thinking, planning, pursuit of excellence, and innovation, which are cornerstones of any prosperous society. It’s very important that you invest in a comprehensive overhaul of your educational curriculum at all levels (i.e., primary, secondary, and post-secondary). Important topics such as financial management, critical thinking, leadership, entrepreneurship, and computing should be taught to your children and youth early in life. Your society cannot continue to be a hotbed for fake news, conspiracy theories, or terrorism. Nigeria must evolve as the world moves into a new age post-COVID19; you must not be left behind.

#5. Data, Planning, and the way forward

Any meaningful plan for rebuilding your nation should start with an accurate data collection (census, surveys) of your people and the use of this information to inform planning and policy decisions. The lack of data on people living below the poverty line has hampered your national plans to provide social, financial, and material support to your people during this lockdown. Your epileptic power supply continues to frustrate your citizens with various online videos (where your citizens decry their poor living conditions) emerging during the last two weeks. These are pointers that your years of neglect and incompetence cannot continue. You must go back to the drawing board, starting with a more accurate documentation of people living within your borders This should be used to inform planning and implementation of policies that can move your nation forward post COVID-19.

 

My beloved Nigeria, for years, many of your brightest minds have written you letters (like this one) advising you on how to grow up and realize your potentials. It does not appear you have yielded to any of the gems of wisdom they’ve shared with you. I hope this pandemic crisis gives you a rare moment of reflection, especially in this 60th year of your independence. I believe so much in you and enormous potentials you hold as a nation. But I can only hope that you will listen to this advice and come out of this season stronger and better.

Your son in diaspora,

@Tolu Sajobi
April 2019


https://tolusajobi.wordpress.com/
PS: A shout-out to every medical professionals, scientists, epidemiologists, and public health officials, and public officials who are genuinely fighting hard to stop the spread of covid19 in Nigeria. We salute your courage!

My Reflections on COVID19 (Vol 4): The Ultimate Pause & Reset Button

My Reflections on Covid-19 Crisis: Parenting the Era of Covid-19 Lockdown

It’s been more than two weeks since we received an email from our son’s school (@St Veronica School CCSD) stating that all K-12 schools have been shut indefinitely due to Covid-19 pandemic. As we shared the news with our 8-year old, tears streamed down his face in disappointment. Several questions followed: “what is corona virus?”, “what will happen to my Spring break Daddy?”, “does it mean I am not going to see my friends again?”, “am I now promoted to Grade 3?”, “what will happen to my teacher?”… and the list goes on. We patiently calmed him down and explained as much as we could but also let him know that we don’t have the answers and had to wait on the school for the next steps. We also discussed the potential silver lining in the situation (e.g., opportunity to hang out with his younger brother etc). In the following days, we received updates from the school and information about online learning. But we soon realized that this might be as easy as we initially thought. Here are some tips we have both learned about being co-Principals of a “boys only” homeschool.

#1. Embrace the realities (Abby)

We had originally set out to maintain the 8:30AM – 3:00PM school routine but soon find out that this won’t be feasible for several reasons. Rather than feeling like a failure, we decided to cut ourselves some slack, get him to sleep in and learn at his own pace. Another reality is that our pantry started to feel the presence of a homeschooler! For example, a month-worth of snacks became depleted within the first 10 days of staying at home. “Toyosi, I’d thought you used to snack once during school hours; how come you are snacking 3- 4 times these days?”, Tolu asked. “Dad, this is home school and my brain needs more energy!”, Toyosi retorted as he ran upstairs to continue Matheletics. We all laughed so hard about the brain energy comment but had to restrict excess snacking anyways. My discussions with our friends with older kids/teenagers paint a grim depletion of their pantry inventory since this lockdown began. It’s high time we locked our pantry doors! 🙂

#2. It can be overwhelming (Tolu)

A unique challenge with homeschooling while still working remotely is that things can quickly become overwhelming especially as the online learning instructions (using various apps and websites) started to pour in. Rather than live in frustration, it’s important to slow down and re-evaluate your work load(s), and readjust the periods and modes of learning accordingly. This is particularly important because the dynamics of each family is different. For example, the homeschooling routine for families of six with two parents remotely working may be different compared to a family where one parent cannot work remotely. It’s important to avoid burnout during these times, regardless of the situation. Also, you may want to reach out to the teachers and fellow parents for support and tips about what works for them. No one knows it all.

#3. Managing screen time while learning (Abby)

As parents, Tolu and I aware of the impact of prolonged exposure to online technology on children, despite their amazing benefits. Like every parent, we do our utmost best to limit screen time for our kids, but it’s been a struggle. Now Covid-19 crisis has brought prolonged online learning to our door step. It’s important that parents explore other ways to engage their children aside from online learning. You don’t have to spend all the learning periods online. You can read a book together, study the bible together, try a dance night for the family, do some gardening (summer will soon be here), try card/board games. Asking them to help in the kitchen is part of homeschool learning too, even if it’s informal.

#4. Don’t forget to Stay Healthy (Abby)

Parents (especially women!) should pay attention to their own health during these times. It’s easy to worry about kids, finances, career, and day-today running of the family without maintaining your health. It’s important to create personal time to recharge in these times. Your physical and mental health matter too!

#5. Enjoy the moments with your kids (Abby)

Finally, despite the gloom and doom of this Covid-19 pandemic, this crisis has afforded us the extra opportunity to spend more with our children. Don’t waste the opportunity. Be intentional in bonding with them while enjoying the little moments; the mess, the giggle, the sibling fights, the troubles, the shouting, the running, etc. Remember, they grow up so fast.

Lots of love to you and yours.

Stay safe everyone.
@Abimbola & Tolu Sajobi
https://tolusajobi.wordpress.com/

My Reflections on Covid-19 Crisis (Vol 2): The Future of Work

On March 9, 2020, Italy became the first western nation to go on complete lockdown. Since then, many nations have quickly followed suit. In less than a month, the traditional view of work has changed; most of us (except frontline health and other essential workers) who are able to work from home are now mandated to stay home and work remotely. As I continue to reflect on the consequences of this Covid-19 crisis, we have a golden opportunity rethink the future of work as we know it and to strategize for the post-Covid-19 era. Here are some thoughts about this.

#1. Remote working is here to stay

Few months ago, I penned a series of articles on strategies for working smart and enhancing your productivity. Some of the points raised include the need for adaptability and work flexibility. I was not aware that our way of life as we know it was about to change dramatically by the Covid-19 crisis when these articles were published on Faith Life Community, my FB wall, and my blog. The pandemic has forced many of us to work remotely under non-ideal conditions (e.g., working from home while still homeschooling kids). But going forward, working remotely is likely to become a new normal and might constitute a significant component of the work life in the post-Covid-19 era. In fact, I suspect that working remotely will be one of the attractive features for attracting and retaining talents/staffs in post-Covid-19 era.

This will have several implications for individuals and businesses, such as reduced overhead costs for businesses, reduced cost of living for employees (don’t have to live close to work anymore), less commuter traffic, shipping of jobs overseas (employment without borders!), improved work-life balance, and so on. For those that care to know, investing in home library and online tech platforms for remote working might be a wise decision for individuals and business, respectively.

#2. Online Learning is here to stay

Since the lockdown began, many elementary/high school and post-secondary educational institutions have moved migrated their learning and educational activities online. This might have serious impact on learning for our children (watch out for my post on parenting later this week!), post-secondary students, and professionals. Many Canadian universities, for example, professors were asked to transition their courses online within a week of announcing the lockdown. Although stressful for many professors, I suspect that online teaching experience will be critical skillset for hiring teachers and professors going forward. Personally, my next project upon to my return from sabbatical leave is learning how to develop a MOOC!

#3. It’s time to re-evaluate your career plan/strategy

Furthermore, the interruption of Covid-19 will have far reaching consequences on career plans for many. The decimation of several industries, the massive layoffs, loss of income, and shattering of career plans is heart wrenching. But as we move into the post-Covid-19 era, there will changes in career prospects for different sectors and industries. For example, experts have predicted that information technology, agriculture, data analytics, to name a few, will be fast growing disciplines of the present and the future. Will your career survive the next 2 decades? What do you need to do to stay competitive in your line of work? Do you need to switch to a new career? It’s important that you evaluate your career prospects in light of this crisis, thoughtfully strategize, and make important decisions for your future.

#4. It’s time to embrace financial discipline

Finally, with millions of jobs already lost in the last month or so and ailing stock markets, economists are now predicting a Covid-19-induced global economic recession. To survive these times and times to come, sound financial planning and discipline is needed if you have not been practising this. Financial experts generally recommend maintaining a maintain a 6-month emergency fund in the event of loss of jobs or other emergencies. While this may be a tall order for many, financial discipline is needed to save for the raining day. These times also present opportunities to intelligently invest in stocks, real estate, and other solid investments.

Let him/her that has an ear hear…

Stay safe everyone!

© Tolu Sajobi
https://tolusajobi.wordpress.com/

My Reflections on Covid19 Crisis (Vol 1): An Opportune Moment for the Church

As the world reels from the growing scourge of covid19, many countries have made the inconvenient decision to shut down by closing their borders and asking their citizens to stay home, practising social distancing (which by the way has won the Word of the Year award), to reduce the rate of infection from this disease. This singular act has affected every aspect of our modern lives as we know it. From personal interruptions, to business shutdowns, decimation of countless industries (e.g., aviation, tourism, food service industries), free fall of the stock market, and dwindling international trade, our world may never be the same again. Religious organizations are not exempted as in-person gatherings are now banned, special programs are cancelled, and church finances at risk. Most churches (both mini or mega churches) are now forced to online broadcast of their services and programs to the faithful. Aside from the obvious economic impact, mental health experts now predict increased prevalence of psychiatric conditions (e.g. depression, anxiety, etc), resulting from loneliness and economic crisis initiated by coviv-19. Despite the gloom and doom, I’ve been reflecting on what our response should be as a church during this crisis. Here, my reflections will focus on the potential opportunities this crisis has presented the church.

 

#1. Opportunity to offer hope and the love of Jesus to the World

The church has often fallen victim of unadvised public relations gaffes. Even though we claim to love people and our doors are opened to the unsaved, our actions and words often cause more damage down good. This has earned the church the reputation of being judgemental and hateful. This is not the time to create more fear, it is time to let the world know about the love of Jesus and his desire to bring healing and restoration to a hurting society and the world. Now we don’t need preachers to tout their prophetic credentials by reminding us that they predicted this crisis. Instead, it’s time for the Church step up to the frontlines of this crisis. Rather than peddle conspiracy theories to stoke fear about this crisis and/or defy government orders, we need to offer people hope and love of the Lord in these times.

 

#2. Opportunity to Strengthen Cell Groups

As catastrophic as this covid19 crisis is, it has created enormous opportunity for the growth of the church. Although this crisis has prevented in-person church gatherings especially for our mega churches, the social distancing thing has afforded the church a rare opportunity to strengthen cell groups while promoting the need for a personal walk with God. At the core of the exponential growth of the church in the book of Acts is the proliferation of cell groups hosted in people’s homes. This early church had no luxury of building cathedrals and large business empires but was effective in spreading the gospel. Even in our modern times, the thriving underground church in China don’t have the luxury of building cathedrals or claim they have right to freedom of religion in a communist country. Instead they meet in their homes and in even various rendezvous points to fellowship.

 

#3. Opportunity to embrace technology

Despite the social distancing, technology has, once again, come to the rescue of humanity in these times. Technology has now enabled virtual connection and interactions. Our inability to hold in-person church gatherings during these times has handed the church a rare opportunity to enhance their ability to integrate information technology, social media, and emerging techs to further kingdom assignments globally unlike before. E.g., Massive Online Open Course platform can be leveraged to develop bible study (and discipleship) materials to be used at home. Instead of feeling powerless or under attack, the church needs to embrace current and emerging tech as its only vehicle into the future. While I commend the churches leading the way on this, we need to sensitize other church organizations who feel technology is “wordly” and not useful for ministry.

 

#4. Opportunity to step up to the frontlines

The natural response for most church folks in times of crisis is to pray, confessing our sins, and calling other to repentance. Although there is nothing wrong with these acts, we often forget to step up and lead the world from the front in such times. The church is not only set up to be in the basement praying but also to be up there on the frontlines problem solving and proffering solutions to the crisis. This type of leadership was exemplified by Nehemiah when faced with a crisis.

And from that day on, half of my men did the work while the other half held spears, shields, bows, and armor. The officers stationed themselves behind all the people of Judah 17who were rebuilding the wall. The laborers who carried materials worked with one hand and held a weapon  Nehemiah 4:17-18

While I commend churches, who have taken corporate social responsibility seriously, we need to encourage other denominations to step up to promote public health safety rules, partner with government agencies to provide medical infrastructures where needed (e.g. ventilators, PPE), support frontline health workers, pray for our leaders and scientists for wisdom to find a cure, and many more. 

In summary, this crisis is laden with countless opportunities for the Church to evolve and make a difference during and after the covid19 crisis. We need to go back to the drawing board to reflect on our priorities and strategize on the future of Church 2.0. We cannot afford to miss the rare opportunity to shape the world for Jesus. Let him that has ears hear what the Spirit is saying.

Stay Safe everyone!

© Tolu Sajobi

 

 

 

Don’t Just Work Hard, Work Smart! – Part 2

My Conversations with Muyiwa Ayodele

The law of trade by barter that defines the marketplace is based on the principles of exchange of goods and services. In simple terms, you are remunerated for the value you deliver. The smart approach to work being discussed in this series is focused on maximizing the value your deliver in the market place while giving you more time to focus on other things. Smart workers are generally known to experience better career advancement (in terms of remunerations, promotions, etc) than their peers.

#5.       Be visible

Another smart strategy to increase your efficiency is to seek the spotlight for your work and accomplishments. Just like advertisement is an integral component of advance a company’s financial and public standing, you need to promote your own work while carefully walking the fine line of not appearing as a “shameless”, limelight-seeking, self-aggrandising person! Being visible involves promoting your expertise in order to create opportunities for collaboration and networking. Your work/, no matter how good, can go unnoticed leading to career stunting and lack of opportunities. It was Joseph’s promotion of his expertise through interaction with Pharaoh’s officials (Chief Butler and Chief Baker) in the Prison that landed him before the king. Explore opportunities to promote your expertise, advertise your business, and showcase your projects both online and in person. Leverage existing and emerging technology platforms (e.g., LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, professional websites, etc) to promote your work, and explore opportunities for growth. Also, don’t shy away from work-related social functions, team retreats, and other networking events where you can show case your expertise. In our discussion, we both realized that our attempts to be humble with our successes (by shying away from the limelight) has shut somes doors of opportunity again us. In Muyiwa Ayodele’s words, “…this is not humility but ignorance!….” If you don’t blow your own trumpet, nobody will!

 

#6.       Don’t re-invent the wheel

Smart professionals are not necessarily the most technically gifted folks. But they are known to recognize their strengths while leveraging the knowledge/expertise of others to get the job done. No man or woman is an island of knowledge or expertise. Someone out there has probably solved the problem or done something relevant to the project you are trying to tackle. Even in a new/emerging field, there is a relevant body of knowledge that you can leverage to fast-track your completion of your project. In this era of information deluge, develop a smart strategy for searching and sieving information relevant to your career advancement. Endeavor to keep abreast of the emerging expertise, information, and trends in your field. Be smart to leverage or adapt methods/strategies/frameworks developed by others to solve projects, but be quick to give credit where credit is due (avoid plagiarism!).

 

#7. Pay attention to your physical and mental well-being

Scientific research has now linked physical and mental wellness to increased work productivity and creativity. Stress and ill-health are two major inhibitors of increased productivity and creativity. Devise strategies to improve your physical and mental well-being and see your level of productivity rise. For example, Muyiwa and I brainstormed and identified relevant activities to improve our physical and mental health such as regular annual physical exams, more regular exercises (we’ve both added extra pounds that we needed to shed), spending more time with family, regular annual personal retreats, family vacations, listening to inspiring podcasts, fostering new relationships with people of like minds, our spiritual growth, more sleep, and so on. We have, since, noticed increased levels of productivity in our careers. While these strategies have worked for us, you need to figure out what works for you. Recognize stress-inducing situations that may inhibit your creativity/productivity within and outside the marketplace and devise appropriate strategies to avoid/minimize these issues.

 

#8. Explore opportunities for flexible work hours with your manager

Employers and organizations are increasing embracing flexible work culture to improve employee productivity. As an employee, explore opportunities for flexible work arrangements with your boss. This might include earlier or later resumption at work, working from home, teleconference opportunities rather than in-person meetings. While it’s often thought that entrepreneurs and business owners tend to have more flexibility in choosing their own hours, I find that running your own business even confers a high level of responsibility, leading to long hours of work to keep the business going. Business owners need to take a disciplined approach to create flexible work situations for themselves.

 

#9. Prioritize your work responsibilities

Your productivity and creativity is strongly linked to your ability to effectively manage your time and resources. Creativity can be hampered by “legitimate distractions” in the marketplace that may hinder your productivity. Regardless of your field of endeavor, make a list of your professional responsibilities and rank them in order of importance (“importance” here can be defined based on your manager’s expectations, company expectations, or your career goals). Reserve dedicated time to focus on high priority tasks, while making room for impromptu tasks.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> To be Continued <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Muyiwa Ayodele is a United Kingdom-based Information Technology (IT) professional, consultant, and entrepreneur with over 14 years of cross-industry experience consulting for government, financial, and energy industries (https://www.linkedin.com/in/olu-sola-ayodele-77491730/)

Don’t Just Work Hard, Work Smart!

My Conversations with Muyiwa Ayodele

Few years ago, I was on my way to United Kingdom (UK) to give a talk at a Health Data Science conference. After going through the security and seeing that I have about an hour before boarding, I decided to sit near the boarding gate for my flight to catch on my emails before boarding the flight. Just before opening my computer, I noticed a convenience kiosk near the boarding with few books on display, some of which are series of papers on emotional intelligence quotient (emotional IQ) published in Harvard Business Review. Rather than check emails, I spent the hour checking out these books and finally decided to buy a couple of them for myself and my dear friend Muyiwa Ayodele who I had planned to visit while in the UK. As you would expect, I read and pored over the entire series on my 9-hour flight to Heathrow. One recurring theme throughout over 200 pages of material I read is the evolution of work from the laborious “hard” work to smart work where you use your emotional IQ to advance your career, regardless of the business/organization culture/operation. Smart work approach to career development focuses on optimizing value delivery to your employers or clients. On arriving in the UK, this theme dominated my discussions with Muyiwa. Below are some of the excerpts from this enriching and insightful conversation with my friend.

 

#1. Hard work does not always lead to prosperity. Smart work does!

Contrary to culturally held notions that “hard” and laborious efforts leads to success, career progress is not a function of how much laborious effort you put in. Smart work seeks to optimize your productivity with respect to time, resources, goals. Religious folks may be quick to point out that a “hard working” individual will stand before kings and not mere men. But a closer look at the scriptural text did not indicate hard work but diligence. One of the shocking discoveries is that it is easy to put in long hours, acquire almost all possible technical skills, and still has little to show for it in terms of productivity. Don’t just work hard, focus on how to optimize your output in a timely and efficient manner.

 

#2.       Identify your North Star

The wise men who came to see baby Jesus found him by following the guiding star. Working smart can mean different things to different individuals, depending on your purpose in the market place. Your purpose is the north star that will determine your personalized strategies that can optimize your productivity/effort ratio. For some, working smart might mean more flexibility to pursue side projects that lead to their own business at some point down the line. For others, it might mean pursuing additional professional/technical certifications in order to rise through the organization structure.

 

#3.       The Relationship Currency

Your career progress lies in the strength of your relationship with others. The increasingly collaborative nature of the marketplace has contributed to the evolution of work and redefinition of success. Professionals who work efficiently are great collaborators who through interaction with others leverage the skills, expertise, experience, and knowledge of others to improve their own work while giving credit where due. Technical competence is no longer solely enough to achieve success. Your connections and interaction with people of like minds and those with complementary skills will deliver that quantum leap you’ve been waiting for. How connected are you?

#4. Acquire relevant soft skills

Knowledge is power. Learning how to increase your output is an integral part of smart work. Don’t just work hard, seek out ways to improve your productivity through online or in-person training on relevant topics such as project management, meeting management, scientific writing, CV development, the art of delegation, principles of collaboration, effective leadership, and so on. Acquiring such skills will improve your ability to work smart and accomplish a lot within a short time.

 

Muyiwa Ayodele is a United Kingdom-based Information Technology (IT) professional, consultant, and entrepreneur with over 14 years of cross-industry experience consulting for government, financial, and energy industries.

 

Define your Objective; but Remember to Focus on it

by Dr Oyedele Ola

When you give a lot of attention to a particular thing, a subject of interest or a person, you are said to be focused. To “focus” also means to concentrate or to centre your interest on something. One of the factors for landing a successful career is to have a distinct and clear career objective and to maintain an unwavering focus on it. It is not enough to formulate a big career objective, ambition or dream. The dreamer also has to focus diligently on the end-in-view in order to actualize the objective. In the game of table tennis (or ping pong), you must concentrate on the ball as it goes back and forth on the table. Failure to focus on the ball could result in a miss. Focussing on the ball is important for the player to be able to correctly hit the ball with the racket and get it to the desired destination on the opponent’s side of the table. In fact most games involving opponent individuals or teams require focussing to significant degrees, in order to gain advantage and limit the opponent’s options. In a similar way, focussing on the expected end makes the difference between success and failure in various aspects of life.

A lot of Christian professionals “wish” or “expect” success in their careers, but lack focus on any definite objective. Perhaps, they think that prayer and acts of Christian service alone can substitute for the principles that govern career success. Yes, God really does bless the works of our hands and He is interested in giving us career prosperity. However, we need to position ourselves for his blessings by showing diligence, hardwork and commitment to our course. Being a Christian should not, in any way, relegate anyone that professes to be so called to being a mediocre or to accepting little or no progress as fate. One of the greatest problems I have found with many educated individuals, especially fresh university graduates, is that, while a limited few pursue their career objective/ambition diligently, majority simply accept any job that comes their way, whether by chance or by luck. This is mostly common in many of the third-world countries, where the struggle for survival outweighs the desire for excellence and self-actualization. In my personal opinion, a satisfying and successful career would require a diligent and dogged focus on a definite career objective.

Permit me to share my personal career experience with you. Several years ago after I have decided to complete a bachelor’s program in engineering physics, I needed to decide on a career path. I was just in the second year of my undergraduate degree program at that time. I decided to seek and understand the various career options available to someone with a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics. In my search for useful information, I discovered that most of my undergraduate courses would focus on materials science and engineering. In addition, I got to know that several graduates of the program were at the fore front of ground-breaking materials engineering careers in different parts of the world. I was also constantly in contact with senior colleagues and professors with significant experience in the application of materials engineering principles. Before my graduation, I had already decided for a career in materials engineering, with the objective of acquiring practical knowledge and training that would enable me to take a frontline position in materials engineering research. Since that time, I have been directing (focusing) the best of my resources and ability toward fulfilling my career objective. Sustaining my interest by focussing on the objective assisted me to ascend to leadership as a research engineer in the field of materials engineering.

Among the career problems being faced by several individuals, the problem of lack of focus is just one. However, in my attempt to classify individuals according to their disposition to “focus”, I realized that there are actually four different categories of people. The first category is those who lack focus. These individuals don’t usually have any career objective. Therefore, there is nothing to focus on. They just accept life as it comes. Those who lack focus usually settle for the least. They have no drive for achieving more, as long as they have enough to get life going. They just watch everything as it all happens around them. In most cases, they go to school because others are in school. Their approach to life is simplistic and does not demand them to contribute anything significant to personal or community development.

The second category of people is those who lost focus. These individuals actually had career ambitions, but lost focus on their objective before they could be realized. Several people start out with an objective for their career. Unfortunately, the objective could not be realized due to distractions, loss of interest, unforeseen circumstances or the unachievable nature of the objective. For some, it is just a matter of settling for less because it may actually cost more to fulfil their career objective than it will cost to settle for less.

The third category of people is those with “dilly-dally focuses”. Individuals with dilly-dally focuses don’t actually focus on anything. Their career objective, hence career focus, changes per opportunity. They are moved only by what is “selling” out there. Yesterday they were bankers, today they are engineers and tomorrow they may be plumbers. They can be called “jack of all trades, master of none”. I have personally had the opportunity to review resumes of several job-seekers. I noticed that many of the resumes did not indicate any career focus or objective. This is always a problem for many employers as they are unable to rightfully place the skills and experience of the applicant and are somewhat confused as to whether they are primarily skilled in what they have applied for or are more skilled in something else. Those with dilly-dally focusses end up achieving nothing and, in most cases, don’t have much to show for several years of hard labour.

The fourth category of people and, of course, the last is those who have focus. These people centre their interest in certain objectives and do not waver from achieving what they have determined to pursue. Those who have focus usually understand their own strengths and weaknesses and are usually able to overcome obstacles. They are tenacious, diligent, unrelenting, hardworking, dedicated and are willing to pay the price for achieving a worthwhile course.

In conclusion, if you desire great success in your career, then you may have to dream a worthwhile and achievable dream. But…………, remember to diligently focus on the expected end.

(c) 2013. Oyedele Ola PhD

About the Author:

Oyedele completed his undergraduate degree in Engineering Physics from Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria and his graduate degrees in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Manitoba, Canada. Oyedele currently works as a research engineer with the Center for Aerospace Technology and Training at the Red River College in Winnipeg, Canada. He enjoys traveling, making friends and public speaking. During personal quiet periods, he enjoys bible study.

 

 

Wisdom Tips for Career Sucess: Musings from the Book of Proverbs

David, the greatest King of Israel, once advised his son to pursue Wisdom above everything else. He claimed “Wisdom is the principal thing, in all thy getting’s, get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7). While we often equate wisdom with educational achievement, the continuous evolution of the dynamics in the work place has shown that professional success is increasing de-emphasizing on educational degrees or technical skills. Instead, there is more emphasis on soft skills, such as people management, goal setting, and problem-solving attributes. Today, I want to point your attention to a wisdom arsenal for Christian professionals. The book of Proverbs is full of several instructions for success for many of us. Here are some relevant wisdom nuggets for career success!

1.  Your imagination is key to your success….guard it with all diligence!

Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts (Proverbs 4:22)

 

 2.  Your marriage is your biggest asset on your way up….don’t take it for granted!

Enjoy the wife you married as a young man! Lovely as an angel, beautiful as a rose— don’t ever quit taking delight in her body. Never take her love for granted! Why would you trade enduring intimacies for cheap thrills with a whore? (Proverbs 5: 18 – 20)

3.  Associate with wise and resourceful people

Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces (Proverbs 13: 20).

4.  Avoid distractions…….stay focused on your vision!

Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions. Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you (Proverbs 4: 24 – 27)

 

  5.  Don’t entertain laziness…..it has destroyed countless promising careers

So how long are you going to laze around doing nothing? How long before you get out of bed? A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there, sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next? Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life, poverty your permanent houseguest! (Proverbs 6: 9- 11)

 

6.  Think well before signing that contract……your word is your bond!

Dear friend, if you’ve gone into hock with your neighbor or locked yourself into a deal with a stranger, If you’ve impulsively promised the shirt off your back and now find yourself shivering out in the cold, Friend, don’t waste a minute, get yourself out of that mess. You’re in that man’s clutches! Go, put on a long face; act desperate. Don’t procrastinate— there’s no time to lose (Proverbs 6: 1-3)

 

7.  Trust the Lord with your decisions……..He will surely guide you into the right path

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track (Proverbs 3: 5)

 

8. Your mouth sets the course of your life………..choose your words wisely

Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose (Proverbs 18:21).

  

9. Your integrity speaks volume about you……..every employer searches for this attribute!

Leaders who know their business and care keep a sharp eye out for the shoddy and cheap. For who among us can be trusted to be always diligent and honest? (Proverb 20: 8 – 9)

God bless you all. 

The Tale of Two Prostitutes and their Babies

One of my favorite sections of the old testament is the history of the kings of Israel.  In the past few weeks, I have had to revisit the story of King Solomon, the wisest king in Israel. As I meditated on his life, his wisdom, and kingdom, I could not but focus on the saga between two prostitutes who came to king Solomon for judgement. The story can be found in 1Kings 3: 16-21. Even though this story demonstrated God’s wisdom in Solomon, I believe there is a lesson here for every Christian professional to learn. As I read through this story, it became very clear to me that both women were fond of sleeping. One slept so much till she rolled over her baby and killed him. The other woman was too deep in her sleep that she did not know when her baby was stolen. One outstandingly critical issue here for both women is carelessness. While sleep is good and refreshing, a night of carelessness through deep sleep destroyed a future (baby died), scattered a friendship, and made a fool of both of them nationally!. As I ruminated on some of the common pitfalls that has trapped and destroyed great careers, I realized that carelessness is the common problem underlying many of these problems. History and the media are littered with several examples of great individuals with great careers, but were brought down by a moment of carelessness and indiscretion. Several years of hard work, faithfulness, and sacrifice have been wasted through short moments of carelessness and lack of proper management of some habits. For these women, one night of carelessness ruined the travails of the 9 months of pregnancy and labor pain during delivery. For you, it might be that incessant problem with punctuality , poor time management, a little moment of angry outburst on that nagging colleague, procrastination, lack attention to details, a short flirt with that colleague, backbiting, financial recklessness, garrulousness, congeniality, excessive internet surfing (FB inclusive!), unprofessional text messaging in professional meetings, and many more. Even though these destiny-damaging habits might appear insignificant or harmless, they can wreck your career and future. As a matter of fact, human resource professionals are increasingly placing more emphasis on behavioral attributes and other soft skills rather than technical skills. A recent report in one of the American dailies suggested that employers are increasingly mining data from social media (e.g., Facebook) to understand behavioral tendencies about potential employees (lesson: don’t be careless on social   media!). It is important for you to pay close attention to those little habits and attitudes that may affect your future.

The woman whose baby was stolen is equally as guilty of carelessness as the woman who stole the baby. Success or failure in life is not always about your decisions or actions, but sometimes about our indecisions or inactions. Even though this second woman succeeded in getting her child back (thanks to God’s Wisdom in Solomon!), her life illustrated the consequences of carelessness. Had it been she was consciously guarding her baby, the other woman would not have succeeded in giving her a dead child. She would have avoided all the arguments that ensued afterwards, ranging from arguments in her neighborhood, to the appeal court in her province, till her case gained national attention and was brought to the King. One night of carelessness in not guarding what God’s gift caused her untold handrdships, striving, tears, and many other challenges. Even though your career is not blossoming yet, guard it with all diligence. Even though, no one appreciates you for the job well done, guard your integrity with all diligence. Guard your marriage, your faith, your children, your ministry, talent, and everything the Lord has committed into your hands. A moment of carelessness can destroy everything you have worked for in life. Dear friends, I urge you to be on guard and deal with these little attitudes and habits today. If possible, seek professional and spiritual help to deal with them. God bless you.