Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Five Notable Achievers Who Bounced Back After Staggering Defeat

“Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.” - Robert T. Kiyosaki

The business or career challenge you are faced with at the moment is not unique to you. You might have lost your job or perhaps seen a business you invested so much time, effort and money suffer ‘a shipwreck’. The reality however is that this obviously disastrous turn of events is not peculiar to you. Scores of others have walked down the same road. This is not meant to make light of your current predicament but to assure you that you are not alone and that more importantly, irrespective of the mess you might find yourself in at this point (and the many times you have failed) in time, it isn’t over until you say it is over.  

John Asaraf once noted, “pretty much every self-made billionaire slipped & fell on their way to the top, so if you have too, don`t take it too hard. Persistence is the key.”

As a matter of fact, many of world`s great achievers (many who have amounted to much in life) went through the route of disappointments, setbacks, delays and outright failures. The difference between them and ‘losers’ is this; whereas ‘losers’ called it quits in the face of sometimes horrendous challenges, those who came up tops refused to give up; they persisted in the pursuit of their dreams and aspirations.

It was Denis Waitley who once opined, “failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” And he is so right on point.

 I have put together five remarkable stories of some notable achievers who refused to stay down, choosing to rise up from the ashes to take the world by storm. Be inspired to reach for the skies.

1.      Jack Ma: The highly successful entrepreneur, billionaire, founder and chairman of the world-renowned Alibaba Group suffered a long streak of failures and setbacks on his route to the top. His beginnings are unimpressive; He was rejected from Harvard ten times. After graduation from College, his first 30 applications for jobs were turned down. Out of 24 interviewees, Ma was the only one rejected by KFC, the other 23 interviewees were hired. Even after establishing Alibabi, he almost went bankrupt and was unable to make any profits in the first three years of being in business; he also failed to persuade Silicon Valley to fund his business. These are among several others setbacks he encountered but his focus remained unflinching. The rest is history.

2.      Abraham Lincoln: One of the most revered presidents of the United States was buffeted by a myriad of setbacks. Lincoln was from a poor home but that did not stop him from pursuing his dreams; he worked hard to become a self-taught lawyer. He failed in business at the age of 21 and suffered a defeat in a legislative race at age 22. Lincoln failed again in business at age 24.  He lost a congressional race at age 34 and also lost a senatorial race when he was 45. An attempt at the vice-presidency at age 47 was a flop. He lost a senatorial race yet again at age 49. In spite of all these glaring defeats (and rather than throw in the towel), Lincoln persevered; he was eventually elected president of the United States (and a good one at that) at age 52.

3.      Ross Perot: From humble beginnings Perot rose through the ranks of the United States Navy, becoming a battalion commander at one point. After exiting the navy, he joined IBM as a salesman, out-performing his peers; he completed his annual sales quota in two weeks. He soon exited IBM, starting his own company, Electronic Data Systems. Perot had a rough start as he sought to sell his company`s data processing services to corporations; he was rejected 77 times. The average person would have called it quits but not Perot. He persisted till things began to change for the better; he won government contracts among others, turning his company into a technological powerhouse. He eventually sold his company to GM for a whooping sum of $700 million.

4.      J. K. Rowling: She is the best-selling author the Harry Potter series (having sold millions of copies) and arguably one of the richest women in the United Kingdom. She set out to write her first novel while hemmed in by poverty, living on government welfare, depressed and struggling as a single mum to cater for her child. Her first novel which eventually became an international best-seller and racks in huge financial inflows was rejected 12 times. The myriad of setbacks not-withstanding, she stayed her ground and became the better for it.

5.      Henry Ford: This remarkably successful business man and founder of Ford Motors had not always been on top of his game; He had his share of business failures. The very first two businesses he started were a total flop. As though that was not enough, he went bankrupt five times. Rather than get discouraged, he went on to build one of the world`s most successful automobile companies.

These are but a few of the inspiring stories of men and women who have arisen from the ashes of despondency and failure to accomplish phenomenal feats; life came them a merciless beating but they bounced right back. That they made it in spite of the odds is indicative that you can too. Don`t throw in the towel yet. Maintain your focus and persist through thick and thin. You will make it. I sign off with an apt quote by one of America`s richest men who ever lived, John D. Rockefeller: “I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.”

Written by Daniel Dela Dunoo
(Freelance writer/editor, blogger & published author)
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Sunday, 14 May 2017

Mum`s Unparalleled Influence On My Faith Walk

Photo: Madam Esther Lawer (formerly of Bank of Ghana)
Photo credit: Mercy Dunoo
On the occasion of Mother`s Day and just a day after my mum`s 70th Birthday, i thought it fitting to put together a write-up in honour of my mum. This is unlike my usual blog posts. Kindly bare with me. Thank you.
“Dela, Dela, wake up”, Esther Lawer, my beloved mum will call in her attempt to wake me up from a cozy sleep. Getting up from bed seemed drudgery sometimes but mum will ensure that I am up from bed. She will wake my other siblings up and demand that we join her at the dinning hall for our morning devotion. This was usually around 5am and so some of us will struggle to keep our eyes open as the devotion went on. My mum will lead us in prayer and through a brief moment of worship, and would read a portion of Scripture to us. She would sometimes make us read in turns specific passages of Scripture. Mama Esther would also read from the devotional - ‘Light for our path’, taking her time to expatiate. While she did so, she would ask us questions based on the Biblical text and commentary from the devotional. Our morning devotions always ended with a prayer. This was how a typical day in our home begun while a kid. This was even before I joined Scripture Union (SU) and also attended many youth camps under the auspices of SU where I developed the habit of having a personal quiet time with the Lord in prayer and in the Word every single morning.

When I look back at those early years of my life where my mum ensured that I participate in morning devotions, every single morning, I wonder how she did it. She was such a busy woman; she was a banker and held leadership roles in our home church and in Women`s Aglow International among others. She will leave for work in the morning and return at night almost every working day. This was so because once she closed from work at the Bank, she would make her way to a church related programme such as Women`s Fellowship meetings and Women`s Aglow meetings. She would check on us kids when she returned home and would usually go to bed late, and exhausted. This notwithstanding, she would be up from bed early enough to ensure that we read the Scriptures and prayed. Such was her commitment to a daily devotional life.
 Sunday church attendance, and of cause Sunday school was a must for every one in our home. My mum would ensure that my kid sister and I and other members of the family got ready early enough for Sunday worship service at the Unity Congregation of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Tamale. Mama Esther will give us money while on our way to church and instruct us to give it out during offertory time. For the most part I complied; on a few occasions I squandered the money but mum never knew. However, I learnt to be faithful by the time I turned twelve.
 Occasionally, I feigned sickness so as not to be required to go to church. And on this particular Sunday morning, I escaped from home with my bicycle. I did not want to go to church that day. Well, no one knew my where about but they went to church all the same. They somehow knew I had deliberately bolted and that I would certainly come home later in the day. Later that day I learnt the lesson of my life. Mum operated by the Bible imperative, “spare the rod, spoil the child”. She literally lashed the foolishness out of me. I never again skipped church under mum`s watch. Many years down the line, I am glad mum “taught me a lesson”.
 At Age 12 my mum bought me my first full Bible (It was a “Good News Bible.”), hitherto I was content with having a Gideon`s KJV New Testament. She also bought me my first copy of the daily devotional, “Daily Power.” She was instrumental in my becoming a member of the Scripture Union town fellowship and also ensured that I never missed any of the youth camps (“Junior Youth Camp) organized by Scripture Union. My life was impacted greatly as a result. I gave my life to Christ and was deeply involved in church-related activities right from when I was twelve; my heart-felt desire at age 12 was to be like the boy Jesus; the story of Jesus` engagement with the teachers of the law and his parents interested me so much. Thanks to my mum.

Mum was a prayerful Christian woman. I would hear her pray passionately at dawn all by herself. The more I heard her pray, the more my prayer vocabulary was impacted. As a matter of fact, as a teenager, the structure of my prayer life and the style/content was for the most part fashioned along the lines of that of my mum. She has no clue this was happening. Mama Esther would spend a long time, an hour or more praying for people and about many situations. I was inspired to pray the same way because of my mum`s example. Even as a young adult, I still find traces of the contents of my mum`s prayers in my prayer language. Mum will also occasionally organize a fast for the family and require that every one gets involved.
 I fell in love with books as a kid, once I overcame the hurdle of learning how to read. I read lots of bedtime stories, ladybird stories and several other children`s books. The good news for me was that mum had a huge stock of Christian literature. And so I would read one book after the other. Growing up as a teenager and into my twenties, I feasted on these books. My Biblical knowledge grew by limps and bounds. My hunger for God and the things of God grew stronger.
 I remember after my compulsory national service and two years voluntary service, my mum backed me up when I decided to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theology. She encouraged and supported throughout my theological education.
 At age 70 and while not too well health-wise, my mum is still a praying and believing woman. On occasion, she prays with me and during challenging times, she encourages me, and assures me she is praying for me. I couldn`t have asked for a better mum. When I think of my mum and her immeasurable influence on my life, I am reminded of what the apostle Paul said to Timothy, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5).
Wishing you mum - Mama Esther Lawer a Happy Mother`s Day and a belated Happy Birthday. You have been a tremendous blessing to dad, my siblings and I.
Written by Daniel Dela Dunoo
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Thursday, 4 May 2017

Ideas For Boosting The Productivity Of Your Team

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"Management is nothing more than motivating other people." -Lee Iacocca

Many scholars in the field of human resource management are generally agreed that motivation is a critical ingredient for eliciting positive work outcomes from employees. All things being equal, a well motivated staff will be the more predisposed towards creativity, innovation and productivity.
 It is in your best interest as an employer or team leader to keep your staff or team members motivated. Shirking this responsibility comes with dire consequences. Go to an organization where employees are bitter, dissatisfied, frustrated and demoralized, and you will find a company that is performing far below its potential. Now, I share with you a couple of ideas that when deployed will motivate your employees and keep them motivated while they expend their energies towards the attainment of organizational goals and objectives.

Be an example
It is said that the best way to teach a child is not merely to tell him or her what they ought to do but to show them what they should do by your example. Good leaders exemplify what they desire the employees to be. For them, “it isn`t do what I say but don`t do what I do.” Such leaders walk the talk. Be an employee or team leader who inspires change by your conduct. Be at work on time. Put in extra hours where need be. Put in the requisite effort in the discharge of your roles and assignments. Exude a positive work ethic. Before long, your team members and employees will have no choice but follow suit. 

Praise rather than criticize
Criticism has a way of demoralizing people and putting them on the defensive. Constantly criticizing a team member or employee makes him or her feel worthless, incapable and incompetent. It wounds their self-esteem which invariably stifles creativity, enthusiasm, initiative and productivity. You obviously do not want this to happen. What then is the way to go when your team members are failing to meet sales targets for instance? Acknowledge the good you see in them; acknowledge their efforts. Praise them for every progress made, however minimal they may be. Let them know you appreciate their efforts and that you are certain they can do better. When your team members or employees get the sense that you believe in them and that you are counting on them to get the job done, their self-worth is boosted and they will be willing to go the extra mile not to let you down.

Show genuine interest in your staff
Make the time to check on your employees or team members from time to time. Don`t be superficial in your show of concern. Be genuinely interested in the wellbeing of your workforce. Visit employees who may be hospitalized or bereaved, where possible. Share their burdens when need be.. Share in their joys and in their pains.
 When a team member is lagging behind the rest of the team, this is not the time to rebuke and reprimand them before their colleagues. Sit them down privately and have a chart with them with the goal of identifying what might be contributing to their low work performance. Help them find viable solutions.

Include team members in decision making processes
Of cause some decisions are reserved solely for top management. When team members or employees are involved in some decision making processes, they feel a part of the organization; they understand that their employers value their views, opinions and level of intelligence. There is this sense of satisfaction that is engendered and the desire to play their part per the decisions arrived at.

Reward achievement
Be generous in expressing gratitude to employees. Openly acknowledge their contributions to the success of the organization. Identify exceptional employees and offer them some kind of reward openly; this has a way of motivating them to continue to give of their best, and in some instances exceed their currents performance. The example of employees who are rewarded may encourage others to strive to up their game, if for nothing at all, to be considered the next recipient of a reward.

Encourage continues learning
Be concerned about the personal development of your staff. One of the most crucial ingredients for boosting the productivity of your employees is the provision of avenues for continues learning. Sponsor promising employees to further their education in their areas of expertise. Periodically organize refresher courses and seminars for employees to sharpen their knowledge base and skill-sets. Encourage your staff to make it a habit to continually access high value content that will live a positive imprint on their productivity. Create a work environment that allows interested (and qualified) workers to pursue professional courses on part time basis and where possible offer periodic study leave. These helps equip your staff to be at their best and creates a sense of loyalty. As a consequence, your employees will be motivated to make substantial contributions to the success of your organization.

Good pay, good working conditions
One of the major ingredients for the remarkable success of Ford Motors under the leadership of its founder was the fact that they paid their employees better than their competitors. As a consequence, some of the best mechanics in America flocked to Ford Motors, and this greatly slowed employee turnover and increased productivity. Henry Ford is also said to have reduced the working hours for his staff. These measures among others enhanced the productivity of Ford Motors. What is the point? Pay your staff well and create a working environment that is safe and conducive for your staff.
 There are other ideas that can make a significant difference in the productivity of your employees and team members. However, for want of space and in other not to bore you with a lengthy write up, I will apply the breaks here. Hopefully, the thoughts thus far shared will be adopted and adapted to suit your peculiar organizational setting.
Written by Daniel Dela Dunoo
(Freelance Writer/editor, Blogger, Published Author)
Email: /