By Tolulope A. Adegoke
“At the centre of your being
you have the answer;
you know who you are
and you know what you want.”
― Lao Tzu
Harnessing the hero within is often galvanised and simplified by the practice of self-exploration, or productive introspection. This is the road that all winners in life must pass through. The biblical prodigal son, for instance, came back to his senses and recovered all he had lost, not primarily by determination, but by self- exploration.
How far a man conquers the world is a function of how well he conquers himself. Proverbs 16:32 says, “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” Hence, the greatest, most prestigious and most rewarding journey any man would ever embark on is the journey of self-exploration, leading to self-discovery.
A man will ever remain primitive and ignorant, no matter how well he has travelled round the world, if he neglects to travel through himself. Empowerment for change or development does not come from travelling round the world; it comes from travelling through oneself.
Here is a practical and glaring example. The governments of many African countries frequently talk about attracting Africans in diaspora to come back home to make their countries better. I consider this unnecessary. Africans who will develop their countries are not necessarily those who have travelled round the world; they are simply those who have “travelled around” their minds.
Consider the case of the prodigal son again. Despite his travelling to a far country and mingling with the citizens of a foreign land, he never acquired the necessary wisdom or insight to have a successful life; but as soon as he embarked on the journey of self-exploration, he got connected to a programme of restoration.
Self-exploration enables an individual, group or nation to outgrow childish dependence on others. Rather, it helps in acknowledging, celebrating, developing and maximising innate or indigenous potentials for the benefit of others. Self-explorers do not just sit down and wait for others to make things work for them; instead, they get up and work out things by accepting the responsibility for making meaningful contributions to the world around them.
Wired for Exploits
Self-explorers are wired to meet needs. They do not waste time to first think of who to call on to help meet their needs or the needs around them; rather, they look inwards because they believe in what the Creator, God Almighty, has embedded in them. This they consciously and continuously work upon to become better and more useful to the society at large and not only to themselves!
It is neither accidental nor coincidental that life’s significant activities are usually done or carried out in seclusion. For example, real banking transactions are carried out in the “strong room”. Moreover, an organisation’s behaviour is cultivated, strengthened and accounted for in a secluded company boardroom. Also, surgical operations are usually carried out in a secluded place, known as the theatre. This reveals to us the power of self-exploration.
Often, self-exploration that leads to self-realisation requires a secluded or serene atmosphere that guarantees solitude and, perhaps, silence. Sometimes, silence tells us the truth more than words! A man who does not engage in silence is bound to perform below his potentials! In the case of the prodigal son, it wasn’t until he became alone with pigs, such that he had nobody to come to his aid, that he came to himself. The prodigal son being alone means that he disconnected himself from his previous distracting activities – he disconnected from clubbing, as well as hanging out with sluts and macho guys. He indeed disconnected himself from distractions so as to pay attention to the call of destiny!
Albert Einstein, one of the greatest scientists that ever lived, attested to the power of solitude, when he revealed:
“I am truly a ‘lone-traveller’ and never belonged to my country, my home, my friends, or even my immediate family with my whole heart. In face of all these ties, I have never lost a sense of distance and a need for solitude, feeling that increase with the year.”
What the above simply means is that productive silence or solitude goes beyond locking yourself in a room and avoiding all manner of human and mechanical noise. It actually involves disengaging your mind from all manner of desires, lusts, pursuits, and associations that are not beneficial to the discovery, development and deployment of your God-given potentials. Isaiah 30:15 says, “…in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength”
The Michael Jordan Example
Michael Jordan is globally recognised as one of the greatest names in the history of basketball. Indeed, the game of basketball would perhaps not have garnered as much attention and excitement without the legendary exploits of Michael Jordan. What many may not know however is that there are reasons beyond the visible that made Michael Jordan such a timeless star. His winning edge was his mastery of the ageless art of solitude. He once wrote this powerful piece online:
“When I am out there, no one can bother me. Being out there is one of the most private parts of my life…during the game; for a few times in my life, I feel untouchable…I mean that about a game being like meditation period for me. Anytime I am playing serious basketball, it’s like meditation.
Sometimes even in the middle of the game, I am able to think about things as loud as it is; it’s almost a quiet time for me. I know that basketball game can be very exciting, but for me the game is one of the calmest parts of my life.”
Jordan’s success secret can thus be said to be his ability to be united – spirit, soul and body – with the game of basketball, without allowing external or distracting forces to affect him. By this, he was able to initiate, maximise and sustain coherence with the unusual basketball energy he is endowed with.
Curiously, the art of silence has been neglected by the vast majority of mankind; yet it is as important as prayer. This is why those who are given to prayer without being given to silence make little or no contribution to human existence. Conversely, those who combine prayer with quality moments of solitude enjoy the grace to soar and contribute meaningfully to the advancement of humanity!
Bishop Oyedepo, in the book, “Maximising Your Destiny” reveals:
“Quietness enhances the quality of thinking. Quietness enhances productive reasoning. I cherish quietness and I will do anything to have it…that is why although we have many rooms in our house, I sometimes have to put certain guests in the hotel, to avoid the noise they will make in my home. Quietness is precious to me. It has great spiritual value…”
One of my enviable role models, Samson Adah Paul, wrote this mind-blowing piece that brings the creation story much more alive: “When God Almighty saw the need to create woman for man, he did not inspire man to employ the ‘art of prayer’, he simply inspired man to connect to the art of silence…” This is confirmed in Genesis 2:21-22, “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.”
Believe it, friend – silence informs! Since it is the seedbed of ideas, it can rightly be described as the powerhouse of societal progress and development. Consequently, any quest for progress and development that is pursued without the art of silence will ever be in vain. According to Samson Adah Paul, “Africans that will experience the fulfilment of the ‘African Dream’ will have to be masters of the art of silence. Mind you, silence in this context is not about being mute and dumb; it’s rather about being immune to distracting external forces, in order for one to initiate and maximise communication with the inherent resources endowed in man by God.”
Some aspects of Thomas Edison’s life have been a great lesson to me after taking time to study about him. I discovered too that his greatest strength was his mastery of the art of silence. He recorded a number of achievements, discoveries and exploits – but they were mainly as a result of his paying attention to necessary matters, while avoiding those he considered unnecessary. He had a physical challenge from birth – total deafness in one ear and partial deafness in the other. However, rather than seeking to find a way to remedy this defect, he rather chose to bear the burden, because – according to him – it was an advantage. He wrote this interesting piece:
“Even though I am nearly deaf, I seem to be gifted with a kind of inner hearing which enables me to detect sounds and noises that the ordinary person does not hear.”
Edison did not consider hearing disability as pain but as gain. And this helped to strengthen his concentration level – leading to amazing inventions that blessed humanity, rather than becoming a good excuse for him to fail in life.
You Need a Break
Harnessing your potentials doesn’t mean that you have to burn yourself out. You are still human, after all, and must therefore devise means of conserving and replenishing your physical strength.
There is nothing to be ashamed of about this. We all get tired sometimes. This is why we must be able to manage our energy and not only our time. We must be able to know when our energy gauge is getting low, and then back off; otherwise, we might make some bad decisions.
Our Lord Jesus Christ provides a good example for us on this. He retreated occasionally, when the multitudes pressed upon Him. There were times He pulled away, and either went to the mountain (a serene and holy place) to pray or got some other place to rest. Moreover, the Scripture reveals that God, our Heavenly Father, rested on the seventh day after creation.
When you are tired, withdraw from people. Look for a serene environment and lodge there zzfor a while to regenerate and rest. Go on short vacations with your loved ones and enjoy a change of atmosphere.
Dr. Robert Schuller wrote: “When I am tired, I often do not see people. I owe a great deal to my dear wife. She knows me very well, and she arranged my calendar very clearly and carefully. She knows when my energies are taxed, and she blocks off time for renewal. Each year she plans mini-vacations for me immediately after busy times of the year. That way I never get burned out.”
I often adopt the withdrawal method too. I go to a cool and serene environment to reload my energy by having good quality rest. This way, I am refreshed and inspired towards greater exploits.
Watch out for the Book titled: “The Power of an Empowered Zero” (Awakening the Giant Within You) by Tolulope A. Adegoke. Foreword by Dr Yomi Garnett (CEO/Chancellor, Royal Biographical Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania U.S.A., U.K., Abuja, Nigeria.) Edited by Ola Aboderin.
Tolulope A. Adegoke is an acclaimed “globalpreneur”, with the mandate to enrich lives and provide the professional, spiritual, academic and leadership empowerment needed to birth, maximize and sustain possibilities in peoples, corporates and nations. He is a prolific writer, frequent keynote speaker and spoken word poet, among others, having written countless articles in diverse reputable fields and honoured many public invitations.
He is also a Senior Administrator.
Tolulope Adegoke can be booked for public events via the contacts below: