Extra-ordinary Avatar

extra-ordinary avatars

I recently saw this advert that had me laughing so hard I couldn’t even remember my name. I can’t remember the product that was being advertised. All I remember is that the man in the advert had an online profile of himself looking super-cute and on the other side of the screen was his super-plump, completely unattractive personality. The man’s online profile could have anybody drooling and longing to be like him but in real life he was nothing like that.

Since you’re probably wondering what an avatar is (and please don’t assume that you know what it means simply because you’ve watched the movie, Avatar and no this post is not about an imaginary world where people get to live as incredible semi-cartoon, semi-spirit beings…lol), I decided to give you a little explanation of what an avatar is. It is simply a graphical representation of a person in 3 dimensional or 2 dimensional forms as in a game, internet forum or other online applications.

We are all guilty of it. Check anybody’s profile on social media and you’ll probably see a picture of her in her latest designer dress, spotting a red pout on her lips and looking like a million dollars. Don’t worry about the fact that she doesn’t have a job or any particular means of income. On facebook, she has a perfect life; on twitter she only tweets about how wonderful everything is, she posts her most attractive pictures on instagram and if you follow her on tumblr she’s the hottest model in town. Who’s to blame anybody for that, anyway? Nobody wants to be the one carrying last online ;).

So online we’re all mostly super-cool and super-hot at the same time. Then it struck me how most of us have extra-ordinary avatars of ourselves not just online but in the real world.

In life, there are three major pictures of ourselves. There’s a picture of how we view ourselves, there’s a picture of how we want people to see us and then there’s a picture of how people actually see us. For the first two, there’s a great chance of succeeding because depending on how you see yourself you can project a picture of how you want others to see you. For instance, if you want to appear more sophisticated than you really are then you can invest in clothes and accessories that make you appear very sophisticated. Add a little bit of British accent you picked up from listening to BBC world news consistently for one month and there you are…a glam queen.

However, how people actually see you is a bit more tricky. Some people get so close to you that they see beyond the layers of perfection which you have carefully used to conceal your true self. As a matter of fact, sometimes we don’t even see the real image of ourselves. I believe that everybody has an extraordinary avatar in her. Sometimes we are too busy second-guessing ourselves to reach inside and find that super cool person inside. There’s a kind of friend that can see that hidden person within you who can take centre-stage and achieve her dreams. It takes a friend like Jonathan was to David, who sticks closer than a brother sister to see the real you within you and help you build your extra-ordinary avatar. I have been blessed with people who see the extra-ordinary avatar in me and I am thankful to God for that. If you haven’t found that friend that sees and helps you do extra-ordinary things then here’s what you should do…be that kind of friend to someone else today and I assure you that soon that kind of friend will come your way!

Keep being the femmetotale and don’t forget to stand out this October. Be a friend that sticks closer than a brother sister and share this post by clicking the facebook or twitter buttons 🙂 Don’t forget to drop your comments and like Femmetotale on facebook to receive daily updates on your facebook timeline. Just click the like box!

Femmetotale

Advertisements

What blogging teaches us about leadership

???????????

I saw a headline today about the Prime Minister of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg, doing something unconventional. Most of us in this part of the world would consider it outrageous and simply unbelievable. He went out as a taxi driver in order to get first hand information on what people really think. While laughing and comparing it to our Nigerian situation it occurred to me how similar it was to the topic I was planning to write on – blogging and leadership.

Blogging and leadership sound like two completely unrelated issues yet they are so related. I’ve read a good number of blogs and each time I found myself impressed by what people are able to come up with I’m so inspired by the creativity and the beauty of the human mind. It was while I was reading a blog post that I was inspired to see the correlation between blogging and leadership. Without mincing words I’m just going to say that bloggers are either leaders or potential leaders and here’s 12 reasons why.

#1. Bloggers make better writers: Bloggers are writers already you say and right you are but isn’t it true that you learn by doing? Remember how many times you were made to copy and write the letters of the alphabets from A – Z as a kid? I remember thinking then that I already knew how to write those letters by heart and I didn’t see why I had to write them over and over again. With the benefit of hindsight now I understand that it was necessary to make me more confident in my abilities such that I didn’t have to even think about whether I was doing it right anymore for I was 100% certain. I always used to love writing. I would write any and everything that I could think about. Now I have found that by blogging I am able to write better, think faster, be more accurate in my grammatical expressions and of course more confident in my writing.

So what has that got to do with leadership? It is simple. We learn leadership by doing. You cannot be a leader in your mind. To be a good leader, you must successfully lead a handful of people and on to the next stage of a bigger number until you become very comfortable and confident in your leadership abilities. The more you lead the better you become at leading.

#2. Build your circle of Influence: Every successful blogger has a circle of influence because by writing you consistently project your ideas to your audience and if they agree with you, their mindset will be influenced. This is why you find people flocking to life-coaches and inspirational blogs. People are seeking for ideas and solutions and when you provide these on your blog you build your circle of influence.

So what has that got to do with leadership? It is simple. A good leader must be a good influencer. You lead by inspiration and influence. People look up to you for inspiration and when they begin to do things you expect of them even in your absence then you can say that you have successfully influenced them.

#3. Bloggers are followers: One of the first things I learnt about blogging was that to be a successful blogger you have to follow other bloggers except you are already a celebrity of course. It follows the basic rules of nature that to receive you have to give. Your blog followership does not grow by wishful thinking but by actively following and interacting with other bloggers. You get new insights, opinions and of course they might get to follow you back if they like what you have to offer. In that way your blog community grows and you become a successful blogger because with a greater number of followers you will have a greater influence on both your followers and those following them.

So what has that got to do with leadership? It is simple. A good leader must first be a good follower. A good leader leads by inspiration and not by commands. A good follower is one that helps the leader to achieve his mission successfully. It would be much easier to get your followers to follow you the way you want if you already have a good idea on how to follow others.

#4. By blogging you learn more about a group of people: Bloggers spend most of their time sharing their ideas and insights with their readers. Every idea you genuinely write on enables you to broaden your knowledge because readers may give a different insight to what you are writing about when they make comments on your post. Some readers may share their experiences with you and open your mind to some information you never had. In addition, it may help you to know what to write about next, what ideas to espouse depending on the kind of audience you have. Some A-list companies spend so much time and money testing out their products in focus groups. As a blogger, achieving this type of insight is a natural byproduct of your day-to-day routine

So what has that got to do with leadership? It is simple. A successful leader has to understand the people he is leading to know their needs, their expectations and the best way to serve them for every leader is essentially a servant. The same way a blogger learns about her audience and tailors her works to suit their needs, so also should a leader learn the needs of his people.

#5. Become an Expert in Your Field: We already know that most successful blogs usually focus on an area of expertise. People hardly blog on just about anything. Your blog has to have a specific theme. So we have people blogging in different sectors of human activities; from lifestyle to fashion, photography, food, religion, spirituality, personal journeys, health and what have you. Blogging helps you to build a brand and become an expert in your field. Just like #1 says about learning by doing, by blogging you become better at the area you write about and with time an expert in that area.

So what has that got to do with leadership? It is simple. To be a good leader, you will be more of an inspiration to your followers when you are very knowledgeable in the area you are leading them on. Imagine how embarrassing it would be if you had to ask your followers questions all the time, revealing your incompetence and ineptitude. Do you know what it is to work with a leader who has no knowledge of the field he is leading you on? A simple task may take years to complete.

#6. Build a Network: one of the benefits of blogging is the opportunity of meeting people with similar interests and like minds. Lots of good friendships have developed from blogging. How much easier is it to know someone when you can easily tell her character from her writing? By building an online community of friends you increase your network and knowledge of other people and cultures because we are talking about a global audience.

So what has that got to do with leadership? It is simple. Your leadership ability can be greatly influenced by your network. For instance, if you need information about a certain practice in India, you could ask one of your community of bloggers from that region to give you some insight. This of course gets simpler when you have built a level of trust.

#7. Talk to Your Idols: Through blogging you can form a relationship with  people you look up to. Supposing you always wanted to become a professional photographer and you follow a notable photographer’s blog, from constantly commenting and bouncing off ideas with her she may become interested in getting to meet you. That way your dream of meeting your idol will be actualized.

So what has that got to do with leadership? It is simple. Most successful leaders started by learning from their mentors, someone that has succeeded in the field they are in. like the biblical Elijah – Elisha relationship, you can become a better leader by learning from the master in your field himself.

#8. Express Yourself: Perhaps one of the most exciting benefits of blogging is the opportunity to express yourself. You may be living in a region where you find it difficult or even dangerous to express yourself so blogging (perhaps anonymously) becomes a good outlet for you. Even just writing your thoughts could be very therapeutic. Also, you may get the opportunity to express your views on a political, social or religious issue through blogging.

So what has that got to do with leadership? It is simple. A good leader should be able to express herself articulately. By expressing your expectations or intentions to your followers effectively, you reduce the risk of improper implementation of your ideas.

#9. Help Others: The single most important reason for blogging should be to provide help to others. It is either you are providing access to information or opinion on topics or inspiration.

So what has that got to do with leadership? It is simple. Successful business owners will tell you that they began their business on areas in which people require help. The umbrella maker started making umbrellas because people needed to protect themselves from sunlight or rain. The supermarket owner knows that people would find it so much more convenient if they could pick all the things they need in one place. To succeed in leadership, you should focus on providing help for people and the rest will naturally following suit.

#10. Build Trust Online: As I stated in my last post, a lot of potential employers may check your profile online. By blogging on positive issues you will make people develop trust in you even before meeting you.

So what has that got to do with leadership? It is simple. To make a good leader, you should be able to obtain the trust of those following you. Also, it would be of much benefit to you to maintain a clean online personality.

#11. Research: The importance of research to a blogger cannot be overemphasized. You can hardly write about a topic you have limited knowledge of. So how do you increase your knowledge? Extensive research on the topic you wish to write about will make you a more reliable source and a better writer.

So what has that got to do with leadership? It is simple. To be a good leader you should be able to search for information and increase your knowledge of your area. The more knowledgeable you are as a leader, the more respect you will garner from your followers.

#12. Patience and Growth: Bloggers are just about the most patient people on earth. This is because there is hardly any blog that grows suddenly. It is a gradual process. As the blogger grows so does the blog.

So what has that got to do with leadership? It is simple. A good leader does not expect to become successful over-night. It is a gradual process of growth. Give yourself room for mistakes and know that a couple of years from now you will be better at what you do.

With all these who can help but say that bloggers make the best leaders? And just in case you are still wondering why I used the illustration of the Prime Minister of Norway at the beginning of my post, I did so because his actions reveal the positive characters that should be adopted by a good leader – listening to the people he is leading. So blog-away and develop the leader within you.

Femmetotale

The approval syndrome

approval syndrome

There is a very popular syndrome that most ladies suffer from. It doesn’t have the regular symptoms that can be treated with a couple of pills taken at specific times of the day. It doesn’t come up at certain periods in a month and go down unless it has been completely satisfied. You cannot wish it away or bully yourself into looking past its existence. It can sometimes raise your temperature so high that even the world’s strongest thermometer would hesitate to detect it. I am talking about something that is often overlooked but always rears its head up in the lives of most ladies. It’s called the approval syndrome.

It happens to even the best of us, especially when we are overly concerned about the way people view us. We see it in most areas of our lives. Every lady wants to be the best looking lady in the room. Even the shyest girl still feels special when she’s got eyes on her. Somehow it makes her feel like she’s very attractive and special. Well, that’s for the times when you actually look good. The approval syndrome doesn’t seem like a very harmful one when you are being appreciated by people you come across. When however, you enter a gathering and find that your dress appears to be the least expensive or the dullest, I can only imagine what your mood will be throughout that day. Some girls have been known to enter bouts of depression just because she’s the least attractive in a gathering.

Just think about the last time you dressed up just before leaving your house, perhaps it was just this morning. What were the thoughts that centered on your mind before you chose the outfit you eventually wore? If I am to make a guess I’ll say you were probably thinking of wearing something that would give people a good impression about you, or you dressed for the role that you want to fit into (maybe you wore a formal dress because you need people to see you as a serious working-class lady) or you wore something comfortable for the activities you planned to engage in that day (you wouldn’t want to be caught dead wearing an evening gown to ‘daytime’ lectures). There’s an appropriate code in every civilized society and everyone suffering from the approval syndrome needs those pills to feel normal.

We all have a little bit of the approval syndrome manifesting in us. I realized that for very simple things like the dress I wear, I would only feel happy about myself if I felt that other people approved of it. A friend of mine once said that if she lives through a day without anyone telling her she looks beautiful then she would feel very bad throughout that day. Now that’s a bit extreme and it would be a very silly reason to feel good about yourself.

Why would we need someone to approve us? It is like saying someone holds the key to your happiness. How difficult can it be to just sign the approval yourself? It is still your life right? I’ve realized that sometimes we lock ourselves in the prison of our own making and hand over the keys to persons that don’t matter. Now I’m not trying to say that we should not listen to other people’s contributions to our lives or their opinions regarding us. On the contrary, it is quite normal to adhere to the regular codes of society. Don’t leave your house wearing only your birthday suit except of course you are in the early stages of ‘man in the state of nature’…lol…that’s my way of saying ‘early stages of madness. Those codes are there for a reason. The only difference is that you shouldn’t let the opinions of other people who you may not even know control your happiness. Are you still constantly battling with people’s approval before you take a decision? Do you give up on things just because someone does not approve? Have you let go of ideas for lack of approval from people? This may be your chance to seek God’s approval and once you have it then take the wheels and find what you want yourself.

Femmetotale

Your break will come

black-woman-paying-bills

Some days are just like that. You wake up in the morning, stretch on your bed like a cat for a few moments and smile to yourself, ready to start the day. Then you start to notice that something is just not normal about the day. You draw your curtains and sniff in the cold air, fully expecting the darkness to give way to the light but you realize that something is definitely wrong. With every tinge of light, the dark clouds advance even more and it dawns on you that it’s going to be one of those dark rainy days. Just like that, your excitement that morning is replaced by a somber mood that lingers all through the day.

First you got to the office late because you couldn’t find your umbrella and even when you thought the rains had finally subsided and stepped outside, the torrents increased immediately as though it was waiting for you to fall into its traps. The day doesn’t get any better. Just because you arrived at the office late, you were unable to complete your task for that morning and you got a heavy dose of shouting from your irritable boss (there’s no way of telling whether there were ants in her chemise or something) and every other thing that day goes that way and you find yourself wishing you could just get a break from life. The job you’re doing is just that…a job. Somewhere your passion lies untended because you have to put food on your table first before thinking about living your dreams. You feel as though your dreams have been neatly packaged in a box and set adrift the sea that never flows backwards.

I read an inspiring write up by Tyler Perry, a man whose name is synonymous with success in the world of television. He wrote about the years he spent as a shoe shiner, a car sales man with a dream which he almost never believed would one day come to pass. Today, he boasts of an empire and people wonder the secret of his success. He never knew that the years spent in struggle were preparing him for his future.

I also know a boy who had so much hopes and dreams for the future. Sometime in his teenage years, his dreams were thwarted and he found himself in a strange land, a slave with no hope or future. The story got worse and the storm clouds of his life darkened even more. Somewhere in his heart, he held a candle of hope, refusing to give up on his dreams or his beliefs. He didn’t allow his circumstances to define him and he held tenaciously to his faith. Did he know that the period he spent in the prison was preparing him for a lifetime of administration and governance of a great nation? Did he know that the people he met in the prison were the ones that would introduce him to his destiny? Did he have any idea how his vision would come to pass? Before you give up hope just remember that the one who has the manual for your life knows your end and he promises that it will be beautiful. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jer. 29:11.

Some days are just like that. The rains keep pouring and it doesn’t seem like it will ever stop. Are you at that point when life starts to look so bleak and it seems like you will never get a break? Are your dark clouds getting even darker and the story of your life seems to have no happy ending? Now is the time to remind yourself that your break will come. The night does not last forever. Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning. Rejoice for as sure as the dawn, your break will surely come.

Femmetotale

I’m big and fabulous!

Studio portrait of young African American woman smiling on white background

Here’s to all the big girls who have had the tag, ‘big‘ stuck to them for so long it’s become part of their names. So you’re that girl that every time you want to enter a bus or a taxi everybody cringes in their seats and some even go as far as saying, ‘driver how many people are sitting here?’ Or are you that girl that is always the first to say, ‘you know I’m fat so don’t let me sit on you,’? Somehow you’ve adopted the best defense strategy to make snide comments about yourself first before anybody else does so that it doesn’t hurt that much and somehow it still hurts when they tell you to take it easy on the food.

There’s no limit to how insensitive people can be some times. I once heard someone say in front of a lady, ‘I just can’t stand fat chicks,’ and he laughed as though a canon had been let loose inside his tummy. I mean, how insensitive can people be? The lady in question just walked away but  I could see the hurt in her face and I almost pitied the person that would offer her food that day.

There’s something I discovered one day that really got me wondering why we bother so much about our appearances. We live in a grossly imperfect world. Today, they say it is fashionable to be thin and the next day it is something else. People are really fickle minded. Who are you striving to please? One minute they act like they’re please and the next they are looking for something else to pick at. I met one big and beautiful lady recently and I was really amazed at the way she picked on herself all through our conversation. She made it difficult for me to see beyond her size. It was either she was commenting on her fat tummy or her eating habit. It was almost as if she wanted me to validate her comments by agreeing with her but even I knew she’d be unhappy about herself the more. I just shook my head and said, ‘The world is a funny place. The slim people want to become fat and the fat are obsessing about becoming slim.’

imagesMost times it is what you point out to people that they see. They’re often too busy with their lives to see past their noses (never mind the tatafos that try to harp on your misery to try and make themselves happy). The reason you are unhappy about your weight is not because of what people say but what you say to yourself.

The thing is that all that matters is your confidence in yourself. It is true that it is important to eat healthy and exercise regularly but why do you think your weight is your biggest problem? Honey, the fact is that if you’re not happy with the way you are now, there is no guarantee you’ll love yourself any better even if a miracle takes place and you suddenly become thin. You’re still going to either obsess about the shape of your legs or the size of your foot. Personally, I love seeing ladies that are big and bold. There is just something alluring about a lady who’s confident in herself. A lady, whose confidence is born not out of how wonderful she perceives herself to be but a humility about God’s grace to her. You have to accept yourself and make the most out of who you are. So you’re big…be big and fabulous. Be the femmetotale…

Femmetotale

Easy Prey

moth to flame

I once observed a moth dancing around a candle light. It zinged past blindly at first and then I wondered if it was blind or just too courageous to consider that it was within an inch of it’s life playing with fire. It wasn’t quite long before the moth flew into the flame and that was the end? I wondered how it could be so dumb, how it could not know that the flames would roast it? In fact, within a short time of that moth falling victim, the next one followed suit. It’s just like that. They’re simply irresistibly drawn to light no matter how dangerous it may be. It’s no fault of theirs. They’re just easy prey.

Is it not odd when human beings that are accredited with much higher intelligence than any other animal act like moths? Like moths drawn to a flame, they fall into their doom foolishly. They fall blindly into pits dug by crooked men. The predators, like angels of light are not always hard to detect. Sometimes they come like wolves in sheep clothing and sometimes they come in their full colours, no mincing of words, no sugar coating, no subtlety.

Still wondering what I’m talking about? So many are falling prey to evil people because they are looking for signs and wonders. ‘Oh, there’s a miracle there’ and everybody rushes to that place. These men are out to deceive God’s people. They come with so many high sounding philosophies and theories designed to confuse people and draw them away from the truth – Colossians 2:8.  The truth of God’s word is simple…’Believe in Jesus and find eternal life’. John 3:16 says that for God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but shall have everlasting life. Sometimes, I think it’s the simplicity of God’s word that some people just don’t get. They don’t understand why it should be so simple. All kinds of religion insist that you must do and do and do and perhaps God might consider you. Maybe if Christianity was about sacrificing one’s first son or daughter to get salvation then the whole world would have followed easily.

It’s really astounding how many people have fallen prey to wickedness in the name of religion. I read of a church where members are flogged for coming late to church or because of their sins, churches where members are asked to walk to church on bare feet and even churches where members are made to kneel on the floor throughout the services because of their sinfulness. How can I forget to mention the churches that tell their members to bring animals for sacrifice. I mean, who still falls for this? Have we not heard that Christ was the ultimate sacrifice for our sins and that salvation is free? How do you know who is for real these days? Even the boldness with which they spread their falacies is alarming. One thing for sure is that it is easier to fall easy prey to these men when you don’t know your stand. You have to know the word for yourself. Stop depending on someone to tell you what you can read for yourself.  You can find out the truth just by reading the word of God and feel free to ask the Holy Spirit for direction while you do this. If you do not then you may just remain easy prey for evil men.

Femmetotale

To take a stand

take_a_standI was that kind of girl and some times I think I still am. I loved to sit on the fence. Wow, what peaceful, problemless (if there’s a word like that) existence it was. I didn’t have to worry about anyone disagreeing with me. I didn’t have to offend anyone. I didn’t have to make any explanations. I was good at being the only opinionless person. In fact, the first time I learned the meaning of the word, lukewarm I was very happy. Not too hot and not too cold. Suited me just fine. That was many years ago. Today, I have learned that there is no such word in existence (problemless and opinionlessness, I mean).

As we advance in life, several situations will always arise where we will be required to take a stand. It cannot be avoided. No matter, what sometimes, we can’t avoid offending someone because someone must be offended by our actions or inaction. If  you express an opinion that is against  someone else’s opinion then she would be offended and even if you decide not to express your opinion, someone would surely be offended by your failure to say something. Being grown up entails being able to take a stand. You must always stand for something.

Taking-A-Stand-Button-(0101)

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to please everyone and taking a stand sometimes means standing alone. Your loved ones and your friends may not agree with you. What then do you do? Is there any way to avoid taking a stand? Yes there is and I am happy to announce to you that the only way to do that would be to live on an island away from civilization and other human beings. 

Those guys in the bible, you know the ones with those long difficult-to-pronounce names; Shedrach, Meshack and Abednego (BTW I’ve met ppl bearing the first two names but I’m yet to meet anyone called Abednego…hmm) those guys were really radical guys that took a stand despite the danger. I sometimes prefer to read it as a bible story and imagine that the fiery furnace was just a touch of computer graphics here and there but…it was as real as the story. What would I have done in their shoes? Hmm…your guess is as good as mine. I don’t think I would have done anything different from what you would have done. That’s where the issue of strong convictions come into play. They must have been pretty convinced about what they believed in to take such a stand. So, what do you believe in? Are your convictions strong enough for you to take a stand? If no, then I have to tell you that you are lukewarm.

It is not possible to be lukewarm or sit on the fence. In fact you will be worse off being lukewarm. Check out what I found out about being lukewarm that made me learn to take a stand kia kia! I was forced to change my mind about it when I read Rev. 3 about the lukewarm church. Mehn… I had to quickly take a stand.  The early Christians chose to take a stand even at the point of death. Most of us have never even faced a life and death situation for the sake of our faith and yet we hide what we believe. Surprisingly, it is easier to hear someone say, ‘I don’t believe that there is a God in heaven than it is to hear someone say, I believe in God.” Just for the sake of not sounding too churchy or the fear of being ostracized by our peers, we’d rather not say it. I sometimes wonder if God would be as ashamed of us as we are to admit our follower-ship  of him but then I know He is not like man and He sees things differently from us.

With the benefit of hindsight now I just laugh when I think about the dread of pressure from peers. We are always so preoccupied with thoughts of what will people say that we would rather act like them.The funny thing is that we always act like we want to be different from our peers, to stand out and accomplish great things yet when the chips are down our mouths get frozen. In fact, the only way you can distinguish yourself from others is by being different. Learn to take a stand and to take the lead. Now may be your only chance to take a stand.

Femmetotale