A LITTLE BIT OF A RANT

I’m truly sorry that I’ve been away for so long. I’ve had a crazy couple of weeks. Hope you and yours have been well

I’m deeply unhappy as I write; I’m almost heartsick. Nigeria is trying to break my heart. Over the last month or two, people on Twitter have been asked to raise almost 20 million Naira for 4 different people with different ailments. First it was #SaveOke, then #SaveFunmi, now we’re trying to #Save both Meka and Debbie; and all I can think is, where does this end?

For every Funmi or Debbie or Meka or Oke with enough media savvy friends to work to raise money to save their lives, there are millions of other Nigerians, suffering agony from one ailment or the other, waiting for death, with no one to start a #Save campaign for them. Where does it stop?

Why is it so hard for us to develop basic healthcare in Nigeria? Going to the hospital is no guarantee of a diagnosis, much less correct treatment. We have people in charge of this nation’s health, people whose jobs it is to craft policies that will make good quality healthcare available for all. Where are these people? How many Nigerians will die before our health sector gains the transformation it needs? How many more will we lose?

I was chatting with a friend about Debbie and she told me something that shocked me. She carries out a specific medical test routinely when she travels to the US for check-ups –I don’t remember the name, but it is a routine test for her age. She couldn’t travel for her check-up at some point and so went to a “good” hospital here in Nigeria to do her tests. Upon scanning her list of required tests, she noticed that this routine test was not on the list. When she asked her doctor why, he said to her “but you don’t need it, you’re ok aren’t you?”

I avoid hospitals like the plague. On one trip, I was admitted with a very bad migraine. The doctor did a blood test and prescribed malaria medication. This wouldn’t have been a big deal if the nurse on duty had not come in 5 minutes before to tell me that there had been no malaria parasites in my blood. On another occasion, I went to a hospital suffering an allergic reaction. I was prescribed malaria medication “just in case”, despite my assurances that I knew I didn’t have malaria. I endured 3 days of itching like a nutcase and liberally coating myself in calamine lotion till I looked like a Nollywood ghost. I count myself lucky. People have gone in for routine issues and did not come out.

I’m not here to claim that all hospitals in Nigeria are bad. There are several gifted and dedicated medical professionals and institutions that pride themselves on a job well done. But I must be honest; it seems to me that they are in the minority.

I’m tired of hearing that so-and-so equipment is not available in Nigerian hospitals. I’m sick of hearing that people are admitted for malaria and don’t come out of the hospital alive. I’m tired of hearing about misdiagnoses and various forms and variants of medical malpractice. It breaks my heart.

Our healthcare is one aspect of our inadequacies as a nation. We have one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the world. People still die of cholera. Ghana has started to ask for yellow fever cards. Where does it stop?

Everywhere I look, I see disillusionment and cynicism from my compatriots and disregard from foreigners. I don’t know how to fix our healthcare system; I don’t know what it will cost, or what it will require. What I do know is that there are people who do know; where are they? There are people who can afford to set up world-class hospitals in Nigeria; where are they? Where are our NGOs and health advocates? Where are the people who know what is wrong and how it can be repaired?

President Obama believes we are the world’s next economic success story, and so I look around me – at bad roads, at epileptic power, and hospitals with neither doctors nor medication, at the waste of our natural resources and policies that no one bothers to explain to the average person.

I look around and fight the urge to weep. It’s hard to keep believing in the possibilities of Nigeria. It’s so hard.

How long will we #Save people? Until we become jaded and stop caring? Until someone decides that it would make a good scam and spoils it for everyone else?

How long will we continue to patch what is very obviously a very broken state of affairs?

When will we start the process to #SaveNigeria’s healthcare?

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SETTING GOALS OR SETTING P?

Ok let me start this by confessing; this blog post has nothing whatsoever to do with setting P. I just liked the sound of the title. So if you clicked on this hoping for a how to manual on how to finally get that girl you’ve been tripping for since January 2010…this might be the wrong blog post for you…

Let me continue by assuring you…this post does have to do with setting goals. However, it’s not a how to manual on how to set goals… (Is that somebody closing the page in disgust?). It is a little story sha, and one I hope you’ll enjoy and who knows, learn from.

Remember how I told you about my cleaning spree on Sunday? If you’ve forgotten or didn’t read it, familiarize yourself here. Anyway, as I was busily dusting and brushing, I came upon a spiral bound book. Now I enjoy finding spiral bound books in my room, because it’s usually a given that I wrote something in it and forgot about it, and I’m usually interested (and occasionally slightly alarmed), by the workings of my mind.

Anyway, I opened this book and came across a list. Not just any list o! An extensive list on my values, goals, rewards and so on and so forth, written 5 years ago! I actually remember the evening I wrote them; an ex boyfriend who happened to be a productivity consultant had asked me to come by with a notebook. I’d gone over, hopefully expecting to be told to write my Christmas wish list, and instead, dude asks me to write my values and goals and tins and tins. I remember how disappointed and slightly bored I had been, but looking at the page, I had written a comprehensive list of personal and career goals, rewards, etc etc.

3 things caught my attention about the list. First, I’ve always had big dreams – one of the goals was becoming a billionaire (no plan of how I intended to make this happen tho). Second, my dreams then are basically the same as they are now. Third, I had only accomplished about 3 or 4 of maybe 40 goals, and those totally by accident. I took to my bed in a haze of depression.

As I lay down in my bed and asked God whether I was a failure, He reminded me of some things that I’d like to share (finally, we get to the point of this long and winding story).

  • As at when I wrote that list, I didn’t yet have a clear idea of what I wanted to be. Yes I had dreams and wishes, but they were not specific and indicated clearly that I did not yet know what I wanted. For instance, I’d written down that I would like to own 5 companies…no mention of what products or services they’d offer…just 5 companies.
  • I wrote that list partly to impress my ex. I’d written down that I would read 1 self help book a month. I do not read self help books. I read fiction, articles and my Bible. I read Biographies, blog posts and editorials. I like to carry out tiny research projects on whatever strange topics happen to catch my fancy. What I do not do however, is read self help books. 2 pages before that list is another list where I wrote that I would read 1 good book a month. Good had been crossed out and replaced with self help.
  • I wasn’t ready. And that’s the truth. Over the course of the last year, I have quite independently arrived at decisions to start some things and stop some others. All the things I’ve either started or plan to start are on my list of goals. I just wasn’t in the right place and it wasn’t the right time.
  • I got to do some things that weren’t on my list. I moved to another place and lived there for 2 years (yes it was only Lagos, nevertheless, I moved), I got to be part of a reality show (something I’ve always wanted but never imagined I’d get an opportunity to do), I got to attend red carpet events and meet and hang out with some of the biggest names in Nigerian entertainment. These were all things I never thought I’d get to do and believe me; they were all lots of fun.
  • Now, I can arrange that list to properly reflect not only who I am, but who I see myself becoming. My career and personal plans, my personal rewards, my obligations – they will all better reflect me, because I have a better idea now of who I am and what I want out of life.

There have been so many changes in my life. My plan as an undergraduate was to get my PhD by 26. Looking back now, I’m glad I didn’t. I have no long term interest in the course I studied, and it would’ve been very difficult to change my career path after spending millions on a Masters and PhD.

So if you’re worried or depressed that life is nothing like you planned, can I use this very roundabout story to reassure you? You’re not a failure, you haven’t messed up. Goals and plans change. People change. Those twists and turns in the road were necessary to make you the person you are today. They are the things that will give your life its flavour. I can say for a fact that this has been true for me. With the extra experiences, you can go back to the drawing board, edit your plans, and then go ahead to make life happen. God bless.

THE TEN REASONS I LOVE MY JOB

I’ve been doing shortlists for some open positions in my organization. Apart from the tediousness of it, it has been interesting to look through CVs and see what all those job and employment websites always talk about; presentation, relevant experience and so on. It has also made me even more grateful that I not only have a job, but that I have a job I actually enjoy. There were many CVs from people my age and older, people with lots of qualifications and experience, people with skills and abilities.

Anyway, it’s gotten me thinking. Not just about the fact that I have a job, but about why I love my job. So, in no particular order, here are the 10 things I love the most about my job.

  1. Just now, in the middle of reviewing my overflowing out folder, I took a break, went out and played 15 minutes of very poor table tennis with my equally poor but very determined colleague. I spent more time chasing the ball than hitting it, but it was so much fun. I get lots of opportunities for these mini breaks and always come back to work refreshed and eager to get back to it.
  2. Earlier on today, a little girl was crying, she looked at me, came over and put up her hands for a cuddle. I picked her up and she immediately stopped crying and snuggled into my shoulder. I helped her to feel safe, and she helped me to feel 250 feet tall.
  3. I get the most awesome meals mehn! The chef has made it a mission to make me fat and so I get to eat the most flavourful healthy food ever. They know me so well that they know to give me lots of small portions through my day. 9 times out of 10, you’ll walk into my office to see me nibbling like a rabbit on something or the other.
  4. My boss has extremely high standards and is not afraid to call out misbehaviour or lack of performance. But she is also very honest and generous in her expressions of her feelings and opinions. We’ve spent many hours discussing politics, the world economic system, men and my future. (Her advice – be as independent as you can, work hard and make sure you fall in love with someone who has enough in common with you so that you guys will always have something interesting to talk about). She is an awesome woman who is even more impressive because of the humility with which she discusses her achievements.
  5. I work with the craziest people in Abuja. Yesterday I looked out the window and the accountant was on the lawn dancing makossa. He’s 6 feet plus and as lanky as they come. Half of the staff team was on the floor in stitches, the other half joined in.
  6. There’s always music – classical, naija, ethnic, nursery rhymes…there’s always music.
  7. I get to walk home every evening. It’s not just exercise, it’s a time to relax, unwind, review my day, disconnect from work, and connect with the people and things waiting at home for me.
  8. I get to run things, like a proper lady bawse. I am responsible for making short, medium and long-term decisions that will affect the future of my organization. It’s very humbling when I think over the steady stream of people coming into my office for my advice, approval or signature on a document. They trust that I have what it takes to make the right decisions. I owe it to them not to betray that trust.
  9. We’re a very female centred organization. I can’t say for sure, but probably about 70% of our organization is female. And not just delicate lady flowers o! Strong, assertive women who will not hesitate to lay down the law if need be. They are loud, quiet, fat, and thin and come from across Nigeria.  When one of the men pissed one of the girls off, we refused to let him leave till he had apologized profusely and repeatedly. We’re the Powerpuff girls in jeans and funky Ankara.
  10. It’s not perfect. People get frustrated, angry and even want to quit. We make mistakes, don’t have all the answers and would undoubtedly frustrate anyone unable to live without straight lines or order. What it is however, is a place that allows you to be imperfect, and somehow makes you fit in; quirks and all. I don’t need to pretend to be anything I’m not, which leaves me free to grow into the kind of employee and person I want to be.

There are so many more things, and maybe I’ll share them another time, but now I’ve got to get back to my paperwork and the very tantalizing looking lunch that has just come in. What do you love about your job or career? Be sure to leave a comment and share with me. I’d love to hear your experiences and perspectives.

Ciao!

ALL I NEEDED WAS SLEEP!!!

English: Arthur Fry, inventor of the Post-it N...

English: Arthur Fry, inventor of the Post-it Note, with one on his forehead bearing a picture of a lightbulb (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had an epiphany on Saturday –this is nothing new, I tend to have epiphanies every other day, but this was a special kind of epiphany.

I’ve had some pretty hectic deadlines to meet this month – nothing I couldn’t handle but stressful nonetheless. I was doing my best, smiling serenely on the surface, paddling furiously underneath, coping, or so I thought.

Fast forward to Saturday last week, I’d woken up feeling beat down and beleaguered. No be small thing o! As the evening wore on, I became progressively more tired, developed a fever and started veering dangerously towards depression. I felt like a failure and spent some time morosely declaiming to my sister on the many trials that I seemed to be undergoing.

In the middle of my melancholy ramblings, it occurred to me that I might simply just be more tired than I thought. Let me explain why this was odd –I don’t believe in tiredness. As far as I’m concerned, a good night of sleep should be enough for anyone, irrespective of your schedule. I don’t know where I got this warped sense of thinking from, but I didn’t realise how much a part of me it was until last Saturday. Somewhere along the line, I had gained a belief that rest = laziness and my mindset was taking me on a sure trip to Fall Apart Land

I talked it over with my mum, spent some more time contemplating the possibility and reluctantly decided to shut down for one more day. I woke up on Sunday morning feeling like someone had given me a joy transfusion in my sleep. I can’t remember when last I had so much energy, it was awesome! I spent the day writing, cleaning up my room (which had degenerated slowly into disorganized chaos), curling up periodically for naps and generally being a lazy bum. It was the best thing i could’ve done for myself.

Isn’t it incredible that while I was puzzling my unusual “laziness” and trying to force myself to do things I didn’t want to do, all I needed was sleep? I mean – as simple as that! It got me to thinking though; maybe the solutions to our problems might not always be as complicated as we think they are. Maybe we’re broke, not because someone has sworn for us, but because we don’t know how to save. Maybe what we need when we’re having trouble coping at work is not a new boss, or different colleagues, but a short holiday. I know I might be oversimplifying but surely it makes some sense? Maybe that chronic tiredness might be an easily rectified vitamin deficiency or even fatigue.

As at Wednesday morning last week, I was snapping at my subordinates and wondering at their sudden incompetence – this week however, they seem to have miraculously developed better work ethics. It shames me to admit it, but it wasn’t completely them, a good part of it was me.

So, there’s my epiphany! I have seen the light – it shone rather brightly into the room and woke me up around midday on Sunday.

Here’s wishing you a wonderful August! Be productive, be happy and most of all, get lots of sleep!