A loving husband, Father, teen mentor, and U.S. Marine, Olaolu Ogunyemi has a deep passion for working with children fueled by an unending supply of energy and imagination! Since he was young, Olaolu has been nicknamed the "life of the party" because he pours his exuberant personality into every story that he tells. As the fifth of six children, he is intimately familiar with the bond that is forged during quality storytime; thus, Olaolu was inspired to start writing children's stories to help create loving and memorable family moments.
Olaolu writes in a simple, easily understandable language, and an entertaining style that keeps families hooked to his books while learning vital lessons about virtues and sparking a continuing conversation.
Olaolu is a frequent traveler and in his free time, he enjoys playing music, exercising, and spending time with his family.
Connect with him on social media! @captainono06
Thanks to Stand for the Silent for sharing the virtual stage with me and allowing me to discuss how to build trusting relationships! Continue to lead, inspire, and give our children a voice.
Here’s why I love Stand for the Silent:
Stand for the Silent was started in 2010 by a group of high school students in Oklahoma City, OK, after they heard the story of Kirk and Laura Smalley’s son, Ty Field- Smalley. At eleven years-old, Ty took his own life after being suspended from school for retaliating against a bully who had been bullying him for over two years. The organization exists as a platform to allow Kirk and Laura to share their story, and offer education and tools that will prevent their tragedy from happening to another child and family. Kirk and Laura’s mission is to continue to change kids’ lives and bring awareness to bullying and the real devastation it causes.
Since May 2010, Stand for the Silent has reached over 3,000,000 kids in almost 5,000 schools!
In December 2020, I was working out with my oldest brother when the congratulatory messages came rolling in; I had been selected to attend resident United States Marine Corps Expeditionary Warfare School. Normally, junior officers celebrate this news because it means you were board-selected to continue your education at Marine Corps University which is accredited to award Master’s Degrees. Instead, I was annoyed (to say the least) because I could only think of all the late nights/early mornings I spent to complete the distant education variant of the school I was selected to attend. I was even more annoyed by the fact that I was leaving behind a great team of people just as we were starting to work together and make significant progress.
After I finished what I can only describe as a private adult tantrum, I remembered one of my favorite verses that I learned as a child:
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
Romans 8:28 NLT
That is when I decided to take my own advice and shift my perspective on the opportunity I was about to pursue.
*Author’s note on spiritual fitness*
It is easy to talk about physical fitness because anyone can track and observe tangible results. Mental fitness is fun to talk about because I am enamored by the brain, so I nerd out on things like the cognitive process and neuroplasticity. However, though it is equally as important, I admittedly do not discuss spiritual fitness enough. Too often we associate spirituality with a religious affiliation. I teach that our spirituality is customized to each individual person. Our spirituality guides our moral compass and gives us a reason to live and “do” that exceeds personal gain. Many people call the latter our “purpose” or “higher calling.”
Our spirituality allows us to realize that our situations are all temporary; however, we remain hopeful because we firmly believe each of those situations–whether bleak or lush–are interconnected and will work together to create a favorable outcome. This gives us the courage to search for the growth opportunities in each circumstance. Therefore, when approaching any circumstance, I challenge you to ask two questions: 1. “How can I accomplish my purpose while here? (Extrospection)” 2. “What can I personally and professionally learn from this? (Introspection)”*
I shifted my perspective
Once I shifted my perspective, I was able to develop personal and professional goals. I will share a few of them with you in hopes that I can help you establish and pursue your own goals. Use these as an example vice a threshold, because quite honestly, I did much better in some categories than others.
Just a few of the personal and professional goals I set last summer
Improve cardiovascular endurance
How did I do? I decreased my run time by forty-nine seconds.
Make better dietary choices to improve physical appearance
How did I do? I cut several food items to include dairy milk. As a result, I lost nine pounds and reduced my body fat percentage by approximately 2-3%
Help train others to prepare them for their upcoming promotion board.
How did I do? I offered to train anyone who was willing to train first thing in the morning. One person accepted the challenge, and we began training in September 2021. She was able to achieve a 300/300 Combat Fitness Test score and a 295/300 Physical Fitness Test score. Additionally, she had noticeable changes in her physique and established a workout regimen that she plans to continue.
Become more studious and a more avid reader
How did I do? In conjunction with my school studies, I read and studied several additional books on diverse topics and a plethora of scholarly articles. These books ranged from The Mentor Leader by Tony Dungy to We Were One: Shoulder to Shoulder with the Marines Who Took Fallujah by Patrick K. O’Donnell to The Brain’s Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity by Norman Doidge
Become a more clear and succinct writer and write a scholarly article to publish
How did I do? I am sure my Faculty Advisor (he reviewed all of my papers) may argue that the “succinct” portion of that goal is subjective, but I believe I did well :D. More importantly, I was awarded the Marine Corps University Foundation Academic Year 2021-2022 “Mutter Marines Command and Control Writing Award” for my argumentative research paper entitled, “Adapt or Perish: A call to revise the Marine Corps Command, Control, Communications, and Computer (C4) Architecture.” At the time of this post, none of my articles have been published, but I am still working with a few editors for future publication.
Collaborate with organizations and media outlets to inspire our future generation to pursue their dreams
How did I do? I was featured in several articles, podcasts, and elementary school visits. Check out this link to see a couple of the articles!
Dedicate time to spend with family
How did I do? I made it a point to attend every extracurricular activity and practice that I could attend for my children. My children’s extracurricular activities included music lessons, football (in season), basketball (in season), and baseball (in season). Additionally, I did my best to always study and build my personal brand when my family was sleep (either early in the morning or late at night). I knew that I had to take advantage of this opportunity while in school, because work requirements sometimes hamper my ability to give my wife and children the time they deserve.
My hope for you
I hope you are able to use my experience and examples to prepare for your next challenge! All the obstacles you have encountered (to include what you are working to overcome right now) will work together for your benefit. Be encouraged and inspired to keep progressing, keep setting and pursuing your goals, and go win. I believe in you!
IMAGINE THIS: You are a basketball player preparing for your first big game in a month. You are not the best shooter on the team, but you have accepted your role as the slasher–the one who zips past the defender to finish at the rim every time. That means your go-to scoring method is the highest percentage shot on the court, the layup.
In the month leading up to your game, you have practiced numerous creative ways to score your layup regardless of how the defender responds. You have rehearsed several countermoves, completed over 1,000 layups, and done countless scenario-based drills to include scoring through contact and making midair adjustments. Saying you adequately prepared to score during your big game is a severe understatement.
It’s game day, and you are having a phenomenal 30-point game doing what you do best. You could not be more confident as the game nears the end. It is now the fourth quarter with ten seconds left; your team is losing by two points. As expected, your team passes the ball to you–the slasher–to score the ball and send the game into overtime. You make an exceptionally elusive move to pass your initial defender. As you drive to the hoop, you see another defender appear in your peripheral vision. You smirk because this is one of the drills you have rehearsed numerous times, so you are expecting the defender to make contact, foul, and send you to the free throw line to attempt an extra point after you score your layup. You jump first, then the defender jumps. You make a nice, midair adjustment and release the ball close to the rim. Without touching you, the defender swats the ball to the other end of the court. “Rejection!” The commentator yells, “…and that’s the game!” You retreat to the locker room as the crowd erupts in excitement.
Have you ever been there?
Not everyone is an athlete, but we all have experienced some form of rejection and failure. Rejection and failure sting a little more when we feel we were fully prepared to succeed. I believe we usually do an excellent job preparing to succeed but very rarely do we adequately prepare for rejection or failure.
Those who know me know that I view rejection and failure as opportunities. Though we strive to avoid them, we should never fear rejection and failure. One of my favorite quotes from Michael Jordan is, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” This leads me to my first point: learning how to respond to rejection begins with properly preparing for both success and failure.
With all that in mind, I am not suggesting we attempt to fail in our daily endeavors, because like Theodore Lindsey Templeton said on Boss Baby, “aim for failure, and you’ll always succeed.” Instead, I submit that we should aim for success but recognize that failure exists on each side of our target. So when we miss, we should identify where/how the shot impacts the proverbial basketball hoop (target), make the necessary adjustments, and shoot again!
How should we respond to rejection and failure?
Now that the preparation is done, how do we respond to rejection and failure?
Validate your own feelings. Your feelings are natural, so it is ok to feel an array of emotions when you are rejected. Avoid downplaying your feelings; instead, embrace them, and indulge in some healthy coping activities like taking a walk, listening to music, writing, connecting with friends and/or loved ones, and talking to your counselor (just to name a few).
Identify what (not who) is causing those feelings. I recognized that focusing on “who” causes animosity, distrust, and conflict with others. This does little to help you adequately respond to rejection and failure; thus, we will maintain an introspective viewpoint. When I feel rejected, I like to use the “5 Whys” business technique that I learned from https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_5W.htm. Simply put, you ask “why” five times then develop a countermeasure. Use this tool to your advantage. Let’s use the above basketball scenario as an example:
I am sad.
I am embarrassed that someone blocked my layup.
I was having such a great game.
I practiced extremely hard to prepare for this game.
This was a really big game.
This was my final opportunity to play in front of my family and friends before the season ended.
Countermeasure: I will connect with my family and friends, discuss my feelings when I feel comfortable, and celebrate a great game and fulfilling season.
Shift your PERSPECTIVE. In a previous blog, I challenged you to maintain laser focus on shifting your perspective in eleven key areas. Learning to shift your perspective in these areas will help you develop the resilience you need to respond to any rejection or failure:
Pressures of life
Learn from it and make the necessary adjustments. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Ask yourself, “what can I learn from this?” Then apply those lessons when you are ready to try again.
Take another shot! This is one of the most important steps. You will recover from your rejection. Your failure is not final. Go out and win!
I love joining different platforms to discuss mental health! That’s why I am excited to share my latest conversation with a hypnotherapist, Ashlee, and Sandra at Black Connections! In the first hour, Ashlee and I covered various topics from our unique perspectives to include mental health challenges in the military, proven strategies in hypnotherapy, masculinity and trapped emotions, and more!
We thought we were done!
As Ashlee and I were wrapping up the first hour (planned), Sandra began to provide new perspectives including the struggles returning citizens face adjusting to life after prison, childhood molestation, children in the foster care system, and more! The unplanned second hour became an hour of release, hope, and encouragement! Check it our for yourself.
Happy hump day! I am humbled and excited to join Jesse Iwuji on Chip Baker’s The Success Chronicles! Click here for the full discussion on Spotify.
During this short session, we discussed mindset, vision, collaboration, faith, and more! Get out your note-taking gear and be prepared to jot down some helpful nuggets!
Who is Jesse Iwuji?
Jesse needs no introduction, but in case you don’t know, in all things Jesse Iwuji does, there are two constant elements: his devotion to service and his inspirational nature to many. Jesse went from competing at the top level of Division-1A college football to rising the ranks of the military as a Lieutenant Commander, and is now the only current driver in all of NASCAR at the national levels that actively serves his country as a US Military member.
It has been key for Iwuji, who is currently serving in our country’s reserve fighting force, to honor his country while pursuing excellence in the business world as a business owner and on the track as a driver. It should come as no surprise that he has championed companies and charities that give back to our men and women in uniform.
Jesse is also a big supporter of NASCAR diversity, equity, and inclusion. Today he is one of two African Americans competing at NASCARs national level of racing. He was honored by NASCAR for two years in a row – the Diverse Driver of the Year Award. He is well versed both on and off the track!
It is fair to say in many ways Jesse is a first in NASCAR. While clawing toward the top tiers of NASCAR, Jesse Iwuji continues to take us all along for a memorable ride showing those who dare to dream that life truly rewards those who stay strong enough, long enough. Find this bio and more information about Jesse on his website: https://www.jesseiwuji.com/
Who is Olaolu Ogunyemi
A loving husband, father, teen mentor, and U.S. Marine Officer, Olaolu Ogunyemi has a deep passion for working with children fueled by an unending supply of energy and imagination! Since he was young, Olaolu has been nicknamed the “life of the party” because he pours his exuberant personality into everything he does. As the fifth of six children, he became intimately familiar with the bond forged during quality story time; thus, Olaolu was inspired to start writing children’s stories to help create loving and memorable family moments. He is the author of the Amazon best-selling children’s book, “Crow From the Shadow,” “Horace the Horsefly,” and “Billy Dipper’s Time to Shine.”
Olaolu writes and speaks in a simple, easily understandable language, and an entertaining style that keeps listeners and readers hooked while learning vital lessons about virtues and sparking a continuing conversation.
Olaolu is a frequent traveler and in his free time, he enjoys playing music, exercising, and spending time with his family. Connect with him on his website:https://parent-child-connect.com
Find out more about Chip Baker and The Success Chronicles?
Chip Baker is a best-selling author, motivational speaker, and forth-generation educator. He established The Success Chronicles to feature interviews from people of all walks of life for positive inspiration and motivation. Find out more about Chip and the great things he is doing here: https://linktr.ee/ChipBakerTSC
Hey folks! I felt it is the perfect time for a transparent post; I received my first one-star review. Specifically, it was a review of my newest book, Billy Dipper’s Time to Shine. Here it is:
At first, I was shocked! “How could someone think so little of something I created,” I thought. For a split second, I even considered pulling the book from the shelves to avoid “further embarrassment.” That’s when it hit me.
Naysayers will be naysayers. Believe in yourself, believe in your mission, and connect with people who can help you fulfill your purpose.
It is so easy to focus on the negative. We hone in on the people who did not support. We sulk in disappointment when we receive rejection after rejection. We replay the negative feedback (i.e. a one-star review) over and over in our heads. Trust me–I understand!
However, I want to challenge you to change your perspective! Show love and appreciation to your supporters. View your rejections as opportunities to continue to refine your pitch. Use the critiques to improve your craft while allowing the feedback that aligns with your purpose to validate your efforts!
I applied this thought process to my own brand, and I am happy to admit that I have already had the opportunity to read Billy Dipper’s Time to Shine to hundreds of children around the world! Also, amongst the sea of rejection messages, I still receive messages like this:
Lastly, here is a review that validated my purpose:
Be encouraged! Rejection is not the end, and negative opinions do not deserve your energy. Continue to push, thrive, and aggressively pursue your purpose!
I will never forget the cycle of emotions I had before I published my first book: excitement, nervousness, fear, self-doubt, repeat. The rejection messages and my own “what ifs” seemed to validate my repetitive emotion cycle. My family continued to encourage me to publish–especially my brother Joshua (the illustrator). However, I broke the cycle by asking myself two questions:
Why do you want to do this? What inspires you?
My answer was, as it has been in other areas of my life, “this will be a success if I can just reach one person.” That was all I needed to make my final decision to publish! Now that I have published multiple books, I have adopted a new slogan, “just one more!” In other words, I strive to reach and encourage at least one person each day. That is what drives me to relentlessly pursue my personal and professional goals.
Isn’t his Facebook post wonderful? This is exactly what I had in mind when I created the parent-child-connect (P2C) book series (and my website); I wanted to provide resources for parents, teachers, and mentors to create fun and memorable experiences with their children. So first, I would like to celebrate David and his wife Kristen, because along with their other wonderful endeavors (find out more here), they are doing an exceptional job with King and his siblings!
I am also honored and inspired to be a small part of King’s journey to overcome the challenges associated with autism. I have had the pleasure of knowing King since he was born, and he has always impressed me! King would come sit beside me at church to studythe drums during service when we lived in San Diego. His dedication was impressive, but the skills he developed by the age of four wowed me! That is a testament to his work ethic, and it is obvious his parents are investing time and creating memorable moments with him and his siblings!
It’s the first day of World Autism Month!
King and the entire Dredden family are truly amazing, and their story is just one example of what inspires me. This is a perfect way to kick off World Autism Month where we “pledge to help create a world where all people with autism can reach their full potential.” https://www.autismspeaks.org/world-autism-month
Click the link above to learn more about World Autism Month, and connect with David Dredden to learn more about the great things he is doing!
Now it’s your turn, and I want to hear from you! What inspires you?
Anyone else ever find themselves constantly battling a barrage of reoccurring toxic thoughts? If you are anything like me, it sometimes feels like you are losing that battle. What’s worse? Our thought patterns (i.e. our habit of thinking in a particular way, using particular assumptions) drive our actions. So we find ourselves in what appears to be an infinite toxic loop: our toxic thoughts create toxic assumptions which inform toxic actions. It’s time to breakout of that loop with these three steps:
Step 1: Create New Habits.
As in any other part of our lives, habits are formed by repetition. For example, this morning, my wife asked me, “why are you going to the gym so early if you are not required to go to work until a little later?” To which the only logical explanation I had was, “it’s a habit.” It is so much of a habit that I wake up at the same time (or earlier) even without an alarm, and if I try to lie there in the mornings, my mind will start racing and my body will start aching. So I just get up. The same is true when bedtime comes; I can easily fall asleep mid-sentence/mid-thought! (Ask my frat brothers who would have me out all night partying during college 😅.) Take a second to think about a habit like this you’ve formed over the years. When did you start? Can you even remember? My mom tells me that I’ve been waking up and falling asleep early since I was a young child. As it was when I was a child, that sleep pattern or sleep habit is fueled by an anticipation of what tomorrow holds.
This same logic applies to our thought patterns or mental habits. Whether we remember when the habits started or not, there is one thing that fuels these habits: our assumptions. In a previous post, I discussed my admiration for how our powerful brain gives us the ability to control our emotional responses. More specifically, I highlighted the cerebral cortex which, according to https://www.simplypsychology.org, the cerebral cortex “is the outer surface of the brain, [and it] is associated with higher level processes such as consciousness, thought, emotion, reasoning, language, and memory.” Many neuroscientists believe that our cerebral cortex “saves energy” by operating off of assumptions, and these assumptions are developed by our past experiences.
Author’s note: Most people stop here because they conclude since they cannot change the past and the past develops assumptions and assumptions fuel mental habits, then their mental habits cannot be changed. That is a very logical conclusion… Buuuuuut keep reading.
We can create new experiences! Here are a few tips to get you started:
Watch different movies and documentaries. I am personally a huge fan of action & adventure and comedies; however, National Geographic and The History Channel are also two of my personal favorites.
Take a vacation or travel to a place you have never been (even if it’s only a couple of towns over).
Try new food. I love food, so any post I get to mention food is a plus for me! Again, broaden your horizons!
Listen to a variety of music. We all have our favorite genre, but remember, we are creating new experiences. Listen to different genres and international versions of your favorite genre.
Take an interest in writing. Write about what you see. Write about your fantasies. Create a journal to record your thoughts and emotions or a food log (my least favorite lol) to track what you eat. Write a book if you’d like (I did it and so can you)!
All of these tips will work towards creating new experiences and ultimately developing new healthy mental habits.
Step 2: Indulge in Fresh Thoughts and Ideas.
Now that we have established a way to break our old habits through new experiences, we have to start programming our mind to think differently. In my studies of the Holy Bible, I found an excellent passage that universally applies to thought: “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” -Philippians 4:8 NLT.
Let’s break this down to how it applies to life.
True: Let’s start by focusing on reality vs our perception of reality. One of the first cliches that comes to mind is, “perception is reality.” Wrong! Our perception is the lens through which we view life. (Sometimes our perception can be more like blinders than lenses). Similar to our assumptions, perceptions are based upon our experiences. Therefore, by creating new experiences, we are increasing our ability to see and understand reality through a clearer lens.
Honorable & Right: Despite what we may see on the news, I am a firm believer that mankind is inherently honorable (ethically and morally good). This thought inspires me to show goodwill and serve others, so I encourage others to think the same.
Pure: I love how Oxford Languages defines pure: “without any extraneous and unnecessary elements.” Sometimes our minds get so bogged down with negative things we consume on a daily basis. My recommendation is to be aware of the world around you, but don’t become consumed with the negative aspects of the world around you. My challenge for you is for every negative you read or witness, consume and meditate on at least two inspiring or positive things for balance.
Lovely & Admirable: Have you ever just stopped to take in the beauty of nature? I am a guy who loves warm weather; in fact, I have been frostbitten before, so cold weather and I are not best friends. Even so, I absolutely love a sunny day after fresh snowfall. Although the temperature may not be as warm as I’d prefer, I cannot help but walk outside, take in deep breaths of the cold, crisp, and seemingly filtered air, and smile as I see the sun glisten off of the sparkling snow. This is just one example of the peaceful places I have learned to admire and enjoy. What lovely things can you think of? Where do you go to find peace?
Excellent & Worthy of Praise: Think about the things you are grateful for. Even our worst situation is better than someone else’s best. If nothing else, you are alive and able to read this post. No matter how seemingly small or insignificant, celebrate every single win. You deserve to celebrate yourself, your accomplishments, and your life. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Step 3: Command your thoughts!
If you have ever seen the movie “Cast Away,” you may remember the main character, Chuck Nolan (Tom Hanks), floating on a makeshift vessel. This vessel had no steering wheel, sail, or any way to control or steer. Chuck was at the mercy of the sea–carrying him whichever direction it pleased. Is anybody willing to admit our thoughts are just like this? 🙋🏾♂️ Mine are! Sometimes my thoughts take me to a place of bliss, enjoyment, and peace; but more often than I’d like to admit, my thoughts take me back to the infinite loop I mentioned before if I let them. Sometimes following these negative thoughts seems adventurous and addictive, but I assure you they lead to a never ending cycle of toxic actions and behaviors. Therein lies my final piece of advice:
Command your thoughts!
Identify and write down your reoccurring negative thoughts. This is pretty simple: we cannot and will not get rid of what we cannot identify.
Identify your triggers. What is causing your negative thoughts? Is it TV? Is it the people around you? Is it social media? Take some time away (at least 30 days) from your triggers to see if that helps you improve.
Replace your thoughts with the thoughts we mentioned in Step 2: Fresh thoughts and ideas.
If you are anything like me, you read blogs like this with skepticism. Well allow me to encourage you; I use these steps in my daily affairs, and I have seen a huge change in my mental health and overall enjoyment of life! Start applying these steps to command your thoughts today!
Happy Thursday folks! I was blessed to have the opportunity to be honest and transparent on the Parenting Decolonized Podcast! I am extremely grateful that Yolanda Williams shared her platform with me to talk about the importance of discussing mental health in the black community and with our kids. I shed light on how patriarchy and “masculinity” are actually harming men, ways to make children more resilient in the face of racism and the everyday pressures of life, and how to change unhealthy behavior patterns to become a more conscious parent. I also give great advice for parents who are struggling with mental illness. These are the conversations we need to have!