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Living in the moment.

Lately, I’ve been besieged by the thought of “living in the moment.” I’ve previously written about embracing where you are and how parents can make time count; yet, I find myself pontificating about what it truly means to live in the moment. As many in my generation do when they want to blurt out their opinion, I turned to Twitter to express my conclusion. Here’s what I wrote.:

“Live in the moment” is an opportunity to make the best out of your current situation not an excuse to make careless decisions.

Be resourceful, live in the moment, and shine on! 🌟

Olaolu Ogunyemi on Twitter

It’s easy to scroll past a quote like that because, quite frankly, it’s an abstract concept. In other words, I gave you a Yoda-like quote with no practicability or applicable instructions. The good news is this blog is not constrained to 128 characters, so I can provide that for you today!

Living in the moment is a balancing act.

Living in the moment is actually fairly complex for many of us because it requires intentionality.  If you were to observe the world around you, I promise you will find someone opposite ends of the spectrum. Neither side of the spectrum represents “bad” people. Having been on both sides myself, my justification was supported with good intentions. Either way, I had to find my equilibrium point after a wild swing of the proverbial pendulum.

On one hand, there are some who simply exist. They are physically present, but their mind is elsewhere. They appear isolated and disconnected from the people and world around them. Their number one defense is: “But at least I’m here, right?” Many may call them boring or a “drag” to be around.  I say they are living at the moment.

On the other hand, there are people who appear to follow the wind wherever it leads. It’s almost as if the only word they know is “yes.” They are the ones who live by the motto, “you only live once” and proudly sport a “Carpe Diem” tattoo. Oftentimes, these people have very sporadic and inconsistent relationships. Their decisions are sometimes erratic, careless, and dangerous. Many may call them “scatterbrained,” or as the Temptations so talentedly sang it, “a rolling stone.”  I say they are living around the moment.

Of course I wouldn’t recommend that you lean towards either side of the spectrum. Instead, as Goldilocks learned many years ago, we should strive for the “just right” combination of both.

Living at the moment.

Being physically present is a huge part of living in the moment. Some would argue that’s half the battle. However, I’ve been this person, and I’ve been around this person before. Honestly, many times it feels better if they just weren’t there. They are so disengaged and uninterested that bystanders feel personally attacked by their presence. Their [our] physical presence wasn’t a gift to those around them [us].

In my personal experience and opinion–of which I am an expert in–I believe closure is the biggest contributor to living at the moment. Whether it be closure from a past relationship, loss of a loved one, past hurt, or even daily activities, lack of closure seizes your mind and leaves you thoughtlessly going through the motions.

Here’s my advice to seek closure.

Be patient with this advice as it takes time and practice.:

  • Face whatever it is head on. It can and often will feel overwhelming, but it will steamroll you if you don’t accept responsibility for your own healing. Surround yourself with friends and professionals who can help you begin your journey. The only way to finish a large meal is one small bite at a time.
  • Acknowledge and accept your emotions triggered by this event, series of events, deadlines, etc.
  • Schedule time to journal out your emotions.
  • Develop a daily “closure” action plan that includes what you need closure from and what you are determining to be “the end” for that particular day.   You want to tell yourself, “I will have closure today once I finish [this].”
  • Execute your daily plan or “ritual.” This is an intentionally scheduled time that ends with you declaring “the end” of that activity so you can become more engaged with those around you. I like to associate this step with a physical action.
    • For example, if I find myself constantly thinking about work, I will choose to only work in a designated location. When I finish work, I will say “all done,” turn the computer off, close the laptop, stand up, stretch, turn off the lights, walk out, and close the door. Over time, the combination of these verbal and physical cues trains my mind to leave all traces of those thoughts in my office. This frees me to be both physically and mentally present with my family.

Living around the moment.

Another song that comes to mind when I think of this group is, “Born to be Wild” by Steppenwolf! These are the thrill seekers who are either never around or so busy they never really have time to engage in normal human interaction. Since their minds are constantly fiending for the next thrill, their actions are usually infused with spontaneity. This isn’t inherently a negative thing until it impacts their [our] relationships with others.

Relationships are impacted because this group of people fails to exercise moderation. I believe they can find the same fulfillment and more if they add structure to their lives. Furthermore, I believe this group can benefit from the aforementioned steps for closure. Nevertheless, they must first become more organized.

Here is my advice to become more organized:

  • Goals, goals, goals! Here’s a topic I’ve written about a few times. Why? Because structuring your life begins with setting measurable and achievable goals that will lead you to your desired end state. Zig Ziglar said it best, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”
  • Establish a “daily battle rhythm.” This is a military term that describes the deliberate, repeatable events we do everyday to achieve a specific goal. I know this sounds like nails on a chalkboard for spontaneous people, but don’t worry. You can (and should) schedule time to be spontaneous. Just ensure you achieve closure after each activity or series of activities.
  • CCTV. No, I’m not talking about closed circuit television. I’m talking about checklists, clocks, timers, and voices. 
    • Checklists: Many scientists recommend checklists because–according to them– our brain releases dopamine every time we check that tiny box. That dopamine creates positive feelings which, in turn, gives us the adrenaline we need to complete the next task. This tends to work really well for thrill seekers because they enjoy that same dopamine release on their various adventures.
    • Clocks: Allocate blocks of time to do certain tasks. It may be tough to accurately guess the proper amount of time starting off, but you’ll be able to create a better time schedule as you continue to practice.
    • Timer: Having a scheduled time block is important; however, sometimes seeing that time dwindle is the psychological push we need to complete various tasks.  Additionally, the act of counting down creates an urgency that gives importance and relevancy to each task. Some may argue that urgency draws on our adrenaline supply while increasing anxiety. Contrarily, I submit that the adrenaline rush is what gives us the momentum and focus to complete a list of tasks in a timely manner. Using timers are another method to combine physical and psychological activities to produce a favorable reaction.
    • Voices: Listen to your voice and your accountability partner’s voice. Sometimes, our thoughts tend to drown out our own conscience. That’s why we all need that friend (or group of friends) who will help hold us accountable. Listen to them when they tell you to “slow down” or “you’re never around.” They may be trying to help you grow.
  • Clean up! That “rolling stone” or “wild” lifestyle tends to make us a little junky. Physically organizing your personal and professional spaces is key to becoming more organized.
  • Limit distractions as much as possible. I know this can be a challenge depending on your situation, but we have to try! Close the door if you can work in a closed door office. Wear headphones while at the computer. Stay away from the break room during normal “chat” time. Set time restraints on your phone apps and web browser. These are just a few ideas to get you started!

Conclusion.

I get it; living in the moment sometimes seems like a foreign concept or “dream deferred.” None of us will get it right all the time. In spite of that, the beauty of our daily journey is that we can let yesterday go to have a better today so we can start tomorrow off on the right foot. Be encouraged. Living in the moment is achievable!

Thanks for reading!

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You CAN Make it Through These Dark Times! PART 2- How to Conquer Adversity, Anxiety, and Toxic thoughts.

I wasn’t originally planning on releasing a part two, but after receiving feedback from you beautiful people, I decided to continue the conversation and discuss how to conquer adversity, anxiety, and toxic thoughts.

As you already know, life is a journey. In Part 1 (Click here for Part 1), we discussed a quote by award-winning poet, Theodore Roethke: “In a dark time, the eye begins to see.” As I continued to read and think about this topic, it reminded me of a challenging hike I completed when I was doing the Mission Trails Regional Park 5-peak challenge in Santee and La Mesa, CA. It was not the most physically demanding thing I have done (U.S. Marine Corps training will push you to your limits), but there were definitely a few extremely challenging portions.

The Journey

There was one particular portion of the North Fortuna Mountain that gets fairly steep; especially after inclement weather. The natural competitor in me forced me to complete this trail numerous times…but the first time was not a pretty sight! When I first approached this portion of the trail, I heard a loud, Drill Instructor-esque voice in my head yell, “attack the hill!” So I looked down and began charging up the steep incline that led to the summit–pumping my arms and power breathing as I went. I kept my head down in hopes that this would somehow help me magically arrive at the plateau quicker. Unfortunately, this was not reality. The further I hiked, the steeper the incline became. After about two minutes, my legs were burning, I was panting, and I was raining sweat.

I finally glanced up… I was definitely not as close as I thought I’d be. In fact, I hadn’t made much progress at all! So I had a choice to make. You see, I had already determined I was going to finish the hike. (Once I put my mind to it, it is going to happen!) Turning back wasn’t an option, but I had another decision to make: how should I motivate myself to complete this hike? Should I focus solely on the plateau? How long will I dwell on my progress (or lack thereof)? Should I closely monitor my progress as I continue to go forward?

I chose the latter and restarted my journey. After a couple more minutes, I checked my progress. When I looked back I initially thought, “I haven’t gone anywhere!” Then, I noticed some people who were close to where I started. “Those people look small,” I thought. “I am further along than I thought!” That’s all I needed to continue pushing! So I started to hike again–looking back every 5-10 steps or so to see if the people behind me were getting even smaller. After another couple minutes passed, I decided to look up to see how far I made it. “You haven’t gone anywhere!” I exclaimed to myself. The tree I marked during my last break was still relatively close. I made less progress this time than I did before my first stop.

This is where I started to feel sorry for myself. “I am doing my best to get in better shape, and I cannot even motivate myself to get past this hill!” That’s when it hit me. I could not efficiently move forward while gazing at the things behind me. While I was glancing back, I found myself slipping on loose sand, stumbling over rocks, and falling off the path. In hindsight, this made my journey even more rigorous!

I could not efficiently move forward while gazing at the things behind me.

The Winning Strategy to conquer adversity, anxiety, and toxic thoughts!

With that in mind, I developed a new winning strategy that would eventually help me overcome this challenge and subsequently make it to the summit. Before I restarted, I established what I called “checkpoints” or “mini-goals” along the path where I would rest and reflect (i.e. celebrate my progress). While hiking, I paid close attention to where I stepped; ensuring I constantly progressed as each step was on solid or compacted soil. Lastly, I kept my overall goal in mind: reach the North Fortuna summit, take a picture, and enjoy sunrise and the peaceful nature around me. It is important to note, this portion of the trail did not get any less steep or challenging; however, I knew I had the winning strategy to conquer this adverse situation and achieve my goal.

There are a few things I learned from that hike that I believe are helpful…

  1. Rest and reflect. One of the biggest contributors to successfully completing this hike was implementing my mini-goals. I set my sights on several large rocks, trees, or recognizable features along the trail and said, “do not stop until you reach that mini-goal.” Once I reached my mini-goal, I did a small celebration to commemorate my progress. In essence, I broke my journey into manageable chunks that I could physically achieve and implemented preplanned opportunities to refresh my mental resiliency. The stops were not long; just quick enough to catch my breath and celebrate my progress. As goes life. Schedule quick moments to rest and reflect on progress, then keep pushing towards your ultimate goal!
  2. Live in the moment. While grappling with today’s challenges, we cannot allow ourselves to be burdened by yesterday’s news or overwhelmed with tomorrow’s issues. Focus on traversing the path ahead of you and achieving your mini-goals instead of gazing at the things behind you or worrying about tomorrow’s uncertainties.
  3. Be aware and selective of what (or whom) you allow to validate your efforts. I was gauging my success on the trail off of someone else. In retrospect, those people were taking pictures, enjoying nature, strolling, and most importantly, they didn’t even take the same trail. We currently live in a society where it is easy to allow likes, shares, comments, money, and praise to validate us. The issue is those things are temporary. We should only find validation in things that are permanent (e.g. your purpose in life). For me, it is inspiring others. My efforts are validated when my children’s books, blog posts, speaking engagements, and my platform in general inspires someone else to pursue their own goals and dreams!
  4. Don’t lose sight of your goal. My overall goal was to reach the summit, and I did! No matter how challenging the journey, never forget where you are going. Your “why” is what drives you day to day. Your “where” is what makes the journey worth it! You can and will achieve all of your goals! Believe in yourself!

Have a fantastic week, and know that you CAN and WILL make it through these dark times!

Want a little help making it through these dark times?

I partnered with my friend Deb Kartz during her Conquer Anxiety & Toxicity 21-day virtual summit to give you proven strategies to conquer anxiety & toxicity! I embedded the 2-part YouTube series below! Enjoy!

Register for FREE to learn more winning strategies!
Watch my two-part series with Deb Kartz as we discussed how to conquer anxiety & toxicity! (Embedded below)

Anxiety and toxicity are just another way that sneaky “shadow” tries to creep into our life and our children’s lives. As my Amazon best-seller Crow From the Shadow says, “The Shadow is a person… or maybe a thing… or a place. The Shadow tells me who to be, how to go, and where to stay.” Not anymore! In this two-part series, we expose that sneaky shadow and kick ’em to the curb! Watch these FREE interviews as we #defeattheshadow to conquer anxiety and toxicity!

Conquer Anxiety & Toxicity with Deb Kartz and U.S. Marine/best-selling author, Olaolu Ogunyemi (P1)
Conquer Anxiety & Toxicity with Deb Kartz and U.S. Marine/best-selling author, Olaolu Ogunyemi (P2)
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Benjamin’s Journal Series: Using consistency and discipline to grow stronger through my weaknesses.

Journal entry–5:00 a.m. 10/19/2022

I’ve been meaning to come back around to this. I have continued to write daily; not necessarily in the form of journaling per se, but in the form of calculated and random to do’s, thoughts, or memories needing someplace else to live rather than just my brain. They tend to find new residences in my notes folder on my phone or the little black notebook I keep close. I do this because I realized that if I am to become the writer I aspire to be, I must demonstrate consistency and discipline.

Consistency and Discipline

Consistency and discipline are two very interesting concepts that take on their own identity depending on the task at hand. The human mind subconsciously prioritizes actions according to importance, interest, and the situation. That is why actively reminding ourselves of the following is the utmost necessity.:

  1. What is important to you?
  2. Our interests are ever evolving. What are you currently interested in?
  3. What is your current situation or life circumstance?

Keeping these things at the top of your mind help deflect the inevitable woes of procrastination that come naturally in moments of busyness, transition, and perfectionism. Here is yet another reason why understanding a wide array of perspectives can be beneficial to how you approach daily obstacles.

Perspective is key.

On one hand, you can accept that you’re not being as productive as you intended to be, which can result in frustration. On the other hand, you can examine why you’re operating the way you are based upon your current season, which can result in a better understanding. I try to focus on the latter, and honestly, it’s what gives me the most peace.

I’m reminded of Paul in 2 Corinthians pleading with God to remove the thorn from his flesh, and God replying with:

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV

That “thorn” can be in the form of anything.

Transparently, my “thorn” often shows itself in my time management, overextension, and focus. However, it’s a refreshing feeling to know that based on my intentions and faith, even my weaknesses can serve as a reminder of how strong my God is. On the days I feel like I lacked consistency and discipline, I remember His grace. That empowers me to give myself grace and to continue to pursue my purpose. God’s grace enables my consistency and discipline, and it makes my “thorn” or weakness my greatest asset.

Why? Because it turns my errors into educational moments. It allows me to understand who I am and where I am in life, and it allows me to refocus and grow into a better me. Thereby, I become stronger through my weaknesses.

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Our Journey to Victory:
The Power to Heal

Hi guys! I am Joshua Ogunyemi aka Josh O. Not only is Olaolu my little brother, but I illustrated the Amazon best-seller Crow From the Shadow and Billy Dipper’s Time to Shine. Today, I want to post a few words of wisdom I shared on June 13, 2021 that explains how our faith in God and our power to heal has started us on a journey to victory! Feel free to watch the video, read the blog, or both! Please note: I made some slight edits to the written version to ensure it flows well. Enjoy!

Full video: Our Journey to Victory: The Power to Heal by Joshua Ogunyemi

Our Journey to Victory: The Power to Heal

Introduction: Keep smiling!

“If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands. If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands. If you’re happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it. If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands. If you’re happy and you know it, stomp your feet. If you’re happy and you know it, stomp your feet. If you’re happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it. If you’re happy and you know it, stomp your feet. If you’re happy and you know it, smile. If you’re happy and you know it, smile. If you’re happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it. If you’re happy and you know it, smile!”

Now, why did I start with that song? Well, I thought it was important for y’all to see your brother smiling even while in this struggle.

We still have our faith.
We still have our hope.
We’re still standing, trusting, and believing in God’s Word. I can think of so many times we had to rely on a smile, a laugh, and the joy of the Lord which has always been our strength. That strength that kept us going. It empowers us every day and gives us the strength to bounce back and keep going (NO MATTER WHAT)! So, I thought it was important for you to see us smile.

I smile, even though I hurt see I smile.
I know God is working so I smile.
Even though I’ve been here for a while,
I smile. Smile!

“I Smile” by Kirk Franklin

Smile every day. Smile like you mean it! You may have had a tough week and for some, it’s a struggle just trying to get a smile through. Whatever you do, just smile. Remember that “the JOY of the Lord IS [your] STRENGTH.” We had to hold on to our smile through all the highs and lows on our journey to victory!

Our gifts were made for this moment…YOU were made for this moment!

If you are a parent, guardian, caregiver, family member, or anyone else connected to someone challenged with a developmental disability or “special need,” it is important for you to appreciate, honor, love, cherish, and labor with them. Why?  Because it brings out the best in you.  It helps you tap in and begin to transform situations that you previously couldn’t transform. It enables you to impact situations in your life that you previously couldn’t control.

It’s through our many challenges that we “stir up the gift that is in [us].” And what is this gift that is in us? Well, I’d like to submit to you that that gift is the POWER to HEAL.
I want to encourage you— anyone who may come in contact with someone who requires special needs.
YOU have the power to heal.
YOU are anointed for this.

When God blesses you to come into contact with a person overcoming physical and mental challenges, make no mistake about it, YOU were chosen for the assignment. YOU were hand-picked for the mission. Not only that, YOU are equipped for the mission. YOU are built for this, and God trusts YOU. He made YOU the executor of his estate.

What does that mean? It means He trusts you to be informed and make sound decisions regarding your family member and their health and safety. It means He trusts you to make the right move and get the job done.

The doctor who witnessed it all.

I’m so proud that earlier this year, we were able to visit one of the doctors who previously gravely said, “She’s a very sick baby…” He saw her after she was born at 23 weeks at one pound and three ounces. She had survived the passing of her identical twin sister and had suffered a Stage 4 hemorrhage–the worst form of bleeding from the brain. At that time, her body was too fragile to undergo the life-saving surgery that would keep her alive, so the surgical staff had to use a needle to withdraw fluid from her brain to reduce the pressure and swelling. More than one of those doctors encouraged us to terminate care.

They wanted us to terminate care, but we remained hopeful.

I’m so proud that we chose to stand in faith and believe God. I love it when my wife tells this story, because it’s by far the most gangster thing I’ve ever said. The messed up part is I really don’t even remember it! The doctors came to us and said, “we’ve pretty much done all we can do… It’s essentially our efforts keeping her alive [and] it’s probably best if you let her go.” My wife recalls that I responded, “Y’all do what y’all do, and we’ll do what we do, which is to pray and stand on God’s Word.” That wouldn’t mean anything if we didn’t have the evidence here with us today. This proves that standing on God’s Word WORKS!

Faith in Action

God trusts you to get the job done. When you acknowledge Him, He will give you direction. He trusts you and has anointed you to heal. It’s our responsibility as the able-body folks to not leave our loved ones in the conditions we found them in. It’s our responsibility to heal them.

Many of us are familiar with the biblical story about a rich ruler who divided up talents among his workers and left town for a while. When he came back, the two he gave multiple talents to gave him back more than what he had given them. But, there was one who gave him back the same talent that he had been given. The Master was displeased with the servant who did nothing to multiply his talent.
Why? Because God wants us to take our situations–the gift that He’s given us–and give him back more! So again, let’s use our power to heal!

God works through us!

Now don’t get it twisted. It’s the power of God that heals bodies, makes the lame walk, makes the blind see, and mends the broken hearts. He cures sickness and disease and sets the captive free, but it is by our hands that he causes these miracles to be. It’s by our hands that he manifests these miraculous signs and wonders. The Bible says God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or even think according to the power that works in us (Ephesians 3:20). So it’s by our hands that manifestation happens.

Jesus said, “believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do… anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works…You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.” (John 14:11-13 NLT)

So yes, it is God who does the work, but it’s by our hands that he manifests. By doing so, God gets the glory.

In Acts 14 Paul and Barnabas travel town to town speaking God’s word. When they came to a particular town, they encountered a man “with crippled feet. He had been that way from birth, so he had never walked. He was sitting and listening as Paul preached. Looking straight at him, Paul realized he had faith to be healed.” (Acts 14:8-9 NLT) So Paul called to him in a loud voice, “Stand up!” And the man jumped to his feet and started walking. (Acts 14:10 NLT)
What am I saying? We have that same power to heal.

Remember the doctor I told you about?

Yep, one of the few who thought that turning down the assignment was even an option. We visited him earlier this year–seven years later. He was amazed by Kennedy’s cognitive ability and her speech. He had some questions! This doctor remembered her brain scans all too well. It looked like she didn’t have a chance! He remembered the conversation we had. You know, the one where he encouraged us to terminate care.

That same doctor now said that based upon what he saw, Kennedy shouldn’t be this far along. She shouldn’t be doing the things that she’s doing. As a matter of fact, they thought she wouldn’t make it. They expected her to be severely retarded and unable to walk or talk. He originally told us that she’d be a vegetable collecting SSI and we’d need a lifetime of medicine, machines, oxygen, and around-the-clock care.

Kennedy’s [our] journey to victory!

Instead, after six months of being in the NICU, she came home with no equipment, oxygen, medicine, etc. It was almost like she just came home and said, “that was it?” Today, Kennedy is on the A/B Honor Roll, promoting to the third grade, and can even count to ten in Spanish! She sleeps comfortably in her own room–in her own bed–and she is a prayer warrior. Kennedy quotes scriptures and recites positive affirmations every day. She will also get you together, whether you ask for it or not.

I will end with this: the doctor told us that he believes Kennedy would have had all the previously mentioned side effects had she been in any other hands. Why is this important? Because I believe our journey to healing begins when we realize our power to heal and transform any situation!

Please continue to pray for me and my family, and I will do the same for you and yours.

About Josh O., the author of “Our Journey to Victory: The Power to Heal”

“Josh O.” is a devoted husband, dad, mentor, author, and entrepreneur. He is proof that faith, courage, and determination will outlast even the toughest challenges. His story has inspired many, exemplifying spiritual and mental toughness, defying every challenge he’s had to face.

Despite losing a child, extended periods of unemployment, failures, financial problems, the everyday pressures of marriage and fatherhood, and raising a child with special needs, he has become a champion of challenging situations and encourages others to do the same.

Josh’s book “tough times don’t last, TOUGH PEOPLE DO” is a must read! Josh shows you how to turn your hard times Into THRIVING times with just 9 Key habits.

“IMAGINE YOU HAD A BLUEPRINT–
A guide to help you during hard times. YOU can come out ON TOP!
You just need the tools to help get you there.”
-Josh O

tough times don’t last, TOUGH PEOPLE DO” Available now at https://www.amazon.com/tough-times-dont-TOUGH-PEOPLE/dp/1737492717/ or https://excelu.groovepages.com/ttdlebook/index

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How to develop your child’s inquisitive mind: “Because I said so.”

On the go? Listen to the audio version of “How to develop your child’s inquisitive mind: ‘Because I said so.‘”

I believe I received this shirt on Father’s Day in 2015. As you can tell by the wear and tear, it’s one of my favorite shirts. I don’t remember exactly what I said when my family handed it to me, but it was probably something like, “that’s right!” Yeah teaching children to be inquisitive is important, but not more important than doing what I say when I say it! I even ran into an older gentleman who read my shirt and said, “Hey, I would do what you say too.”

One of my favorite shirts! “Because I said so. -Dad”

“That’s right!” I thought. “You see these biceps?! These back up my authority. You do what I say, when I say it. Why? Because I said so!” Some of you are beating your chest and wondering where you can buy one of these shirts. Others are ready to vomit. Nowadays, I agree with the latter group. “Because I said so” is easy to say (and wear), but it’s actually quite shallow and it can potentially squelch a child’s inquisitive spirit. We’ll discuss more, but before we dive in, we have to answer two important questions: 1. What does it mean to be inquisitive? 2. Why is it important to raise children who are inquisitive?

What does it mean to be inquisitive?

To be inquisitive is to be curious and extremely interested in learning new things. Typically, inquisitive people have an insatiable desire to know more about any given topic. For example, my son [randomly] asked me the following questions last week: 1. Why is the sun so bright? 2. Why is a Rip current called a “Rip” current? 3. Why do we say “bless you” when people sneeze?

I know that as soon as I mentioned the word “curious,” some of you thought about this old quote:

Curiosity killed the cat.

A lot of people

My ten minute Google search tells me that this quote originated in the 1598 play, Every Man in His Humour, written by the English playwright Ben Jonson. Since, it’s been used as a forewarning for those who are inquiring about or expressing curiosity in something that may result in trouble. Over the years, this quote has been used to keep people from interfering in others’ affairs. Of course this quote has also been used to discourage children from asking “too many” questions about anything. I even remember as I stared at a lifeless cat in the middle of the road, someone told me, “See? Curiosity killed that cat!” Sounds like a pretty compelling argument if you ask me.

Why is it important to encourage children to be inquisitive?

In true Olaolu fashion, I’d like to offer you an alternative to the previous quote:

Curiosity Ignorance killed the cat.

Olaolu Ogunyemi

Let’s use the same scenario above. Some argue that the cat died because he was too curious. He met an inevitably fatal ending because he was satisfying his naturally inquisitive mind. Well, I’d like to offer that the cat wouldn’t have wandered into the road in front of a car if he had known it could end his life. In other words, his fatal outcome was based upon his ignorance, not his inquisitive mind.

It’s not all life or death situations though. There are many other benefits to encouraging our children to be inquisitive.

Here are a few benefits.

  1. It broadens their perspective on current events.
  2. It gives them a desire to know more about life, science, religion, etc.
  3. It helps to develop their critical thinking skills.
  4. It helps develop their perspective and opinions.
  5. It sparks their mind to conduct analytical processes.
  6. It teaches them to remain open minded.
  7. It gives them confidence as they learn new things.
  8. It teaches them to think freely and explore their thoughts and emotions.
  9. It creates another teachable and memorable moment for you with your children. That’s what my entire parent-child-connect (P2C) platform is all about!

So now for the million dollar question:

How do you raise inquisitive children?:

1. Ask questions.

It’s no secret that I’m a huge advocate for setting the example. That is our job as leaders and mentors. The more our children see us asking questions, the more they will be inclined to do the same. Your example also teaches them the appropriate time, forum, and method to ask questions. For example, if your significant other says something and you yell back, “Why do I need to do that?!” Expect your child to do the same.

2. Give answers based upon fact.

Children may be naïve, but they’ll eventually realize if you’re just making stuff up. It’s ok to say, “I don’t know. Let me read more about that and get back to you.” It may even be a great opportunity for you to learn together! In any case, give them factual information.

3. Teach them where to find answers and how to conduct research.

I’m sure we have all heard this proverb.:

If you give a man a fish he is hungry again in an hour. If you teach him to catch a fish you do him a good turn.

Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie

I’m not encouraging you to hand them a dictionary or an encyclopedia, and tell them to “go figure it out.” I am encouraging you to show them how and where to gather information. Encourage them to read! This is why I include fun facts and educational material in my children’s books. Not only is this skill transferrable to the classroom, but it teaches your child how to examine perspectives and analyze information before developing their opinion.

4. Listen to them and be patient.

Patience is another topic I discuss regularly. It is a critical part of any relationship, and it’s impossible to raise inquisitive children without patience! It takes time for them to ask questions that they perceive to be complex. The fact that they don’t know how to ask the complex question makes asking the question that much harder.

Relax. Give them time to ask the question, and if they need a little help forming the question (i.e. they are struggling to form the words), gently help them. Whatever you do, don’t rush them or cut them off mid-sentence. Take time to hear their question, and give them an age-appropriate answer that they can comprehend.

5. Encourage them to ask questions.

This is a pretty simple concept. If you want your children to be more inquisitive, encourage them to be more inquisitive. Sometimes, they may be scared to ask questions. Maybe there’s a guy yelling and wearing a worn out t-shirt that says, “because I said so!” I say that tongue-in-cheek to make fun of myself, but you get the point. Be aware of what you say about and your disposition towards your children when they are being inquisitive.

Their inquisitive mind is constantly expanding as they learn about and take in the world around them. Your children’s life-long experiences and opinions will be based upon what they learn and perceive to be true. Their willingness to ask questions and challenge the norm will inevitably make them catalysts for change. And ultimately, that change will drive us to a brighter future.

Thanks for reading!

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Benjamin’s Journal Series: The Outsider

Journal entry–5:00 a.m. 08/29/2022

I’ve often felt like an outsider in multiple areas and at various times in my life. For example, although my siblings were born in vicinity of New Orleans, I was born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. We started off in the East of New Orleans then moved to the Westbank in Algiers, and even then, we attended school in St. Bernard Parish because that’s where my father taught.

My parents uprooted us from our home 17 years ago as Hurricane Katrina ravaged through my hometown. I assumed we were just evacuating for the weekend until my family enrolled us in school the following Friday in rural North Louisiana. Once again, I found myself feeling like an outsider as I settled in and remained there throughout my adolescent years.

That’s one reason I’ve come to realize that adapting to any given situation is second nature to me. It’s all I’ve known for a very long time. I continue to search for who I am in spite of who I’ve become as a result of the continual changes. Was I designed to be the perpetual outsider?

Reflection

To answer that question, I turn to Proverbs 18:16

A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great.

Proverbs 18:16 NIV

Just as height, coordination, and athleticism are advantageous to those who are gifted in sports; perspective, comprehension, and communication cultivate the various gifts inside of you. With that in mind, Proverbs 18:16 takes on a different meaning for me. Your gifts may open the door for you, but the environment you enter helps produce the skills you need to grow the gifts within you.

Your gifts may open the door for you, but the environment you enter helps produce the skills you need to grow the gifts within you.

Full circle: The Outsider’s Advantage

On the anniversary of the biggest adjustment of my life, I choose to ignore hypotheticals. Instead, I will focus on my growth, the growth of the city I love, and the growth of everyone else affected by the hurricane. Though we are still putting pieces back together in a multitude of ways 17 years later, the strength, endurance, and resiliency that came as a result cannot be ignored.

One of my favorite sayings is “Perspective is everything, and everything is relative.” Meaning, your outlook on any given thing or situation is all based upon your experience and opinion. That outlook could be very difficult to garner if you’ve maintained an unvarying viewpoint for an extended period of time… So maybe being an outsider in multiple areas and at different times of my life isn’t so bad after all.

Want to read more? Check out my previous entry!

Connect with me!:

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What do you see?: It’s all about perspective

Hello! I know some of you will click this expecting some form of optical illusion or a trivial search. I can assure you that I’m not trying to point your attention towards anything in particular. Instead, I want to introduce two kinds of people who differ based upon their perspective and why each is important.

On the go? Listen to the audio version of “What do you see?: All about perspective!”

Last weekend, my wife and I went to watch Kevin Hart in Raleigh, NC. (It’s a hilarious show by the way, but that’s not the point of this post). The pictures you see were taken from our viewpoint in our hotel room. One picture is what I immediately saw, and the other is what my wife immediately saw. While staring out of the window, I told her, “if you look down, you will be disappointed, but if you look up and out, you’ll see the beauty.” How romantic. Here I am spewing out a philosophical observation when we were supposed to be just taking in the view. She simply (and accurately) responded, “sounds like you have your next post.”

She was right!

At first thought, I thought I would discuss how important the “up-and-out” perspective was. Then something hit me: the “down-and-in” perspective is crucial to our success. So let’s talk about how both perspectives are mutually supporting.

The “up-and-out” perspective

You have probably heard this story, but I’ll share anyway! Sir Christopher Wren is the famous architect responsible for numerous reconstruction projects following the Great Fire in London in 1666. One of his most prolific masterpieces is the St Paul’s Cathedral. Legend has it that one day during construction, Christopher Wren observed three bricklayers hard at work. Christopher Wren posed a simple question to these three men, “What are you doing?” One bricklayer responded, “I’m a bricklayer. I’m working hard laying bricks to feed my family.” The second bricklayer responded, “I’m a builder. I’m building the walls of a church.” The third brick layer responded, “I’m a cathedral builder. I’m building a great cathedral to The Almighty.”

This is when most of the self-help books and blogs stop to praise the latter of the three men. This man has the up-and-out perspective, and he understands the big picture. People like him can usually keep a positive attitude in the worst situations, because they can forecast a positive outcome. Conversely, they can warn you of impending danger regardless of how positive the current situation is. Can you understand why a large amount of self-help literature recommends this perspective? This person sounds awesome, right? Let’s check how this individual interacts with the “down-and-in” perspective.

Interaction with the down-and-in perspective.

Are you actually going to pretend you don’t see that literal pile of trash right there?

Brea Ogunyemi

I think this quote accurately captures the kind of conversation I have at least once a week with my wife (😂). The up-and-out perspective person needs this reminder. Because they can often accurately predict the future, they easily become unrealistic. In other words, if untethered, the up-and-out perspective person can set lofty and unachievable goals. Also, their constant positive attitude or sense of foreboding can become exhausting. Sometimes, they need the down-and-in perspective people to ground them and help them embrace the moment.

Another important note is the up-and-out person often likes to document their thoughts (i.e. budgets, schedules, personnel tracking estimates, etc.) This can feel overwhelming to the down-and-in person and they’ll feel the up-and-out person is overbearing and too controlling.

The “down-and-in” perspective

This group of people represents the other two workers in our St Paul story. I always imagine that while Mr. Up-and-out is taking a break to lean on his shovel and admire his work, the down-and-in bricklayers keep working to meet the day’s timeline. They are all about doing the immediate work it takes to get the job done.

Because they have the down-and-in perspective, they can usually identify immediate dangers or opportunities. They are also more apt to embrace the moment –whether positive or negative. Their perspective may initially seem brash or uncalled for, but it can help inform future decisions.

Interaction with the other.

I live in the future!

Olaolu Ogunyemi

This is another weekly quote from our conversations. Down-and-in perspective people can often seem like “Debbie Downers.” The down-and-in people usually provide valuable feedback that the up-and-out person may not immediately understand or appreciate. For example, by pointing out the dumpsters in the first picture, the down-and-in person will give the up-and-out person something to think about when choosing rooms in the future.

To the up-and-out person, the down-and-in person seems to be shortsighted with no comprehension of or care for long-term initiatives. The #YOLO or Carpe Diem lifestyle with no future considerations makes the up-and-out person extremely uncomfortable. The up-and-out person feels the down-and-in person is too unorganized and solely focused on surviving the day. Thereby, the up-and-out person will (often unsuccessfully) urge the down-and-in person to understand how their daily actions contribute to the big picture.

These perspectives are mutually supporting but not mutually exclusive

Some of you may be thinking, “I’m a little bit of both.” Well, you’re right! Many of us find ourselves bouncing between these two perspectives. This is an important note as we fulfill our role in any team or relationship. We must constantly understand and adapt to the different perspectives to avoid the inevitable clash and work together to achieve common goals. If you are leading a team, you must constantly assess who’s who and find ways to incorporate each perspective to gain and maintain momentum on any given project.

So who are you today?

Picture yourself in that same hotel window with me and my wife. What do you see? And most importantly, how will you incorporate the alternate perspective? These are the questions I challenge you to think about throughout the week.

Thanks for reading!

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Benjamin’s Journal Series: All I Need

Note from Olaolu: Today’s guest blogger may be new to the parent-child-connect platform, but he is family! Benjamin C. Fields is a great speaker, a mentor, a finance professional, a former college basketball standout, and a very positive image for our young black youth. I have had the pleasure of knowing Benjamin for almost fifteen years, and it has been amazing to see him grow… I mean that both figuratively and literally (he’s 6’7″).

When I reached out to Benjamin, he told me that he has been keeping a journal. I was immediately intrigued because I’ve come to admire and appreciate his intellect and wisdom. After a brief conversation, we quickly realized that the encouraging content he was recording is edifying for everyone who has the opportunity to read. So with that in mind, I am excited to introduce a new series to the parent-child-connect brand: the Benjamin’s Journal Series! Enjoy Benjamin’s first entry, “All I need!”*

Journal entry–5:00 a.m. 06/08/2022

For a long time, I wanted a friend like me. I’m not sure why I decided to start today’s entry like that, but it seemed right. A lot has changed since my last entry, and a lot is continuing to change right before my very eyes. Moving out of our house in New Orleans was bittersweet for sure, but it was such a blessing to be in that location for the last 2 years. I feel as though I definitely used that situation to the best of my abilities.

Going from a 5 bedroom, 3 full bathroom house in uptown New Orleans to a 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment in New York City sounds like it would be a bigger adjustment. I’ve been here a week and a day now, and in all honesty, I’m recalibrating pretty smoothly. I guess that truly does speak to how well I can adapt to my circumstances. But to me, adapting is one thing, excelling is another.

But to me, adapting is one thing, excelling is another.

Reflection

I’ve had to adapt several times in my life; that’s how I know I’m truly blessed! I literally cannot thank God enough for every little thing he has done for me. I’m not sure I ever anticipated living in Harlem, NYC at any moment of my life after living in New Orleans until I was nine then moving to North Louisiana for the remainder of my childhood. To go from Bernice, Louisiana (a town with no traffic lights) to New York City is to experience life on two opposite ends of the spectrum.

All I can do is step back and acknowledge the work God is doing in and through my life. I also acknowledge that he’s just getting started! I feel like I’m figuring out how I’m supposed to operate on this earth and why I’m supposed to operate on this earth. I’m far from content, and I want my actions to align to that truth. I’ve been blessed to think this way, feel this way, and operate in such a manner. Recently, I’ve received every indication that I am favored in a different way or destined to be blessed, known, etc. My perspective has shifted drastically!

I just want to remind everyone I encounter that God is the only way. He is enough! I would not be here without prayer and discernment, and my comfort and peace did not come from this world. My job on this earth is to chase God with all of my being and serve his kingdom however I can along the way. That has looked like so many things along my journey and unique opportunities will continue to present themselves.

Full circle: He is all I need

Now, to return to my opening statement. I used to think I needed other people–especially those close to me–to get to where I’m meant to be. I’ve now realized that all I’ve ever needed was my Lord and Savior. What is mine is already mine. What is meant to be will happen regardless of how things look now. If I want something, I need to put action behind my faith and let God do the rest. He is all I need!

Connect with Benjamin Fields:

https://linktr.ee/bencf

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Establishing Winning Habits

On the go? Listen to and/or download the audio version of “Establishing Winning Habits!”

I had the pleasure of working in General Austin Miller’s (U.S. Army) command for a few months, and there is one thing that I heard him say over 100 times (that’s no exaggeration): establish repeatable processes. Sometimes, when you hear something so often, you become numb to it; however, that would’ve been a bad idea for me for a couple of reasons: 1. He was a commanding officer, so becoming numb to his orders is a sure way to get you fired. 2. More importantly, every time he said it, he caused me to reflect on my own “repeatable processes” or as most of us call them, habits.

Since then, this idea of habit creation and sustainment has become a critical part of my personal and professional philosophy. Why? Well, I can summarize why with this quote:

If your habits don’t support your goals, your goals are just a wish list.

Olaolu Ogunyemi

What are habits?

Most times when we talk about habits, we are either confronting about or being confronted about bad habits. Don’t get me wrong, I believe this “confrontation” or accountability is a crucial part of habit creation, but it is only part of the equation. We will dive into my principles soon, but first, let’s define “habits.”

Oxford Languages says that a habit is, “a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.” My love for food was the first thing that came to mind when I read this definition. Like most people, I’m still working towards that beach body six pack, but there’s a cliche that closely relates to my eating practices and delays my results: “you are what you eat.” I want to slightly modify this cliche to give you my own simplified definition of the word “habit”:

You are what you repeat.

Olaolu Ogunyemi

My winning habits principles

1. Winning habits begin with math.

Oh no… I’m becoming my parents! When I was young, I was one of those in class telling my math teachers, “I will never use this again!” Now, aside from the fact that i refuse to use a calculator to determine my tips and I solve two math problems every morning to shut off my alarm, I am telling you that winning habits begin with math. It’s actually pretty simple math.

There are twenty-four hours each day. Most of us spend 6-8 of those hours sleeping and another 8-12 of those hours “working.” (You’ll find out why I put “working” in quotes a little later). That means that about 14-20 hours of our day are usually accounted for. What are you doing with the other 4-10 hours each day? Are you intentionally investing every minute?

Those aren’t rhetorical questions to make a point; I truly want you to reflect on what you do during those hours. Although many won’t admit it, a lot of us have formed habits that simply drain our time. So much so that we can seldom recall what we did the day before. If you’re anything like me, you went back to double check that math. That can’t be right! Well, it is.

I reflected on this in one of my very first blog posts where I outlined how many habits I had formed that completely drained my time, and get this: a majority of them were somehow related to the device I carry around in my pocket every day. I challenge you to do your own reflection and record your daily habits.

2. Focus your habits.

Were you shocked by your daily habits list? That’s ok. Let’s do something about it! How do your daily habits align with your goals? Don’t lie or try to use some kind of “butterfly effect” justification. Don’t worry about how much effort or energy you put into each habit. Just have an objective review of what results your daily habits produce. Results are all that matter; there is no “A” for effort–make sure your habits support this fact.

3. “It’s called work for a reason!” -Larry Winget

I recently read and enjoyed this book by Larry Winget. Some may not like his style, because he refers to himself as an “irritational” speaker. In other words, he strives to make you so uncomfortable where you are that you desire to change.

I think my favorite part of this book is the fact that it was aptly named. One would assume that once you get a job, you would show up to perform that job; however, many of us have formed extremely bad habits in the workplace from doing personal chores to not doing anything at all. Of course this causes a ripple effect throughout any given organization and severely impedes processes. Your habits in the workplace are a reflection of your character, values, and professionalism. In other words, if your habits aren’t contributing towards the company’s desired results, you are part of the problem. Let’s focus on making our companies better!

4. Sleep is a must!

I actually don’t know where I got it from, but I remember saying, “sleep is for the rich, so I can’t afford it.” I don’t know; it just sounded cool to me. Nowadays, I don’t know if it’s maturity, a realignment of priorities, or a little bit of both, but I absolutely love sleep! There’s nothing like racing to my bed after a long day. (I’m yawning just thinking about it.)

Listen, numerous studies have shown that our sleep habits impact our mood, performance, attitude, and brain function. Temporarily reducing sleep to accomplish a specific goal is ok, but the key word is “temporarily.” Create a set time, routine, and location for your rest. This is one of the most important habits you can form.

5. Accountability is continuous, but give yourself grace.

Earlier I mentioned that confrontation and accountability are a huge part of habit creation. Let’s use my dietary habits as an example. I can claim that I want to eat better all I want, but without external feedback mechanisms like my wife or the MyFitnessPal food tracker, my goal is a well-intended wish.

However, the other part is grace. We spend decades forming habits, but then we expect to immediately break those habits and form new ones over night. Listen, that is highly unlikely, so give yourself a little grace. Implement a “clean slate” policy meaning you get to mess up every once in a while. Just reflect and implement a couple more accountability mechanisms to prevent repeating the same mistake.

Notice I used the word “repeating” here. You remember where I used that word before? That’s right. “You are what you repeat.” So don’t form a new habit of making more mistakes than progress. This is where a lot of us get stuck. Then we disguise this “one step forward, two steps back” approach as progress as we celebrate the one step forward and apply the “clean slate” policy to our two steps backwards. Let’s break that habit, because it will never work. Accountability and grace go hand-in-hand–you can’t have one without the other.

My winning habits

Now that I’ve outlined my principles, here is a quick list of habits I consider important in no particular order:

  1. Read and learn to experience the world from a different perspective.
  2. Take care of yourself: dedicate time each day to building your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual pillars. At least 30 minutes per pillar per day.
  3. Work hard when it’s time to work. Play hard when it’s time to play. Rest well when it’s time to rest.
  4. Spend uninterrupted time loving on friends and family. I cannot stress this one enough. Forgive if you need to forgive. Life is too short.
  5. Schedule time for the “time drainers” like social media, TV, window shopping, etc. These will likely always exist, but you need to manage them.
  6. Prioritize your day. Like Dr. Covey said, “keep the main thing, the main thing.” Or maybe I’ll add a little spin to the famous TLC line, “don’t go chasing waterfalls” (my spin) when you are supposed to be swimming at the lake. Yeah I know that was cheesy, but you get the point. Establish and align your habits to your priorities!
  7. Allocate time to reflect on the day. What did you do well? What are some opportunities for improvement?
  8. Smile, have fun, and remind yourself that you are valuable and have a purpose. Your daily habits support that purpose!

Thanks for reading! Have a great week!

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Read along with me!: “Billy Dipper’s Time to Shine” by Olaolu Ogunyemi

Happy Friday! I am excited to share my latest project: a read along of my book Billy Dipper’s Time to Shine!

Do you know a child? Maybe you know a teacher, librarian, parent, or mentor? Send them this link (https://youtu.be/F25Npwt8zdA), and let’s read together!

Billy Dipper’s Time to Shine by Olaolu Ogunyemi — Read Aloud Books for Children

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