My brother, Dr. Clement Ogunyemi, and I are excited to announce our most recent partnership with the Good Dads nonprofit organization in Springfield, MO! Good Dads has dedicated the entire year to men’s mental health, so we are elated to be a part of these efforts at such a pivotal time.
The Men’s Mental Health interview.
Clement and I were both extremely transparent during this conversation-style interview. In less than 25 minutes, we discussed depression, counseling, family, self-esteem, and more! Our hope is that we can encourage and inspire other men to free themselves from societal norms, and seek the help they need to focus on their mental health and become stronger. Why? Because you have to focus on personal development before you can pour into anyone else. That was the focal point of the entire interview–self care.
The Men’s Mental Health blog.
You will hear us reference a book throughout the interview. Well, that book is none other than the “Three Day Mental Health Guide: Major Payne Edition. A leader’s journey to building mentally strong children.” We created this journal-style eBook to help parents, teachers, and mentors lead their children on a positive mental health journey. This guide is completely free to download and has been shared all over the world! You can download your own copy below.
Good Dads was gracious enough to share “Day 1” of our guide. Day 1 helps leaders introduce the “mental health” topic. Mental health should no longer be a taboo topic–especially with men. We must continue to be open about our mental health journey and prioritize mental resiliency the way we prioritize physical resiliency.
I would be remiss if I didn’t provide more information about the organization behind these noteworthy initiatives. Here is a short blurb about what Good Dads is. Find out more about this great nonprofit organization–to include how to donate– by visiting https://www.gooddads.com/about-us!
Good Dads is the only organization in Southern Missouri focused on helping all dads be more engaged with their children. It began when business leaders in Springfield, Missouri recognized the impact of father absence on child well-being and came together for the purpose of supporting father engagement.
Good Dads is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that aims to encourage fathers by providing inspiration, resources and events to help dads be the best they can be.
I want to begin with a couple of disclaimers.: Firstly, this is neither an endorsement for nor a bash on the letter grading system that exists in many public schools. Additionally, I never had a teacher actually tell me that I received a “C-” for “complacency.” In fact, that would have likely been counterproductive if they have approached me in such a manner. This is simply a reflection on how two specific educators in my life influenced me to live up to my potential.
Of course highlighting these two educators is not to take away from the extraordinary contributions that all my teachers had over the years. There is just one commonality between the two that is worth discussing. The first is my eighth grade English teacher, Ms. Arthur. The second is my advanced composition professor at Grambling State University, Dr. Clawson. Both of these educators gave me a grade I was not accustomed to–a “C-.”
Though I remained tactful, I marched into the both of their rooms with a fairly arrogant attitude. “I think you made a mistake,” I said. “I’ve seen everybody else’s paper, and mine is by far the best!” Although these two occurrences were approximately five years apart, both of them gave me the same calm look and responded, “you can do better than this.”
I was floored! “Ok Yoda!” I thought. “Save your motivational speech for someone else.” Believe it or not, I didn’t have a response. I walked out of the room disappointed and slightly angry that this happened to me twice! Once my initial frustration subsided during the latter interaction, a new revelation began to set in. I had once again become so comfortable doing the bare minimum, that it was beginning to show in my work. In other words, my complacency was limiting my potential.
We use the word “complacency” fairly often in the Marine Corps. Quotes like “complacency kills” are plastered all over posters in an effort to remind marines to remain sharp and prepared for uncertainty. So what does “complacency” mean? Merriam Webster defines “complacency” as “self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies.” There’s no wonder why military organizations condemn complacency because the results can be fatal, but let’s consider other environments where the consequences aren’t as dire. Does it matter whether you are complacent or not? Were the educators I mentioned above just overreacting?
I will offer this to answer those questions: if you show me an environment where complacency is rampant, I will show you an environment of mediocrity.
Numerous people and organizations have limited their upward potential as they have settled with “good enough.” Usually, complacency is driven by pride in one’s achievements–especially in comparison to others. For example, I have always enjoyed writing, and because I have enjoyed and practiced writing, I improved over time. Over the years, my parents, mentors, and educators have encouraged me to continue to hone in on this skill. So much so that I managed to become extremely proud of my work and ability to effortlessly write thousands of words while others struggled to write hundreds.
My mistakes that led to complacency.
My first big mistake was taking too much time to praise my own work and abilities. I call this the “always A+ mentality.” With this mindset, I believed that everything I wrote deserved an A+. It was like I somehow thought I was the “King Midas” of composition. Of course this mindset was reaffirmed by the grades I received throughout elementary, high school, and college. With this arrogant attitude, I neither practiced writing nor studied to improve my writing abilities. I even began to procrastinate on projects that had a substantial impact on my overall grade. In my mind, I was becoming a better writer without prioritizing writing.
As I continued to bask in my own pride and boast (to myself) how great I was becoming, I began to compare myself to my peers. In fact, my peers began to bring me their work to edit–further affirming how “great” I was at writing. It wasn’t until I received that second “C-” from one of my many respected educators that I began to understand how my writing skills had stagnated. My vocabulary hadn’t truly expanded since high school, my ideas were recycled, and my research-backed evidence presented in my writing was shallow. I had spent so much time celebrating my accomplishments in an echo chamber that I hadn’t noticed that I had peaked and began a gradual decline.
My educators made me aware of my gradual decline and complacency.
In retrospect, I could’ve been much further along in my writing endeavors if I would’ve remained focused on improvement instead of just meeting the bare minimum. These two educators–and many others–recognized my potential, and took action to ensure that my arrogance did not allow me to unnecessarily peak. Rather, they encouraged me to be a continual learner who actively seeks out complacent habits in my life. From a overall grade perspective, the “C-” was inconsequential. However, it was critical to my personal development.
How to maximize an individual’s potential while preventing complacency.
1. Recognize the signs of complacency.
Don’t become so enamored with raw talent and skill that you miss obvious signs of complacency. For example, I heard a basketball coach discussing one of his players, “Man, he’s gotten good! I don’t even know how to coach him anymore!” At that moment, I knew the player’s upward potential would stall if someone didn’t intervene. The player had phenomenal stats, but he was simply going through the motion on offense, giving lackluster effort on defense, distracted by the crowd, and missing obvious ways to engage his teammates. As leaders, we must remain purpose-driven and focused on improving those we lead. Don’t get distracted by the stats!
2. Identify purpose.
Help those you lead find their purpose. I’ve talked quite a bit about purpose in “Chasing purpose is better than chasing success” Part 1 and Part 2. Two of my favorite quotes from these articles are: 1.) Your purpose is the wind beneath your wings during thriving times and the force that drives you during low times. 2.) Chasing success leads to disappointment. Chasing purpose leads to fulfillment. I believe your purpose aligns with what inspires you. As I stated in “How to shift your perspective and live a better life TODAY!,” there are three quick questions to ask yourself to find what inspires you. The intersection of these answers will reveal your purpose.:
What activities, thoughts, or passions energize me?
What value do I bring to those around me (hint: we all bring value to those around us)?
What are my greatest strengths?
3. Develop individualized goals.
Immediate and long-term goals are critical to overcoming complacency and increasing potential. Goals trigger new behaviors and habits while helping you gain and maintain momentum. If you know me, you know I love cheesy acronyms. With that in mind, teach those you lead that developing and achieving goals is “DOPE!”
Dream. Develop a clear vision of what achieving your purpose looks like. What actionable steps do you need to take?
Offload. Write down your clear vision statement and the actionable steps you thought of in the first step.
Plan. Develop a deliberate plan to achieve your actionable steps. That means you should break down how you will achieve each step in detail. Start assigning specific dates, times, and deadlines to your steps. This is where your goals transform from conceptual to actionable.
Execute. In the words of one of my college professors Dr. Matthew, “do the job!” In other words, start executing the above steps while adhering to the deadlines. Record your progress and repeat this cycle as required to refine your goals and actionable steps. Remain focused on ensuring your goals align with your purpose!
4. Co-develop individualized standards.
Sometimes, people’s personal standards align with the bare minimum universal standards. You will have to invest additional time helping to develop standards if that is one of the people you lead. Universal standards exist to establish a baseline understanding of societal expectations. However, our personal standards are layered on top of universal standards to help us consistently pursue our lifelong purpose. In other words, the metrics we use to measure our success (standards) shouldn’t simply equal the universal standard; instead, our standard should track and measure how effective our unique goals are at helping us achieve our purpose.
5. Time and effort.
As I alluded to above, developing and achieving goals requires you to adhere to specific dates, times, and deadlines. As such, you must teach those you lead how to budget their time and apply effort to the things that help them achieve their immediate and long-term goals. I have a sticky note on my work computer that reads, “Remember: Don’t dedicate energy and effort to things that don’t matter.” I offer that same advice to you and those you lead. First, write down every activity that consumes your time and effort over a 72 hour period. Next, circle the things that help you achieve your purpose (purposeful). Then, highlight the things that may not necessarily contribute to your purpose but they are necessary for your daily routine (essential). Lastly, cross out the things that are neither purposeful nor essential (worthless). Continue this exercise over time until you develop a list of purely purposeful and essential tasks. After all that is done, determine how much time you need to accomplish each item on your refined task list. Prioritize these tasks in order of importance, and use this document to drive your daily actions and activities.
Many people live their entire lives without reaching their true potential. That is why it’s critical for us to apply these fundamentals to help others maximize their potential. It will be a challenge, but it is achievable as long as we remain focused. I’m extremely proud of you for joining us on this journey. Keep up the great work, and let’s demolish complacency together!
A note from Olaolu: Happy Saturday! As the parent-child-connect brand continues to grow, I have been blessed to meet and work with some phenomenal people! With that in mind, today’s guest blogger needs no introduction. Jesse Iwuji is an American professional NASCAR driver and officer in the United States Navy Reserve. He is a motivational speaker with many inspiring stories. Today, he has graciously offered to share one of those stories with us about desire and ambition. Enjoy!
How you start does not determine how you finish: By guest blogger Jesse Iwuji
Opportunity still exists!
My mom used to fetch water from rivers at age 11 to help provide water for her family in Nigeria. Later on, my dad brought her to America from Nigeria with 0 dollars to her name, and she was a hotel maid at age 23. My dad came to America with barely any money in his pocket, and a crooked cab driver robbed him immediately when he arrived. But just because you start with nothing, doesn’t mean the rest of life will be nothing.
But just because you start with nothing, doesn’t mean the rest of life will be nothing.
Since then, they’ve had four kids, excelled in their career fields, and owned small businesses on the side. After coming to America years ago with nothing, my parents just closed on this house. If you tell me there’s no opportunity in America I’m going to tell you my parents story.
There is hope for you too!
Just because you are doing a lot more doesn’t mean you are getting a lot done. Don’t confuse movement with progress!
Some of you will say, “nice story, but hard work is not always rewarded.” I challenge you with this: Understand that desire is different from ambition. We all desire success, but do we all have the ambition to achieve it? Denzel Washington once said we often confuse movement with progress, and that just because you’re doing a lot doesn’t mean you’re getting a lot done. You should apply that same logic toward achieving your dreams.
Let’s put it all together: Use your ambition to work towards your dream!
Life is a card game, and every deck of cards has a finite amount of cards that are all different. When the card game (life/career/relationship/etc.) begins, God unbiasedly deals us a certain hand. That hand is our beginning point, NOT our designated end. Some people start with an amazing hand which makes their odds of winning less complicated, while others start with really crappy hands. Just because you began with a crappy hand, DOES NOT mean that you can’t fight your way to a win. There is no law in life’s card game that states you automatically lose if your initial hand is crappy!
Where people start to lose is by making bad decisions in the card game, greed, blaming the card dealer (God) for your bad hand, analysis paralysis, and mentally giving up. Play your hand to the best of your ability with faith and action, and I promise good things will come. If you started with a crappy hand in life, your career, your family, your marriage, or whatever it is, never let that initial hand determine the outcome of the game. Even if you do lose, sit back down and just play again👊🏾!
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.