Segun in MOTIVATE YOURSELF!
This was his moment again. He adjusted his blue bow tie. His white long-sleeve shirt partially but mostly covered his upper frame. He looked at his socks too. Teri had given him those socks. He had been preparing this speech for the past three months now. A couple of fans, ladies actually, had given him confidence quotes and votes. A small boy of about twelve had run away from his mother to meet the celebrity for an autograph. The boy said something that made him feel good, even original. He said, you are my hero. Then he asked for an autograph. With the tension boiling inside him, he managed to smile at the compliment. Then he embraced the boy and did as he requested.
‘‘What’s your name?’’ He asked now genuinely concerned that he was really leaving his mom just to be with him.
‘‘I’m Kevin. Kevin Omotayo. You are my hero, my mentor. You inspire me every time I listen to you. I love you. I love your talks and speeches.’’
‘‘Why?’’ He asked arching his eyebrows.
‘‘Because they always uplift my spirits. They inspire me. I follow you on twitter.’’
‘‘Thanks. Now, that I have gotten your name,’’ he said jutting down the boy’s name in a pocket notepad, ‘‘I shall also follow you back.’’
‘‘Thanks, the motivator.’’
‘‘Go on, Kevin. Go meet your mother and enjoy the rest of your lives.’’
‘‘Yeah! I can’t wait for the show to begin. I want to hear what you have to say tonight. I troubled my mother for weeks so she could bring me over.’’
‘‘You sound like a very intelligent young man and I’d really love to keep on talking with you but I’ll be climbing that stage over there in the next ten minutes or less. Better go get a seat. I’m sure you don’t want to stand throughout the whole show or do you?’
‘‘No,’’ the boy said curtly.
‘‘We’ll catch later on. I promise.’’
‘‘Go on, boy!’’
‘‘Abeg, Shegz, your show starts in four minutes,’’ Peter, one of the backstage attendants said. ‘‘What do you have to tell us tonight before you climb up that stage?’’
‘‘The truth is, I don’t even know. These days, I just make up stuff as I go. I have a few notes though, but I’m not going to be relying on them the whole time,’’ Segun said light-heartedly.
‘‘What were those journalists outside asking you about?’’
‘‘Don’t mind dem jare! They were just asking if I was still with Teri; if I was going to break it up with her, or not. Is it their business?’’ Segun asked no one in particular.
‘‘Not when you have become a celebrity,’’ Sade said. She was the lady who had been handling Segun’s make-up for three months now.
‘‘Get ready, you are about to be introduced onto the stage,’’ Peter said.
‘‘Wait, let me apply more make-up on you,’’ Sade said.
‘‘Don’t worry about that; the best make-up anyone can ever put up is a warm smile radiating peace and happiness from the heart,’’ Segun said as he climbed the stage.
‘‘Ladies and gentlemen, men and women, boys and girls, brace yourselves, for this is going to be-as you already know-a night of adventure, of action, of passion, and of enthusiasm. Don’t just clap your palms against each other as you usually do, but instead let your applause collectively produce a roar as we welcome on stage, the resilient one, the inspiring one, the indefatigable one, the enthusiast, but who is best known to you all as the one and only motivator. Please, put your hands together, motivate yourself to applaud for Segun, the motivator.’’
The clap was thunderous. The crowd went mad and as soon as they saw Segun shaking hands with Obazeiki Justin who introduced him onto the stage, the crowd couldn’t have been any louder.
Next, they settled down. Yes, even hot water when left alone for a while in the harmattan wind eventually gets cold too.
‘‘Thank you, thank you, and thank you. I don’t, I even know where to start from. Okay, I do now. First of all, as I usually do, I want to thank all of you for coming out tonight-despite the fuel scarcity. Yes, it’s the country we live in. But let’s not waste our precious time blaming the government like we’ve got nothing better to do. Yes, despite the fuel scarcity, you motivated yourself to make it here. Thank you very much! Thank you for all the fan mail, for following on Twitter and Facebook, thank you for the gifts. All the gifts. A big special shout-out goes to those persons who just called me a couple of days ago and asked of my account number so they could send something to me, not because I begged them or asked them to, but because they just wanted to show me appreciation. Thank you. Thank you very much! Much love to all of you who still bother to remember that a celebrity gets broke too. Yes, I know it sounds funny, but it’s true.’’
Then Segun paused as soon as he noticed his voice was shaky, composed himself and resumed.
‘‘This is Warri! Area! Area!! Area!!! I hail una-oh.’’
The crowd hailed too. They were wilder.
‘‘Now, let’s get our focus together and see that we can learn from ourselves tonight.’’ Then, Segun coughed, but after he had turned aside from the microphone. ‘‘That was a gift from my girlfriend too. I thank her for giving me cough,’’ he said.
The clubhouse auditorium which consisted of about six thousand in the audience that evening roared with laughter.
Under normal circumstances, that expression wouldn’t even have elicited a smile from the individual who was willing to laugh at anything but Segun was different; he was a celebrity. Yes, Segun was now a celebrity, so everything he did attracted attention; people always read meaning to everything he did. The way he spoke, the emotions in his voice, his laughter, his smile, his hairstyle, his clothes his shoes, the tie colour, the way he raised his hands, the way he demonstrated and gesticulated, his body language, his love life, his mistakes, his scandals, his private affairs, his jokes. And his jokes these days were always funny to his audience. It wasn’t like that when he started out, when no one knew him. His jokes, they weren’t really funny, they were just perfectly timed. Segun had come to learn that a whole lot depended upon reputation, so he had to preserve that in front of the constantly glaring and peering eyes of his teeming fans and critical outlooks of his critics.
‘‘The title of this talk is simple. It is entitled, Motivate Yourself! Tonight, I shall tell you about my life.’’ Then a sudden calmness rested upon the audience. Then, he seized the opportunity, the moment. As irrelevant and risky as he first thought it was, he felt he would really regret it later on if he didn’t do it. ‘‘See as una quiet, abi, angel don pass?’’
Everyone roared with laughter.
‘‘Wait-oh, una be dey reason say the money wey una pay for ticket nor go worth am?’’
They laughed again but, this time; it was lesser than the previous. Now, Segun had to drop that hilarious persona he had just created on stage and fall back into the motivator that he really was. After all, he wasn’t really a comedian, or was he? Was he really obligated to make everyone laugh?
‘‘Yes, I am going to tell you about my life. I’ll tell you about how I grew up; how I started out and how I got to where I am today and show you how you too can be that way, how you too can become very successful. Please, do not think that I do not think that you are already successful persons, no please don’t think that. Success is never final; failure is never fatal. It is the will to continue despite several failures, which counts. That’s the spirit. Yes!’’
Segun looked at his outlines. Then he heaved and continued.
‘‘I was born in a village to a beautiful woman and a very hardworking man. My parents were both farmers. We had a very large farmland. And I pretty much grew up to learn how to tend my father’s crops along with my younger siblings, even at a tender age. I’m talking seven, eight, nine, or ten. My parents didn’t know anything about child spacing and family planning, so starting from me, there was always a two-year gap between us children, till the last. Now, permit me a little bit to get tragic. Unfortunately, when my mother was having the last, a girl, she passed away.’’
The audience said “Awwww.”
‘‘The last child being a girl was somewhat special to us boys, because the rest of us were boys. We played with her gently but also taught her how to behave and act like a man. Since there wasn’t a motherly figure for her to look up to, she winded up almost like us who were aggressive as a result of our masculinity. We almost zeroed out her feminine individuality. My widower father, as though he felt as though he wasn’t always going to be around, taught us everything we needed to know about maintaining a farm. How to study planting seasons, how to plant yams and other crops, when to plant, when not to plant, when to harvest, when not to harvest. Basically just how to do everything. He taught us to find solutions to the problems we might encounter when farming. And to a very large extent, that attitude of problem-solving or obstacle-overcoming formed the very foundation of my successful habits. ‘‘Yes, there’d always be problems,’’ my father would say, ‘‘but we’d also solve them too.’’ He also used to say, ‘‘if you can solve it, why stand aside and stare at it? And if you can’t, why not go and find something else to do? That is why I’d always think of him as my hero. Unfortunately, he died four years after my mother. Of course, when you lose a parent it usually looks like a mistake, but when you lose two, it begins to look like carelessness.’’
Segun paused to look at his audience, at least to make sure they were following him.
‘‘As you might have already predicted, life wasn’t the same for us anymore. A hard life began immediately for us who were still alive and unprepared, inexperienced to face life. Yes, we had no clue as to what to do, where to go, or how we would survive. I was worried, my late parents weren’t. After all, the dead have no worries, no stress, nothing to think about. They are just there-lifeless.’’
Segun’s phone vibrated in his pocket. It was one of those messages that came from service providers.
‘‘But, I made a resolution, in spite of the hardships we were experiencing. Being the firstborn, I called all my siblings together after the burial and told them that we were going to make a staunch decision: we were going to succeed in life-together. All of us. But I also knew I was going to make sacrifices too.’’
Segun looked at the audience again and paused for about five seconds. He looked at the section of his audience to his right and then to his left before returning his gaze to the centre.
‘‘Of course, I had become a father automatically at age fourteen. I went to the city to hustle, leaving my siblings behind at my Aunt’s place in the village. I started hustling. First I started out hawking bread and sleeping under the bridge. At night, area boys would either come to rob us, harass us or drive us away. I was always smelly. I didn’t always brush my teeth. My bathroom slippers were always filing underneath from endless trekking as I moved from place to place. I was hungry most times. I stopped hawking bread and started to push wheelbarrows. I pushed trucks too. I pushed a lot of things-a whole lot of heavy things just so I could see some chicken-change to feed with. Some customers would deliberately act like they were unsatisfied with my work; they’ll begin to look for minor faults, especially after delivery so that they’d find an excuse not to pay the price agreed upon. We would argue and I’d collect the money anyway, after all, they say that whatever isn’t in one’s possession is hard to drag for. So, I pushed a lot of things just to survive. The only thing I didn’t push was cocaine. A lot of us here, who have hustled in the streets before, can relate to these experiences vividly.’’
The motivator gathered momentum in his voice and he had become more animated, livelier as he spoke with more vigour and clarity. The attention of the audience was arrested.
‘‘I left my bread selling and started pushing wheel barrow because I felt it gave me more room for independence. Then, I became a bus conductor-hustling hard every day from early morning till almost midnight so I could not only survive but also see something to send to my younger ones for their upkeep. I can’t count how many times I have been robbed. There was a time when I had saved up to ten thousand naira, and I was going to send it to the children in the village where life and the price of foodstuffs was relatively cheaper, but we were robbed-I and my driver. I don’t know if he was the one who arranged it, that is the driver, but I suspected that it was him because I no longer saw him after that. I cried for days. If I had spent it, I wouldn’t have been pained. I really wished I had sent it on time, but I kept postponing it, convincing myself that if I had sent them that money, it wouldn’t be enough for them to manage. But let’s leave that issue aside because what’s gone is gone. Let’s leave the past in the past just where it belongs.’’
The whole time he had been gesticulating with his arms and every move he was making was an attempt to hold the desired attention of everyone in his audience. No one was bored listening to him. There was no day-dreamer in the audience. No one said a word. Nobody even coughed. Perhaps, several persons were holding it in for no one had risen up to use the restroom as they had never heard a speaker so versatile, so prolific in the knowledge of several tips and tricks concerning the art of public speaking. No one wanted to miss a moment of his hypnotizing talk. Segun had that charm. He was real. He was original. He had the attitude everyone wanted to have. He understood human nature. He knew that humans loved to be lost in a moment-to be swept off their feet; to be mesmerized; to be distracted from their daily lives and troubles. And he was doing just that. He took his audience away from life. For a while he took their minds away from boredom, away from a monotonous existence, away from endless school fees paying, away from light-bill paying, away from daily hustle, away from the rat race of life, away from their broken homes, away from their romantic heartbreaks, away from their childless marriages, away from their insensitive workmates, away from their depression, away from their fears, away from disordered and quarrelsome homes and family bickering, away from their personal problems, challenges and failures, he took them away from their rebellious children, he took them away from their manipulative wives, away from their tyrannical and violent husbands who used them as punching bags, away from their prejudices. Yes, Segun took them away from everything in their lives that didn’t like or weren’t proud of. So, how could anyone keep away from keeping his gaze on the enthusiastic and mind-blowing motivator? For what reason would anyone’s mind or attention had drifted away? Segun had learned over the years that it wasn’t really what he said or spoke about that moved the audience, his audience-it was how it was said or spoken about. After all, everyone had a story to tell. So, what made his own any different or special? What did he have to offer that other motivational speakers didn’t? what could explain away that aura that people felt whenever they were with him? Was he the realest? Or was he the most confident or most hardworking?
‘‘Now, although I wasn’t going to school, all these while, I had been studying many books. I would read novels, school books, motivational books, the bible, the Koran, anything my hands could find. While I would be hustling, collecting money from passengers in a bus, parents would be taking their children to school in air-conditioned vehicles and I would stare at them and wonder; I’d try to make sense out if it all as to why life was so unfair. As to why those kids could have those experiences and I couldn’t. On some nights, when I’d think about my life with my face down I’d cry myself to sleep. It didn’t make any sense. It never did, not until now. I couldn’t find any reason for me to believe that the lives of those children were more important than mine. I couldn’t find any reason for me to believe that I had to be suffering the way I did. Anytime I saw those kids, I felt hurt. Although I was jealous for a while, at some point in my life, I really started to think. And I came to reason out that we all had different potentials and that regardless of what difficulty we would find ourselves, it would really be an opportunity for us to find our inner strength and draw from it in order to sustain. I had to discover who I really was and find my unique strengths and build up on them over time so I could succeed. Each time I saw those kids going to school with their parents riding the car, I would at first, feel hurt slightly, but then remind myself by thinking to myself that those kids couldn’t do every day, what I had to do to survive. Not even half of it. That took out all the trace of jealousy from me. I discovered that I could either hurt myself with envy every time I saw a child being ridden to school in a car or allow them to motivate me to go back to school. And this I did. As Albert Einstein said, ‘‘in the midst of every difficulty, there’s an opportunity’’; but only if one just looked a little bit harder, one would find it.’’
Segun looked at his outline. He was not running out of things to say but where to direct his speech to. He returned his gaze to the audience. He was gay and his audience could feel it from the way he spoke.
‘‘The lesson from that experience was simple: Get inspired; get motivated or get jealous and depressed.’’
Then he paused for effect. He waited for about ten seconds and repeated the statement again and again until he had said it five times straight. Yes! If it was important information, then the audience, his audience, had to commit it to memory and somehow the repetition for emphasis would make the point stand out, wouldn’t it? He came back to the audience again.
‘‘Basically, a child without a father doesn’t reason the same way as a child with one does. Even if they try to, it is never real, because deep down inside they know that there’s still a father to run to, to protect them, to give them that protective, fatherly advice and concern. But being fatherless can really mean feeling fatherless. It means someone can actually hurt you emotionally and just get away with it because you are too demoralized and depressed to fight back. Fighting back doesn’t mean violence here. Please don’t get it wrong. Fighting back means standing up to speak for yourself with confidence and assuredness in your voice. I’m not saying that mothers aren’t protective mother hens. No! Your mother might be passionate and emotionally supportive but she doesn’t have that masculine authority and voice that can only come from the vocal chords of a man.’’
Some in the audience nodded. He was definitely speaking their minds. They could relate to him. They could feel him!
‘‘Yes, our experiences, to a large extent make us who we are today. If you have already been failing, chances are that you are feeling yourself gradually getting scared of failing again. You are already developing cold feet.’’
Someone clapped at that and it spread like a virus as though they were just waiting to applaud but had been too hypnotized by Segun to remember to. It was like a child who was finding an outlet, an opportunity to cry and then someone gave him a slap.
‘‘My biggest problem with people these days, is not that people don’t understand me, no, it is that they assume they already do and so they don’t even wait for you to say what’s truly in your heart. What they forget to realize is that unless you’ve exactly been in a situation before, you really don’t know how it feels. Okay, so now, you are spending time and energy to explain how you feel to them and they aren’t even listening. How frustrating! All of us here have that one friend who usually interrupts us before we finish talking, as though what we are saying don’t mean anything, but a true friend, listens. Yes. A true friend listens because he is not thinking only about himself he is also thinking about you and since he hasn’t yet gotten your experience, the closest he may ever get to it is when he hears it from you, but he has to listen. And whenever you speak from your heart and someone takes the time to listen to you, you feel appreciated-whether the problem goes away or not; whether it can be solved or not. Thank you for listening and following my story.’’
Then Segun turned to the next page of his outline and his eyes scanned through the jotted points. Then after consulting his outline, he returned to them.
‘‘Again, I say, experience is indispensable.’’
Then he repeated this three times and watched the reaction of his audience. He studied them in a quick glance. He thought to himself that they were feeling him. He felt good that he had been able to lead his audience to this point. If the average attention span for a human was fifteen minutes, then he had achieved a miracle-he had been talking for the past forty-five minutes and the attentiveness of his listeners was only increasing.
‘‘As a writer and public speaker, I usually pay just to experience some unique experiences. Unhappy people tend to spend money on things; happy people tend to spend money on experiences. So, while you are busy getting bored and thinking of the next android phone to buy, someone, somewhere, right now is thinking of the next country or island to visit.’’
The crowd was thinking. Was he right? Was he wrong?
‘‘I grew up as a teenager who would cry himself to sleep at night. I grew up hard. I grew up tough. I grew up street-smart. I grew up in the ghetto. I grew up in these streets where you either eat or get eaten. I know what survival of the fittest really means. Girls I used to like would avoid me because I was always smelly. But what they didn’t know was that I wasn’t smelly because I wanted to be, I was smelly because I had to be. I wasn’t smelly because I wanted to be; I was smelly because I was working hard so I could also get one of them and settle down someday. I always admired women and their make-up, their beauty, their allure, their attractiveness, their splendour, their graceful steps. It always drove me crazy, that is, when I started figuring out that I had entered that stage of puberty when, you know, everything about a woman becomes fantastic, as though it was never there in the beginning. But they all rejected me-even the ghetto girls.’’
The audience roared with laughter. They hadn’t seen that one coming.
‘‘Yes, even the ghetto girls were aiming for the top. That was life. Please, let me drink some water.’’
Segun paused and as he grabbed the Ragolis bottle to drink, the audience clapped. Then he returned to them with full concentration, again.
‘‘I have seen the selfish nature of man from various perspectives, so nobody can basically tell me anything about human nature that I don’t already know. All my life, I have seen that many people would never do a thing unless they see how it would benefit them personally. I had learnt that idea very quickly. No one taught me that, I also learnt that from the streets.’’
He took a moment to poise himself behind the microphone stand which also consisted of a place where he could rest his hands and his outline.
‘‘To conclude the story of my life, I went back to school, graduated out of University to pursue my dreams as a business man but the work wasn’t as exciting as I hoped. I wasn’t really seeing how I was directly affecting lives in a positive way. So I wasn’t happy. I felt used, every day. It was just money, money and more money. But I had plans for life’s people. I was looking for a way to help people. I discovered a problem. Most persons don’t really know who they are and even if they do, they don’t have the courage to follow their dreams. They can’t even dare to dream. They wouldn’t even dare to dream of a life any different from the one they are living now. They are scared of change, so they resist it. They always imagine the worst. They think of what can go wrong instead of what can go right. In other words, the talent is there, but the drive isn’t. A lot of obstacles hold them back-family, friends, heartbreaks, disappointments, popular opinion, fear, criticism, confusion, depression, self-confidence, extreme dependence, anxiety and worse of all, themselves. Yes, they themselves are the greatest of their obstacles. So, I discovered that they needed something, like a thrust, to push them to succeed just the way an airplane needs thrust to leave the surface of the runway and fearlessly nosedive into the clouds. And that was why I made a huge decision in my life. Yes, I decided to become people’s motivator. I discovered that I had a unique skill. I notice and study people easily and know what their strengths are and how they can put it to use. I understand people and their eccentrics, their body language. I know how our minds function. So, at the very beginning, my foundation was set to make it easy for people to discover themselves. That’s my principal potential-discovering people’s potential and motivating them to succeed. And that’s why I have been giving these speeches all around the world. I use my experiences to motivate people. I wasn’t always as outspoken as this in the past. In fact, I can say that I was the shyest person on planet earth, but look at me today, I speak without fear, and I speak from the heart because that’s when people can truly feel, the, real, you.’’
Segun made sure that he stressed every syllable.
‘‘Never beg; never chase. I made it on my own. I had no godfather to help me. Of course, I had help from friends and those outside and family too, but I was already popular then before they started supporting. In fact, they used to criticize me because they didn’t believe in my dream. They would say to me, “how would you just say that out of all the jobs there are on earth, you want to be a motivator? What does a motivator do anyway?” It sounded strange to their ears. But when they saw I was succeeding, they started showing support-and mind you, these where the same people who tried to discourage me. Now, suppose I had given up under discouragement? Would I be here today? No.’’
The audience also said ‘‘No!’’
‘‘As far as I’m concerned-I’m not trying to be an ingrate here but-I would have made it without their late support. When you rely on people too much, it leads to expectations, expectations when not realized, will eventually lead to disappointments and frustration. And who do you blame? Me? Them? No, blame yourself. Blame yourself for needing people who have as many heads as you do-one. Blame yourself for trusting on people who have as many hands as you do, just two. Blame yourself for stubbornly refusing to discover your talents and hidden potentials, but instead ‘‘safely’’ choosing to rely on others who’ll will treat you like trash, just the way they like and dump you whenever they want to or whenever your uselessness becomes too profound to them. No matter how good you think you are at something, someone will soon come out someday to challenge you at it, and win you, easily. So, why compete with your contemporaries at a job you don’t like when you can be exceptional, doing what you love and getting paid? If you think dependency is the only way, then remind yourself that the person whom you are depending upon isn’t depending on you and yet he is surviving and yet has more than you. If he doesn’t have more than you do, then how come he has for himself and still has to give you? Look let me tell you an open secret. The only way your boss will pay you ten thousand naira is if he can make a hundred thousand off you. The only way your boss can pay you a hundred thousand naira is if he can make a million or close to a million out of you. The only way someone can pay you a million is if they can make ten million out of you. The only reason someone would tell you not to open your own business or enterprise is either because they are ignorant of these facts or because they have plans to use you for their own business. So, go back home! Plan your life. You will make horrible and terrible mistakes, but you’ll learn from them too. To limit these mistakes though, seek professional advice. Don’t go to the people who’ll discourage you.’’
The crowd was astounded. They had never heard these words before, but as they thought of it, they could see it was true. It was obvious that the money they had spent buying tickets to the show
‘‘So, make sure you find what you love to do. Work hard at it, and God bless you, you’ll succeed at it. Instead, people these days, just take the lazy way out-relying on people. And no one enjoys carrying the responsibilities of others unless they truly love them. But you cannot be relying o people forever, can you? I’m not saying you shouldn’t work for others if that’s what your circumstances now permit; what I’m saying is that you also find a means to work for yourself. If you don’t make plans for yourself, you’ll fall into other people’s plan and guess what they have planned for you-not much.’’
The audience applauded. Others made whistling sounds. Yes! They had found something motivational.
‘‘You know very well who you are. Don’t let people who are themselves too scared to live their dreams tell you that you can’t make it. Ladies and gentlemen, we can go on and on and on but we have to go home tonight. There are no beds to sleep here.’’
The audience roared again with laughter.
‘‘In conclusion, if you always think you need others to survive and you rely on them too much, I’m sorry, you’re sadly mistaken. As much as you think you need a motivator in your lives, you really don’t. What you are only failing to realize is that you are not using your experiences in life as a fuel to motivate yourself. And that’s the point, that’s the reason why I told you my success story. I had no motivator. I had to motivate myself. Yes, as difficult as you think it is, it is actually possible to MOTIVATE YOURSELF. Say it together with me as I leave this stage. Repeat these words.’’
Then he arranged himself to leave the podium.
‘‘Yes, it is actually possible to MOTIVATE YOURSELF. Say it with me one more time.’’
The audience did just so and they did it over and over and over again.
And everyone went home. The end.