How to see Clearly Beyond Obvious Barriers

by Onyeka Nchege on October 16, 2017

Years ago, I was deep in conversation at lunch with a colleague, when she paused to comment on how dirty my glasses were. I was surprised, since I hadn’t yet noticed anything out of the ordinary. But, after I cleaned them and put them back on, I realized how much those small smudges had been affecting my ability to see clearly.

Although seemingly insignificant, this gentle reminder to wipe my view clean had a lasting effect on me. I realized my colleague was right – my glasses were dirty, but not just in the literal sense. I wasn’t seeing things as clearly as I could have been, and even worse, I hadn’t noticed how blurry my sight had become.

It’s moments like this that remind us to look at the world from a new and different view. Oftentimes, our perspective and outlook on the world can collect smudges when left uncleaned. Unless we’re vigilantly aware of our sight-lines, we can look at the world from an increasingly limited vantage point.

Clear vision is not just about keeping up with the latest industry trends or being aware of the next market disruptor. In order to imagine powerful new possibilities and ideas, we must first take a clear and discerning look at ourselves. By recognizing our own vulnerabilities and shortcomings with full transparency, we can think more carefully about what it is we might not be seeing.

Strong leaders need the humility to recognize when our own glasses are dirty and need to be wiped clean. After all, what may be blurred by our own vision may be crystal clear to the person next to us. #Perspective

This process of self-reflection isn’t just important for our decision-making, but it’s also critical to how we interact with the people around us. Our vision of the world is reflected in how we engage with other people and even in how we see ourselves. By being aware of our own blind spots and being diligent about wiping away the things that distort our vision, we can see those around us with a fresh pair of eyes – or in this case, glasses. It reminds us that everyone comes with their own vulnerabilities, burdens and unique history.

By taking the time to observe and consider different viewpoints, we expand our perspectives beyond our own. And while perfect vision may be 20/20, there’s no right or wrong way of viewing any problem, scenario or new idea. Like completing a jigsaw puzzle, we often need a different set of eyes to discover which piece fits where.

The day I realized my glasses were dirty has since transformed how I live my life in the years that followed. So much so, that I now carry a cloth in my pocket at all times (in fact I sent the image associated with this post to my friend to thank her for the feedback on my glasses which sparked the idea for this post). Now not only are my glasses smudge-free, but I also have a physical, conscious reminder to always reconsider my perspective and the views of those around me.

Take Action: when was the last time you wiped your view? Decide today to reconsider perspectives.

Leadership on the GO…’s O.N.


Football Helmets Hit TLC

by Onyeka Nchege on September 7, 2017

A couple of weeks ago, my son Kalu sent me a last-minute text message inviting me to a “helmet striping” event for his Lovejoy High School football team. I had no idea what a “helmet striping” event was, but something told me I should drop everything and be there for him. Often times, we don’t know when—or where—we will make memories with our children, especially when it comes to father and son.

As it turns out, this “helmet striping” event was organized by the team’s Head Coach, designed for fathers to help their sons put the stripes and school logo on their brand-new football helmets. Sounds pretty simplistic, but the coach took something simple and turned it into a powerful bonding exercise for fathers and sons:

First, he separated the fathers and sons into different locker rooms. He said he had never done this before, but the idea came to him and he thought he would do something with it. The coach then asked the fathers to write a letter to their sons—who were in the other locker room—while the sons were asked to do the same in the other locker room. That really resonated with me as an opportunity for me to do something different than I would ordinarily would do.

The whole point of the exercise was to highlight the importance of the father-son relationship, shedding light on the fact that as fathers, we don’t always do a good job of expressing our feelings for our sons. This then perpetuates the idea that as men, we don’t express feelings of love—the whole “nature vs. nurture” thing.

Growing up, boys are often told things like, “don’t cry” or “be tough” or “be a man.” Unfortunately, what probably started out as a well-intentioned phrases has now turned into the norm, only further discouraging eachother from sharing our feelings. We have been trained as boys to repress our feelings so we are not seen as weak or vulnerable.

The experience reminded me that, as fathers, we need to teach our sons that it’s not only okay to show emotion, it is important. And the best way to do that is to model it to them. I call it the T.L.C. approach.

T – Try on transparency. Sons need to know that their father is their hero, but that their hero is not perfect. Even Superman weakens in the presence of kryptonite. It’s ok to be human especially in front of your son.

L – Love them unconditionally. Don’t love them just because of their accomplishments. Love them in the midst of their failures and remind them how their self-worth is not measured by their accomplishments, but how they much they love others. Love is a verb. It requires action.

C – Create lasting memories. Yes, take them to sporting events or the movies. But don’t let that be the only way you connect with them. Find activities that will allow you to engage in real conversations. Find out what their interests are and invest time in them.

As your son sees you connecting with him on a more emotional level, you will not only reap the benefits of a closer relationship with your son, you’ll be modeling what true fatherhood looks like. And one day, perhaps you’ll have the blessing to witness him model that to his son.

Take Action: Take some time and show a little T.L.C. to your son today!

Leadership on the GO…..It’s O.N


Taking a “Life Stand”

August 10, 2017

There comes a time in everyone’s life when you must take a stand against the things that mean to derail you and push you further back down the line At that point it ceases to be about you and your selfish needs and wants….it is absolutely bigger than you and it is undoubtedly about your survival. It’s you or it. You know you can do nothing on your own to win this “life stand”. When you get here, dig deep within, plant your feet, square your shoulder, and stand firm. Simultaneously, believe deeply, tap into your faith, raise your praise and worship voice, and be bold. What’s next you ask? […]

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Raising Your Own Bar

June 7, 2017

While spending time with my father during one of his recent visits, I made time to connect with him one-on-one, man-to-man, so that I could draw from his endless wisdom. These valued moments that I have with him, not only allow me to grow mentally, but they are also when I realize how blessed I am to still have my father in my life as a constant teacher of his life’s successes and setbacks. During this reflective time together, he asked me, “What does it take to become a success? And, perhaps more importantly, what does it take to remain one?” I’ve never thought about that before. At that moment, […]

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A Lesson in Selfishness

April 28, 2017

So many leaders think the most important thing about being an effective leader is leading people. But in reality, true leaders put themselves before everyone else. Sounds a bit arrogant, I know, but this very topic came up during a conversation among members of a mentoring group I lead. To better understand the importance of helping yourself before everyone else, there is a terrific airplane analogy used to help inform the value of doing so. Every time we take an airplane, the flight attendants run through a presentation about safety precautions. In the event of an in-flight emergency, we’re instructed to secure our personal oxygen masks before helping others with […]

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