• Mariam Olatidoye

A Lunch with Uncle Biodun.

It can get really hard to keep up with yourself. Being this ever changing entity with these heavy wants, needs, pressures and desires. It's no surprise that we often spend too much time in our head and not enough time opening ourselves to people, situations and opportunities that will prove more useful than overthinking...

Going through paradigm shifts is a norm. Taking time to decide what's important, what deserves your time and what needs to be let go of. In fact I'd recommend it, but I'd also advise never staying in such a place long enough to know a comfort in it that can only pull you further away from remembering the benefits of coming up for air once in a while.

Maybe I speak to myself here, because that's what spurred me to get up and meet with one of my favourite uncles for a catch-up over one of my favourite things to do (eat) and one of my favourite things to talk about (business).

Frankly, my lunch with Uncle Biodun had so many personal development gems that I couldn't help but share the knowledge I gained in those, short but sweet, 45 minutes.

I'll start with a background into my Uncle Biodun. He's actually my second cousin. He's a project manager/contractor for one of the biggest banking and financial services companies in Europe, a family man, an entrepreneur, a husband, brother, father and frankly, one of my favourite people ever. Not that we have ever been particularly close, but our souls reciprocate the warmth each respectively gives the other.

As my uncle and I sat down to eat our INCREDIBLE lunch (might I just shout out Ekachai in Liverpool Street here), we began to speak about everything from entrepreneurship and career, to life and love. And as I always do when I talk to Uncle B, I couldn't help but glean his advice on some of the things I'm working on but also seek his advice on dealing with some of lifes shortcomings. After I solemnly shared some of my 'shortcomings' with him, the first thing he did was laugh. Which rattled but warmed my heart simultaneously, because he did so with such boyish youthfulness which makes talking to him so enjoyable. He went on to tell me:

'Life is never going to go as you have planned, but you need to trust that you have every quality required to be exactly what you want to be'.

On Life, he spoke to me about the 'key ingredients' required in a person who can make the most out of life (which is what he thinks success is, and for the most part, I agree). He said such a person needs 'grit' - a means of staying focused when the going gets tough. And with my own readings lately about being able to deal with adversity > constantly striving to be happy, I couldn't agree more. Life really isn't about striving to be happy constantly, personal development shouldn't be about constantly striving to attain more and/or be this flash or materialistically abundant person. Being better starts with being, which means you must take yourself, exactly as you are in this moment, and work on acceptance and truth before enhancement and dreams. He also said a person needs to be hands on, because frankly nobody is going to do the work required for you to get from A to B, but you. And at an age where responsibilities tend to be at a minimum, there are really few reasons for we millenialls to not have zeal and seek out as much of the world as possible.

On Career, he spoke about the importance of emotional intelligence. How in his 14 years of employment, he has only ever applied for 1 job... and never been out of work. Uncle B applied for his first contracting job at the beginning of his career, and got every job ever since based on recommendation. What did he do? Studied the people around him. Developed communication strategies with key stakeholders based on his emotional intelligence. Asked himself questions like 'What is the best way to work with this person?', 'How can I develop myself in a way which not only develops myself but opens me to opportunities without directly asking for them?', 'How do I use time efficiently?', 'How can I use my initiative with emotionally intelligent awareness of those around me?'. And the most important thing he said on career, was about being proactive... what I understood to be utilising the silent resources around you to make your brand much louder.

On Love, he told me about how he's been married to his business partner for over 10 years. That's how they started, and that's where they are now. He spoke to me about the incredible importance of being equally yoked with your partner. Not even in having the same interests (I mean it can be great if you do) but in having the same values, wanting the same things from life and most of all, being connected in all the important ways beyond physical attraction. How do the both of you view ambition? How do the both of you measure success? What does family mean to the both of you? And how can the both of you communicate love in a way the other understands, requires even, without totally compromising yourself?

And on Entrepreneurship, Uncle B didn't really say much. But his energy spoke volumes. He showed me the prototype and designs for his new business venture. And as stressful as he explained the pitfalls and waiting times that come with a new business to be, he was so excited to be doing something new, actualising his visions, experimenting and playing with his strengths and most importantly, working with people he admired, respected and got on with.

My lunch with Uncle B was impromptu, but it was exactly what I needed to remind me that one of the most important things you need in life is zeal. An energy to do things with passion, care and ignorance of dirt. As much as most self-help professionals will ask you to take time away from the world to self-reflect and think (great when done constructively), let's not forget that life is also here for you to get stuck in and get on with living.


- Mariam

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