Weathering the Storm: Leading through adversity

It was a great moment speaking at the Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni Association of Nigeria Lead On Conference. I spoke on the panel “Weathering the Storm: Leading through adversity” alongside Onyendikachi Ekwerike, Austine Okorodudu, and Rita Ezenwa-Okoro.

The highlights of my talk revolve around three key areas; my story, my work in education and covid-19, and being present.
1. Many of you must have read my story somewhere or at some place. I have lived in Makoko, Bariga and Igbobgbo, Ikorodu and my leadership journey started in those communities. When I was 13, I hawked in Bariga and during those moments, I came to understand the problems and challenges in my communities. I saw people whose conditions were worse than mine. I saw adults whom I am not proud of and I didn't want my life to end that way. When I turned 14, I attended a one-week camp organized by the MTN Foundation and Hope World Wide Foundation, and the leadership lessons stood with me. I found out I could be a solution to my community. I could change my circumstance and I could do things I can ever or never imagine. I started teaching in a basic school at the age of 15 and building capable leaders. My leadership journey started. Access to education and opportunities created the pathway for me, it can do the same for others living in the community where I was raised too. Leading through adversity is a constant journey of self-realization and understanding. As we go through challenges, we birth something new and a vision. Education became my lifeline and it can be for children in rural and underserved communities too.

2. The pandemic taught us a lot of lessons and it shows us why organizations need to stick to their why. If you have a why you would always know how to transition and create something out of a crisis. Your why would help you to easily pick, and more importantly having a trusting team. In the wake of Covid, international conferences were shut down. People who have attached their self-worth and why to conferences and programs stopped doing the work and some shut down. The truth is it requires an infinite mindset to play the non-profit or development game but we approach development with a finite mindset. Poverty will continue to exist even when we die. So we need an infinite mindset to continue to work towards ending it and ensuring people continue the movement when we are no more. So to survive during a crisis, organizations need to find a just cause and build teams who can withstand the pressures and challenges that come with a crisis.
3. Be present! Many times we worry about the future but the opportunities of the future are in the present. For example, the person who will write your recommendation letter or recommend you is beside you. Why do you care about someone in the future who doesn't know you? The people who will get you to the next level are surrounded by you.

Thanks to Ahmad Adetola-Kazeem and the rest of the MWFAAN executive team for inviting me and for the opportunity to share. I also love the portrait! I am taking it with me to London!

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