Inspiration comes to all of us in different ways. Throughout my life, there have been several events and people that influenced significantly who I am today. But, a few people are definitely worth emulating in the way they influence and inspire you to become a better person.
Pascal Dozie: My father, torchbearer
My father came from a very humble background. He was not born in the lap of modernity and luxury. He was part of a close knit family and belonged to a different sort of world. They had a village set up which worked on the pillars of punishments and rewards.
There, if a neighbour caught you doing something wrong, they would punish you. When your parents found out, they would talk to the neighbour to make sure they had given you a proper spanking. He often tells me that modernity has changed the ways of the world.
The very idea of “Diamond Bank” came when my father noticed traders from the remote villages in the east of the country, where he grew up, faced the problem of carrying huge bundles of cash when they trekked to Lagos for business. Sometimes they would be waylaid by rogues on the road. Hence, he pioneered electronic transfers in Nigeria so traders could transfer their cash to Lagos instead of having to carry it.
Just like him, because of him, I have always believed in the circle of rewards and punishments. I also believe that, while necessary, they are also a great source of motivation. Better yet is to be inspired! My father has given us the right values and strong will to do things.
The bank started from a 3rd floor office in Victoria Island with 20 people and $5million. Look where we are today. It is all his hard work and motivation that we have become one of the biggest bank in Nigeria. He was always ahead of his time. He spoke about keeping up with the new face of technology, science at that time. Today, I am just expanding on what he built. I remember he once said, “We won’t get anywhere until we, in Nigeria, can say anything can be done in 24 hours”.
He somehow found ways to spend time with us and also manage his work with equal efficiency. No wonder, the first customer of Diamond Bank was my mother. I am just trying to find the same balance in life the way he did. Though he was a busy man, he always found time for us, family was never compromised.
That is why, whenever asked who has had the most extraordinary influence on my life, the most obvious answer would be my father. It took me all of these years to realize that, it is his influence that has moulded me to become what I am today.
Nelson Mandela: Epitome of patience and courage
Leadership means different things to different people around the world, and different things in different situations. To lead by inspiration is not the same as to lead by charisma. Nelson Mandela, one of the great humanitarians of the 20th Century, is definitely the most inspirational leaders in the world.
Having spent 27 years in prison fighting for an end to the apartheid regime in South Africa, Nelson Mandela became the first-ever black President of the nation within four years of his release.
I remember reading, that he was offered early release from prison on six occasions but declined each time on principle. He inspired the world with his never ending struggle, undying patience, courage and righteousness.
For me, he is also one of the few leaders who swears by his roots. He adhered to African values and attitudes that were shaped by tradition and royal prerogative. He grew up in the village of Qunu amidst its life of custom, ritual and taboo.
It is easy to see Madiba’s grounded sense of himself and how it is a direct result of African heritage; that his relationship to power today can be traced to these roots in a traditional society and his understanding of tribal leadership.
Richard Branson: The fearless businessman
Richard Branson has always had the reputation for doing things differently, which has reflected in Virgin companies the world over. He is known for his “Screw it, let’s do it!” attitude.
He is straight forward, fearless and innovator. He believes in taking risk which is the first trait of a successful entrepreneur. In business, a vision is important, but even more important is to have the guts to realise it. Hence, one needs to have a realistic, convincing and attractive depiction of where you want to be in the future.
Branson’s vision for Virgin Atlantic was nothing but a response towards his rather unfavourable experience on British Airways’ flights. It was then that he dreamt of the possibilities which will allow his customers to afford cheaper fare deals and afford flights better.
I believe, vision provides direction, sets priorities, and provides a marker, so that you can tell that you’ve achieved what you wanted to achieve.
I once read one of his tweets, ‘A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.’ I’ve experienced first hand what happens when you don’t follow this. We have all failed with certain projects or ideas because, we could not hold the customer’s interest into it.
Richard Branson for me is inspiring because he does not sit back and let his business run on its own. He keeps filling life in his ventures. He means it when he says , success is a dangerous trap because it can cause you to stop working hard once you’ve achieved your goal.
He pushes me to work harder. The people who really push the limits know the importance of continually reaching higher and making improvements in their lives.
Starting and growing a business is not a rickety ride, but it can be made a little easier with someone to provide inspiration — and a reminder of why you embarked on this crazy path in the first place.
Success and failure are nothing but states of mind. The seeds of failure are embedded in ourselves. Self doubt is the biggest of it all. We doubt ourselves, thinking we don’t have what it takes. We give in to fear and sabotage ourselves before we even begin. We are our own worst enemy. At moments like these I seek inspiration from these people, I am sure, so will you.