Oloko Ben Chukwuemeka – Assessments

As A Man Thinketh
Assessment by Oloko Ben Chukwuemeka (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

James Allen, clearly evinced his main idea in this book, through the title; “As a Man Thinketh.” This is an abridged rendition of the aphorism, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” The book presents in vivid terms, the power of the mind. This, the psychologists call, the subconscious, in professional circles. He demonstrates through the book that the greatness or otherwise of a man is largely a question of the degree to which he perfects his mind state to conform to the desired status. He strongly canvasses the opinion that whatever height or achievement one attains in life is never a product of chance or luck, but a methodical and religious attuning of the mind to the established success pathways.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.

a. Men are makers of themselves.

In my village, the prevailing thought pattern is that if something good (riches, promotion, children, etc) comes to a man, he was lucky; God smiled on him. In fact, a superstition is rife that when one is going to a place and hits his right foot on a stone, he shall be attended by success where he is going, his level of preparedness, not being of any moment. If on the other hand, something negative accrues to a man, he would usually advised by the greater majority to examine turpidity of his past conducts, to see if he had done anything to deserve such negative results. In essence, factors outside ones control is seen to determine ones affairs conclusively where I come from. No attention is given to the particular circumstances, surrounding ones failure or success. A ready presumption is that if it is good, then it’s God…if it is bad, then it’s the devil.

The fallacy of the above position is not hard to see. Even God gave man the power of choice. If not, why does God judge man. In actual fact, man is, according to James Allen, made or unmade by himself. Man is the master of his thought, the moulder of his character, the maker and shaper of his conditions, his environment and ultimately, his destiny. Man holds the key to his every situation and contains within himself that transforming and regenerative agency by which he may make himself what he wills.
It was in the course of reading this book that it dawned on me that I am more or less the architect of my own life. It is my choice whether to elect greatness through my actions and attitudes henceforth or to languish in mediocrity, waiting for God to raise me from my lowly state. I now know that greatness has a path, which if diligently followed usually is in the form a cul de sac, leading only to greatness.

My resolve accordingly is to run away from that attitude I was socialized into, that anything good is God and everything bad id from the devil. I shall take my future in my own hands and make myself into that which I know I was designed to become.

b. Integrity is never stumbled on. It is a product of conscious and assiduous efforts.

Integrity as I have always understood it, is not a one – off thing. It is a conglomeration of little things done over a relatively long period of time. Because of this understanding, I have always told people that the only possible way to change the world is to live right in our small corners. It is through these small acts of faithfulness that greater influence is entrusted to us. Integrity, consists in honesty, stability, unwavering sense of justice, a sense of responsibility.

James Allen said, “Good thoughts and actions can never produce bad results. Bad thoughts and actions can never produce good results. This is but saying that nothing can come from corn but corn, nothing from nettles but nettles… a man only begins to be a man when he ceases to whine and revile, and commences to search for the hidden justice which regulates his life. And as he adapts his mind to that regulating factor, he ceases to accuse others as the cause of his condition, and builds himself up in strong and noble thoughts.

Integrity is what secures the trust of associates. Integrity is what gives one a towering confidence, knowing that he is above board. Integrity is what gives one equanimity, knowing that he is at peace with his conscience.
Integrity is inevitable to every journey and James Allen just made that very clear to me.

c. A man who desires greatness must be careful the company he keeps.

The ancient sages, the holy bible, contemporary leader, my parents have all sounded a note of extreme importance to me, that the friends I keep, can either make or mar me.
James Allen sufficiently corroborated this in this book. It is a common saying that “Birds of a feather flock together.” Given that man fashions himself, it is indubitable that with the right choice of friends, man can ascend to divine perfection, but with the wrong friends, by abuse and negative socialization, he descends below the level of the beast.
According to Allen, “just as a gardener cultivates his plot, keeping it from weeds, and growing the flowers and fruits which he requires, so may a man tend the garden of his mind, weeding out all the wrong, useless and cultivating toward perfection , the flowers and fruits of right, useful and pure thoughts.

This issue of bad company cannot be any clearer to me, as I have experienced it. When I was in secondary school and even later on when I finished and was applying for admission into the university, I had three close friends. We were together most days and most hours of the day because we lived in the same neighborhood. At a point, I noticed that all our conversations revolved around girls and sex. I evaluated this friendship and saw that for the entire duration, I did not gain any positive thing. It was always ideas on how to chase girls. Thank God, I gained admission and gradually withdrew myself from the friendship. Now, I can humbly boast that enormous improvements have flowed into my life, simply by the reduced presence of these friends.
I also aim to start developing closer ties with some selected people I have been observing for a while now. I think these category of friends would benefit my life more.
d. Suffering is never a virtue, unless a lesson is picked from it.

James Allen declared, “Here is a man who is wretchedly. He is extremely anxious that his surroundings and home comforts should be improved. Yet all the time, he shirks his work and considers he is justified in trying to deceive his employer on the ground of the insufficiency of his wages. Such a man does not understand the simplest rudiments of those principles which are the basis of true prosperity. He is not only totally unfitted to rise out of his wretchedness but is actually attracting to himself a still deeper wretchedness by dwelling in and acting out, indolent, deceptive and unmanly thoughts.”
This idea struck me so heavily. My attitude to poverty and wealth, since I was born was that having too much financial prosperity was wrong. One must always be “an average ‘comfortable’ man” I used to think. My mom and the society in which I grew in drummed that into my subconscious. My mom has always thought that any man that has much money is dishonest. A lot of people share her thought. People think that if one has a lot of money, then he has embezzled ‘government money’, so, not having money is a sign of upright living, sort of.

This study revealed to me, that it is not a sin to have real money, that suffering is always the effect of wrong thought in some directions. It is an indication that the individual is out of harmony with himself, with the law of his being. To Allen, the office of suffering is to purify, to burn out all that is useless and have through experience known what works for him and what does not. Even the scripture captures this idea by saying that the righteous man though falls seven times, is still unstoppable. Failure should teach us what does not work, not disenchant us. It is only in that respect that failure is a positive concept.

e. Laziness is anachronistic to great achievement.

The universe does not favor the lazy. Achievements of whatever kind is the crown of effort. The rule has always been from the beginning that he who would accomplish little must sacrifice little. He who would achieve much, must sacrifice much. He who would attain highly must sacrifice greatly.

My father understands the above concept very well. From the onset, my Dad, had always told us that the rule is “work before pleasure” and in line with this, we must complete our chores before we can play, we study before we can watch T.V.

My Mom also understood it. Though I was the first son, and the only male child for a very long time, I was never treated in that stereotypic ways that “only sons” were treated in my community, and indeed most communities. I was rather made to understand that no chore was for the male or female. I helped in the kitchen, just as my sisters helped in the farm.

This upbringing has certainly helped in giving me a sense of purpose and wherever I am now, I always think, “am I doing what I’m supposed to do?”
The lazy man always looks to luck, fortune and chance to bring him succor. He will never come to the level of taking his life in his hands and shaping it the way he desires. He can’t lift up his thoughts. He is so lazy he cannot think of exerting himself. The exertion to think, is however the first step to achieving greatness.

f. The body is subject to the mind.

The body is of course, the servant of the mind. It obeys the operations of the mind. Accordingly, Allen expressed it as follows, “At the bidding of unlawful thoughts, the body sinks rapidly into disease and decay, but at the command of glad and beautiful thoughts, it becomes clothed with youthfulness and beauty”. A person’s vitality is more or less a product of his thought pattern, thus, strong, pure and happy thoughts build up the body in vigor and grace, but sickly thoughts will express themselves through a sickly body, the people who live in fear of diseases are the people who get it.

James Allen further stated that just as one cannot have a sweet and wholesome abode unless the person admits the air and sunshine freely into his rooms, in the same vein, a strong body and a bright, happy or serene countenance can only result from the free admittance into the mind of thoughts of joy and good will and serenity. I know I have always been a good practitioner of the above principle. At a point, one of my very close friends complained aloud, that I was always smiling to everybody. Now, I think back, and see that the smiles then were mostly mechanical. Not anymore, however. I find reasons to smile, laugh, in the slightest of ‘provocation’. Just last semester, one of my close friends (also my classmate), confessed aloud that she loved the way I smile. I learned a long time ago that maintaining a positive state of mind is not an exclusive preserve of a class of people (may be the rich). I worked ‘positiveness’ into my system. When my friend complained that I smiled too much, I decided that to be taken seriously, I had to change and then, I actually resolved to keep a frowning face always (lately, I realized I was striving to impress her…she was someone I admired). My profile picture in my university Admission Slip, testifies to this. However, subsequently, I realized the magic those smiles did in my system and reverted back. I am enjoying myself now, 24/7, notwithstanding my circumstances – it’s now my nature.

g. A life of purpose and sacrifice necessarily conduces to greatness.

Allen declares that “aimlessness is a vice, and such drifting must not continue for him who would steer clear of catastrophe or destruction.” It is a fact of life that without a central purpose, life is not worth living. It is this purpose that constitutes the royal road to self control and concentration of thought. Trivialities are cut down, focus is assured, unnecessary exertion is out; laziness and weakness is conquered; worries, fears, troubles, self – pity are avoided. A man must always set out for himself a central purpose, precisely defined; devote himself totally to its attainment; never allowing his thoughts to wander away into ephemeral, unimportant fancies, longings and figments of imaginations.
No great man has ever lived, who did not have his whole being worked up by a problem, needful of solution; a question desirous of answers. He first conceives in his mind this need and then transfer it into a goal or purpose that must be accomplished. They exerted themselves and in the end, success came, solution, answers were provided.
Pastor Bankie has forced it into my head that I (and all men, of course) was born for a purpose. It is always a matter of discovering it. There is a vacancy we are meant to fill; a problem we are the solution to. The point is to look around in meditation and God will, always, reveal it. What’s more, God has designed us to perfectly fit into the answer or solution.

For me, whenever I see police corruption or inefficiency, it grieves my heart more than anything else. So I know that if I eventually work in the law enforcement, the sadness I always feel whenever I see inefficiency or corruption in the enforcement of our laws will sustain my motivation to work at my peak.

This is the major reason I think I should work in the law enforcement sector. I see it as a divine call, sort of. I also concede however that it does not stop at having a purpose. There can be no progress, no achievement without sacrifice. Thus, a man’s worldly success will be in the measure that he sacrifices his confused animal thoughts and fixes his mind on the development of his plans, and the strengthening of his resolutions and self-reliance. The universe helps the honest, the magnanimous, the virtuous, though it may not seem so on the surface.

My mom is my role model in this area of altruism. She has as far back as I can remember worked ceaselessly for the benefit of people she has met. In schools (as a teacher), in addition to teaching, of course, she coordinated games, coordinated their thrift society, etc. In church, she has been the Women leader for as far back as I can remember; a member of the church committee, as far back as I can remember too.
I have stepped into her shoes in this respect. And I think it is a fine world up in here!

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

These ideas identified above are more or less a quid pro quo for successful living. For instance, I cannot imagine a life without a purpose or even a life outside ones predestined purpose. It usually, is a bland life with no serious achievement. However, if one is working within his God- given purpose, the one is usually cheerful and happy, even though there may not be any significant financial rewards. In creating a better world, one must first envision that better life he desires to bring. This vision is usually a little more than the man without purpose can conceive. These ideas have also taught me to always plan to succeed and not rely on chance and luck. The lazy man always thinks that the man next door got whatever he has because he was lucky. This book has made it clear that this is a far cry from reality. In real life, men make themselves into what they desire. I will henceforth take my fate and make myself into that man I always envision myself to be. This attitude will certainly imbue with the required confidence to face the world and make it better.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

“As a man thinketh in his heart so is he.”

Thought is the fountain of all actions and behaviors. This quote is important to me because I now know that I should guard my heart against what is planted in there by words of unscrupulous people. I will also relate more with the kind of friends who are headed in the same or similar direction as I am. They will give me ideas on how to make the world better. My own ideas will be open for their scrutiny and fair criticism. This quote also deprecates all hypocrisy. A man really is what he is inside, accordingly my friend always says that life is inside out, not the other way round. I will strive to be the man I want to seen to be. I am never going to live what my father calls ‘borrowed life’ that’s living pretentiously. I know I have to be true to myself before I can bring the changes I desire to the world. Hence, every act of a man springs from the hidden seeds of thought, and could not have appeared without them.

“Of all the beautiful truths pertaining to the soul which have been restored and brought to light in this age, none is more gladdening or fruitful of divine promise and confidence than this – that man is the master of thought, the molder of character, and maker and shaper of condition, environment, and destiny.”

As I mentioned earlier, where I come from, there is an enormous influence of superstition. One of such is that one is helpless before the gods and is only a mere toy in their hands, so they capriciously make one and mar the other, indiscriminately. The study of this book has helped me to understand that there is a limit to which fate has influence in the affairs of men. Most times, men succeed or fail, based on their own efforts and decisions. In the words of Allen, ‘A man does not come to the almshouse or the jail by the tyranny of fate of circumstance, but by the pathway of groveling thoughts and base desires. Nor does a pure-minded man fall suddenly into crime by stress of any mere external force; the criminal thought had long been secretly fostered in the heart, and the hour of opportunity revealed its gathered power.

My resolve accordingly is to take the bull by the horn and bring myself to that level of greatness that I desire and I now know that I am unstoppable.

“Indigence and indulgence are the two extremes of wretchedness. They are both equally unnatural and the result of mental disorder.”

Wow! This is simply the bomb. When I read the book for the first time, I did not notice this. Poverty is unnatural? Like it is abnormal to be poor? This though a sentence, is the greatest motivation I have got in recent times. What this simply means to me is that being wealthy is ‘ in the normal course’ of my life. It means conversely to me that if I should ever find myself poor, I should never resign to fate, because, actually it is anything but fate. This a confirmation of the bible promises that God will cause prosperity to flow towards me like a stream. Also a bible passage in Proverbs, says that a diligent man will stand before kings, not mean men. I used to be afraid of the future but from now…I know…I know. I am certain, that my future is so bright, I even need shades to protect my eyes (hope you understand the joke). This study, I swear, is getting more interesting each passing day. I thank God for the minds behind this project. May God bless you people abundantly.

There are so many other important quotes from the book,that if I continue, I might even be tempted to copy the whole book and paste here.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

I understand the book very well. It is indeed a nice piece.

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

No, there are no exercises.

7. Is there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.

Murmuring and unnecessary whining is never attitude to be found in one who desires to lead. It is an exclusive reserve of the perpetual followers. It is usually the first sign of backwardness. A leader as this wonderful book, clearly evinces, must see an opportunity for whining and complaining (by the supposed backward class) as an avenue to rise up and proffer a solution to the cause of the complaint. Come to think of it, this puts the individual on a very different and higher pedestal. People will run to you in times of difficulty as a source of succor. Yes, they will take solace in your company, because while the rest are magnifying the problem, you are providing the answers. You will be an oasis in the typical Sahara desert not afternoon; what my mother would refer to as “a hot cake.”

The point is, Leaders provide solutions, and they do not exacerbate it by an additional murmuring. God hates murmuring; men see murmuring as childish. Because leaders are usually reasonable people, I suppose intending leaders should regard it as a form of sin to ever catch themselves murmuring.

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 8
B. How helpful were the contents? 9
C. How easy was it to understand? 8
D. Would you recommend it to others? 9
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 8



Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Assessment by Oloko Ben Chukwuemeka

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

The central idea that the author, Richard Bach, is trying to convey in this book is the ultimate manifold benefits one stands to gain if one follows ones dreams, in spite of the agreement or disagreement of folks; the encouragement or express disapproval of parents; praise or intense jeering by peers and the acceptance or betrayal by society.
For most Seagulls, accordingly, life consists simply in eating and surviving. Against this convention of the Seagull society, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, sought to find a higher purpose and become the best at doing what he loves – flying.

At a point, in the course of reading this book, it dawned on me that Jonathan’s unusual attitude was not entirely unfounded in the scriptures (I will continually make references to the bible because it is what I have chosen to build my life on – it is my foundation. The bible teaches that God fashioned everyman for a particular purpose and for that purpose, God specially endowed the man with abilities to achieve.

It then follows from the foregoing that everyman’s major responsibility is to uncover this divine purpose; perfect the innate abilities for achieving the purpose and move on, focusing single-mindedly on that purpose, neither veering needlessly to the right or the left (avoiding distractions) and putting all hope on God, to bring him to that expected end – which more often than not is a lofty height.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas, followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.

a. Discovery of ones purpose in life.

It is as important to man that he discovers his purpose in life as food is important to sustain him physically. The issue of finding direction in life is so cardinal. In fact, to me, a man who has not found his purpose in life, no matter his chronological age, is a baby. Life actually starts the moment one discovers his purpose and channels all his energy towards its achievement. If indeed, God created the universe; if indeed all creation is designed for some purpose: sun to give light in the day, moon to give light in the night, firmament to separate the earth from the heaven etc, it also follows that every individual has a specific role to play. God saw a need for which He sent me to provide; there was a problem, for which I am designed as the solution. I am not a mistake of birth and indeed, no human is.

b. Determination

Determination, in layman’s terms is the quality that makes one continue trying to do a thing, even when this is difficult. The ‘default’ and pervasive impression is that because one is working on ‘his divine purpose’ then circumstances should obey his every biddings. This is rarely the case. Difficulty is a necessary part of our development and it is our ability to move on, even in these tough times that determine the potency of our resolve. Jonathan spent whole days alone, making hundreds of low level glides. His parents were dismayed but he was not deterred. He tried one thousand feet. He tried ten times and all ten times he ‘burst into a churning mass of feathers, out of control, crashing down into the water.’ The important part of the story is that even in the midst of these hard times, Jonathan did not chicken out. He rather stepped up, tried two thousand feet, sharpened his skills and increase his speed. It is the same in real life.

c. Focus

It is also very important that one maintains focus on his goals. Unwavering pursuit of ones dreams always comes out successful. Jonathan’s determination paid off in the end. He was in addition to being a master flyer, elevated to a teacher. His joy, I am sure, knew no bounds. He put in his best; he was neither discouraged by the lukewarm attitude of his parents nor the ultimate rejection of his community. Even the pangs of hunger that attended his training was endured. He knew what he wanted most was to fly and committed himself solely to the realization of that purpose.

d. Altruism

This is the direct opposite of selfishness. It is important that we all learn early in life that the best life is that lived for the benefit humanity. My mom’s life inspires me a lot in this regard. Jonathan refused the life of gluttony prevailing in his community. He understood there was more to life than just that. He lived to become a teacher. He hungered to get back to his root and teach them to fly despite the manner he was earlier treated with ignominy. These promptings of love and genuine kindness won at the end and he went back home to give something of the truth that he had seen to his folks at home. O That, to me is what life should be.

e. Strength of Character

One would be surprised at the insignificant things that derail people from pursuing their goals in life these days. Little temptations throw us off balance. In Jonathan Seagull, it was different, family disapproval, societal rejection, absence of prospects of personal profit and immediate threat of banishment, did not make him any less committed to the pursuit of his goals. He did not throw in the towel, he did not try to cut corners. I shall emulate Jonathan in this aspect, all my life.

f. Practice

Just like the other seagulls, Jonathan initially only flew to get from shore to food and back again. He was however unsatisfied with such limited life. He then committed himself to intensive training. Hence, from diving from a height of 500 feet, he moved up to 2000 feet; from moving at the speed of 49 miles per hour, to 250 miles per hour. He learnt all the skills of diving with speed and matchless enthusiasm, streamlined diving, flapping of wings, etc. with him the anecdote, practice makes for perfection makes perfect sense. He even became a flying instructor. This teaches me that I can be anything I want to be. I am only required to commit myself with all seriousness to perfecting the art of that that I want to be.

g. Opportunities

Life of course is in stages. The basis of moving up the ladder is satisfactory performance in an earlier stage. Having distinguished himself in flying, Jonathan was taken to another realm. There, he perfected his flying skills and consequently became a teacher. From this, I was convinced that there is always space at the top, but the space is reserved for the prepared. The preparation has a cost; practice, determination, focus, etc. As Richard Bach put it, but you can Jonathan. For you have learned . One school is finished, and the time has come for another to begin.”

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

A cursory look at the above seven outlined concepts, reveals that they are more of a quid pro quo to success in any area of life – Business, Career, Family, etc. My decision after reading the book was that I will henceforth stick vehemently to the practice of these ideas. In my academics, I will strive for better grades, knowing that though I am in my penultimate class, it is not over until it is over. That is determination and focus. I shall also strive to protect the good reputation that I have built for myself over the years that earned me the highest vote on an integrity test in my class – strength of character. As the president of Orba Undergraduates Association, my watchword has always been Service and Honesty. This paid off as we have and are still undertaking projects which are tremendously affecting lives in my town. I shall endeavor to continue in this might and even greater might.

In all, I know I am being prepared for greater service in the future. It is important that when the opportunity comes, I do not disgrace myself. I hope to give Nigeria what we have lacked for these past years – sound visionary leadership. I hope to make life better for the world through visionary participation in world affairs. I know if I practice thes principles fervently, I shall not fail, when the opportunity comes – and it must come.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

“You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, nothing can stand in your way.”

This statement goes to reassert what my mom has always drummed into our ears; that any person who tries to imitate another, must necessarily end up in a second place. Indeed, to really stand out, one has to perfect his uniqueness. Human beings are different. Hence, that a person does something and does it well is not an assurance that another will do well in that area. Thus everyman has to find himself and live to fulfill his purpose.

“The price of being misunderstood, he thought. They call you devil or they call you god.”

I must not blend in. I can be different. One irony about striking out of society’s convention is that you either become a hero for blazing the trail or you are consumed. When one stands out and stands up for a virtue, he usually becomes hero. I shall not compromise my stand merely to please people – I shall dare to stand out.

“Why John, why?” His mother asked. “Why is it hard to be like the rest of the flock, John? Why can’t you leave low flying to the pelicans, the albatross? Why don’t you eat? Son, you are bone and feathers!”

“I don’t being bone and feathers mom. I just want to know what I can do in the air and what I can’t, that’s all.”

When I believe a course of action; a decision, etc is right in the circumstances, I shall stand up for it no matter the cost. That, I believe, is the true definition of integrity.
other notable statements that I know shall have a lasting impact on me are;

“Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding. Find out what you already know and you will see the way to fly.”

“You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way.”

“You will begin to touch heaven, Jonathan, in the moment that you touch perfect speed. And that isn’t flying a thousand miles an hour, or a million, or flying at the speed of light.

Because any number is a limit, and perfection doesn’t have limits. Perfect speed, my son, is being there.”

“We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill.”

“We choose our next world through what we learn in this one. Learn nothing, and the next world is the same as this one, all the same limitations and lead weights to overcome.”

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

Yes, the part towards the end of part Part 1 that Jonathan was met by two other gulls and the discussion which ensued, where they intoned that “we are from your flock Jonathan we’ve come to take you home.” It’s a bit unclear. Brothers from where? What home?

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

The book had no exercises to be completed by the reader.

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.

It is about company. To a very large extent, I have seen that the company one keeps can either direct one to greatness or retard one. The gulls were comfortable because no one around them aimed for any higher purpose than flight for food. Even the life of Jonathan illustrates this point. At the home front, he was reprimanded by parents, jeered by peers, rejected by his community because they could not think on his pedestal. By their standards, he was a fool and they did not mince words in telling him that. This served to limit Jonathan – he only trained in secret, the parents denied him support, etc. He was slowed down by these circumstances. When he finally left home, and met friends like Chiang, Sullivan, Fletcher Seagull, etc, his flying skills were appreciated, he was encouraged and dared to become better. The results were immediate – he even ended up a flying tutor. Negative company, ultimately results in negative mindset.

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 6
B. How helpful were the contents? 6
C. How easy was it to understand? 5
D. Would you recommend it to others? 4
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 6



Keys to Success

Assessment by Oloko Ben Chukwuemeka (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

This book, The Keys to Success, by Napoleon Hill sets out the timeless principles of success deduced from the lives of very accomplished men in history – ranging from big business players to presidents of countries. The ideas in the book are very practical and if carefully inculcated in ones daily live would eventually catapult one into greatness. These ideas begin and end in setting out clearly ones major purpose in life and pursuing it as if one’s life depended on it.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.

i. The seed of all great achievement is a sense of purpose.

Understanding one’s purpose in life, gives one self-discipline, focus, aggressive pursuit of goals, faith, perseverance, cooperation, youthfulness, etc but when one has no strong sense of purpose, he drifts aimlessly and unhappily. With a strong sense of purpose, however, decisions are less difficult to make because one understands the ultimate direction he is going. Ones our decisions are consistently founded in an understanding of our ultimate goal in life, success often is a sure bet. The individual who does not have a strong conviction never focuses on any endeavor; he does not persevere on any venture long enough; he jumps from one business to another, expecting to make quick profits. Unfortunately, he does not understand that lasting success or prosperity is never built in that manner. It follows accordingly that the man with a strong sense of purpose, expressed usually in a serious devotion to a definite often succeeds and succeeds big, though it may tarry awhile but the man who wants a million bucks ‘today today’ rarely makes a headway. He may be defrauded because of his excessive greed; even if he gets the money, more often than not, it vanishes in the course of time. This is the case with lottery winners/heirs of great fortune.

ii. The magic of wealth is to be “indispensable”- to be needed.

Henry Ford once insinuated that business is not mostly about wealth, but goodwill. The bible strongly backs this position, when it says that we should strive for good name and value it over money. I agree totally with the foregoing reasoning. When a man becomes a master in his art (made a name) wealth usually is non-negotiable. Mastery follows from specialization and focus on a special field. My plan hence, is to know a lot about a particular area such that when the need arises I will be of enough prominence to be called upon to do something. Yes, to be so good in doing something – anything is the magic wand for success. It is also important to note at this stage that knowing a lot about ones field imbues one with self-confidence which is essential for every great achievement. You approach challenges with a level of courage that surprise observers, and when you work, you further mesmerize people with your enormous skills. One hardly ends up average, who is very good in what he does.

iii. Humility is not timidity.

An important verse I stumbled on some time ago has shaped my life in no small measure. It says;

He that is down need fear no fall

He that is low, no pride

He that is humble ever shall

Have God to be his guide.

My mother has always enforced strict humility on us. Boasting is always heavily reprimanded. Although I now consider such training in humility excessive, I still believe that humility is a virtue. And this book teaches true humility in its correct perspective. It entails recognizing that even the greatest folks are in the scheme of human existence, only fragments of the whole; that all we have are actually received from God. It demands a total recognition that our blessings are gifts to be used for the common good. The realization, coupled with the enormous Christian teaching on the subject will help me attain a healthy balance in issues of humility, hence, enhancing my overall personality.

iv. Fear of criticism is an avoidable limitation.

I used to think that living my life to please the people around me is the sure way to avoid criticisms. I avoided criticism like a plague. The consequence was that most of my teen years, I shirked responsibilities. I avoided holding any leadership position throughout my primary and secondary education. When I got admission to the university, I also originally decided not to contest any election to leadership positions. I did not even openly support any candidate, though I was well very popular. The reason, I now perceive, was that I wanted to be on good terms with everybody. I did not want any ‘stain.’ Through these series of study, I have understood that the path to greatness is seldom trod by spectators. My experiences have also shown me that whether you do something or refrain from doing anything, people will talk. People must criticize. And now that I know that God sent me to this world for a purpose, I cannot imagine telling God that the fear of being criticized by mere mortals stopped me from accomplishing my assignment here. I have thus, resolved to pursue my definite major purpose regardless of what people may say, even if it involves ‘stepping on some toes’ within reasonable confines. I will welcome friendly criticism and try to deduce lessons from them.

v. Planning is the key to proper time and money management.

Time and money are two precious resources which taste lie more in management. No really successful person wastes time on trivial matters. Both the richest man and the poor man on the street have twenty-four hours each. The difference however is in how each manages his time. My father has taught us that expending money without an underlying plan is like a ship with tiny holes all over its body. Eventually, it will be immersed in the sea, though the hole may appear harmless. This book has further taught me the same principles as in money applies equally to time. Hence, the easiest way to manage my time is to make daily schedules/chart of my activities and stick to it.

vi. Lessons from defeat.

The book makes it clear that failure and pain are language through which nature speaks to every living creature, pointing out mistakes. In Psychocybernetics, the author likened the human system to a servo-mechanism, which directs itself to a target by responding correctly to negative feedback. In life, troubles are inevitable; what really matters is our response to our mistakes and defeats. It is on record that Thomas Edison tried thousands of times to make the incandescent bulb, learning from each failure, a way the incandescent bulb cannot work. This approach to failure is the most appropriate as it definitely leads to success if we strive hard, going the extra mile.

vii. It pays to be in top health.

To be healthy entails more than just the absence of sickness. It denotes the total mental, physical and psychological wellbeing. It is our duty to maintain our health. In discharging this onerous but no doubt, profitable responsibility, we must do the following:

Moderating our eating habit: The purpose of food is to supply the body with the things it needs to maintain itself in good repair – no more, no less. It is not to ease off stress or keep up with the Joneses.

Regular physical exercise: Exercise is to the body, what reading is to brain. It is very important that we include daily physical exercise in our daily chart and religiously stick to it.

Very importantly, we should also be mindful of our thoughts, concentrating on good things instead of sickness. The person who is afraid of falling on the ice, is the one who falls.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

These ideas set out above will immeasurably influence me in many practical ways. For instance I have always had a regular schedule of exercise and now I am very motivated to stick to it and observe it daily. Also, the idea that he who fails to plan, plans to fail and its peculiar application to the twin issues of time and money shall be a lasting lesson for me. Even though I don’t earn regularly now, consequently planning my expenses will present a tough exercise, I am committed to developing a scheme to help me manage my income.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention. If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

“The difference between a wish and a burning desire is crucial. Everybody wants the better things in life – money, fame, respect – but most people never go beyond just wishing for them. If you know what you want from life, if you are determined to get it to the point that it becomes an obsession, and you back that obsession with continuous effort and sound planning, then you have awakened and developed definiteness of purpose.”

Most people never get to discover the reasons why they were born. Most people think that they should go for the profession that pays the most. Most people think that life is all about buying a car, building a nice house, getting married and producing beautiful children. Well, these things are good and are often necessary in life. However, after reading this book, one cannot escape thinking that life transcends these things. It is important for us to discover the reason why we were created and pursue it like our lives depended on it because it really it depends on it.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so why?

No. The book is very clear and easy to understand.

6. Did the book contain any exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

Well, the book being a self help book, contains some exercises, steps and approaches to further solidify the ideas expounded in the book and I found such guides very helpful.

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that is not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.


Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 7
B. How helpful were the contents? 7
C. How easy was it to understand? 8
D. Would you recommend it to others? 7
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 7




Assessment by Oloko Ben Chukwuemeka (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

The main idea of this book is the need for man’s understanding of his true self and thereby succeeding. The book emphasizes that man, having been created in the image of God, has immense capabilities which has to be exploited. He also links the exploitation of man’s endowed abilities to longevity, health and happiness. The author painstakingly delineates the true concept of success and failure, depicting man in terms of servo – mechanism. He likens the activities of man to the operation of a machine. Man is a goal – seeking being who is engineered for success but who through the wrongful use of feedback, inhibit his abilities, frustrate his God – given talent and literally choke off the life force available to him to attain greatness.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.

i. The role of mistakes is not to deter me but to teach me.

A popular saying is that “to err is human and to forgive is divine.” It is also common knowledge that human beings are human and not God because of imperfection. So, it is natural for man to make mistakes. The issue however is how do I respond to mistakes? Should I allow them to convince me that I am ‘no good’? Does it mean I am a failure? Should I allow them to stultify me – make me lose faith in myself and literally, surrender to fate? The response to mistakes, clearly, is the decisive factor, not really the mistakes themselves. Thomas Edison is recorded to have tried for thousands of times before he successfully invented the electric bulb. If he had lost faith in his ideas, we would probably not remember him. It then follows that I shall not be afraid to make mistakes and also of temporary failures. This stand is further tenable on the ground that man operates like servo – mechanism, and hence achieves goals by negative feedback, i.e. going forward, making mistakes and immediately correcting course. The bible also supports this when it states that he who waits for the perfect conditions hardly achieves anything.

ii. I am not an inferior person because I am an inferior dancer.

Inferiority is not an absolute term. The term should be understood in perspective. No human being performs well in everything, hence, as a matter of fact, everyone is inferior in certain aspects. I also understand that in certain areas, every person I meet, from the newsboy on the corner of the street, to the president of a country, is superior to me in certain respects. I know that I can serve people with my whole heart and not expect any money from them and still be happy, bearing no grudges. I also know that I can organize events; I also know that I always have very original ideas that hardly cross the minds of my colleagues and in these; I know I tower far above them. But I always feel enthralled when I listen to good music; I wonder how people think up such wonderful rhythms – matching the instrumental with the lyrics. I wonder how Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown dreamt up the song, “No Air.” I just know I may never be able make such ‘heavenly’ symphonies. Considering these facts, I continually instruct myself not to feel inferior – I tell myself that I am good in my own way; and the guys on the other side are also good in their own peculiar ways. I have thus, understood that feelings of inferiority arise because we judge and measure ourselves not against our own standards, but against some other individual’s standards and when we do this, we always without exception, come out second best. Hence, I shall objectively set my own standards, targets, goals and strive to attain them – I shall stop measuring myself against their standards; I am not them and can never measure up, neither can they measure up to mine – nor should they.

iii. Rest is important.

God rested from His creation activities on the seventh day. He positively commands us to take off the seventh day for our own rest. Unlike what many think, those verses of Genesis are neither advice nor suggestions. They are positive commands. Physical relaxation is as important in a man’s life as the food he eats. Physical relaxation conduces to a number of advantages. It rejuvenates the body, infusing it with the requisite vital force to aggressively pursue its goals. Usually also, it is at the time of our relaxation that certain big ideas flow into our minds. Thomas Edison is credited to have said that ideas are in the air. Our success mechanism takes control of us in the time of our relaxation, giving us clues for the resolution of our problems. Furthermore, the formation of habits and beliefs (good/ bad; false/ true) usually takes place without effort, strain or exercise of will. Hence, when there is need to eliminate a bad habit or false belief, and/ or replace it with a new one, psychologists are agreed that a relaxed mental, physical and psychological frame is almost always required.

iv. Happiness does not just happen!

Happiness is a mental attitude. A habit! The erroneous belief which I used to partake in is that one’s happiness depends heavily on how much money he has. Hence, is a common aphorism that “anyone who says money cannot buy happiness don’t know where to shop.” I used to think that I will become happier when I graduate, get a plum job, marry and settle down with my wife; when I drive tech cars, spend holidays abroad etc. Now, I no longer think in such fashion anymore. I now believe that my happiness is not dependent on any material acquisition. I now know that I can happy, even today. That I could cultivate the habit of happiness by learning that good and bad things happen every day but I am at liberty to choose whether to approach them with pessimism or with optimism. The former approach is the way of happiness, while the latter is that narrow way to happiness. It is a fact that men are disturbed not by things that happen, but by their own opinions of the things that happen. It all boils down to selection, attention and decision. Make a conscious decision to be happy and act as though you were happy in all circumstances; practice reacting calmly and intelligently to every situation and act as if success were inevitable in every venture. That is a sure recipe for happiness.

v. Man is like a bicycle

A bicycle maintains its poise and equilibrium only so long as it is going forward. Functionally, man operates as a bicycle. We are engineered as goal-seeking beings; hence, to sustain life, man has constantly to be in pursuit of a goal – a target. All the books I have studied in this series point inexorably to the inevitability of a clear vision for anyone who wants to attain greatness in life. It does not just stop at setting visions; it includes an aggressive, purposeful commitment to surmount all obstacles on our way to achieving our goals. The way God made life; all human beings are created for a particular purpose. It is first our responsibility to discover that divine purpose. When discovered, all our resources should be devoted to fulfilling that purpose. The quality of our life here on earth and in heaven depends on how far we were able to establish God’s will on earth – achieve our purpose. This issue is not so spiritual that we cannot illustrate it with practical life events. It is a fact that very often, when a man retires, he dies shortly afterwards. The reason is that no man is created to lazy about. We are built to solve problems, achieve goals and life holds nothing for us without obstacles to conquer and ‘something ahead to look forward to.’ When you are of no use to the earth, God has no qualms with removing you (death). It is also instructive that having a goal to work for and hope for keeps us youthful, because that is how the Maker made it.

vi. People react to things not as they (things) are but as they perceive they (things) are.

A very important idea enunciated in the book is the importance of making allowance for divergent opinions on the same facts. This demands a level of tolerance from us. I used to wonder why people disagree on issues I consider more or less ‘a general conclusion’ – common knowledge. I have learned that the term “personal differences” is as real as my fingers. I used to expect that other people should react and respond and come to the same conclusions as I do from a given set of facts. I used to be offended, thinking that people are just out to make trouble when they refuse to see things as I saw them. I have however learnt from this book that opinions are colored by individuals’ peculiar backgrounds and personal experiences, that no one reacts to things as they are, but to his own mental images of fact. I have learnt that the other person’s reaction or position is usually not taken in order to make me suffer, but because he understands and interprets the situation differently from me. Henceforth, I will give the other person credit for being sincere – a benefit of doubt – and work towards a negotiated settlement (conclusion) acceptable to all. This no doubt will smoothen out my relations with people and enhance my personality.

vii. Nothing succeeds like success.

Confidence is built upon an experience of success. I have earlier stated that man is a goal –seeking being who operates along the principles of servo-mechanism. The principle requires man to make mistakes and learn from his mistakes – negative feedback. It also demands that man should keep record of things that work and those that don’t. The result is that at a stage, man would master the mechanism and always hit and never miss. But sometimes people misinterpret the negative feedback as a communication of failure, thus resigning to fate and creating an inferior self image that they are victims of injustice; they become afraid of making decisions for fear of making mistakes. Hence they ultimately fail in life. Actually, everybody fails in some endeavors in their lives but what marks out the champion from the failure is that the former learns from his mistakes and forgets the mistake. He focuses on his successes no matter how small they are. In this manner, he develops his self-confidence, stepping out boldly, fully understanding that once he is moving forward, he can correct his course. He refuses to impress his failure on his mind and the trick is that most often, his small successes give birth to bigger ones.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

This book is one of the best books I have ever read and I will continue to read it over and over till all the ideas in the book become part of me. This book is particularly special to me, because of the novel ideas of the author. The depiction of man in the guise of a servo – machine is very eye-opening. Accordingly, man as a bicycle must be in pursuit of a goal to maintain its poise. The practical implication of this book and the ideas espoused in it to me is that, I will discover the God –ordained assignment for me in life, pursue it with all my strength and by the grace of God fulfill my purpose in life.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention. If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

“Understanding the psychology of the self can mean the difference between success and failure, love and hate, bitterness and happiness. The discovery of the real self can rescue a crumbling marriage, recreate a faltering career, transform victims of personality failure. On another plane, discovering your real self means the difference between freedom and the compulsions of conformity.”

Very often we end up living false lives. It may happen because of external pressures to be like the Joneses; it may also arise from our lack of esteem in our own selves. Whichever it may come, I am armed against it by the realization that there is no true alternative to knowing myself and that self acceptance is usually the determinant of the quality of life we live.

“If we feed information and data into our Creative Mechanism to the effect that we ourselves are unworthy, inferior, undeserving, incapable (a negative self-image) this data is processed and acted upon as any other data in giving us the “answer” in the form of objective experience.”

I must be wary of the information I feed into my subconscious. From now on I shall resist any urge to tell myself that I am not confident or that I cannot succeed in life or that I cannot be president of my country. Very often circumstances which justify such negative comments arise but I have resolved to meet my challenges head-on without negative self talk.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so why?


6. Did the book contain any exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

Yes, there were exercises. I am following the procedures prescribed in the exercises and they are definitely of great impact in my quest for personal development.

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that is not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.


Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 8
B. How helpful were the contents? 10
C. How easy was it to understand? 8
D. Would you recommend it to others? 10
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 10



Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude

Assessment by Oloko Ben Chukwuemeka(Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea the author is trying to convey in the book?

The book is generally about the strategic power the mind play in every life endeavour. How men on the one hand, can achieve great feats by having a positive mental attitude and how they can also lose out in life and possibly lose their lives by indulging the negative mental attitude. An important thrust of the book is the pervading idea that one with a negative mental attitude could actually change his prospects in life by incubating and imbibing the positive mental attitude. Practical guides are provided and in a given chapter, an exercise was proffered to facilitate self examination. This book is a prototype of self help books, whose credits lie in its potential to catapult one from the pit to the palace in all facets of one’s life – health, wealth, happiness, self actualization, etc.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.

A. Building my life is my responsibility.

With each book I read in this series of studies, the conviction that in end, I am what I make myself grows stronger. The idea that some external powers determine what comes to me and what doesn’t is gradually waning in my subconscious. In its place, I am daily becoming an increasingly informed and responsible young man who knows that the choices I make today would either make my tomorrow sunny or sad. One very particular effect of this book is the revelation that I can really be who I want to be. The book states categorically that what the mind of man can conceive and believe the mind of man can actually achieve. The statement is true, despite whatever opportunities I never had – rich parents, good schools, influential relatives and friends, etc. The one thing that I need is a positive mental attitude (PMA). It has the power to attract wealth, success, happiness, health, etc. The good news is that it is not hereditary; it can be learnt and developed. It is evidenced in such character traits as faith, integrity, hope, optimism, courage, initiative, generosity, tolerance, tact, kindliness and good common sense. The successful infusion of these traits will make me and my world brighter.

B. Persistence and Endurance bring success.

By citing the examples of great achievers of history, Napoleon Hill was able to perfectly show the bane of non achievers. History is replete with “would have beens.” This expression is used here to depict such people who give up just at the brink of their breakthrough. Thomas Edison for instance, was recorded to have tried more than ten thousand times before he could successfully develop the incandescent lamp. At a stage, his laboratory was razed down by fire. In all these, he was not deterred. He pursued his goal until he made his mark. Men before the Wright Brothers had also tried unsuccessfully to develop the air plane. They concluded that heavier than air machines cannot fly. Orville and Wilbur Wright proved them wrong. I have thus learnt from the numerous examples of successes and failures, recorded by Napoleon Hill in this wonderful book that I should always believe that success is around the corner and go that extra mile by persisting; once I am convinced I am in the right. When this tenacity of purpose is merged with my faith that God is always with me, the resonance will definitely bring success my way.

C. Troubles are stepping stones, not a dead end.

Napoleon Hill couches it, “if you have problems, that’s good.” Most of the times, people are demoralized by the problems of life. Most people wish that problems should not be a part of life. Some actually see problems as curses or God/ devil’s way of punishing them for their misbehavior. So in the face of problems, these classes of people tend to resign to fate, thinking that their hands are too short to box with God. I have however learnt from this book that instead of being discouraged by the troubles that daily come my way, I should rather see the positive side of every problem. In fact, there is a common saying that every disappointment is a blessing. So, instead of subscribing to a negative mental attitude by emphasizing the unfavourable side of events, I should look for opportunities in every problem. The way I see it, most times, the choice of attitude in response to these problems determines to a large extent what result will come out of it and sometimes it decides whether we live or die. Accordingly, by pigeonholing the problem, analyzing it and identifying the opportunities inherent in it, is indeed a footstool for great successes.

D. There are always acres of diamonds in our backyards.

In Nigeria, for example, the belief is rife that by merely travelling to America or Western Europe, one is a millionaire already. Hence, people strive to travel abroad. In most cases, leaving loved ones behind, e.g. Wife, husband, family, etc. I have heard of someone who has played the US Visa lottery for 30 years, without success. With the knowledge I have now, such moves are unattractive to me. I am convinced that even in my small village, I can, God helping me, become the great man I desire to be. Ofcourse, Mallam Aliko Dangote, did not leave the shores of Nigeria before he became the richest black man on the surface of the earth. Same goes for most other very successful and wealthy men in Nigeria. Prof. Achebe, of blessed memory was educated in Nigeria but he died one of he greatest writers of his time. This is not limited to Nigeria as the author gave other very graphical illustrations. We must learn to look around us to discover hidden opportunities. Without a virile PMA, we could be in arms reach of breakthrough without recognizing it. The fact is that most people go through life seeing very little of the power and glory about them. It then follows that we can be successful anywhere on earth, if only we would learn to recognize the opportunities often lying fallow all around us.

E. Procrastination is the thief of destiny decisiveness: A catalyst of great achievements.

The ancient wisdom is that one should not put off to another day, what one can do today. In spite of the ubiquity of this aphorism, it is still common to see people while away their time, thinking that there is always another day. It is however clear to everyone that great achievers are focused people who do not procrastinate in their daily activities. The author in a bid to help readers win the battle over this habit suggested a self starter of “Do it now”- his secret of getting things done. Hence, whenever he feels like putting off what he can do now, he uses the self starter. He prescribes that it should used first in small things e.g. if I have a phone call to make but I have a tendency to procrastinate and have put it off; when the self starter “Do it now” flashes from my subconscious to my conscious mind, I should act by making the phone call immediately. Achievers apply this great command and experience shows that it usually results in success in every endeavour. I have also started to put it into practice and my life has been the better for it.

F. The importance of credit facilities in every society is enormous.

Alexander Dumas sees business as other people’s money. Only in few cases does one who intends to set up a business, industry, etc have the complete fund to offset every necessary expense. It is more common to see persons who have very beautiful business plans but lack the wherewithal to pluck it from the dreamland to the real world. It is accordingly agreed in professional circles that the lack of capital is the simple most deadly setback to the growth of businesses. The advanced countries of Europe and America, realizing this had introduced well planned credit system and this has led to revolution in businesses and industries. The absence of these credit systems in Africa and most third world countries has further impoverished the people. In Nigeria particularly, it is difficult to obtain loans from banks. Even where the loans are available, they come with cut-throat interest rates. This idea was an eye opener to me, as the backwardness of the African people, especially Nigeria has been clearly linked to inadequate credit facilities.

G. Satisfaction in life is important and it is within my control.

I have seen people owning ten cars at a time. I once heard that one celebrity had more than a thousand pair of shoes. And I have always wondered why; can’t one or two cars suffice; isn’t car only a means of mobility. It was as I was reading this book that it dawned on me that satisfaction in life is more or less a mental attitude, independent of one’s possession. Although this issue of satisfaction was treated in relation to job in this book, the general application of the principle to all facets of our lives is not hard to see. A measure of satisfaction in our jobs, status in life, material possession, etc is critical in developing a positive mental attitude. With such satisfaction come such fruits as tolerance, hope, faith, courage, etc. Absence of satisfaction is linked to such negative mental attitudes as nagging, sullenness, stinginess, violence, etc. and these attitudes further perpetuate one in misery and poverty.

The joy however is that as satisfaction is a mental attitude; I can determine to be satisfied. One of the ways of finding satisfaction, as the author teaches, is inspirational dissatisfaction. This is displeasure in a certain inadequacy around us accompanied with an urge to improve and perfect such inadequacy. This attitude will help propel one to set and pursue the achievement of goals greater than oneself and in the course of its pursuit, discover satisfaction and happiness in ones daily life rather than looking to the acquisition of material wealth as the sole source of satisfaction.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

This book, as earlier observed, is a self help book and the ideas enumerated, if carefully imbibed, can help one in fulfilling his purpose on this earth. When I am faced with problems, I have learnt not to always argue or criticize. Instead I have started to imbibe the habit of always seeking for the course of action that will ‘work’ in the circumstances. For instance, just the other day, owing to a lack of funds which made some executive officers to finance the running of an association ( which I am the president) from their personal purses, a number of the officers were incensed, with dissatisfaction, threatening to reduce their commitment. Instead of retorting that I have used my personal money more than any of them, I consciously calmed myself down, saying very little but positive words. And that was how I took control of the situation, retaining their commitment to the project at hand, their loyalty and I also know their respect for me. It also gave me a measure of confidence, thinking of how calmly I managed the situation.

When I get the opportunity to influence state policies, the idea of increasing the availability of credit facilities for businesses will be pursued vigorously, having realized that its availability is the secret of the industrial advancement of most advanced countries, and its inadequacy, the bane of most African industries and businesses.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention/ if so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

“For often, what we read and profess becomes a part of our vocabularies instead of becoming a part of our lives. When we don’t put to practice what we daily learn, they tend to end as prophecies without actions. And in the end a picture of hypocrisy is solidly etched in our memories.”

“Time after time, the pattern repeats itself: problems and difficulties turn out to be the best things that could happen to us – provided we translate them into advantages.”

Everybody, everywhere and at every time has one problem or the other. The problem is that the grass is always greener on the other side. We tend to see and concentrate on our problems without seeing those of others or even making efforts to turn them to our advantages. Great men however learn that every cloud usually comes with a silver lining and focus on finding that lining instead of exaggerating the problem.

“Action based on common sense is more than just reason. It depends upon habits of thought and action, intuition, experiences and other influences such as tendencies and environment.”

“To become an expert achiever in any human activity, it takes practice……practice……practice.”

Very few of life events happen by pure luck. It is even a lazy attitude to rely solely on chance in our daily activities. In as much as luck has its place in our lives, it does not affect the duty on us to work hard at our endeavors. It does also detract from the need to practice fervently in our chosen fields. It is only through constant practice that we can sharpen our skills and make ourselves very reliable.

“There is no reason why any man cannot be as fit at 50 as he was at 20 – providing he knows how to train his body.”

Physical fitness is very important in every person. For a man however, it is as important as the food he eats. In the olden days men did strenuous work, thereby making themselves very strong. Today however, few people do jobs that expose them to any physical strain but the duties of a man in the home have not changed. The man is looked upon as the warrior, protector and strong shoulder of the family. I think these unchanging duties on the man heighten his need for physical fitness.

“Where there is nothing to lose by trying and a great deal to gain if successful, by all means, try.”

The bible says that he who waits for the perfect condition scarcely ever achieves anything. I have consequently, resolved to take risks in this my life. Instead of just watching others do things, I will do things myself.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so why?

There is nothing confusing in the book. I understand it perfectly.

6. Did the book contain any exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

Yes. They were very helpful especially the formula of action created by Benjamin Franklin to acquire the habit of desirable virtues. I plan to begin practicing the formula.

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment or that is not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.

Yes, I really admire Benjamin Franklin’s devotion to a program of continual refinement of his virtues. I must concede that it is not always easy but when it is made a habit, just like physical exercises they can change my life for the best. The thirteen virtues he listed (though personal) are universal needs of every man who desires to be great. With some minor modification, I intend to imbibe these wonderful virtues as habits. It is indeed a recipe for greatness, no wonder the name Benjamin Franklin rings a bell for nearly everyone on the surface of the earth.

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.
A. How interesting was it to read? 8
B. How helpful were the contents? 8
C. How easy was it to understand? 8
D. Would you recommend it to others? 9
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 9



How to Win Friends and Influence People

Assessment by Oloko Ben Chukwuemeka (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

How to Win Friends and Influence People is a must-read book which teaches the important but unconventional and almost neglected art of winning friends and making one’s say count anywhere; anytime. Themes of tolerance in friendship and subtlety of influence pervades the book. Greek Aesop graphically captures these themes in his epic tale of The Sun and The Wind. Many leaders in history foisted their ideas on their people. In this process, they alienated themselves from the people, and usually ended shamefully. Examples of Adolf Hitler, and most military leaders, especially in Nigeria, suffice to establish this point. Rarely do we find leaders who achieve a healthy balance between force and gentleness. Any leader who attains this balance is a pearl for while he is almost adored by his people, in his lifetime; he also dies, leaving torrents of achievements to warm his people’s memory for countless generations. This book helps its readers get this right balance and thereby excel in life.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.

i. Human beings are not creatures of logic.

I have always wondered why the bible commands us not to judge others. Sometimes circumstances are such that we surmise that it is reasonable or even necessary to criticize, judge or condemn people. Sometime ago, I have even thought that to be taken serious, I should always maintain a stern outlook to life – making sure that anybody who does wrong gets his or her deserved reprimand. In fact, I even set out, initially maintaining a frowning face, then ensuring that I scowl or complain or even bark out at the slightest provocation. I did not have to do it for a long time to see how an unbearable person I have become. I was suddenly avoided by most people around me, especially friends. For me, it was an insightful experiment and the invaluable lesson was that nobody enjoyed being ridiculed or criticized. I have painfully realized that criticisms are unproductive. They serve very little useful purpose and rarely ever achieve the desired purpose and I resolve like Benjamin Franklin, to henceforth speak ill of no man and speak all the good I know of everybody.

ii. Make People want to do things.

In this modern age when the law, socially acceptable practices and mores of most societies directly or indirectly prohibit compulsion or forceful demand on people to perform tasks, we are usually stuck in our tracks of trying to accomplish big things for the benefit of humanity or even ourselves. Because you cannot force anybody to do anything, you have to give them a good reason why they should give a helping hand in your project. Naturally, persuasion is the only viable option. How do we persuade people to see the need to help us achieve our goals because human beings have the uncanny habit of cynicism – they always look for what is in a project that is personally beneficial to them. Accordingly, to make them work, they must first be made to key into the spirit of the goal at hand. This motivation can only be achieved by arousing their enthusiasm in the set goal. This approach demands a thorough understanding of human nature. Most people crave for recognition of their importance – give that feeling a place in the scheme of the project and it will go a long way in making people help you achieve goals. That is one way to make people want to help you.

iii. Smile, Smile, Smile!

The importance of a good smile cannot be over-emphasized. It is a universal language understood by everybody. it waters the garden of friendship. It lights up the atmosphere, everywhere it is employed. It passes a clear message that the giver is approachable; that the giver means no harm but all good; that the giver really, is interested in you – not after you for any ulterior motives. It symbolizes openness in every culture. A smile instantly softens every heart, no matter how hard. The smile of which I have been talking about must be sincere. Everybody detects a fake grin – yes, nobody likes a phony. Nobody likes to be deceived and a fake smile has the same effect of turning people off when detected. I have been working on my smile to achieve a perfect smile and by this realization of the enormous importance of smile in our daily lives, I am encouraged. I know I have not been wasting my time after all. Now, if I get into a place – let’s say, an office, I put on my magic smile and the effect is clear, everybody becomes receptive, they smile back and most times, I get more than what I came for; people become so eager to meet you, so interested in you, when you approach them with a smile.

iv. Admit your mistakes.

In life, fewer people than we could ever imagine are total fools. The problem is that human nature is selfish and we tend to see things always from our own perspective, hence; other people are always inferior to ourselves; they are not as beautiful as we are; our children are always more brilliant than those of others (just that the teacher prefers the other child and gave him better grades). Yes; everything “ours” is always better than everything “theirs.” This view of reality has caused many wars, wrecked many homes and destroyed countless lives. When we see things from this angle, there is always that tendency to prove your points; that possibility of riding roughshod on other people. Yes; why not? They are less human than we are, we think. This attitude never gets things done; it has never fostered peaceful relationship between friends and amongst a group. There are chances that we too, could be wrong, and when we step out knowing this and arming ourselves with the will to deflate our ego – our pride, which pushes us to argue – to fight – we shall very quickly find happiness in our interpersonal relationship. We also will achieve more because argument hardly ever produces great results – when you win, you have won the enmity of your friends and when you lose; you have lost your self respect and very probably, the respect of your friends. I shall always admit my mistakes and quickly and sincerely apologize. I shall also rarely argue.

v. Gentleness and friendliness are always stronger than fury and force.

I have had quite a number of experiences where my friendly approach to issues have won over my ‘adversary’ and conversely, where in anger, I have tried to intimidate my “adversary” into bulging but ended up inciting needless enmity in a potential ally. To illustrate this, some weeks ago, members of the association, of which I am the president, demanded that we give a financial account of activities of the association (in the middle of our tenure). Usually, financial accounts are rendered at the end of a particular administration but because of some peculiarities of the association, I agreed to prepare the account. When the day came for rendering the account, we did that and defended the account creditably. In the course of the scrutinizing the account, one of the members called me an idiot. I knew I was not an idiot by whatever standard, so I quietly turned to him and asked him why he made such a rash comment, he murmured a response and I left it at that. Just weeks after the incident, the same person was elected president of his branch of the association (I am the national president). I need the support of the branch presidents to achieve most of our objectives. Had I picked offence with him for calling me an idiot, I would have more easily gotten the support of a wild dog than his. Now, he is more devoted than any of the other branch presidents. On the other hand, once, I, in company of two of my friends was coming back from a trip. At the park, the driver refused to move, even after the bus was fully loaded. One of my friends started exchanging angry words with the driver. I quickly joined the tirade, telling the driver that if he doesn’t move the vehicle, by himself, I will make him move it. At that point, a little crowd gathered and the driver started explaining that he was waiting for the passengers to sign the manifest ( the insurance booklet, containing the names and contact addresses of all passengers) when my friend began to attack him. Immediately, I became ashamed of myself; how could I (of all people) have waded into the argument, without knowing the source of the dispute. The driver finally announced in his anger, that he was not going anywhere again because of our insult. He said we should leave his vehicle and look for another one. That day, I decided that before going into any dispute, I will find out the root cause and that I will always strive to influence people not with glib or hot argument but with friendly understanding.

vi. We all prefer to feel that we are doing things of our own accord.

Pride is an innate trait of all human beings, though we all have it in varying proportions. To some people, it is better for them to be killed than be slightly humiliated. We all like to feel that we are in charge of our lives; that we determine what comes to us and what doesn’t; that we essentially make all the necessary choices in our lives. That is why such practices as slavery, forcible marriage, etc, have expiry dates. Just as this principle applies to such societal practices as mentioned above, it also, though surreptitiously, govern our daily activities. People hate to think that they are being controlled – that another person is calling the shots. It does not matter how more intelligent the other person is. It also does not make any difference how genuine and promising the idea may be. Our organization plans to formally recognize the nine professors from our town on 29th December this year. This idea of organizing a formal homecoming of our professors was originally my idea. A few weeks ago, some of the executive officers of the association and one branch president resisted the idea of formally receiving the professors. They came with so many arguments; meanwhile, I had already informed the professors that we are planning a formal reception for them. I was stuck – though I was the president, I was not a military dictator. I sought advice and was encouraged to go on with the reception. So one day, we went to see one of our traditional rulers for an event and after that I indirectly dropped the issue of the reception of the professors again – we discussed it there and concluded that it is worth doing. I then understood that the first time it was introduced, it was seen as my idea, later when it was casually dropped into a conversation, we all agreed that it is now the association’s idea.

vii. See things from the other person’s perspective.

Most times, we are lost in the maze of challenges that daily surround us that we hardly notice the problems of the next person. We are so focused on the speck in our own eyes that we do not see the log in the other person’s eyes. We see our problems as more important; our challenges are always more threatening; yes, our slight headache is more deadly than a plague which killed hundreds in China. This is human nature. This nature if not tamed however, hardly ever makes for harmonious relationships. Seeing things from the other person’s angle is the ultimate step to tolerance and peaceful coexistence. Every fool can mind his own business but it raises one above the herd to be mindful of the other person’s point of view.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

I desire to have a lot of friends. I also hope that when I die, I will be remembered as an accomplished statesman and a big philanthropist. To become any of these I must learn how to win friends and influence people. This book and the ideas espoused in it accordingly will help me to leave a fulfilled life. The ideas are practical steps for me to achieve my life ambition.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

“When no information can be secured about the customer, the only sound basis on which to proceed is to assume that he or she is sincere, honest, truthful and willing and anxious to pay the charges, once convinced they are correct. Put differently and perhaps more clearly, people are honest and want to discharge their obligations. The exceptions to this rule are comparatively few, and I am convinced that the individuals who are inclined to chisel will in most cases react favorably if made to feel that they are considered honest, upright and fair-minded.”

I will go out everyday, with a positive mental attitude; live every day, thinking good for all men and thinking good of all men. I will at least, assume that everybody I meet has good intentions for me and I will behave towards that person with equal good intentions. In this way, i may be disappointed a few times but my happiness will be assured and i will have more loving and caring friends.

“When we are right, let’s try to win people gently and tactfully to our way of thinking, and when we are wrong – and that will be surprisingly often, if we are honest with ourselves – let’s admit our mistakes quickly and with enthusiasm.”

Let us always try to cast aside our pride. It causes more harm than good. Yes, we may get a fleeting thrill by winning our friends in argument; showing them that we are smarter than they are, but such thrill is far much compensated by the loss of their goodwill which we gradually lose, each time we win our arguments or show how clever we are and how dumb they are.

“The average person is more interested in his or her names than in all the other names on earth put together.”

No effort spent at learning friends’ names is wasted. Peoples’ names are their favorite. They love to hear it. Forget names and people think you don’t care about them, but call them their names and you light up the pathway to lasting friendships. I love it when people call me by my name – not nicknames or “brother” and I am certain that other people will love to hear me call them by their names. From now on I’ll endeavor to remember peoples’ names and call them by the names whenever we meet.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?


6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

Strictly speaking, there are no formal exercises but the whole of the book is a lecture on human management and how to get the best in our daily relationships. So, essentially, the book itself is an exercise.

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.

This book is not a book to be read; it is a book to be lived.

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 9
B. How helpful were the contents? 10
C. How easy was it to understand? 9
D. Would you recommend it to others? 9
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 9



Real Magic
Assessment by Oloko Ben Chukwuemeka (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

The book centers on the capacity of our thoughts to create our physical reality. We are essentially our thoughts. Our thoughts shape our realities, both at the level of the individual and that of community. Wayne Dyer makes it abundantly clear in this book that a man’s action ultimately sprouts from his thoughts. All great achievements started as ideas in people’s minds. Accordingly, he reiterates the need for man to exercise control over his mind and by that, attain a great measure of control over the circumstances of his life. The book further paints lucidly life at this depersonalized level where man, by his thoughts realizes that all physical separations are artificial. And that really, there is a spiritual interconnection of every being and this connection is purposeful. Only when a man lives as a spiritual being having a human experience will this miraculous state of existence be attained. And this realization lies at the root of the discovery by each man of his purpose in life and its achievement. The real magic is that everyone has all it takes for this miraculous existence and it all starts from the mind – thoughts.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.

i. Purpose is always about giving

I used to have trouble figuring out what exactly my purpose in life is. This confusion started almost immediately after I discovered that I am on this earth for a purpose. I read books; sought advice from people I respected, but I received incomprehensive guide. This book however, has a very beautiful revelation about discovering ones purpose in life. A very simple guide indeed – purpose is about giving. It follows from this that any endeavor, career, achievement which does not impact positively on people’s lives cannot be my purpose. My purpose cannot just be about becoming a multi-millionaire; or just becoming very powerful. It has to be qualified by some transcendental motive which must include a pursuit of the welfare of others. This realization – simple as it may seem – has relieved me of enormous confusion and internal turmoil. It has brought me closer to fulfilling my mission in life. At least, I now have far lesser doubts about what my entire life is about. And, the knowledge means a lot to me.

ii. When you are green, you grow; when you are ripe, you rot.

I have made it a principle in my life to always read. I understand now that I start dying the moment I stop learning. This has shaped my entire outlook at life. I tend to see my life now as evolutionary – I am supposed to grow in every area of my life. I am supposed to witness a steady refinement of my character. I am supposed to be a better person today, than I was ten years ago and when in twenty years’ time, I look back, it should be clear that I have become better in all facets of my life. Such improvements are impossible without an entrenched habit of reading, hence, my resolution to always be a reader. I must be open to new ideas. I must maintain a receptive mind frame – a teachable spirit because I know that at the back of most acts of fatal stubbornness is pride.

iii. Accept no Limits

Limits are usually products of the way in which we have learned to think. Our families have imbibed certain ideas in us, same as our peers, schools, religious institutions, etc. sometimes, these ideas are not entirely factual but colored by the range of perceptions of the person or entities handing them out. In these processes, we have been cornered into thinking for instance, that because I am a woman, I should not aspire to be great in life (especially, greater than my husband); because I am from a poor family, I cannot be a wealthy person in life; politics is a dirty game and should be avoided by men who seek to live virtuous lives; men are polygamous in nature etc. These perceptions have created limits in our subconscious eg. That politics is for the bad guys; there cannot be a happy marriage, of faithful couples etc. We must as we grow, learn to cast off these artificial limits. We must see them according to Apostle Paul as things of childhood which has no real hold on us, as men. Their stronghold is in our minds and if we believe them, they inevitably influence our real/physical experiences because as James Allen said, “A man is as he thinketh.” If however, we refuse to accept them, and face our daily lives with boldness and confidence, we will see those perceived limits vanish into oblivion.

iv. There is God

Even amongst the scientist, some years ago, the answer to the question, “Do you believe in God?” was most commonly answered with “of course not, I am a scientist.” Today, more and more scientists answer to the same question “of course, I’m a scientist.” There were times I also questioned the existence of God, and actually argued with friends on the matter. Well today, I see those days as times of foolishness; when I consider the perfect order in the universe, even the order in my own system (body), I shudder at the thought that some persons (full adults, not children) still question the existence of an intelligent creator of the universe. The human body with its complex and convoluted system has a million ways it cannot work but only one way it can work , and they say such organization can occur by chance. I do not believe that, rather I believe God exists; I believe he made me for a purpose and I believe my life is about discovering that purpose and fulfilling it. I also believe that the universe, all other creations are working in unison with me to achieve a purposeful end: yes, I believe the world – human existence – is that teleological.
v. All that you fight weakens you.

All that you are for empowers you. This is about the most important idea for me in this book. Everything I hate; everything I am against; everything I fight, indeed weakens me. All that I work for; all that I support, empowers me. This knowledge will help me to work on what I am for, rather than fight for what I am against. I am not against starvation; I am for feeding people and seeing that everyone in the world is nutritionally satisfied. I am not against war; I am for peace. I will not join a war on drugs or poverty. I am for a well-educated youth who can be euphoric, giddy and high without the need for external substance. When I read this book the first time and saw the expression, I did not understand it; I thought it was just a matter of semantics – a form of play on words. But when I thought more deeply about it, I saw that this transcends mere pun. It is really a fact of life. Fighting depletes energy and connotes the use of negative energy but working for something increases your energy. Sometimes, working for a positive ideal involves opposing a negative phenomenon e.g. working for a disciplined, well-educated youth involves opposing the use of drugs, examination malpractice, etc. However, setting out to fight these ills will weaken anyone but setting out to work for the positive goals will energize us. I will therefore always couch my goals in a positive scheme. I will not fight anything – corruption, malpractice, bribery, drugs, etc – I will work for something: the welfare of the community.

vi. Trusting my Instincts

Instincts are divine guidance to man. It is God’s way of communicating with human beings. It is an converse of prayer which is man’s way of communicating with God. In my life, I have always regretted the results of my neglect and failure to follow my instincts. Most of those times, I have reasoned my instincts away; I argued, setting out logical premises why I should not obey my instincts. In the end, I had myself to blame. Now, I know better – my instincts are invaluable, and I will stick to them as a superior form of guidance.

vii. Give up the need to control

The natural tendency is for men to use their power, position, rights, privileges, advantages to influence and control other people. Men use their physical strength to intimidate others who are weaker; women use their physical appearance to control men; people in position of authority try to oppress others or at least intimidate them into conformity. This is the natural trend of things – people with any form of advantage will try to employ it for their benefit. But I am not a physical/ natural man with spiritual component rather I am a spiritual being with a physical body. Because of this, I must all the base natural proclivity of men. I must consciously reject any tendency to oppress or intimidate or control others. For me, I had long decided that I will never use any power I have to oppress others especially my significant others.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so how?

These ideas essentially helps me to approach my world with an uncommon level of confidence. I now step up to challenges which the former me would have thought is way over me and surprisingly, I triumph in these challenges more often than not.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

“When you constantly remind yourself of the overriding spiritual, social or loving purpose that drives your work, you will find your entire state of prosperity shifting.”

A life worth living must go beyond just striving to make ends meet. Testimonies are scattered in several literatures and other media of men who pursued riches. Their stories often end in regrets. As I write this, I have John Paul Getty in mind. He was once the world’s richest man, but upon his death his son told the news media in an interview that money was a curse to their family. Solomon in the proverbs reiterates the vanity of an unqualified pursuit of riches. In life I had long decided I will be very wealthy; but I am different in that I will work for something that benefits society; I will produce things for society; I will create value for society and God will reward my productivity with real wealth. I will never go into anything just for the money.

“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”

I will put enormous energy and commitment to continually improving myself. I will devote myself to a healthier lifestyle: I will exercise regularly; eat properly; get enough sleep; observe my body more closely and maintain a high level of personal hygiene. I will devote myself to constant studying: I will read wide; study my field thoroughly, become a more capable lawyer as far as reading can make one; commit myself to buying books – build my own library. I will devote myself to better social life: I will build closer ties with friends I believe are

5. Is there anything that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

The book is perfectly clear to me.

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?


7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.


Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 9
B. How helpful were the contents? 9
C. How easy was it to understand? 8
D. Would you recommend it to others? 9
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 9



Giant Steps
Assessment by Oloko Ben Chukwuemeka (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

The book is a collection of numerous ideas essential for successful daily living.These ideas are of short and memorable sizes, hitting the nail on the head in each case. They are very practical and thus the main theme of the book hence is the idea that success is indeed attainable but first it must be recorded in the mind. Once a man convinces himself that he can succeed, that it is necessary that he succeeds and that most people who succeeded had just as much challenges as he has, if not more… then he is already on the highway to great success.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.

i. Very Few Things Are Impossible

Who could have thought that the conviction of a quiet, unassuming man – Mahatma Ghandi – would have the power to topple a vast empire. I read a book once which said that vision is the ‘lead’ in the term ‘leadership’. The world is in need of visionaries, dreamers, sent by God and who will take charge of businesses, institutions, countries, etc and steer them to untrammeled greatness. Personally, I believe my purpose in life is to bring fuller and more satisfying lives to people. I am so convinced that in spite of all the challenges facing, for instance, my country Nigeria, with the inspiration of God that I believe I have, ideas, visions will be birthed in me to bring succor to this great nation. I believe very strongly that I will bring good and visionary leadership to Nigerians. In my time, many billionaires will be made, Nigerians will be prosperous and democratic institutions will be strengthened to better the lots of the masses. I do not just believe this is possible for Nigeria, I also believe it is possible for the whole of Africa, God helping us and to these ideals, I shall devote all my life endeavors.

ii. Lessons from Mistakes

It is a mark of foolishness to avoid making decisions or not taking actions for fear of making mistakes. As the author makes abundantly clear, success is the result of good judgment, good judgment is the result of experience and experience is often the result of bad judgment. This lesson came in the nick of time. As an undergraduate law student, I participated in few mooting competitions. There will be opportunities for moot competition again in law school, which will commence in a few weeks. But I have been developing cold feet, doubting my capacity to perform well; hence I had started planning to dodge the exercise because I feel that some of my mates have gone quite ahead of me. And I would not want to perform below expectation. But this idea in this book has encouraged me to look inwards and pose questions like; who is losing if I fail to participate in the moot trials? I realized I am the one. I do not become any better by shirking the trials. The book has thus motivated me to participate very actively in the competitions when the time comes. Mistakes are made once and lessons are learned there from. If I avoid the moot trials, I will have lost yet another great opportunity to hone my advocacy skills and cover lost ground. Even if I end up making fun of myself before my peers, I really do not care that much, I will participate in the moot trials and learn my lessons.

iii.Do not Put off Joy and Happiness

When I was in secondary school, I used to daydream of how I will wear attractive clothes in the university, have beautiful girlfriends and be widely admired. Then, I figured I will be happier when those things happened. When I entered the university, I started thinking of life as a lawyer, wearing fancy suits, driving luxury cars, marrying a beautiful woman, etc. At those points, I attached my happiness to the occurrence of such events. I practically lived in the future all the time. Along the line however, I came across the quotation that happiness, like a butterfly continues to run when it is chased but when we relax, it alights effortlessly on us. Since then, I have learnt to live in the present. I occasionally think about the future but I find happiness in my daily circumstances. Small things like chewing my food more thoroughly help me to enjoy my meals by getting the full taste. I enjoy the company of friends and the love and care of my family every day. I live every moment of my life happily because I concentrate in the now. Even the people around me enjoy my company because they know I value their company. I have also learnt to enjoy life’s puddles. In the midst of difficult moments, I maintain a positive attitude. My friends are always surprised about how undisturbed I am about examinations in school. When everyone is running helter skelter, I manage to keep my cool and maintain a calm and unperturbed attitude. In fact, I have resolved to make cheerfulness and playfulness priorities for my life because as they say, life is lived but once.

iv. Focus on What You Want

A great number of people focus on what they do not want. They spend hours thinking about how they fear poverty, absence of love, unfaithfulness of partners, unattractive children, etc. and spend very little time thinking about the beautiful gifts and things of life and how they can attain them, if only they devote themselves to achieving them. This book teaches that if I resist my fears, develop and nurture an unflinching faith and discipline my focus, my actions will naturally take me in the direction of my desires. Fear only limits me; confidence and courage spur me to great accomplishments. All men have fears but great men are different in that they conquered their fears, taking it head-on and triumphing.

v. Great Leaders are Seldom Realistic

Great people are not common people. They are not the masses. Hence, they usually do not operate the popular principles. It has been said that most great business ideas sounded stupid at the beginning. I believe it and I also believe that this principle is not confined to the area of business ideas. People who achieve great things rise above the herd routinely. They do not pursue what the majority is pursuing. They are not moved by the popular sentiments. I have conditioned myself to take it as a great compliment when people tell me that I am odd, that I am not realistic,etc. In the beginning, these comments forced me to think deeply and be very cautious about the things I say that make people brand me as odd. One such thing was when I said it was possible for a young graduate to become a millionaire in a year after graduation. Even now, I still believe it is very possible. Also, my friends have nicknamed me ‘Mr Due Process’ because I believe that things should be done the way they ought to. They think that in Nigeria, things are to be obtained by any means and I have always opposed that idea. I am more confident in my odd ways now. I do not try to conform my ideas to those of my friends. I rather strive to be increasingly creative, intelligent, upright and fair in all I do. Having read the biographies of some great achievers, I discovered I am not in a bad company after all. I must stick to what I believe is right…what I believe is attainable and work hard to accomplish them. Mahatma Ghandi believed he could gain autonomy for India by peaceful and non-violent opposition to Great Britain. Something that had never been done before. This represents the kind of testimony I will have myself, in restoring faith in governance by upholding justice and the rule of law.

vi. Whatever You Fail to Use, You Lose

Life is given to us to use for a purpose. Same goes for our courage, love, determination, joy, eloquence, selflessness, etc. The irony of life is that when we use these virtues, they abound more to us. But when abandoned…when neglected – courage unused diminishes, commitment unexercised wanes and passion unexpressed dissipates. I am thus encouraged to completely exhaust myself of all the virtues given to me. I will devote them to good works and by that do exploits in my life. I will not withhold any good deed, knowing that the ability to create good multiplies in me the more I use up my endowed virtues and that even without use, virtue stored up eventually dissipates. My name is Chukwuemeka; it roughly translates ‘Thank God’ in English, and I am committed to make sure that daily, everyone that encounters me will have reasons to be happy and thankful to God for making me.

vii. The Secret of Living is Giving

Deepest fulfillment in life can only come by making valuable contribution in society. Abraham Maslow has long unveiled this in his principle of self-actualization. A full and satisfying life is mostly dependent on our commitment to contributing to the good of society. Personally, I have discovered that there is no richer emotion than that felt in selfless service to community. Even God gave Jesus Christ to die for us. There is indeed no richer life; no richer gesture than that of giving. And God’s call to all; God’s purpose for making us, is usually to give something to the community. This realization has kept me on my toes. I do not get tired of serving my community. Now, I believe it is the sole purpose why I was made and I know I will only be happy in life if I selflessly serve my community.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so how?

Life and of course, success in any field is governed by rules, principles. We are successful to the extent that we align our desires, activities, goals and pursuits to the undergirding foundation and pillars of life. Anthony Robbins captures a number of these precepts in the ideas expressed in this book and having internalized them, I am more confident of succeeding in life.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

“There is always a place in the world for those who are willing to give of their time, energy, capital, creativity and commitment.”

This is the reason I believe that I will never be jobless in life. I will never be included in the statistics of the unemployed. I believe there is always something I can do for my community.

“Obstacles are merely a call to strengthen your resolve to achieve your worthwhile goals.”

The right attitude to obstacles in life is that of seeing it in the light of an energizer. Really, it increases our resolve, our determination to achieve set goals. Without obstacles, there will be no difference between the common people and the great achievers. Obstacles are the distinguishing mark that separates great achievers from the average people for while great people triumph obstacles again and again, the average man chickens out in the face of great challenges. We all need strong convictions to surmount obstacles and our natural lethargy and achieve great things in life. Obstacles should only be allowed to firm up our resolves.

“Everything you’ve ever done is recorded not only in your conscious memory, but also in your nervous system. Everything you’ve ever seen, heard, touched, tasted or smelled is tucked away in the giant file cabinet known as your brain.”

We must be careful what we hear, whom we associate with, the things we watch. These all build our personalities, either for good or for evil. They are never neutral. They are strongly etched in our subconscious.

“You are the Master Designer of your Life.”

“Get off the Bench and Step into the Game of Life.”

In life, I am what I make myself into. I am a co-creator with God. I decide my own fate. No witch, enemy, lack or poverty can determine my future. I am solely responsible for my future. I am the driver in my life…the star and only actor in my life’s movie; others are spectators. I choose my fate and I have chosen it already and as you can guess, it is that of greatness.

5. Is there anything that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?


6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?


7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.


Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 5
B. How helpful were the contents? 5
C. How easy was it to understand? 6
D. Would you recommend it to others? 4
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 5



The New Dynamics of Winning

Assessment by Oloko Ben Chukwuemeka (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

The book pigeonholes the thread that runs through all great achievements and all great achievers. For Waitley, whether an Olympic medalist or a president of a country, there are distinctive marks that distinguish all champions. He maintains in the book that similar qualities make champions in every field. Enormous skill is applied in clearly showing what makes stars (optimum performers) win games. Even more effort is devoted to relating the potentials and performance of these sportsmen to performance and achievement in other areas of life like business, profession, etc and the message is abundantly clear in the end that indeed most (possibly all) great achievements (and achievers) share a common denominator: they do not usually happen by chance but by preparation and just as an olympiad must assiduously prepare for the competition, we all must consciously prepare ourselves for our desired/ discovered purpose in life.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.

i. Very Few Things will be Achieved without Determination

In life, I have learnt that the most intelligent, the smartest usually end up in an average position in life. They dream – they aim for the air tight, fool proof scheme that will drop their visions and aspirations on their laps. They usually are reluctant to make any move until they are sure of the success of their plans. Well, I know that failure to plan in anything is almost equivalent to planning to fail, but at some point, one must move from the drawing table to the field. Once at the field, no matter how perfect our plans might appear, real life has a way of either thwarting our progress or presenting us with pleasant surprises. So, I think what we need more than many other things in our journey to success is that conviction, that belief that where we are headed is indeed attainable and that extra will power to push hard, very hard, even when the winds are against us. To me, success depends just as much in determination as intelligence, if not more.

ii. Champions are Propelled by Desire, not Compelled by Fear

Fear has motivated, or at least, has been the catalyst of series of misfortunes in human history. It lies behind countless wars, genocides, persecutions; yes, even Jesus’s death on the cross is explained partly by the fear of his spiraling influence, by the Jews. On the personal plane, fear is dwarfing – it cuts off people’s expectations, dreams and hopes. Fear tells people that things they want can’t be obtained; it tells them that they are no good, using few or many instances from their past of how they have tried and failed. The striking thing is that fear argues very logically – many a man end up being convinced that they are misfits for their goals. They give up. But champions, the great achievers, perceive that their goal is quite important. They feel a burning necessity for attaining their goals. These two considerations compositely ignite a strong passion – a fierce desire which could scarcely be daunted by fear of any kind. That precisely is the spirit behind most great achievements. The best way to overcome the in-built fear of danger and catastrophic loss is knowledge.

iii. Fear is a Killer

The fear of what might happen, not what will happen, holds us back and causes us to procrastinate. This kind of attitude pervades the average class in every society. Having been cornered into believing that because of one setback or the other, they can’t excel in life, they modulate their activities, taking lesser and lesser risks, structuring their lives along a secured future and in time crystallizing their imaginations. They may probably get to executive or administrative ranks in the civil service. But these are people who would have owned big companies – people who would have turned around for good, the prospect of their nations. But no, they have to make ends meet; their kids must go to good schools; ‘what’s the point of all these hassles…what more does a man want in life than have just enough to take care of himself and his family?’ They ask. They recline, turning to the easiest life which is the exact opposite of what champions do. Great men in history had as much problems in life as we all do now – most of them even had more. But they rose to prominence because, among other reasons, they paid that enormous price of success – they tried hard; they put in their best into what they believed in.

iv. Treat your Body like a Spacecraft

Physical wellbeing indisputably is one our most precious gifts in life.Many people do not fully appreciate this until health is lost. Last year, we organized a number of community development packages for our community. Many of them ran simultaneously because we organized the programmes under the platform of a student organization and we thus had to accommodate most projects during holidays.one of such packages was an “Under 16 Football League.” On one of the days, we had two matches in a day in far apart villages of the community. The way things were, I had to be at both matches. It was on a Sunday, so we went to church and I did not eat before going, being a 7am service. I left from church to the first match which was slated for 12pm but was delayed till about 2pm. It finished around past 4pm. We got to the venue of the second match around five and we were not done until well past 6pm. I did not have much money, so I could not afford to eat until I got home around 8pm. Shortly after the meal, it was time for our family prayer. I was told to lead the prayer. I barely began the prayer before I slumped. I fainted, and was unconscious for more than five minutes, I was told. The effect of this ‘drama’ did not completely sink in until just some days ago when I mentioned it in a discussion with a very good friend in a discussion, and she was like “you know, you have to take care of yourself too.” Those were her words and it sank in – I can’t be too busy, that I will not take care of myself. A lot depends on my being well-taken care of and come on, it is not too difficult – and even if it is. I must hence, eat well, exercise regularly and have enough rest. My life and the fulfillment of my purpose depend on my physical wellbeing.

v. Life is a Full time Informal School

One very popular saying that I so much love is, that one starts to die immediately one stops to learn. This embodies commonsensical wisdom. We are always limited by what we do not know. So, to increase in life, we must deliberately inculcate the habit of learning – especially the important habit of reading. A lot of information is circulating now; ignorance is now a choice. We do not have to search too hard to discover invaluable truths hidden in books. That’s the greatest miracle of our generation – the internet has simplified our search. We will never get to meet some of the important people in the world that we would have loved to meet – of course a great number of them are already dead. We can only tap into their wisdom, relate with their experiences when we read their works or books written about them. People indeed perish for lack of knowledge as the Holy Bible states. And this process of death (perishing) is activated when we refuse or neglect to fill ourselves with information.

vi. The Happiest People in Life Know they don’t really need to Compete against Others

Competition should be viewed as a way to maintain excellence. I believe that people should always strive to realize and actualize the full potential endowed upon them. I will only be happy at the point of death, if I am truly exhausted – yes, if I can at that point, say that through a lifelong process of growth and self-improvement, I had finished the work I was sent here to do. I believe I am on this earth for a purpose. With that realization, I see very little sense in competing with my peers, as to who will come out bigger, richer, finer in life. I occupy myself with the business I believe I was sent to do, and if my competitors or peers are doing something I admire, it will only serve to jolt me to the realities of the day – to tighten up my own schemes, not to by any means, pitch myself against them. I will only imbibe those things that help me strive with more vigour towards excellence.

vii. I must not be Perfect

After making a clear distinction between self-sabotaging perfectionism and the healthy pursuit of excellence, I will always choose the latter. I will ponder on these very important questions: am I trying to do my best in all I do or to be the best? Am I motivated by a desire for success or a fear of failure? Am I enjoying the process of success or am I focused on the product which must be perfect? I must deliberately shake off the nagging desire to be right all the time. At some point one must make some mistakes. I must nurture my humility in order not be tortured by the thoughts of such fleeting failures. It is a sign of maturity to take failures in our stride because life can never be totally free of obstacles, misfortunes and challenges. It is in triumphing these trying times that our determination is strengthened for greater achievements. However, if we avoid occasions where mistakes are highly probable, we deny ourselves the opportunity of honing our character.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so how?

I desire greatly to be very successful in life, not just in terms of personal affluence but also in doing good works for people everywhere. I desire a prosperous, highly advanced and god-fearing Africa, founded on the rule of law, productivity, peace and improved life for all. I possibly cannot dream of these goals, let alone work to bring it to fruition if I do not train myself to be determined and diligent in my pursuits. These ideas have consolidated the need for these values in my subconscious.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

“You should be aware that self-esteem, or the lack of it, is at the root of all behavior, both positive and negative. There simply is nothing more important than self-esteem in determining success or failure…you’d better learn how to like yourself because you’re going to be spending a lot of time with you.”

Self-esteem is very important. It reflects the totality of our perception of ourselves; our capabilities; our inadequacies etc. The fact is that all human beings have their strengths and their weaknesses. People with a healthy self-esteem have balanced view of their strengths and weaknesses while people who have a complex have a blighted view either of their strengths or weaknesses. Most problems in this area are in relation with low self-esteem. Personally, I once had a crippling low self-esteem. I saw my friends as having everything good – they were finer, dressed better, spoke better English, had better parents and families etc. I cringed when I was with people supposed to be my friends…in my mind’s eye; I was an ant in comparison to them. Well, thank God! Today I do not believe anyone on this earth has a better family than I do; have better prospects for the future than I do. I know I speak very good English; I know people admire the way I dress; I know I am a very smart and fine young man. Evidently, God has blessed me with a wonderful self-esteem which in my estimation is just a herald to greater achievements.

“Do what’s right; do your best; treat others as you want to be treated.”

Fame and fortune tend to breed arrogance and a sense of immense personal power. No matter how much wealth or recognition the world lays at my feet, I will not allow my personal integrity to be contradicted by my behavior in any area of my life. It’s not just a matter of preserving my reputation but living life with character.

“You may not have the artistic talent of Michelangelo or the musical ability of a Mozart. You may not have as much money as Warren Buffet has or as much as Donald Trump had – but there is one thing that you have as much as anyone else: TIME”

Like money, the secret to making the best use of our time is planning. Also that I have the same number hours as these accomplished men, gives me enormous motivation that I could even surpass their achievements.

“I make it a point to read one non-fiction book each week and one fiction book each month. My weekly non–fiction reading increases my knowledge and general awareness of changes and trends in the world, and strengthens my vocabulary. My monthly fiction reading sharpens my creative skills, enhances my vocabulary and opens up my mind to new points of view.”

This is a practical tip for a more informed and quality life. Such a habit of reading has only advantages. Although I had set a similar target for myself, I am not living up to it. I feel encouraged and motivated to go back to my books – it is indeed the source of vitality in life.

5. Is there anything that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?


6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

Yes, the 21-day exercise. It was truly life changing because, just as the author noted, habits have a great influence on our daily lives and it takes approximately 21 days to develop a new habit.

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.7. WAS THERE


Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 7
B. How helpful were the contents? 7
C. How easy was it to understand? 8
D. Would you recommend it to others? 7
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 7