Onyebuchi Evelyn Okonji – Assessements

As a Man Thinketh

Assessment by Onyebuchi Evelyn Okonji (Nigeria)

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

The author’s main idea is “That one should be conscious of one’s thoughts, as they can make or mar one.” Generally in life, different people are conscious about different things, for some it is their body size, for others it is the publics’ perception about them, for some others their fashion trend and for some the wealth they acquire or achieving academic excellence. We rarely make conscious effort to be mindful of our thoughts; although we say positive things about ourselves and circumstances, we however allow our minds think of all the negative things that could happen, immediately forgetting all the positive things we once professed. In doing so, we unknowingly expect (welcome) negative things, and in most cases we always get what we expect. The mind as it were, is a very powerful tool which we can use to control the universe; however, it has to be trained to ponder only on positive thinking. The author says “if a man’s mind hath evil thought, pain comes on him and if he endures in purity of thought, joy follows him as his own shadow.” Notice how the author uses the phrase “endures in purity of thought” meaning it requires conscious efforts, patience and constant practice to be achieved. The word “endures” could also mean that the practice could be painful because sometimes our circumstances plunges us into grief and it becomes very difficult to think positively.

The author also encourages us to make deliberate efforts to jot down every desired achievement gotten through positive thinking. To my mind, this is necessary as achieving good results propels us to consciously dwell on positive thoughts alone, having truly felt its impact and also we are emboldened to encourage others to do same.

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. “He that seeketh findeth and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.”

The average person appreciates the concept of gold mining. He might not understand the intricacies and technicalities of the job; however he understands that the miner digs for as long as it is necessary to find gold. The miner does not give up on digging because he is exhausted but he only stops digging when he has found gold. The concept of mining applies in our daily lives; treasures are not gotten by scratching surfaces but when they are purposefully sought after, digging deeply. The author uses the phrase ‘ceaseless importunity’ to convey the idea that for every opportunity and knowledge we seek, we have to be diligent, patient and persistent.

In the University I performed badly in my first year probably out of over confidence and nonchalant attitudes. In my University when your grades are that bad in your first year, you have a 10% chance of graduating with a good grade because history has proven that students don’t recover from that failure. I had made the mistake but I also decided to break the history chain because it is never truly over until the fat lady sings, I started interacting with my classmates who were performing well, they taught me the techniques of answering questions, I got a reading spot and was dedicated to my books. The magic did not happen the way I thought it would, it took me three years of consistent alignment and changing of methods to get a desired Grade point, I graduated with a good grade and in the law school, a classmate came to me and said I know you performed really poorly in first year, how did you get this grade and I felt really proud of my achievements.

ii. Every circumstance has a lesson for us to learn

In our everyday activities, we either find ourselves in congenial or unpleasant circumstances; nevertheless, all circumstances come to teach us something. To truly excel in life, we must be mindful of the lessons each circumstance brings. Each lesson comes to improve our character and strengthen our resolve. It is commonly said ‘when the going gets tough only the tough gets going’ and also to get our true nature and bring us to a place of perfection of character, we have to go through the test of character.

Going to my previous example of gold mining, it is not in the form the gold is mined it is sold. Gold is refined in high temperature flame, until the dross is totally removed; it is then carefully made into the beautiful necklaces and bracelets we appreciate.

Earlier in the year I applied for a dream multinational job, I succeeded in all three stages and had the interview left, during the interview one of the interviewer’s asked me a question which I had no answer to, She asked apart from law, what do you do with your spare time? Painfully I did not get the job, but I learnt from that circumstance and I have been involved in a lot of things apart from law like my CITN course and constantly reading books.

iii. “Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but unwilling to improve themselves.”

Human wants are insatiable, man is designed to always want something better than he possesses. However circumstances are not improved by mere expressions of wants or needs, it is achieved by a conscious effort to be better than we were yesterday.

I wanted to be a corporate commercial lawyer and work with a multinational company but I was unwilling to improve on my skills and get the necessary certifications. I complained about wanting a job immediately after service year but I was not sending out my resume and even when I did I failed to attach a cover letter which was necessary.

The first day I decided to go on Job sites, prepare a cover letter and go to offices to drop my resume and cover letter, I got a job, it was not my dream job but it was a job I learnt everything I know about Real Estate. The writer rightly posits that you hear people exclaim how fortunate, lucky and chanced a person is when the circumstance of the person changes positively in total oblivion of the continuous conscious efforts put into self improvement to achieve such change of circumstance.

iv. “A man’s mind is like a garden, he must deliberately plant good seeds and nurture them preventing them from weeds.”

The job of a farmer does not end with planting of seeds, the farmer constantly has to water and weed the plants to achieve good harvest. Do you notice how easily the weeds grow? You don’t have to water them, they are unwanted but yet they grow, flourish and if not timely uprooted they choke the good plants. Our minds are like the field, the good thoughts we deliberately plant are the good seeds, but just like the weeds in the farmer’s field, evil thoughts though unwanted suddenly creep in. In the Holy Bible, which I was informed to be written over 2000 years ago, it rightly says that the heart should be guarded jealously with all diligence, not some diligence.

This reminds me of the thoughts of despair that crept in when I laid down to sleep after failing a test for a company, it just keeps saying it is alright just lie down, don’t hope or think about the future, the successful people are not really saying the extra steps they took to be successful, and there and then I nipped it in the bud, I am not settling for mediocrity and that is final. Luckily I saw a similar company and I applied, dusted all my elementary math textbooks and prepared, I finally stopped at the fourth stage of the test but I was happy I had succeeded in the first three and overcome the thoughts of despair, I did not get it but I made tremendous progress. The author in buttressing the essence of having good thoughts constantly in our hearts, links our thoughts to our behavior, “circumstances do not make the man it reveals him to himself.” We respond to circumstances out of the abundance of our hearts, a man who lost his job and falls back on debauchery has been harboring the thoughts of such extreme act, the loss of the job only became an excuse to act according to his unspoken desires.

v. “Our thoughts do not only affect our circumstance but also our health.”

This is a common knowledge, being worried, anxious, comparison of our lives with others, envy and bitterness can lead to sickness of the body. A good explanation is Pseudocyesis, commonly known as false pregnancy is a situation where a woman believes she is pregnant only to find out that her symptoms were caused not by pregnancy but by something else. People with Pseudocyesis have many, if not all, symptoms of pregnancy with the exception of an actual fetus. Different theories has been postulated as to the cause of Pseudocyesis, the first theory attributes it to an intense desire to get pregnant or an intense fear of becoming pregnant, another theory states that chemical changes in the nervous system associated with some depressive disorders could trigger the symptoms of Pseudocyesis. All the theories seem to postulate that the disease comes from “thoughts.” My colleague had chicken pox some weeks back and the moment it was confirmed, I just kept thinking of it and true to my thoughts I started having the symptoms or as my mind made me believe. I said I can’t have chicken pox, I did not even come in contact with him and all and that ended the supposed symptoms

vi. “Thought must be linked with purpose to achieve intelligent accomplishment.”

Our sense of purpose is our reason for existence. It keeps our mind active and strengthens our resolve. The lack of purpose in a person’s life results in redundancy, mediocrity and opens up the mind to vices and petty worries because the mind is not occupied.

In achieving academic excellence in the University, I never allowed my mind wander into fear of not being able to achieve it. I knew I could achieve it, if I put my mind to it and put in a lot of effort. I had my motto, ‘it is not over until the fat lady sings’ and for the next three years I reminded myself of it. I did not tell anyone of my past mistakes because I did not want to get discouraged or have a pity party; I wanted to stay focused on the goal. In achieving purpose, doubts and fears should be rigorously excluded. The author describes these elements as ‘disintegrating elements which break up the straight line of effort, rendering it crooked, ineffectual and useless and accomplish nothing but failure’.

Even if he fails again and again to accomplish his purpose as he must until weakness is overcome. The strength of character gained will be the measure of his true success.

vii. Success Requires Effort

Success cannot be adequately defined, because success is a process. The persons we speak to, the books we read, basically what we do with our 24 hours every day goes a long way in determining how successful we shall be.

I recently had a chat with an intern in my office who was graduating with a first class honors, and in the course of our discussion she told me throughout her college days, she sleeps compulsory on or before 9pm, wakes up at 12.00am and reads till 5.00am everyday till she graduated. I was stunned, and motivated. I don’t comprehend properly waking up at midnight, but I do really well early hours like 4:00am, so I stuck to that and got some financial and language applications I learn with every morning. The little drops of effort we put in daily in any sphere of our lives will help us in achieving great success.

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 have started the practice of these ideas in my daily personal life, most important to me is the control of my thoughts, uprooting every negative thought and focusing on the possibilities of good things only. However when things don’t go as I have planned, maintaining a peaceful disposition at all times, having understood that every circumstance good or bad comes to strengthen my character making me truly successful.

Secondly, efforts and more efforts, just like the Boys’ Scout motto ‘Always be prepared’, severally I have lost opportunities because I started preparing when the opportunity came. Also my motivation came from a TED Talk by Zain Asher, “Trust your struggles,” and my discussion with an intern, just keep preparing like you are having the interview, audition or test tomorrow, so as they say when preparation meets opportunities is Victory. Learning to keep my calm and control my thoughts are very important in creating a better world, it is only in training my mind to be better and do better, that I can honestly impact my world. Most importantly consciously focusing my thoughts on utilizing the ideas I have gained to create a better world, starting from the smallest units such as my family, office and place of worship.

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 so is he.”

I usually like to complete the statement by adding “not as others think of him.” Late last year entering into the earlier part of this year, I had a serious challenge and everyone was defining me and a loved one constantly saying derogatory things to me. I was completely lost as to who I was and what I wanted to do with my life, luckily I stumbled on this statement while reading the Bible and I decided to give it a meaning applicable to my own life. I am not what people think or say of me, it does not matter if the person is a loved one, if a person does not mind you being in pain just to fulfill the person’s idea of what your life should be, then we need to stop imploding and stand for what we believe in. We should honestly and carefully question the person’s intentions, are you saying this for me or for yourself? Personally I think the test is how the person reacts when you decline being defined. I do not have to continue living the life that they desire me to or approve of, I am what I say I am. I owe humanity rationality and leaving the world better than I met it; to myself I owe happiness and fulfillment of my purpose.

“Weakness cannot exist in a power evolving Universe”

There is a popular saying, ‘that misery loves company’, true to that when we fail at something, we readily find sympathizers’ and people telling us “it was not meant for you.” That is not always true, in my case at least it was not but it was simply a lack of preparation. Unfortunately, the universe does not stand still for us to whine and grieve and pick ourselves back up before it spins. It just keeps spinning, time keeps ticking.

I learnt it is normal to feel sad about a loss of opportunity but the loss of that opportunity is not the end of the world and most importantly we learn from every disappointment. The real failure is when we learn nothing from our failures.

“Victories attained by right thought can be maintained only by watchfulness, many give way when success is assured, and rapidly fall back into failure.”

Earlier on, I stated that success/victory is a process not just a position or a step. The only way to maintain success is to keep making efforts, keep doing the things that made you attain that success; the fall is greatest when you are high up the ladder, so you have to make great efforts not to fall but keep climbing higher till you reach the pinnacle.

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?

The author insists that our thoughts are responsible for our circumstances, and goes ahead to talk about keeping your calm, when you are in a bad circumstance. I think there is a gap in information, is the writer also of the view that some circumstances happen totally unconnected to our thoughts? Personally I think I support the latter, but the author connects the information by stating that all circumstances happen for us to learn a lesson from it.

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? 8
B. How helpful were the contents? 10
C. How easy was it to understand? 9
D. Would you recommend it to others? 10
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 9



Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Assessment by Onyebuchi Evelyn Okonji (Nigeria)

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

The author’s main idea is “Breaking the status quo and finding purpose.” There is a witty saying, “you don’t get to choose where you come from or what family or country you get to belong to but you can always choose where you end up.” In this book Jonathan Livingston is born a seagull, and initiated into certain traditions/status quo of how high he could fly and what he should spend the rest of his life doing which was scrambling for food, he was not given an opportunity to choose and his life was defined even before he drew his first breath in the world. Jonathan one day had an epiphany of what he could do, and decided to go in search of purpose, breaking out of the norm. Like Jonathan, a lot of times our society defines us even before we are born. This particularly applies to females, women in most communities are not allowed to go to school, or have aspirations to be engineers or pilots or architects. Women are made to believe that they are not smart enough to engage in those fields and all they should do is aspire to be married as reiterated by Chimamanda Adiche. In recent times, a lot of women have broken the norm and proven to the world that women are as intelligent and capable of academic engagements like their male counterparts. However these are minorities compared to the number of women still held in the bondage of status quo.

The author also focuses on the ability of the seagull to find purpose and in finding what he was created for; he found fulfillment and joy and was able to help other seagulls out of the status quo. Our purpose must not be centered on only ourselves, we must always have in our minds the need to help other people climb the ladder and fulfill what they are created for, only then can we play our part in making the world a better place.

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. Perfection is attainable

There is an epigram that says “Anything the mind conceives it can be achieved.” In achieving what we have set our minds on, we must not settle for mediocrity or the norm, there is always a need for improvement, until perfection is achieved understanding that our work has a tremendous impact in the world. Martin Luther King said “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will pause to say, “Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” Perfection in anything we are called to do is the highest point of living.

In the journey towards perfection, we must endure in constant practice and most often than not, encounter failures until perfection is achieved. We must also stay humble and teachable believing everyone has something good to teach us, knowledge is never wasted and always profitable in achieving perfection.

In my early childhood days, I found learning really difficult and was performing poorly at school. I was concerned about my poor performance and really ashamed at school and did not mix up with my class mates for fear of being ridiculed, as an adult now I can say I probably developed low self esteem but I could not share my concerns with anyone. I got into secondary school and it was a boarding school, I decided to change the story, I was really scared and not sure if I could break out from being at the bottom of the class but I just had to try. I used my prep time and all my spare moments judiciously, I was hiding in between flower beds to read in a bid to avoid the noise and distractions. In my first term I came out top of my class and continued at the top till I left the school, but that was not all I was the best art student and most influential head girl. I also constantly encouraged my classmates who felt I was a genius and they were probably dull by telling them of my primary school experience and reassuring them that if I could come out of it, any other person can.

ii. Our limitations can only stop us with our permission.

The author narrates that Jonathan Seagull was limited in every way to fulfill his purpose, he had long wings and needed short ones, he did not have the eyes of an owl so was made to believe he can’t fly in the dark, he had no one to train him or even encourage him. The redefining moment for him was the day he shut his mind to those limitations and his mind was open to discover ways to turn his ‘limitations’ to his advantage. Generally we are faced with limitations, how we choose to see it is what matters, do we see them as stumbling blocks or as stepping stones to achieve our goals or better still let our limitations motivate us. According to Marianne Williamson, “Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” Marianne alludes that our inadequacies cannot in any way stop us; in essence they do not prevent us from achieving our goals.

In 2006 my brother wanted to join the army but he was so skinny, looked fragile and did not have the height, but he insisted on joining the army. He refused to apply to any University and picked the Armed Forces form. My dad was really angry with him and stopped speaking to him because he felt he will get rejected and waste that year. He kept training, running from my house to the road every morning and reading for the exams. Despite his limitations of not being physically fit to join the army his preparations and persistence got him the offer.

iii. You do not need everyone to believe in your dreams.

So many times consciously or unconsciously we seek approval from our friends, families’ even strangers to pursue our dreams. Sadly not everyone will understand, not everyone can see your big picture most likely they do not even want to understand or they see it as a deviation from the norm or probably think you have got your ideas wrong and mixed up.

In such situations, I personally think we have to start drawing the sketches of our big picture, keep believing and working towards it passionately, and stop draining our emotions by trying to convince the world of our ideas. Sometime in August, I wanted to get a certification in taxation and a colleague told me it was such a waste of money and time and a useless venture. I was not deterred, I wanted to be a corporate commercial law and a tax certification is ideal. I went on with my registrations and started preparing for my exams; I presently have two of my colleagues that have indicated interest to get the tax certification too.

iv. Pursuing our dreams has a price.

Dreams are pricey, a witty saying says that “Dreams are not what you see when you are asleep, dreams are the things that keep you awake when the world is sleeping.” Pursuing our dreams takes effort, time, and deprivations. The price of fulfilling our dreams sometimes is not only the efforts we put in, it will be wonderful having our friends and family support us all the time but unfortunately that is not always the case. In the author’s narration, Jonathan Livingston is declared an outcast for by the Seagull Clan and finally he leaves the world he has known for a long time into another world to keep improving his skills all in pursuit of a dream.

I have been working on self development for almost a year and it is actual proof that the higher your dreams the costlier the price, very early mornings, constant deprivations from sleep and luxuries, but am better for it I can literally see improvements in my life.

v. Kindness and love is the most difficult and most powerful lesson in life.

This idea is encapsulated in one of Seagull Chiang’s last statement to Jonathan, “…till you can fly the past and the future. And then you will begin the most difficult, the most powerful…You will be ready to fly up and know the meaning of kindness and love.” His last words were “Keep working on love.”

Chiang alludes that after attainment of perfection at what we are called to do will all be empty if we do not learn the act of kindness and love. It opens our mind to true fulfillment when we are able to love even undeserving persons. Nelson Mandela in his book “A Long walk to Freedom” states that, “No one is born hating another person; love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” I dare say that if Jonathan had not taken this lesson seriously, he would have continued hating the other seagulls for making him an outcast, refused to go back to their world and never get to the zenith of his potentials, where we realize he is a great teacher too.

We limit only ourselves when we do not practice this lesson of kindness and love. I had a roommate in my fourth year that never cared about organizing her things, although I could have lived with the situation but I made extra efforts to organize them for the overall good. Initially it did not matter to her whether or not I organized them, but subsequently the continued act of kindness caught her attention and surprisingly she started organizing those things on her own and we became very good friends. In our final year, we were in different rooms but she retained that organizational skill.

vi. Pay it Forward

The concept of paying a kind deed forward is an old one and was coined in Lily Hardy’s book, “In the Garden of Delight.” It simply means when we receive a good deed, we should always remember to repay it to others in need of same.Jonathan Livingston reiterates this idea when he insists on going back to his former world to teach them the techniques of flying as he had been taught. This is the only way the world can be full of good deeds, if we all learn to give to others the good deeds we have been fortunate to be beneficiaries.

I started practicing this idea consciously when I worked with a Non Governmental Organization. I was new to the town and was voluntarily housed by a woman I had never met before and she provided me with meals and even gave me stipends. I paid forward the good deed by attending personally to some of the needs of the indigent women and children that came to my organization.

vii. Being different and separating yourself from the crowd.

It is difficult to be different, even when we realize we are made to be different, we always try to blend it and mix with the crowd, stuck up on something we were not created for. We underutilize our potentials and may never excel in those paths and hence suffer mediocrity. Jonathan born a seagull was defined to be a food scrambler, but time and time again, he knew somewhere deep down that he was born to be more than a food scrambler, and there was something different about him which was that he wanted to fly. He had to separate himself from the rest of the crowd to focus on his dreams.

I grew up amongst very quiet siblings and honestly I tried really hard to be quiet and also introverted and none of that worked, I felt sick. I wanted to be a Model, FBI Agent, a lawyer, none of that fitted into being quiet and going around mute, I just had to stop pretending and be who I truly was, an extrovert and I am a mix of both. Personally I think dreams are birthed and nurtured in a place away from the crowd and the noise, we readily explore our difference with no fear of harsh criticisms at the tender stage of our dreams.

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 will focus on the main idea “Breaking the Status Quo and finding purpose,” because it is connected to all others. I am on this journey breaking every limitation the society and I have set for myself believing I can do better and be better. I have started with my academic exercises, learning languages, basically taking charge of my life and pursuing my dreams. I choose not to see my limitations or get discouraged, I have a dream and am going after it, putting in effort and more efforts till perfection is attained. I truly believe Jonathan Livingston Seagull lives in me and I will just let it shine forth, and most importantly not forgetting the most powerful lesson loving and showing kindness, keep making a conscious effort until it becomes a part of me even to those who are undeserving because it is in our own best interest. The ideas are also practicable in creating a better world, if I can pay forward every kind deed I get, show love and kindness to everyone I meet, attain success despite perceived limitation, I will unconsciously give others the permission to shine as Marianne Williamson says and the world would be better for it.

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.

“Our purpose for living is to find that perfection and show it forth.”

Firstly the writer makes us understand that finding purpose in life is not negotiable, it is the essence of living and it is not enough to find purpose, the purpose must be attained to perfection. For many years I honestly sought purpose, perfection and was not sure if I wanted to continue studying law and what I wanted to do after my law degree and what specialization, just kept wondering what I was called to do, I never figured anything out till early part of the year. I finally choose a specialization and then limitations crept in, but being informed of the Jonathan seagull living within, I am blinded to the limitations and going forward to attain perfection, where there is a will, there is always a way.

“Practice and see the real good in everyone.”

Oprah Winfrey says, if a person shows you who they are the first time believe them, I used to understand that quote in a way that makes me constantly shield myself away from people I perceive to be hateful or unsupportive and the rest of it. A friend said to me many years ago if you keep avoiding people for the mistakes they make, you will be lonely, and I chose to be alone than be around people that I was unsatisfied as to their genuine intentions. Going forward, I found myself always complaining of why couldn’t I just find the perfect person, nice, genuine, unselfish and all. I realized that there is no perfect person not even me, and that was not really the way to go, as they say even a bad clock shows the correct time twice every day, from that day I told myself the problem is with your expectations, change your expectations, don’t expect at all and you will be fine.

I am glad I took that decision, consciously seeing the good in everyone, hoping they do good things but having an open mind for eventualities, I can gladly say Hakuna Matata.

“Perfection does not have limits.”

The rule is no limits, as long as there is still something not right, or something left to attain then we need to put in more efforts, re-strategize until we have broken through all limits because the goal is perfection.

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 disagree with the idea of Heaven is being perfect, at the point where Jonathan wanted to find out if he was in Heaven or when that would happen, Chiang made this point. On a second thought he was probably trying to draw an analogy between heaven and perfection, where nothing is out of place, no limitations and constant efforts till you attain it. I will like to say Heaven is Perfection but Perfection is not Heaven, Heaven is beyond description, Perfection can still be described, seen and applauded. I can list great men who have achieved perfection in fulfilling their purpose, but I cannot say anyone who has attained Heaven.

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




Assessment by Onyebuchi Evelyn Okonji (Nigeria)

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

The author’s main idea is that “the self image is the key to human personality and behavior.” The Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines self image as one’s conception of one’s self (Italics mine). It means that your self-image is solely dependent on your opinion of who you are, not the opinion of any other person, our opinion of who we are is all that is valid and important. The self image is responsible for our self esteem and confidence; it determines our success in life, and unarguably our happiness. If we have been bestowed with so great a power why do we then choose to define ourselves in demeaning ways.

I say we act in error when we undermine our abilities and in so doing question the intention of the creator, who without a doubt stated firmly that we are created in his image and likeness, literally he made us just like He is, beautiful in every way and capable of accomplishing everything our minds can conceive. The author posits that “the self image sets the boundaries of individual accomplishment. The development of an adequate, realistic self image will seem to imbue the individual with new capabilities, new talents and literally turn failure into success.” The author further gives instances of mind blowing transformation that occurred in various persons when their self image was appropriately fine tuned. These examples bring to mind my personal experiences, in high school I was convinced that I was unable to understand mathematics, true to my convictions I always scored high in every other subject and performed poorly in mathematics.

In my pen ultimate year in high school, I went for holiday coaching and discovered I actually enjoyed mathematics, why was that? Because at that moment I opened my mind to actually learn and was not in any competition to get high marks, nor concerned about my performance, just simply had a genuine desire to learn. I got back to school and that term I got my highest score ever in mathematics. Unfortunately the euphoria did not last much and I went back to my usual conviction about mathematics and my performance dwindled.

Going forward, I decided to study law, primarily because law did not require mathematics. In studying law, I discovered my passion was for corporate commercial majorly taxation, and I spoke to a friend about my fears of mathematics and He told me don’t allow mathematics limit you. There are a lot of opportunities and you cannot let that limit you. I developed a genuine interest and changed my perception of not wanting anything that has to do with mathematics because I am not good in it. I started learning from the foundation, still learning, but I am glad I finally discovered it is not such a herculean task after all.

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. Man has a creative imagination.

It is no gain saying that Imaginations’ rule the world. The author quoting Dugold Stewart who said, “The faculty of imagination is the great spring of human activity and the principal source of human improvement; destroy this faculty, and the condition of man will become as stationary as the brutes.”

The constant question is what has inundated our minds? Are we constantly feeling entitled, expecting the universe to serve us with what we have decided we deserve, creativity rarely comes from a mind of entitlement. Creativity happens to those who constantly think of a need to be met, who refuse to continually be takers and seek ways to give to the universe. Creative imaginations entail conscious thinking as posited by the author, the Holy Bible supports this view of the author in the book of Philippians were it says “whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

It is therefore correct to say that we are in total control of our imaginations; the author further posits that “where there is a conflict between the will and the imagination, the imagination invariably wins the day.”

I have had several experiences on creative imaginations, in high school I had difficulty learning to write the Igbo language, for weeks I would try to read and remember the words and spell them correctly but there was no improvement. Then one day I had a whisper of creativity, and the whisper was to turn those Igbo notes to songs, I did immediately and that was the end of the struggle to spell those Igbo words. It was easier and in fact the whole class used the songs to prepare for our Igbo exams, I still remember the songs presently. In creative thinking, we are enjoined to have our thoughts not on fantasies but on adequate realistic thoughts.

ii. The nervous system cannot tell the difference between an imagined experience and a real experience.

The author is of the view that the nervous system cannot tell the difference between a real experience and an imagined experience. I totally subscribe to the author’s view because I practiced the exercises in the book, and had the same experience. For purposes of clarity, the nervous system consists of the brain, spinal cord, sensory organs, and all of the nerves that connect these organs with the rest of the body. Together these organs are responsible for the control of the body and communication among its parts. The nervous system is extremely important for the proper functioning of the body; however the nervous system has no way of telling imagined experiences and real experiences. Therefore we are permitted to manipulate our nervous system by our power of imagination. This is not saying that all occurrences are purely as a result of our imagination; this is just saying that we have the absolute power to control it. For the happenings that occur without our interference, we can control how we respond to it.

iii. The mere relaxation of effort is in itself enough to eradicate the negative behavior.

The author suggests that the use of effort and will power to fight against negative behavior prevents the eradication of such behavior. The author further suggests that to eliminate negative behaviors from our system we should take it one day at a time; we do not need to say I will not be lazy ever again, just say I will not be lazy today and continue that way until it becomes a habit. There is a common saying that worry does no good but to rob you of today. In essence, if I decide to be an A student, I need not worry about the day of the exam or if am actually going to end up an A student at the end of the exams. I am only to be concerned about adequate preparation for the exams, after the exams worrying about the outcome of the result is a fruitless exercise because whether I worry or not, the result will be out and certainly if I put in my best, I will get the best.

Earlier in the year I went for a job interview and sadly after the interview I spent the months before the results came out worrying, it was really bad that I started having some hormonal changes. Fast forward, I got a mail some 2 months later saying I did not get the job. My worries did not change anything; I only succeeded in robbing myself of peace of mind for two months.

iv. Every person on the face of the earth is inferior to some other person or persons.

This idea is particularly important to me because it has an underlining message of contentment and focus. The idea encapsulates that in our chosen career or profession we should strive to be experts, creating ideas and ensuring that we allow our lights shine brightly. In teaching contentment, we should be happy in whatever we have chosen to do. I am an ardent believer of genuine creativity and following our passion as opposed to rewards, the rationale behind this believe is the staircase of passion eliminates frustration and brings out the zenith of our performance and creativity and although sometimes delayed, gratification is definite. If we are focused, content and happy, it is almost impossible to feel inferior as a person, you can only acknowledge the obvious fact that the chosen area of expertise of another person is not your own chosen area as the author adequately reiterates in his book.

v. An all wise and all powerful creator will not turn out inferior products.

The main idea behind registration of Intellectual Property is for the protection of the invention or Idea of a Patentee. A Patentee is a manufacturer or the owner of an idea, the basic rule behind registration is that the product or idea sought to be registered must show a level of inventiveness in other words creativity. The Patentee is extremely proud of his creation; therefore he brands it and protects his interest in the invention. Arguably, no manufacturer produces inferior products and goes to seek Intellectual protection or brands it as his. Every branded protected product carries with it an assumption that this is the best of its kind. If we can understand this about Intellectual Property, then surely we understand that we are all creations of the all powerful and all wise creator. In showing forth the beauty of his creation, He declares that He made us in his Image and likeness it goes with no second interpretation that we are just exactly the way he is, we are indisputably perfect, functional and creative. The creator further admonishes us to show forth our light as the author rightly posits, it must disappoint Him when we refuse to shine, it will be akin to Thomas Edison looking at a man groping in darkness when there is a light bulb he can turn on.

vi. Pay attention to what you want, not what you do not want.

Most often than not we always pay attention to what we do not want, probably it is one of the most common human behavior. We take a test and spend all our time wondering what happens if we fail or we apply for a job and keep paying attention to our imaginations of not getting called for an interview or job test. It is amazing that what we pay attention to is actually what we do not want, so why do we do that? I think conscious effort is required to continuously set our minds and pay attention to what exactly we want. If you apply for a job, start preparing for the interview like you have already been invited, you have done your duty to apply there is little or nothing you can do about if you get invited or not.

vii. Happiness is a decision

I have a favorite quote I say to myself all the time; “Happiness is a decision not an attire that we put on based on when circumstances are favorable.” Earlier, I said that the vicissitudes of life happen to everyone, we have to learn to face our problems and not run away from it. It is only in facing our problems that we get strengthened and most often than not, the occurrence of problems shows us whom our friends are, our strengths and weaknesses, makes us more emphatic to the needs of others and also keeps us motivated.

Life would be extremely boring if everything worked for us just the way we wanted it to, the element of surprise would be missing. Problems can be a good thing; it is the presence of problems that springs creativity like the popular epigram that says “Necessity is the mother of Inventions.” It depends on our perspective when we are faced with problems; we can decide to see it as a call to do better and be creative or as an evil phenomenon. Personally, I can say I am a naturally happy person, yes circumstances weigh me down sometimes and I whine, but overall I stay happy.

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 have been practicing the exercises judiciously and for one I have learnt to control my emotions when faced with problems. I hate problems, am sure no one likes them but my attitude towards it was awful, no matter how little the challenge was, I get sad, lose my appetite and finally sleep for a long time and worse off I run away from the challenge, never facing it. I am extremely grateful I came across this book. Honestly there would have been no better time. I am speaking of the changes I have been fortunate to have because you cannot influence the world if you have not been able to influence yourself.

In my daily personal life, I face every day as it comes, refusing to be worried about tomorrow because I am certain when tomorrow comes, there will always be a solution. It has made me relax and my mind is really functional, I don’t spend time whining over things that have happened, I am only interested in the possible solution(s).

On my self-image, I have started the practice of visualizing yourself just how you want to be, adequate and realistic; I will say there has been a lot of progress. The vision of who I want to be wakes me up at night to study, pray, practically staying focused on the goal.

Ideas rule the world, and Ideas are gotten most likely than not when our minds are at peace and informed. I have really gotten informed of meaningful creative ideas, if for anything I can boldly speak to someone about the need for a right adequate realistic self-image, which for me is a key step in creating a better world.

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.

“We learn more from our failures than our successes.”

Failures could be extremely painful; I have had a couple of them. It ranges from failing at academics or a job, we could practically fail at anything, it just simply means being unable to achieve our expectations. However we only truly fail when we do not learn anything from our failures, our failures should teach us, in the words of Oprah Winfrey, “We should turn our wounds into wisdom.” Failing at something requires us to analyze the reason why we failed and map out a new strategy and most importantly try again.

“Men are disturbed not by things that happen, but by their opinion of things that happen.”

Most often than not, our over analysis of an issue is actually what weighs us down. This occurs a lot of times in our everyday lives, so about a month ago I went for a house search with an agent, and all the houses I saw where either not standard or were over my budget. In the evening, I laid down to think about the day’s event like I always do, and I so much analyzed my inability to get a house that day and concluded that I was too broke and my life did not make any progress this year and a whole lot of other funny thoughts.

Truthfully that was over exaggerated, the truth was the houses were not to my standard or they were overpriced. That was all, it had nothing to do with me or anything for that matter, and it was just about the house. This is just one example, a lot of times we over analyze issues and that is where the problem gets magnified and we get stuck looking at our problems and engaging in self pity, that there is no time left to actually find a solution.

“There simply isn’t any future in continuously digging into the past.”

This should probably be my best idea, and to borrow a line from the movie Frozen, “the past is in the past.” What ever happened yesterday went with the day, there is no need going back trying to fix the past, it is impossible. The appropriate response to mistakes made in the past is to focus on today and give it your best shot; everyday might not end up a perfect day. However every day is a new opportunity to be our best and achieve our goals.

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?

The idea that our self–image controls our performance in life. To a large extent, I agree with the idea but I feel there are exceptions. To my mind, I feel people are gifted differently and yes some people are exceptionally good in mathematics with little or no effort, while others really need to work hard to get good grades in mathematics. I just used mathematics but for every sphere of our lives I think it is operational.

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 exercises in the book were exciting. The first time I read the book, I wrote down all the exercises and started practicing them, most especially the exercise of trying to relax and practicing new habits. The most tremendous improvement that occurred was my worry management, it was not easy initially I felt I was living a lie, but over time it felt normal and most of what I was worried about fell in place at the right time.

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? 8
B. How helpful were the contents? 9
C. How easy was it to understand? 9
D. Would you recommend it to others? 10
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 9