18 Oct

Event: Men’s Conference

Theme: REAL MEN: Created In His Likeness

Venue: Baptist Services Centre, University of Ibadan

Date: Saturday, 8th October, 2016

Speaker: David O. Lawal




The 4/22 Experience

On April 22, three years ago, three young Nigerians from different backgrounds converged in the most famous lecture theatre of the Federal University of Technology, Akure — the ETF 750-capacity hall — to provide an answer to a single but significant question: “How can we help youngsters, who are must-be leaders, blossom into extraordinary young leaders?”

After over one hour of wrestling with all the nuances of that question, they found an answer. It was a one word answer.

“K – I – S – T,” wrote one of the trio.

He raised his head, looked into the faces of his buddies and said, “KIST!” He immediately dropped his head, picked up his pen again and added an exclamation mark behind the “T.” Then he raised his head again and — this time with overflowing excitement — chanted, “KIST!”

His buddies joined him. And in less than a minute, they had composed a single-word melody as they chanted alternately, “KIST!” “KIST!” “KIST!”

The name-r is Samuel Adeyeye. And his two buddies are Israel Peters and me — David Lawal.

Today, KIST! is a very influential organisation on FUTA campus, even off the campus. The name in full is: Knowledge, Influence, Service, and Tenacity.

The mission of KIST! is simply to continually provide “exceptional platforms to equip young people for all-round, continual development.” I am here today because God has used KIST! to beautify my life, as He has for over a thousand other youngsters in these past three years.

Your Leadership Seed and Your Fertile Field

I share that experience with you because I want you to consider for a moment that for every achievement you’ll ever make in your life, you must first sow a seed — and that’s really true. And for seeds to grow, they must be sown in the fertile soil of a productive field. For me, KIST! has been that fertile soil — the fertile soil for my leadership seed. How about yours? (If you don’t have one, I encourage you to “create” one or “join” one — and sow your leadership seed right now.)

Picture of Emergence

I want you to picture emergence not with regard to [the bringing forth of] a seed, but with regard to [the sprouting up of] a seedling. (After all, nothing significant emerges from a seed until it’s sown!)

The Pattern Lock Principle

What I hope that my talk will accomplish for you today is better explained, I think, by what I call the Pattern Lock principle. The Pattern Lock principle states: “Most young people know that to unlock an unfamiliar smart phone they must connect some dots, but when to touch what dot — and how to connect the dots — they know not.”

Today, I hope to show you how and when to connect what leadership dots — to unlock your leadership effectiveness.

Why is the Pattern Lock principle important? That’s perhaps the question on your mind. Well, it’s important because in guiding you to unlock your leadership effective, it will also prevent you from some leadership blunders, blunders like what some of our young leaders (in the KIST! Youngsters Club in Oyemekun Grammar School, Akure) did.

In February, after doing a KIST! Youngsters Personal Development Seminar (YPDS) for the OGSA boys — where we taught them some of our culture points from the KIST! Culture Guide — many of the student delegates indicated interest to join the KIST! Youngsters Club.

Just yesterday, I got news from one of their representatives that many of them want me back. (You see, I’m their mentor and I’ve been away on Industrial Training for over six months now!)

“We have some good news and some haters too,” the representative said.

Haters? That shocked me. So I asked him why they’ve got haters. He explained that many more students were showing interest to join the club, but he and the other young leaders were denying them membership — even to the Facebook group!

“Why?” I asked.

His response: “We told them that to be a member of KIST!, you have to be neat and speak good English and read when teachers are not in class.”

That’s ridiculous. They obviously didn’t know when for what.

And it’s easy for any of us to commit such a blunder. We know what leadership is — knowing the way, going the way, showing the way. We know that vision and passion and creativity and courage and compassion, and so on, are traits that every leader must possess. But when is he to harness what trait? And how is he to balance them? That’s the kind of question the Pattern Lock principle was designed to put before us every time.

Leadership Lessons from Conference’s Texts

There’s a lot of leadership lessons we can infer from the selected texts for this Men’s Conference (Genesis 1:26,28; 2:7–8,19), but I’ll just draw out three from 1:26 for you.

1. God created us (“let us make man”) and empowered us (“let them have dominion”) for significant impact. Therefore, as we pursue our emergence as young leaders, let us fix our focus on equipping people (or “making men”) and empowering people . . . by giving them permission to sow their leadership seed on our fertile field.

2. We are not designed to have dominion over people; we are designed to have dominion over everything else in life other than people. “Have dominion . . . over every creeping thing . . . upon the earth” — not over individuals or a group of people! Therefore, leadership isn’t dominion over people. Leadership is having dominion — and helping people to have dominion — over everything that seeks to dominate people.

3. Therefore, our goal as emerging leaders is never the mastery of the discharge of instruction but the mastery of the art of persuasion. “And God said, Let us make man.” Can you see how persuasive God the Father is? He isn’t saying, “Son, Spirit — go! Go and make man!” Rather, He is reasoning with them: “Let us.” Therefore, for us to emerge into real leaders, who are after the likeness of the Governor of the universe, the art of persuasion is what we must spend the rest of our life and energy striving to master — and never to master how to “issue fiery orders,” as I was trained in the Nigerian Military School.

So, those three lessons are like the three rows or columns of the dots on the “screen” of your leadership effectiveness that I hope my talk will help you to connect in appropriate order.

Significance of Emergence

Why should we even talk about our emergence into real leaders? My answer: I think it’s because our growth (as young leaders) is highly important. And it’s important that we take our growth very seriously because fullness, or wholeness, or excellence, or effectiveness (1) remains our goal and (2) is attainable — but (3) is not our present reality.

In other words, we all want to unlock leadership effectiveness, but most of us are yet to become effective leaders. That’s probably because we are not yet certain what the pattern of effective leadership is. To become effective leaders, therefore, we must first understand what effective leadership is — what the pattern of effective leadership is.

What is Effective Leadership?

In an eight-part audio series I recorded last year, I defined effective leadership as “leadership that inspires people to produce results in a way that [even] the process of producing results improves them — i.e., the people that work with you. [Or] leadership that maintains a high performing and self-sustaining team of highly motivated team players” (7 Steps to Effective Leadership, #1).

I hope that’s clear.

Now that you have a good picture of effective leadership, why not begin to strive to become an effective leader right now? That’s the next (and urgent) step. Don’t wait until you win a luxurious leadership chair. Don’t wait until you become an adult before you begin your emergence journey. Now is the time to begin to practice effective leadership.

Begin Right Now

The question then is: Why must you begin to practice effective leadership right now, and not wait until you get a leadership chair, or until you emerge into a full leader, before you begin?

1. Because effective leadership is the perfect biblical view of manhood. In our society today, the tension is always Egalitarianism vs. Totalitarianism. Totalitarians want to hold on to power and exercise full authority over people, while egalitarians pursue absolute equality in all things. But the kind of leadership that God wants us to practice is what some scholars call Complementarianism — recognising that men possess distinct competencies from women, while women also possess distinct competencies from men, and what results when these differences are cherished, are celebrated, are allowed to complement each other, is great beauty.

A complementarian like Pastor John Piper, the founder of, would argue that a man (not his wife) must provide his family the leadership and protection it needs. He’d probably quote a passage like Ephesians 5:22–23 as biblical evidence: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.” That’s God’s view of effective leadership. My next point explains one reason we must begin now.

2. History proves that effective leaders are mostly early starters. When we think of King David, King Josiah, even Christ (!), and Charles Spurgeon, who had preached over six hundred sermons when he turned sixteen and led one of the biggest churches in England in the 19th century as a young man — it is easy to understand, I hope, that effectiveness in leadership and starting early have an undeniable connection.

I recently saw an old photo on Facebook. In that photo were Bishop Francis Wale Oke, Bishop David Oyedepo and Pastor E.A. Adeboye, among others. Where were they? They were attending a leadership conference. Were they overseers then? No. But today? Overseers they all are!

The Universal Mindset of Leadership Effectiveness

Excellent leaders are effective because of how they think: “I am the Minister for Vision and Morale for this family, or this team, or this church, or this organization, or this region, or this country, or this continent . . .”

It costs nothing to think this way, does it? Yet many young leaders don’t practice leadership with this mindset. Isn’t that why they are often ineffective and perpetually clueless (of what to say and do) when in dilemma?

Think about it. Nearly every young leader talks about vision. But how many have ever considered the art of casting a life-transforming vision (which is not as simple as many think) and of sustaining the vision (which requires more energy, even more sacrifice, than many are willing to devote), as what they must master if they must attain to effectiveness in leadership?

But any young leader who desires to emerge into an effective leader — that’s you — must strive to develop the universal mindset. This “universal mindset” will enable you to master two kinds of art: (1) The art of vision casting and vision sustenance, and (2) the art of morale building and morale boosting (persuasion). And if you master these and nothing more, if all you strive to grow in is in some way connected to mastering these arts, I guarantee you that you’ll still make a great leader — because they are the essence of effective leadership.

  • Christ did all He did and taught all He taught and died on the Cross and rose to life again . . . to establish the heavenly vision, and to keep it before our eyes, and to get humanity enthralled with the heavenly vision till our final breath.
  • The Apostle Paul suffered the loss of all things joyfully . . . so that Christ be glorified and that others may be bold to proclaim the gospel everywhere and at any cost.
  • Gandhi wrote all he wrote and said all he said and went to jail . . . that the Indian people may gain independence without violence.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered great orations . . . that he may keep black American people struggling for freedom in love.

And the Apostle Paul summarised this essence of leadership, which the great leaders of all time have strived to keep central, when he wrote, “Not that we have lordship over your faith, but are fellow workers with you for your joy” (2 Corinthians 1:24). In other words, Our vision is sustained because it is shared, and my biggest responsibility is to keep you joyful — is to build and boost your morale — as we work together to fulfil our vision. That is the mindset that all effective leaders possess at its most essential core.


The PRIZE Leadership Model

When I was the president of KIST!, I had to help myself and our team of executives unlock this universal mindset. To that effect, I developed what I now call the PRIZE Leadership Model. Think about it as five (5) dots that, once you learn to connect accurately, will unlock the universal mindset of leadership effectiveness for you. (And if you want some “how to” of all we’ve discussed so far, this is it.)

  • PRODUCTIVITY — perform the task that is expected of you nothing less than is expected of you.
  • RESOURCEFULNESS — perform the task that is expected of you much more than is expected of you.
  • INTERDEPENDENCE — for example, 2 Corinthians 1:24. (The valuing of your team and people development come in here.)
  • ZEAL — you may not be the smartest on your team, but you must be the most passionate.
  • EXCEPTIONAL INNOVATIONS — you need to keep welcoming fresh ideas from your team (and yourself) and you must keep creating more platforms that express the objectives of your team, as much as you are doing all you can to strengthen the existing ones.

As you do all you can every day to grow in your productivity, in your resourcefulness, in your interdependence (with your team members), in your zeal and in bringing forth exceptional innovations, you will unlock the universal mindset of leadership effectiveness in your own life too. And you’ll become “highly desirable,” a prize to the members of your team.


How Christ Models the PRIZE Leadership Model

The theme of this conference is, “Real Men: Created in His Likeness.” In truth, our goal in leadership is: To lead in Christ’s likeness. Did Jesus exemplify the PRIZE Leadership Model? Very excellently. And I believe that some snapshots from our Lord’s leadership will put the model into perspective for us.

  1. Productivity — Jesus’ ministry and sacrifice on the Cross saved (and still saves) and healed (and still heals) a countless number of people.
  2. Resourcefulness — A few loaves of bread and pieces of fish fed four thousand men in the region of Gerasenes and five thousand men near Bethsaida, women and children not counted. Little is indeed much in the hands of Jesus!
  3. Interdependence — “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain . . .” (John 15:15–16).
  4. Zeal — “My meat [or food] is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work” (John 4:34).
  5. Exceptional Innovations — Jesus in fact achieved beyond exceptional innovations. He did (and still does) His work of total re-creation on man: “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature” (2 Corinthians 5:17).



Last year December, I was invited to speak at Youths for Christ’s camp meeting. I was asked to speak on “The Leader Within You.” In that talk, I mentioned five keys statements, some of which I think may interest you. Here they are: (1) All of you want to be leaders. (2) All of you can become leaders. (3) Over eighty percent of you — who can be leaders — will not be leaders. (4) Less than twenty percent of you will be leaders. (5) Only about five percent of you — who will be leaders — will be significant leaders. Ponder that.

My hope is that after today’s conference, you’ll ponder all I have told and shown you even more deeply; you’ll seek out means to apply them to your own life; you’ll discuss them with your friends; you’ll do all you can to pass them on to your protégées. Because I am so confident that when you do, you’ll never be able to escape ending up in the significant five percent of excellent, effective, influence-wielding, fully blossomed leaders of our generation.

Have a question? Ask below. I will be glad to respond.


BEGIN BEING: Stop Merely Dreaming; Start Seriously Being

30 Aug

Event: Youngsters Leadership Masterclass


Venue: The Polytechnic, Ibadan

Date: Saturday, 27th August, 2016

Speaker: David O. Lawal






1. Some weeks ago, I was discussing with my lovely mum. My cousin was there. The subject was my annual Excellent Youngsters Conference, the EYC. Preparing for this year’s EYC, EYC 2016, has been particularly challenging — more challenging than when we had EYC 2013, EYC 2014, and last year, EYC 2015. So, I was sharing my heart with mum.


When I was done talking, mum started to give some advice. Then suddenly, my cousin interrupted her with a sigh of deep concern, and said to me: “Why not forget about having the EYC this year? Next year is there. I mean, you are still young.”


Did he just say that I am still young? I thought for 2 to 3 seconds. Then I shot back at him, with words similar to these: “I’m still young? Wrong! You see, I read history. Many great men had started to do really great things before they turned 20. Charles Spurgeon had preached over 600 sermons before he turned 16. I am 22! Will be 23 in December. I haven’t even preached about 100 sermons yet. I’m not young. I am not very young. I refuse to think that I am young.”



Before November, God willing, we shall have EYC 2016. I dare not postpone it to next year — because I don’t think I am very young. Instead, I think I don’t have much time. My life isn’t very long. And by the grace of God, I must write books and speak at more conferences. I must make some sustainable impact on this generation before I shortly breathe my last.



I am so sad that many Nigerian youngsters don’t think or talk like that. At age 17 (plus or minus), they’re still thinking they’re too young, too small, too insignificant to begin to live their dreams and make impact. That disturbs me a lot. And I hope that no one will walk away from today’s Masterclass feeling too young to begin to make a difference.


2. Last week, I heard a lady say, “What I really want to do with my life is help poor and ignorant people who battle serious illnesses. I pity them so much. I believe I can use my knowledge of health to help them in some way.” Then she went on to mention some amazing things she would want to do. I was right beside her, seriously nodding my head and saying, “That’s really, really interesting.”


When she finished sharing her dream, I said, “That’s amazing. How about now? How do you intend to begin right now?”


She grinned. “Now? No o. I don’t know enough nau. I’m still learning.”


“You don’t need to know much. You can start in some small way. That’d certainly make some real difference,” I replied.


“Now, ehn —” she said, “I just like to eat, sleep, watch movies. Me, ehn, I noh like wahala o.”


Think about that. How many young people do you know who talk like that? And does that bother you at all? It bothers me deeply.


3. Almost every day, I ask my friends (offline and online): “How is your day going?” or, “How was your day?” The answer I get from teenagers most of the time is, “Boring.”


“Boring?” I always wonder. Then I ask: “What have you done so far today?”


Then they give a typical but surprising response: “After school, I played game, watched a movie, and slept. Now I’m chatting.”


And they’re having a boring day?! How come? How come you’re having fun and you’re still bored? Well, I don’t know.


But I know that I’m so disturbed by the fact that many young people today are doing nothing significant with their life — are indeed wasting their youthfulness — because they think they’re too young; because they believe they don’t know enough; because they’re having some very boring fun.





Ponder these, and figure them out — you surely can figure them out. And if you pay careful attention, you’ll figure them out before I’m done talking.


  • Age isn’t the ultimate dividing line (in life and leadership); inaction is.
  • Sixty-Fifteen of Significance: Isaiah 60:15
  • Apostle Paul said to young Pastor Timothy: “Let no man despise thy youth, but be . . .”
  • As he thinks, so he is. If he thinks about nothing, he’s nothing! If he thinks poorly about life, he lives poorly. But if he thinks well, deeply, excellently about life, he lives an excellently deep life well. (Many young folks don’t think — beyond academic books. And they’re throwing their life away to trifles!)
  • The earlier you discover yourself, and daily improve yourself, the earlier you’ll sense success.



Kids who never walk when they are babies may never walk well the rest of their life. Likewise, young people who will not begin to seriously practice leadership right now may never attain to leadership excellence the rest of their life.


And what do I mean by “begin being”? I’ve already mentioned what I mean as my aim for this talk. But let me remind you.

By “begin being,” I’m not thinking about “being” as a noun. I’m not saying, “Start to exist!” You already exist. No orator can speak you into existence. In fact, God didn’t speak you into existence. He went to work on you. He created you beautifully and wonderfully to be a significant member of humanity. You now exist; you exist as God’s masterpiece.


But I’m thinking about “being” as a verb. I’m thinking of being as . . .

. . . having the quality,

. . . expressing the identity,

. . . possessing the nature,

. . . fulfilling the role . . .

. . . of that very significant, and very beautiful, and very wonderful individual that God has made you to be.

So, when I say, “begin being,” I’m really saying, Stop merely dreaming about how significant, and how wonderful, and how creative you can be — and start seriously being significant, start seriously being wonderful, start seriously being creative . . . no matter how young (or old) you are!




Really, I don’t know what exactly you want to be. God knows best. You know better. Everyone else knows least; most people don’t even have any clue. And I don’t want you to think that you don’t know what you want to be.

And if you really don’t know, please don’t think that you can’t know what you want to be. You can. You don’t need any High Priest to tell you what it is you want to be. It doesn’t even need some technical explanations.

Know as first principle that you were designed for no greater purpose — created for no more specific purpose — than to glorify God and to be of benefit to mankind. Anything essentially different, even if you read it from a book on Purpose, is a myth.

Therefore, you can be anything you really, really want to be — so long that ambition passes these two tests:


  1. Will my being this glorify God?
  1. Will my being this benefit mankind?


And it has to pass both tests.


If it passes test #2 alone, then that’s not what you were designed to be.


But if you have an ambition in your heart that passes both tests, that’s it! Go ahead. Begin to seriously BE that writer, that speaker, that counselor — whatever — you want to be. And from today, always introduce yourself as I do: “Hello, I’m David Lawal. I am a writer, a conference speaker, and a youngsters leadership and personal development coach.” Let nothing stop you. Nothing at all.




I love what Jesus said: “I must do the work of my heavenly Father while it is day, because the night comes, when no man can work.” (paraphrased)

Doesn’t that sound like: “I must be what God permits me to be NOW that I’m young, because I’m not getting younger; and as I grow older, the lesser my chance gets”?

Now, let me assume that we all want to be leaders. I may not know what exactly some of us want to be, but I know that over 90% of us want to be leaders. I’m sure that none of us dreams to be a slave. True leadership is sharing in God’s nature. It glorifies Him. It benefits mankind.

My concern for about 5 years now is that most young people merely dream about leadership. Very few seriously practice leadership. But I believe that young people — particularly teenagers — must begin to seriously practice leadership right now, once they turn 15.


Why? And why must you begin to be what you want to be? Let’s answer that question — for you and for me — right now.


You must BEGIN BEING right now because . . .


1. The Law of Diminishing Intent (“The longer you wait to do something you should do now, the greater the odds that you will never actually do it”) is real.

My friend Muyiwa Ogagbayi believes that the Law of Diminishing Intent can be deadly. “It’s responsible for the acceptance of mediocrity, the loss of belief in one’s potential, and the loss of drive,” he once observed. The Law of Diminishing Intent is real! It crashes on many, many people. And it’s the reason we don’t have very many excellent leaders today. Many did not put in the effort to get off mum’s laps, stand on their feet, and attempt to walk the leadership walk, when they were leadership toddlers.


2. Once you approach age 30, you will begin to SETTLE into the most recurring pattern of your life.

What pattern of life will you want to settle into?

A life of recurring unfulfilled dreams — of thinking, “If it’s any big, then I cannot achieve it” — that limits your mind and keeps you small?

Or . . .

A life of recurring fulfilled dreams — of thinking, “If it’s too small, I won’t achieve it” — that enlarges your mind and takes you higher?


3. Those who’ve started become friends and partners to those who’ve started.

And from that friendship and partnership, transformational information, resources, opportunities (and so on) flow. You won’t get all those — even if you get them, you won’t value them much — until you have “begun being.”


4. Early starters (who never quit) shock the world.

And if you shock the world once, the world will want to hear from you again and again.

Jesus: When a teenager, He spoke — and doctors of the law were astonished. His spirit-and-life words still astonish us today.

Raymond Kurzweil: Astounded the I’ve Got A Secret TV show panelists in 1965. He designed a computer that composed music. Why he shocked the panelists? He was 17!

Youngest Rio 2016 Olympian: 13-year-old Nepalese swimmer, Guarika Singh. She won no medal in Rio. But gained media attention.

Young Pastor Ola Joseph Kolawole: News of his marriage (after 1028 days in courtship) to First Class Law graduate, Anu, on her graduation day shook the UK and Africa. 22,000+ Facebook likes and about 19,000 comments (!) to Pastor Ola’s “I Married You” post. Multiple shares and requests for republication. Friend requests. Interviews — and more interviews.

Is it now clear to you that age isn’t the ultimate dividing line (in life and leadership)? Inaction really is the limit.






What’s holding many youngsters who want to “begin being” from actually being?

  • Shyness: The self-imposed bushel that hides the light of greatness. Lift it off!
  • Love of pleasure: Excessive and unproductive indulgence with games, movies, social media, sleep, online jokes. Redefine pleasure!
  • Doubt: Related to the fear of inexperience and inconsistency. Disregard it!




(How to Begin Being?)

[Illustration of Afghanistan, American and Nigerian 24-year-olds: WhatsApp b/c]


1. Halt! Stop dreaming. Do an about-turn!

Quit leading a life of illegitimate dreams [example?] and unfulfilled dreams. There’s a life of consistent journey from fantasy to reality. Begin to lead this kind of life.


2. Always aim to complete “The Journey from Fantasy to Reality.”

The Talk-to-Walk Loop: Talk the talk. Walk the talk. Talk the walk. Walk the walk.

The rule is: Never stop talking as long as you keep walking; never stop walking as long as you keep talking.


3. Improvise courageously.

Improvisation is always a standard way to begin. (The DNA molecule model by Francis and Crick was first built with retort stands and colour cardboards.)


4. As you aim to be consistent, permit yourself to be consistently inconsistent until you become consistent.

Experiment. Take the baby steps. If you don’t walk now, you may never walk very excellently all your life. There are exceptions to this fact. But the exceptions are so, so few.

Understand that . . .

The question to ask isn’t: Will I be consistent?

The question to ask is: Am I willing to be consistently inconsistent until I become consistent?



*  *  *


On Thursday, I had the privilege to ask Pastor Ola Joseph Kolawole if he believes that starting early makes any difference. I hope that his response summarizes for you everything I’ve said thus far, and then inspire you to “begin being.” Listen to him:

Starting early is always a big plus in any venture… I started writing since I was like 8 years old. A teacher brought a group of pupils together between years 3 and 5 and formed a Press Club and I was made the editor-in-chief. That was when I started writing for people to read. (Been writing bits and pieces of short essays and articles before then. And I’ve always loved to read!)

Basically in the club, we wrote articles on centre spread leaves of notebooks and pinned them on the school’s notice board. (I remember doing a little art work to illustrate whatever I wrote on as well on the same page).

Then at age 10 (in High School), I started writing my first book (a collection of short dramas) but it got stolen somewhere along the line. At age 12, I started another book and titled it THE OVERREACHMENT (whatever that means… lol). Again, it got misplaced while I was almost done.

Then in my first year in Uni, (age 16), a friend saw a poem I wrote (which was just an ordinary poem as far as I’m concerned) … but she went on and on expressing her amazement about the crude piece. So I decided to start writing basically for her. . . . She would read and critique the things I wrote…

Then when I started reading Max Lucado books (at 17), I felt like ‘I want to start writing LIKE THIS!’ And I did start. He had a very good blend of story-telling, pun (playing on words) and fun…all with the basic element of God’s Word. So I opted for that style. And my first book was launched in 2010 (at age 19). As of today, I have 3 published hard copy books and 5 e-books. Over 150 Facebook notes… And loads of blog posts on my website. In any case, I still reckon that I’m yet to start writing and hopefully, I should start writing soon…


As Howard Thurman said, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” So, what makes you come alive? Go do it. That’s summarily how you can — right now —  begin to begin being.

LIWDOL — Lesson #6: It’s Beyond Position

24 Jul

Top of the Thursday morning to you!

I’m so glad to have you back on “Leadership Insights With David O. Lawal” (#LIWDOL), because today we’re considering leadership as it applies to us, young people. And this is how you and I are going to do it: I’ll share a lesson with you, then you’ll read it, note areas that ring out a bell to you and respond to my closing question, and we’ll strike a conversation.

You get the picture?

Smart you!

And here we go:


Over these three years I’ve been consciously into youngsters’ leadership, I’ve found something so startling. I’ve discovered that young people hardly think about leadership. It’s just as if leadership is the last thing on the minds of most young people I’ve talked to—and this has been my greatest challenge.

Many young people want to remain kids. They constantly want someone to dish the food and serve them with it. They just want to sit at the dinning, crack jokes and expect the meal. They demand, demand and keep demanding. If you test-run their minds on a computer screen, I can bet you’ll find the word “entitlement” neatly spelt out over the screen.

And that’s a problem. Life doesn’t work that way, at least for people whose desire is to live their lives at the top.

To prepare for leadership isn’t to prepare for a position. It’s far more than that. It’s not to think like a campus politician:

“This semester I’ll be vying for the position of the SUG President. What would my strategy look like? Hmmm… Aha! I must tell dad I need some cool, fat amount of money to complete an important academic project in school. When I get the money, I’ll get 8 sets of nice clothing. 5 starchables. 2 suits. 1 more native wear specially for Fridays. Then I must show a great deal of kindness too. In fact, for every campus shuttle I board, I’ll pay up for all the fellow students . . .” and so on. Then when they get elected into office, they cease all the dress-and-care drama. Why? Because to them, to attain leadership is to get into a position.

You see, my friend, leadership is beyond the position. Yes, it remains true that the symbol of leadership is its position. But the heart of leadership, reason with me, I think, is far more necessary than a mere symbol.

The heart of leadership is this: To prepare for leadership is to prepare for a life—a life of responsibility, which is absolutely sold out to the service of people. Here’s why:

• Leadership Is A Journey

Like every other kind of journey, you never see the entire part of the road—the smooths and the potholes—until you get moving. The further you go, the clearer you see. But you have a direction. That too is true about leadership when we look at it as a journey.

But there’s a slight difference between travels and the leadership journey. For a travel, you have a destination, which when reached you could text mum and dad and siblings, “Praise God, I’ve arrived!” For leadership, however, sorry to say, that day shall never come. Leadership is an endless series of life journeys in succession; some adventurous, some not so pleasant.

• Leadership Is A Process

You don’t begin today and master a game, but you have to begin anyway. There’s only one way to reach expertise: Begin practicing.

And I must inform you that it’s a slow process. You aim, you miss; you then set your finger on the trigger again and squeeze it, you hit your target. That’s what the process looks like. So I encourage you to be patient with the process, enjoy the journey, and watch what a great individual you shall evolve into if thou faint not.

• Leadership Is A Lifestyle

Let’s face this. Leadership spans beyond a mere interest for the process, it demands for consistent will. I’m talking about commitment—and leadership does have a high demand for devotion.

Commitment to a continual personal development.
Commitment to an unrepentant process for people development.
And that passion will do a lot in you, to you and through you. It will keep you late into the night; it will wake you early in the morning. It will inspire you to give your time to stimulating greatness in others, particularly your team players. It will affect you in many ways and make you a better person.

Do you now see that leadership is much more beyond the position?

Go out and live out leadership today:

Value the evolution process of leadership beyond its empowering position, because it’s the process that really sets you up for success in a leadership position. While the position might add to you charisma, it’s the process that helps you build character—the Sustainer. And excellent leaders are people of an exceptional character. Value the process: build character.

So, let’s get talking:

Do you think leadership is beyond position? How do you picture leadership?

Leave a COMMENT below and let’s discuss. We’ll treasure the privilege.

God bless you.

Today’s lesson features in KiST! Plus under #UnleashingExcellence.

I invite you to join the conversation here:

Looking forward to learning about your thoughts on lesson 6.

Have a terrific Thursday, buddy 

LIWDOL — Lesson #4: Leadership vs. Management

13 Jul

Good to see you again on “Leadership Insights With David O. Lawal”. I trust you’ve been having a fantastic week. I encourage you to read this lesson from start to finish. Some good stuff are tucked away within its lines. Good luck.

The very first day we discussed leadership, Boluwatife got so curious. He displayed such an uncommon eagerness to grow. Within minutes, he started an amazing introspection. 14-year-old Bolu, unlike many other teenagers I’ve talked to about youngsters’ leadership, had no doubt that living out leadership as a youngster is, in fact, a worthy reality—an ideal that requires every youngster’s consideration, time and effort. He wanted to be sure if he’s headed the right direction. Bolu desires to be more than a boss; he wants to become a leader.

Here’s an excerpt from a conversation I once had with him on WhatsApp:

Wojuola Boluwatife (IIC): Is a Leader a Boss?

David O. Lawal: Okay. I’ll note the question.
David O. Lawal: But let me give you a direct answer to that.
David O. Lawal: It’s obviously NO.
David O. Lawal: A leader encourages. A boss commands.
David O. Lawal: A leader influences others through positive examples. A boss instructs.

Wojuola Boluwatife (IIC): Hmmmmmm
Wojuola Boluwatife (IIC): I think I now know I am a Leader and same time a Boss
Wojuola Boluwatife (IIC): But will try to amend my ways
Wojuola Boluwatife (IIC): But can a military man be a leader and not a boss?

I wouldn’t know why Bolu asked if a military man could be more than a boss and be a leader. But I sense Bolu loves authority. Recently, I saw a gallant picture of his, which he shot with (what I suppose to be) his Boy Scouts uniform on. Well, I have put this lesson together to answer Bolu’s question, because I believe you might also have a similar question to his.

The leadership-management misconception isn’t new. It’s one conflict leadership experts too deal with. Even adults, like youngsters, ask the same question at leadership workshops—both the Whites and people of colour. So think not yourself dumb to find both concepts a bit conflicting.

To show how much concern this misconception offers the leadership world, leadership expert John Maxwell had to write a whole chapter to answer this same question in his book, The 360° Leader; a chapter he titled, “Do More Than Manage—Lead!”

“People sometimes ask me to explain the difference between management and leadership,” Maxwell writes. “Here’s my take on it in a nutshell: Managers work with processes—leaders work with people.” Maxwell understands better. He’s been leading for over 40 years and teaching at leadership conferences for over 35 years. Added to that, John C. Maxwell has authored over 60 books, most of which are on the subject of leadership. Personally, I’ve learned a lot from his books and video and audio resources. He is such a teriffic leadership teacher. But I digress.

Back to our discussion. Today, with this lesson, I hope to help you figure out the difference between leadership and management. And as a result, I hope to have you do more than manage, but lead.

Therefore, let’s face it.

You manage excellently when you…

• Set goals with your team
• Use what you have—the people and resources at your disposal—to get what you want
• Execute a project, and
• Produce results

Do you see that management isn’t really a bad thing to do, after all? Any “boss” can do that.

Nevertheless, a leader—you—should do more than manage. Luckily, leadership is only a step away from management. If you find yourself guilty if being just a manager, and not a leader, the good news is that you’re missing just one thing—though something very, very significant. Let me explain.

To do more than manage, add to your management skills an unflinching interest in people . . . and there you are!

Unflinching means consistent. A leader is therefore an individual who has, added to his management skills, a never-dying interest in people.

And, yes, Boluwatife, a military man can be more than a boss; he can be a leader. All he needs to do to portray true leadership is for him to genuinely value the men under his authority. And that’s what you, too, need to model true leadership.

Go out and live out leadership today:

• Do more than manage—lead.
• Do more than keep old standards—set new standards.
• Do more than expect change—model change.
• Do more than set project goals—set people development goals.
• Do more develop problem-solving skills—also develop people skills.
• Do more improve your product—improve your people.
• Do more than instruct—inspire.

I wish to learn from you:
What’s your thought on today’s lesson? What do YOU think is the difference between management and leadership? Or do you think they’re similar? Tell me why you think a manager is a leader.

Discuss with other amazing young leaders here:

Good day.

LIWDOL — Lesson #3: Beware of the Most Dangerous Leadership Time Bomb—Extremity

13 Jul

Welcome to “Leadership Insights With David O. Lawal” once again. I trust you had a glorious weekend.

Last week Pvt. Sina Arogundade, an Electrical Electronics undergraduate of the Federal University, Oye, commented, “The fact that you are very loving and understanding does not make you more of a leader than someone very firm and strict.” His statement got me thinking.

Private Sina was my senior back in the Nigerian Military School. He’s still in the military, while I’m out and have no plans to return. Truly, we now perceive things differently. And he’s right. Leadership is complex. It’s never one-sided. In fact, as a leader, you need to train yourself to use different strokes for different folks. Do you catch that?

However, beware of extremity!

Among your team, you’ll find different kinds of people—the good, the bad and the irritating. I’ve known certain people who are so resistant to love, however you attempt to show them that you care. They seem to demand some serious screwing. Rather than encouragement, they prefer to be instructed. Like robots, they need a strict push for them to get to work and produce results.

Let’s be honest, only a few people are like that. Very few. Love is an irresistible force. And most people will respond to it. If you choose to be a boss, push people around and care only about seeing results. Use the “I don’t care how you’ll do it” stroke with everyone on your team. You’ll never be disappointed. They’ll do just what you want—they’ll never fail to produce result, even if it means going through hell.

I believe that isn’t your goal. The reason you’re reading this is because you want to become a better leader. You’re not only concerned about results; you also care a lot for those you’re leading. During their downtimes, you want to show them that you really understand what they’re going through. You treat them like humans, not like robots. If this is your goal, then you must constantly remind yourself about this fact: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Still, beware of extremity!

Don’t overdo caring. Never be too strict. When you’re too caring, you’ll stifle the growth of your team players. You’ll be too protective. You’ll want to keep them from taking important risks. And if they can’t tackle tough situations, they will never get better. On the flip side, being too strict will keep your people on their feet always. If all they get are instructions without encouragement, they’ll burn out in the long run. They’ll lose enthusiasm. They’ll quit. And the job will crash.

As my dad often tells me, “Don’t be too bitter or too sweet. If you’re too bitter, people will spill you out and if you’re too sweet, they’ll lick you up.” So what should you do? It’s simple. Be firm + understanding.

Go out and live out leadership today: Follow every instruction with encouragement.

Have a splendid week.

What’s your say on this subject? How do you plan to apply today’s lesson? Let’s discuss.

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