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This book contains fifty-two valuable lessons that changed my life. I am sure they will change yours too.
This book will help you make better decisions, leading to fewer regrets in the years ahead.
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As children, reverential fear is the earliest form of fear we are introduced to by our parents. This is the fear that is based on respect, such as the fear of disobeying our parents’ rules, the fear of the law and the fear of a supreme being. We also possess an inherent fear – the fear of putting our lives in danger. This kind of fear is one of the mechanisms the body utilises to protect itself from harm.
Growing up, I realised there was another kind of fear most common among adults: the fear of taking action. This fear keeps us from taking risks, trying new things, letting go of the past or leaving our comfort zone. This kind of fear kills our self-belief well before we attempt to surmount a challenge. It is this fear that holds us back and makes us accept defeat even before we start. This fear makes us say, “I can’t!”
I once heard a story of two young men who met a starved lion in the forest. The first was so fearful that he could not move, and the second was so fearful that he ran at a speed he had never run in his entire lifetime. I do not need to tell you which one of these two became the lion’s dinner. Our fear can either paralyse us and prevent us from taking action or move us to run – to take action.
Mark Twain said: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the mastery of it.” I sure know that I have not been the master of my internal fears in the past. As I mentioned in the preface, I wrote this book twelve years ago, but the fear that others – especially people I know personally – will consider this book not good enough is one of two reasons why it took me so long to publish it.
Never say die until the bones are rotten – this is the mantra of one of the most popular football teams in Africa – Accra Hearts of Oak, based in Accra, the capital city of Ghana.
I have observed with interest that several times, when the team is down by a goal and their supporters chant out the team’s song, the players become possessed with their “die-hard” spirit. They chase after every ball, launch fearless tackles and run every inch of the field to score a goal.
Though I am an ardent supporter of Kumasi Asante Kotoko, the perpetual rivals of Accra Hearts of Oak, I have borrowed the slogan of Accra Hearts of Oak and tried to ingrain their Never Say Die mentality of unswerving persistence and commitment to the achievement of my goals. None of my current successes has been without obstacles and setbacks, but I have been successful with strong will and determination. Interestingly, at several points where I almost gave up, I had to push on one more time and there, success smiled on me.
I have more goals in front of me, such as my current desire to sell a thousand copies of this book. As a first-time author, a full-time father, and a full-time computer programmer, selling a thousand copies is a massive goal for someone like me living in a third-world country in Africa. Yet, I firmly believe that it is achievable and that I need to keep on keeping on with every ounce of energy in me.
In Ghana, where I have spent the bulk of my adult life, public transport is made up mainly of privately-owned taxis and minivans, which we call trotros. Most of these vehicles carry various inscriptions either on their front or back. One morning, as I drove to work, I happened to be behind one of these trotro minivans with the inscription “Reputation is like an egg”.
As I looked at it, I kept nodding in agreement; this was one lesson my mum pumped into my head! She used to say that our reputation usually precedes us, and based on my personal experiences so far, I completely agree with her.
Have you ever been introduced by one person to another, and as soon as the one introducing you mentions your name, the other person goes like, “Ah! That’s you? I’ve heard a lot about you.”? Well, your reputation surely preceded you! No wonder the Bible says, “a good name is better than riches”.
Over the years, I’ve learnt that it takes years to build a good reputation, but only one moment of misjudgement, one moment of taking the wrong decision, one moment of folly to bring it all down. Just like an egg, it takes just one slip to destroy a reputation.
Life is full of men and women who, with just one act, lost the reputations they had taken decades to build. Bill Clinton, Bill Cosby, Tiger Woods and the former English FA chief Lord Triesman are just a few that come to mind.
I studied accounting for my bachelor’s degree, so the words asset and liability are no strangers to me. Although you’re an individual and not a business, your financial life revolves around assets and liabilities, therefore, like it or not, you need to have a good grip on what these terms mean.
The International Accounting Standards Board defines, an asset as “a resource controlled by an enterprise or individual, as a result of past events, and from which future economic benefits are expected to flow to the enterprise or individual”. On the other hand, the Board defines a liability as “a current obligation of an entity or individual arising from past transactions or events”.
While these accounting definitions are fine for the classroom, I’ve found that in everyday life, they’re not as helpful as other definitions I’ve come across. In managing my finances, I like to apply the definition of assets and liabilities from Robert Kiyosaki’s book, Rich Dad Poor Dad. For Kiyosaki, an asset is “what brings money into your pocket, and a liability is “what takes money from your pocket”. Simple!
In Rich Dad Poor Dad, Kiyosaki argues that cash flow is vital in classifying whether an item is an asset or a liability. Thus, an item is only considered an asset if it provides positive cash flow and puts money into your pocket now. Conversely, if the item takes money from your pocket, resulting in cash outflow, it is considered a liability.
Who in this world does not have a friend? Very few, I suppose, and probably, you are one of the many who has at least one friend. Oh, and before we get ourselves confused, when I say friend, I’m not referring to the hundreds of people you don’t know personally, but who are your friends on Facebook or other social media platforms. Those are acquaintances.
We usually form friendships with people with similar likes, dislikes, and interests. They may share the hobbies we enjoy, attend the same school we did, or love the same TV programme as much as we do. No friendship exists without some common cords binding the relationship.
In my case, I have found the old saying, “show me your friend and I will show you your character” to be very true. When you examine my friends, you’ll see that most of the things they like or dislike are the same things I like or dislike.
Growing up, one of the key factors that contributed to me becoming the person I wanted to be were my friends. To be honest, I was deliberate about making friends with people living the kind of life I wanted. Unfortunately, this decision meant I had to sever friendships with some of my friends who did not share my vision for life. In most cases shedding off these friends happened naturally; the more time I spent with friends who shared my vision or goals in life, the less time I had for friends who did not, and as time went on, my friendships with them gradually waned.
Music is food for the soul, and love is the greatest feeling of all. Love songs account for over eighty per cent of all music ever written, and no wonder, given the role of love in human life. For a man, one of the greatest griefs is to have not told the lady you love how much you love her, and to see her in the arms of another man.
Do you remember the first girl you fell in love with, yet never had the courage to tell her? And then, when you finally told her of your feelings, she asked, “Why did you wait so long? I’ve been waiting for you…I thought you didn’t love me.” Even worse is when it is too late, because now she’s married, and will spend the rest of her life with another man. The one true love of your life is gone forever, because you did not step up to the plate.
I have been there, and I know I’m not the only person who has been is such a situation. There are too many sad love songs that prove that there are thousands, if not millions of men and women who failed to express their true feelings at the right time to that man or woman they were madly in love with. To mention but a few, there are songs such as Should’ve Been Me by Naughty Boy, Baby by Clean Bandit, New Man and Happier by Ed Sheeran, Hello and Someone like you by Adele, I try by Macy Gray, I Will Always Love You, originally by Dolly Parton and made famous by Whitney Houston, and King Of Wishful Thinking by Go West.
Albert Yaw Opoku has extensive experience in entrepreneurship and technology: he has worked with not less than one hundred start-ups and multinational companies. An alumnus of the University of Ghana School of Business, Albert further has in his cap, international qualifications in Computer Science and in Technology Innovation from the University of Bath (UK) and Stanford University (USA), respectively; indeed, he is a man of many parts.
His passion for excellence has earned him some awards, such as becoming a Chevening scholar and a British Council Study UK Alumni Awards global winner for Social Impact. Albert is a two-time Ghanaian Professional Achievers Award nominee for the Global Young Professional of the Year and Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards.
Presently, Albert leads Hapaweb Solutions, a cloud, web and mobile application development company he co-founded and HapaSpace, an innovation hub. He is a proud father of twins, a die-hard Liverpool FC fan, an Asante Kotoko FC fan and a Scrabble addict.
The book is available in three versions: (1) Free ebook (2) Full eBook and (3) Paperback.