For the past three years, I have used the last few hours of the year to share my reflections and learning and most importantly and an avenue to share my highs and lows and the experiences that have shaped my personal growth in ways I never imagined. As the year draws to an end, it is evident that 2023 has been a journey! A journey of additions, growth, challenges and successes.
THE YEAR IN A NUTSHELL
In as much as I am inclined to share 2023 highlights that are Food Bank related, some of the highlight might not come as a new information especially for those who are very conversant with the LFBI social media pages all through the year. On this note, I will share 2023 highlights that are more personal to me as follows:
Personal 2023 Highlight
- Beautiful addition of a bundle of joy to my family; A baby girl born on the 21st of November 2023
- Invited to join the Food Systems Task Force for the Federal Government of Nigeria to implement National Food Systems Transformation Pathway- March 2023
- Became a Fellow of one of the most prestigious communities of social entrepreneurs – December 2023
- Visited Jerusalem – July 2023
This and many more remarkable experiences and moments are the reason we can look back and say that 2023 was an incredible year in spite of the curve balls that were thrown at us.
MY KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM 2023
Key Lessons From 2023 and Tips for 2024
One of the first questions I asked myself this evening as I put together this end-of-the-year message, is what part of my 2023 experience can truly inspire and lift people up; then I realized some of them require speaking the truth. I apologize in advance if my reflections trigger you in any form but would encourage you to use it as an opportunity to reflect on the root cause of your trigger. Once we understand why we feel so strongly about something, clarity brings peace of mind.
1. Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable: We don’t grow when we are comfortable!! To grow, we must embrace discomfort. As I work every day, I have longed for a time when life will get easier but realized that life does not get easier, we only become stronger and more resilient. Don’t join an “easy” crowd if you really want to grow. Learning to be comfortable with discomfort is one of the most important skills you can ever have to live a truly fulfilling life. If you learn this skill, you can master pretty much anything.
2. It is Okay to Be Vulnerable: Why do we find it difficult to ask for help? I guess it is because we associate asking for help with vulnerability, with being weak, with not being enough. Ask for help! Vulnerability is an essential part of building viable relationships. I encourage my team members to have the mentality of a lion in pursuing their goals yet be vulnerable enough to seek help, when necessary, without being judged. Admitting that we can’t do everything, know it all, or be all-encompassing gives room to ask for help. The point of being vulnerable is sharing the authentic parts of yourself that you may have otherwise chosen to hide or keep private. Vulnerability helps the people around you become more sensitive to your needs and foster greater relationships and better understanding.
3. Learn To Self-Motivate: One of the expressions I fondly hear when guests visit the food bank is “Wow, your space is very inspiring, or this would motivate me every day to work harder” among a few other compliments. One of my favorite quotes from these is “Finish What You Start”, and this motivates not just myself but the team to do better by accomplishing and exceeding our set goals. Start by writing inspiring words on your notes and paste them on your walls, say them to yourself at each time, remember you are your biggest cheerleader so learning to push yourself every day is an important habit to develop this new year.
4. Never Stop Learning: In the words of Maya Angelou “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” We must continue to learn and develop our mind to act better, relate better and lead better. To be honest, reading is becoming increasingly difficult with our busy schedule but we must dedicate yourself to personal development. I did not set any reading goal this year because I knew it might be hard to achieve it. I decided to go with the flow but ended up reading five books which helped a great deal in my leadership journey. Of the five books the one I enjoyed the most is “Our Iceberg is Melting away” is a book every leader should read.
Books I Read In 2023
- Eat the Frog – Bryan Tracy
- Our Iceberg Is Melting Away – John Kotter
- Start with why – Simon Sinek
- Go for Gold – John Maxwell
- 33 Strategies of War – Robert Green (2nd Read)
5. Prioritize Self-Care: This year has taught me so much about myself, and every experience has aided to my growth personally. I have had the pleasure of developing through meditation, reading, prayer, the gym and finding myself. Realizing how much I love self care, and giving time for me, before the day starts. Sometimes we get so caught up on our professional lives we forget about ourselves, our inner peace, and what makes us human.
6. Step Up And Take Charge!: This may seem like a recurring theme for me but it has been a constant phrase for me all through the year. Stepping up also means to take ownership, rising to the occasion or taking charge for a task or responsibility. People are taken more seriously when they are seen as focused, responsible, committed and result driven. In 2024, I urge you to step up and take the bull by the horn!
7. Build Meaningful Relationships And Connections: From the beginning of our lives we have been creating connections with people, some are beyond our control and others are quite intentional. In the new year, I am urging you to be intentional about networking.
8. Stay focused on being focused: Achieving anything worthwhile in life requires being focused. It takes strategy, dedication, and a commitment to see things through to the end at the cost of all other possibilities. The more rigid you are with your rules of focusing and controlling your habits, the more skilled you will become at it. Let’s start now!
9. Never Underestimate the Place of God and the Power of Prayers: Our life is so fickle we need God in every form. This new year, Let’s not underestimate the power of prayer! No matter how advanced the world gets, our God is still the same, yesterday, today, and forever! Acknowledge him and let him guide you through the year.
In conclusion, I am filled with gratitude for our collective accomplishments in the journey to creating a sustainable society free from hunger, malnutrition and poverty in Nigeria. Your contributions keep pushing us closer and closer to achieving this vision and for that i say a BIG thank you for all your love, support and well wishes this year.
Here’s to an extraordinary 2024, brimming with success, peace, happiness, health, and love. May it be a year of milestones, growth, and positive transformations. Cheers to the adventures that await!
I wish you a happy holiday season!
Michael A. Sunbola