Walking on water

A couple of days ago, I called a magazine publisher friend of mine to discuss a project I’m working on and his response took me aback. “Hey! Michael! I’ve been trying to reach you! I’m so glad you called!”

Now, I like a warm welcome as much as the next guy, but I figured that this was just the usual banter between people who haven’t spoken for a while. “Oh, really?” I said, a little sceptically, “Maybe you called while I was away. But what about email, Facebook, Instagram..?” Unperturbed, I moved on to the reason why I was calling and we had a very productive discussion, which ended in an agreement to work together on a project.

With that out of the way, I was just about to wrap up the call when Kelechi reiterated, “I was really trying to reach you a few weeks ago. I read your blog and thought it was fantastic, and I told my editor to read it as well. He liked it so much that he wanted to publish one of the posts as an article in the magazine. The only problem was that I couldn’t reach you.” Now, he had my full attention.

“Anyway, we were going to press,” he continued, “so the editor decided to take the chance and put it in the magazine anyway. He figured that since I know you, I would contact you eventually.” As the news slowly sank in, I was fascinated by the timing of the whole episode. Only a few weeks before, spurred on by a number of my readers, I had fired off a couple of emails to a newspaper that I thought would be a good fit for this blog. Nothing has resulted yet, but this unsolicited outcome coincided perfectly with my decision to seek a wider audience with an established publication. Was it just a happy coincidence or was there something deeper at work?

The Secret

My experience tells me that it’s way deeper. Some people call it ‘The Secret’, while others say that these experiences are a result of ‘favour’, meaning God’s favour, or the result of applied faith. What I do know is that such occurrences have become commonplace in my life, ever since I started to apply a set of principles. These principles are drawn from a number of sources – books, tapes (remember those?), videos, seminars and workshops – and people like Anthony Robbins, who are dedicated to personal development and the notion that we can become whoever we want to be.

Over the years, I’ve worked on improving my ability to reach specific goals and found that this particular method works for me every single time. I believe that if you really want something, you have to do more than wish, hope, plan or even pray – you have to DECIDE. Once you decide that this goal MUST happen, you graduate to a higher level of belief or faith. That certainty, coupled with action, moves you towards your goal faster than anything else I’ve ever experienced. And here’s the cool thing: as you move towards your goal with certainty, it begins to move towards you. The first time I heard that, I didn’t understand what it meant. How on earth does your goal move towards you???

Honestly, I have no idea and frankly, I don’t care. I just know that it does and it’s always fascinating to watch it happen. But, many people ask, how certain do you have to be? Well, you have to be so sure, that you no longer hope or believe that you will achieve your goal – you KNOW you will. To illustrate the difference in these levels of belief, often I use a biblical story – one, because it’s a familiar tale and two, because nothing convinces my church-going friends more than a good Bible story! The only problem is that they rarely recognise themselves in the narrative. Anyway, here goes.

Walking on water

It’s a well-known story that takes place after the ‘feeding of the five thousand’, a momentous feat achieved with meagre resources. You would think that after witnessing a miracle of such magnitude that the disciples would be quite confident in the power their leader possessed. However, in a few short hours, they found themselves on a boat, in the middle of a lake, being buffeted by the wind and waves. Seemingly oblivious, Jesus is still on land praying. When he appears, walking on the water, only Peter is bold enough to test this power for himself by asking to join Jesus on his aquatic stroll. At that point, he knows that he can walk on water – and he does – although his faith deserts him and he starts to sink. The others, like most ‘believers’, remain in the boat.

I haven’t walked on water yet, but I have walked on fire – red-hot coals, at an Anthony Robbins seminar some years ago. We were prepared carefully in the auditorium before stepping out into the chilly London air. The wood on the fire-walk had been burning for some time and it was glowing orange. Tony went first, then, one by one, we followed. When it was my turn, all I could think was, “If they did it, I can do it.” So, off I went, with measured strides, the coals crunching under my feet. I emerged unscathed and, unlike Peter, I didn’t need the help of the Master or the emergency crew standing by.

That was the beginning of my understanding of that higher level of faith required to achieve extraordinary things. Since then, I’ve proven to myself, over and over again, the power of this simple process – decide, move towards your goal, know ‘it’ will happen. That ‘it’ doesn’t have to be too narrowly defined, like a sum of money; it can be a lifestyle goal that contributes immeasurably towards your happiness, even as you discover new and wonderful things on your journey.

Testing the theory

That’s exactly how I came to be in Calabar, Nigeria. For years, I had dreamed of living and working in different countries and I envied the expatriate consultants I saw living ‘the good life’, contributing to developing countries and enjoying great weather and new experiences. Later, having learned this principle of ‘move towards your goal and it will move towards you’, I decided to put it to the test. After all, what did I have to lose? Already, I had tried traditional goal-setting, routine career planning and good old-fashioned praying.

So, I decided. Then I declared it. “By next year,” I told anyone (supportive) who would listen, “I’m going to start travelling a lot more and working with clients abroad.” Then, I started moving towards my goal with purpose. I pulled out every business card I could find with a foreign address, mostly collected on trips to the USA for conferences, and started calling and emailing. I got myself back on the mailing list for events at the Jamaica High Commission in London; something I had abandoned a couple of years before. Finally, I talked to my clients with foreign head offices to scope out opportunities. Nothing came of any of these efforts and the year ended as it began.

The proof

And then, something amazing started to happen. In January, a London-based client who did no overseas business called and asked for a favour. She was short of her target for a government-funded trade mission and needed me to attend, to make up the numbers.

“Where’s the mission to?” I queried.

“Paris,” came the reply, “you would be doing me a really big favour.”

“Oh, alright then. Why not?” I said, trying to sound nonchalant. The truth is that, in a career of over 20 years, no one apart from a previous employer had ever paid for me to travel abroad.

And so it began. Some weeks after the Paris trip, the phone rang and an Australian-sounding lady introduced herself, saying, “We’ve never met but I’ve been asking around for a PR professional who knows Jamaica and the Jamaican diaspora in the UK, and your name keeps coming up.” The wonderful Judy McCluskey invited me to her office and within half an hour of meeting, she declared, “We need to get you on a plane.” Within weeks, we had prepared and delivered a PR pitch to the Jamaica Tourist Board in Kingston, and had won the bid. As part of the team, I had to take British journalists to the island at regular intervals.

By the end of that year, I had done so many trips that I decided to forego my usual Christmas visit to Jamaica. After all, January was cheaper for flights and I wasn’t exactly missing home. With just a week to go before the 25th, I got a call from the London Notting Hill Carnival office. Apparently, there was a carnival in Nigeria that had sent an invitation and I was the only director that hadn’t declined yet. Having already told my wife that we wouldn’t be travelling, I didn’t think I could get away with it. So, there had to be two tickets – and there were. That was my first visit to Carnival Calabar and the beginning of another fascinating chapter in my life.

Just over one year later, another unsolicited invitation, another pitch and another contract. Now I had to be in Calabar every month for a week or two as a tourism consultant, and in Jamaica 3 or 4 times a year. Nothing I had done seemed to have worked but somehow I had surpassed the goal I set for myself. Inexplicably, the goal had moved towards me. That was all the proof I needed. I knew that it worked.

Sometimes, when things get tough, I am reminded of how I came to be here. When I’m at my lowest ebb, I manage to remain calm. I remember to smile and be gracious to others. I still choose to give, even when it feels like I have nothing left. Those who know what I’m going through wonder how I weather the storm.

Here’s how. If you believe, I mean really believe. If you are certain of the outcome, regardless of the prevailing circumstances. If you’ve seen it done and realise you can do it too.

You can walk on water.

 

For my Nigerian readers: see the August 2015 issue of Style Mania magazine for the article ‘Self-hate: real or imagined?’ Otherwise, the original post is available on this blog. 

34 thoughts on “Walking on water

  1. Michael, mi son, I’m so proud of you, your achievements and above all, the way you have adopted such a positive life philosophy. So much to learn from you. Believing, really believing is challenging but you are living proof that it can be accomplished. So now you are a published writer…congrats…there is so much more to come including that book of Essays…Love, Clover B.

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    1. Thanks a lot. It feels good to be appreciated. I’m going through a few challenges right now, but I’m so excited about the outcome. I realise that I’m growing because I’m enjoying even the tough times and I’m working on quite a few things that will take me to another level. Next time we sit down for a chat it will be fun to discuss some of these things. Keep well. M xx

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  2. Yes Michael as my mother would say to me, “to whom God bless no man curse”. Your journey is fascinating to read. I hope you enjoyed and still enjoying your journey because at the end, the journey is where you will realize you had all your fun, experience and memories. Setting goals and go after them is telling because I am a procrastinator. I remember spending around three weeks travelling to an back from work where a story came up in my mind. It is strange because throughout those days of commuting it was as if I was in a trance or dreaming because I had no consciousness of my surrounding. It was all about deep concentration on the story, the plot, the various characters and their personal experiences. I started to do something about it and yet to go much farther. It was an experience I never had before and yet I did not continue and complete the ideas that came to my mind from that three plus weeks of deep sub-conscious thoughts. After reading your experiences I think I will make an effort to complete it. I told a few friends about the first chapter of the book and they seem to find it fascinating and yet I somehow have not pass the procrastinating stage of that journey of my life.
    Willie, Continue to write because you actually challenge others mind without you even realize it. Being an inspiration is a blessings, keep writing your blog.

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    1. Thanks Taylor, this means more than I can express. I would encourage you to do whatever your heart wants. Don’t worry about the outcome, because whatever happens will be better than ‘what if’. They say that at the end of one’s life you don’t regret the things you have done as much as the things you haven’t. This is one of the things that drives me – a fear of saying “I could have”, even though I didn’t. Don’t let that happen to you. I appreciate the encouragement. Blessings.

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  3. Willy,
    Another inspirational piece. Regardless of our station in life, we can take many positives from your latest blog. I think the challenge for many of us is not to “decide”, but “really decide”. The kind of decision that drowns the naysayers and squish that annoying tick in our head that questions our real ability to achieve at the highest level.
    While my life experiences confirm the power of prayer, it also confirms it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Many of our accomplishments have been borne out of desperation when a “decision” was made for us. This blog is a reminder of the power of positive thinking and living, which clearly builds confidence, of which you have an abundance.
    Congrats on the publishing and continue to figuratively, “walk on water” my Fortis brother.

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    1. Thanks Adolph, I always look forward to your insightful feedback. What’s that saying? “Prayer without works is dead”? I’m not good at passive prayer. I prefer to challenge myself to have faith in ‘things not seen’ because it stretches me to the limit and gives phenomenal results. The best part is the excitement of not knowing the end of the story, even when you know it’s going to be a happy ending. Take care.

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  4. Michael thanks for pointing me to your blog. Your story resonates very well with me simply because it sounds all so familiar. It was no accident that we’ve reconnected after a more than 20 years hiatus. Our paths and experiences are so similar that it seems surreal: I mean we’ve both moved from Jamaica to Uk (met up in Brixton), to Nigeria…come on, what kind of coincidences are these?!!
    Your story has rekindled my resolve to persevere through the current hardships and to remain focus on that tiny little light that beckons from the end of this tunnel. Nigeria is full of promise and great opportunities for those who care to leave the creeks and logoons of their present stagnant situation to venture out into the wide deep ocean of possibilities and promise. Keep the faith bro.

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    1. Thanks Michael, I’m glad you liked it. You’re right, there is a purpose in everything – I guess we’ll have fun finding out exactly what this one is! Please click ‘follow’ to get regular notifications. Blessings.

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  5. Hello Michael, i read all your posts religiously. And i dare say I find all of them really thought provoking and inspiring.
    I remember you told me the above story on how you came to stay in Nigeria a while back. Am glad you posted it today, as I really needed to read something upbeat. As my curatorial programme in Venice comes to an end in less than 2 months, it’s time to make decisions. And this blog entry definitely helped. Wish you so many successes.

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    1. Hey Salima, it’s great to hear from you. Thank you so much for your support. I’m glad that you’ve found inspiration in this blog. Sometimes when I write, I end up inspiring myself! Just make sure that you have a clear picture of what you want to achieve and then decide. I’m sure you’ll end up doing something really exciting. See you on the next blogpost!

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  6. Mike. Always a pleasure to read you. Your journey of faith rings true. It is simply inspiring. So inspiring I will have my daughters read it this weekend. I see Mike I will be glad to read your book

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  7. Napoleon Hill calls it a “burning desire”-that deep resolve that allows us to conspire with the universe to achieve our goals regardless of our circumstances. And you are living proof that it does work! Congratulations on being published and thanks for sharing. I enjoyed the piece. It was an uplifting way to start the day!

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  8. Another interesting and inspiring piece Michael. I needed this today as I have been thinking about a few decisions. Thanks for this.

    As always, when I miss you and your talks, I visit your blog 🙂

    XX

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    1. You’re very welcome, Sharon. Decision time can often create anxiety and stress. Welcome the fact that you have choices. After evaluation, choose the one that you can commit to fully with passion, as that is the most likely path to success. I never worry about you because of the value you bring to each situation. You’ll be just fine. xx

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  9. Michael, Michael what a deep and meaningful article. It’s heartwarming when one meets fellow-travellers and more so when it’s someone you have known for a lifetime. Though I have always been sceptical of motivational experts such as Tony Robbins I do recognise that their ideas work for many. Also, I do recognise the efficacy of these ideas but from a spiritual perspective. Faith is a powerful thing that can indeed move mountains. I like my mother and grandmother before me have learnt one of life’s most precious lessons, to expect the very best even in the worst of circumstances. I recall my mother saying that whenever she encountered disppointments in the plans she made, her experience was that Godd always brought her something even better. This brings about peace in any storm…True faith indeed. I believe you are on the initial step of a major change in your career and fortunes. I wish you all the very best of God’s blessings in your endeavours.

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    1. Always good to hear from you, Charles. As my longest-standing friend and brother, you know where we started from.

      I don’t think there’s any reason to be sceptical of Robbins – he’s more of an elite performance coach, than a ‘motivator’ and has done more for the science of personal development than anyone else. It’s based on the same spiritual principles we embrace but he’s made it more accessible, scientific and predictable.

      Anyway, you’re right about one thing; I’m definitely on the threshold of another level. They say that it’s always darkest just before sunrise, so I’m really excited about what’s going to happen next.

      So glad you’re back on your feet!

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  10. Wow
    I’ve never heard of you before Micheal but just saw a comment on a friends Facebook and clicked into your page and saw this .

    Sometimes I hate social media sometimes I love it like now as it brought me to this blog .

    This was such a powerful timely read for me. I’ve been hearing lots of people in my company (network marketing) saying nothing happens till you “decide”
    I always thought I had “decidied” and nothing was happening

    However after reading this blog and your narrative of the walking on water I get it now …. I totally get it and understand.
    Loved reading about your journey on this blog would love to read and share more of your work on my social media
    This was fab

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    1. Hi Rahana, it’s really lovely to hear from you. I love the way you found your way to me and feel quite humbled by the effect this post has had on you. Like you, I always thought it was enough to be ambitious and to work hard, but I totally underestimated the level of belief required to act as if my objective had already been achieved or as if success was inevitable.

      Please feel free to read other posts in the blog. You will probably connect with ‘Courage in the face of fear’, ‘Never give up’ and ‘Don’t let anyone write you off’, as they all focus on this area of self-belief.
      Go to: https://fromkingstontocalabar.wordpress.com and let me know what you think about the other posts. I’m totally happy for you to share them with your contacts. Blessings.

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  11. Mr. Mike, I read through your piece hoping it doesn’t end soon due to how fascinating your journey was. Please bear this in mind that ‘Tough times don’t last, but tough people do’ Your diligence & humility will definitely take you to higher heights in life. Remain blessed Bro.
    DANIEL IKARA

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    1. Thanks Daniel. Sometimes you don’t realise how fascinating your life is when you don’t take time to reflect on the challenges you’ve overcome. As African-American Christians like to say, “Sometimes I look back and wonder how I got over”. Thanks for the encouragement – I’m excited about what lies ahead.

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  12. Hi Michael,

    Thanks for sharing this and congratulations on having your work published – the world needs to hear your ‘voice’!
    I’m moved to tears reading and connecting with the message (and the responses) – very powerful.
    A few years back my ex was going through a really rough time and wanted to attend the Unleash the Power Within event. I supported him and he went – I was too cynical at the time – suffice to say, I wish I’d gone too. In fact, this post has encouraged me to go to the next one!

    Self-belief is so hard, but your writing is as honest as it is convincing that it makes me believe you. Definitely will read the other posts that you’ve mentioned above.

    Have a blessed day.

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    1. Hi Iola, nice to see you on my blog! I’m a bit of a cynic too, hence the importance of me proving these principles for myself. Self-belief and faith ‘in things unseen’ are very hard because of how we have been socialised to accept ‘reality’. It took me a long time to accept that you can create your own reality.

      For example, during a recession, while many people are suffering others are getting richer. Or, when the stock market drops, some people are jumping out of windows while others go on a buying spree. Before you go to a Robbins event, why not get a book or DVDs? For a lot less money you can try out the principles and see if they work for you. You’ll learn a lot about how much more you are capable of. Let me know what you think of the other posts.

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  13. The world definitely gives way to a man who knows where he is going. This is the power of a vivid imagination and acting with definite purpose. Wow! Read about Tony Robbins hot coal sessions. Glad I finally met someone who’s experienced it. Hope to too some day…

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    1. Yes, it was an amazing experience but nothing compared to the feeling you get when things start to show up in your life, conforming to your will. Don’t wait for a fire-walk; begin to test the power of the universe by exercising your faith in things unseen. Decide on what you want and then start doing all the things necessary to achieve it, as if it were a certainty. Then watch for all the help that will appear. Just make sure you don’t have a fixed idea of how your goal will be reached – that used to be my mistake!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Thanks Michael for sharing. Very inspiring too. That is often the result when faith is garnished with organised work. As they put it ”Tough times don’t last but tough people do”. I see your faith, organised work and resilience taking you to higher grounds!

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  15. “For years, I had dreamed of living and working in different countries and I envied the expatriate consultants I saw living ‘the good life’, contributing to developing countries and enjoying great weather and new experiences.”

    I just had to laugh a little bit at this. As one of those expats living “the good life” I can say with confidence that that good life takes an awful lot of hard work, patience, teachability, language and culture learning, patience, adaptability, networking, patience, and… did I say patience?

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    1. Hahaha. Of course. It seemed very glamorous to me from the outside but is quite different now I’m here. Having said that, I realise that my experiences are quite ‘shielded’ compared to the local population. It does take an enormous amount of patience but it has increased my level of gratitude for the life I lead. Take a look at ‘Just another Naija day’ and see if my patience has been tested enough!

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