Babatunji Fagbongbe: “Celebrating successes”

Celebrating successes: Whilst being driven is great for running a successful business or climbing the corporate career ladder, a number of people that are highly driven often find themselves targeting the next goal straight away after a win, without taking a moment to celebrate the current win. By so doing, they lose out on the […]

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Celebrating successes: Whilst being driven is great for running a successful business or climbing the corporate career ladder, a number of people that are highly driven often find themselves targeting the next goal straight away after a win, without taking a moment to celebrate the current win. By so doing, they lose out on the fuel that comes from taking the moment to acknowledge and soak in the current win.

Often when we refer to wellness, we assume that we are talking about physical wellbeing. But one can be physically very healthy but still be unwell, emotionally or mentally. What are the steps we can take to cultivate optimal wellness in all areas of our life; to develop Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing?

As a part of our series about “How We Can Do To Cultivate Our Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewingBabatunji Fagbongbe.

Babatunji Fagbongbe is a Transformational Coach who loves to refer to himself as a recovered work addict. He burnt himself out while climbing the corporate ladder and running businesses. This led him on a recovery journey after which he discovered there were a lot of other high-flying dads who were burning themselves out to provide for their families, but not being present for the family. He works with dads to avoid burn out, improve their effectiveness, and grow their businesses without doing it at the expense of their health and/or family life.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Thank you for having me. I was born and raised in Nigeria as the youngest of 4 children. My parents were academicians, which meant that education was very important and not to be played around with. After my university education, I went into the Telecommunications industry and then moved to the UK where I continued my Program Management career, before moving into Data Protection.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

As a child, I was always curious about how things work and always wanted to fix things. I found myself opening up a few small household electrical items and sometimes successfully diagnosing what was wrong, but unable to fix the fault. I was always happy when my diagnosis was correct though, so when it was time to choose a course of study, Electrical/Electronic Engineering seemed the obvious choice.

It was the Dot com era when I was wrapping up my university education and that guided me towards Telecommunications. After a few years doing the core technical stuff, I realized my key strength was in project management and so I moved from core tech into program management within the Telecommunications industry.

Running programs and overseeing divisions highlighted gaps in operations and data management and that led me into the Data Protection field.

My corporate career experience led me into coaching and training which I absolutely love. With hindsight, I realize some of my most fulfilling days were the days when I coached and/or mentored colleagues and team members.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

Very true! For me, it was my parents. They gave me space/room to go after what I wanted in life. I found it particularly amazing, how they would ask question after question about what I wanted to do, and why I wanted to do it, and if I had considered all options. They used that process to help me make my decisions and to be responsible from a young age.

A particular example was when it was time to apply for the University entrance examination. My dad gave me the money for the application form. My mum took me to the application center. After completing the application and submitting it, my dad then asked me what courses and what Universities I had chosen.

Looking back, I found that to be a demonstration of his trust and confidence in me. And the same theme of independence followed through all of my University education and as I joined the labor market.

My mom was always there to listen and to bounce ideas off, and through the love, care and support of the two of them, I have come to where I am today.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

Fresh out of University, I applied for a graduate role in Mobil. I went through all the stages of interview successfully, and at the final interview, I was asked for my National Service discharge certificate (The National Service is a mandatory 1-year program for all graduates in Nigeria, and is a requirement for employment). At that point, I was yet to complete the National Service. The conversation went something like this:

Interview panel: Where is your certificate?

Me: I do not have it yet.

Interview panel: How do you mean?

Me: I am currently going through the program

Interview panel: So how did you get to this stage (of interviews)?

Me: I did not know the interview process would be this quick. I thought I would have my certificate by the time we get to this final stage

Everyone laughed and marveled at my naivety/guts to have “attempted” the employment process without a discharge certificate.

Interview panel: Well, go and complete your 1-year service and then get back to us once completed.

Me: Thank you for the opportunity.

For some reason, I did not realize I should not have applied for the role since I did not have my certificate yet. In my naivety (or boldness, depending on how you choose to look at it) I applied, and flew through all the interview stages because I had not been told that I should not, or that I did not have all that was required.

The lesson for me, is that we are very quick to acknowledge why we should not, or why we cannot, when in fact, we actually have a lot of things going for us and we just need to attempt or try.

My other take away was to always give people a chance (especially when I began to recruit team members) even when they did not have all the requirements.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Yes — The 7 habits of highly effective people.

It is such a great book. When I read it for the first time, many years ago, it helped me to review what I wanted in life, where I wanted to be, what I wanted to do, and I particularly loved the concept of starting with the end in mind.

As a young man, the 7 habits of highly effective people, helped me in my personal growth and in being able to achieve things that were truly meaningful to me — particularly serving and giving back, which gave me a lot of fulfillment.

As I grew older, started a family and advanced in my career, I will confess that I allowed “life” to happen to me, which took my eyes off the ball and caused serious imbalance and lack of fulfillment.

While recovering from burn-out and stress, this was one of my go-to books in helping me sort my life out, re-identifying what was important, planning and working on the important items first, setting a new direction and compass for my life.

Not only did it help with work/career, but it also helped in other areas of life (health and spiritual wellbeing).

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

“Every adversity comes with an equivalent seed of opportunity”.

This is a quote that I love so much and it’s something that I picked up from reading “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. I held on to this a lot growing up and there were several instances where life did knock me down. There were times when I could have thrown in the towel but looking for the opportunity in adversity has proved invaluable to me. It has brought me great opportunities that I would not have found if I didn’t have this concept. An example is coming out of a long-term relationship which was headed for marriage and thinking that that was literally “the end”, but it was from that occurrence, that I met my wife and we have been married for over a decade now.

Life has a way of throwing things at us to see how we will respond. When things happen, we can either react or respond. Reaction according to Zig Ziglar, is what happens when we take a medication that our body kicks against and it is usually obvious that something is not right — we are not at peace, we are uncomfortable, there may be a breakout, etc. Respond according to Ziglar, is what happens when a medication is doing good to our body — we feel better, we look better — the outcome is a positive one (even when we are still in the mending process).

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

Thank you for that question. What I’m working on now is “Present Dads”.

After burning myself out climbing the corporate ladder, I realized something needed to change and so I started searching for fulfilment and how to provide for the family while being present with the family. After turning things around for myself, I then discovered that there were a lot of other dads who were in the same position that I was previously in.

Present Dads was born out of my own experience of burning myself out, getting stressed, not having time for my family, and going through the guilt of “Oh! I want to spend more time with my family, but I still need to earn an income to support the family”.

Present Dads is about first of all celebrating dads who are giving their best for their family. And then supporting and helping dads who would like to grow their business or accelerate their career, without doing it at the expense of their own health or family time.

It is effectively working with dads who feel overwhelmed, overworked, underpaid, stuck, and unsure of what to do next or which way to go. It’s about helping them get clarity to go through that journey and coming out on the other side living a happier healthier family life. The impact of this is not just on the dads, but also having meaningful relationships with their partners as well as setting great examples for their children — the next generation — so it is a trans-generational project.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. In this interview series we’d like to discuss cultivating wellness habits in four areas of our lives, Mental wellness, Physical wellness, Emotional wellness, & Spiritual wellness. Let’s dive deeper into these together. Based on your research or experience, can you share with our readers three good habits that can lead to optimum mental wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Gratitude: This is a big one especially for when I start to feel stressed or overwhelmed. Counting my blessings and expressing gratitude for what I have (or for tasks that I have completed) shifts my focus, attention and energy away from what is not working, to what is working and/or what has worked. With this renewed energy, I am able to deal with the situation better. Sometimes, this leads to a new perspective and insight that was previously absent.
  2. Celebrating successes: Whilst being driven is great for running a successful business or climbing the corporate career ladder, a number of people that are highly driven often find themselves targeting the next goal straight away after a win, without taking a moment to celebrate the current win. By so doing, they lose out on the fuel that comes from taking the moment to acknowledge and soak in the current win.
  3. Asking for help. I used to think “Only I can do it” or “no one can do it better than I can” and all sorts of ignorant thoughts, but I have since realized that no one can do it all. We all need one another. And especially for men — it is OK to ask for help not just in your business but in other areas of life. In addition, it is OK to acknowledge that we don’t have it all worked out and there are things we do not know that someone else may be better at and able to help us with.

Do you have a specific type of meditation practice or Yoga practice that you have found helpful? We’d love to hear about it.

My meditation practice is being still and quiet, usually first thing in the morning and before retiring to bed at night. I use that time to express gratitude. Sometimes I play music and it changes the dynamics and energy of the room and the moment. The important thing for me is to create time and space to be quiet and still.

Thank you for that. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum physical wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

1.) Sleep: Fortune Magazine reports that lack of Sleep costs the United States over 411 Billion Dollars Annually. And the National Center for Biotechnology Information states that “Over 100,000 deaths can be attributed to medical errors due to sleep deprivation.

We really need to stop “bragging” about insufficient sleep as though it were a medal. According to experts, adults need 7–9 hours sleep a day, and I hear someone asking, “where will that time come from?” Well, I have the answer for you — from your screen time!

2.) Exercise/Walking: We all know we should exercise regularly but still we don’t. A great habit to develop is regular walks. If you can’t exercise, you can walk for 20–30 minutes daily and it doesn’t even have to be all in one go. I take short 5–10 minutes walks, 2 to 3 times every day. The great thing about this is that it breaks up the day, takes me away from the screen, and allows me to get fresh air into my system. This is particularly helpful for people working in front of their screens a lot. Also, where possible, use height adjustable desks or a Laptop riser stand. This ensures that you are on your feet a little more and that you are not slouching, bent over for long periods of time.

3.) Water: The human body is 60% water and needs water to function optimally. Experts recommend at least 2 litres of water intake daily. We generally tend to take more water during summer than in winter months because we sweat more in the summer. However, we need to develop a habit of taking at least the minimum recommended amount of water daily. It may be worth finding water intake buddies that you can keep each other accountable on the litres of water consumed (I have done this, and it helped). There are also water bottles with markings that can help you keep track of your daily water intake. The other brilliant part of this is that taking water makes you go to the bathroom regularly, which ensures that you are not sat down for too long.Everyone is differentso please consult your physician to know if this is right for you.

Do you have any particular thoughts about healthy eating? We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?

If we are being honest, the “unhealthy” food seems to be more readily available, is apparently cheaper, and easier/quicker to put together.

We are a generation that want everything now and quickly, and don’t want to be uncomfortable or inconvenienced in any way.

I’ll suggest that people go watch any good documentary on the effects of what we put into our bodies, to get an awakening. After watching one of these documentaries, I totally stopped eating some food items and got better educated on reading the packaging labels while shopping.

To make the difference we all want to make in the world, we need to be around and in good health to achieve those goals. This body is all we have to help us, and it needs to be respected and maintained so that it will go the long haul.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum emotional wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Time with loved ones: I find that when I have spent time with my family, I seem to have renewed energy and focus when I go back to work. For someone that was previously prioritizing work over family, this has had a huge impact on my emotional well-being. l shared this tip with one dad and his feedback to me was that when he put his phone down and spent some time with his stepson, he felt better, his son felt better and just that one act of dropping his phone and giving the son undivided attention, has massively improved their relationship and also boosted his work productivity.
  2. Laughter/comedy: it is impossible to laugh and be angry and/or stressed at the same time. We typically watch a comedy skit daily in our house, and we find that laughing together certainly helps family relations. I often try to be the house comedian and get my family laughing — I don’t always get it right — sometimes my jokes tank, but other times I’m “super-funny-hero dad”- what more can I ask?
  3. Perspective: There will always be someone doing “better” than you at every stage of life. When we compare ourselves to the person seemingly doing better, we are doing ourselves a great disservice. With all that happens on Social Media, it is easy to fall into the comparison trap, but this is not good for our wellbeing. Where you are is where someone else is aspiring to be — thinking about that helps me to be grateful, instead of feeling bad for what I do not have, or where I have not reached. It is OK to be inspired by someone else to do or be more, but never be jealous or envious. Be grateful!

Do you have any particular thoughts about the power of smiling to improve emotional wellness? We’d love to hear it.

Smiling/laughter is one of my go-to’s for stress relief. It is my daily dose for my emotional maintenance. The interesting thing about a smile is that it affects how you feel, and it does not have to be in response to a funny external activity or outcome. I practice smiling/laughing at myself and finding something funny about anything and everything. Smiling relaxes the muscles and creates a calm bubble for me. Smiling is a free and easy way to lift your mood. We should all do more of it.

Finally, can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum spiritual wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Community: I am a Christian and I love being part of a community of other Christians where we encourage one another, share thoughts, struggles and victories. There is something about the coming together of like-minded fellows that lifts the spirit and creates a connection and bond when done right.
  2. Giving: I was taught about giving from a young age and it is something I have practiced over the years. There is the giving of money to others or to charities, you could also give time, encouragement and support to another person. What I have found is that there is a fulfillment that comes with the selfless act of doing something for another especially when the other party cannot reciprocate the gesture. This can only be experienced by practicing the act of giving.
  3. Prayer: Prayer for me is the acknowledgment of a higher power/being. It is my method of expressing gratitude and asking for help when I need it. It has certainly worked for me on many, many occasions. I have had an insight and known what to do about certain situations, only after praying about it. This has boosted my spirit and brightened my life.

Do you have any particular thoughts about how being “in nature” can help us to cultivate spiritual wellness?

For me, it helps me to cherish the diverse and varied composition of the universe. It also helps me to appreciate the beauty of the world and marvel at the work of the creator — God!

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I would inspire a movement about fatherhood — That fathers don’t have to feel they need to earn at the expense of their health or family. A lot of men are burning themselves out, sacrificing their dreams and passions on the altar of paying the bills. I would love to see men allow themselves the help they need, not feel the need to “prove” that they have it all together when they don’t — ask for help when they need to, follow their passions and still keep family first. I believe strongly that this will help create harmonious homes, where kids can have positive examples that they will then take into their adulthood, thus creating a positive ripple effect.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

Oh, yes please — Les Brown!!! I love his life stories and have seen his motivational speech at Georgia dome over and over again. He has helped me believe that my dreams are possible as long as I am hungry and keep working on them day by day. Plus, I love and do motivational speaking just like him.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Link to 5 Things video:

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

Thank you very much.

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