5 August 2018

Hafiz Adewuyi

Hafiz's Man of the year 2018

I've chosen the man of the year based on how much I've been inspired to become a better version of myself, mainly by observing and interacting with this person. His name is Lukman and he is my colleague at Access Bank. He's been on his annual vacation from work now for two weeks. And for someone that prides himself in not being one to miss people, there's been no working day that has passed in the past two weeks that I've not felt his absence.

I will now go ahead to talk in detail about some of the remarkable ways in which meeting Lukman has helped quicken my steps on the journey of self-growth, even though he's never really advised me.

Lukman gives so freely and says yes every time (well, almost every time)

I had a lot of horrible nicknames back when I was in secondary school. The one we'll be remembering today is "Stingo" (pronounced Stin-Joe). It's derived from the word: "Stingy". Yes, ending any word with the letter 'O' was a mainstream way of deriving nicknames back then. 

Even as I type that name now, I can hear Dolapo Abdul bellowing that name at me. It brings back bitter-sweet memories of that fateful evening in Ijanikin when I was publicly humiliated for refusing to allow a classmate get in-front of me on the queue for dinner - moin-moin and garri.

A classmate, who in my best guess was Dolapo Abdul had arrived at the queue a few minutes later than me. He must have studied the queue for at least, a few seconds before he noticed a familiar face (mine) who could help him shunt the humongous dinner queue. It was a frequent occurrence at the dining hall for food items to get exhausted prematurely and for no alternative arrangements to be made for the people left on the queue. His instinct to shunt the queue was one I could very much relate to.

Dolapo approached me and asked for a spot in front of me on the queue. Without thinking twice - in the manner in which I had become fairly infamous for - I said "No" to Dolapo with a straight face. From experience, he must have known there was little chance of him persuading me to change my mind about letting him into the queue. And so the vengeful kid that he was decided to go for shaming instead. He chanted at the top of his voice: "Stingo, stingo, stingo". And before I could say my name which is not that much of a mouthful, more than a handful of our classmates had joined in this chant.

The chant grew louder and louder and at one point, one of the boys decided to take it a step further. He hit me from behind with his hand, on what part of my body I cannot recall. This was all the encouragement the other kids around needed to teach me a long-overdue lesson. I received slaps and knocks from more directions than I could keep track of. I was massed for saying no. I think I might have cried.

My stinginess was a badge I had worn with honour for quite a while before that massing event. Stinginess was my way of responding to the scarcity of necessities I had to live with at that tender age. I instinctually wanted to have control over the depletion rate of my limited resources and sharing them freely with other people just created a degree of randomness that I either wasn't equipped to or ready to fit into my resource management framework. So, I made a deliberate decision that seemed fair at the time.

I looked to my Danfodio house roommate, Kamji, who never camped (begged for things - mostly food items - from other people) for inspiration. He's one of the earliest personifications of self-sufficiency that I ever encountered in life, if not the first. I decided I was going to be like Kamji, and that from that point on, I would never beg for stuff from any of my classmates ever again.

But no, this was not just about being self-sufficient like Kamji. Not at all. It just happened to be the crutch I would need to have handy when anyone attacks me for always saying no to their camping. After all, if I've never asked you for anything, I don't owe you anything and you can go and hug a transformer if you feel offended when I say no to you. Because I still won't ever need you anyway. My genius resource management masterplan was born.

I've grown several folds in all dimensions since the 15 years ago when I made the decision to be stingy so I could manage my resources effectively. But this well-practised scarcity mindset still has a strong network of roots in my psyche. Till date, it takes little effort for me to come up with a self-satisfying reason for why it's okay for me to say no to someone's request of me. I'm a 15-year request-declining expert, remember? A wariness of being taken advantage of is an ever-present component of my decision-making to this day.

Encountering a man like Lukman has encouraged me to start on a path to recovery from these deep wounds I unwittingly inflicted on my psyche. Almost every Monday morning since I resumed work at Access Bank, Lukman would bring in enough snacks to go round everyone in the office. I've never heard him ask for anything in return. And even though I currently earn significantly more than he does at work, it was a reality I struggled for a while to accept that someone could willingly decide to give this much value away so consistently without ever explicitly asking for it to be returned.

When Lukman is in the office, I always make a small trip to his desk to take a few delightful sips from the bottle of smoothie he brings to work every day. He never as much as flinches when I do this, and I know that I can go for as many sips as I want and he would allow me. I exercise restraint knowing that if I were to be in his shoes, I probably wouldn't allow anyone else a single sip of something I enjoy so much. It's almost as if he doesn't have a sense of possession, something I find it hard to relate to but deeply admire and aspire to.

I've told Lukman quite a number of times that I wish I could be like him. I wonder if he knew I was this serious about it. If I do something especially kind for you that means me parting with some financial value directly or indirectly, there's a good chance that I thought: "If Lukman can, why can't I" before allowing myself go ahead with that action.

Lukman has diverse interests and explores them actively, despite his full-time job

A few weeks after resuming in Access Bank in November 2017, I walked up to Lukman after a high-level meeting that ended at 8pm on a Monday evening. Being the new guy in the office, I was still just getting to know everyone. On reaching him, we exchanged greetings, after which I went ahead to ask him what he does for the bank. His response was pretty vague but being genuinely curious, I probed further. Before the end of our descent down the 16 flights of stairs to the ground floor of the Danmole office building that night, I got to know that he's into graphics, photography, videography, animations and all that jazz and that he's the go-to person for creative design tasks at the division we both work out of.

Over the next couple of weeks, I would come to learn that he's also into farming, writing, script-writing, cuisine, investment, fitness and fine-dining. And those are just the ones I'm aware of. How can one person have all these interests and actively pursue them on a regular basis? Does this dude live in the same world where some people won't stop complaining of boredom and limitations?

When I consider Lukman, I feel quite ashamed of my tendency to let my interests and ideas lie fallow. I see clearly than I ever have that there is still a lot more room to be deliberate about seeing what I can make out of my inclinations and ideas. To give my interests and ideas a better chance at life than I currently do.

Lukman is my non-relenting gym buddy

There's really not much to be said here. Plus I'm also tired of writing. Lukman has been my one and only consistent gym buddy since I returned to Lagos last October. If not for him, I don't think I would be as consistent as I am with my deliberate fitness activities today. Most of the exercises I do in the gym today, I learned them from him. He's like an infinite reservoir of knowledge who helps make working out a little easier for me by researching the exercises beforehand.

When I ask him what his goal is, he tells me he's training to run in the Olympics. Noble, innit? When he says this, I always go ahead to offer him without his asking that I'm only working to earn my invite into the exclusive pepper-dem club of muscle-wielding men. I am, after all, just a simple man.

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Write comments
6 August 2018 at 05:55 delete

Very interesting read. Lukman has also inspired me via this blog post. The more you give, the more lives you touch. Well done.

2 October 2018 at 03:43 delete

i realyy wish to exchange with you on the Google DLP.
here are my contacts
wattsap number: +237691794600

23 February 2019 at 07:02 delete

This is so inspiring.. Keep the fire burning Hafiz!

2 August 2019 at 11:24 delete

You are our mentor keep it up.

2 August 2019 at 11:28 delete

Hello Mr. Hafiz, I wanted to engage an exportation business such as agricultural products. E:g like Bitter kola, Ginger and so on. Pls can you help me to find sincere and honest buyer across the globe.