That’s right, Tina Turner’s growling her hit song on the XM4s as I type this on the “over the seas” people transporter on my way back home from Kigali, my first time in the air and on the continent since November 2019.
This pandemic na wa o the way it just scattered travel. But still. I know folks who hopped on transatlantic flights during the summer of 2020 just as DeltaV was getting started with its cooking. That’s gangster stuff, traveling in 2020. Traveler is not a particularly core part of my headline—my passport may look like it, but it is not a thing for me. I do it so I can see my people, be on the ground, do the work, build the connective tissue. I don't chase it at all at all. I wasn’t one of the “I need to go somewhere else, get out of this country” folks. Now the cabin fever was real, let’s be clear. But I took the pandemic opportunity to do local stuff—explore the city and state I live in, and let me tell you dudette, I had no idea what I was missing.
Travel Fashi tee’ed up and coming soon.
During dinner one evening last week, I was having an intense back and forth with one of my MBAs. The intensity of the convo was directly correlated to the amount of liquid courage consumed. Especially as I don’t consume the spicy liquid potions. A fascinating thing about my time as a “Prof” is how many of my students are doing fabulously well. As in lifestyles and experiences that are quite fantabulous and stupendipitous (i just trademarked that word, t-shirts are $54.99 a pop). And so we are talking, me and this worldly entrepreneur and she proceeded to bodyslam me with one simple question:
“So, how can I help you, Chidi?”
I was literally speechless for a minute or so. I just don’t get asked that question. So I was caught off guard. Wait, she just asked how could she help me? Ended up that she had some serious superpowers that she was ready to deploy on my behalf. My eventual response is not the point here, what I was taken aback by was the fact that I am usually the one asking that question. Or the inverse question is one I usually get and run with.
Honestly, and sadly, asking for help…I don’t do it enough. That first born mentality is the default mode, the “opara” (or “ada”) tag that inevitably gets lumped with superhero status. Even my personal mantra underscores this, informed by Clayten Christensen’s “Metrics That Matter”:
“The only metrics that matter to my life are the individuals whom I have been able to help, one by one to become better people, the ones whose self esteem I was able to strengthen, whose discomfort I was able to assuage”.
And I will go to the grave guided by my version of this mantra, there is no compromise on that one iota.
But asking for help, I just rarely do it. Overtly at least. All these super-hero shenanigans, honestly…I don tire. Strength? Overrated. Resilience? Resilience needs to go and get a spa treatment every now and then, abeg…let vulnerability take the wheel more, now, eh? Fortitude? Ok, fine. When I put on my armor, then we'll mash the ▢ + ◯ + ️R1 buttons and fortitude all day like General Okoye and Nakia at the casino in South Korea. Until then, fortitude needs to check itself. I don’t get to vent or download enough. Actually, I do get to vent…to myself. And then of course, I do the superhero thing with myself.
Which is cool and needed. That is aloneness, sacred time with oneself that is a critical weapon for the gladiators in the arena of living, our way of staying on mission with clarity. But the more disheartening piece I chewed on after my conversation with my super-hero MBA is loneliness—how lonely it can get being the strong, resilient, fortified superhero. Many will be surprised by how many superheroes in their spheres are lonely like a sullen Batman in his Batcave. Especially these last two years. Many are probably not surprised at all, because you are wearing the ones in the cape responding to the bat signal as I type.
So, check in on your strong ones. Ask…”how can I help?” And don’t let them slide o. They must requisition your services, walai talai.
Okay. Let me ask this flight attendant for some more legroom, she may have a stash hidden somewhere. Until next.
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