“You are the captain of your ship, the driver of your destiny, the master of your fate” (Lanre Olusola)
Lanre Olusola, The Catalyst needs no introduction.He is recognized as one of Africa’s Premier Life, Mind, Emotions and Behavioral Change Coaches who works with individuals and organizations to transition from where they are to where they desire to be.
From his Academy to his Daily Affirmations to his The Money Book to Seminars/Workshops, TV and Radio shows and of course, his social media platforms, his catalytic effect is felt across the world. His Client base ranges from the World Bank to Ebony Life TV to the Nigerian Government.
In this interview with Ayodotun, he drops several critical truths on living… Long read but worth it.
Please tell us the story of your rise, we are aware it’s been a long road. We would love to read an abridged version it.
My life is a combination of many stories but I will just share a few of them. My background, I was the last-born of 6 children but without a father from age two.
From the onset, my mother raised us all, she never remarried and she always introduced us to the concept of having a relationship with God. I remember going to church every morning with her at 6am when I was young at All Saints church, Yaba. She ensured I got confirmed early and started taking Holy Communion. She introduced me to a father and God became my father from a very young age.
And the second thing she did was to involve my uncles , my God father sand my older brothers in upbringing because she realised that I needed men around me to put checks and balances in place.
I used to be a ‘kura” (troublesome youth) so I needed serious iron- hand and guidance. That’s one story.
Another story is about changing the trajectory of life – I studied Engineering started running about 8 different businesses. In 2003/4, I was praying and God said to me: “I need to change trajectory of your life and I need you to shut down these businesses”. I was a civil engineer so I was building homes, decorating and renovating them as well. I was doing home sound systems, plasma screen and the like because it was the order of the day then. I had few franchises, a store at the Palms. I was one of the top telecom merchandise dealers in terms of recharge cards and phones.
When the banking boom started as well, I went into image consulting, I designed ties, blazers and brand for the banks. I was doing all of these successfully and imagine one day, I was praying and God gave me the instruction. So the first thing I said was “Get thee behind me Satan” but God persisted. I checked it out, I prayed and fasted and getting clarity for about six months and when I was clear , I asked him what He wanted me to do and He said: “I want you to transform lives through transforming minds”. I didn’t quite get it, so I started to pray, study and the first thing He said to me was “coaching” and then in Nigeria, there was nothing like that.
I went back to school to study coaching at multiple levels, I also studied psychology, Neuro-lingustic Programming, Energy Psychology and, that opened up a different lease of life and that was the turning point for me. I could not combine all that with Coaching.
Over the years, we’ve heard many things about “following your dreams” from numerous speakers (Motivational or otherwise) and some of us are starting to get jaded, others have not been able to follow those dreams. What is the real missing link? What are they not telling us?
It’s quite interesting that you bring that up. In everything, there is the inner and the outer game. Everything is a game and there are rules to every game. So, if I take tennis for example, there are rules. Secondly, you play against an opponent and there’s an umpire, you bring yourself to the game but before that, you must have prepared and developed a strategy. What you practice is the key. If you play against a right handed person and practiced to play against a left-handed person, even though you practiced, you will be learning what would not be applicable to the actual match against that actual player. Furthermore, what are your fears, weaknesses, limiting beliefs, terrible habits and internal challenges? If you are unaware of your internal dynamics andt that will work well for you in particular this game, it will work against you.
So, there’s no one size fits all, 10 steps to success … that’s what I find. So the missing link? Its understanding the human internal dynamics, which comprise a man’s mind, spirit, man thinking and belief, convictions, justifications, behaviour and habit. A combination of all of those, constitutes your internal dynamics. Now that is more infectious and influential in your outcomes. People focus more on what to do they don’t focus on who you are. I say there are three dimensions of existence- the being, doing and the having. A lot of people strive to have and they do what they need to do to have and that’s their working dynamic. A lot of people do and they do what they do so that they can be busy and active. And ultimately, what they do gives them what they want to have but very few people be – being the essence of which you are meant to become- Who are you? Why are you here? What is your passion? What gifts and talents were you created with?
So, the essence of your being is where you live out from and for you to have integrity, you must do what you need to do to consistently be. And that’s all, you focus on. The Doing of your being and the being of your doings so that you can have the benefit of being which ultimately becomes the habit, but you are seeking first the being, and you stay in doing what you need to do to be and the things that everyone is interested in having will be a reward to you. That’s what the reward is. You are formed based on your internal functioning but if you do not understand that internal function, you will not appreciate your uniqueness so everyone is built based on his internal function so the reason why an Apple phone is built the way it is , is because of the functionality. The form doesn’t inform the function, the function informs the form. But a lot of people focus on the packaging and the outside rather than first, understanding the internal dynamics and appreciating the form which you are created as a container to the intangible, invisible and indomitable that is your spirit and your soul. It’s the power of your spirit and your soul and engaging, activating and utilizing it- that’s the key step, the work. There’s no 5 steps, 10 steps, 10 tips that can help you, a lot of times, you have to work at it.
What does it mean to a life coach? How does it really work?
So, I have always said, there can never be a successful Doctor, Engineer etc without life. At the heart of everything is a life and the more successful you are in living your life, the more that finds expression in the work of your hands or your vocation or profession/occupation. But, people want to succeed in that profession or vocation, and so they seek the information, knowledge or the know how. Every Doctor, Engineer goes to school but where do you go to understand life and live life? No one goes to the school of life. It’s the life that is the “Koko” so life coaches are he guys that handle you through your life. They help you look at life from the 12 dimensions:
- Health and Wellbeing,
- Achievements and Goals,
- Contentment and Peace,
- Your Work/Career/Business,
- Relationship and Networks,
- Sense of Security and Spirituality,
- Energy and Passion,
- Self Esteem/Confidence and Self Belief,
- Fun, Recreation and Rest,
- Home and family,
- Relationship with your spouse,
These are the 12 dimensions of everybody’s life.
So Life Coaching helps you look at life from a holistic, bird’s eye perspective. To be come a Life coach you go to school. That’s where they teach you the methodology and the tools for helping people lead a successful life.
If we were abroad, we would have several with different niches, for instance, an executive coach to help with professional life, you could a relationship coach or a financial coach, a marriage coach, a spiritual coach but being a life coach encapsulates all of that because they are all aspects of life.
You come in and have a conversation about where you are, your level of clarity would be tested, whether you are clear about where you are going, It’s like going to the doctor when you’re not feeling well, a doctor would run tests, the same way, a life coach would run a diagnosis on you, identify the challenges and based on what comes up, develop a bespoke program for you.
Does everyone need one? If not, who needs one?
Everyone. They once asked Bill Gates, if he was going to advise people, what would he say to them? He said, “get a coach”. If at that level, he engages the services of coaches then he places a lot of weight on it. Who are we not to?
How were you able to overcome what must have been the initial resistance from the Nigerian audience when you commenced the journey of being a life coach?
Here in Nigeria, we can be quite religious, superstitious and there’s a stigma with seeing someone that seems like a shrink. People don’t want others to know what their issues are or to think that they have issues.
We created more awareness about the benefits of life coaching and helped people to recognize that coaching is not only for people with problems. If you want to be a better person, if you want to succeed and progress, if you want to move careers, you need a coach. So we got people to really get it, it has taken some time.
I remember when we started, people would ask: “Are you a football or basket or swimming coach?” Everyone understands who a coach is now.
We have another hurdle to cross though – competition from pastors, spiritual guides and leaders but the question is, are they equipped to deal with 21st century issues?
Truth is, many would rather defer to their pastors or imams, even though, some of them are not equipped. But today,we are able to train pastors and imams and equip them. Even they are beginning to see us as complementary, rather than competition. Initially, I used to get a lot of resistance, they could not understand what it was, so some would say, its new age and stuff like that. And it’s understandable because its all intangible…
You’re known to many as The Catalyst, The Coach, the Love Doctor You have been known to speak and write on various subjects ranging form Business to Love to Spirituality, is there a common thread or are there common principles across these themes?
The most fundamental thing, that I like to call the ‘’Koko’’ is that in every human belief, man creates his outcome, so, at the heart of outcomes, lies a belief. And your beliefs are based on how you see, how you think and the emotions you encourage. These influence your beliefs and your actions which, in turn, brings your result. The common thread is the belief.
You’re known to many as The Catalyst, The Coach, the Love Doctor. Who do you listen to? Who inspires and coaches you?
My first coach, mentor, therapist is God the father and the Holy Spirit, beyond that, I’ve got my own therapist an coaches that I work with. Especially, with the nature of things that you deal with as a coach, you need to offload. S I’m currently doing a Masters/Phd in the UK and it requires that I travel every other month, then, I see my own psychotherapist/coach
In the course of your work, you have met people from all walks of life, what would you say has been the most re-current problem with most of us? What are the solutions to that problem?
Everybody wants to succeed, to find fulfilment and happiness but a lot of times, I find that people focus on what they don’t want which often times attracts what they don’t want. That’s what I find is the most common thing and so, lack of clarity of what you want and focusing on what you don’t want and finding that you are going through cycles and loops of it. You can’t seem to exit and break through those programs.
What would you say are the daily habits you have imbibed that have made you successful?
How I think, what I think: my every thought is guided; my every perception is guided. My beliefs. I ensure that finish everything that I start no matter how small or huge it is . And I guard every moment. The only control that you is in the moment. The moments of yesterday create the moments of today and the moment of today create the moments of tomorrow. But the only power that I have is that of now. So I ensure that in every moment, I do the right thing. Its not easy. You have got to have foresight. You have to activate your “knower”, you have a knower and that is your spirit and it reveals things to you.
But a lot of people are not aware and don’t understand the dynamics, whether you are, Christian, Hindu etc. A lot of people call it intuition but it’s higher than that. In Christian parlance, a lot of people call it Word of Wisdom, Word of Knowledge or the Holy Spirit but everyone has it in-built. The cares of the world begin to kill it, you need to activate your “knower”
When certain things happen, I know it by the start of the day. There are days when I know God wants to reach me and I know its very ‘heavy’, from when I wake, I already know, so what I do is to be in a second, or minute or an hour.
We know the things you have succeeded at, tell us a couple of things you’ve failed at.
I wouldn’t say that I have succeeded at anything, I would say that I am succeeding because success is not a destination but I believe that success and failure are intertwined. There is nothing like failure, failure is only feedback. If I try something and can’t do it, I can see it as I can stop trying or give up or change what I’m doing based on the feedback I have gotten. Maybe, the feedback is, you can’t do it now, maybe it’s not yet time for this thing. So every attempt that doesn’t pan out the way you expect, is giving you feedback that there is something you need to do differently. A lot of people don’t take that cue, they keep doing the same thing and getting the same results.
So, failure is a gateway to successes, it’s a good friend, a gateway and you cannot succeed without failure. Success is a probability game and it means you have outperformed failed attempts and failure. The more you try and do things differently, the higher your probability of success
If you want to change your outcome, you got to change what you are putting in, because your output is as a result of your input.
Were there times when you wanted to quit this? When you thought it wasn’t working?
Many times, we’ve had different forms of resistance and backlash, challenges but I’m not a quitter and I understand that winners never quit.
Oh yes, we are all human and in these climes we live in…Nigeria is positioned to stop people unconsciously. The system itself can dismember, discourage and distract you. But you’ve got to just dust off your shoulder sand move on.
I watch soccer, series when I can create or ‘’batch’’ the time. I work out a minimum of three times a week so that takes a lot of stress off and I like good food. Sometimes I go and watch a movie by myself or even eat out alone, so I take myself out.
Please tell us a fun fact about you, something many don’t know.
In addition to the fact that I like to take myself out, I’m not afraid to try anything at all! I took a crazy ride at an amusement park abroad once, it was 15 floors up and the elevator drops suddenly from the 15th floor and just hits the ground! My wife and kids challenged me to it and forced me there. I screamed but I still did it. I can try my hands on different things.
Interview conducted by Ayodotun Rotimi-Akinfenwa