Lines From Barnabas

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Author: Alex Okoh

Publisher: Kr8tiv Krest Ltd (+234(0)7098008924)

Reviewer: Goke Ilesanmi

This book is thematically about how managers and leaders can motivate employees in the workplace. The use of the word “Barnabas” in the title is just to stress the need for every organisation to have corporate catalysts that are like the Bible Barnabas. Corporate catalysts are those who influence others to think effectively and generate positive results in the workplace. Therefore, this text entitled “Lines from Barnabas” could not have come at a better time.


Alex Okoh, author of this text is the managing partner of Ashford & McGuire Consulting. Okoh has diverse experience in banking and consulting. He was the managing director/CEO of NNB International Bank Plc, Nigeria from 2001 to 2005. Okoh holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology from the University of Benin, Edo State, Nigeria and Master of Science degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria. He is an alumnus of the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Programme.


Okoh says challenges of life require more than just physical attributes and capacity to overcome. He adds that he has discovered that motivation or emotional composition is also a critical factor in successfully navigating the undulating terrain of life, in a way that brings about internal harmony. Okoh stresses that, however, it is surprising that this intangible but critical element is not accorded required attention to underscore the immense catalytic role it plays in bringing issues into the relevant perspectives for appropriate action.


This author says when he was appointed managing director/CEO of NNB International Bank Plc that was in need of urgent turnaround in 2001, he soon discovered that the more he gave to achieving success, the more frustrated he became, to the extent that he felt like giving up. As a way out of the seemingly insurmountable challenge, he says in 2002, he started sending electronic inspirational messages to the entire staff of the bank every Monday morning. Okoh adds that this strategy worked wonders as employees were extremely motivated to work for the organisation.


This author says in 2004, he extended the audience beyond the organisation and modified the text messages accordingly as he realised (and still realises) that issues that many people had (and still have) to contend with were (and are) beyond professional vocations and engagements. He expatiates that as the text messages started posing the challenge of storage, he had no option but to quickly document them in a book form. The result is this book.


Structure-wise, this text is segmented into 100 chapters. Chapter one is entitled “challenge the challenges”. Here, Okoh asserts that calm seas never produce good sailors. He adds that for a good reason, he believes that because easy circumstances hardly produce tough competence. The author expatiates that brilliant military commanders are usually those who have handled arduous engagements and have many times overcome them. Okoh emphasises that the key distinguishing factor is that irrespective of the outcome of the engagements, they come out of the experiences with lessons that are valuable for future occasions.


The author says naturally, we mostly despise discomfort or any harassment of our pleasant spaces, preferring the softness of the calm to the rugged aptitude that is endowed as we acquire the capacity to deal with the turbulence. In Okoh’s words, “The creeks may be calm, but they can only produce canoe paddlers. The tough ocean is the crucible where rugged sailors are groomed.”


Chapter two is based on the subject matter of staying motivated. Here, the author says you probably have seen the television commercial showing a toddler taking her first unsure steps in life in response to the fascinating attraction of a ringing phone. Okoh educates that this is motivation. He stresses that this is emotion generated and which leads to efforts to do something otherwise thought to be impossible or not previously attempted. Okoh adds that motivation gives people the impetus to walk away from their fear towards their desirable destiny. The author illuminates that God also places mobile phones with fascinating ring tones urging us to walk away from our fears.


In chapters three to twenty, Okoh beams his analytical searchlight on concepts such as keeping on; standing strong; being refreshed; will and ability; turning the tide; positive attitude; being renewed; just moving on; and getting purpose-driven. Others are: picking your reality; pushing the lid; joyous melodies; flowing with his tide; getting persistent; staying occupied; being expectant; source of greatness; and words capable of commanding destinies.


Chapter 21 is christened “lean on Him”. Here, Okoh says every event in life portends a potential learning experience. He adds that even the ones that are not so pleasant still help to bolster our preventive or defensive mechanisms to handle similar situations in the future. A new day therefore presents a fresh platform for reinforcing one’s positive experiences while seeking new ones, stresses the author. He says as we progress in life, our sorting mechanisms become sharper tending to spot issues that portend possible negative outcomes before they bud.


In chapters 22 to 40, Okoh X-rays concepts such as slowly steadily; existential questions; it is your script; only His time matters; feeling unsecured; opportunities within thorns; setting aside excuses; waiting for destiny; and importance of today. The remaining concepts are: keying into His grace; being led; at your pace; beyond your experiences; He is always persistent; tuning upwards; stepping off; restoration time; seeing the positives; and God is everywhere.


Chapter 41 has the thematic focus of optimism. Okoh stresses the need for you to be looking forwards to an exciting future with a lot of optimism. He adds that this is the frame of mind that looks beyond any difficulties because as the saying goes, “an optimist looks for the opportunity in the difficulty, whilst a pessimist looks for the difficulty in the opportunity”. Okoh asserts that it is quite rare to see an opportunity presenting itself alone without being clustered by perceived difficulty.


In chapters 42 to 60, he examines concepts such as it is over; strength for the race; riding the flow; nesting in His ability; it is just around the corner; winning attitude; seizing the season; desiring success; and working for good. Others are: pursuing the dream; a life of service; failing to plan; divine tools; choosing your growth; your heart; being diligent; soaring on hope; making the immediate count; and pressing forwards.


Chapter 61 is entitled “go after the goal”. According to Okoh, it is a new opportunity to engage your aspirations. He stresses that someone said the American constitution only guarantees pursuit of happiness, but that you have to catch up with it yourself. The author asserts that this is a situation that many people can identify with and he guesses this is as much why you are up in the morning, trotting your path of endeavour. Okoh says for as long as there is movement along the right direction, success is a matter of time.


Okoh discusses in chapters 62 to 80, concepts such as the verdict being yours; starting out; challenges building you; sharpening your vision; all capable of getting well; assurances of replenishment; remaining upbeat; it is pouring; and walking with insight. Others are: idea capability; listening attentively; simply trust enough; sustaining tempo of aspiration; stepping over temporal bumps; God as being faithful; things not yet seen; reaching for the jewels; it is all in your hand; and living your potential.


Chapter 81 is based on the subject matter of vision and dream. Okoh says the future is pregnant with a whole new set of possibilities. In his words, “People talk about vision and objectives sometimes with the perspective of some utopian, unachievable ideals. I think that is not the purpose of the exercise because any dream that cannot be realised is probably not worth having. It may actually produce more emotional pain than relief and cause what you may call negative motivation.”


In chapters 82 to 100, Okoh examines subject matters such as age and mileage; the treasures being within; hope sustaining life; appreciating life; finding your turf; unfolding His awesome; envisioning the future; the learning curve; and preparing for opportunity. The remaining are: victorious disposition; your talent; in the midst of uncertainty; importance of His report; tough times; opportunity in disguise; defeat starting from thinking; regardless of your experience; taking the positive; and His reverence.


By way of stylistic appraisal, this text is unique. Okoh employs the literary technique of de-familiarisation otherwise called metaphor as a technique in the book title. Through this, he is able to create suspense, arouse curiosity by referring to a corporate catalyst as Barnabas and sustaining reading interest. The title also passes for biblical allusion. By using this biblical allusion, those who are already familiar with the story of Barnabas in the Bible will clearly understand the message of the book. Also, the print quality very high and the layout very eye-friendly, especially that only two pages are accorded each chapter. And each chapter is embroidered an illuminating quote. The cover design of the outer front cover is simple and communicative of the fact that motivation is a silent and strategic effort.


The author is able to lend credibility to the book and challenge readers because it is predicated on his own personal experience. Because it is based on his personal experience, he is able to naturally combine Autobiographical and Eye-of-God narrative techniques, and assume the role of an omniscient narrator to offer details. Also the language is mature.


However, some errors are noticed in the text. These are “Acknowledgment” instead of Acknowledgments” (page iii); “masters degree” (outer back cover) instead of “master’s degree”; “live your potentials” (page 159), instead of “live your potential”. Note: “Potential” is an uncountable noun and the lexicographical symbol showing its grammatical behaviour reads “U”, that is, uncountable noun. Also, even though the title of the text creates suspense and arouses attention, it would have been better to use a direct or literal title so that it can appeal to a wider audience that may not be Christians or may not know anything about the life story of Apostle Barnabas. This is especially so because titles are most times points of attraction or unique selling propositions of books. Generally, this text has commendable intellectual depth. It is a must-read for managers, entrepreneurs and organisations that are prepared to achieve results through effective strategy of employee motivation.


GOKE ILESANMI, Editor-in-Chief/CEO of https://www.gokeilesanmi.com.ng and Managing Consultant/CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is a Certified Public Speaker/Emcee, (Business) Communication Specialist, Motivational Speaker, Career Management Coach, Renowned Book Reviewer, Corporate Leadership Expert and Editorial Consultant.


Tel: +234(0)8056030424; +234(0)8187499425


Email: info@gokeilesanmi.com.ng; gokeiles2010@gmail.com


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