The ungrateful

I have been blessed with a healthy number of ungrateful people in my life. Ingratitude has never stopped me from doing what I think is right for those in my care.

The insight I received over these past few weeks is how loose the boundary of my circle is. How people step in and out at will, exploiting my bias for responsibility. Many getting away with things even I cannot speak of.

I have decided to clearly mark my circle, and be intentional about those I keep out.

The ungrateful is the enemy within. Better to keep them out.

– Osasu Oviawe

Random thoughts on a Saturday walk

Some see their chains and use it, some see their chains and surrender to it, some see their chains and struggle with it, some do not see their chains and say they are free.

If you are uncomfortable with being bored, you will get into more trouble than you can handle.

Praise and blame are two sides of a coin. If you hold the coin, accept whichever side turns up.

Space sets the limit on how much you can grow. Be intentional about the spaces you choose.

One thing that can be learnt from history is that no one is infallible.

Even those ahead of their peers are subject to peer pressure.

Walking is the oldest pilgrimage.

Your vocabulary is your reality.

– Osasu Oviawe

Some days

“Some days you’re the pigeon, some days you’re the statue.”

I stumbled on the above quote this week. Still researching who it is attributed to.

It is another example of a simple, yet profound thought.

Important to realise that when you’re the pigeon, you’re pooping on quite a few statues. And when you’re the statue, remember that the poop you’re getting will pass.

– Osasu Oviawe

Pass the baton

The more clueless you are at the start of a journey, the more beautiful the story at the end.

Cluelessness is not a limitation.

The harder anything is in the moment, the more rewarding it feels when it is done.

Don’t let “hard” stop you.

The end of anything is the beginning of another.

Pass the baton.

– Osasu Oviawe

An observation

When someone gets promoted to a job where he has to supervise his former job, the new occupant of his former job usually has a hard time having the required level of autonomy for decision making.

It is a phenomenon I have observed in different scenarios. I do not yet know whether it has a name.

It can get quite messy, with people in their 360 degree relationships thrown into an awkward situation.

It helps when there is an environment or a system that ensures the heat from the friction does not turn into an inferno.

– Osasu Oviawe

Goodhart’s law

It simply states – when a measure becomes a target, it is subsequently no longer a good measure.

There is scarcely anything that explains unintended consequences better than this law.

Interestingly, although it is called Goodhart’s law, it was actually coined by an anthropologist – Marilyn Strathern, when she recognized that a statement in 1975, by economist – Charles Goodhart applied beyond economics. The original statement was actually – “Any observed statistical regularity will tend to collapse once pressure is placed upon it for control purposes.”

Paradoxically, this law is not limiting, but liberating. Every leader must understand the relationship between targets and behaviors, and intentionally design targets that drive the desired behaviors.

I once experienced this in a compliance score target setting. The target for the compliance score was 100%, so everybody was racing to 100%, sometimes just ticking the box to look good. External checks always showed a score significantly different from the internal score, sometimes with a variance greater than 30%.

Then the leader decided to change the target. He set a new target which stipulated that the difference between the internal compliance check score and the external compliance check score should not be above 2%. The behavior of people immediately changed from racing to 100%, to being sincere on where exactly they are. That was when real progress started.

– Osasu Oviawe

Just tell your story

All some people have is their misery. It is uniquely theirs, sets them apart, and connects them deeply to their journey.

Offering an alternative narrative to them is like directly attacking the very essence of their being. They fight back with a vengeance.

They do not need a positive light on their suffering. They are happy with living in the shadow it casts.

When you meet such people, do not give up on them, but do not waste your time trying to change them.

Let them tell their harrowing stories. But do not reciprocate.

Tell your own story of triumph. They will ultimately reciprocate and shift ground. Be patient.

Life is hard. Never try to take away the stories that keep people going – good or bad. Just tell your story.

– Osasu Oviawe

The end

It re-energises.

Whether it is a job, a project, a race or even the liturgical mass, the end of every journey re-energises more than we give it credit for.

It is never as bad and always better than we expect it.

There is reason to embrace the ending of things.

– Osasu Oviawe


Nature collects its due.

It is not in any particular hurry, but in its time it acts decisively.

Best not to assume you are an outlier that can get away with cheating nature.

– Osasu Oviawe

Guiding quote

When I’m asked about my guiding quote, I hesitate to share, because my life is more nuanced than it.

Motivational quotes and nuggets are colorful drops in the ocean of life. No life can be summarised by them.

Life is deeper and broader than any catchy phrase.

But when people insist on a reply, I usually share a quote by Ralph Nader – “I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.”

– Osasu Oviawe