I would be interviewing Mr Hyelda Apollos
A leadership and capacity building coach. I can boldly say he’s a man of many dimensions and so I will let him do justice to his own profile.
1. Tell me about yourself? (Who are you beyond your name)
I consider myself a type of social architect and cultural revolutionist. As a thought explorer, I tinker with ideas. My line of work involves a deep and delicate investigation into the reins of the mind and recesses of human nature in order to unlock deep-seated motives and unravel the principles by which cultural trends are created, entrenched, destroyed and recreated. I do this in the hopes that the understanding gained can be employed to enrich our ability to create the kind of results that are worthy of us and also to expedite our ability to transform and elevate the human experience to new heights for the betterment of all mankind. My mission is to take individuals from wherever they are, drawing on leadership principles to describe how they can turn universal human challenges into opportunities for unleashing their potential in fulfilling their God-given destiny. Leader, Teacher, Strategist Describe my core roles.
2. What was growing up like for you? (teenage struggles, escapades and all)
I enjoyed being a child. My father was a disciplinarian and my mum did not contradict my dad. This made it impossible to play any sides. I loved to play when I was little. But play ended quite abruptly when I left the city of Jos where I was born to my village in Adamawa State at the age of 10. I was thrown out of my comfort zone and that for me was the beginning of my leadership development. I learnt the meaning of hard work in its most practical form on the farm. I learnt to appreciate life at its most basic form, unembellished in any way — just food, clothing and shelter (which often leaked during the rainy seasons). I confronted the challenge of voicing a contrarian view in the midst of adults and being conspicuously different from my peers. But I noticed that I always had audience with my superiors when I spoke. By the age pf 13 I was the secretary of the Youth fellowship of my local church. I loved God and I had an unusual understanding of biblical principles which gave my communication an uncommon authority. I was always the smallest of the bunch but the go-to-person for ideas, planning and organization. So, you can see from my story that I never did hangout with my peers. I wanted to become a Doctor and teach the word of God. I had my struggles with teenage dating (even double dating at some point). But I discovered early that the playboy life was not just for me. So I pursued my interests in personal development and seeking clarity about my purpose.
3. When would you call the point of light in your earlier days (when did you discover yourself)
I believe discovery is a process. We keep learning about ourselves for as long as we keep searching and digging. Having said that, I started to gain understanding of the direction of my life at the age of 11–12 in junior secondary school when I encountered a Youth Corp member serving in my school. Adeshina Afolayan (Now Professor of philosophy in University of Ibadan) inspired me with his wisdom and depth of understanding about life and God. He had a passion for learning and making a difference and I was introduced into the world of books. I still have not recovered from that bug. The moment I started reading books, my thinking expanded, my vocabulary expanded and my curiosity about life became boundless. That mentoring moment transformed my life because it set me on a course that has brought me to where I am today. Later on in my freshman year, I had a personal revelation of my calling with a very specific instruction after years of prayer and searching the scripture. I knew pastoring was somewhere in my future. So I started to live my life mindful of that responsibility in my future.
4. You talk about freedom and leadership a lot. (what’s your perspective of this words)
Freedom is the purest state of being human. It is the condition of being able to exercise ones power of choice free from coercion or the expectation of others. It is making an informed choice and gladly willing to embrace the consequences because you know why you made the choice in the first place. It is the most important gift God has given man after the gift of time. That is why there will be judgment. Man is a free moral agent. Every day we wake up, we walk into a power system that was created by someone. We have a choice to be subjected to the influence of that system or create our own system. Leadership on the other hand is the ability to exercise that power of choice towards the accomplishment of our God-given goals. Realize then that leadership is first and foremost a personal context. You can never lead another person if you fail in leading yourself. It is the aura that accrues from living in concert with your highest ideals that influences others and compels them to want to follow your lead. I am a strong advocate of ‘Authentic Leadership’ because I believe it takes authenticity and integrity to exercise freedom of choice. Imagine what the world will be like if the likes of Ghandi or Martin Luther King Jr succumbed to the pressure of the systems of their day. Freedom to them meant facing the mob and the assault of the militia in order to realize a world of equality even if they were not going to be around to enjoy it. I draw inspiration from their lives because they exemplified how true freedom and leadership has the power to create life changing results. Success for me is a meaningful life on ‘my own terms’. It is when you stand for something that you avoid the temptation of bending to every other thing.
5. From your experiences (yours and your mentors). How does leadership shape a person’s character?
John Maxwell says everything rises and falls on leadership. Leadership is a great determinant of destiny. Personal leadership is exercising positive self-direction. It is the ability to carry yourself and direct your affairs towards a chosen end. Without it, everything becomes a product of chance. There is not a lot of hope in chance. So you see, leadership pushes an individual to question the status quo, and seek for answers to the problems in their lives and the people they care about. It is leadership ability that defines whether an individual is effective or not. Without leadership, dreams wither and die because the power to translate dreams into reality is lacking. Once you become committed to leadership development, everything in your life changes. The moment I committed to studying leadership, it became difficult to avoid the problems that come to my notice because leadership gave me an acute sense of responsibility. And once you begin to assume responsibility, you begin to command respect and people begin to defer to you to solve that problem and then you begin to enlist the trust of those people and that further puts you on the spot light and then you cannot act silly anymore because now, people look up to you. You cannot remain the same once you are a leader. You will be forced to push your boundaries; you will need to know more; you need to build the stamina to hold on and withstand adversity longer than your followers; you will need a lot of emotional maturity. You have to hold yourself to a higher standard than anyone expects of you because you want to be true to yourself and your values.
6. Say something to young leaders who are rising and those who think they can’t lead.
Whether you think you can lead or you can’t lead, you cannot avoid the consequences of leadership. Everyone can be and should be a leader. Every tenet of leadership can be learned. You have the greatest chance of actualizing your dreams and fulfilling your destiny with leadership than with any other skill. And it is not some rocket science that you need a Harvard education in order to learn. Leadership begins with your personal decision. Leadership is developed daily. It is like building a wall. You lay one brick upon another. You do that every day. And before you know it, you have a wall. The problems of Nigeria is that of a leadership void. If you begin to take responsibility and refuse to play the blame game or pass the buck, you will begin to build yourself into a problem solver and opportunities that were previously out of your reach will begin to become common for you. Leadership can transform your life like nothing else I know. Make the choice to be a leader. It has nothing to do with your position- it has everything to do with your choice — a choice to take responsibility for delivering results. The benefits are every bit worth the risk.
7. How can the family and the government support leaders?
Leadership actually begins from the family. It is important to drive the lesson of taking responsibility early. Parents have the greatest job in the world and yet not many are prepared for that job when they marry. We must inculcate in our children a sense of duty, hard work and compassion so that they understand how to solve their own problems and that of others. Don’t always come to the rescue of a child. It doesn’t serve them in the long run. Let them learn to handle some difficult task and feel the joy of solving a hard problem. It builds self-esteem and builds capacity in a child. Allow them to experience the consequences of their actions. Beyond any form of instruction, a parent’s example is the greatest lesson a child will ever take away. A parent who lives a double standard will lack the credibility to teach a child about integrity.
Government is a bigger and more complex family. I suggest that a leadership development culture that encourages and rewards leadership be implemented in all facets of government. This will propagate leadership in every rank. But this has to be institutionalized and enshrined in the policy of all government system in order to avoid the dearth of leadership as we see in Nigeria where the same set of people keep rotating in the same role.
Without a leadership development culture, we are sowing chaos in the future. Wherever leadership is lacking, you find disorder, confusion and chaos. The bold ideas that can propel Nigeria to formidable ranks can only be championed by individuals with strong ethical fibre and high leadership pedigree. Government needs to invest in identifying, training and equipping these kind of leaders in order to guarantee leadership succession.
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