This story cannot begin without me telling how I got into the business; how I became a surgeon of destinies. Well, I am only in my first year or practice, so perhaps I’m still a resident or trainee surgeon but well on the way to being a consultant. Forgive the medical metaphors, I probably watch a little too much Grey’s Anatomy in my ever-shrinking windows of spare time. I’ve become much busier these days. And I digress.
One Sunday, at Church, rather than have a conventional sermon, the preacher invited a motivational speaker to talk to us about fixing all aspects of our lives, especially our marriages and careers and getting everything back on track. I was spellbound. I had just lost my job in the aftermath of the bursting of the banking sector bubble and had been trying to figure out the next phase of my life. After I heard the man who would later become my mentor speak, I knew what I wanted to do. I made sure I met the speaker after the sermon and spent the next 3 weeks begging him to let me be his personal assistant. I was well-educated enough and I was willing to work for absolutely nothing. Soon enough, I was taught the basics of the trade.
“First of all”, he said, “you have to dress and sound like the archetypical dream husband. You must be immaculately groomed. Low haircut, chiselled hairline, bespoke suits and a high-sounding but not too evangelical lilt to your voice.”
So I invested some of my bank severance money in 2 expensive suits, a killer pair of black leather shoes (the plan was to expand my shoe options once I got onto the speaking circuit), and cufflinks. My banker’s shirts had always been well cut, so no problem there.
“Next”, he said, “you must develop the ability to make the most mundane things sound unbelievably profound. The simpler the concept ostensibly sounds, the more profundity you can inject into it. Especially, most especially, if you rhyme.”
“Rhyme?” I asked. “Oh yes”, he replied, “to make it in the big time, you gotta learn to rhyme a rhyme.”
Fast learner that I am, I retorted, “You mean to win the bingo, I have to learn the lingo?”
“Precisely”, he said, laughing heartily. “You’re catching on very quickly.”
“What else must I learn in order to earn?” I asked eagerly.
“Calm down now”, he cautioned, “a gig isn’t a day at the crèche. Not too much rhyming. Remember, profound. There’s a thin line between profound and cheesy. A great Life Coach never crosses that line. Okay?” I nodded.
“You also need a treasure trove of scripture to buttress metaphors of increase and promotion. We are in the business of selling hope. Hope that if a person truly believes it, he can achieve it. Now, if you can garnish the hope with scripture, legitimise it so it doesn’t sound like being greedy or covetous, you cannot go wrong.
“For instance, the scripture says ‘Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers’. This clearly supports the aspiration to ‘go higher’, to ‘be better’. Our message is, if you hold on to God, it’s okay to also want prosperity.”
I nodded again, soaking it all in.
“Now, to the imagery. Again, it has to be crisp, catchy and validative of improvement in personal circumstances. So, lots of ladders…”
“You have to empty your bladder to climb that ladder?”
“Bladder, sha?” he asked, looking confused.
“Well, if you take the bladder as an organ that removes harmful things from our blood, the statement could be symbolic of purging oneself of the harmful things in one’s life – vices like smoking, excessive drinking, womanising…”
“You know what?” said my mentor, “let’s forget the ladders. How about mountains?”
“There’s a fountain beyond that mountain?”
“Dude, calm down. That’s not profound enough.”
“I respectfully disagree, sir. Finding a fountain after a mountain symbolises a reward, perhaps a divine one even, after the struggle of, well, surmounting the mountain. In fact, how about ‘surmount the mount to reach the fount’?”
“No, no, no, no! Forget mountains, then.” For some reason, my mentor seemed upset. “Let’s think altitude, you know, a variable height.”
“Someone’s already done that. Your attitude determines your altitude? Haven’t you heard that one before? Aspire to go higher? Acquire the fire? Perspiration determines your elevation?”
“You know what?” my mentor said, taking in a deep breath as if to calm himself, “there’s a Life Coaches convention in Abuja next week. Newbies like you can attend the 2-day course and become Associate Members of the Chartered Institute of Motivational Speaking and Life Coaching. More than anything else, there’s a chance to meet other mentors. Much greater coaches than myself. Perhaps they might be able to show you an even better way.”
So here I am at the convention in Abuja. It was during the flight that I decided that I wasn’t going to be a mere life coach – I was going to be a surgeon of destinies. It sounded profound enough. I had also started working on a mantra that I wanted to run by the coaches at the institute, but I won’t bore with you with it.
As I enter the convention auditorium, I hear an attendee ask his colleague if he would like a coke. The colleague replied, “Not for me. A coke will make you choke, but a Fanta is made for banter.”
Ah, I say to myself. I am in the right place.