“There’s an entrepreneur thinking of giving in or giving up to the pressure around them… Let’s keep them in the ring.

What do you do to stay motivated in hard times?”

The above was a facebook post by Mr. Amadou Chico Cissoko, a seasoned Innovation, Strategy & Entrepreneurship coach, trainer, speaker and writer, among other things. I have had the privilege of listening to him speak and teach and I must say, he is phenomenally good at what he does.

A number of people posted different responses and had different views about what they do and how they stay motivated. My own response was slightly different because I did not feel like I had actively “done” something to keep motivated. Here is the major part of my response.

“… For me, staying motivated this year, has been a struggle and therefore being motivated has been a grace. I call it a grace because when I feel demotivated and I am close to giving up, I randomly bump into a quote that encourages me or someone comes a long with a word of encouragement or an event happens that brings me encouragement like earlier this year, when I got accepted into the YALI RLC. For me, it’s been GRACE! I call it grace because I feel that my God anticipates my need for motivation and my need to keep me on this path and points me to paths and places that give me a much needed boost. Without these apt yet unforeseen moments and people, I should have given up a long time ago. For me, it’s been more of a grace than personal effort. I’ll give one more example. One day you posted one of your videos in our group N whatsapp group where you were basically saying “whatever you do, don’t give up”. The timing of that couldn’t have been more appropriate for me because my energy was running low. Grace!”

That was my honest submission. However, that day, as I pondered more over this, I came to realize that there was something that I had consciously done. And, that was to surround myself with the right people and the right sources of information as well as go to the right places at the right time. I did not do this with the intention of getting motivated. I was simply consciously and continuously surrounding myself with good people and knowledge because I wanted to learn more and grow more. However, the result of this was a spill-over effect – that in turn, when the need arose, these people and sources of information such as websites, church, blogs, literature, mentorship programs etc. were feeding me with great motivation, because they fed into who I am and what my needs were.

I like to be around people that build me and stretch me to grow in a positive way. Similarly, I love to read and keep abreast in all my areas of interest from my areas of work to the business of being successful and just getting ahead in life. As such, I am subscribed to a number of great magazines and websites that educate and enrich me. Without knowing, I have built a wall of protection around me – a wall of motivational grace. I still call it a grace because much as I made conscious decisions about the people and information around me, the quality of them being appropriate for every season I went through was a grace. For example, much as I had been to the YALI RLC and been in the business class that Mr. Chico instructed, there was no way to guarantee that on a day x in a month y when I was feeling very demotivated, he would send a message randomly to our small YALI group N to encourage us to persist.

All of this points me more to the importance your positioning. How are you positioning yourself? Are you in the place to receive this grace? Three things come to mind. First, what is the value of your network? Second, how rich and deep is your information and knowledge pool? Finally, what are your places of community?


The Value Of Your Network 

This basically refers to the value that is within the network of people you associate with. Associate with people who can enrich you in one way or another. It is important to surround yourself with people whose values align or at least have a semblance with yours in a positive manner. Be involved in their life as they are involved in yours. That way you can lift each other up when you fall.

Going to the YALI regional leadership center, has been the best thing that has happened to me this year. I got a bounty of useful connections and friends. An example is my Tanzanian friend Joseph who often forwards any good entrepreneurial article he comes across and encourages me greatly giving me that extra push.

I have learnt even more, the importance of building meaningful friendships with those around me and I urge you to do the same. To do that, you need to be genuinely interested in the wellbeing of others beyond a superficial level. There is something that happens beyond surface, whereby, when you truly value and care for a person, you break all barriers and blocks that exist between the two of you, and it gives you the grace and beauty to move beyond an artificial acquaintanceship.


In other cases, you may not have a close friendship, but it is still possible to maintain a mutual and respectful acquaintanceship. It is impossible to be close friends with everybody so do not force your way into people’s lives. Let friendships flow and grow naturally.

That said, there are many cases in which you get to meet a person but all it amounts to is an acquaintanceship. In cases such as these, endeavor to make sure it is a genuinely friendly and respectful acquaintanceship. That way, when you need the person, they are more willing to help you out. Incase they aren’t willing to help you out in whatever way, that is okay. We are not entitled to anything from anyone. Our job is simply to be nice and respectful to everyone and let God do the rest. The right connections will be around when needed.


Your Information And Knowledge Pool

I subscribe to many magazines, blogs and websites that offer educational and inspirational material. It is important to keep in the loop. I also use my social media very intentionally and strategically by following people who fall within my fields of interest. In my case this means I am subscribed to and follow a lot of Architecture and Fashion magazines, Poetry you-tube channels, inspirational blogs and websites etc.

This helps me stay informed and grounded. You simply never know what knowledge you will need when. I try to make sure I am always growing and learning. Whenever I am doing work that does not exhaustively involve all my senses, I like to play an inspirational or educational video or audio in the background as I work. I do this a lot while sewing clothes, for example.


Places Of Community

These directly refer to places where you go to fellowship with other human beings. It could be church, rotary fellowship, conferences, workshops, etc. The list could go on and on, as long as you can make it. Make the decision to be in the right place of community at the appropriate time. So much information is shared in events that positively build us. Being in the right place at the right time might just save your life.


Doing the above three things should be an active long-term life-long pursuit. For as long as we are alive we should always be striving to maintain good friendships and connections, keep our minds active with great information and knowledge and to be in the right place at the right time. This will ensure that we maintain a good quality of life and stay on the paths to fulfilling our great purposes here on earth.

It is important to flee from bad company for it corrupts good morals. If you are unable to flee, make sure you sieve out their words and be mindful of their intentions. Sometimes it does not matter how talented and smart you are, if you hang out with the wrong crowd, they will most likely take you down with them.

Surround yourself with the right influences and you will have the appropriate environment to keep you on your path to success in all you do.

With lots of love,





Author: Keziah Elaine Ayikoru focuses on creativity in various fields especially Architecture, Fashion, Creative Non-Fiction and Poetry. Keziah aims to encourage the creative in you to live life fully, happily and wholesomely.

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