Whatever You Do, Keep Walking By Adenike Adebola

Adenike Adebola

A few months ago towards the end of 2020, I was conversing with one of my mentees — talking about work, faith, love, life and everything in between. And as such conversations go, the topic veered towards plans and goals for the forthcoming year. Because this person is also a Marketing professional, it was tempting to switch to the default mode of referencing campaigns, making big plans and projections or critiquing a recent brand program, instead, we were drawn towards how much our world is changing as a result of the global pandemic.

One of the things that 2020 left us with was a realization that the words “normal,” “typical,” and “Regular,” would have to be used with a little bit more respect going forward. As we grappled with the pandemic, we learned to get super comfortable with ambiguity and fluidity. We’ve always known that planning and forecasting was a useful skill but it was obvious in these times that learning how to flex and the knowledge of when (and how) to pivot quickly has become even more important. There was an endless demand for wit, emotional energy, courage and pace that most of the time had everyone reeling from the sheer kinematic power that operating in the moment required. 

On the back of what had been a very daunting and challenging year for a lot of people (myself included), I have taken a position to approach planning a little differently and I thought to share some of these personal principles with you:

  1.  Be like Water — It was the great martial artist and actor Bruce Lee, who coined the popular phrase “Be Water, My Friend.” And what it essentially means is that we need to be adaptable, flexible, open to the constant flow of change, and not tie ourselves too strongly to particular outcomes. I’d be the first to admit here that this is not a particularly simple or easy thing to do. For example, like most people, I crave a degree of structure and certainty — however, I’ve had to learn to be comfortable with the fluidity, choosing to ride it and not fight it, embracing the new realities, whether that’s adapting to the specifics of remote work or the peculiar challenges of homeschooling that we’ve all had to master or the unpredictability and turbulence in the external environment. Like water, we all must learn the art of shapeshifting and up our resilience through challenging times.
  2.   Continue to Lean In Together — One of the helpful and valuable lessons that the pandemic has taught us is the value and importance of community. For the first time in forever the whole world was going through the same thing, we were all faced with the health and social implications of the pandemic at the same time. Together we have faced lockdowns, job losses, the fear of depression and uncertainty about the future, lost loved ones, etc — all at the same time, irrespective of race, creed or age. Through it, we’ve also rediscovered one of the most powerful human superpowers – connection! The family took on a whole new meaning beyond blood and culture. We also reconnected with the value of having friends, saying and receiving a kind word, sharing a meal, a drink or a smile, learning at the same time, how much colour connections bring to life no matter what we face. We learned to lean in more consciously and to value it when others do the same. 
  3.  Prioritize Wellness and Wholeness — With everyone cooped in, and bad news reverberating across the airwaves constantly, it was difficult not to give in to despair, anxiety or fear. I have come to the conclusion that finding the illumination to see the half-full glass is a choice that can be harder to get to if you don’t take care of yourself — body, soul, mind, and spirit. So whether it’s exercise, meditation, therapy, rest, prayer, better nutrition — whatever it is that works for you, do it! Take care of yourself, reconnect with yourself and find your centre. 
  4.  Be Kind to Yourself — Popular Talkshow Host, Ellen Degeneres signs off the end of her show with “Be Kind to One Another.” What’s even more important is for us to remember to be kind (and patient) with ourselves as well. Trying to make sense of, and forge ahead in a world that has changed drastically (and maybe forever) is a process that requires patience, not perfection. Learn to take each day as it comes, and learn to treat yourself with unending amounts of kindness — everyone needs it!
  5.  Just. Keep. Walking — This is perhaps the most crucial point of all. It is important to press forward with your goals — don’t worry if it feels fluid and unstructured, just keep pushing forward. Letting discouragement and discontentment take root is a waste of you and the gift that you are to humanity, so press forward with hope and expectation. Take it in your stride, sleep, wake, go again. In the words of one of my favourites brands: Whatever you do… Keep Walking! 


Adenike Adebola is currently the Marketing & Innovations Director of Guinness Nigeria plc and has responsibility for the Total Beverage Alcohol Marketing Strategy from Reserve through IPS, Mainstream Spirits, Stout, Lagers and Non-Alcoholic brands. 

Adenike joined Guinness Nigeria plc in August 2005 as Brand Manager.  She has robust experience spanning Commercial Capability training, Brand Marketing, Innovations and Customer Marketing.

She returned to Nigeria in July 2015 after a successful period on the Guinness Global Brand Team as Head of Marketing for Spirits, a key role in achieving our performance ambition for spirits in Nigeria.

Adenike is a graduate of Food Technology from the Federal Polytechnic, Ado Ekiti, she holds a Postgraduate Degree in Management from the University of Calabar.

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