My challenge as an entrepreneur (56) – Fola Daniel Adelesi

My eyes grew heavy and I could feel tears in my eye lid. I was boiling within me but at the same time was trying not to talk too much and I think I succeeded in doing that. The laptop on my laps helped me to avoid direct eye contacts during the confrontation because I was playing with the keyboard though there was nothing serious I was doing with it except for my mobile phone that was plugged in through USB. I had just finished printing on some packs of envelopes for my mum when my mum spoke up in the presence of my sister and her husband. The only other person there was their two years and six months old daughter.
My mum said she wanted to report me to them and that was exactly what she did. I envisaged a kind of family meeting like this but when it became a reality it was really heavier than what I had thought it would be. She complained about my traveling nearly all the time even though she knew that I was traveling to speak in meetings. She had always in a way been uncomfortable with my travels when I have to speak. She claims to support what I do but her action does not conform to her confession. While claiming she understands what I was doing she would also keep asking if the people who were inviting me to speak were paying me for the speaking engagement. At that point I understood why some speakers will insist on money when you ask them to speak both in business places and in churches where they receive their nourishment spiritually. I have always had the policy of never charging any religious body or para-church if I was asked to speak in their meetings but I charged business owners professionally if I have to speak for them. Coincidentally at the initially stage most of my speaking engagements were from the religious bodies that I decided not to charge.
At a point I almost had the temptation of insisting on a specific amount to give out to people inviting me for conferences as a way to take care of my transportation but I also began to feel, even before I concluded the thought, that I was violating my conscience. Speaking was, still is, and will always be my passion. I can go around the world speaking for free if I have the resources that will enable me do it. Again an again I have found myself rehearsing how I was going to reject some payments for public speaking as a way to show that money was not my focus.
As my mum finished reporting me my brother-in-law began to diplomatically advise that I get a job. Just before that my mum had said she and the other “attendants” of that small family meeting would support me with any other thing I wanted to do. Just as the meeting was being rounded off my sister again raised the issue of payment in those meetings. “Are the speaking engagements free?” she asked. While looking intently, even when there was nothing to look at, in the laptop on my laps I said, “some of them are free.” I had barely finished the statement when my brother-in-law said affirmatively, “most of them are free.” Then I repeated after him what he said. My mum was uncomfortable with some of the decisions I had taken and she tabled how I had taken a risk to publish my book, WRITING BUSINESS PROPOSAL. I think to make the matters worse the meeting was on a Sunday morning before going to church. In between church service I was fighting back tears and was struggling to remain positive. I almost said it was the worst time in my life but I kept saying it was the most interesting day in my life.
Interestingly, as if God was preparing my mind for the challenge, just the previous night I watched some young men who had been newly selected for COPA Coca-Cola cup. One of them was a tailor for years but always had a passion for football. The other one was assisting his mother with a local food canteen where he also did some cooking and serving customers directly. One thing was common to the two of them. Their families did not understand what they saw in football and mostly complained about their visit to the football pitch where they regularly played football. Nobody saw reasons in their rehearsals but when they were selected everyone was happy. In fact the custodian of one of the young men was shedding tears.
You can be sure it was not such an easy thing sitting in that meeting especially if you have ever had a family meeting summoned because of you. You feel like walking away like one musician once sang, “I am walking away” but you dare not. This is a day that has come to stick to my memory. It was two weeks before my 24th birthday. It happened on the 10th day of May 2009.

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