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A decade after joining the John Maxwell Leadership Team, Kate’s career has witnessed an exponential growth. Kate Onakomaiya is the Managing Director of Exponential Growth Academy Ltd, a company that provides sustainable leadership training, coaching, speaking and consulting services to promote higher levels of engagement, performance and profitability. She consults for corporate and individual clients across Africa and beyond.

BLACKWASH publisher, Oludare Sorunke engages Kate as she talks about her new book, The Growing Life, personal development, career choices and how we can become the better version of ourselves.

Please tell us about your book, The Growing Life. What influenced it?

The Growing Life was borne out of my desire to add value to society. It is my wish to see lives transformed through consistent and intentional living. I want to help people get out of stagnation and despondency and live consciously, fulfilling their dreams. The book is intended to inspire those who are already on the journey of growth to keep the fire burning and find support along the way.

I believe we are all created to be more, do more and have more. Life is meant to be progressive but it is not so for many people. Many people find themselves just going through the motions every day and life feels stagnant. When life is stagnant, it gives room for toxicity because everything bad grows in a stagnant place. If you are not making progress, then you are probably stagnant and need to plug into personal growth. In The Growing Life, I talked about the six core areas of life where you need to be making continuous progress in order to live a balanced and fulfilled life. I shared my personal experience and how I moved from unintentional growth to intentional growth. If you are already on a path of growth, this book will inspire you to continue taking the steps necessary to stay the path.

I have always wanted to be more, have more, and do more. I am a firm believer that our lives should be progressive and not stagnant or regressive. I also believe that growth must be intentional for it to be truly meaningful. Growth guarantees a brighter future for those who take it seriously.

The book is like a coaching guide. Someone who read it said, “Kate, this book should be a memoir! I am so glad I know you because I can see you on all the pages.” I share my story of intentional growth and how one of the best on the subject, John C Maxwell, is mentoring me, because I want all those who read it to be inspired to live to their fullest potentials.

The book is dedicated to my late father, Augustine Ivo Njie, who taught me to read widely and see a world beyond what I was experiencing growing up.

How important are the principles in The Growing Life to living?

The principles are very relatable to every facet of life. For example, the principle of “Believing You Are Worth It” is crucial to our everyday success, because if you don’t believe you can succeed, you will never be a success. Faith in yourself and your calling or chosen vocation is a powerful force to spur you to success.

There was a time when I discovered that I was not growing (I mentioned that experience in the book) and this affected everything else –my physical and mental health, spiritual life, finances and relationships.

When we are not growing, we are declining or dying. When we are not growing, we are toxic and can get to a point of self-destructing. We can even become a danger to those around us. Growth brings meaning to life and makes life meaningful.

When we apply the principles outlined in the book, we will experience joy, fulfillment, peace, and greater performance in every area of our lives.

Who should read the book?

Everyone! The book is written in plain and simple language so anyone can understand it. The principles are universal and they work wherever you find yourself. So far, students have read the book, professionals have read it, coaches, business owners and bankers too… The Growing Life is meant for anyone interested in becoming a better version of themselves and recognizing the importance of intentional growth as a means of unleashing their full potentials.

Is this your first? Any more in the works?

Yes, this is my first book!

I have so many other books in me and I am currently writing my second book on Leadership. My books will be centered on personal growth, leadership, faith, communication, and values.

Kate Onakomaiya with renowned Bestselling Author, and Leadership Expert, John C Maxwell
Kate Onakomaiya with renowned Bestselling Author, and Leadership Expert, John C Maxwell.
Kate Onakomaiya at the International Maxwell Certification, Orlando Florida, United States of America.
Kate Onakomaiya at the International Maxwell Certification, Orlando Florida, United States of America.
Kate receiving an award at an international leadership event
Kate receiving an award at an international leadership event
Kate Onakomaiya with Mark Cole, President, Maxwell Leadership Companies
Kate Onakomaiya with Mark Cole, President, Maxwell Leadership Companies
Cover of The Growing Life, written by Kate Onakomaiya
Cover of The Growing Life, written by Kate Onakomaiya

Author and Management coach, Kate Onakomaiya
Author and Management coach, Kate Onakomaiya

In a world that is evolving, how do these principles come to play?

Great question! The world is changing by the nanosecond!  One thing is certain – change! Human beings dread change, but change must come. However, change does not always guarantee growth. Many times, change happens without growth. When we are growing, we change. Our mindset changes, our perspectives change, our worldview changes. Applying these principles will enhance different perspectives of our worldview. As I apply these principles personally, I have grown to appreciate myself more, anticipate and respond positively to change, show more compassion and empathy towards people –especially those who are not growing consciously. My relationship with my family and friends has also improved.

The All-In Principle especially helps us to be all-in in every area of our lives and adopt the attitude of excellence. When we are all in, we are 100% committed and leave no room for excuses of underperformance. We exceed expectations all the time.

I like to think of the world as a labyrinth with many obstacles. We are stronger when we navigate the obstacles and emerge on the other side to obtain the prize. A Growing Life is a life that is always challenging itself and others to reach out for more no matter the conditions and circumstances.

Let us look at it from the perspective of business. As you engage in business and strive for growth and performance, you first need to believe that you will succeed, and as challenges come your way, keep your faith and do not give up. When your faith goes down, reach out to mentors and coaches. It is risky to get into any business without a mentor or role model or coach. Then, you have to be all in, and learn to endure pains.

The principles in The Growing Life apply to our personal lives, businesses, teams, governments, politics, families and religion. It is about becoming better in every area of life and creating positive change around us.

Some people rise rapidly in their careers while others experience turbulence at work. Can you shed more light on this?

In my experience, there are several reasons some people rise higher in their careers while others do not make the desired progress. Successful people have several things in common. They are disciplined – they do the things unsuccessful people are unwilling to do. They are growth-focused – they always seek ways to improve their skills. They have a futuristic mindset always striving to make the future netter for their organization. People who rise higher in their careers find purpose in their work and work with purpose. They are intentional about making their organizations better and always go the extra mile to exceed expectations. They are life-long learners and leaders.

People who do not rise fast in their careers are not working on themselves. They are not developing themselves personally. Most of them just go to work every day and do their jobs, sometimes, following their job descriptions to the letter. Your job description is not going to give you the desired promotion quickly. You are expected to do your job. What gets you ahead faster is going beyond the call of duty. It is taking ownership and becoming a better leader. It is aligning with the organization’s values, vision and mission and help them achieve their goals and exceed them. Some people rely on longevity. They think they deserve promotion because of the length of time that they have worked with the company. You are never entitled for promotion; you have to deserve it because it always comes with greater responsibilities.

When you grow yourself and become a better leader, you will definitely achieve your goals faster and attain new heights quickly.

What does it mean to live intentionally?

Intentional Living means taking action on your good intentions every day. It means fulfilling your purpose and living no room for excuses. You see, most people have good intentions but they never follow through with action. They walk through life with the thoughts and dreams of all the things they want to do, would like to do or are almost doing. Many people are in the continuum of ‘almost’. They are almost taking the step but always hold back. They give excuses why it is not the right time to take action. Eventually, the action is never taken. The Law of Diminishing Intent says, ‘the longer you wait to take action on something, the higher the odds are that you will never do it.’ Intentional living means to move with purpose and taking continuous action every day.

What are the career opportunities in being able to speak multiple languages?

There are countless opportunities available to multilingual individuals. I am a bilingual coach, speaker and trainer. I work in French and English and the fact that I speak an additional international language has opened doors to multinational companies. I am currently learning Japanese for fun. I just developed interest in Hiragana when my son came home from school one day and told me that he was in the Japanese cultural group and the school wanted them to represent Japanese culture. Therefore, he had to dress in their traditional attire, cook their food and learn a few words. I love learning challenges, so we both began to practice Hiragana using the Duolingo app. I find the language fascinating, so I am still learning it gradually. Who knows, it might come in handy someday.

How can school leavers choose their career paths?

Career mentoring is very essential for students today. My advice to students is to discover their strengths and find a need in the society they can solve. I currently work with parents and students, using a tool called The College and Career Impact Report to help students select possible career paths based on their personality traits and strengths. Another thing is that school leavers should be courageous to try new things. If you are unsure, just learn a skill of interest and serve in any available field. Keep searching with the help of mentors and coaches. It’s okay to change paths later. I am an example of someone who has taken different paths several times along my journey. Give yourself room to explore as you take the journey towards discovering and clarifying your purpose. Those who truly seek always find. Never settle for a job or career that is below your current level of awareness and potentials. Always reach out for more.

Tell us about your company, what makes your services unique?

My company, Exponential Growth Academy Ltd is a leadership and coaching firm with headquarters in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Our vision is to serve corporate and individual clients across Africa and beyond, providing sustainable leadership training, coaching, speaking and consulting services to promote higher levels of engagement, performance and profitability.

We are focused on creating an environment for our team and clients where learning is encouraged, growth thrives and people are encouraged to lead with courage, unleash their potentials and be the best version of themselves daily.

Every year in April and October, we train students and youths across the city of Port Harcourt on leadership. Together with our partners, we have trained over 5,000 young people since we began in 2017.

We host an annual leadership conference, Live2lead, in collaboration with the Maxwell Leadership company, where we bring together leaders, business owners, professionals, company executives in one room to learn and grow from our international and local speakers.

Our training and people development solutions are sustainable and our clients experience long-term results. We help you integrate learning and development into your culture.

We want to know about your John Maxwell experience.

I joined the Maxwell Leadership Team in April 2012. It is exactly 10 years and a few days since I have been part of the team and mentored by John C Maxwell on leadership and personal growth. I have attended over 10 live events and networked with coaches and trainers from over 160 countries. I have friends all over the world. We meet twice every year in Orlando, Florida for our biannual conference and it is always a beautiful reunion.

I have also been privileged to travel with John C Maxwell and other coaches on Transformational Leadership missions to Paraguay and Costa Rica, where we trained thousands of facilitators on values so they can continue developing their people on values-based leadership and build a new society that is founded on rock solid values.

I have amazing mentors. The journey to becoming the best version of yourself is too rough to take on your own. Isaac Newton said, “If I have seen a little further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” This means that without the people who went before him and discovered what they did, he would never have made all the findings he did. We all need guides along the way who have already travelled the same path as we are, so we can learn from their experiences and avoid making some costly errors. Mentors are very resourceful for our personal growth and development. If you are going to climb a hill, you may not need a guide, but if you intend to climb a mountain, you cannot do it without a guide. My mentors have guided me on my journey of becoming a coach, speaker and trainer. I can say that being a member of The Maxwell Leadership Team has been a game changer

Follow up with Kate Onakomaiya on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter @kateonakomaiya

 The Growing Life is available on ebook and paper back


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