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Atoke’s Monday Morning Banter: 5 Kilos of Success



djones2Am I the only one who feels an annoying frustration when I read a book that ends with a cliffhanger? Even worse when it’s a movie that doesn’t LAND one way or the other? I find it so utterly disturbing that I start to imagine all sorts of possible endings that the writer may or may not have considered. The movie, Gone Girl, thoroughly left me unsatisfied. You know, one of those things which have endings that just screw up your mind. It’s not as bad as Inception, but as we walked out of the cinema, my friend and I kept plotting alternative trajectories that the movie could have taken.

So, after all that self-induced brain work, I grabbed my phone to unwind on Twitter and Instagram. Alas, there was drama on Nigerian Twitter; and somehow or the other the conversation descended into the usual foray. The words ‘haters’ & ‘jealous people’ were bandied about for good measure.

Scrolling tweets, I got the general idea of the furore and at the bottom of it all was the element of success. The issue was whether or not to question the ethics of a successful person’s business practices. If a person is successful, surely the path to success isn’t of relevance. Or is it?

Success is one of those achievements that is measured by varying standards. For some people it’s by their family and kids; for others it’s about their professional achievements. For yet another set of people, it’s about how much money they have and how much relevance that the money enables them to purchase. However, in Nigeria, it almost seems that there is a consensus that money is the S.I unit for success.

“You’re talking about her ethics but she stays winning. Houses. Cars. Holidays Abroad. What do you have?”

“You’re saying he can’t sing, but he’s making more money than three generations of your family would ever make.”

On the flip side, we had people who said things along this vein, “So if I criticized a wealthy thief, it’s “bad belle.” Pls shattap! This warped argument is symptomatic of everything wrong with Nigeria.”

I was looking for something to help me calm down, not push me further into a state of distress. So in the spirit of fun, ease and light, I grabbed my phone to ask a few friends how they measure ‘success’. My friend, Mne said “LOL. It is being able to buy a full scale cooker with oven and grill.” She then reminded me of how when she was moving into her flat, she was advised to limit herself to buying a table top burner because she was single. According to the advisor, the full scale burner was an indication of being settled and being successful, thus scaring prospective suitors away. She then asked him if she could buy a steam iron or if it was okay to just manage a coal powered one. Surely, it wouldn’t do to show that she was successful enough to purchase an iron.

Another friend said that he measured success by ‘happiness’. Asking him to clarify, he said “you know a person can have money and not be happy. But money helps.” (Ahah! Back to money.)

Another friend said that she would see her life as a success only when her kids turn out to be decent and morally upstanding adults.

Someone who has been struggling with nicotine addiction told me that his definition of success was being able to restrict himself to 2 sticks of cigarettes a day.

Success means different things to different people. So should one person be judged for having a particular yardstick for his/her own achievements? Or is there a universal definition by which we all unwittingly measure one another?

Either way, whatever you decide to pursue as your life goals, make sure you rock at it, by your standards and by whatever universal standards there are. After all, how else does one justify having lived in this world of uncertainties?

Have a fabulous week ahead. Have a restful holiday and for those of us on the grind… let’s make it count! Don’t forget to share your personal definition of success with us.

Peace, love & cauliflower.


Photo Credit:

You probably wanna read a fancy bio? But first things first! Atoke published a book titled, +234 - An Awkward Guide to Being Nigerian. It's available on Amazon. ;)  Also available at Roving Heights bookstore. Okay, let's go on to the bio: With a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Swansea University, Atoke hopes to be known as more than just a retired foodie and a FitFam adherent. She can be reached for speechwriting, copywriting, letter writing, script writing, ghost writing  and book reviews by email – [email protected]. She tweets with the handle @atoke_ | Check out her Instagram page @atoke_ and visit her website for more information.


  1. Queen of everything

    October 6, 2014 at 11:00 am

    I’ll stick to cucumber haha…

    On the topic, I associate success with peace of mind.
    If I go to sleep, happy with my accomplishments for the day and my stand with God and man (the relevant people in my life). That is success for me and repeat the cycle tomorrow.

  2. tbn

    October 6, 2014 at 11:58 am

    I will see myself as being successful when my children are done with school, have their own jobs and can stand on their own feet. When I have built my own houses and live in one of them, when I have more money than I can spend and enough to help those in need (it definitely still comes back to money). and lastly, when I have complete peace of mind, continuous peace with God, abundant joy and true love of my life. Then I would say I have succeeded!

  3. Flow

    October 6, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    Akote u rock always!!! Now to the matter, success is being comfortable and happy with what u have, dosent mean u should be limited, it means u can pursue ur goal and ambition without limiting, cheating or downright destroying someone else’s.


    October 6, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    Thanks for another beautifully written post – Success is relative. My definition of success is accomplishing your set goals. For example, I have plans to climb the career ladder, and unless I achieve that goal, I will not consider myself to be successful

  5. nira

    October 6, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    I agree with Atoke that success means different things to different people. But I also believe that the definition of success changes with the different stages of our lives. For instances, to a teenager who is about to write UME and SSCE examinations, his/ her definition of success would be to make good results and get admitted into the university. For an undergraduate, success is making a first class or second class upper and being able to get a good job. For a single lady or man, success might be finding a good partner and building a life and family. For an average worker/ salary earner success for him/ her is getting to peak of their career and making as much money as imagined and being able to build houses, and afford other luxuries of life. For a newly married couple, success would be being able to have children and gathering the resources to bring them up. For an actor/ singer/ celebrity in general, success is measured by fame, money and number of fans. For an elderly couple, success would be seeing their children accomplished, getting married and giving them it goes on and on. I also believe that the ultimate success is trying as much as possible to live a life that please God, find His favour and being able to make heaven.

  6. Nana

    October 6, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    Success to me is when I have total control over food and lose 30kgs. Success is also being at the peak of my career, having a loving husband and a good home and amongst all, success is making my parents proud. By the way, I am 21. 🙂

  7. Busarni

    October 6, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    Success is SUCCESS

  8. G

    October 6, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Bella Naija you have done it again.
    Atoke morning oh. nice write up… bamn
    “You’re talking about her ethics but she stays winning. Houses. Cars. Holidays Abroad. What do you have?”
    On the flip side, we had people who said things along this vein, “So if I criticized a wealthy thief, it’s “bad belle.”
    y this morning am I questioning if there are still successful people out there with ethics.?.. watched a movie and a lady was employed bc of her moral ethics . It didn’t take up to two minutes she had to compromise and she questioned herself if she’s going to turn out to some1 she doesn’t recognise with no ethics. I said to myself ask the main xter in the Good wife…

  9. ipad

    October 6, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    Success to me will come in phases. I’m married and blessed with kids I can afford all I need but do I consider my self successful no,meanwhile to some single lady dats all they wish for right now.
    success is soo relative wanting to getting to the peak of my career is Success. Wanting to see my family do well is Success. Been able to add value to other people live is Success.
    But cos we have lost values in this part of the world, people judge success with money.

  10. No Wonder

    October 6, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    Money has not always being my definition of success but I always end up getting lots of them. And then when people say you are so successful, I wonder what they are talking about!

    • G

      October 9, 2014 at 12:37 am

      indeed you are successful. what are they talking about??? with a mindset like yours it’s very expensive for people to maintain and contain.
      Lots of people have been drummed in their heads success is defined by materialism..
      My enemies have insulted me with the aim to coax me to the materialistic mindset. But by His Grace I am saved…
      Lot took the greener pastures and Abraham didn’t cry … kinini lets share this greenland… you take part of the dessert, I take part of the green land. Abraham’s mindset took him further as the stars above….
      Cheers to your mindset… I celebrate it coz it’s wisdom and valuable…

  11. bees

    October 6, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    Just read the book (Gone girl) you will understand it better.

  12. Tosin

    October 6, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    If you can keep your head when all about you are losing th…
    Keep your head as in not be dead, or keep your head as in stay calm? For you to figure out hehehehe. Isn’t there something beautiful too about the unresolved story, the question with multiple answers and half-answers? I think so too.

    – out of the game (great song by Rufus Wainwright)

  13. Sagittarius

    October 6, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    I love Stephanie. On another note, women if your weave look like a cap on u know that it doesn’t look right. Your weave should look natural like it is growing out of your scalp.

  14. geeky

    October 6, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    Success is simply being able to maximize one’s God-given potential. This means we all have different yardstick by which God will measure our success. It’s discovering your purpose and fulfilling it. Success is more than the material things that other people can see and appreciate. The parable of the talents in the Bible perfectly illustrates the variable yardstick of success as decided by our creator

  15. rolake

    October 6, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    does anyone know how to submit write ups to bellanaija?

  16. Chinma Eke

    October 6, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    Sucess is being happy. Passing through every phase in live sucessfully.


    October 6, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    Oh my! Atoke, I have had my own share of frustration reading Half of a yellow sun. The end left me thinking and hoping for a better life for “K”

    Well, back to the topic, when I look back and see how far I have gone, I feel successful.

    Have a wonderful day!

  18. spoonfullofsugar

    October 6, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Success to me means constantly getting better in every area of your life.

  19. Aijay...

    October 6, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    For me success is never ending. From the time i had good grades in waec and university, got my first job immediately after serving and the next good one soon after as well as being promoted at work and so on.

  20. Neo

    October 7, 2014 at 12:26 am

    Sometimes success lies in the simple things. Like when i make a cheesecake and the frosting doesn’t melt. Or when i nail my new hairstyle in one try. Or finding the perfect shoes at a bargain!

  21. Bobosteke & Lara Bian

    October 7, 2014 at 11:09 am

    Success is like lust
    she’s good to the touch
    she is good for the moment but she is never enough….

    -Jay-Z (From the lyrics to History)

  22. addie

    October 8, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    lol @ your friend with the cooker and iron. I can’t believe that backward thinkers like the agent still exists.
    I believe success is achieving your set goals and having people to share the success with

  23. Sheriff

    October 17, 2014 at 9:19 am

    From SA where I currently occupy, I must say it’s been an amazing read all in all: the article, the comments.

    The definition of success for a person of my kind would be how many people you bless is how you measure success. You most definitely see me ( or know me as the case may be ) donig much of that.

    Have a wonderful life!

  24. pinkdivva

    October 25, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    Success for me is being able to achieve my goals in life and i would say its a phase and more like a bucket list being ticked along as i go through them. Being able to graduate from school, getting married, having my 2 amazing boys and still pursuing other dreams which are becoming reality by the day. money would always be a part of success so i can live the life i want for myself and family “because without money na so so dreaming like alice in wonderland without reality”…lol. My success story will be to live long enough to see my boys become great successful men ,see them get married and become a grandma to their kids…leaving a wonderful legacy of giving back to the society by God’s grace.

  25. Bisqo

    November 11, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    Success is always the next best thing! When you think you’ve got it all… there’s another level you want to reach. I wish I could define success!

  26. me

    December 22, 2014 at 10:51 am

    Success is discovering and being all that I was born to be. You realize that there comes a time when career (if not in line with your purpose), money, fame etc. doesn’t just cut it and that’s why you find certain supposedly successful people commit suicide….cos of the emptiness. That niggling feeling of what am I really here for? what next? is the heart crying for fulfillment. I’d say the outpouring of everything you were born to be is the ultimate definition of success. Sorry didn’t mean to preach *wide grin*

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