Unleashing the Power Within: Key insights on Soft Power by Tobi Mohammed
In a recent speech at Oxford University, Tobi Mohammed, Founder of the Block Party series and Managing Partner of The Plug, shared invaluable insights on unlocking the potential of Soft Power.
Let's dive into the key points he highlighted, inspiring us to harness our abilities and make a meaningful impact irrespective of the sector we find ourselves in.
- Excellence, the Path to Success:
Excellence serves as the underlying driver for everyone seeking success. Excellence and soft power are an unstoppable combination that can propel individuals and nations to unparalleled heights. When these two forces intertwine, they create a synergy that amplifies influence, shapes narratives, and drives positive change. Excellence acts as the foundation upon which Soft Power thrives. When we strive for excellence in our pursuits, whether in academics, professions, or creative endeavours, we position ourselves as credible and reliable sources of knowledge, talent, and expertise. This commitment to excellence cultivates respect and admiration, establishing the groundwork for Soft Power to flourish.
- Inspiring by Example:
Excellence inspires others, showcasing what is possible and encouraging them to raise their own standards. When individuals consistently demonstrate exceptional skills, work ethic, and results, they become beacons of inspiration, attracting attention and admiration from peers, communities, and even globally. Moreover, by embodying the Soft Power that stems from achieving enviable success, we motivate others to follow suit, creating a ripple effect beyond our immediate spheres of influence. This notion is exemplified by the global prominence the Nigerian music industry has garnered in recent years – with each major player embracing the challenge of matching the heights of their contemporaries.
- Cultural Infusion:
Cultural infusion serves as a powerful catalyst for Soft Power, allowing individuals, communities, and nations to harness their unique heritage, traditions, and values to shape narratives, foster understanding, and drive positive change on a global scale. In his address, Tobi emphasised the power of cultural diplomacy in fostering understanding and building strong international relationships, stressing the infusion of cultural references as a powerful tool to reshape global perceptions about communities and nations. “By showcasing the richness and vibrancy of our cultural heritage, we challenge stereotypes and showcase the diversity within our societies,” he said.
Indeed, cultural appreciation causes initiatives to transcend borders and connect people on a deeper level, as highlighted by the success of the Block Party series – which started on the Lagos mainland and has grown in scale to become a staple reference for community activations across Nigeria, Accra (Ghana), and Puerto Rico. In addition, we create avenues for meaningful exchange and understanding by embracing diverse cultural elements, such as art, music, cuisine, fashion, and language.
- Control the Narrative:
In an era of rapid information dissemination, controlling the narrative becomes crucial in countering misinformation and stereotypes. As individuals, we must harness the potential of our Soft Power by utilising storytelling, media engagement, and digital platforms to provide accurate and authentic narratives that challenge misconceptions about Africa and Africans. By presenting diverse perspectives, promoting cultural exchange, and sharing personal stories, we can dismantle stereotypes, foster empathy, and promote a more inclusive and understanding global society.
- Seeing Barriers? Just Start!
Taking the bold step to start is crucial in realising the potential of our Soft Power. Tobi encouraged the session’s participants to begin their journeys, whether it's through purposeful training or simply by stepping out of one’s comfort zone. “By starting, we initiate a paradigm shift, opening doors to opportunities we may not have envisioned,” he emphasised. Remember, certain results can't be orchestrated, but the benefits of our inputs are within our control.
- Turning Loss into Success:
Loss and the realisation of Soft Power potential are intimately linked. When faced with adversity, individuals can embrace resilience, learn from setbacks, and channel their emotions creatively, unlocking their innate abilities and tapping into their Soft Power potential. Loss sometimes catalyses personal growth and transformation, fueling the motivation to effect positive change and make a lasting impact.
Through the experience of loss, individuals develop empathy, compassion, and a deeper understanding of others' struggles, enhancing their ability to connect with diverse audiences. By leveraging their resilience, learning, and emotional energy, individuals can transform their experiences of loss into stories of triumph and resilience, inspiring others and attracting opportunities that amplify their Soft Power. Tobi shared the inspiring story of Victony, who overcame significant adversity and achieved remarkable success in the music industry. This incredible story reminds us that setbacks can be stepping stones, propelling us toward greater achievements if we remain determined and resilient.
- Harnessing Potential with Work:
“Soft Power's potential goes beyond hope and faith.”
It requires active effort and hard work. The importance of harnessing our potential and creating magic in our spheres of influence cannot be overemphasised. By putting in the necessary work, we can unlock the true power within us and make a lasting impact on our communities. There is always magic waiting for you at the other side of your comfort zone!
- Spread Soft Power, One Individual at a Time:
Soft Power has a ripple effect on society, and if harnessed effectively, it can be a powerful tool in changing narratives about Africa and beyond. This is exemplified by the successes of exports like the Ikorodu boys, AY, Davido, CKay and ‘freedom fighter’ - Falz. We can no longer deny the paradigm shift that is happening.
Tobi encouraged participants to make a conscious effort to help others realise their potential by providing training and creating opportunities for others to tap from the bank they all carry.
Indeed, by empowering individuals, we can collectively change the world, starting with one person at a time.
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