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Words about words, brands, names and naming, and the creative process.

#sparkchamber 090318 — AK Ikwuakor

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People from all walks of life, from all forms of creative expression, from all arcs of the globe meet up in the #sparkchamber. This week, we connected with unbranded AK Ikwuakor through a story he shared on LinkedIn. A simple truth told straight from the heart, his words spoke directly to us.

In his own words:

“I can put myself into a box and say that I am an athlete, educator, coach, entrepreneur, or a host of many other nice-sounding titles, but when it all comes down to it, each of those experiences collectively has helped shaped the individual I am today.

“As a former All-American athlete at the University of Oregon and professional athlete representing my parents’ home country of Nigeria on an international stage, athletics taught me to never settle for second place. It also instilled that success comes from years of putting in consistent hard work and the real you is the “you” that shows up on game day. 

“As an educator at top international schools such as Phillips Exeter Academy and the St. Paul’s School, it showed me that every seat at the table has value and an interesting perspective, and that every moment of our existence can be a unique learning opportunity. 

“As an entrepreneur [or creator], working in the areas of sports diplomacy, fashion and apparel, international affairs, and youth empowerment, I wake up every day reminded that to push the limits, and trust that what is imagined can be achieved. 

“As a wanderlust and traveling to over 30 countries, the experiences showed me there are no absolutes and that even though we may be different, there are more commonalities that connect us than break us apart. 

“And lastly, and most importantly, are the moments in-the-in-between, these bullet point moments, which remind me not take everything too seriously, to get out of my own head, and enjoy this one life that we were provided. Realizing that it’s not about stepping outside the box, but instead realizing that the box never existed in the first place. 

“I am proud to say I can’t fit into a box. I am not just an athlete, an entrepreneur, an educator, a thrill seeker, a father, or whatever title is deemed on me. I am UnBranded!"

See more at Vimeo, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

And, take a moment to read this little story. Maybe we can all take a walk to the nearest playground on this holiday Monday ;-)

1.] Where do ideas come from?

Our minds are continually active and processing the world around us using all of our five senses. We block out most of it. By removing the thought of, “This is how thing are supposed to be,” and opening up our imagination like children, ideas flow effortlessly. If you remove words like “realistic” and “rational” from your vocabulary, then you will see how deep your imagination goes. 

2.] What is the itch you are scratching?

Drive and motivation are weird concepts. Personally, I have always found it odd that an “internal warm feeling” needs to be felt inside of us to be compelled to take a certain action. Most of us don't need motivation to brush our teeth, or make cereal in the morning, instead we just do it; without thinking. So why do we now need motivation, or a warm feeling inside, to do something we love or know we should do. If we switch our actions and goals, to how we also view brushing our teeth or making cereal, instead of some big internal feeling waiting to be sparked, then maybe we would get more accomplished. We need to change the perspective we see things and situations. 

3.] Early bird or night owl, tortoise or hare?

I am always trying to find the ideal structure and flow. I work best when I wake up early [around 5:30am or 6:00am] don’t check my phone and start on my morning routine. I am not a strong writer, so to journal I speak in front of the mirror, followed by working out, planning my tasks — led by my procrastination task, read and meditate. My goal is to get my most important tasks complete before 9am; before the notifications start streaming in. If I can start of my day controlling my willpower [not pressing snooze], then the rest of the day is easy to stay on track and focused. 

4.] How do you know when you are done?

Most things are never really done. I set things complete based on deadlines and getting comfortable with letting go.