Dr Nkem speaks to Faustina Anyanwu on optimum health, peak performance and achieving success.
Dr Nkem unfortunately passed on at the age of 43 last August. In remembrance of her wealth of wisdom and contribution to mankind, we bring you from our archive our past interview with her. Hope you will learn a thing or two from her words.
She is a multi award winning, multi distinction medical graduate and a general practitioner at a North London Surgery. She is also a trained peak performance coach and serial author of health related books. She is passionate about personal development and power of the mind. Dr Nkem teaching strategy and presentations enable clients to achieve growth level of success in their personal, professional and business life. She also is passionate in empowering women on healthy lifestyle . Today she tells us her view on how women of colour can take their lives to a greater level despite the challenges that they face.
Most people seem not to ever cross a particular level of success in life. What do you think is the problem is there truly any glass ceiling?
I think if there’s any glass ceiling , it is mainly self imposed, the fact of the matter is that every individual has the capability to achieve any level of success and excellence in their endeavours.
How do you feel in this day and age hearing all these – first Black woman to do this and that. Is that a credit to us as a people or what?
I think the question is kind of loaded. It says a lot that it is a big deal that a black person is achieving something. It makes it sound as if it wasn’t expected and if that is the perception, then why isn’t that expectation. Why is it news when it happens. So that concept of it making news is something we need to change. Starting from ourselves, it shouldn’t be a big deal that we’re excelling in what we do.
Right. On personal development, what are the factors that must be there for one to actually excel in their lives. ?
The perception that a persons believe is everything. When I say believe, it starts from believe in your creator. That alone gives you a sense of purpose, a sense of why I’m here. In scripture we’re created in the Father’s image. If you understand what that means, it gives you an insight into your potentials because you realize that you’re made in God’s image , and God can do this things that means I got what it takes to do this .
Then there’s a believe in yourself, knowing where you come from, and who you are. I think believe is the foundation of everything. It’s because what you believe (Now a general principle) , this determines how you behave, and the way you behave determines the results you get in life.
At what age should one really become aware of themselves, is it from onset?
The earlier the better. The mother should start from when the baby is in the womb to start talking to these little people, because they are living creatures in the womb and they are learning. So why wait. As soon as you know that you’re pregnant, you should start speaking to them the word of life and enrichment to the baby and when they are born. However, if you didn’t know this and the children are born, fine. the sooner the better. It is never too late.
To be honest, if life is about growth, then it’s all about reaching for more, growing and growing. So from whatever age, the person can start that growing.
In your opinion, how much does parenting influence one’s development or achievement in life?
Parents have a huge role in the developmental stage of everyone because, when a child is growing up, the parents are the main contributors to that child’s learning even before they go to school. The parents are their first school, so they get their idea, their believe, their perception mainly from their parents and the things they are exposed to. Even when the child starts school, it is still the parents’ responsibility to see that this child is going in the right direction. So parental influence is very much important. Also we now know scientifically, if a woman is healthy, if she nourishes her body properly, sleeping properly and things like all the eight pillars (see Dr Nkem’s eight pillars of health next page), she passes down to the unborn child genes that sort of stir the child in the direction of good health.
How do you know a person is performing in their utmost peak.
I think results speak for themselves. It depends on the area you’re talking about. If it’s in the area of academics, that one is easy to measure. But in general, if you look at a person to start with in area of health, you can tell, right, if it is career wise, you can see whether a person is successful not just based on where they are. You can still be at the beginning of the ladder and still be successful if your point is moving in the right direction.
Optimum health and peak performance, are they correlated?
I will just make a statement to answer that question. How can you perform if you are sick in the bed to start with. Optimum health in my opinion is not just the absence of physical disease, it includes optimum mental and emotional health. Peak performance and any performance at all, you need to be in tiptop health to be able to do it. If you’re depressed or full of anxiety and panic, you can’t perform at peak.
In my experience, I have seen many people from all walks of life, some successful in their careers and some trying to be successful. Very busy yet very unstable with their health. I found out that vast majority of the cases are preventable . A classic example is this gentle man who owns a very busy shop, and he was suffering with severe migraine, has been to different consultants, has had several scans and investigations, taking all treatments you can think of, yet his migraine persisted. While going through the checklist, I found out he was not taking enough water or fluid. Very simple, very cheap but he was not doing it. His excuse being that he is busy always on his feet no time. But you have time to come and see a doctor and wait for hours in waiting room but you don’t have time to do this for a few minutes everyday. After a few days, he came back for follow up, his feedback was overwhelming. “Oh you’re such a miracle worker doctor”. No I’m not a miracle worker, simple thing, listen to your body and give it what it needs. Simple water is enough to clear all the misery of going back and forth to the doctor and check-ups.
Usually, when I see people with such symptoms, I always let them know that it’s their body trying to draw their attention to something, and that obviously is not medication. It still will come down to running a checklist with the 8 pillars of health to know where you’ve got it wrong. I think optimum health is the key to everything . You need your body to move around.
Now it’s weight lost rush with women. How would you explain to someone to perfectly measure their weight?
First thing I do, I try to help the person to understand one thing, focusing on weight is wrong. If you focus on weight, you do all sorts of crazy things about weight. forgetting about health. I try to change their paradigm , the way they think about weight, to thinking more about health. A healthy body wouldn’t be overweight. A healthy body with all the hormones working perfectly, will release any excess fat and will build up if you’re underweight. So a healthy body always has a healthy weight.
Tell me about winning the Women4Africa award. How does it feel being recognised in such a way.?
I was awarded for the women for Africa motivational speaker of the year because of the series of motivational healthy lifestyle talks I have been giving over the past 12 months.
As a motivational speaker, what exactly do you tell your audience, and why have your talks been so outstanding?
I know they call it motivational speaker but it’s really about educating people. Truly motivation without education is dangerous as it’s said, that you can have a bunch of idiots, give them motivational talk and all you have is a bunch of motivated idiots.
What I like to do when speaking to people is to educate and lead them first, give them the right information and follow it up with an implementation plan. Otherwise, people can get motivated but when the feeling is gone, they slip back to same old story. I try to inspire them to take action, because you can talk all you want, without action, nothing happens.
What do you think about this mind-set of charity within Africa ?
I personally think while there’s a place for giving gifts, too much of it makes people to be dependant, makes people not to take responsibility for their own sustenance. It keeps people in that oh let me wait for hand-out.
I would rather see on educating people on how to fend for themselves because where there is a will there’s a way. With the right education, right inspiration you can come out from this rut. Hand out hand out keep Africa in the third world.
In most African society, women are still seen as an acquired possession. How would these women come out of this shadow of men and begin to live a meaningful life?
It may be a little bit of a challenge because the culture is largely that way. However, it is up to every individual woman to recognise her own value with all due respect. I’m not saying you have to be burning your bra, but recognise your own value, have enough self respect, self esteem to know that you worth something and that you have a voice that needs to be heard. Heard in whatever your specialization is, and then make the move to come out and speak for yourself. Express yourself in whatever field because women have a lot to offer in today’s world and it’s development.
I have often told women to tolerate no excuses, don’t put yourself down, don’t let anybody put you down.