Do you long to have a balanced life and improve your relationships? You can unlock your potential and be the leader you desire to be. Learn how to lead effectively with six powerful, practical, and simple steps – Centering, Asking for Guidance, Identity , Inclusivity, Gratitude and Thinking in terms of Possibilities! With these revolutionary approach, find harmony between logic and spirituality while leading at work and home. It’s possible to experience deeper harmony with yourself and others.Tope
An interview with my friend, Beverly Lewis.
A Listening Heart
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[00:00:00] Beverly: Welcome to the High Road to Leadership. I’m your host, Beverly Lewis, and I am so excited to have a guest with me in the studio today. You are going to meet my friend Temitope Keku, and I call her Tope. So, Tope, I’m just going to stop and say, I am delighted you’re here today. Thank you, Beverly. I appreciate the opportunity to be here.
And I love so many things about Tope, but we’re going to be, as you know, on the high road to leadership. Our. My journey is to help equip you to win from within, to lead from within, and to have the impact and influence in your world as you were designed and called to do. And there are [00:01:00] often so many obstacles and so many things that get in the way.
And my heart is to help you press through the obstacles so that you can be all that you were called to be. And Tope has a message for us about that today. I, she has got a resume that, honestly, when I re-looked it up this morning before this time, I was, I was like, wow. You, you know, your work in science as a doctor and with your research in, The prevention and cure of cancer has been amazing and she’s an author and she’s got this fabulous business called Hidden Treasures and Riches that she does coaching, speaking, training, particularly for women.
So thank you. I’m not going to, I’m not going to try to give you all of the ABCs all the way to [00:02:00] Z of her resume because Tope, I’d like to hear from you a little bit about your leadership journey and how you got to this place where you are today on the high road to leadership. So tell us your story. Thank you, Beverly.
[00:02:18] Tope: So I would like to start off with this question. Can a scientist believe in God? So science is very factually based. And so I ask you again, just imagine that you’re talking to a physics professor, and this physics professor is telling you about his spiritual journey. This guy probably spent seven to 10 years in school to get his doctorate, and he’s probably learned math and science and all of that, but being a scientist in our, world today is, and being a spiritually minded person, are often viewed as diametrically opposed.
[00:03:00] Right? Right. Yeah. So I would say welcome to my world. So, I am a scientist, I’m a professor, and a translational researcher working on colon cancer. I also believe in God. And I’ve led women’s ministry for over 20 years. Logically, these two things don’t go together. So, how did I get here, and what happened to me?
So, I will tell you my story in brief, like Beverly mentioned. I could spend the whole day telling you a whole lot more, but we will keep it short and sweet. So my story in brief is this. I was born in Nigeria. I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, in a Christian home. I attended the University of Jos in Nigeria, which is in central Nigeria, where I obtained my Bachelor’s of Science in Zoology and a Master’s Degree in Medical Parasitology.
And if you’re wondering what’s that, that’s the study of parasites. [00:04:00] So in, in developing countries. Infectious diseases is more common, and so studying parasites back home made sense. Over 30 years ago, my husband and I relocated to the United States, and we moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina. And so in, in Chapel Hill, I obtained a master’s degree in public, public health, in parasitology and lab practice, and then a PhD in molecular epidemiology at UNC Chapel Hill.
So that’s my science background. And now let me tell you about the spiritual side. If I would share my resume on the spiritual side, it would take forever as well. So it is going to be brief. So on the spiritual side, since I was a little girl, I’ve always had that special relationship with God.
And being the oldest of six kids, my parents encouraged that. So I dream. I see visions, and [00:05:00] it’s been since I was a little girl but I won’t bore you with all of the details of that, but to fast forward when we relocated to the U. S., my husband and I were attending a church and in that church, I was I was nominated to serve as a deacon.
I served as a deacon and an elder in that church and while doing that, I also led a women’s Bible study in my home for 13 years. So in 2009. I started to attend a new church and then we went on a mission trip to Ethiopia. And in this new church, I really didn’t talk to anyone about here are my skill set.
Here’s what I do. I just kind of wanted a break. And so going on this mission trip to Ethiopia. My new pastor saw me working with the women and he came and pulled me aside and said, Huh, I didn’t know you have all this skill set. Can you prayerfully consider when we get back home to start a women’s ministry at the church.
And so [00:06:00] coming back home. After that, I started a women’s ministry at my current church. So I, I’ve been leading that ministry and now I co lead it with another lady that I’ve mentored. And lastly, I would say that I I also served on the, in the Bible study fellowship as a leader. For two years facilitated Bible study for the for, I think there were maybe 17 women in the, in the group each time that I, I worked with.
So how did I then, I did all of these things while I was maintaining my role as a scientist and as a, as a, as a researcher and as a spiritual person.
[00:06:41] Beverly: And, as a mom, you have I’m a mom. You have four children? I have four kids, yes. Yeah? I have four grown kids, yes. Yes. Wow. And you’ve written a book just a couple of years ago that I have to say is one of my [00:07:00] favorite, if not my favorite devotional book.
It is very deep and yet very easy to pick up on a daily basis. It’s like it calls to you and it’s called Weathering Storms, Finding Treasures in the Ruins. Yeah, there’s quite a story behind that of how that got written and then I know you came out in 2021 with the journal that accompanies that.
[00:07:27] Tope: Yes.
[00:07:27] Beverly: Thankful Every Day, a gratitude journal to refresh your soul and increase your joy. So gosh, I have so many questions based on the story that you just shared and one of the reasons it just makes my heart sing is that I really, I, as you know, As you do work on development and it, with a lot of leaders, my, my focus is leadership development, particularly in the business and corporate world.
But I find that [00:08:00] women are, are trying to juggle it all and they are just so hungry for encouragement and practical help, but also all of the skills. That pertain to leading well must be applied in our homes first because that’s the greenhouse for the leaders of the future. It’s the home. So it makes perfect sense to me how your women’s ministry is so connected with the call that you have as a scientist.
It makes perfect sense to me, even though, as you said, it, it can appear diametrically opposed. With all of that said, what would be some of the things from your experience that you would share with… Those that are, are in that challenge on the high road [00:09:00] of trying to do it all and do it all well.
I want to hear.
[00:09:05] Tope: Yes, thank you for asking that question. And there are six steps that I want the listeners to consider. And these are the six steps that have sort of helped keep me in harmony to function with my logical mind and my spiritual mind and lead effectively. Thank you. So, leading in science, leading in in ministry, leading as a wife, as a mom, leading in all spheres of life.
6 Powerful, Practical, and Simple Steps for Improving Your Leadership at Work and Home
There are six steps. The first step is CENTERING. And it is… Spending time with God is not negotiable. That is the basics. That’s for me. That’s the basics. That’s the foundation. And how do I apply this in my life? I wake up early in the morning around 5 a. m. I usually will start with a worship song. And then I pray.
I read a [00:10:00] scripture. I usually use a devotional. Our daily bread is one that I’ve used since I was a teenager. So I still use that. And some several others, and then I would pray about what I, what I just read and how to apply it. And then lastly, I would end my, my centering time with praying for others.
And then I journal you know, whatever I received from this quiet time, from this time of centering. And this has helped me stay centered as a scientist and as a ministry leader, and as a wife and a mom. Without this, I don’t think I could be successful. Yeah. So that’s the first step. The second step is ASKING FOR GUIDANCE, and you might wonder asking for guidance for what?
So my prayer time in the morning is just not that. For me, prayer is an ongoing conversation throughout the day with God. So if I’m working [00:11:00] on a project and I’m getting into running into difficulties, I will stop. and ask God for insight. And usually I would pray something like this, Lord, whatever I was working on, let’s say I’m working on a technical issue and I’m running into some difficulties.
Lord, you are the master technician. Would you, in your mercy, give me insight as to what the problem is, how to go about fixing it. And usually, I would get insight. Either I would be pointed to someone to help me or I would be given the, the know how to do it, but I would get insight and then I do the same thing for ministry and we just, you and I just did that just before we got on, it’s, we were running some challenges and I stopped right there to pray and ask for, for guidance.
Yeah. So that’s the second step.
[00:11:55] Beverly: We got it fixed too. The technical difficulties were overcome. Yay. [00:12:00] It is a miraculous way to live. So, keep going.
[00:12:03] Tope: Yeah. So that’s the second step. The third step is IDENTITY. Oh, wow. This one is big. So, knowing my worth and treasuring my own value. So for me, even though I’ve been a Christian for a long, long time, I didn’t always embrace my identity as a child of God.
I knew God. I know he’s my Father. But I just knew it in my mind, but not in my heart. And so, what kept me behind? The opinion of others and fear kept me so that I, you know, what would they think? I’m a scientist. Could I really be a scientist and be thinking like this? Do they, do things go together?
But… When my family went through multiple trials and that’s a story for another day But I would just share that we went through multiple trials including losing our home to fire and that Helped me to know God on a whole new level [00:13:00] So I can tell you that in a sense adversity helped me to discover my identity in Christ and I would like to quote the late Kobe Bryant, he said this, God is great until you go, you got to pick up that cross that you can’t carry alone. And then he picks it up for you and carries you and the cross, and then you know.
So that’s exactly what happened to me is when we went through these multiple rounds of trials one after the other, it challenged me, I could not carry myself and then God helped me during that time and that during that time is when I fully received my identity as a child of God.
And so, knowing. who I am spiritually as a child of God has been very instrumental in knowing my worth and treasuring my own value. [00:14:00] And it’s helped me to own my voice as a leader in science and also a leader in Christian women’s ministry. I know the value that I bring to the table.
[00:14:12] Beverly: Wow. Helps you to own your voice.
I’m taking notes. Yeah, that’s. Wow, that’s beautiful. And I have to say, and I know that our listeners are hearing this, that your voice, there’s a peace, there’s a, there’s a musicality. I’m a musician, and to me, your voice is, is Thank you. Thanks. It’s like listening to a beautiful song and I mean that in every sense of the word and that harmony brings peace.
So, I love it. Keep talking. We are on number four. Thank you.
[00:14:45] Tope: Number four. Thank you, Beverly. Number four is INCLUSIVITY. So, for me, I believe that everyone has value and that their voice matters. So, my leadership style is not necessarily Top to bottom, but it’s more of one that [00:15:00] invites others to contribute.
Even if the ultimate decision is mine to make, I still want to hear, get input from them. And then, you know, I can make whatever decision I need to make. But I want everyone’s To feel that their voice matters. So, for example, in my research, my team includes students, technicians, postdocs, all at different levels in their training.
But during our weekly meetings, everyone’s invited to contribute to whatever we’re discussing.
[00:15:32] Beverly: And they feel that, they feel that invitation and thus they do, right?
[00:15:37] Tope: Yes, they feel that invitation and they participate. And so that for me, I think is important. A good leader, a good leader wants to, doesn’t go alone, but a good leader wants to include others, wants to hear, you know, because we don’t always see ourselves and we all have blind spots, but being inclusive means that you bring diverse. [00:16:00]
Opinions, diverse perspectives to the table, and that, I think, gives you a better product, and better decisions than if you were just going solo.
[00:16:11] Beverly: That’s gold. That is pure gold, and that is what all the research is supporting about leadership, but I think that the old style of leadership is that you need to be in control.
And you, and in order to do this way of leadership, you have to relinquish that need to be in control, and it invites innovation and breakthrough.
[00:16:35] Tope: Yes, it invites not only innovation and breakthrough, it also invites trust. Because guess what? The team sees that you trust them and you’re empowering them, also that they do have a voice and their voice matters.
So, it’s, I mean, it’s a win-win for all. The team members are empowered to own their voice. They’re empowered to see that, oh, my contribution matters. [00:17:00] Oh, what I have to share has weight. It’s taken into consideration. And what, I mean, what a way to, to help people to feel empowered, especially for women.
What a way to help them to feel empowered. Yeah. And so also in, when we study God’s word, so here’s how I apply it in ministry. Same thing goes. When we study God’s word together with the women, everyone has a voice. They share. We go around the circle and share. What are you hearing from what we just read?
What’s God speaking to you about that? And so, again, I use this approach, both in science and in ministering to women. So, inclusivity.
And the fifth one, we’re almost there. The fifth one is GRATITUDE. This is also another big one. And you might wonder why that is. My name, my first name, Temitope, means gratitude.
This is enough to thank God. So, being grateful for Each moment of my [00:18:00] life has a way of shifting my perspective, and it’s helped me not to get stuck in one narrative. You know how we can get stuck in this? I want to see that that’s the only view that’s available. No, but when I’m grateful, it opens up possibilities, and I can see other perspectives, and it allows me to not stay stuck.
You know even in difficult situations, I can usually, I see. What’s one thing I can be thankful for? I’m always looking for one thing that I can be thankful for, even in difficult situations. And that’s, that’s what gives me that perspective. And it gives me that inner peace. That’s again, that’s part of my centering that inner peace, because when we’re grateful we can be grateful and be grumbling at the same time, it’s not possible.
And, and, and for me, joy is important. Another aspect of my name is joy. And so gratitude and [00:19:00] joy for me go together. And when I’m feeling gratitude and joy together, it’s hard to be complaining, to be moping. It opens my eyes to possibilities. And so in working with team members, how do I apply this and working with team members?
I express gratitude to them for what they’re doing for their contributions. Always find something to compliment them about, and I mean it genuinely, not just to, you know, just not just for saying sake, but, but to really compliment them and to say, I do appreciate. And I think that’s one of the reasons I’ve had people work for me for over 15 years.
I have people who have worked for me 10 years, 15 years, once almost going to 20 years.
[00:19:46] Beverly: Wow. Yeah. That is a testimony in itself. Absolutely. Wow. I talk about these principles and talk about how it reduces attrition. You just gave, you know, testimony to that, that it, [00:20:00] it causes people to stay and stick and all that you’ve invested in them then continues to be, to be a an asset to the whole organization. All right. So, what’s number six?
[00:20:12] Tope: Number six, this is thinking in terms of POSSIBILITIES. One of the things that my spiritual side helps me to do is to accept people for who they are. Compassion and empathy are two areas that I needed for effective leadership and for me, relationships, both at work and at church.
Can be tricky. But when I encounter people who are difficult to get along with, because every, I mean, all the things that we’ve talked about centers on relationships, right release relationship with others, whether at work or at home or at church it centers on that relationship. And so, I’m always thinking in terms of possibilities. [00:21:00]
So, when I encounter people who are difficult to get along with, and I’ve got a, I’ve got my, I’m Share of them in my life. I ask, what else is possible? I explore other opportunities to connect with them. Recently I stumbled upon the five love languages, and I’ve been using that quite a lot, both in my coaching as well as in my personal life to kind of get to know what people’s love language is.
And as a way to connect with them. So, I’m not, I’m not buying into the narrative that they want me to have that I’m difficult and you just have to accept me like that. But when we can open up the possibilities to figure out what’s your love language is, how best can we connect? I think it opens up possibilities, and the people themselves are surprised.
One lady I think recently told me, I used that five love languages and now I’ve got a better connection [00:22:00] with my son because I now understand his love language. He’s, he’s not touchy feely like I want him to be. That’s not his love language. It’s his love languages, connection, time together, and so it helps to think, to expand that box of just putting people in a box in, in our relationships.
And so, yeah, those are the things that have helped me. And so, I would say that, how do these steps, you know, apply to being a scientist and a good Christian. If I’m working on a science project, I mean, I’ve said this before, but if I’m working on a science project and I’m getting overwhelmed. I’m always thinking in terms of possibilities.
What else is possible here? So, I don’t only use it for relationships, but I use it in every sphere. What else is possible here? And then in my spiritual life. Whether in relationship, in whatever I’m studying, in the word of God, I [00:23:00] think in terms of possibilities, how can this principle be applied? What’s possible here?
And then I turn to pray and ask God for insight. So, this is how you can bring these points together and use it in your leadership, whether it’s leading yourself, leading at work, leading at home as a wife. As a parent, in all spheres of life, I think these six steps can help you to become an effective leader.
And I would also like to add, you may think that being a scientist and a Christian is unique to me. It’s not. It turns out that about 40 percent of scientists are Christians.
[00:23:41] Beverly: I love that statistic, and I didn’t know that. I’ve never heard that before.
[00:23:44] Tope: Yeah, about 40 percent are Christians. My current pastor at my church, he was a chemist before he went to seminary and became a pastor.
And guess what? The former director of the NIH, who just stepped down in December was [00:24:00] an atheist but now, he’s a scientist, and now he’s a Christian.
[00:24:07] Beverly: Wow. It seems to me that the more you know about the intricacies of the way things are designed and created, the more you know that it’s not an accident, that, that there is a create creator the master of the universe, the glorious God that is responsible because it can’t just have happened.
There’s too many patterns and miraculous things we could just never even imagine. Think. Oh, so I get that. I love that you shared that. Tope, I love that you’ve got so many ways that the audience can connect with you, but I want to invite you to share what you think would be the most helpful way for people to connect more, to, I have to say, I am on your mailing [00:25:00] list and get your thought-provoking spiritual insights.
They come what? Two or three times a week? Yes. That is a very valuable email. And I’m picky about what emails get in my inbox because we all get so many. But at about, so I have to say that they would find that on your website at hiddentreasuresandriches.com. Correct?
[00:25:25] Beverly: Yes, they will find it at hiddentreasuresandriches.com. They can sign up but let me let you say what your favorite way is to invite them to connect because I told you one of mine.
Tope: Okay. Thank you. So, if you just, I would, I would just like to, to recap that conversation and then invite them to ways that they can join me. So. Again, I mentioned thinking in terms of possibilities is how I’ve been able to bring together the fields of science and ministry, Christian ministry, and be in harmony.
So, if you’re just [00:26:00] starting on your leadership journey, and you’re wondering whether it’s possible to be a scientist, a Christian, a leader in women’s ministry, or even to combine all of these things with whatever else going on in your life, I say it’s possible. And these six steps are Centering, Asking for guidance, Identity, Inclusivity, Gratitude, and Thinking in terms of Possibilities.
Those are the things that have helped keep me in harmony to add to be an effective leader in these two areas. And I believe that they can help you too. And so, if you would like one of the ways that you can reach me is through my website, hiddentreasuresandriches.com. And you can sign up for a weekly Thought-provoking newsletters and short bite sized devotions to, to kind of help keep you on, on track.
You can also, if you would like to talk to see how you can apply these lessons to your life, you can book a free [00:27:00] call at Hidden treasures and riches. com forward slash call. You can, you can learn how to apply these lessons. It will be a private one on one call 30 minutes where we can go about go over how to apply these lessons to your life.
You can get some clarity about who you are. What you want and how you want to be. You remember I mentioned that identity is key on you’ll come away with a positive and energized feeling to pursue your goals, take charge of your life and use your power to lead more effectively. So if this is something that you would like to do, go ahead and feel free to to book a free call.
[00:27:44] Beverly: Wow. That’s, and I have a feeling that more than a few people are like me that it’s like, wow, I have a chance to hear your voice more and have you speak into my life. How valuable that is. So Tope, I, I [00:28:00] love your message. I love your voice. I love your heart. I love your head. And I thank you for sharing the wisdom that you have, you’ve collected through it.
A lot of experience. I’m there with you.
And it’s a, it’s a good trade off. You know, the vitality and firm skin of youth is a beautiful thing. But I’m finding that the experience and wisdom that comes with having some miles on the road is a good trade off. It really is. It is. It’s invaluable as we look back and look for those treasures.
[00:28:42] Tope: You know, my key word is treasures. As we look for those hidden treasures and gems that we’ve collected along the way of, I mean, along the, this journey, we can then share this with others and help them. On their journey as well.
[00:28:57] Beverly: Absolutely. Well, thank you to [00:29:00] all of you, the listeners for joining us on this journey on the road to leadership, this beautiful session that we’ve had with Tope.
And you know what I’m going to say as we wrap up and leave you for this episode is you can always know that no matter what the best is. Yet to come. Thanks for being here today.
[00:29:21] Tope: Thank you, Beverly. It was a privilege to be here today.
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