A Review of Up You by Ezinne Kufre-Ekanem

A Review of Up You by Ezinne Kufre-Ekanem

The book Up You, without any analytical contradiction, is a well design mental journey in self-motivation. In addition to the Introduction, the twelve chapters that make up the complete volume are well structured along the theme of self-motivation and personal uplifting, namely ‘Stand Up!’, ‘Sign Up!’, ‘Soak up!’, ‘Shake Up!’, ‘Show Up!’, ‘Speak Up!’, ‘Stack Up!’, ‘Sit Up!’, ‘Stock Up!’,‘Shoot Up!’, “Scale Up”, and “Serve Up” in that particular order.
The general style of the book comes across as deliberate and conscious. The sentence structures creatively combine both elements of prose and poetry. The language is lucidly, accessible and well controlled. It is altogether conversational. This has the implication of giving the reader a good first impression and a reason to proceed to reading the text. Right from the Introduction, the language of the book tends to give away the writer as a potential teacher, a counselor and a motivator. For instance, using the first person pronoun to drive home her personal journey from vision to entrepreneurial success, the author easily and persuasively draws in the reader and takes them along in the same journey.
In the words of the author, ‘The intention of the book in your hands, Up You! is not to change who you are or alter your life’s purpose, on the contrary, it will guide you in finding and revealing the real you.’ In steps with this, each chapter, being well thought out, creatively propels the theme and general purpose of the book. Although, at some point it would appear the book is targeted to womenfolk, but the central message of it is equally beneficial to everyone regardless of gender.
There is a certain uniformity observed throughout the chapters, in that every chapter of the book opens with a relevant quote from an accomplished and well known personality, and ends with ‘Key Points’ from the same chapter.
The first chapter, ‘Stand Up!’, preoccupies the reader with the question of, and quest in, self-discovery and personal resolve or decision making. It establishes that the power to do or accomplish lies within everyone; the vision only has to be clear on the direction of the mission. Everyone must identify their areas of strengths and weaknesses while pursuing their dream purpose and negotiating the barriers along the way. Everyone’s purpose is personal, and so everyone’s journey must be personalized.
The second chapter, ‘Sign Up!’, is a call to real engagement with one’s dream. The dreamer, after ‘standing up’, must proceed to ‘sign up’ by living up to their true calling. Dreams without corresponding actions, are mere wishes. Therefore, we must dare all our fears – e.g. the fear of failure, the fear of being ‘wrong’, the fear of people’s perceptive judgement of us and of negative attention, among other fears – and conquer them, sometimes through self-sacrifice, in order to reach forward and closer to the place of self-fulfilment.
While these are already worthy great steps, the third chapter nudges us on to ‘soak up’ by expanding the capacity of our mind beyond its original state, in order to fuel our inclination and to power ourselves up on the journey to actualizing our dreams. This we are supposed to be able to achieve, partly through a personal culture of reading and by taking advantage of mentors. Once we have attained this level, then we can ‘shake up’ − according to the fourth chapter – to an awakening of self. Our mindsets must change through the improvement of the quality of our thinking. In essence, change is a crucial necessity and, once attained, must be sustained by well-cultivated and constant positive affirmations. In the author’s words, ‘Your internal conversations matter a lot.’ Thus, we must activate and reorganize our thought system or thought patterns so we can become more intentional in the pursuit of our dreams.
While the first four chapters may be deemed a journey in self-preparation, the fifth challenges us to ‘show up’ at the occasion for which we have spent quality time and purposive personal sacrifice to prepare for. However, in showing up, we are again compelled not to show up empty-handed. Since there is no ‘perfect time’ to show up, we must be ready at all time. At any rate, waiting for all to be perfect, according to the writer, ‘is like waiting for godot − waiting for something that will never be. Just dress up and show up.’ And, since there are no shortcuts on the way to progress, one will only learn all one needs to as one progresses.
Apparently, the first half of the volume prepares us for the big picture of the dreams we have for ourselves. The second half encourages us to sustain this momentum by cultivating the confidence to ‘speak up’, and to do so from the place of the heart. The journey to one’s dream must be fuelled with words, spoken in confrontation of knotty situations, circumstances and obstacles. Once we have mastered the art of the word, we go on to ‘Stack Up!’, according to the author, by journaling the journey as it unfolds. Documenting it is important and strategic, as the story of our journey to success must be told some day.
Once this vista is clear in our mind, we then must ‘Sit Up!’, by maintaining a clear head in order to bar complacency from setting in, once the accolades and laurels are coming. As we beat complacency, we fill up the potential vacuums on the way by ‘stocking up!’. This implies moving on, keeping the going active and not looking back. And, as we build the momentum from here, we can only find ourselves ‘Shooting Up!’ like shooting stars!
It interests me to note at this point that, altogether, Ezinne has put together a wonderful volume, unparalleled in its motivational tenor and quality. She maintains her tropes, anecdotes and analogies in a most well-connected manner. The publishing of a volume such as Up You! At a time when the world seems to drift into general mood of despondency, thus affecting the personal productivity and propelling poor productivity and pessimism, the book holds the propensity to thrive as a source of solution and succor – a ready answer that many have been awaiting in their different trajectories of challenges in work, career, ministry, call to service in public or private sectors, entrepreneurship and life quests in general.
I salute the rare creativity and sense of calling of the author, indeed as she has demonstrated this beyond any dint of mediocrity that many tend to identify with in these times.

Dr. Elisha Attai
Founder, African Women in Leadership Organisation

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