Besides Rambo, Predator etc. ‘The Body Guard’ is one of the few movies I still remember the title and the name of the lead act – that doesn’t come easy to me at all. I literally fell in love with her, her voice and her songs.

My heart was broken when I saw her pictures circulated on emails after her lovely voice and body had been ravaged by drug. It was one of those time you feel like jumping on a plane, a train, a bus, a car, a bike or whatever will take you to her and tell her, please stop this!

My heart was further broken when I saw the headline, ‘Whitney Houston died in Beverly Hill Hotel @ 48. Oops! We lost another world figure who affected a lot of lives. Many looked up to her as a role model, mentor etc.

I decided to research into her life and see what lessons I can learn from this great woman. I got a few things from ’empowerme.org’ (now defunct) and I decided to share with you.

Lesson 1- Maintain your identity.

It is well documented that Whitney’s mom was adamant about delaying her debut in music until she was ready to handle it. Cissy knew what she was talking about. The entertainment business will eat you up if you let it. Artists often struggle to maintain a sense of normalcy in their lives once they get that first big hit. The public sets these expectations of what they think an artist should be. We see pop star, diva, world class entertainer. But that’s just their job, it’s not who they are. Their job is to entertain you, that’s it. When the houselights come up, you no longer are entitled to a piece of them. It irked me to no end to hear Oprah relay the sentiment of the fans that she disappointed them because they felt entitled to THE VOICE. As jacked up as it was, Whitney chose to buck that. While I wish she had chosen a different way to do it, I can’t be mad at her for rebelling. She just wanted to be Whitney and just sing. But the world changed that for her. And heaven help any public figure who wants to go a different route.

The public rebels and tries to force the entertainer to remain the same for the life of their career. Don’t let anyone else dictate who you are or become. Make sure people understand the distinction between your job and you as a person…and respect it. And if your identity goes through changes and growth, which it should, go with it. Don’t let people sway you from growing.

Lesson 2- Surround yourself with the right people.

Yes men bring no value to you. I can’t claim I know who was or wasn’t around Whitney. I do know her mom fought like hell to bring her back. But when you reach a certain financial status, you find yourself surrounded with people who have their own best interest at heart. Agents, attorneys, accountants, leeches, lackeys and all sorts of people latch on to your rising star so they can get all they can as they come along for your ride. Nobody wants to be around during the bad times. But everyone sure wants to be around when the champagne flows. Money and power, when uncontrolled, leads to mismanagement and toxic situations.

Sometimes we find out too late that people are up to no good. And when you’re surrounded by too many people, it’s easy for the bad elements to slip through the cracks. No matter what industry you’re in, keep you inner circle tight and well vetted. Get rid of anyone who’s going to always appease your ego. Don’t lose touch with those who’ve been around from the beginning and who have your best interest at heart. And if the leech happens to be a family member or friend, get rid of them and don’t feel guilty

I hope you’ve learn just like me

RIP Whitney Houston. You will be missed. – Harry Akinola

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