In a world that forces us to be one-dimensional, asking “why not” can help us reflect, understand each other better, challenge the status quo, and personally motivate us, when doors are metaphorically closed to us.


Many years ago, very early on in my career, there was a competition held by a polar expedition company celebrating its 20th year in business.

The competition was going to take a writer to the North Pole. Someone who would write about and photograph their experiences.

The North Pole… 

I couldn’t believe that my ultimate dream, one which I held close to my heart, could possibly be on the verge of coming true.

Growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, I remember tracing my fingers along longitudes and latitudes in my geography class, declaring to myself that one day, I will reach the North Pole.

Fast forward several years, the opportunity had presented itself in such a spectacular way.

So I entered the competition.

Why not?

For two months, I campaigned across social media to secure thousands of votes to put me in the running.

By the end, I missed the opportunity by only three votes out of thousands of votes. 

Friends who couldn’t comprehend why I wanted to go to the North Pole, admitted to me that they didn’t cast their votes. 

They said they would understand if I said I wanted to go somewhere warm and tropical, somewhere closer to my roots.

I missed that opportunity by their votes. 

Then the realization hit me.

As a travel writer of African descent, writing about the North Pole was supposed to be uncharted waters for me.

I had already been put in a box – by both strangers and friends…

Watch the rest of my TEDx talk from Stockholm, Sweden below, and if it resonates with you, please share and recommend it on TED.com. Thank you for your continued support.