Mastering Eye Contact: A Powerful Skill For A Purposeful Life.

The 10,000 hour rule of mastery is right, I am wrong, and this title is pretty vague.

Tobiloba Adejumo
Tobiloba Adejumo
The 10,000 hour rule of mastery is right, I am wrong, and this title is pretty vague.

When you take your time to master a simple process, you develop skills that can be applied to almost anything. One of such skill is public speaking.

I’ve always been fascinated by great public speakers; the charisma they wear, their overbearing confidence and articulate pronunciation of words. And as a blue diamond, I become completely overwhelmed by their finesse in using gap fillers. Needless I say, they know when to use “eerm”, “more often than not”, “you know”, “that is” and so on. The most amazing thing is that they use these various gap fillers at the right time. Once spoken, these gap fillers mimic a time bomb ticking away slowly, and causing a domino effect in the minds of their ever listening audiences. Of course, many would think I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, others might agree with how I feel, nonetheless I’m less concerned.

For the record, I’m a very shy person trying really hard to break my carapace. My mirror won’t believe this anyways. I prefer writing to having real life conversations with people. I also pay keen attention to human behavioral patterns and the influence of social interactions on them. I have special abilities too. Owing to this, I’ll rather write a story about you than tell you how I feel about you.

In my profession, only those who can properly disseminate their ideas, thoughts, discoveries and information are believed to be geniuses. It’s in pursuance with the everyday maxim: “To know, read. To learn, write. To master, teach.“

“You’re a genius, Tobi. Let the world know you’re a genius and stop lurking in the shadows” — I constantly say this to myself.

Perhaps, it was time already. I decided to set up a meeting with Lady B.

Photo by DocuSign / Unsplash

Why setting up a meeting with Lady B?

Lady B is a very smart individual. She’s a groovy public speaker too. Lady B never responds to emails or messages. I know she sees them, reads them but she hardly initiates a reply. So you see, I had no other option than to set up a meeting with her.

How did I set up a meeting with her?

8th September, 2018.

Lady B comes to my office every Saturday. She’s the organizer of AI meetup, and please if you know who Lady B is, be my oyster. I was on a call one Saturday when she paced the foyer. Right as rain! I cursorily said in hushed tones after a brief salutation, “Is it possible I see you before you leave?”

”Yes, sure you can”, she retorted.

I was hopeful that I get to talk to her today. I started reminiscing all the books I’ve read. Strangely true, but I find solace in books too. I left office late that day but she was still busy. I decided to meet with her the following Saturday.

Following Saturday?

Same old chestnut: I saw her but I couldn’t talk to her. I felt a week was a long time to resurrect a buried conversation. Do it Afraid! A very misguided cliche. Trust me, it is better you don’t do it at all than to do it with fear. It is better you don’t deliver that presentation with fear than to deliver and shame yourself. I was convinced that it’s better I stay calm than to approach her and stutter uncontrollably. I know for sure, great people don’t famz and I wasn’t prepared not to be one.

Listen with your eyes and gleam with confidence.

27th October, 2018.

She came to my workspace. I can count how many times this sheer coincidence has happened. I didn’t want to let go of this opportunity.


Are you busy? Can we talk now?“, I said with a disarmingly nervous smile.

Oh! yes yes, we can”, she retorted as she forced a smile.

I knew she was tired but clearly, it was too late to back out…

I left my sit and sat next to her. She really looked stressed.

“Can we postpone this meeting? You look really jiggered and stressed”, I suggested to her.

No, seriously I’m fine. Let’s discuss”, she replied as she laid her head on the worktop.

There was no turning back for me now. I tried remembering Robert Greene quotes but I was void. I tried Alvin Toffle too. I couldn’t even remember the title of his books I’ve read not to talk of pages from his books.

I was left with my common sense. I wasn’t even sure if I had one. The last time I felt this void was during my ordinary differential equation exam, when I was a sophomore in the university. Since I excelled in that irrespective of my void state, I must excel in this.

Do you know you’re very mean?“, I said with a smile.

How am I mean”, she retorted.

I could tell that she wasn’t finding it funny. I regretted being too blunt at first. Thank God I didn’t say, “I’m sorry for saying you’re mean“

Then I started my series of tirade to her. But this time, I made sure we had proper eye contact:

I tried contacting you, you never responded. I sent emails, messages, even set up a meeting with you but you never cared to respond. In fact, do you know you’re very mean? “

It worked!

What worked?

Everything worked.

Mastering eye contact is the best thing since sliced bread. And yes, I talked to her and I didn’t do it afraid. I noticed she was a bit stressed out but that didn’t stop me from ”shooting my shot”. Also the type of gun I used was Uzi, the Israeli machine gun that conquered the world! You know, the conversation we had still lingers in my mind not because I followed the 70-percent communication principle but rather, I listened with my eyes and gleamed with confidence!

🌐 Life

Tobiloba Adejumo

Doctoral Candidate, Research Assistant at The University of Illinois Chicago | Biomedical Optics and Ophthalmic Imaging Lab