Aké Satia is the Chief Vision Officer at Aké Satia, a Human Capital firm in the DC area focused on strengthening organizations by bolstering the intersection of people strategy and business strategy.



206 919 6440


Where do you Dwell?

We are the product of where we dwell.

In the book, Adversity Brings Balance: I stated that on the life path of discovery, a vital question to ask oneself is: Who am I? Another critical question worth exploring is: Where do I dwell?

For millennia, humans have sought to understand how they came to be physically, mentally, and emotionally.
From nature theorists, who purported that heredity determines who a person is, to nurture theorists, who asserted that humans are a product of experience and learning, humans have relentlessly attempted to decipher what makes a person who they are. – And what determines their future and impact on the world.
But long before this nature versus nurture controversy arose, others opined on the connection of our environment to who we are. Circa 5th or 4th century BCE, the Greek physician, Hippocrates, also known as the Father of Medicine, stated in his treatise: Airs, Waters, and Places: Man is a product of his environment.

Undeniably, the thirst to know what propels humans and makes us who we are is unquenchable. And today, our pursuit continues as we strive to understand the impact of the environment on several aspects of human life. – From physical health, emotional well-being, mental fitness, interpersonal relationships, intrapersonal relationships, and many more. Most of us have heard of or experienced the devastating effects that ensue when one struggles in any of the above areas. Importantly, these struggles shed light on the connection between mental, emotional, and physical health. And much research supports this reality: we are the product of where we dwell.

How where we dwell shapes us.

A study released by the Colorado Department of Human Services and the University of Denver on the impact of adverse childhood experiences suggests that adults with at least one reported incident were twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression. And adults with four or more incidents were nearly twice as likely to suffer from cancer. Notably, adverse childhood experiences include physical, sexual, or emotional abuse and household dysfunctions like family member incarceration. Adults who grew up in abusive homes more likely to develop depression and cancer, new Colorado study says – The Denver Post

Additionally, the findings from a University of Washington study on the effects of smoking revealed that children whose parents smoked are twice as likely to begin smoking between the ages of 13 and 21 than offspring of nonsmokers. Children whose parents smoked are twice as likely to begin smoking between ages 13 and 21 as offspring of nonsmokers | UW News (washington.edu)

Indeed, these statistics are alarming and portray how an environment can negatively impact a life. Of course, the environment does not only affect one negatively. It can also set one off on a path of achievement and aid one in soaring to unthinkable heights.

The not-so-elusive impact of pedigree!

Many of us have heard of a star athlete who had an illustrious sports career by following in the footsteps of a parent, sibling, or older cousin. A well-known example is the Manning brothers, Eli and Peyton Manning. Eli and Peyton were both successful NFL quarterbacks with Super Bowl victories.
A lesser-known data point is… Their older brother, Cooper Manning, was also a great footballer in high school. Wow! How many football stars can shine in the skies of one family?? An unlimited number, it seems! 😊

Notably, the star-filled pedigree effect does not only surface in sports. It is also apparent in other fields, such as politics. Many of us are familiar with the last name: Kennedy because of John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK), the 35th president of the United States, often remembered for his good looks, Ivy League attendance, and steep rise in politics. And the political torch was also carried by others in the Kennedy family. – People like Caroline Kennedy, a United States ambassador, and Ted Kennedy, a United States senator from Massachusetts, to name a few. With many Kennedys having stood on the political platform and held the torch, the name: Kennedy is now synonymous with political status and wealth.
Indeed, the impact of pedigree and environment on our values, aspirations, and future is undeniable.

Dwelling well!

Admittedly, I am most fascinated by how our dwelling place affects our choices, especially our headspace and heart space. Because what transpires in our minds and hearts influences our choices and determines our future. And these include the celebratory moments we revel in, the opportunity costs we incur, and the foregone chances we walk away from.
In my life, a person who has shone a spotlight on this reality is a woman I am privileged to know, whom I refer to as Aunty Rose P.

Aunty Rose is a longtime friend of my mother, and I have fond memories of her as a six-year-old because, when I was growing up, I loved beignets! And I am not referring to big, round, fried clumps of dough with sugar sprinkled atop. I am referring to a classic French beignet: small, fried, round pieces of dough that are slightly sweetened but do not have sugar on them. To my delight, Aunty Rose knew of my fondness for these beignets, and whenever she visited my mom, she would bring over a bowl. 😊

Naturally, as I grew older, my relationship with Aunty Rose evolved… I moved to different continents, our interactions were primarily over the phone, and our relationship shifted from a woman-child dynamic to one of older sister-younger sisters. Also, our discussions became less instructional and more conversational. And during this time, I learned that she grew up in very humble means and had lived through very challenging circumstances. Coincidentally, as I learned more about Aunty Rose, I gained an appreciation for her ability to endure adversity and emerge stronger and kinder, and I admired her all the more.

Shinning in the dark.

To my dismay, a few years ago, I learned that Aunty Rose had a stroke and suffered some nerve damage and paralysis. Remarkably, as she lay in hospital beds, she was undeterred. In true Aunty Rose fashion, she was intent on improving and committed to extensive physical therapy and medical treatments. Inexplicably, while improving, she suffered yet another stroke in less than a year. And it significantly immobilized her. However, with optimism and determination, she slowly regained minimal mobility on one side of her body.

Today, many expect Aunty Rose to lay in despair, stewing on her woes and wasting away haplessly. But the life she chooses to lead is anything but that. Indeed, Aunty Rose realizes the importance of where one dwells mentally and emotionally on their life trajectory, and she is watchful over what she allows into her heart and mind. Therefore, though her body is weak, her grasp over her mental and emotional states is increasingly formidable, and her impact is otherworldly.

Secret sauce!

What is Aunty Rose’s secret? I and others have asked her!

And she responds: My strength does not come from me. My faith is the source of my strength. It is all I need. While I am alive, there is work for me, and I will do all I can for others. I will not complain about anything.
And she lives up to her word! She runs a school for children that are in need, cares for orphans, and pours into many. Also, she is full of surprises! Despite completing just a few years of school, she is multilingual and has engaged with many scholarly groups.
But her tender heart is what amazes me most! In fact, during my sabbatical, when I arrived in the town she resides in, in Central Africa, though unable to walk independently, when my plane landed, she was at the airport to welcome me at 10:30 pm. And she had prepared a delicious meal. What a woman, and what a big heart!

Real value! 

I have benefitted greatly from knowing Aunty Rose! And when I engage with her, I am reminded that real human value does not derive from a physical environment or what one owns. Instead, human value arises from who we are and what we offer to others. And what we offer is determined by where we dwell – mentally and emotionally.

Importantly, this offers a keen insight into organizational leadership.
A worthwhile goal of an organizational leader is to create an environment where workers can grow, learn, and deploy their unique skills and abilities to meet the needs of others. i.e., An environment that allows others to serve.

Indeed, we are the product of where we dwell. Therefore, for one who holds a position of leadership or one who aspires to lead others, a question worth pondering is what type of environment am I creating and inviting others into? 

For you and to you,



Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *