I can put my hand on my chest and confidently say that Nigerians are some of the most hard working people in the world and that’s a wonderful virtue. Unfortunately, with equal confidence and without any fear of being contradicted, I will also say we’re among the most stressed people in the world. Still grappling with the cost of electricity which skyrocketed recently, we woke up to hear a few days ago that petrol may soon sell as high as N212 a litre. If it ends of being true, that would make it more than two and a half times what we paid before this administration took over governance in 2015.
Much as the economic reasons for both increases may be true and germaine, this brings no comfort to the ordinary man whose belt now ties round his waist twice because he has to tie it so tight. This is a country where the majority of states say they can’t afford to pay a minimum wage of N30,000 ($60 approx) a month. I have just two things to say about this. One, ranked 9th in the world in terms of natural gas reserves, Nigeria has no business to still be grappling with epileptic power supply. Two, our dear country – which in the last few years seems to have developed a taste for grabbing embarrassing global records which other countries would rather not hold – is the only OPEC nation that imports petrol. Let’s just leave it at that.
For the vast majority of Nigerians, life is a daily tug of war between multiple headwinds with the hapless individual finding himself bang in the middle. A good day is rarely measured by the amount of progress one was able to make but by the mere fact that one survived to see another day.
Nigerians are some of the most “hopeful” people in the world and whether we know it or not, this is a great blessing. Despite all we endure in this tremendously hostile environment and the absence of much out there to actually base hope on, we go ahead to hope anyway, that tomorrow will be better.
Renewal is something all human beings must regularly seek in order to avoid the ailments and diseases one automatically exposes himself or herself to when one doesn’t get enough of it. Kindly note that rest is one thing but renewal is another. They are not synonymous. Rest is essential but isn’t always renewing. Renewal occurs when one intentionally uses activity and experiences to invoke neurological networks and endocrine systems, that will enable our body and mind to heal themselves. Research carried out by world renowned psychologists point to four experiences that have been shown to revitalize, re-energize and bring about needed renewal in the human body and mind and these are hope, mindfulness, compassion, and playfulness. So, maybe you see now why I count our propensity to hope a blessing even when it may at times appear foolish. Let’s look at hope today.
Hope has been defined as, “an optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large.” We can by ourselves intentionally activate a sense of hope by either thinking of or better still, discussing with others about a future dream. And it’s advisable we do one or both of these on a regular basis because studies have shown that negative emotions are far more powerful than positive ones and because of this, it takes 3-6 positive emotions to counter the effects of one negative emotion.
Pursuing your dream will almost certainly cause you some stress because it’s inevitable that you will encounter challenges but when you’re able to surmount that particular challenge and picture yourself on your ultimate high, having accomplished your vision, it spurs you on to tackle the next challenge. This is what hope does. It keeps you going. Visualizing that dream holiday does the same thing.
Have you noticed how discussing with a friend or spouse about a desired future for yourself, lifts you out of lethargy, lifts your spirit and brings about a renewed strength? Have you ever observed that while you’re in this state of mind, you don’t only forget your troubles for that moment but suddenly, the impossible starts to feel within your grasp? Your mind opens up and the possibility of attaining it becomes very real. There’s a reason for this. It’s the positive chemicals released into your body during these hopeful experiences that counter the negative effects of chronic stress and brings about renewal; keeping your body and mind healthy. It’s not a random thing, it’s totally scientific. So by taking time out to have regular pleasant thoughts or discussions, you could be doing yourself a world of good.
It’s common knowledge that emotions generally impact behaviour and this can in turn impact results positively or negatively in an organization. The notion of having one powerful leader drive an organization is an outdated one. It might work for a while but it doesn’t produce enduring positive results. But as having this all powerful leader is still the most prevalent scenario in Nigeria today, it may partly explain why the majority of dominant Nigerian business concerns fail to outlast their founder. To have a powerful leader set the tone is however a good thing. So when you have a leader who sets a tone of optimism and enthusiasm, you will find that this enables his employees to tap into their potential and perhaps latent talent. By simply creating a working environment that’s exciting, fresh and full of hope, you can bring out the best in them and magical things will begin to happen. Hope thrusts one forward and I like what Jan Dargatz had to say on this. ”A positive statement propels hope toward a better future, it builds up your faith and that of others, and it promotes change”. Indeed, it does.
Changing the nation…one mind at a time.
Dapo Akande, a Businessday weekly columnist is a University of Surrey (UK) graduate with a Masters in Professional Ethics. An alumnus of the Institute for National Transformation; with certification in Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence from Case Western Reserve College, USA and author of two books, The Last Flight and Shifting Anchors. Both books are used as course material in Babcock University’s Literature department. Dapo is a public speaker, a content creator and a highly sought after ghostwriter.