I’ll begin today’s article with a quote I saw somewhere and it says, “In every field of human endeavour, there are always three categories of people; those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who end up wondering what happened.”
The following story of someone very close to me, I believe will speak to a couple of people out there and if it even serves to inspire them too, then that would be all well and good.
This my egbon, while telling me his story said, “I never knew I could fly a plane until the first time I got into a cockpit and actually flew a plane. And the first person I told about my first flight greatly discouraged me. I didn’t think I could ever be a radio presenter until I got the chance to present a programme on radio and I did it. And the people around me at the time did their level best to tear me down, every time I came off the radio, at the end of a show. From this, I learnt two important lessons. First, there are some things in this life, that you’re never going to be able to do until you just do them. Second, some people only resent the greatness in you because it exposes their mediocrity. Did you know that the establishment of this radio station (name withheld) was never originally meant for me? I was happy living in England and I never prayed or asked for God to send me to Nigeria. The idea of the radio station was passed on to me because the young woman to whom God first gave the idea decided not to pursue it. She didn’t think the concept of such a station made sense. How sad then, that after the station was set up, she ended up applying for a job there, seeking to be an employee at a place where she should have been the employer. There are great projects that God has planted inside you, waiting to be birthed.
They are too important for Him to let them be buried with you. If you don’t run with them now, they will be taken away from you and given to someone else. Then you will suffer the indignity of watching that person taking the credit for what you end up realizing – too late – that it was YOU who should have done it. God forbid that should ever be your experience.”
Often times, the things God has in store for us are so big, we get scared and end up running in the opposite direction. We see ourselves as “grasshoppers”, too small, inadequate or unqualified to take up such a gargantuan challenge. And then sadly, we have some people who have the required vision, the best of ideas and all the ability to succeed but still lack one crucial ingredient. The will. Success has never been for the faint hearted and greatness has never been, nor ever will be the portion of those who fail to dare. Those who succeed in life aren’t always the strongest or the best qualified. It will often come down to those who “just do it”.
We must model what we want to see in our children otherwise we’ll just be deceiving ourselves and wasting our time. I’m also one of those who sincerely believes we should be very careful who we point to as role models for our younger ones. It’s far better we sing the praises of those who made it in spite of the system, (often the biggest obstacle) but without having to cheat the system. Unfortunately, it’s the ones who cheat the system that we tend to most admire and look up to. To use our lingo, they are the “smart” ones.
I believe young people need to know that no matter which career path they decide to take in life, by achieving excellence in it, they too can be recognized and they too can become good role models to others. They don’t need to become banking gurus, oil magnates or telecom kings before becoming worthy of recognition or emulation. It’s important we get this message across to the younger generation loud and clear, so they can play to their strengths and enjoy the incomparable satisfaction of self actualization, rather than to seek in desperation, what they think society most applauds. While we’re at it, we can also bring to the attention of our people the simple fact that one’s age cannot in any way limit their ability to inspire others. A twenty five year old is just as deserving to be regarded a role model to a forty year old, as if it was the other way round; so long as he inspires the forty year old to be better and to actualize what he has in him to be. The late Tolu Arotile readily comes to mind. Ms Arotile became Nigeria’s first ever female combat helicopter pilot a couple of years ago and was hailed for her bravery in defending her country against the Boko Haram terrorists. Her tragic death at the age of just twenty four hit everyone hard. Not a few would have been inspired by her obvious ability, without which she wouldn’t have qualified, her courage and her sheer determination to break convention despite what must have been intense pressure on her to subsume her ambition. Against all odds, she broke new grounds and the nation is all the better for it. Ms Arotile just did it. Such are what role models and national heroes should be made of.
Failure to promote deserving role models is part of the reason why we have the likes of Hushpuppi and other suspect moneybags, some outright crooks and those whose sources of income remain opaque at best, filling the apparent vacuum. Such people continue to degrade our society by presenting themselves as role models to a generation of Nigerian youths, who have been conditioned to believe all that matters is a fat bank balance and a flashy lifestyle. If we truly desire a social rebirth then we need to first identify and second, deliberately promote individuals who embody the values needed to provoke this rebirth. We need to come to a full understanding of what needs to be done and then “just do it”.
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