Here is a little story about myself – I graduated in early 2000s and as usual did everything to be posted to Lagos for my National Youth Service Corp (NYSC), my prayers were answered. With time, I took a dispassionate look at the whole Lagos with all its traffic, congestion and how the life of a corper would be, I decided Lagos wasn’t for me. In the midst of all my introspection and decision making, I ran into an older friend working in one of the multinational oil companies in Warri; we got talking and I told him about my issues with Lagos, he assured me that if I could get myself down to Warri, he will fix me up where he works. As most corpers were redeploying from other states to Lagos; I chose to go against the tide, I redeployed out of Lagos to Warri, the oil city. I did not get the multinational, but got a National Institution and the rest as they say, is history.
So a bit more about that history - At the National Institution where I was accepted to serve my nation. I worked at the Human Resources Department, it is where one resumes when they have done all postings and you arrive late due to redeployment. You are basically there as the extra corper. Within months of working, the organisation decided to recruit needed personnel- most corpers stood no chance and avoided the work. I threw myself into the process, I just wanted to learn how governmental organisations recruited and gain some experience during my service year. Fate had more fortune for me; this does not happen too often, but I was employed and had a job waiting for me upon completion of youth service. Favouritism? Connection? No. I worked hard, was at the right place at the right time and Allah in his infinite mercy favoured me. I knew no one.
What government work does is that it gives one a lot of time to think and figure life out. With time I discovered what I was most passionate about, the most important things to me were in this order:
1. My faith
2. Fashion in all its elements
3. Media. I am most definitely an information junkie
4. Technology and everything internet
Within five years on the job, I took another dispassionate look at what I did day to day at my desk and acknowledged that it was time to start planning an exit and truly pursue my life passion. Life is meaningless/unfulfilling until you are doing what turns you on and when people are willing to pay you for what you enjoy doing and could do for free, that is pure heaven.
Why am I giving these little nuggets of history about myself? I know for a fact that a time would come when paying the rent or even owning mansions, having food on the table, driving the best cars, getting married and having children will look basic and achievable by just about any one. There is a need to prove ourselves and actualize our greatness. A lot of times that greatness is not in some jobs gotten through man-know-man, my father is this and my uncle’s auntie’s cousin owns that and certainly not in those CBN jobs gotten mainly through connections. For all I know, a country’s apex bank needs the best brains around, not the daughters and sons of ‘big men’. Everyone should ideally be given a level playing ground to prove themselves, the best candidates should then be given the jobs. For the most parts, and for the purpose of this article, you should constantly ask yourself –
- What activities do I enjoy the most? What leaves me feeling the best after, what am I most proud of doing?
- When you are at the end of your life, and looking back over your life, what do you want to look at? Salary? Pay-cheque-to-pay-cheque life?
Life should be much more than good pay and benefits meanwhile you deal with bureaucracy and all the nuances that goes with working with the big organisations. Half of your adult working life, will be spent at these jobs. I believe owning something much larger at a small company is sometimes more rewarding than being a little cog in a giant machine where your views, opinion and ideas may not mean anything for a long time. It is up to us to dream and to find the opportunities that align with those dreams.
Complacency and failure in life starts when:
When we refuse to constantly challenge yourself and have things handed down to us
When we have chosen safety over audacity.
When we refuse to stretch ourselves to become a better person.
When we have been reactive and accepting whatever comes our way.
When you wake up and…it's just another day.
In as much as we are hardwired to think survival first especially in a country like Nigeria, we should try to look back in life and feel fulfilled, feel like you have made a real difference, solved a problem and pushed the levers of humanity forward. Invariably, if you want to make a difference in the wider world, spot a problem and try to solve it. You can start a business and make sure your product or service is solving a need of some kind. This is the only way people achieve real recognition for anything.
As they say, old age is filled with regrets; I could have been this, I could have achieved that, I was on my way to becoming this… I wanted to do that. While you go ahead and do that other job to pay the rent, have it at the back of your mind to find the time and space to pursue your greatness. And when next a ‘big man’ wants to use his connections to get you a job, tell him your dreams and ask how he can help you pursue what you are meant to be.
Salam alaykum waramatulahi wabarakatu.