Will the Outliers Amongst Us Please Stand Up

I am intrigued by people who are successful; people that have risen from nothing, people that dared to make a difference, people that sought to change the world. I love to read about people who sat down and created something that made a real difference in the world. I am still routing for the person that would discover the cure for cancer, the cure for AIDS, even diabetes. I am waiting for the next whiz kid that would start another social media frenzy like Facebook, twitter or invent something that I cannot even fathom right now. Look at how Facebook and twitter has penetrated our lives. I keep wondering how on earth I could have connected with my primary school seat mate were it not for Facebook. How I could have found the lady I had the mind bending conversation with on a recent trip abroad if not for twitter, and how I could have found the tunic I desperately wanted if not for pinterest.

 

These programs are all so useful to us today because someone thought about it, sat down to create it and brought it to life for multitudes to benefit. Up until I saw a flash disk, I was more than comfortable with the floppy disk but apparently there was a better option and now the floppy is gone for good. What all these intrinsically mean is that someone somewhere is thinking about the next big thing; he sells his idea to the world and we all adopt. It has been said that your environment determines what you become. It took a Mark Zukerberg, an American, to start a Facebook. It took Bill Gates, another American to start Microsoft and Sergey Brin a Russian-American to co-found Google. In all of these, something keeps me awake at night, something tugs at my soul, I ask myself consistently- What are we Nigerians inventing? What are we Nigerian Muslims creating? Are we just going to remain consumers? Where are our innovators? Where is the world acclaimed Muslim inventor? Is our lot going to be politics and fighting? What are we going to produce to make the world a better place? If Steve Jobs had grown up in Syria with his parents, would he have made the iPad which I enjoy tremendously today?

 

I understand the role of enabling environment, the role the government should play, provision of infrastructure but I dare to say good ideas trumps all negativity. The problem is that many of us are docile in mind and I wonder why. We wait for “them” to make, ours is just to use. We are mere consumers. We add nothing to the knowledge pool. We make no meaningful difference. How can this be? And for so long. The outliers in this world keep talking about the 10,000 hour rule. That is the number of hours needed to hone your skill at anything you put your mind to doing. Everyone apparently needs to put in an average of 10,000 hours to perfect a craft and this is exclusive of number of hours spent in school. As Africans, maybe we need even more before we are recognized, but our attention span is so low I doubt if anyone puts in even 5000 hours to master a particular craft. We enjoy instant gratification, but hard work remains timeless. I believe if there is will (may be very strong will as it is) there is a way for anyone with unique and innovative ideas as long as it is good enough and solves a human problem. There is always space for the good ones; it is the weak that will always struggle.

 

The Prophet (PBUH) said, “He whose two days are equal is a loser.”  As Muslims, we are therefore supposed to be learning, creating and innovating constantly. There is need to approach life with a mind-set of accelerated learning to be useful to self and to others. Have you ever asked yourself what your life goals are? What your life purpose is? Everyone was created to achieve something; everyone is a genius at something. Have you discovered yours? What your duties to your community as a Muslim are? A Muslim is a khalifah (vicegerent) of Allah in his/her community and in the world. There is a need for so many of us to discover who we really are and this requires a lot of focus and soul searching. The world has gone beyond going to school, getting a job and getting married. It shouldn’t be all about getting the next meal on table which is seemingly our overall purpose in these climes. Life only made sense to me when I discovered and came to terms with who I really am and what I am meant to achieve. One only finds peace when you’ve discovered all your pieces and connected all the dots.

 

What am saying inherently is you need to find yourself, find your talent, develop your skills meaningfully, hone these skills, and make a difference to the world. Anyone can make the world a better place and do so while proudly being Muslim. We need to live quality, meaningful and impactful lives. I am using this humble write up to enjoin Muslims to come out of their shells, our story should not be all about unrest, about struggle, poverty, famine and all the ills of the world. Negativity should not define us. It is time to rise up and change the world, contribute our own meaningful quota, make the world better than we met it. The Prophet (PBUH) said, “The best among mankind is the most beneficial to them.” I am still keen on discovering the outliers amongst us. Where are you?


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