The 180 degrees seminar in OOU went very well. 11 of us left from Lagos (9 of us as part of Generis Solutions) as part of the planning committee for this event. Pat Utomi also came in with his convoy during the seminar. The programme was anchored by Image consultant, Lolu Mogaji. Speakers were Pat Utomi, ‘Gbenga Sesan and my humble self. The none verbalized theme for the day was standing out of the crowd.
That crowded picuture garnished with the title “is this fair?” has been challenging my thoughts, inspiring me while being a source of concern in the past few days. While as a nation we mourn for air disasters, this teeming crowd of people queuing for the opportunity to sit test for a job opportunity beats the disaster of an aircrash. These are Nigeria’s current leaders straining for scarce resources while being surrounded by abundance. How can young children be fighting for a drop of water in a cup while the rain pours around them? I have asked myself how come majority of the people who have struggled hard to get a degree come out of the higher institutions blinded. Can it be that everybody is looking in the same direction? Must we all look endlessly for Jobs? And while we wait, must we stay idle and become TV addicts?
Before you crucify me for my perspectives, let me quickly lend credence to them by giving clear examples, personal examples. I remember the first scholarship aptitude test I went for while in University. I was in part one then. A day before going for the interview, I discovered that the names that came out in the dailies for this same interview were many. I resolved that rather than go for the interview and wait like all the other applicants, I will take advantage of the crowd that I will find there. Believe it or not, I actually went to the market to buy what I believed people would be interested in buying while they waited, I actually also went there and sold them. Thinking back, I’m also amused. The business didn’t go very well, but at least I tried my best to not be a part of the crowd ( I also got the scholarship, so if you are reading this and you remembered you bought something from a colleague at lawschool, that was me). A year after, another oil company came out of the dailies with the names of the people shortlisted for aptitude test for their scholarship. The names were again many from my school and the venue was about 2hrs from OAU ife. I decided to team up with my friends and reading partners, Segun Abolarin, Bisi Ibikunle and Niyi Oyelade to put money together and organize transportation services to take people to and fro. Since we were also shortlisted, we can be on ground there and here to make sure that things worked. Needless to say, the proceeds from that successful business gave me the satisfaction of a scholarship well ahead of the crowd. I already had a scholarship at this time, but I still did not want to be in the crowd.
I hold a firm belief that there are opportunities in this country, too many. If you disbelieve, go to our international airports and ask yourself, what are these foreigners looking for in a so called mosquito infested environment? I have watched fear factor, foreigners won’t come here if they were afraid, a lot of them never leave their countries till they become president :). But some of them have come to find out that the stories of Africa are different from the realities on ground. Every problem is an opportunity in disguise.
Everybody can choose to stand out of the crowd, but it takes deliberate action. You can’s sit in the premises and claim to be standing on the promises. Opportunities will not drop into your laps, you need to put your laps where the opportunities are dropping. Standing out of the crowd is a deliberate and concious effort. You need to ask yourself, what does the crowd do that those who stand out from them do not do? You also need to ask, what do great men/women do, that the crowd does not do? By making a habit of the activities that make the great differ from the crowd, you set yourself on the journey to greatness.
1. Have a clearly written down goal of what you want to achieve with your life in the next 5, 10 and 15yrs. Statistics show that 3% of the populace do this, can you imagine? By simply having a goal and writing it down you have already reduced the crowd of people in your category by 97%. If the world’s population is 6 billion, you have just placed yourself in the class of the top 180 million people.
“Your hands can’t hit what your eyes can’t see – Mohammed Ali”
2. Spend quality time thinking everyday. Thinking is a deliberate act, it requires concious effort, silence, reflection and introspection. Its not as easy as it sounds. The greatest men in this world also happen to be the greatest thinkers. 1% of the world thinks regularly. In fact George Bernad Shaw, a renown thinker and philosopher is quoted as saying that by thinking once a week, he has made himself an international figure. So just by spending quality time thinking, you have become a part of the top 1.8 million in the world.
“Few people think more than two or three times a year. I’ve made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week“- George Bernard Shaw
3. Know yourself! Now I don’t know if that sounds funny to you, but a lot more people do not know themselves. The more I speak with fresh graduates, the more I see that the lack of clarity that plagues so many. Unfortunately the first assignment in education ought to be personal awareness. Your knowledge of the topic of you, ought to be the prerequisite into studying any course. Coming to understand your strenghts weaknesses, opportunities and threats, gives you a lot of leverage in determining direction for your life. Don’t leave it all to your social mirror of friends and family, take personal responsibility for knowing and being at ease with yourself. Over 80% lack clarity about themselves, by knowing yourself, you have seperated yourself from another crowd, and you are down to 360,000.
It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
4. Read a book a week! Readers are Leaders! If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to lead. The people who stay ahead of the crowd are people who by virture of their reading habits, know more and are more confident. If you read an hour a day everyday, in a week you should have finished a book and after a year you would have gotten the equivalent of a PHD. Less than 1% of the people you meet do this. This brings you to top 3,600 of the crowd of the population of the world.
“When I got [my] library card, that was when my life began.”
~ Rita Mae Brown ~
“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.” ~Mark Twain, attributed
“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.”
Margaret Fuller quotes
5. Become a specialist in your chosen feild. This you can do by writing articles or even a book on that topic (this differenciates you even further), get active in a network of professionals in your chosen area ( you are not likely to be too many there), learn to speak at conferences (at conferences there are about 500+ attendees and one speaker- being a speaker takes you out of the crowd). Also learn to look out for opportunities and finally learn to boldly confront your fears.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” — Aristotle
If you do all this right, you will not only be ahead of the crowd, you will be a “first among equals, second to none”(numero uno, secundum non). You will aslo be Sui Generis – In a class of your own.
Lets have your take on this…