I am the Problem

Are we still feeling hopeful for Nigeria? I don’t know! I seem to be at my wits’ end, but then that’s the thing, I am the problem!

Our children… Public servants, our leaders, those we voted and those who bought their seats (can’t seem to recognize the difference anymore)… they didn’t fall from the sky nor rise from the abyss. They were conceived, born and nurtured by mothers. They were taught the difference between good and evil (I use that very deliberately because we‘ve gone past bad), they were taught to live right, to be fair and just, sent to school to whatever level (now all and sundry have doctorate degrees). Teachers went on from where parents stopped, at intervals, neighbours and well-wishers, even bystanders dropped a teaching or two when wrong was done on the street. Back in the day, there was no minding anyone’s business, everyone minded it! A child was brought up by all, and parents were thankful for it!!

Our parents… Now, these individuals are our parents, and I say that with the deepest sense of regret, the ones who taught us about honesty, truth, integrity, sacrifice, love and loyalty. Is this a cruel joke life is playing on us? Has God finally decided to leave us to our wiles and allow us to destroy each other? At least there’ll be fewer people for Him to worry about!

Our workplace… In the work place these our parents are wolves, scroungers, thieves to make it plain… they will kill a project in a heartbeat without a thought to the merit it possessed to the ministry and the nation at large if their individual numbers are unclear. They want a morsel from your every project, they need to be factored in to your daily profits, they believe they’ve earned the right to reap where they did not sow, and they’ll do a hell of a damn lot to ensure they get it. God help you if you have more than one venture under their jurisdiction, they’ll push for the entire profits of one if not more. The landlord who’d rather his tenant couldn’t send his kids to school as long as he paid his rent and some.

Our fate… Alas, this is where we are as a country, our landlords, our governments, our lawmakers have sentenced us to live out the rest of our lives in their shackles without the possibility of parole. To be totally honest, when I’m not imagining their downfall, my heart bleeds for them , because you get to a point where you lose all self-respect for the acquisition of someone else’s wealth, where though you may get it, you become truly pitiful.

Our business… If you have the opportunity to leave Nigeria and you don’t, it better be because you are working smart and employing people to work hard in the private sector – the Private sector; oh the challenge of all sorts of incidental percentages in your financial model to make available a little “something something” for the EDs who get your huge facilities approved. Amazingly, these things are not even “thank-yous” anymore, they are now a right, with MOUs and MOAs on the side to govern the expectations. Does one truly go into arbitration over a “bribery” MOU? We have become that utterly shameless!!! The provisions are such that we can use English grammar to create an ideal transaction, and you better believe a judge or an arbitrator will preside over the nonsense, again using the tax payers’ money! What a colossal waste of time!

Our compromise… Business in this country is not for the faint hearted, and it is certainly not on the merit of your financial model nor your passion for infrastructural development and or sustainability. As it stands today, compromise is almost inevitable, after all, integrity does not add up on the ROI and certainly does not take anything out of your capitalized interest on bank facilities.

Our Nigeria… The Arab spring didn’t begin because some people just woke up one day, thought it a great idea and made it happen. It was birthed by long periods of frustration, and if you like, you can say the North African nations got tired and decided to spurt out some of their inherent nonsense even if it meant their own people! Maybe Nigeria will spit us out and start over when she has had enough! For some, we’ve been managing, we’ve been enduring, and someday soon, there’ll be an uprising!

Our ambition… Today, youths don’t talk about being millionaires, everyone’s desires are to be in the hundreds of millions and higher, and as many a preachers will say, if you want to be it, start living it!  We don’t wear Rolexes anymore, everyone’s watches, bags, shoes, price from the second half of a hundred thousand naira, for some greater than 50% of their monthly net take home. Toyotas are ordinary, everyone wants a Lexus, a Range Rover, luxury cars, and people convoy in private jets lest they need to quickly dash to another continent to grab a quick meal or catch a game, yet poverty deepens. Our reasons being that we are ambitious, we are determined, we are willing to work hard for our earnings, we are dreamers and doers, I hate to be the mean clown and burst the balloons (no, not really) but how sustainable are these expectations? Clearly, our remuneration and profits can’t suffice if we don’t pace ourselves! We are setting ourselves up for compromise to sweep through, and when it passes, there’ll be no character left!!

Our everyday… In our beloved nation, every day presents us with who we can be, what we have on our insides determines how we react to the circumstances that come our way and inevitably determines who we eventually become!!

Our people… I don’t believe we’re inherently bad! We don’t wake up every morning saying “Thank God for keeping me, today I’m going to swindle 4 people and make N10M on each”. I think generally we are better than that. If we’re ambitious, we wake up with hope that we’ll succeed, we’ll find favour, we’ll be lucky, that God’ll bless our hustle, then we go about our plans which ultimately aren’t meant to cheat anyone, but then the day commences in all its glory with all of its challenges and brings us smack before compromise after compromise with different levels of exposure, and we are faced with the choice of what next to do? Where else to go? How else to make it work? When we are strong we can let go of our best opportunities as a result of integrity, when we are not and faced with the fear of losing our dreams, we give in and become the vermin we blame for where our nation is and so it begins.

The circle… A new lifestyle is born; we have our children and teach them to do the things we don’t and to avoid those which we do. It seems smart to tell them to do as we say and not as we do, but these things seep out, they find a way, you can’t hide darkness in the open. And so our children learn to face the challenges of us, the workplace, fate, business, compromise, our Nigeria, our ambitions, our everyday and themselves, and if we’re not careful, they’ll react to these the exact way we did and we’ll all miserably come full circle of our selves.

Our dear Nigeria, you are what we make you to be because you cannot be better than your people, and we are a total mess…but if we lose hope in us, then all is truly lost!

 

How to define your Career

Appraising this on a foundational level will for some, bring them smack amidst being middle aged with nostalgia of the dilemma as to what directions they chose to take their lives professionally, for some, a melancholy of how they were whisked into a world of getting by with a reasonable package, and for others an honest-to-God “I had always wanted to do this and I did, I am so fulfilled”. Sadly, the latter is often the exception rather than the case. Most people look back regretfully at having done one thing or the other, or made a decision rather than another. Often times, it’s not the choosing of a career in itself that makes the difference but the reality that necessity is laid upon you to understand and define purpose in every sphere of your life.

To this aim, I choose to work with defining Career as

“progress or advancement through life”

Or

“rapidly moving ahead”

Both definitions demonstrate awareness as to an action that you’re going to have to take every step of the way as opposed to restricting it to one’s profession, which is independent of one’s thought input after making a choice. Thus creating an intrinsic notion that once that choice has been made, the deal is done. This is ambiguous.

I like to think of it as

…“an evolution of thought”

Yes, indeed I appreciate career as

…“an expedition towards a lifelong goal”…

Sure enough, we have a destination with many existent tributaries, how and when we get there however is entirely up to us. In our nation, the ideal always seems to be lacking in options. Expectations exist and you are simply projected to follow through. Go to college and study as you’re told, more often than not without a single thought as to why you’re reading what you’re reading other than the means to a livelihood; it’s not enough to study medicine because your father is a doctor or an engineering course because you think you want a piece of the oil company’s revenue. Honestly, if a niche must be carved, if a road must be paved, one must realize that that’s just not good enough.

True progress cannot be defined nor measured in one’s truly

confused state though one may be successful, a delineation must be made, thought must prevail, ideas must be borne, decisions made; all of which simply make for the voyage, the continuous progressive journey to a purposeful existence.

Let’s consider two 24 year old Nigerians in varied locations, shall we? One in Houston, Texas and the other in Lagos Nigeria: While the Texas bred, given the same opportunity for public higher education from 18 will have a first degree, probably working on a masters with her own apartment and a car along with a savings of sorts; In other words, for her, life will have begun. As opposed to the Lagos bred who will at this time be about  frustrated of the school system due to strikes, still be living in her father’s home with no sense of personal responsibility and almost no direction. If we make an honest appraisal of our economic situation, it simply does not give us any fair competitive advantage over our peers in other nations of the world. Do we then conclude we are destined to be despaired, or do we strive to create our own opportunities and re-write the stories from the way they are presented before us, at least from where I’m sitting? I’d take the latter, and I’d like that you do to, because unfair it may seem, the deed is however already done can not be un-done unless it is first rejected by you. Hence, you must decide that you will not accept nor tolerate mediocrity, you will not be merely be placid, and take everything brought your way but that you understand that you have to choose to either receive or reject what’s dished your way.

Taking the bull by the horns, choosing to chart your course, braving the natural winds of normalcy and expectation, going all out against all odds because and only because you recognize that your dreams are bigger than you, and nothing else will make for satisfaction!!!

…This for me defines a truly entrepreneurial spirit…

My Venture before the Venture!

What will you say is your professional category?

Do you have a career or a job?

These may seem like rather mundane questions and I mean, they mean the same thing, right? Actually, wrong! Not on the grand scale of things, they don’t.

First, you must understand what it is you do before you can even dare to analyse  and clarify what it is you will rather be doing and why! Take a minute to reflect on these… the first thing that crosses your mind is often exactly what it is!

Going forward, if you have a career, congratulations! If it’s a career that you chose and love, doubly congratulations!! If you run your own business, with obvious signs of growth, even fantastic!!

Whatever you do that satisfies your professional yearning, and of course qualifies for sustenance is great. However, to act like one has no responsibility to those choices which may or may not yield tremendous output is ludicrous to say the least. People often act like they do what they do by happenstance and or circumstances that come their way, it may even really seem that way, but we always have a choice. Yes, you may be jobless and it seems like you absolutely have to take the job that comes with the remunerations you’re being offered, but factually you don’t have to take it, and if you do, that was your choice!

Let’s pay particular attention to those who feel like they are stumbling into business due to a state of joblessness or whatever else, shall we! We’ll discuss our seemingly choice less folk at a later date.

Starting out a new business may seem like an option from a state of joblessness, the perfect break from an uneventful career, working on someone else’s time, or sometimes just a getaway from a rather overbearing boss. Realistically however, those reasons more often than not never take you very far! Dare I even say that it’s harder to manage a business than to show up at work on any given day. More often than not you’re not being paid by the standard of work you deliver, but rather that you simply make yourself available. Promotions on the other hand may come as a result of appraisals, but your monthly will come as and when due because you were there!

Consequently, to think you will have it easier managing your business as opposed to showing up at work is a gross misconception. We will in subsequent posts be attempting to discuss entrepreneurial traits and what makes them truly successful!

I will leave you however with two questions which make up the fundamental foundation of a successful entrepreneur, why do you want your own business, and how badly do you want it? These questions and the understanding of their answers are indeed the venture before the venture!!