|MEMO TO MY YOUNG FRIENDS - If You Own A Smartphone Use It To Help Yourself by Starboy(m): Sat 16, October, 2021|
Each time I leave Nigeria and I’m back to the United States, the chasm between the two universes forces my brain into overdrive. The nature of work is changing rapidly. Even in structured societies where mediocrity is not an art and citizens are educated or well heeled in a skill/trade, jobs are threatened. In the last few days, I came to a very frightening conclusion; the young Nigerian has a not too rosy future. Knowledge is global. You cannot compete without knowledge, be it in a school or in a trade. In the age of information, you have no excuse for not excelling. Here is what I have done in my life and still doing. These are life skills I am teaching my daughter early, in words and deeds.
1. READ! Read Without Limit
Reading grants the ability to sift logical arguments from specious ones. I have been derided as wanting to show that I know everything. No! I don’t know everything but I can brag, that I’m well read. I read everyday! Read about subjects well beyond your expertise. If you studied International Relations, learn a bit about physics. If you read Computer Science, do some reading on human psychology. If you are a Christian, you should read Brian Greene on Cosmology. As a Christian, I learnt some Arabic to be able to read the holy Qur’an. Atheists and Muslims should read C.S Lewis’s Mere Christianity. If you are a progressive with heavy socialist bent, read Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose. While I am a woman of faith, I found Christopher Hitchen’s tome against organized religion in “Letters to a Young Contrarian” interesting. If you are a free wheeling, unrepentant Capitalist, read the Communist Manifesto. Do not read only those things that affirms your beliefs and pre-conceived notions. Without a doubt, you will find patterns you never thought existed. Reading opposing viewpoints will cause you to think profoundly and question your core beliefs and assumptions. Most often when I read, I have come to objective moments where I find myself nodding in agreement with those whose opinion or positions differed from mine.
2. Always Question Yourself and Your Core Beliefs
Frank Herbert wrote; “Knowing is a barrier that prevents learning.”
Acknowledge that your assumptions may be misconceived or misplaced. By doing so, you can learn and re-learn. With a questioning mind, you have the potential to update your priors as new facts emerge. You may also find every reason to confirm your beliefs as true and hold to it more strongly. Do not limit yourself. Learning opens us up to new possibilities, people and philosophies we never thought existed.
Do not wait until you get a visa to the United States or the United Kingdom. Go to Ghana, travel within Africa. I have taken a Cross Country Bus to Ghana from Yaba twice. On one occassion, I traveled without international passport, so experience what ordinary cross border traders go through. When you travel, you see differences in cultures and religious traditions. You also see that human need and want remain fixed. When you travel, you broaden your horizon and become more educated. Travelling lets you gain appreciation for the deficiencies of your country and its advantages. In addition, you are able to see your culture through the eyes of others and evaluate it more objectively.
4. Make Friends Outside Your Comfort Zone
Being among people who speak the same language, have the same culture and practices the same religion can be incestuous. It confirms your prejudices and biases. Make friends with people who have good ideas regardless of culture, religion, language or politics. Some of my most brilliant friends have backgrounds that a remarkably different from mine, but their ideas make sense.
5. Welcome Change, Be Adaptable!
Change is the only constant in life. Change will happen whether you like it or not. Adaptability is one of the most valuable skills anybody can possess.
6. Take Risks
Take risks. Some say; take calculated risks. To me, a risk, is a risk. If you dont take risks, how will you calculate it? With risks comes exaggerated possibility of failure but take it! I have taken so many risks and have achieved spectacular failures many times. What I am today, is a creation of more failures than successes. Risk exposes you to people and opportunities. With risk taking abilities, you can test your assumptions, change them or strengthen them. Risk increases our ability to effect change. I will rather ask for forgiveness than permission.
7. Learn From Failure
Failure is not the problem. Not learning from failure is. Learn from your failures. Life’s greatest lessons are learned when we fail. When you fail, it means you probably took a risk. Re-assess, re-group and try a different method. Perseverance and fortitude are remarkable attributes to develop. Failure led to the discovery of penicillin. Penicillin saved the world! Do not be afraid!
8. Learn A Trade
In my time, there was no internet but I learnt braiding, knitting and sewing. When my then boyfriend Ademola Olateju was going to Scotland in 1989, the only thing I requested for, was knitting pins. My first gift to him was a sweater. He wore it for years! There is nothing you want to learn that is not online for free. Use your phone, tablet or laptop to learn. Please learn the hard stuff, not the easy ones. With due respect, so many ladies rushed into the makeup trade. That is too easy. It has what we call, low barrier to entry and little competitive advantage in business. Anybody can do it. It does not take a lit to learn it. Learn! Be like Lekan Wasiudeen who taught himself photography and videography online. For those in school, there are many websites offering courses online for free. The notes and syllabus for some Ivy league schools are online. Free! Nigerian universities are bad. Okay! That is true. But you have alternatives. You have easy to read notes. Even experiments are on youtube. Indians who have better schools are taking advantage of it. What are you waiting for?
Take advantage now! Do not wait for Nigeria or anyone to help you. If you own a phone, use it! Help yourself!
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