What were Your Defining Moments as a Young Person?
My father taught me 3 core values that have defined who I am today. He taught me the gift of diligence and hard work. He taught me the gift of integrity, which I will forever honor. And he taught me the gift of excellence. Those three things which are the core values that I hold on to as a young man, they were instilled in me by my father from a very young age.
He preached, lived, and desired us to be diligent people. He hated anyone who was lazy. His best gift to me, the gift of integrity, you just couldn’t lie. He says our word was our bond. If we said we were going to do something, we had to do it, and we shouldn’t bend it. But if we don’t get it done, he taught us to own up, and say, “We didn’t do it”, and be honest and accountable.
He taught us the gift of diligence. He taught us the gift of diligence beyond just reading and education, but also, in vocational skills. My father would expect that if a socket in our house got burnt, he would at least with him try to fix it.
The third thing was the spirit of excellence. If it is not worth doing at all, don’t do it, but if you will do it, and it will have your signature it, it has to be well done. When God made us, he made us and put His signature on us. Whatever will carry your signature has to be with excellence, it has to define excellence. People will have to see something, and say, “we see where it is coming from”.
In life, we have what is called the foundational phase of man’s life. The foundational phase is usually that age from birth to about when you are hitting the age of 18 to 20. Anything between the ages of 18 and 30 is the foundational phase.
You must also bear in mind that you have a formative year (the early years) between the ages of 0 –10. However, you want to cut the timeline, whatever it is that is instilled in you then, will form what is called your foundation. And as you grow older in life, and you start to experience life, life will start to put pressure on you, to test whether those values, and that foundation is strong enough to weather the storms of life. What often tends to happen is that, when the foundation is faulty, those storms would expose, and will often lead people down a very dangerous path.
It is not that, it is impossible to remedy the situation. In fact, the beauty of life is that, there will always be first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh chances. There will be a lot of opportunities to rectify the wrong. The challenge that comes with them is that, the longer you live with the wrong, the more expensive it becomes. Because you are buying time that you are supposed to use to build on top of a foundation to rectify the fault in the foundation.
Those who are used to building projects will understand the concept of underpinning; whereby you are trying to take the foundation on a more stable soil. It takes a lot of time, it is better to have built a solid foundation.
To the question around how those values defined me. Let me begin with the moment I discovered the value of diligence, and excellence at its core. This is what I called the defining moments of God in a man’s life, when God just deliberately trains you for something, you just happen into the situation that you have been purposely trained for, and you deploy the skill, and people begin to wonder, where did this person come from?
At Master’s level, the British system was demanding critical analysis from us. In Nigeria, we were taught to cram and drop, very little analytical engagement. You walk into a system that says, “What is your own opinion on what you just read?” But you are like, “What do you mean by my opinion? My teacher taught me, and I have told you what my teacher taught me.” No! If you say what your teacher told you, you are going to get a “C” or “D”, or even fail. “We want you to critically analyze.” But I didn’t know anything about critical analysis, I had to learn all of those stuffs in three months, and I still ended up with a distinction at the master’s level. It was that drive of excellence.
If it is not worth doing at all, don’t do it. But if you will do it, and it will have your signature on it, it has to be well done.
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