Connecting with young people today, when we are speaking to them about certain values that must drive them, they often think that they will just appear, life will just happen, and they will just get ‘There’. This myopic thinking has almost consumed our young population- that you don’t have to do much, it is just a stroke of luck, and once you can have money that is just all. People that are ‘there,’ it is not as if they are spectacular, it is just a stroke of luck — life will just happen — is it true?
DR ADEWALE ADEYINKA
No great person fell out of the skies. There is an old saying, “Success happens when preparation meets opportunity”. You can make that equation imbalanced by removing the place of preparation. And to rub a little bit of salt to that injury as I would call it, the preparation could have been going on for years in the back side of nowhere; in ways that you may not even be aware of, that you are been trained for such a time as you would end up seeing.
From the time I was a child, they used to say that I was a talkative. My mum will usually say “chai! This boy can talk!” But today, that same talkativeness is what is putting food on my table, because I am an academic. I lecture, I do public speaking, I coach, and I train. All that, have become my means of income. The same talkativeness has given me the opportunity to stand before kings, and to raise and nurture leaders, but that’s another story.
They saw it as being talkative, they didn’t shut me down, they didn’t silence me and they didn’t tell me not to talk again. I was just a talkative, and there was nothing anybody could do about it.
When I got to school as well, it became another hallmark. Everybody wanted to gather around me to hear me talk. I didn’t think there was anything to it. But every time I had the opportunity to stand before the audience to speak, I would speak and people will say it was convincing — I didn’t see anything to it. Every moment, week in week out, those things began to take shape in my life and those were patterns.
When I got into the University of Lagos, the same thing kept happening. I would stand, I would speak, people would listen, and I would influence. That was when I began to realize that if I had such great influence with my voice, I could not live my life anyhow.
Don’t ever think you don’t have any kind of influence, even if it is to your junior ones; everybody has a measure of influence. In my own case, my influence was been manifested through how I conducted myself, but most importantly the things I said. I realized that my words carried weight. In fact, I remembered I said something one day and someone went and did it, and it got them into trouble. That’s when I knew that I really need to be careful because if I say things, some people actually believe it, and they would run with it.
So, I had to be very careful. Because you just never can tell, your recommendation will come from people who have been observing you. At times, opportunities will come to you not because you put yourself forward for them, but from people who have heard you, who know stuff about you. Just like they recommended the guy called Joseph in the Bible. There is always that power in recommendation. Anyways, I was recommended and the recommendation resulted into an invitation; “I was asked to come”. Boy Scout motto says, “be prepared!” Anything can happen, preparation and opportunity is what makes success happens.
You will get to seasons of your life where you it will look as if everybody else is better than you, but you don’t know what it is you are emanating out of you that people are picking up on. When your skill will speak for you, your skill will not speak your local language. Skill has one language: “Excellence!” Not your Ibadan accent, not your Ijebu accent. Skill has one language and the language is Excellence.
So, before you beat yourself down and say, “I was talking with my Ibadan accent;” what people are hearing is not your accent, they are seeing the excellence, they are seeing logic, they are hearing thing beyond your accent. Great people with their great skills stood before kings and nobody cared about their accent, because the content they carried superseded the accent in their English. That’s why you don’t need to form American or form British. Just be yourself. Skill has one language –excellence. When it is time for you to find expression, it will give you the platform. In fact, excellence will trample all those other things you are putting your eyes on — be good at what you do.
I didn’t get to that point by accident, it started from home, when I was a babbling child, and they said, “I was talkative”. So, when I started talking in primary school and people were saying to me, “you are a talkative”. When I got to secondary school, I was using my voice, and when I got to the University, all that moment of years of training cumulated into that one moment where everything changed for me.
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