It was the great Zig Ziglar who said, “Money is definitely not everything but it is reasonably close to oxygen.” Of course that depends on the circumstance, and if you doubt that quote or think Zig Ziglar was being overly exaggerating, then consider this. The other night I stopped at a gas station to fill my tank and a man walked up to me requesting my help. He claimed someone had stolen his wallet at some restaurant where he had gone to eat with his wife (whom I could see through the window sitting in their car). They were in desperate need of cash to add some drops of fuel to their tank to get home. Winter frost was biting mercilessly. My hands shook as I held the gas nozzle. As for the fellow, I could hear the clattering of his teeth. Thankfully, his situation got sorted out, but before then, money was indeed as precious as the air he drew into his lungs, and mind you, his situation was only temporary. Imagine people who wine and dine in the pit of poverty on a daily basis. Those who know that the next meal is certainly not coming. Those who wake up and curse the day, because all it brings is misery and hurt – empty stomach, shame and dejection.
One might say such people are doomed for life. Surprisingly, some of the greatest and richest folks to have walked the face of this planet have at some point in their lives experienced stomach-irritating hunger, and image-damaging poverty. I listened to the story of the renowned motivational speaker, Anthony Robins the other day and I could tell that he too knows what it is like to walk the annals of poverty. Brian Tracy, Les Brown, Jim Rohn, and Zig Ziglar himself were all victims of poverty at various points in their lives. A number of factors came into play to help these people turn their lives around. Among other factors, one thing stood tall and bold, BOOKS. The multi-billionaire Warrant Buffet credits the books he read early on in his life for his mercurial Midas touch in the business world. No wonder Marcus Tullius Cicero said, “A room without books is like a body without a soul.” If these exceptionally successful folks proclaim the importance of reading, then anyone can use the knowledge from books to transform their thinking, learn life-changing skills and work diligently to end the trail of poverty in their lives. But they have to read them first. This is particularly significant in our country, Nigeria where unemployment is astronomically high especially among the youth.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of graduates leave the four walls of higher institutions and zoom into the pathetic job market walking side by side with uncertainty that appears to poke a joke at them intermittently. In the face of such numbing uncertainty, it is what is in your mind that stabilizes your ship when the winds of life begin to batter and beat you acrimoniously. I recall my days as a coper in the far north. In the eyes of just about every youth corper was that cold, scary look of ‘what next?’ Where do we go from here? What lies ahead? One of the saddest things I have ever observed was that of a southern young man who after youth service literally roamed the villages of Sokoto, completely believing that there was not much better for him to do with himself. He was completely bereft of confidence, devoid of any shred of self-image and battered into submission by the winds of life. How I wished that somehow, he could have been able to look into his own soul through the pages of books like THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING, by Norman Vincent Peale, or IT ONLY TAKES A MINUTE TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE by Willie Jolley, or SEE YOU AT THE TOP by Zig Ziglar.
In contrast to this young man was a friend who happens to be my name sake. He too was a graduate of Microbiology like myself, but he had a crystal clear picture of what he was going to do with his life. He had expunged every shred of fear and doubt that may have walked the corridors of his mind. “I am not the type to practice Microbiology,” he always said. He said he was going to work for Price Water House Coopers, and then head off from there to bigger and better positions in the consulting world. He went on to do exactly what he had planned. He thoroughly inspired me. He had reached that state of mind by virtue of the books he had read and the ones he still read at the time. One of his favorite books which became a top read of mine was A PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE by Rick Warren. Through books, we can learn from the fears, and pains of those who have already walked the path we are on, or the path we are about to step onto. So I ask, WHAT BOOKS ARE YOU READING? Oscar Wilde said, “It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” And Alice Hoffman said, “Books may well be the only true magic,” and I cannot agree more with them.
In light of this, permit me to introduce you to life-changing books some of which we will run their reviews on this platform in the coming weeks. First is a book I read for the first time as a corper in Sokoto State – IT ONLY TAKES A MINUTE TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE by Willie Jolley.
IT ONLY TAKES A MINUTE TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE by Willie Jolley
In this book, Willie Jolley emphasizes the power of a single minute. A pessimist might argue that it is literally impossible to change your life in a minute, but that means he/she fails to realize that change starts the moment…the very moment they make a decision to begin to turn their lives around. The minute we make an absolute commitment in our hearts to begin to make the difficult adjustments in our lives – like seeking out the right kind of friends whose company would build us up, reading books that will fill us with positive mental attitude as opposed to doom and gloom, avoiding the people who beat down our self-confidence and tell us we cannot do it, the moment we clarify our goals and dreams in life irrespective of our present circumstance – that change truly starts.
As Willie said in the book, “A lion in Africa wakes up every morning knowing that he has to out-run the slowest Zebra or else, he starves for the day. And, every Zebra wakes up knowing that he has to outrun the fastest lion, or he ends up dead.” How fast are you running towards your dreams? Have you got dreams? What are your aspirations? Are you happy where you are? Or do you think God has put more in you that the world can benefit from? Or has life beaten you into submission like the young man I mentioned earlier? Willie Jolley in this book challenges us to drift away from average (mediocrity) and to seek excellence. In an economy where a single job is sought after by thousands of folks, the only way to retain what you have and climb through the rungs is to make excellence your mantra. When others are giving 70% at work, you are bound to beat any possibility of being affected should a job cut come into effect by giving 150%. The skills we acquire in the process alone are the key tools that will take us to the next level. Your future is not dependent on the economy; you cannot control the economy. The power to better our lives, lies within us – every one of us irrespective of the economy. As bad as it is in Nigeria, Millionaires are still emerging and many are breaking even against all odds (through creativity, hard work and faith).
Often when things are not working and there is no end in sight to our hardships, to dream big and envisage a better life for yourself seems laughable, but more often than not, that is the only route to keep your sanity; the only step to seeing yourself beyond your circumstance – that is faith! As Willie Jolley puts it, “The uncommon thought creates the uncommon man.” Theodore Roosevelt one of the greatest presidents of the USA was a man who transcended his immediate circumstance. Crippled by polio, he could have given up and relied on government welfare to cater for him for life. Of course, that would have condemned him to lifelong poverty and lack. In his words and I quote “I chose not to be a common man. Me, it is my right to be uncommon if I can. I’ll seek opportunity not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen humbled and dulled by having the state look after me. I want to take calculated risks, to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed. I’ll refuse to live from hand to mouth. I’ll prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence, the thrill of fulfilment to the stale calm of utopia. I will never cower before any master nor bend to any friend. It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid, to think and act for myself, and face the world boldly and say, this I have done.” I would like you to please stop for a moment and ponder on this!!!
The book goes further to urge us as Frank Sinatra said in one of his many hit songs, “I did it my way.” Do it your way! Think uncommon thoughts, do uncommon things. Through the pains of the great depression in America years ago, men like Theodore Roosevelt dug America out of the ruins of poverty and systemic unemployment. Nigeria awaits you and I. No one else will sing the songs God has given you. No one else will write the books, poems and stories that are embedded in your mind alone. Maybe you can found a business that will outstrip your imagination – but you have to start somewhere…the minute you decide to try. This book is filled with inspiring stories of common people like you and I who had uncommon aspirations and made a commitment to change their lives, and in the process, those of so many others. One of such stories is that of Hyacinth Morgan, a woman who came to America with nothing; no English, no education, but an unstoppable desire to succeed. Working full time and studying at night, she met the requirements to go to Medical school at the age of forty. Of course, all the schools in the land at the time rejected her application to Medical school on the ground that she was too old.
She was not the type to give up. She kept pushing until finally Johns Hopkins University saw her excellent grades and heard her story. They were so moved they accepted her to study Medicine at one of world’s best Medical Colleges. A dream mixed with faith, confidence, resilience, and determination cannot be denied. All things are possible, if we can just believe and then go to work to make it happen. Yes, it will not be easy, but what is easy in life? Rather than wait for that job, maybe we can create one, out of nothing – slowly but surely. But we have to make the decision to try. And when the going gets tough, we have to keep going. It is obvious that the government is not going to get better any time soon and there is nothing you and I can do about that, but we have the power to do everything with our talents and gifts. Those, we have control over, so then let’s use them. As Willie says, you are a child of the universe. You have a right to be here, so no matter what, be at peace with God. And whatever your aspirations and labors, and the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul. Strive to be happy; after all, that is what true success is all about.
NEXT WEEK, WE SHALL TAKE A LOOK AT ANOTHER INSPIRING BOOK!
Photo credit: parade.com
Your comments bring out the beauty in our stories. Have your say in the comment box below. To share our story, click on the Facebook share button or on the twitter button.
Follow us twitter @lagosconvo
Copyright 2014 Lagos Convo.
Otherwise stated, all stories on www.lagosconvo.com are Intellectual Property of HMG STUDIOS LTD. No permission has been granted for the reproduction of our materials in part or whole on any platform, electronic or otherwise.
For permission and other related inquiries, send mail to email@example.com