As one of my life calls, I engage with the young people and business owners a lot in my attempts to help individuals and organisations to focus on the right thing and maximise their potential. I have been visiting and interacting with the Youth Corp members during the orientation camps for years. At every opportunity, I have been overwhelmed by excuses of what is not working in Nigeria, how backgrounds have limited people, how a lack of capital has stunned great ideas, among others.
My response to people who give a series of reasons why they are not progressing is first to acknowledge the existence of their concerns and ask them to turn their lemons into lemonades. The reasons to fail has been existence for ages. It will not be a perfect world one day. People who are excuse-makers will not get to their destinations on time and might even live life unfulfilled. The essence of life is to make progress despite adversities and challenges. If life doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you for better.
To the youth of this country, I acknowledge your lemons- they are the leadership that is not producing the results for all, the disadvantaged backgrounds and lack of jobs or opportunities after school. The list is endless. However, I do see some foreigners, especially the “Oyinbos” coming to Nigeria in their numbers. I’m sure they are not here to eat our eba, amala and ewedu. They have their version of Afang soup and don’t need to travel miles to enjoy life in an unknown land. They are here to prospect the opportunities in our economy. If you are in the middle of the opportunity, you have the advantage if you can stop the excuse game and end the pity parties. You are to concern yourself not with what you cannot change but with what you can change and how to make that better.
Lemons are situations or circumstances, creating doubt and preventing you from achieving your life goals if you celebrate them. Unfortunately, the conditions are neutral. It is your perspectives on any situation that make it either positive or adverse event. Roger Bannister’s lemon was the widely accepted illusion among the scientists and athletes that no man can run a mile under four minutes. The general belief was that the human heart is not capable of running a mile distance within four minutes and the heart of anyone who attempted it will burst. I’m sure the situation of unemployment in our society is a “heart buster” for the youth and families whose all investments are in the education of their children.
Roger Bannister, a medical student and an Olympic runner, broke the four-minute per mile barrier in Oxford on May 6, 1954, turning the colossal lemon into lemonade for others to drink. Bannister set the pace by running 1,609.344 metres under four minutes and create confidence for others to follow. Within two years, the likes of John Landy, John Walker, Steve Scott and a host of others numbering twenty-five did what Roger’s did to confirm the new standard that the human heart isn’t incapable of running a mile race in four minutes.
The four-minute mile race is still around us. There are real and assumed limitations here and there. Your four-minute limitation might be unemployment, lack of fulfilment on your job, health-related problems, and how to move on in life to be the best of yourself. I agree that things are difficult. However, you must see beyond the limitations to be rewarded in life. Roger did overcome similar obstacles before achieving his objective. He believes he can do it. His study shows there was no evidence to support the limitation and his faith pushed him to set the pace. I’m sure there is no evidence that you can’t overcome your present condition. There is no evidence that Nigeria will not get better with good leadership.
Roger Bannister did not achieve his life goal without paying the price to get the prize. He decided what he wants to do, he was part of a profession and not a busy-body or idle member of the athletics world and he can see it before he realises it. You cannot win the prize if there is nothing you are working at. There is no divine blessing for hands that are idle and empty. It’s a natural law; you can’t change it!
I know you have dreams. I want you to see the limitations as obstacles that must be surpassed in your growth process. You can create lemonades from the lemons if you dare to do what Roger did. First, identify what you really what to do in life. Commit to it and surround yourself with people going on the same mission. Do not be like a dreamer who woke up from his dreams and cover himself with the duvet to sleep again. Wake up and run with your desires.
In conclusion, I want to share two real-life experiences to illustrate the possibility of moving forward amid limitations. I met Josephine, who was a casual worker in Lagos. She didn’t attempt to further her education due to lack of finance. My words to her were ‘first do your JAMB, get the admission letter into a university and start looking for help with the admission letter’. She followed that advice, did her part of the bargain, and today she is a graduate working in one of the banks in Nigeria. You can turn your lemon into lemonade.
Bolanle was confused about what to do with her life. Her job is unfulfilling and very stressful. She hates Monday mornings and always look forward to Fridays. She was advised to find her latent interest and combined that with her job. She turned her “lemonish” situation into lemonade sweet drinks when she started using her weekends to learn sewing. Within two years, she became one of the best fashion experts in town. Today, life is kind to her because she is operating in her strength zone.
You can make the best out of any situation. Once again, it is not the country that is failing you; It is your inability to lead yourself. The start point is to challenge yourself and draw out what is inside you and not bringing in what is outside. You can do it, and I’m sure Nigeria will better if you start the journey leading to the victory party for yourself and others through your impact.
Babs Olugbemi FCCA, the Chief Responsibility Officer at Mentoras Leadership Limited and Founder, the Positive Growth Africa. He can be reached on email@example.com or 08025489396.