Slow and Steady

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I was going through my records recently and came across an essay I wrote in my teen years. Back then, I wasn’t a fan of writing so you can imagine how good or bad the essay was.

Although I loved scribbling things on anything that was close to me whenever I found myself holding a pen or pencil, I hated writing essays. I never paid attention in class; I found the stories & novels boring when they were read out in class. I prefered to watch a movie adaptation of the novels.

This continued until a friend
of mine who I usually depended on during assessments ridiculed me and this made me angry. I channeled my anger towards learning literature on my own. I would spend time correcting and correcting my essays till I was satisfied.

The first time I actually wrote an article was back in 2008 on a hospital bed and since then, I’ve come ease to myself into it – slowly but steady. I am still learning though and do have writer’s block once in a while.

The mordern world depends on technology and thence built on speed and immediate results. As a result, we are often in a hurry to get things done. Even when it isn’t necessary, we act and feel something is on our heels.

However, the process of learning is a very slow one. Any business, skill, vocation or situation worth learning or mastering, requires time, effort and focus. Philip Stanhope once said “Whoever is in a hurry shows that thing he is about is too big for him.”

It is important for one to have a sense of urgency for whatever s/he is doing however we often mistake hurry sickness for sense of urgency. Sense of urgency is the ability to identify things that require urgent attention and acting upon them ASAP but when one is in a hurry, s/he feels there’s need to rush everything even when there’s no reason to.

Assuming you have been given a deadline to submit a coursework/project/proposal. A person with a sense of urgency will start working as soon as possible, giving himself ample time to finish and go through his work over and over again before the deadline. In contrast, someone who is in a hurry will rush the work and give little or no room to cross-check his/her work.

You can’t get much done if you lack sense of urgency but by doing things hurriedly, we reduce our effectiveness, lower quality of our work and possibly make avoidable mistakes. Take heed to the words of Earl Monroe, “Just be patient. Let the game come to you. Don’t rush. Be quick, but don’t hurry.”

There’s no need to be in a hurry. Be quick but agbana speed. Speed kills. Slow and steady wins the race.

Poles and Notions

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It is quite astonishing how quick we, as a people, are to pick sides when something happens. Nigerians and sentiments are like yin-yang. Inseparable!

When news reports trickled in about the arrest of former Petroleum minister, Dieziani Allison-Madueke in the UK for allegedly laundering $13bn, two groups suddenly emerged. Those in her support were assembled in the blue corner whilst those against her were in the red corner.

Those in the red corner desperately want to see Diezani jailed and thence celebrated her arrest, without asking questions how the media came to that figure of $16bn. The opposition, in the blue corner, described Diezani as innocent until proven guilty and slammed the President’s anti-corruption war as mere noise used to harass and persecute his political enemies.

This is based on their belief that the President has surrounded himself with chronically corrupt citizens like Rotimi Amaechi et al. Perhaps they are right about Amaechi et al but if they feel Dieziani deserves time until UK court proves her innocence/guilt, why can’t they extend such benevolence to the likes of Amaechi etc? After all, everyone has a right to a fair trial. Or maybe not!

Some days later, there was a fight between new Super Eagles handler Sunday Oliseh and veteran goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama which led to the latter announcing his retirement from the national team. As expected, Nigerians, without waiting to get to the root of the matter, were split again into two sides with both teams hurling insults at each other.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having an opinion and taking sides but the least one can do is to be objective about it and back up your claims with facts, not assertions. Objectivity was lost during the aforementioned debates, and replaced by bias. Being objective is a herculean task for many due to the amount of bias we carry around.

It will amaze you how bias, especially what we hear others say, can sway our judgements and decisions. For example, if you were told that someone is good or bad at something, it would be hard for you to forget that information when you observe the person and in the process, miss other vital positive/negative traits of the person. Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson wrote in his new book LEADING, “It is astonishing how many biases and preconceived notions we carry around, and these influence what we see, or more precisely, what we think we see.”

Subjective thinking is based on an individual’s emotions, opinion and perspective hence it comes easily and naturally to everyone however objective thinking doesn’t. It is a skill that is acquired and developed by paying good attention to details. Just as kids develop vital personal and social skills by observing behaviour of their parents, siblings, peers or teachers, that’s the same way one needs to be a keen observer to think objectively.

Objectivity is based on facts and observations. It is a very important skill to acquire because it stops one from making hasty conclusions by taking a step back from one’s own thinking to critically examine facts/opinions/assertions at his/her disposal.

It also requires one to look at things from other people’s point of view hence one has to be willing to give a fair hearing to what others have to say. No matter how right your opinion may seem to you, a single perspective never reveals the whole truth.

Observing and listening are underrated activities, and they cost nothing. Follow arguments with objectivity, not bias.

Information is everything

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Last weekend, I sat down to tinker with my thoughts; to evaluate how the past month went. After a while, I discovered that every important decision I made was dependent on the information I had at the time.

Information is the lifeblood of every decision. It is at the root of everything. We depend on information to make decisions, solve problems and resolve uncertainty.

In this Information Age, information is ubiquitous and more accessible to virtually everyone. We are overwhelmed by the abundance of information at our disposal.

Everything that informs our world – music, writing, movies, news etc – can be described as information. According to Business Dictionary, Information is described as data that is accurate and timely, specific and organized for a purpose, presented within a context that gives it meaning and relevance, and can lead to an increase in understanding and decrease in uncertainty.

For instance, if you don’t read the instructions on your exam paper (information given by the examiners) before proceeding to answer the questions, you are likely to misunderstand the questions.

Information is an integral part of our lives; it can affect a behaviour or an outcome. Those with accurate, reliable and timely information have an advantage over others.

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Scientifically, information defines who we are. Every individual possesses a genetic code, which is the biochemical basis of heredity. This genetic code serves as biochemical instructions that translates the genetic information in one’s DNA or messenger RNA sequences into amino acids for synthesis of protein. Pardon my use of medical jargon.

Information can be facts, opinions and/or assertions. Our relationships, including marriage, is based on facts and/or opinions. It is hard to know everything about an individual so one tries to make a smart judgement based on facts and opinions and not a risky one based only on opinions.

Information provides knowledge. Knowledge is a prequisite for success and power. I am yet to see a rich man that doesn’t have information/knowledge. By sharing his/her knowledge, he acquires more wealth and power.

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However, information can be disastrous when there is an overload. Differentiating between good and bad information requires skill, patience and practice.

In this school of life, everybody is a researcher and every researcher is in dire need of information for his/her research to be successful. When you find this information, evaluate if it is good information. Successful research is based on having good information and then using it to make the right decisions.

Information is everywhere; the challenge is to make good use of it.

Thank you for making out time to read this article. If you have enjoyed it, please comment and share your view on this issue. Also, do like, share and follow the blog.

My Child Must Be A…

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Growing up as a Nigerian child can be mentally hard. Pardon me for generalising; Yes! I know Nigeria is enormous with over 250 ethnic groups and I cannot speak for everyone but I have found out that Nigerian children, no matter where they grow up, are raised in similar ways.

I was in South London sometime ago and a Nigerian woman complained bitterly about the academic capabilities of her 6-year old daughter (Yes! You read that right). She feels the daughter isn’t as smart as her peers and this makes her worry. She had already planned that the little girl would be a doctor in future and as a result, she hired a private tutor to teach the child after school hours which means the little girl arrives home at about 5pm every weekday.

Many Nigerian parents, just like the aforementioned lady, put pressure on their children, especially the oldest child, to do well in academics. Infact, they have unrealistic expectations that you must be the best at everything; it is not debatable. Even if you get an A and finish as the second best student, they will probably still ask, “The person that came first, does he/she have three heads?” Thereby making their children too result-oriented.

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It is absolutely of great importance that parents support their kids’ academic pursuit but there is growing concern that Nigerian parents put too much pressure on their kids beyond their capabilities and abilities. Whilst some parents want their kids to study 24 hours of the day (TDB) with minimal or no play time, in hope they will grow to become the next Albert Einstein, others favour and praise the academically sound ones over the poorly academic ones.

Putting children under intense pressure can be devastating to their psychological development. Consequently, they develop a certain type of mentality that makes them believe they are worthless without academic success thus cultivating sibling rivalry.

Some children may also develop perfectionistic traits as they put too much pressure on themselves to please their parents and other family members. In my little experience so far, many believe they are only studying for their parents, not for themselves, but are afraid to voice their opinions. Many struggle to establish autonomy and often succumb to depression, sickness, alcohol and drug abuse, psychosis, emotional trauma, low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence.

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Parenting is hard work; it must be said that parents who put too much pressure on their children never do it with the intention to harm them. Naturally, everyone expects a profitable return on the investments they make and parents are no different. They want to see a return on the investment of money/time that goes into raising their children (school fees are not easy to come by).

There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting high targets for your children however when these expectations seem to overhelm them, there is need for us to re-evaluate and soft pedal a little bit. Nigerian parents need to realise that every child is different; some are early developers whilst others are late developers. Also, not all children will be academically sound and the best you can do is to encourage them to be better whilst exploring other talents/skills your kids possess.

Some parents do this because they want their children to achieve more than they did. Recently, psychology experts revealed that parents who put extreme pressure on their children are only trying to live/achieve their failed dreams through their children. This gives them great fulfillment and pride, as some see it as a “straightforward validation of their parenting skills.” Professor Brad Bushman of Ohio State Univerisity, who coauthored the research said, “Parents then may bask in the reflected glory of their children, and lose some of the feelings of regret and disappointment that they couldn’t achieve these same goals.”

Furthermore, the emergence of social media (Facebook, BBM, Twitter, Whatsapp, Instagram etc) have unintentionally heaped pressure on many to achieve and some extend this pressure to their children. We are always notified about the events in everyone’s lives – especially their achievements so there’s increased pressure on kids to excel academically so parents can secretly boast that they have the best children ever.

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A child should be allowed to follow his/her own path in life, not the path of his or her parents. All he/she needs is parental guidance and support!

Thank you for making out time to read this article. If you have enjoyed it, please comment and share your views on this issue. Also, do like, share and follow the blog.