You’ve kept postponing those dreams and noble aspirations. And now the days have run into weeks, the weeks into months, and this is already midway into the 6th month of 2017. Before you’d know it 2017 is gone! And then it’s 2018, followed by 2019, then 2020… You know what? Those goals will begin to give way for more pressing needs, such as marriage (for ladies crossing 26 and guys approaching 35), more money to pay growing bills cum keep up with the burden of external expectations. Then you miss the track forever. And suddenly it all dawns on you when on that bed – sickbed or deathbed – that yours has been the case of a wasted life.
Oh that today you’ve read this post, harden not your heart. Whatever you do today, do at least one thing that will advance you towards your ‘big picture.’ I bet you don’t want to realize at the tail end of your life that it was a wasted one. You want to write a book? Someone met me yesterday about it and I simplified it for him; it’s that simple. You want to found an NGO? It is simple, too. You want to ‘public speak’? Simple, too.
Most ladies thought it’s about getting married, and then got to finding out after marriage that there’s more to life than marriage. After all the sex and childbearing, what next? Methinks that sex makes more sense in the bed of a meaningful and fulfilling life. Some guys thought it was making money, and then went on to find that their lives became way emptier as the bank account grew from hundreds of thousands to hundreds of millions – and even to a few billions. Trust me on this one: more money off the land of purpose pursuit is a curse, accounting for why more rich people live lascivious and damning lives. You see where Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are channeling their billions of dollars? Only purpose-driven lives do that.
What do you want with your life? If you ain’t sure, talk to someone. It may be me, it may be someone else; just talk to someone. It’s unfair to waste this one and only life you’ve got. Please don’t.
Interestingly, the title of this piece was the opening words of Chukwunonso’s toast to better days ahead and good health of mind and body at his father’s 70th birthday. I sat there watching him eulogize his father with mentions of such qualities as diligence, hard work, selflessness and integrity – with corresponding examples and illustrations from the past – which very few sons will care to observe. For him, and I concur, stories of good men should be told, particularly because they serve to inspire the younger ones. After telling the story of his profoundly good father to those of us gathered at the event, I just knew I was going to take it up from there, I just knew that telling the story of Engr. Amadi to the world was not only right and just but a duty.
My journey to gracing Engr. Amadi’s 70th birthday ceremony started exactly 14 days ago. The invitation came over the phone, and the exact words of the person at the other end of the line were, “I’m informing you this early so you won’t miss it for any reason. 11th June is my father’s birthday and you’re invited. We’re going to be celebrating it and it begins with 10am Mass at Christ the King Parish, GRA.” Those were the words of Ebelechukwu Vivian Amadi; Great One I call her, a name we started calling each other after we both read Robin Sharma’s breathtaking The Leader Who Had No Title. Of course, those words reflected the fact that she already knew that I was wont to flying around like a wizard; she was only requesting me to do my June 11 flying to her house. Truth be told, I didn’t accept the invitation immediately; I just laughed and kept laughing over the phone, which is what I usually do whenever I’m not sure of letting out a yes or no. 14 days was quite some length of days to predict my movement! Funnily enough, the invitation became the very first thing that came to my mind on waking up the past 13 days, and the constant reminder note that rang in my head was, “Cornel, whatever you do, save June 11 for Engr. Amadi.”
However, a threat showed up 7 days ago, when I learnt that one of my cousins was getting traditionally married. It was a threat because the event, being a traditional one, was going to hold in the evening of Saturday, June 10; eve of the birthday in question. It was a threat because my parents, siblings, and other members of my extended family were going to be in attendance; telling them I was leaving barely, say, two hours after arrival was going to be a big deal. The long and short of the story is that I attended both ceremonies. I attended the traditional marriage because it was a duty; based on family. I also attended the birthday party because it was a duty; based on friendship. Needless to say that, all of life, for me, is about family and friends. Those are closer to my heart than anything. All I had to do was vanish from my family’s sight at 6.30pm on the 10th of June, and appear at Christ the King Parish at 9.40am on June 11.
Besides being friends with the Amadis (both offline and online), I attended Engr. Amadi’s birthday because of Engr. Amadi. Yes, it was because of the septuagenarian himself, more than anything else, that got me attending the party. Because he is such a ridiculously calm and sophisticatedly humble man, I’ve never had the luxury of conversing with him beyond my words of greetings and his calm but warm response. Indeed, he’s been one of the few aged men I admire from a distance – and I copy him a lot. True to myself, I learn more from actions than from words; more from a distance than from closeness. Permit me to already share with you some take-homes from the life of the man:
1. Sophisticated humility: You can’t dare predict the man’s net and other ‘worths’ from looking at him. All you see is the man just as God made him: small in stature, clear in diction, and confident in outlook. And I doubt he imposes his fatherhood on his children like a good number of fathers do. He does most of his things and troubles no one. Interestingly, the very way he beckons his children by name reflects the tremendous respect he has for them. You need to hear him call ‘Makuochukwu’ or ‘Ebelechukwu.’
2. Creativity: Anyone who attended the Mass of thanksgiving can already tell how creative the man is. When he was to respond to the part of ‘how old are you now’ of the classic happy birthday song, he gave three sequence of answers, playing along with the lyrics, “67+3,” “68+2,” “69+1,” before saying he’s 70 years old. However, this is the very least of his creativity. Come around the man and see…
3. Foresight: I prefer to describe him as a civil servant with a difference. His accomplishments in all fronts of his life qualify him to be described as a man who saw tomorrow. Indeed, his future was so clear to him from the word go that he made adequate preparation for next to everything.
4. Hard work: I don’t remember ever meeting him doing nothing. The man is an eloquent testimony to the eternal truth that hard work doesn’t kill. Funnily enough, the very next thing a man that drives in from work does is to continue, at home, from where he stopped at the office. Nonso talked about the times he had to make farms, and even go on ‘transport runs,’ in order to make ends meet. Nonso was also proud to say that laziness was never anywhere close to his father.
5. Knowledge savvy: The very first thing you get to see on entering the Amadis’ sitting room is the day’s newspaper. And trust that the man who put it there was already done with it. Of course, you can imagine how much the man now knows after years of this uncommon practice. Call him a colossus if you like, and you’d be darn right.
6. Fear of God: This one is a given. The man fears God like crazy. How else can I describe this if not to point you to his obsession with integrity and the quality of his offspring? From Chukwunonso, through Jayne, Cynthia, Ogechukwu, Ebelechukwu, to Makuochukwu, the story is not different.
As for the party, it was royal. The planning was superb and the treatment was exotic. Everything worth eating was present: all sorts of rice, salad, chicken, all brands of beer and makes of malt, palm wine, suya, ukwa, ‘swallow’ plus next to all Eastern Nigeria soups, red wines, great cake, abacha with a touch of everything, etc. For the Amadis, today was a day like no other; I guess their hands went really deep into their pocket to celebrating a father indeed. Nonso actually called him ‘Coach’ – more than a father. Lest I forget, the MC was dope! And the DJ was wow! And me? I enjoyed myself.
And before they could know it I was off to Nsukka. After 11th comes 12th – another school day! And the life of Engr. Amadi inspires me to go face my books squarely, so that I can bubble like him when I clock 70 – that’d be more than 40 years from now. Lol!
To put it simply and short, alignment with change equals relevance. The following promises to be of help:
When change shows up, embrace it rather than question it. Don’t resist it. Don’t. Immediately begin to figure out how to harness it to your very own advantage. You can be sure you’d lose any fight you put up against change. If you get fired from your job, for instance, instead of getting into the unwarranted trading of blames or giving in to depression, immediately begin to figure out your next move towards landing a new job or becoming your own boss. If your boy- or girlfriend calls the relationship to a quit, instead of crying your eyes out, why not go in search of a better person. If you unintentionally drop out of school due to failure, financial, or other constraints, instead of resigning to self-pity, pressurize yourself to come up with alternatives. It’s no news that some of the rock star entrepreneurs and world class athletes are school dropouts. In essence, embrace whatever change that knocks at your door.
Be knowledge savvy
People will always perish for lack of knowledge – Hosea 4:6. And one way to remain ignorant is to cling to what you used to know. You can trust that some of today’s errors were yesterday’s facts, and, by implication, today’s facts may turn tomorrow’s errors. And to know only errors is to be as good as ignorant. Without knowledge, how will you even get to know that change has come around? Those in the capital market, for instance, can only figure out change from the trend they read on financial statements, and by studying the market trends. You must study. Read tons of books. You must be very observant. You must read your eyes out. You must watch TV and listen to radio. Importantly, too, you must develop an analytic mind, since change could come as wolves in sheep clothing.
No matter how much you know, you can’t just know enough. This is exactly why we need each other – for cooperation and collaboration. You must keep in touch with others, especially people of like minds. These ones will help keep you abreast with emerging trends, will call your attention to important things you’re taking for granted. Two good heads are always better than one. That’s the point.
Some people take pride in doing things the old way, and delude themselves with the thinking that the old way is the better way. For instance, they’d prefer to do complex math on a sheet of paper than punch the calculator; they suspect the calculator will blunt the sharpness of their mind. Some are so hell-bent on hardcopies, and would prefer to patronize the post office than employ the more efficient electronic mailing system. Some teachers are so into chalk- and whiteboards that they’re oblivious of the power of smartboards. There are tons of things technology can help you accomplish; all you need do is harness it. Don’t be so obsolete that you prefer the hard life to the good life.
Where there is no vision the people perish – Prov. 29:18. The visionary sees ahead, the visionary anticipates change and prepares for it ahead of time. The visionary is rarely caught unawares. The point here is simple: since you’re already in the know that change is inevitable, why not go all out to meet it; why not greet it with warm welcome when it arrives. In this way, while others are thrown off-guard at its arrival, the visionary assumes the position of solution provider. Joseph’s interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams gave both Joseph and Egypt untold relevance during the seven-year-long famine, such that they became the savior of the rest of the world. In this light, therefore, you should be able to tell, or research into, where your industry is headed and begin to vigorously prepare ahead. This can be done by acquiring relevant skills and contacts, such that you’d have your umbrella at hand on the rainy day. Of course, companies don’t downsize or right-size at random during recession or troubled times; no, they jam the door against those who don’t feature in the future of the company.
Seen thus, the only way to be or remain relevant is to embrace change; relevance and alignment with change are two side of the same coin. And the only way to embrace change is to stay up to date. Of course, you’re outdated if you’re not updated. So, dare to embrace change, pursue knowledge, cooperate and collaborate with others, harness technology to your advantage, and be visionary. If you do these, then relevance will work with you.