Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another. ~Napoleon Hill
The post was inspired by a brief interaction on Instagram recently. A young lady posted a video that seemingly eulogized wealth without enterprise. Singing about what Nigerians popularly refer to as hustle, the man in the clip bellowed “Until we secure the bag we can never retire, once na money matter we follow am bumper to bumper... He continued with how he doesn’t need a mugu’s advice since the mugu neither hustled nor did jail time with him. He then concluded by urging you to go abroad and see where hustling is about “nekwe ego, nekwe nga” which literally translates to ( see money, see jail).
Unfortunately, this mentality is popular among young people. Don’t get me wrong there is absolutely nothing wrong with the first part. Determination is a vital ingredient of success. Time and time again people who did not give up often achieve their goals. However, reducing success to 2 options (jail or riches) is a warped mentality that we must discourage. As I wrote at the beginning of this series success is; “the progressive realization of predetermined worthwhile goals stabilized with balance and purified by belief”.
My dad used to say that every Igbo man should trade. Indeed in his over 3 long decades in the corporate world, he ran many businesses by the side. Poultry, haulage, spares, electricals, pharmaceuticals, oil & gas, and even real estate. My versatility is obviously his genetic handover.
So one day while we chatted on the office balcony overlooking the sprawling stretch of electrical shops along Hospital Road Aba, I asked why he keeps saying that every Igbo man should trade. He replied that trading is a natural talent of the Igbos and even if it isn’t OnataluChi ie a special blessing from God, the fact that we are surrounded by traders makes learning by proximity inevitable. He then concluded with;
“Nwokoma, trading is a great fallback option because even if you are a lawyer, doctor, engineer, or professor, there will come a day when you will find the regular income from trading invaluable regardless of how small it may be”.
That lesson stuck. It inspired me to co-own an okada (motorbike) business while at Uniport to earn extra income. And in Unimaid I made clothes from Colchoclob Aba to sell to fellow students for the same reason. By the time I graduated and plunged into the oil & gas industry, I already had the mindset of gradual growth.
However, by 2000 Yahoo Yahoo was on the rise among jobless youths. I saw young men who became suddenly rich without any verifiable means of income. I was in my twenties and quite impressionable so I was tempted or at least fascinated by this phenomenon.
Then one day, I was having a drink with a pal and he mentioned that his boy seated with a group at the other end of the bar will pick up the tab. I was curious because as of last year, he sponsored the boy’s trip to NYSC camp.
“Your boy don hammer?”, I asked.
“Na high sea”, he replied.
He told me the boy was now the nouveau-riche in town and recently bought a Toyota 4runner. I seized the opportunity and asked him to invite the guy over to our table so that we can inquire about his strategy. Taking a deep breath, my friend took a long hard look at me before replying.
His words will stick for a lifetime; “Enyia olekwanu ihe anyi ji 419 eme? (my friend what will we benefit from fraud?). Look at you for instance..you have a filling station, 3 cars including a V-Booth, and you are about to complete your house in Enugu. How many of our mates can boast of these things? God has blessed us abundantly so let’s not give Him the cause to take back these blessings”
I was speechless for a while. I knew my friend came from a devout Anglican family, but as a young man, I was amazed by this fear of God. It was something that was missing among many young folks because we take it for granted that God will always forgive our sins. One thing became clear to me then; That God will forgive does not mean your transgressions will not have consequences.
We are what we are because of the influence of our associations and interactions over the years. Ever since that conversation, I always give a second thought to proposals that look too good or easy. And we see them daily. Think about all the mouth-watering investment schemes you receive via social media. MLM products, Real estate deals, Crypto this and that, you name them, the list is endless. Most are fraudulent. The old adage “if it sounds too good to be true it probably is” may not always be correct but it is OFTEN correct.
There are 2 things you can do after reading this.
1. Make acquaintances that will INFLUENCE you positively and add value to your life.
2. Curate the content on your screen through the lens of your desire.
These are deliberate steps that will help you GRADUALLY achieve your goals.
It’s time to stop deceiving yourself that you will buy that Benz before December. Stop cutting corners and start focusing on creating value instead. Start building from scratch. That’s how people like Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger became rich. By compounding small amounts of money and skill they were able to build wealth which gradually transformed into huge conglomerates and business empires over the years.
Remember, most “get rich quick” schemes OFTEN get the seller rich, not you. And the alternative to prosperity is not jail if your hustle is legit. Slow and steady will always win the race.