I often hear young adults blame their family background as the reason why they have not been successful or realized their full potentials. I try as much as possible to impress it upon young people I mentor or supervise to be a bit more circumspect by finding the solutions to their problems from within. I also tell them tales of my personal experience. I demonstrate to them that one can actually make intentional decisions that could strengthen ways of success and how I landed to where I am now by adopting certain principles and philosophy.
As a child born in a civil war induced poverty just like most children born in the Southeastern Nigeria in the early 1970s, it was obvious to me that I needed to do something differently to give myself a descent life. I decided not to envy anyone, not to rely on anyone for life turning assistance, to be grateful to anyone that helped me, to do menial jobs to earn enough cash to take care of my basic needs, to avoid association with young boys who enjoyed luxury they could not sustain or those that took to drugs or were given to high crimes.
I saw very early how education changed the lives of some families around me and decided to be serious with schooling, doing all kinds of menial jobs and petty businesses to see myself through school. I made it a habit to cultivate friendship with the highly cerebral people. I ensured that my best friends in school were the best in class as I discovered that iron sharpens iron. I also imbibed the habit of savings and refrained from impulsive spending. I worked hard on improving my self confidence and the habit of dreaming big. I was proud of whatever clothes I could afford or wear because I believed that a hood doesn’t make a monk.
As I grew up, and as a working adult, I learned not to ask any wealthy man for tips or rewards for any service or assistance I rendered to them. The greatest deflation to the ego of a wealthy man is most visible when the poor chooses to relate with him as a normal human being without asking him for financial favours. I ensured that I am always handy to serve and assist the wealthy or successful people and they have been more useful to me much more than monetary benefits. It is proven that being truthful and transparent helps a lot in one’s dealings with influential people one needs in life. It must be noted that successful people like knowledgeable, intelligent, humble and value-adding young adults around them hence the need for every young person to invest in knowledge and education. I read not only vertically but also horizontally and zigzaggly. I love learning new things and attracted to new ideas. I also love sharing all I know. It has helped me to sit with the princes, the high and the mighty.
It must be internalized that humility before people that can help you is critical. If you’re uncouth, ill-mannered and dishonest, the rich and successful people will keep you at bay. They would treat you as a harlot, contacting and using you when needed but would never bring you closer or to mentor you.
It should be noted that not all wealthy and influential people are good or interested in mentoring or raising anyone. Many of them would use and dump you no matter your efforts to impress. Don’t worry, just focus on studying and learning their attributes or secrets and what make them successful and imbibe the much you can. Some are wicked and would try to hurt you. Brush it aside. It’s part of life’s experience. I have had my own share of oppression of the wealthy and the powerful. Psalm 34:19 says that many are the afflictions of the righteous but the LORD deliverers him out of them all.
Having realized that I had no hand in the kind of mother, siblings and relatives I met upon arrival on Earth, I had to create the kind of artificial family members and most importantly, the type of nuclear family I had desired. Intentionally, I tried my best to marry the kind of wife I dreamed of and I was prepared to accept the kind of children I was given by God. I’m presently trying to train my kids to be the kind of children I craved for. I have chosen someone and regard him as a dependable father of a kind. He is successful man. I have also chosen a replacement modern mum. These two individuals play wonderful parental roles in my life currently. They treat me as their own children and I regard them as my parents. My new father is not the husband of my new mum. They don’t even know each other.
In the course of my career and adult life, I have carefully recruited the kind of brothers, sisters, aunties and uncles that have the capacity, capabilities and dispositions I reckoned that I would need for my journey in life without causing dissonance with my biological relatives. I intentionally sought out for my new family recruits and incorporated them into my ideal family and they have been so supportive and have also made my life wonderful. I was bold enough to also delist those who turned out to be wrong choices. I have learnt that if you show love, you would most probably receive love.
Everyday, I keep expanding my community of good and special people who are not my biological relatives, townsfolk or tribesmen. These wonderful people have played unbelievable roles in getting me out of dungeon of life. They are my bank of social capital.
Who is that young adult that keeps rueing or complaining of family members’ disappointments? Who is that person complaining of serial failures or blaming others for not helping? You can actually change a lot of things by being intentional about your choices of people around you as you move up in life. If you need to relocate, so be it. Sometimes, an environment could inhibit or stunt someone’s progress. Abram had to leave his place of birth to become an Abraham. Emmanuel had to leave Bethlehem to settle in Nazareth to manifest his name, Jesus Christ. Keep changing locations till you find peace.
Someone aspiring to succeed should stay far away from those with negative energies or destructive influences and get closer to people that add value to one’s life especially people that encourage one to succeed.
It is imperative for you, the aspirant to work on your priorities, character, competence, skills, choices, your personality, your disposition to serve others, savings and spending culture, self respect and self confidence. You can do it. I wasn’t born the way I’m now. I did it. I’m still doing it. It is working for me. It worked for others. It will work for you.
If you think you have bad siblings and relatives, create and develop new family members and the kind of world you dream of. What you’re presently and what you will be in future can be negatively or positively influenced by you. Yes! You can do something. It is not even late right now. Just start.
In a bid to give back to the society, I wrote this piece with young adults in mind. Please share with any young person you think that needs this.
Written by Ikenga Ezenwegbu