Don’t Limit Yourself

Earlier this morning, a colleague circulated by email the excerpt of an interview with Jay Ireland, president and CEO for Africa, General Electric.

He said in his mail, “This is a very inspiring story worth sharing but the lesson is: Don’t limit yourself!”

Now you can see where the inspiration for this post has come from.

I feel obliged to share Jay’s story with you:

1. What was your first job?

I was a janitor, cleaning offices when I was 15.

2. Who has had the biggest impact on your career and why?

Jack Welch. He provided the leadership for GE. I got to work for him directly for a period of time, and it was an informative period of understanding how a big corporation can really drive change.

3. What parts of your job keep you awake at night?

None. I feel that you always balance a risk/reward, and as long as you are within the right balance of that you should be okay.

4. What are the top reasons why you have been successful in business?

You need to approach business as learning. So I guess I’m always learning …

5. What are the best things about Kenya?

Safaris, the people, and I think the optimism.

6. And the worst?

Infrastructure. Frustrations with getting things done.

7. Your future career plans?

Grow GE in Africa and then see what happens.

8. How do you relax?

I play golf. I read. Hang around with my family. Travel.

9. What is your message to Africa’s young aspiring business people and entrepreneurs?

Grab every opportunity that you can. Don’t get put off by obstacles, just go through them.

10. How can Africa realise its full potential?

I think it is a combination of government investment [and] private investment. There has to be stability. There has to be more transparency around how things get done in the governments and a real focus on elevating the ease of doing business across the continent

In acknowledging my colleague’s mail, I stated that, “Point 9 is a real food-for-thought.”

And sure it is.

How surprising the way many people, most especially the youths, limit themselves!

How frustrating many become on account of unemployment!

How amazing the way we fail to sharpen our eyes enough to see the opportunities surrounding us!

Of course, there will always be obstacles. But real men and women are known by how strongly they surmount their problems. That’s the sort of thing Jay is talking about.

Take the issue of unemployment for example. What exactly do we mean by that in a country like Nigeria?

When you pose this question to a Nigerian youth, his automatic response will be about white collar (or office) job. Everyone wants to work in a bank or an oil company.

After writing numerous “I beg to apply” letters and attending countless interviews without success, our youths finally resign to fate.

Some become dejected, disappointed, and upset with the society?

Should that be the best approach?

I don’t think so.

How about developing an entrepreneurial mindset?

How about looking at the opportunities surrounding us?

How about looking for ways to become your own boss?

How about taking a closer look at what you enjoy doing, and then start examining how you can turn your passion to money?

Believe me, Nigeria is a country where you can sell anything…yes, anything; and you will make your money.

Sometime last year, I went to see someone at Sura Shopping Complex. Right there on the ground floor were six young men seated in front of mountains of tapes (tape rulers). They were fixing the pieces together in readiness for sale.

I greeted and walked past them.

On my way out, I had to ask my host some questions about those guys.

“Ah, that tape rule business you’re seeing is fetching millions. There is a very high demand for it and those ones they’re fixing will be sold off within a couple of days. It is a very lucrative business.”

He also reminded me that Nigeria’s population is over 150 million.

I was so happy with the young men…but then, my host added, “Those boys are actually working for one Chinese man.”

Everything is a matter of simple Arithmetic. That’s why Arithmetic/Mathematics is made a compulsory subject in schools. The aim is to make us put one plus one together to arrive at two.

We are to use our senses to detect opportunities, work out the financial Arithmetic, and move.

But instead of doing that, many people result to lottery. And there are many facets of lotteries.

Some are as simple as filling the coupons and then begin to wait endlessly for the “sure banker.”

Others are made to keep you daydreaming night and day. A classical example is the new one in town promising that you could become a proud winner of a brand new aeroplane – yes o, a whole aeroplane!

With how much “recharge and win?”

What happens after winning the airplane sef?

Who pays the parking fees?

Who pays the pilot’s salary?

Go and ask one of our former footballers; he will tell you what happened when he bought himself a jet the other day.

Some don’t play lotteries. Instead, they go in search of miracles wherever it is proclaimed. That’s why we have suddenly become a country of “born agains.”  Search their hearts; you will discover the truth.

Of course, I believe in miracles; otherwise I wouldn’t be a Catechist that I am.

But miracle is not the same as waiting. You’ve got to make some moves! As Tony Robbins opined, you have to awaken the giant within you.

Don’t ever limit yourself in anyway.

If you can’t find a “coat and tie” or “skirt suit” job, why not think of alternatives? Create your employment.

When you give this kind of counsel, the common response is usually, “There is no money with which to start off.”

Some will even claim that you don’t really get the point because you’re not in a similar situation.

One thing I have discovered is that “helpers” will rather wait to support you after seeing some level of seriousness or success in what you’re doing. That’s why our banks prefer to lend to someone who has already started something.

OK, you say to me: “That still doesn’t answer the main question of initial capital.”

I then reply: “You are not serious about making money until you act as if your whole survival depends on it.”

Did you get that?

If you didn’t, simply think of a man who claims he cannot run. Then there is a bomb alert where he sits, and everyone is on the run. I guess he will remain seated, right?

Please don’t limit yourself.

If you can conceive it; you can achieve it.

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5 thoughts on “Don’t Limit Yourself”

  1. I agree in totality with the piece.

    We have a lot of “voluntary unemployment” in young men & women simply because they feel the jobs they see are beneath them. Yet they complain when employers ask for experience.

    They have a mindset that as soon as you have a University Education, all doors should open and no more learning or training is required. Everybody wants to be respected while the majority believe it is all about just waking up at the top. There will always be a road to walk and a process to follow.

    My advice is start where you are, there is always a service you can provide somewhere. Think about how to make it better and you’ll earn better while still looking for that better job…if you still need it by then.

  2. YES point 9 is a real food-for-thought, because the obstacles we face in life are the opportunities that takes us to the top. so we should get through them.

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