Many people, particularly youngsters, view success as a very complex riddle. However, in their quest to solve this riddle, many have fallen into the wrong hands and messed up their lives and destiny. This post aims to properly define and demystify success and achievement by placing at your disposal actionable insights and strategies for attaining success incontrovertible and reliable means of achieving success.
Success and Achievement
Success and achievement are intertwined in that success is the achievement of one’s goals and expectations. Success, however, must be viewed through the prism and spectacles of what is right, fair, and just.
Let me quickly say that being successful is not the same as being rich or wealthy. To view success only from having a fat bank account is a wrong perspective of what true success means.
Success, for instance, has nothing to do with wealth.
Therefore, success is not about having so much money, although success can attract money. However, the true meaning of success is to achieve one’s goals and aspirations in a legitimate and honourable way; and be fulfilled, satisfied, happy, and make others happy.
In other words, if your goal is to be a primary school teacher who imparts knowledge to the younger generation and moulds them for a greater future, and you achieve that goal, you are a successful man, although you may not have a fat bank account! But, on the other hand, a billionaire or millionaire without vision and positive impact, whose wealth is not achieving any noble goal, is a monumental failure, the huge amount of money stashed in his bank account notwithstanding.
This clarification and distinction are very necessary because, in my view, one of the greatest bane and undoing of the present-day young folks is the skewed and lopsided definition of success in which success is reduced to merely having cash to throw around rather than living a life of satisfaction, fulfilment, and impact. I believe that this wrong perspective of success must be set right if the youths of this generation will experience true and lasting success.
In addition, success demands labour; and anyone who will not work on himself and his assignment will not succeed. It is these demands of success that this post is aimed at unravelling.
The word Contemporary is synonymous with current, modern, present-day, etc. Youth are young people in their prime, known for their strength, strong desires, and exploratory tendencies. Bringing the two words together (i.e., contemporary youth) suggests that being a youth is only for a season. You are the contemporary, current, and present-day youth, but tomorrow soon beckons when your youthful season has phased out, and it would be wrong to call you contemporary youth. You must, therefore, channel your strength and strong desire for success and achievement in the right direction and, by so doing, maximize this productive season of your life while it lasts.
I pray that this post will inspire you to desire and aspire to a life of true success with dignity.
Keys to Success and Achievement
The following are some of the keys that I reckon as necessary for a truly successful, impactful, and dignified life:
Self-governance: Jack Patrick Dorsey, the American Internet entrepreneur, and philanthropist who is the co-founder and former CEO of Twitter, as well as the founder and CEO of Block, Inc., a financial payments company, said success is never accidental.
It takes a great deal of deliberateness and intentionality to succeed. Therefore, those who want to succeed in what they do must be in charge of their lives. Unfortunately, young people who are influenced and destabilized by bad friends, alcohol, drugs, and other negative social influences will lack the vision, focus, and commitment that success demands.
Bo Bennett captured it aptly when they said success is not in what you have but who you are.
Patience: Bo Bennett said that there are no shortcuts when it comes to success. To succeed, therefore, requires patience and long-suffering. Unfortunately, those who seek shortcuts to success often discover that shortcuts are cut short. The get-rich-quick syndrome, typified and accentuated by Yahoo-Yahoo and money rituals (also known as Yahoo, runs contrary to every known time-tested principle of true and lasting success. It is, therefore, not surprising that, throughout the whole world, not a single person with lasting success became successful through Yahoo-Yahoo or Yahoo plus.
From Elon Musk, the current richest man in the world, according to Forbes, to Jeff Bezos, who ranks next to him; from Bill Gates to Warren Buffett; from Aliko Dangote to Abdulsamad Rabiu; from Mike Adenuga to Folorunso Alakija, one of the richest women in Africa; from Femi Otedola to our very own people in Ileogbo Dr. Akin Ogunbiyi, Engr. Lanre Adeleke, Engr. Semiu Odeyinka, Prof. Pade Aderibigbe, Chief R.A. Nafiu, Prof. Mrs. Oluyemisi Obilade, Hon. Barr. Femi Kehinde, Prof. Tunji Kehinde, Hon. Justice Jide Falola, Hon. Abidemi Ogunkanmi, Prof. Tunji Alimi, Prof. Lere Amusan, Mr. Tunji Ogunkanmi (a.k.a. Cornerstone), of blessed memory, and many other successful and accomplished Ileogbo sons and daughters too numerous to mention, nobody has attained long-lasting success through shortcuts. True success, like ancient Rome, is not built in a day.
Therefore, young people must be patient in their pursuit of success lest we hurriedly lick the proverbial hot soup and get our mouths burnt.
Diligence and Discipline
The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary -Vidal Sassoon
Success will always be a mirage to the lazy, indolent, and undisciplined. Nobody can truly succeed doing little or nothing, as a success only answers to hard work and dedication to duty.
Success only answers to hard work and dedication to duty.
It is quite painful that we now have a generation of young people who desire success and wealth but are unwilling to apply themselves to labor diligently. Instead, they don’t want to work, but they want to ride the best cars, live in luxurious mansions and hotels, and use the most expensive things; this is an aberration and a travesty of our Omoluabi ethos, and it ought not to be!
Good Mentorship and Friendship: I spoke about influence earlier. Influence is very critical to success. To succeed, therefore, requires being selective and picky with the kinds of influences one permits to affect one’s life. It is where mentorship and friendship come in. Your mentors and friends will influence you, whether you like it or not. Mentors are those who have successfully travelled the road you are about to travel. They have mastered the twists, turns, bends, potholes, ditches, and the smooth part of the road, and by leveraging their experience, you position yourself for not just a faster but a safer, cheaper, and easier journey.
One of the reasons many young people lack direction and are practically lost in their journey towards success is the wrong mentorship. Unfortunately, we now have many young people looking up to crooked elements in society (such as Yahoo boys, drug addicts, thugs, ritual killers, etc.) as mentors and role models. It is a very sad trend that must be arrested immediately! This is why I want to congratulate and appreciate the organizers of this lecture for putting this very laudable programme in place. By organizing this programme, you redirect the focus of Ileogbo youths from bad examples and place before them worthy role models like our esteemed, honoured guests, fathers, and lecturers seated here today; and posterity will be kind to you for doing this.
Therefore, it behoves every youth to carefully identify people with a good track record and enlist in their mentorship. This can be done directly through a one-to-one mentorship arrangement or indirectly by reading their books, listening to their tapes, watching their videos, following them on social media, watching them from a distance, and following in their footsteps. On the other hand, friends are your equals and contemporaries who also wield very strong influence in your life. You must, therefore, be wise and cautious in your choice of friends. Remember, evil communications, they say, corrupt good manners.
Having cut out the work of the younger folks, as far as mentorship is concerned for them, I want to use this medium to call on all successful Ileogbo sons and daughters to consciously create platforms and avenues for mentoring and assisting the younger generation. As we condemn “Yahoo—Yahoo” and “Yahoo+,” we must support the younger ones by providing viable and legitimate alternatives such as well-paying jobs, scholarships, empowerment schemes, soft loans, sports, talent hunt and sponsorship, information and business ideas that will put the strength, intellect and diverse abilities of our teeming youth to maximum productive use. This, in my view, is the best way we can give back to society. I want to commend all our elder brothers/sisters and fathers/mothers who are already doing this, even as I hope to see many more of our elders and much more efforts (both individual and collective) in this direction.
Business success requires training and discipline and hard work. But if you’re not frightened by these things, the opportunities are just as great today as they ever were -David Rockefeller
Quality education is a very powerful success enabler. Please note that by education, I am not only referring to Western education; rather, I am referring to all forms of education; Western education, vocational and technical education (i.e., skills and craftsmanship), trade, ICT, etc. Knowledge equips for success. Youths with no education or half-baked education will find it difficult to succeed in a knowledge-driven world such as we currently live in. Young people must, therefore, go for sound knowledge in every area of life where they desire success. If you cannot go to a formal school, learn a craft or trade, and master whichever one you choose very well. That is a major key to success!
Solution Mindset: Instead of looking for crooked and dishonest means to success and wealth, a very honourable way to succeed is by identifying societal problems and proffering solutions to those problems. Wealth and success always gravitate towards people with a solution mindset. Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, identified the problem of connectivity among people globally, solved that problem, and, today, he’s a billionaire. Bill Gates identified computational problems, solved them, and he’s one of the richest men in the world today; Aliko Dangote saw gaps in cement production, fertilizer production, crude oil refinery, and other basic items in this country and positioned himself to bridge those gaps and he’s the richest man in Africa today. Our own Engr. Lanre Adeleke is solving problems in the construction and sports sectors just like Dr. Akin Ogunbiyi is giving value in the finance sector. Today, they are very successful in their fields of endeavour. It shows that success and wealth do not come from money rituals or cybercrime. True success stems from identifying problems around you and solving them, eliminating problems from the society rather than adding to them. Therefore, thinking “solution” must be the preoccupation of every young person who truly desires success and achievement.
Honesty and Integrity: Lasting success thrives on honesty and integrity. Without integrity, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to truly succeed in life. Those who attain seeming success through dishonest means soon realise that what they have is a success that is no success at all. The problem with success without integrity is that it lacks sustainability and is short-lived. Another problem with success without honesty and integrity is that it lacks honour and dignity. Ill-gotten wealth and success achieved through dishonest means will be despised and lightly esteemed. This explains why “Yahoo boys,” thieves, fraudsters, etc., are never respected in society and are always harassed by security officers.
The question, then, is: of what use is wealth without honour? Of what value is success without dignity? What is the essence of money that, instead of breeding respect, only predisposes one to harassment from security agents? These are questions begging for answers.
Humility: Just like honesty and integrity, humility borders on character. Humility does not only engender success; it also sustains it. Success and achievement tend to puff up, and pride, they say, goes before a fall. Pride is the height of character bankruptcy which stifles growth and limits success.
It is quite heartrending to see young people, at the slightest taste of success or wealth, treat others (older, equal, or younger) with contempt and disrespect as the proud hardly go far in life. Young people who desire to succeed and remain successful must be deliberate about being humble and staying humble.
1Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no
pleasure in them”— 2before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain; 3when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop when the grinders cease because they are few, and those looking through the windows grow dim;
-Ecclesiastes 12:1-3 (NIV)
6In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success.
-Proverbs 3:6 (TLB)
6But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into this world, we can certainly carry nothing out.
-1 Timothy 6:6-7 (KJV)
Godliness is the most important key to success and achievement as success comes from our God, in whom all good things consist. To only tell you principles and dos and don’ts of success without telling you about God, who defines and gives success, is to shortchange you. True success is about fulfilling a purpose. However, it takes intimacy with God to discover and accomplish God’s purpose for one’s life; and there is no better time to be intimate with God than now that you are young, with many productive years ahead you.
In addition, it takes the grace of God and His divine backing to overcome human limitations and the forces of darkness that hinder success. I stand before you
today as a beneficiary of the manifold grace of God through the Lord Jesus Christ and I charge you, my dear friends, to embrace that same grace and see it make all the difference in your life.
As I try to wrap up this lecture, I remember Ise L’ogun Ise, one of the classic poems of African poetry in the Yoruba language written by J.F. Odunjo, and how it captures almost all the points I have articulated in the course of this lecture.
Let me refresh your memory with that evergreen Yoruba poem:
Note: English Translation, not mine.
Work is the antidote for poverty
Work hard, my friend
Work/Labour is the major tool for elevation
If we do not have anyone to lean on
We appear indolent
If we do not have anyone to support us
We work harder
Your mother might be rich
Your father may have a stable full of horses
If you rely on them
You are close to shame and disgrace, I tell you
Whatever one does not work hard to earn
Usually does not last
Whatever gain one seriously labours for
Usually lasts with one
Your arm is kin
The elbow is a sibling
If the world loves you today
If you have money
The world will still love you tomorrow
Or if you are in a prestigious position
The world will celebrate you with smiles
Wait till you become poor
The world will grimace at you
Education also elevates one to higher positions
Ensure that you acquire it well
And if you see a lot of people
Making mockery of education with laughter
Please do not emulate or keep their company
Suffering beckons for the unwise child
Tears are due for the truant child
Do not toy with your early years
Work hard; time waits for no one
Having looked critically at what success means and how the youths of this generation can legitimately achieve it, it is hoped that the insights and thoughts shared in this lecture will change the narrative and redirect the focus of many Ileogbo youths from young people with pseudo-success and inspire them to embrace the values and virtues that engender lasting success that cannot be maligned or gainsaid.