Work harder on yourself than you do on your job
The Roman poet Horace might have been summing up today’s labour situation in Nigeria when he wrote that “the mountains will be in labour, and will give birth to a ridiculous mouse.” As part response to the current economic difficulties, the Imo State government introduced a three-day working policy with effect from August 1, 2016. By this, Imo civil servants will now work for three days and farm for two days! If this is replicated by other states, it will certainly make the working climate in Nigeria today look ridiculous. On concerns about the management of the Nigerian economy, the Federal Government pushed back last week as well. The Economic Management Team met with a team of economic and financial experts presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, to consult on quick recovery options. All is well.
Except that all is not well. Workers are saying “No” to the growing tide of job cuts, unpaid salaries, among others. In early July, oil workers threatened to go on strike over sacks of their members. In mid July, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) faction led by Comrade Joe Ajaero picketed the premises of Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) at Alausa Ikeja, over sacks of bankers and other perceived anti-workers activities. At the moment, resident doctors’ associations are on strike in some teaching hospitals, over unpaid allowances.
Years back, after graduation, you secure a job for life in a corporation: work for 40 hours a week, and retire after 40 years. Now, there’s no job security anymore, the 40/40 plan is gone. A friend of mine worked for a bank; the bank closed a couple of branches and laid-off a number of people, including my friend. He has been working in this bank for over 10 years; now, he’s in financial distress. Now if, over the last few years, he had been into self improvements, developed new skills or did some things by the side about his talents or passion – when this crisis occurred, he would have had something to fall back on.
I remembered a defining moment in my own work-life: as a young banker, I had remained at the banking officer’s level for seven years running; on top of that, I had an automobile accident which left me bedridden in hospital for several months. By the terms of my employment at the time, I was entitled to full pay for the first six months; half pay for the second six months; if I don’t recover thereafter, then it’s termination (such generous terms hardly exist these days).
Now I am a full grown man, married with children, but bedridden in hospital for several months and counting, unable to go to work, and don’t know when and how the whole thing would play out! In a moment of reflection, I resolved that if and when I do recover, then things have got to change in my life; that I have got to find my purpose, and build a career or business of my dreams; that the next seven years must not be a repeat of the last seven years. As it turned out, I recovered after seven months, narrowly missed being terminated!
And sure enough, I met my mentors shortly after, who coached me and introduced me to the principles of self improvement and the science of achievement. This was a turning point in my life – because over the next seven years I forged my way from a banking officer right to the top, becoming at various times – group head strategy and member, executive management committee at Bank of Industry; group head change management and member, executive management committee at Oceanic / now Ecobank; process director at Skye Bank; deputy general manager at Union Bank, among others. From the first seven years to the second seven years – same period of time, but with a totally different mindset. Isn’t that amazing? How did I become so valuable in the marketplace within such a short period?
Now let me share with you the secret that I got from one of my mentors. He said: “If you work harder on your job, you will make a living; but if you work harder on yourself, you will make a fortune.” This laid the premise for me, and started a whole new thinking on how I can accomplish my dreams with self improvement principles. Before then, I was a hard worker alright, but I was working harder on my job than on myself (my usual routine- I close late and get home late; touch the head of my eldest daughter and disappear into my room; and out again very early the next morning to the office; little or no focus on my dreams, no personal planning, and so on). But once I got this message, I reprogrammed my mind: to work harder on my myself and on my dream – to study, practice and teach; to refine my mental attitudes, my personality and my emotions; to think harder to become more, among others. And this turned my life around. So Napoleon Hill was right when he said, “Think and grow rich”.
Today, many people work hard, but don’t think hard, just like me before I got the message. Many people place their future in the hands of their employers; and with the ongoing job cuts, many more people would face financial stress, unless they reprogramme for self improvement. In a recent U.S. Centre for Disease Control (CDC) report, there was a line that said: “More people die by suicide than road traffic accidents”, on account of financial stress! So, let’s understand that the era of job for life is gone, that this is the time to refocus more on ourselves, than on a ‘journey of the broke’.
Have you recently lost your job? Are you living in fear of an impending job cut? Or do you go to jobs that you hate? Now, I know that owing to the current economic challenges, many people feel helpless and powerless. I understand that – but don’t let that be you! I believe like Anne Frank, that “Inside each and every one of us is a piece of goodnews – our dreams, talents, gifts, etc. given to us by life.” So, this is the time for you to show up -stand up for yourself, get past your fears, and get started on your talents. If you will learn a few of these self improvement principles and start to work harder on yourself than you do on your job from today – you can begin to make yourself more valuable in the marketplace. I have been there myself, and I know it works.
Remember: We get in life, not what we want, but what we are; success happens in the moment, moment by moment!
• Hunder, a self improvement coach at Mikehunder Inspirational, is a former bank executive. He contributed this from firstname.lastname@example.org