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Graduates should stop looking for jobs; they should look for opportunities

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Unemployment in Nigeria

“Your salary is the bribe they give you to forget your dreams”- Anonymous

I have really observed that there is something inherently wrong about our education in Africa. In this part of the world, graduates are wired to look for jobs, instead of looking for opportunities.

The purpose of education is to equip us to see opportunities and be a solution to the avalanche of problems that abound around us. What keeps people ahead in life is not their education or degrees; it is simply the opportunity that they seized. Jobs may be scarce, but not opportunities. As long as there is a problem to be solved, there would always be opportunities.

Dani Johnson said: “No matter what economy we are living in, there’s ALWAYS opportunity.” Real financial security and freedom is not in your job, but in your passion, gifts, talents and your ability to see and seize opportunities.

The illusion of salaries, jobs and pensions have stagnated the pursuit of many for excellence and impactful adventures. It is a waste of our education, exposure and experiences if after we graduate from school, all we think about is searching for job.

An enlightened and educated mind should be able to see and seize opportunities. The establishment that you have applied for job actually came by because someone sat down to look for solutions to societal problems.

Victor Charles said: “The sure way to miss success is to miss the opportunity.”
I normally tell graduates during some of my training sessions that they are not unemployed because they cannot find a job; they are unemployed because they cannot see or are blinded to the opportunities that abound around them.

Unemployment has little or nothing to do with job vacancies; it is a function of whether we are sensitive to the opportunities around us or not.

I have at several fora, reached out to people in government, telling them that we need to re-define the meaning of unemployment to solve the nagging menace. Unemployment is not the inability to find a job, but rather the inability to see opportunities and productively maximise them.

It is a gross waste of human resource and latent potentials when gifted and talented individuals spend a chunk of their life looking for jobs.

Many years ago, two young men went to India to invest their resources. They both saw the Indians walking barefooted, some did it out of tradition and others out of poverty. The two friends pondered deeply on the prevailing situation and eventually they made their choices.

One said: “Business will be bad here, let’s change location.” The other gave it a thought and said: “No, let’s change the situation.”

The more optimistic young man started producing cheap plastic shoes that the Indians could buy. This young, positive man, Thomas Jacob Hilfiger, became a multimillionaire in dollars and owner of lifestyle brand, Tommy Hilfiger Corporation.

H. Jackson Brown Jnr said: “Nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity.” The job that you are looking for is out there ‘dressed’ as opportunities.

Benjamin Franklin said: “Every problem is an opportunity in disguise.” People who recognised a problem and turned it into an opportunity created the greatest success stories. People get ahead in life through the opportunity they seize. Life is full of amazing stories of people who identified and seized the opportunities in common life situations to impact the world. Excuses will always be there for you; opportunity won’t.

In his famous book, Outlier, a book that changed my perspective about success, the author, Malcolm Gladwell, made a groundbreaking revelation about the core secret of success. He made us realise that success is not a function of intelligence, talent or resourcefulness, but our unequal access to opportunities.

The story is the same for Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Serena Williams, Jackie Chan, Lupita Nyong’o and others, whose were all mysteriously selected and positioned for opportunities that were unavailable to their colleagues.

Talent is good and intelligence is important, but opportunity is everything. In summary, if you want to be great, don’t look for $100; look for 100 opportunities. In his words, Gladwell said: “Success is the result of what sociologists like to call ‘accumulative advantage.”

Colonel Sanders, at the age of 65, believed that his mother’s fried chicken recipe could be successful as a restaurant meal, and the idea of KFC was born. Michael Dell saw the opportunity for inexpensive computer and Dell computer was born. Fred Smith saw an opportunity for overnight delivery of anything anywhere in the United States (US), and fast delivery company, FedEx, was born.

Albert Einstein said: “Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.” We are in serious need of youths that can think differently; youths that would proffer solutions to the avalanche of problems that have beleaguered the nation.

I want to emphatically encourage Nigerian youths to have a major shift in their approach to national problems; to realise that the problems that abound around us are an invitation for us to be creative, dynamic and impactful.

Every problem introduces a man to himself. Our greatest opportunity would ultimately come from our nagging problems. Our problems are not meant to stop us, but rather give us direction.

Nigerian youths must never be deterred by the tough economic situation in the country. The purpose of every difficult time is to put a demand on our creativity, initiative and problem-solving capacity.

Thomas S. Monson said: “Our most significant opportunities will be found in times of greatest difficulty.” The geologists believed strongly that sustainable wells must be drilled in the dry season when the water table is at the lowest, as rainy season normally gives a deceptive and unsustainable water table level.

This is also true about finding opportunities in difficult times. You are not poor because you don’t have a job; you are poor because you are not seeing and seizing opportunities.

Being POOR is simply Passing Over Opportunities Repeatedly. Nigerian youths must stop complaining about the Nigerian environment; they should start looking for opportunities and problems to be solved.

In Bill Gates’ time, there was just only one computer in his high school. Sometimes, he did some menial jobs in school, just to have access to the computer.

Today, he has pioneered a revolution that ensured virtually everyone in a family has a Personal Computer (PC), a laptop or a tablet. Gates didn’t wait for the perfect condition; he created his own.

Steve Jobs made up his mind to redesign mobile phones in such a way that they would be able to perform the work of a PC. He once said that his mission was to put the PC in phones.

Today, there is virtually nothing that your PC does that you cannot do on the mobile phone.

Gates and Jobs weren’t complaining about their environment, instead they designed a better one.

The change we are seeing in the world today didn’t come from people that were complaining about their environment; it came through people that decided to create theirs.

We must put a stop to the nagging victim mentality among Nigerian youths. People with victim mentality always believe that their problems are not their fault and always see themselves as victims of life’s situations. They believe strongly that someone, something or a government is responsible for their predicament.

They are not capable of being honest with themselves and accepting responsibility for their lives. They are unable to see how their own steps, actions, inactions and negligence have brought them to where they are presently.

Gen. Douglas Mac Arthur said: “There is no security on this earth; there is only opportunity.” Most of our youths are leaving the country for the wrong reasons because of their victim mentality. The Nigerian environment has nothing to offer to people that see themselves as victims.

Monetise your hobbies, pursue your passion and not pension, be a solution to people’s problem, design a product that meet the needs of others and the whole world would come looking for you.

Stop looking for money; look for problems and solve them. Money is the reward you get for solving someone’s problem.


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