Certificates and Success: Our narrow perception

“Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.”- Jim Rohn

Formal education undoubtedly plays a great role in grooming students towards a successful future career but the present school system where everything is based on competition to achieve high grades is often counterproductive. The definition of our schools is very clear; race for the top positions otherwise your toil is rendered futile. The stigma is even worse if you failed to make it to the university. “Socially, people who don’t go to college are often regarded as weirdos.” Said John Carney in his Business Insider Article on successful drop outs.

When I talk about school degree not being the only way to success, I am not devaluating it. There are indeed people whose expertise could only be learned at the university. The problem is when everyone ignores other possibilities and narrows down his success route to school alone. That is the world we are living in now, with graduates staying idle for ages waiting for employment because they have a degree certificate. The point here is to induce a shift from that dogma; to let people understand that they can achieve success provided they have the ability. “The only way to overcome the college bias will be the widespread perception that many of our society’s most successful people do not have a college degree and don’t care about those who do”, asserted John Carney, who was referring to America’s numerous millionaires.

“From birth, we were taught that life is a race; run fast or you will be trampled.” Farhan Qureshi, one of the protagonists in the Bollywood movie, “3 Idiots”, said. According to him, the race started since one was conceived in his mother’s womb during which the spermatozoon destined to be him had to contest in a race with millions of other sperm cells. To make things more spirited, one’s parents had long decided what their son or daughter would be in the future. This, in many occasions becomes the child’s predisposed kismet.

Sometimes we see things not working in our own way but we still hold on. The drive is seldom our own heart which would naturally inspire us to try something different: Something our body is capable of. But we will keep reminding ourselves the expectation people have on us and we are ready to go to any length in order not to disappoint them. What we do forget is, when we indeed fail, no one would often be there to help us get up again.

Some writers and singers can be very hypocritical that taking everything they say seriously without comparing it with their real life is often detrimental. They could preach something while in reality they quite live its opposite. Keke Palmer for example said in one of her songs that, “There is nothing you cannot do when you believe in yourself.” Because of her success one may blindly assume that this young successful singer chose her career out of the blue and because she believed in herself, she was able to shine. Looking under the hood, one will discover that Palmer was born in a vaudevillian family and has pronounced her preference of English language to Mathematics during early school time. It is clear then what her career would probably be.

Similarly, Daniel Coyle’s approbation of deep practice in his book, “The Talent Code” is to a very great extent misleading. He advocates sole dependency of achieving talent on deep practice. He dismissed the contribution of natural talent and environment to becoming an expert and tried to convince the reader that success is around the corner in as much as he keeps trying. Here again I will ask, did Coyle choose writing profession out of the blue and became expert in it through deep practice? Though I was not able to find out what motivated him into journalism, but his life has been in the profession since after college.

It is important to mention few among these people who didn’t wait for a certificate to build their own careers but rather broke away along the way to try out what they believed they were good at. Nevertheless their success didn’t come without strings attached. They had something to start with and that is the bottom line. William Bill Gates and his childhood friend, Paul Allen are one such big example. They saw an opportunity to garner reputation for themselves when Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS) Company issued a demonstration of their new computer. At that time, Gates was in his sophomore year at Harvard University while Paul had already dropped out from Washington State University. Gates initially deferred his studies but he was never to return to Harvard again. Together they started their company, Microsoft, same year they made that breakthrough with MITS. The secret here is that, this duo discovered what they were good at while in school and decided to give it a try out of the educational system.

Another inspiring success story of a university dropout is that of Larry Ellison, the founder of Oracle Corporation, the world’s second-largest software company. He is a two-time drop out from university of Illinois and the University of Chicago but never made it to graduation. Together with two other partners, Ellison initiated a company called Software Development Laboratories (SDL) with a capital of only $2,000. It was the company that was later renamed to Oracle.

As I have mentioned earlier, dropping out from school is not an option per se. It is worthy of consideration when someone has discovered in himself a talent that could land him to a great career path. Robert Zimmer asserted that, it has become commonplace to see young people who, drawing inspiration from billionaire entrepreneurs, consider dropping out of college as a fast track to business success. According to him, in order to be in the league, one should have similar exceptional skills already developed even before going to college. Such skills include: The ability to educate oneself, get a bank loan, and manage one’s time and money efficiently. Family and acquaintances may play a big role in supporting people with such desires.

Going back to the message conveyed in 3 Idiots, it was clear that Farhan had no iota of passion in engineering but he was left with no option aside pursuing the choice made by his parents. He was such a passionate and talented photographer who was even planning to contact an expert in the profession in order to chase that career but had to keep it to himself, for, his parents’ decision was final. He underwent the school for four good years with nothing to write home about. It was his close friend who rescued him after discovering a letter he wrote meant to be posted to his admired photographer. His friend secretly posted the letter for him and convinced him to open up his mind to his parent. That is how he was able to leave engineering to live the life he had long cherished.

I will finally like to remind ourselves what Maya Angelou once said “success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” Grades we achieved in school are just some approximate way of measuring educational performance whose best place is merely some perishable papers. Instead of waiting for employers who offer jobs based on grades, why not use our ingenuity to create the opportunities ourselves. We shall not forget that the major architect of our success is us. The writing would only be on the wall for us when we cease to recognize our abilities.

Written by Sadah

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The Mystical Phone Call

Rango and I didn’t get complete Raka’ats of Magrib prayer. While we were making up, somebody was addressing the people inside the mosque. I didn’t hear any word except the commotion that followed. When we finished, people were coming out, many of them in bewilderment.

“Yes, immediately you receive the call, that would be the end of your life.” Somebody was saying.

The person by my side, when I asked him what was the matter, summarized it all.

“The speaker was warning brothers about a recent development in the country. No one should answer call from the number 09141. It is believed to be a secret cult group in action. They will call you with that number, immediately you answer, that will be the end of you! About 10 people have so far died in Jigawa state.”

I lost word to say and my heart skipped a bit.

As we were going out, Rango showed me a message he received earlier from a friend. The message was warning him not to accept any call from the number 09141. I was imagining how could a person be killed through phone. Witchcraft? Cultism? Coincidence? I inclined to the last but then I remembered the 10 people reported dead!

“This is nothing more than a hearsay. Has anyone seen someone who died from the phone call in reality? The news is only heard in text messages, why should I believe it?” I heard someone saying.

He had just answered my question.

“Rango, only God kills, so don’t believe in any of that” I told him.

His phone was still with me when he asked me to direct him to restroom to ease himself. Before he came back, I edited my contact in his phone and changed the name with 09141! That was how it started.

We trekked together to the school’s main-gate, refuting the rumor on our way. In my mind, I was telling myself that I will verify whether this guy believes in the crap or not.

After about an hour, I knew my friend must have been through with his Iftar (he fasted). I made the first call.

Booooom.. booooom……booooom… booooom……………….. the phone was ringing. I was delighted that he was afraid to answer then suddenly it connected. I pushed the phone to my ear and listened. 2 seconds, and it went off. “That is one” I murmured.

I called for the second time, no answer. I laughed and dropped the phone. I knew he will call me. Almost immediately he did through my globacom line. I forced myself not to laugh on the phone.

It called me Sada….” He started, terribly confused.

“What…. what called you?” I cut him, trying to sound indifferent.

“That number!. I swear it called me and I mistakenly picked up at the first time. You see, I was leaving Daula restaurant when they called. The phone was in my pocket so I couldn’t pick up on time. When I brought it out, afraid that it might cut, I accepted the call, then I saw the number almost immediately. I terminated the call instantly. They called again, but I refused to pick up.” He narrated.

“Subhanallah, I pray this thing is not serious.”

“Yes it is! You know the bizarre thing that happened? There was a thunderous spark of high tension electric wires just ahead of me and everybody  was scared. It coincided with the time I was answering the call. If I hadn’t stopped to answer it, the spark would have been on my head.” He continued.

Deep from inside, I was appreciating the turning up of things. I manage to pacify him mockingly, “Rango nothing will happen in God’s name. No one can do you what God has not wished. I don’t believe it so you shouldn’t either. It is just bullshit.”

“Yes Allah is above them! It is all lie.” He managed to pretend.

I was feeling the guiltiness of what I was doing, but I just couldn’t end the action. I have to give my friend a farewell memoir (we were few weeks to graduation at the time).

I called him with the number about six more times but he refused answer. I knew I had him were I wanted.

When I went out to perform ablution for Isha’ prayer, I called him again with my globacom. This time I told him that the number had just called me too but I refused to answer. I told him the drama is becoming interesting. He agreed but negatively. I told him also that I will switch off my phone and advised him to do the same.

He agreed . Being him alone in the house was what scared him most. He said he wont sleep at home that night. The number was still calling him at that moment according to him..

It should have stopped there. But after praying, I thought of the heart-breaker! I decided to take it to the highest level. I composed the following message and sent to him..

“Brother, the owner of this line called you last. We just found him unconscious outside room58 Akinzuwa hostel. We are taking him to the Sick-Bay, if you know any of his friends in ABU Zaria please notify them”

Yes this brought it to the climax.

After about 30 minutes a friend called me. He sounded petrified and he was surprised to hear my voice clearly.

“Where are you? And what is happening?”

I couldn’t hold the laughter. I knew he must had been told by Rango that I was in the hospital. I told him it was all prank.

He was very annoyed.

“Sada, this is beyond prank. It is not in anyway a joke. I was watching a champion’s league match when Rango called me that you are seriously sick. Do you know how many people I called. I even called Ummah (his mom) to tell her what was happening and she was also horrified. I wont forgive you for this.” He didn’t wait for my reply and he ended the call.

To my ignorance, he, Rango and two more people were at the sickbay at the time.

I later apologized for my expensive prank. It took long before Rango and the other friends forgave me.

Written by Sada Haruna.

A Gift from Heaven

Girrr…girrr…girr…

I watched my cell phone ring for the second time before I answered my neighbor’s call.

“This is a call from Heaven!” Bero uttered with a twisted hoarse voice. I knew he was in the mood for his usual tease.

“My friend, do you even have idea how Heaven looks like?”  I retorted cynically.

“You have been chosen to be a bearer of the bounties in the Heaven,” he continued in the twisted voice.

I wasn’t in the mood for any humor so I giggled and told him to cut the crap. Perhaps I was busy on my computer when he called and itching to return to my work.

He switched to his natural voice. The actual reason for the call was to ask me whether I had enough credit in my phone so that I could transfer 1000Ksh airtime to him. He needed the credit badly but couldn’t go out to buy recharge card because it was raining heavily. I told him there was, so he came over to my room.

He came holding a SIM certificate for he didn’t memorize his phone number by heart. After calling the number to me, I requested for the transfer.I recited back the number before confirming the transfer so as not to make mistake. He went back to his room to wait for the airtime delivery.

He came back to my room after about 10 minutes to tell me that he hadn’t received the credit yet. I showed him the confirmation message on my phone. In fact I was surprised why the airtime hadn’t been delivered.

“Are you sure the number you gave me is your line?” I asked him

“My friend, I got only one SIM card, so this must be the certificate.” He assured me.

We agreed there had to be some technical problem from Safaricom network. He had to be patient and wait for the delivery. I sent another 50Ksh to see if it would deliver but to no avail. He went back to his room and promised to notify me immediately the airtime enters his mobile account.

I called Bero after almost an hour to ask if he had received the airtime. I had just transferred 200 airtime to someone else which delivered instantly. I was certain then that the network was fine. Bero’s hadn’t still delivered!

“The number you gave me is not that of the SIM in your cellphone.” I was positive there was something wrong.

And indeed there was.

He discovered another SIM certificate after perusing his study-desk. It didn’t take him long to remember that his friend, Rango, came to his room with a SIM certificate few days back. He told me that on phone. Both transfers were to Rango’s phone number. He resolved to contact him so that he could transfer back the airtime.

***

Rango’s phone was switched off. Bero decided to leave him until the next morning but then he saw him online on Facebook. Voila! They chatted as follows.

Bero: Hi Dude.

Rango:  O my friend how are you. I am really enjoying myself

Bero:  What kind of enjoyment? Don’t tell me you are at a hotel shacking up with an

           innocent dame.

Rango: O no that’s my problem with you. Your mind is always on that thing. God Has sent

           one thousand and fifty KSH airtime to me from Heaven this night.

Bero: O hell! That’s my airtime my friend. I asked Sada to to transfer airtime to my phone

         but he mistakenly sent it to your number.

Rango: Don’t joke with me dude. I was browsing then my data got finished. No sooner than

            I decided to sleep then received  the message. 1000ksh! What do you expect me

            to do? I bought data

           bundle right away.Another 50KSH came in again. God has seen my despair.

Bero: Are you telling me you have spent all the money?

Rango: Absolutely. I am enjoying man. I switched off my phone so that no one would call me

            to tell me it was a mistake. God is really great! And you want to tell me otherwise!

When Bero narrated that to me I laughed until my stomach started aching. For me it all fits in.

“It is absolutely a gift from Heaven. Do you remember where you claimed to be calling from when you first called me this night?” I asked rhetorically.

Rango was right.

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