The past twenty four months after quitting my job have been both challenging and exciting. Exciting because being in charge of my time is something I had always wanted. In terms of challenges, the first one was what to do with my time. Having spent c.18 years on one job or the other, when I woke up on Monday, October 24, 2010 and I realized there was no job to go to, I thought, “Wale, what are you doing at home at this time?”
Of course, I knew why I was home. So the next question came almost immediately, “What are you going to do with your time?” That was a difficult one to answer because I had no idea. The challenge, therefore, was to fill up my ‘idle’ time. I had thought I would do a lot of reading but it didn’t work. I just couldn’t do any serious reading. I’ll come to that later on in this article. One thing I did before the end of the day was to join Facebook.
By divine coincidence, on Sunday, October 31, 2010, I met a church member who told me about a train-the-trainer course taking place in Centre for Management Development in Lagos the following day – November 01, 2010. So I naturally enrolled for the course. It turned out to do more than filling up my time. During the two-week course, I met people who had also just left their jobs. As a matter of fact, I met two people that left the same organization I resigned from (talk of comfort in number). Immediately, we finished the basic course, some of us that were still trying to find our feet regarding what to do pushed for the advanced course to follow immediately as against 6 months later. The course coordinators bought the idea and the advanced course kept us occupied till the middle of December 2010.
I did find the courses very useful because in addition to providing useful tips on management training and development, I also got ideas from people of diverse background that participated. I was able to hone in on a couple of skills I have but never used for years.
In January 2011, I heard something shocking that made me reflect more on the essence of my life. One of my classmates during M.Sc Economics programme in 1991/92 who I had linked up with through one of the social network media informed me that we lost another friend – Dr. Dipo Busari – in a rather mysterious circumstance. He had come home for holiday in December 2010 (he worked with United Nations Development Programme – UNDP – in Senegal). I learned he left his family in Ilorin and went to Ibadan to see old friends. He was said to have died in his hotel room! Dipo topped our class having had 64.1% average beating me to a second place at 63.9%.
As I reflected on Dr. Busari’s death, it dawned on me that it could have been me. The thought that came to me was, “Whatever you want to do, do now!” I remembered an idea I had a couple of months before, which was to run a TV programme – Matters of the Heart. It was to be an evangelistic tool with which I would share the application of God’s principle to every area of human life. I thought, “If I had started the programme, maybe my friend (Dr. Busari) could have heard and accepted Jesus.” I made up my mind not to dither over the idea. So the following day, I called a lady I knew worked in a television station and arranged to meet her. As they say, the rest was history. ‘Matters of the Heart’ went on air in February 2011 and lasted 3 months to May 2011. The programme gave me a feel of the challenges faced by majority of the people. The main challenges are: finance and relationships. Somehow, my personal challenges paled into insignificance when I listened to other people’s challenges. I decided I was going to make a meaningful contribution by educating people.
As you would expect, the second challenge I faced was money. The courses and TV programme cost me money. I spent a little over N520,000 for a quarter that the programme was aired. I got the support of three friends who part-funded the maiden edition with me. While all this was on, I also paid N200,000 for a mentorship programme. When the first quarterly payment for the TV programme ended, I discontinued because I felt there should be cheaper alternative channels to achieve the same objective. Worse still, some people who saw me as someone that could assist them financially inundated me with requests for financial assistance.
The alternative channels came by way of social network media (mainly Facebook) and the Personal Development for Significant Living website, which is the platform on which you’re reading this article. Some of the lessons, I learned in the last 24 months are:
- There’s no certainty in anything or anybody other than God. If you desire the certainty of your decisions, then seek God first. The best you’ll achieve with extensive information gathering through self-effort (reading, reflecting, and analyzing) and talking to people is to reduce uncertainty to risky situation, nothing more. If someone (God) is said to know the end from the beginning, it makes sense to have a relationship with Him;
- God’s word is true. That’s the best way to put my experiences over this period. One thing God said to me that strengthen my resolve to quit the job was: “You will never scrape from the bottom of the barrel.” He has kept that promise;
- The greatest need we have in the world today is direction. Direction is to be found in the word of God. He gives direction through the instructions embedded in His word;
- Your greatest strength is to be able to hear God speak to you. When you can hear God who is all-knowing speak and you do what He tells you to do, failing becomes impossible;
- Being married is a blessing. When the Scripture says, “He that finds a wife, find a good thing,” it’s one of the most fundamental truths in life. I am married to a precious lady. She is indeed a virtuous woman whose price is above rubies. Two people working together is better than one because when one falls, the other picks him or her up;
- What Dr. Farrah Gray said about a man’s desire (wants) being on the other side of fear is true. When a person has overcome the fear of the unknown, there’s no limit to what s/he can accomplish;
- Money is very important. Zig Ziglar said, “Money ranks high with oxygen in the hierarchy of human needs.” That’s true! Nothing works when, for lack of money, you can’t meet your needs. However, as important as money is, it’s only a necessary but not a sufficient requirement for a good life. My interpretation of Dr. Frederick Herzberg’s idea of money being a ‘hygiene factor’ is that having money is like having a good bath in the morning. After having your bath, you must be going somewhere. If all you do after having your bath in the morning is to stay at home and sleep, then something is obviously wrong;
- Your needs have no idea that you’re not making money. I’ll add this to that statement: “Your children have no idea that you’re not making money.” Before I finally quit my job, I went to see my older children during their visiting day in school. When I was about leaving, I called them aside and told them about my plans to quit the job. Whereas my daughter was still mulling over the implication of my decision, my son said something like, “Dad, whatever you do, just make sure you pay our school fees and all other bills.” I found his comment very instructive. If my mind wasn’t made up, what he said was enough to make me put off my decision;
- Nobody except God will solve your problems for you. The reason is simple: Everyone has enough personal challenges to last a lifetime;
- Some people will try to take advantage of you when they think you’re vulnerable. However, you find their attitude amusing when your ‘vulnerability’ is only an appearance but not the reality;
- It pays to live very much below your means for the simple fact that everything that can go wrong will usually go wrong. At such times, your frugality in the management of your resources comes in handy;
- It doesn’t cost too much to live a modest life;
- Investment (capital formation) is very important. Everyone should take Investment 101 as a compulsory course;
- As Jim Rohn said, “Friendship is indeed the biggest support system in the world… Your friends are those people that know all about you and still like you.” I’ve found good friends to be truly invaluable;
- Preparation is a key ingredient for a life of progress. Abraham Lincoln said, “I will prepare and some day my chance will come.” You don’t prepare in the face of opportunity, you do long before. Lack of preparation is the single reason for missed opportunities;
- The reason for learning is to take action. I realized the reason I couldn’t read after I left the job was because I hadn’t done anything with what I learned over the years. I was kind of constipated with unused knowledge! After I started using what I already knew, I was able to start reading new materials;
- You take charge of your life when you take charge of your mind. The Scripture says, “Keep your heart (mind) with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life (Proverbs 4 verse 23);”
- Whoever controls your mind controls your life;
- God is the only personality to be trusted. In your relationship with God, it is foolish and counterproductive to have options. However, when relating with man, you will be foolish not to have options. The Scripture says, “Woe to him that put his trust in man;
- A man’s life indeed consists not in the abundance of his possessions;
- Waking up in the morning and deciding what you want to do without anyone breathing down your neck is a luxury everyone should enjoy before they die.
Obviously, I’ve learnt many more lessons over the period. However, the foregoing are some of the key ones. As you would expect, the lessons are ongoing as it isn’t time to say, Eureka! It’s early in the day for a man just about 43 years to say this is the story of my life. Like Apostle Paul, one thing I do is to forget what is behind and press forward toward what is ahead (Philippians 3 verse 13 paraphrased).