I have been battered by a series of adverse conditions.
Part of the reason is that I live in a city with a chronically broken system situated in a country with an even more impressive cauldron of mangled governance and institutions.
Among an array of difficulties, my greatest bane was the power supply which was normally erratic, unstable and sometimes none existent on certain special days of the month.
My fellow mainland-Lagosians would know what am talking about, but if you are domiciled elsewhere on the planet, please don’t be alarmed. For us, it’s been like this from the beginning of time – a way of life, so to speak.
And since my business depended heavily on electricity I was increasingly frustrated as duly expected. Buying fuel to power the generator was costing me a lot thereby increasing my cost of production, which in turn ended up affecting my profit margin in the most excruciating way.
To further make matters worse, I received outrageous bills from the producers of this fantastically inconsistent power. It was in their habit to increase my bill exponentially, month after month, regardless of how pathetic their service was. I remember how I suddenly moved from my initial ₦4,000 bill margin to ₦14,000. Not too long it warmed up to ₦19,000 and then as if to shock the hell out of me, it skyrocketed to the highest amount to date, a bloody thirty-plus-something thousand nairas.
I know what you are thinking, “Wasn’t my electric meter reading properly?” Yes, it was! it functioned properly, calculating how much I used per month. But for some reason, we were all charged by “estimation”. Some guy somewhere decided, based on his whims, what our bill for each month would be with no defined parameters for measuring what we used.
So I was a glorified victim. I complained a lot. Occasionally I even cursed the powers that be. You’d catch me saying things like, “All we asking of our good-for-nothing leaders is simply a system that works and we will do the rest for ourselves.” It was obviously a no-brainer. If things were made easy for us, we would prosper by our own effort and sweat, and the country will be better for it.
Nevertheless, as I intimated earlier, my political leaders were not entirely to blame for my predicament. I am equally responsible for all the nonsense I have been through and suffered. In fact, I had come to accept the possibility that I was almost completely responsible for my many woes.
My LACK of specific and essential knowledge and understanding needed for a place as challenging as Lagos was the real problem. I was ignorant and thereby unskilled. Instead of proffering solutions all I had were complaints and excuses that did zilch for me.
The general belief is that we cannot no matter what we do, cross over the chasm to our fruition all because we live in a dysfunctional environment, where roads, water, electricity, and other basic amenities aren’t available.
But when you look around, you see men and women thriving regardless. In spite of the odds, their businesses are flourishing, their families healthy and contented, and they themselves increase in stature and influence. I know a typical and perhaps impulsive response to this will be the assumption that these folks either have the backing of “old” money or they’ve surely applied themselves deviously.
Not denying the advantage of being born into wealth and the financial power that comes as a result, I must say not every successful person out there started out having this edge. Furthermore, in light of the fact corruption prevails here in Nigeria, still, not everyone who is successful is crooked. Maybe, these extraordinary people are not many in proportion to our total number as a people, however, they do exist. And in looking into what makes them so formidable, I realized the quality and power of their knowledge stood out more than anything else.
In my case, as a baker, I have learned it is not enough to just know how to make excellent and enjoyable cakes, you also have to know a host of other things. Foremost on the list is understanding my environment enough to preempt the challenges that may naturally catch me with my pants down, business-wise.
I know all these might sound idealistic but I suspect that hardships and difficulties turn out to make better and stronger versions of us, of course, as long as we fight courageously and determinedly until victorious. And our greatest weapon is KNOWLEDGE and its application. That’s what set’s the winners from the losers and the victims from the able masters of circumstances.
So the bottom line is that we should always constantly have time to reflect and come up with solutions, to ponder on methods and approach – to see what we are doing wrong and how we can do right instead. Educating ourselves, starting first with knowing who we are, our weaknesses and strengths. That’s pretty much how to begin bringing the world to its knees, for our ultimate success and pleasure.