Lagos is obsessed with success and success stories. It’s the reason why the word “Hammer” erodes every sentence. The disconcerting part of it is that it seemingly equates to money. Not passion, enjoyment or fulfilment. Not even happiness. It is also the cause for statements like “ahh Bimbo is now a PWC billgz girls oo. She doesn’t have our time anymore. She has forgotten when we used to buy bend-down-select from Tejuosho”. No one actually cares to know whether Bimbo spends her day creating log in names and passwords for new staff or printing and filing until her hands are clustered with paper cuts which all bores her to death.
Someone sent me a message on facebook. She gave me an advance warning not to take offence though. She said she had watched me at work on our web camera and felt it was necessary to inform me that I dressed inappropriately to an office environment. I wondered how inappropriate I dressed in sandals, Aladin pants and a tee shirt. She claimed my dressing would impede my impending success as I didn’t know where that big break would come from. To round it off, she felt I needed to be in formal regalia in order to be successful. So as my dear listener and facebook friend would have it, I was a hungry and unsuccessful young lady still searching for a big break.
She isn’t the only one though. I seem to get it all the time. “Don’t worry, you will soon hammer”, they tend to go. It really got me thinking; what is this success thing all about? Is it just about how much money you earn or how many power suits you wear. Or perhaps if your car is second-hand or tear rubber. I always felt the financial aspect was a consequence of doing something well. I also thought it was about dreaming for something or setting up a challenge, going for it and seeing it to completion.
I couldn’t feel more successful. Building two careers simultaneously and thankfully making significant headway. I would once daydream of seeing my profile pieces and reviews in print and now they have become cover features. I once only wanted to make pre-recorded radio programmes and now I talk to millions every morning.
I remember the day I got to interview Fela’s drummer Tony Allen. I had never been riddled with that much excitement. When I called my best friend to tell her, we both started screaming on the phone because he was one of the biggest things in World Music. When the feature came out in print, I cried just reading my words back. I still say it’s the biggest thing in my career. It beat the programmes I have created; even working to finance my education and any article that generated comments from here to Timbuktu. The strange thing is that there are people that would ask “who the hell is Tony Allen?”
My elder brother works for a big corporate organisation and he is also a photojournalist. He always gets told by people to start doing more commercial photography in order for him to be successful. But he refuses and sometime ago got the chance to be selected for a British Council workshop on environmentalism and climate change. It all culminated in a public gallery exhibition with hundreds of people coming out to see his work on display.
My best friend recently quit her high flying job to follow her dreams of doing aid work. She says her heart was never at peace and she felt like her life was wasting away. My sister-in-law could do other things if she wanted, but would much rather teach for a living.
This success thing I reckon is open to interpretation. There are things I do just for money and I don’t equate them anywhere close to making me successful. The things I consider that have made me successful, I never got a dime for. Maybe I’m just lucky or maybe my priorities are just a little different.
Some people would rather create business plans for small scale business owners than work in the business development department of a large firm. Others could run rural clinics instead of fancy hospitals. I could drive a jeep, wear power suits with Louboutins and run the communications department of a fortune five hundred company. Does that really make me successful?
Success, I figure is just a word. Open to interpretation by everyone. For me, I just don’t let anyone define things for me. So I choose to define success as doing things that I am passionate about and seeing them to fruition. Whether I become Bill Gates or not does not really matter. What do you think?
Photo Credit: www.thegrio.com