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I Just Want to be Successful!



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:


  1. IyawoBankyWNumer0Uno

    November 15, 2010 at 10:56 am

    Beautiful read…. success is relative and thats one thing people to forget, some people feel very successful just by bringing life into the world….

    Live well and right..

  2. bignaijababe

    November 15, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Hey Wana! you are so ‘on point’ at the moment am ‘stuck’ in a boring routine nine to five while my heart is in a sunny classroom teaching tiny ‘munchkins’ and giving them lots of love and loads of hugs. Plans are in motion though and till i get there , then will i confidently say i have achieved ‘ambition success’. thanks for this piece Wana! have a great day (hope you are wearing the Aladin pants Lol!

  3. Temiloluwa Adebayo

    November 15, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Success in life is walking the path that God laid out for you. It is fulfilling your divine destiny and it is only through this one can experience inner peace. That, ny friends, is true success. Unfortunately, not many people (if anyone) can see through you to know whether you are fulfilled at what you do. Therefore, the world has a different measuring scale for success/achievement. They base it on material acquisitions. Hence, the guy who has 4 cars, living in the poshest of homes but working a job that affords him no time for his family is deemed more successful than the one who leads a more modest life and is a great husband and father.

    I want to be successful too, no doubt, but I want to walk His plan for my life, only. All other ‘successes’ are counterfeit.

    • Chris-Vincent

      November 15, 2010 at 11:27 am

      Success only comes to those who seek it in the right direction. More than half of the population chasing success are moving in an opposite direction….

      For more on how to be successful and develop yourself, visit my blog

    • Smarty

      November 23, 2010 at 11:18 am

      Love you baby for this comment!

  4. Lepa

    November 15, 2010 at 11:01 am

    Correct talk….but in Naija where you are celebrated (by society/friends/in laws e.t.c) more for your finacial worth, you might just have to settle for what brings the greatest earnings.

  5. Omogekofo

    November 15, 2010 at 11:02 am

    this is an advice…….but as an architect, i shouldn,t be caught in suit/formal dressing always………Thanks Waya

    • Ibo Omoge

      November 15, 2010 at 7:59 pm

      Big ups to the Architects in da house! Woop Woop!… True talk! In fact I don’t even own a suit. I just recently bought a blazer I could just throw on when I need to look serious. Hehehehehe.*evil grin*

  6. Ebuka

    November 15, 2010 at 11:06 am

    As much as I’m proudly Nigerian, the love for money, over and above every thing else by Nigerians, is beyond scary. As much as money is an integral part of life, it shouldn’t be the only reason to live.
    I look at the youths in other countries and try to place their priorities side by side those of Nigerians and it all just makes me feel like we are heading nowhere fast…
    Corruption is a monster and it has become a culture and all of these simply feed off of that culture. And ‘new music’ isn’t helping either. When artistes like Trey Songz say they “want the money cars and hoes” and say that is success, that wrap things up nicely for us.
    It’s here to stay and we sadly have to live with being judged based solely on material things!

  7. shade

    November 15, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Hear hear Wana! Well said.

  8. adenike

    November 15, 2010 at 11:10 am

    Nice article. Success is relative;but left to me,success equates happiness to start with. But success without one being able to afford the necessary things in life (note the key word-necessary),is a bit dicey o! It’s so unfortunate that the society already has a standard ‘undefined’ definition of success for us. But basically,if you’re happy in whatever line you are-then you’re successful my dear…

    • Chris-Vincent

      November 15, 2010 at 11:36 am

      Success is relative but what happens when all are chasing the same “type” of success? Then it looses it “relativity” and embraces a general/common standard….

      Check out my blog on success, personal development and how to make money online

  9. Dropdeadgawgeous

    November 15, 2010 at 11:17 am

    luurrrvv the write up, just what I needed to read……….. yaaaay first to comment !!!!!!!

    • Amour

      November 15, 2010 at 11:42 am


    • mariaah

      November 15, 2010 at 2:05 pm


  10. deebubu

    November 15, 2010 at 11:22 am

    This is truly insightful.
    Personally I have struggled for years to know and set my priorities right,and its indeed a beautiful feeling once you get things right.
    Its good to know I’m not alone.

  11. temi

    November 15, 2010 at 11:37 am

    It is actually very funny that the people who we admire who seem to have it all together, have the nice cars, nice clothes and beautiful houses are 70% of the time unhappy. It is either they are stuck in a rut that they cannot get out of or working at a job that gives them little or no satisfaction. We only have one life to live and as far as i am concerned, we should not waste it trying to match up to other peoples standaed of success but what truly makes ue happy. If is working in a bank, no whala! If it is doing freelance photography! Go do it. At the end of the day, when we die, all the cars, clothes, houses and money do not go eith us six feet under………….

  12. 'Kayode Adegbola

    November 15, 2010 at 11:42 am

    very well written 🙂

  13. temi

    November 15, 2010 at 11:43 am

    It is actually very funny that the people who we admire who seem to have it all together, have the nice cars, nice clothes and beautiful houses are 70% of the time unhappy. It is either they are stuck in a rut that they cannot get out of or working at a job that gives them little or no satisfaction. We only have one life to live and as far as am concerned, we should not waste it trying to match up to other peoples standard of success but what truly makes us happy. If it is working in a bank! No wahala! If it doing freelance photography Go ahead. At the end of the day when we die, all the cars, the clothes and most importantly the hoes do not go with us six feet under……….

  14. tols

    November 15, 2010 at 11:54 am

    great write up Wana! Success is relative….its only u that would feel the sense of accomplishment and fulfillment when you do what God has predestined you to do… It would be great to hear God say ‘Well done’….that’s the definition of the word SUCCESS to me!.

  15. Naijamum

    November 15, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Success is subjective – open to individual interpretation.
    However, our society is not welcoming to individuality and we are all urged to conform to the ideal, the expected, the norm….
    More power to you Wana and I hope you dont ‘break’ !

  16. mimi

    November 15, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    on POINT!

  17. todo

    November 15, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Thank you! I couldn’t have read this at a more appropriate than now. I have taken from this, the fact that we define as individuals, what success is rather than trying to fit anyone else’s description of success but what matters and is true to us.

  18. todo

    November 15, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    *more appropriate time …

  19. Mina

    November 15, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    A life model says…’take everything from me, put me in a desert and come back after one month, i would have reproduced double…’ Success is making the world better than you met it; impacting the world around you with the rich investment of your personality. Fufiling your destiny in God. Success doesn’t have a geographical location except the word of God. You can succeed anywhere both in and out of Lagos: That’s true success!

  20. missymiss

    November 15, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    That is why I shun all this awards that celebrate so called success. Half of them are paid for and inspire no one.

  21. nkemgi

    November 15, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    succes to me is wen i have money to cater for the number of children i want to adopt. normally a lot of people equate sucees wit money and i couldnt agree less.

  22. ema

    November 15, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    I think the only thing i can say right now is “God Bless You”.
    you have put this in the right perspective as usual.

  23. Ronnie

    November 15, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Awesome Read Wana, just a couple of weeks ago I was reflecting on this same issue. It bothered me so much that everyone and everything had become all about “the benjy’s”.
    Success to me is doing what I’m called to do and being a blessing to the people around me. if I have all the money in the world without that, then I’m of all men most miserable!

  24. Gorgeous

    November 15, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    But in this day and age you need money ooh. Life is not easy. These days you choose one, fulfillment or comfort. Its very hard to come by the two and very few people achieve that. With the growing inflation rate of everything (food, school e.t.c), whether you like it or not, what you love takes a back seat when you have pressing responsibilities. And as you grow older and these responsibilities increase, your dreams start to look like a If you can achieve fulfillment and comfort, more power to you. I am hoping and struggling to get there myself. Mine is to runaway from the corporate world after establishing a business that i can grow, but in the initial stages will help me stay home with my future kids in their formative years. My biggest fear is thinking i failed in bringing my children up well, as a mother. So there are so many people in this same boat. But it is tough.

    • Smarty

      November 23, 2010 at 11:31 am

      You almost killed me with laughter!

  25. Jennifer Jesse

    November 15, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    I guess definition of Success in 9ja only covers material things “the tangible”. It is sad though that we see our lives and define it by things we cant take with us beyond our existence on earth….. 🙁

  26. bc

    November 15, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Success, like you said is a word.Open to interpretation by everyone. For as long as what i believe in and really passionate about pay my bills as at when due, I consider myself successful..shikena!!!

  27. nwando

    November 15, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    Very very apt Wana… you have no idea how this has spoken to me. Well laid out thoughts 🙂

  28. cuteb

    November 15, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    Spot on Wana !!!

  29. Molicious

    November 15, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    Nice read, very on point. People forget that money comes and goes and they keep comparing themselves with other people. Creflo said when you compare yourself with others; you are basically telling God that what he has done for you is not good enough. Everyone should define success for themselves; variety is the spice of life.

  30. mary007

    November 15, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    “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?

    This is what I think you have nailed it, your answer is in the write up. I am happy that you stated it all! all i can add is a personal one. I had a dicussion with my other half a couple of days ago and he said he wished he was rich, I replied that you are rich, he said Hmmm if i could go to work once a week and earn XYZ dollars I smiled and said we do not need that amount and he replied that the funny thing is if he earned XYZ dollars a day he would go to work everyday and I said thats the reason we have to celebrate our own heart desires we are able to achieve instead of searching for whats not necessary.

  31. Kilonsparkles

    November 15, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    Lol @ Hammer. My definition of “hammer” is happiness.

  32. Miss ATL

    November 15, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    I’m sorry, but I couldn’t get past the co-worker watching you via webcam? WTH???

  33. iBreatheFreedom

    November 15, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    I think there is a fine line between fulfillment and success. As ambiguous as the term ‘success’ may be — especially with all the addenda drafted on to it by common, mainstream conceptions — certain attributes must remain present to deem something/someone ‘successful’. Staying within the context of your article, I am of the opinion that success from a broader perspective cannot be so individualized. Your personal success may not be considered success by a larger group of people. The fulfillment you gain from your achievements may not be shared by others. Yes, we all have personal goals and aspirations, some of which we achieve, some of which we don’t. But success kicks in where the externalities of our achievements are positively recognised and felt by others.

    • dami

      November 16, 2010 at 7:07 am

      I love this response…definitely a brain twister…fulfilment Vs. success. I did some research and here’s what I found and I think sort of makes sense.

      Fulfilment can only be experienced in the moment whereas success/achievement is “secondary to the experience of fulfiment”. Fulfilment is more about the act rather than the result; Wana’s friend finds fulfilment(enjoyment) in aid work, on the other hand, a successful person may not enjoy the act. For example, I love cooking but I don’t know that I would be a successful chef.

    • dami

      November 16, 2010 at 7:10 am

      I guess success wil always have that external factor while fulfilment is all about you!

  34. Akpevwe

    November 15, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    Thanks a lot Wana for this article. Finally someone sees success the way I see it, not something to be measured by monetary or material acumens but as something to to be measured by how fulfilled you’re and how many lives you are able to inspire and touch through what you do.

  35. Oma

    November 15, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    True success lies in when you have made all the money and you are cant wait to wake up in the morning to get productive again.
    If you make all the money,visit the best places,get invited to the most glamorous parties and still feel that like you make no impact and are unhappy sorry to say this but you are UNSUCCESSFUL. True success comes with a feeling of fulfillment and self actualization.its never too late to make the right turn and take road to success.
    Join me on

  36. Objective viewer

    November 16, 2010 at 12:22 am

    Definitely my own definition of success is self accomplishment but its that what the society requires N O NO!!! they require the physical aspect contrary to that i think success entails with thinking in a dimension that you love and you learn every aspect about it then create your own idea, your own definition of your field definitely the money would flow. for example a man who wanna bcom a pharmacist would spend the whole laying down particular quantities of drugs to patients, to him himself he could call himself a success if his own definition is to meet with a particular tym in giving out drugs but financially he is a wreck with little to feed on,i would suggest he starts a research nd ask what r the needs of the people, what can he do to make a difference, maybe he would b d one to make the discovery 2 d cure of HIV/AIV who knows? do not limit your potentials all in the name of self fulfillment. You can do better. My view. Wonderful article all the same.

  37. dami

    November 16, 2010 at 1:10 am

    The lady who was watching you on web camera has nothing important doing with her self .. silly woman lol

  38. Yetunde

    November 16, 2010 at 5:13 am

    True talk……

  39. Bhuki

    November 16, 2010 at 7:58 am

    It’s sad to watch how the society defines success by how much you have in your pocket, the amount of blings round your neck, posh car,etc its really sad. But I must say that this started off with looking up to celebs for standards in everything. There is need for us to redefine these things and know that succes comes from fulfilment and not richies. Too much concentration on money as success makes real succes hard to quantify and illusive. This article is insightful, bring it on Wana

  40. Objective viewer

    November 16, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Many define success in different ways, urs might b different from mine, his might b different from urs but does that mean bcos i didn’t c it from ur own view i wouldn’t b called a success?. NO like i said above success has 2 do with a state of mind nd achieving ur main goal, there is no aspect u involve ur self in that can’t yield money if u hv d …. EXTRAORDINARY MEASURES a movie i watched, Dr stone hills had a theory to cure pompe disease but didn’t have the fund, if he was persistent to achieve what he believed in earlier enough, go to seminars associate with people, be friendly but he didn’t possess this, so he became a bitter old man living based on his theories. Its such a shame, he was fulfilled in his state of mind but he didn’t pursue his real goal changing the world with his new discovery but later on he did and he achieved his long time dream of owning his own hospitals. The world doesn’t care about whats in ur state of mind.Success is based on what you impact into pples lifes with ur gift.Nothing more nothing less. If a dish washer should call him self a success based on washing over 2000 plates a day, wouldn’t u laugh? They don’t care if he allows them the customers to eat from a clean plate bcos they pay 4 it. No one would care to have the autograph of the fastest dish washer in the world. Impact something new…

  41. Objective viewer

    November 16, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Bcos washing dishes is not a God given talent, its something u learn. We all have our gifts utilise them abeg oh. Naija got talent use them well so we can grow to a greater height.

  42. lara

    November 16, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Nice read, one time you think you know what success means,you go out there the society gives you another meaning.
    And then you wander what it really means. Warever it means,at the end of the day we all have to find what trully makes us happy and fulfils us.
    Someone said it is only in the dictionary that succees comes b4 work. Let’s always remember our VALUES come what may.

  43. Ayo Fashola

    November 18, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Success is getting what you want and teaching others how to do the same.

  44. Mee

    November 19, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    I have been @ war with d world and every body around me over dis issue for a while now,thot I was going mad.But I feel much beta now knowing u and every body dat commented feel d same way.Let’s not stop doing d right tin.

  45. ascony

    November 19, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Success in the sense of “hammer” is a term for those who rose from poverty to wealth. In a nut shell, its all about affording a shelter over your head, a nice ride, and enough money to spend every fuckin day!!!

  46. bahd Guyz

    November 21, 2010 at 5:42 am

    “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” Word!

  47. Enyinna

    November 23, 2010 at 2:05 am

    Success is what you make of it. Personal success depends on ones degree of happiness, then the amount of wealth you possess determines how successful you are in most societies.

  48. Smarty

    November 23, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    Perception about Success and fulfilment is in two facet, individuality and the society. what is term success in America could be different in Nigeria. success is meeting ones desired goals,aspiration and objective as an individual or as a Nation. Fulfilment is an overal satisfaction and accomplishment in a successful goals,aspiration and objectives, without neccessarilly involving financial benefit. What is important, is that, what are your aspirations whether in short terms,medium terms or long terms,achieving those aspiration is what i terms as success and the derived satisfaction is what i term fulfilment.

  49. duntex

    November 24, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Success is when u feel a sense of Accomplishment and Fulfillment in whatever you do. Nice one Wana!

  50. WaleAdeniji

    November 25, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Success is the achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted. It doesn’t necessarily about you being so rich with fleet of cars and domestic staff at your beck and calls. I think we need to set our priorities right to be able determine our level of accomplishment or otherwise. Success is relative.

    • 9jagoogles

      December 26, 2010 at 10:38 pm

      Hey Wanawana! thanks for the post, and to all the architects- aren’t we a lucky bunch, but abeg o go get a blazer @ least if u don’t own one! A friend of mine gave me a key-holder about 5yrs ago and inscribed on it are the words ” with all your strength, fulfill God’s purpose for your life”. for me, it the conclusion of the whole matter and helps put in perspective what i count as being successful.

  51. 'teefah

    December 20, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    I couldn’t agree wit u more, u v said it d way I feel it. Personally, m not interested in being a Bill Gate, nor m I interested in having a multi million dollar apartmnt. I just want to be happy in ma chosen career, my kids n whoever it is I will settle down with. To be able to lay on ma bed at night n say,” GOD, m truly grateful to u for aw far I v come” is enuff for me.

  52. alli eshiema

    March 31, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    wonderful write up especially after watching an Indian movie called 3 idiots….do you know India has the higest rate of suicides primarily because of the pressure 2b successful.
    The quote at the end of the film is ‘be excellent at wat you do and success will come running after you pants down’

  53. jumysexy

    May 29, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    totally agree with this writer.
    “We only feel dehumanized when we get trapped in the derogatory images of other people or thoughts of wrongness about ourselves.”
    Marshall Rosenberg

    Earth is crammed with heaven, and every common bush a fire with God; and only he who sees takes off his shoes, the rest sits round it and pluck blackberries.
    Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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