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Debby Osa: Find Something You Excel at & Polish It Until You’re a Priceless Gem



After my last article on success and limiting relationships, I got feedback – and a mail in particular – that prompted this article. This is going to be a long post, so get ready. (By the way, a shout-out to Weezy for the different perspective you shared. I almost wanted to reply – and explain, but then, I thought “Nahh.” 🙂 Thanks again to all those who comment.)

One thing I’ve noticed about almost every successful person is the confidence they exude – the air they give off of having it all together. Despite their genders, fields, ages, languages, or locations, people who are considered ‘successful’ generally have one thing in common:

They operate in their areas Of strength. When you watch these people in their zones, you could almost idolize them. Tiger Woods – Golf. Beyonce – Music. Kunle Afolayan – Movies. Damola (your tailor) – Aso-Ebi.

Another similarity these people share is an acknowledgement of their ‘weaknesses’.

Oprah laughs and says before millions of viewers all over the world, “Hey, I don’t have a university degree, so I don’t know what you are talking about…” and everyone laughs.

Tara Durotoye is definitely NOT interested in acquiring TY Bello’s photography skills.

• Iya Sikira at Stadium bus-stop retorts, “Ki lokan mi pelu fiska polisi? (What’s my business with fiscal policy?)”, while the government officials who determine the same fiscal policy book her for every event and home delivery – because her jollof and efo-riro is to die for!

You see, these people don’t bother trying to fit into holes they are not suited for. They know their strengths.

It can, therefore, be very heartbreaking to find people who disdain their natural gifts and talents, and struggle to force themselves into unsuitable niches. Many insecure people are either passive – not doing anything with their gifts, or operating in their ‘wannabe’ zones – where they try too hard.

I know someone who has always loved reading and writing. She has always been a scribbler – always finding it effortless to pen down her thoughts. Depending on her mood, her emotions just flow through her pen. She thought it was normal. She didn’t think much of it.

In her primary school, she would exchange her snacks for novels. One day, to keep the class quiet, the teacher asked them to summarize a book they had read. When she was done, the teacher asked her if she had copied from the book. She said no. The teacher was silent and gave her 10/10. She didn’t think much of it.

One day in secondary school, she and a few friends committed an offence. Their punishment was to kneel down in the staff room for an hour, and write their English essay tests – on their knees. In a few minutes, she was done. The teacher looked amazed as she read through, and gave her the highest score in the class. She didn’t think much of it.

She was a science student, and barely averaged her science courses – but made A’s in English and Literature. She didn’t think much of it.

One time, her elder sister snuck into her room and ransacked it, looking for the concluding part of a novel she had been writing. She didn’t think much of it.

In her first year in school, she was busy helping her roommates, who were final year English students, with their homework. She didn’t think much of it.

She wrote an exam, and the English lecturer announced her number, asking her to see him after the lecture. He didn’t know her. She walked up to him, and he showed brought out her essay script and said, ‘You write well. Keep it up.’ (I’m sure you are getting the hang of this.) She still didn’t think much of it.

She gained admission into the university to study – wait for it – Microbiology.


She missed lectures. She hated to see her grades. Her confidence dropped when it came to academics.There was an incident where one of her lecturers angrily told her, “I told you to write on microbial physiology. You are writing psychology for me.” That was hilarious!

She finished school – and still didn’t see writing as important. She wanted jobs that would bring the big bucks and prestige. She got those jobs. She loved some and positively loathed others.

She became an entrepreneur – she still is – and she loves it.

The irony is that writing pays part of her bills now. She never knew it could.

Recently, someone close – and an extremely good writer – recommended her to a client who needed a script for a particular genre. She sent him a draft, and he called her referee and says, “Did you help her with the writing? She’s good!” The referee only laughed.

You see, I was that girl – or woman now :), and I gave the above illustration to show how many people end up very insecure, simply because they are blind to what is obviously in their hands.

There are a number of reasons for this:

(1) A few people do not know what their gifts are. If you are in this category, ask yourself, “What do I do really well and easily? What do people consistently tell me I’m really good at?” This might take some soul-searching but, trust me, it’s usually right in your face.

(2) Many others despise it because it comes too naturally, too easy for them. They didn’t struggle to get it, so it must not have that much value. That’s why it’s called a ‘gift’, my friend! (By the way, your ‘too easy’ gift is meant to be an ‘Oh, Thank God!’ blessing for someone else.)

(3) For the bulk of people, it’s not glamorous enough. They can create the most mouth-watering foods and snacks, but can’t imagine being known as a ‘cook’ or ‘chef’ or – God forbid – ‘caterer.’ They would rather have a 9 to 5 job on the Island with an official car and driver, and be called ‘the head and associate director of the department of economic and market research and technological turbulence’ …or something sounding like that.

(4) For many others, it is the fear of ‘What will people say?’. Taking care of children ignites the joyful spark in their hearts, but they reason “What will my mates on the board of Fortune 500 companies think if i start a creche?”

(5) Others think theirs is insignificant. “Okay, I am a good listener and I give good advice. So? What can anyone do with that?” I know someone who has this amazing gift, and went on to study Guidance and Counselling. She owns her own company now.

(6) Some simply have the crowd mentality. Writers trend one day, so they begin to write. Make-up artists trend another day, so they rush out to buy palettes…

…and the list goes on and on. No wonder many people are insecure and feel miserable! There is something about doing what you are good at that releases your juices, puts a spring in your steps and lifts your head high.

Someone gave this illustration: If skills were numbers,
Excellent or perfection is a 10. People will come from ANYWHERE and pay ANYTHING for a 10 skill.
Our natural gifts are a 7 or 8. When you hone them diligently, they can become a 10.
Our weaknesses are a 2 or 3. Despite your efforts and polishing, all you can be is a 5 – or at best, a 6. Just average.

Does it not make sense to find what you naturally excel in – and polish it until you are a priceless gem – instead of spending your time, effort and energy on trying to be merely average?

Photo Credit: Gaudilab |

Debby Osa is a God lover and Big Visionary. She is Principal Consultant at Sydelle Nigeria and co- partner at Elandi Group of Companies. She loves everything branding, writing, reading and travelling. When she can be found on social media, she is on Twitter: @debbynkemeti Facebook:!/debby.nkemeti?ref=bookmarks Email: [email protected] or [email protected]


  1. marvel

    June 12, 2017 at 9:50 am

    A pastor once told me that am destined to be a medical doctor. I ignored because them science subjects were too complex for me. I have always loved economics and English language and I excelled in them. now, am an accountant and I don’t think am there yet (in terms of being successful). now , am worried I should have listened to the pastor and cant help thinking I made the wrong career choice. what do I do?

    • Frank teacher

      June 12, 2017 at 10:32 am

      Sweetie, ermmm
      I don’t know how to put this, if you have so much Faith in your Pastor, I should think you’re so grounded and rooted in your belief that you should get a confirmation personally about your Pastor’s message to you…

  2. Mawi

    June 12, 2017 at 9:51 am

    I love you for this article, Debby. You hit the nail right on the head and yes! you are a good writer. Unfortunately, the reality is that most people are of the crowd mentality. Only a few are strong enough to go against the tides and find their own paths.

  3. Nikki

    June 12, 2017 at 10:04 am

    This is a deep spoke to and about me!

  4. MissQ

    June 12, 2017 at 10:12 am

    Such a beautiful write-up…You had me from the beginning to the end. No.4 especially hit me so hard…Time to stir up the gift in me. Thanks Debby ..keep it up x

  5. mz_danielz

    June 12, 2017 at 10:47 am

    Debbie, are you sure that your friend that studied Microbiology isn’t me? I’m working on my goals though, started a blog (getting close to 10,000 views in less than 6 months) and for my 30 birthday, I will publish my book of poems. My Vlog starts 1st week on July and Radio show in January.

    One thing you forgot to add is parental ambition. I’ve always had a thing for writing and presenting. Infact, while my mates admired Beyonce, Oprah Winfrey was someone I could die for but dear daddy wanted a condolezza rice for a daughter and so he trained us that way; conferences, etc. The adult me wouldn’t fit into the entertainment industry as it is so I decided to go the Mo Abudu way; build a career while working on my entertainment dream by the side.

    God was good to me though, after studying microbiology, I ended up in marketing communications and I love the career cos it combines both my natural entertainment sides and strict, prim, corporate upbringing but sometimes I wonder, all the night classes just to get a 2:2 and broken self esteem for all the Fs, I for just study mass comm in peace. To think I used to help my room mates in Faculty of Arts with their assignments; I’d read the material and come up with something so good, you’d think I attended the lectures. I thank God for the years in sciences though, it gave me an analytical mind and strict discipline (who am I kidding, MCB in UNN almost ruined me).

    Please forgive my rambling oh, this write up just resonated with me.

  6. Abosede

    June 12, 2017 at 11:28 am

    Hmmmmmm Debby thanks for this piece cox dis exactly what am going through right now.

  7. No Headaches Please

    June 12, 2017 at 11:49 am

    Great article Debbie!

  8. Omoté

    June 12, 2017 at 11:58 am

    The head and associate director of the department of economic and market research and technological turbulence!!! Lol! I had to pause and laff well before continuing. You were spot on! Trying to be like Linda or Toke or Funke will get u nowhere in the end. Do you! (These women got where they are today by being the best version of themselves).

  9. Simy

    June 12, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    This is totally my story! Thank God am retracing my step. Better late than never. God bless you for sharing

  10. Poesy

    June 12, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    Please do your research. Oprah has a degree in Speech Communications and Performing Arts from Tennessee State University.. Besides that, she has a reputation for being well read and well informed so I don’t know where you got that quote from.

  11. marvel

    June 12, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    @frank teacher…thanks for your response..

  12. Joy E. Ojo

    June 12, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    I cannot thank you enough for this article. It came just in time for me to retrace my steps. I have argued tirelessly with people who think education is the only way out or being in the office rather is the only way out. Josh2funny on instagram has found his niche and is doing great. I am yet to find what it is for me.

  13. Uju Lilian Ikegbune

    June 12, 2017 at 2:06 pm

    Nice write up, I am so good at managing people and coming up with excellent strategies tAt help people grow, yet to carve that niche.
    thanks for this post, its so insightful.

  14. SoniaPaloma

    June 12, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    Powerful. This was me few months back and now i know what i want and working towards building that passion


    June 12, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    Debby my Debby, i felt the whole write-up was particularly for me, i have always struggle with just what you spoke about. And from what you have said i think i could be able to just figure out my path. Crowd mentality is indeed killing and doesn’t give one that satisfaction that brings out one’s whole energy which transcends success. Kudos!!!

  16. Shizzle

    June 13, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    Thank you for this! My challenge though at the moment is that I don’t just have that one thing that I do effortlessly; it’s quite a number of things actually. So for me, which one do I focus on now and which do I defer till later?

  17. Miwa

    June 13, 2017 at 6:16 pm

    How do i know my own path? i think tirelessly on this, Someone please help cos all i know is that am hardworking and don’t give up.

  18. Chisom

    July 13, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    Thanks for this write up, a true get up to reality and be what you’re created to be message.. Every line was read thoroughly and really inspired me. I hope to share my story of success, from the inspiration gotten from this piece. Thanks Debby

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