The smartest and the most legitimate approach to escaping insufficiency, mediocrity, obscurity, lack and stagnation is to identify opportunities and do all we can to utilise them.

A major difference between very successful people and those who are not so successful is recognising opportunities when they see one. Opportunities present themselves every day in our lives. Opportunities don’t show up once in a while in fact, you practically swim in opportunities especially if you live in a country like Nigeria, the only problem is; you can’t recognise these opportunities.

The reason many can’t recognise great opportunities is that they already have a preconceived way by which they expect their opportunities to show up and unfold.

Many times when people want something, they already have their minds set on how it should come, when it should come, from whom it should come and the way it should come.

Most times if there’s any major alteration in any of these fixed expectations, they wouldn’t recognise it as the opportunity they’ve been waiting for.

You want a job in a particular kind of organisation judging by how much you hear they pay, anything other than that is a no, no, even if a different organisation offers lower remuneration but superior prospects, exposure and experience; simply because it’s not marked by the same monetary appeal, it’s not a good opportunity.

You want your help to come from somebody because you believe that person can help you, hence that’s the only person you’re nice to, you’re kind, to, you pay attention to, you accord due respect and you’ll go the extra mile for.

You’re indifferent, snooty and disrespectful to other people simply because you don’t think there’s anything you want from them, little did you know, these many people you don’t reckon with may have what it takes to offer you, on a platter of gold, what you’re slaving for with that person you believe can help you. Your uncompromising mental picture of your source of help may have blinded you towards very many opportunities around with other people.

Many times as humans, our perception and mindset are our worst enemies when it comes to recognising opportunities, taking and utilising them.

Based on our nurture – that is, the way we are raised and how our mind was programmed, influenced and set by those who raised us and of course, our environment, we shut great doors of opportunities against ourselves.

Culture, tradition, upbringing, religion, age and colonial mentality are some of the many mindset problems holding us captive in mediocrity, smallness and insignificance.

To ensure humanity live together as one, the almighty made sure no one is absolutely independent in this life. You must emotionally, psychologically, materially and/or physically depend on others to survive and live a good life.

Ladies and gentlemen, every human being on earth is a potential millionaire and billionaire, the reason the poor are poor is simply because their monies are still in the pockets and bank accounts of thousands of people around them who ought to release it to them in exchange for good attitude, good products and services, but they don’t know how to get these people to release it to them. Why? Ignorance, faulty mentality, biased mindset, judgemental thinking.

A few years ago, I met a woman who is a devoted Muslim. She wears her full purdah regalia with a veil covering half her face every time and her hand gloves and stockings always in place. She lectures in one of the universities in the country. A very brilliant and very qualified economist. Of course, she wouldn’t shake my hands and she would keep a distance when interacting with me as she would, any man who isn’t her husband.

I’m a Christian hence I’m not used to interacting this way, but I didn’t let the difference in religious convictions get in the way of what I could benefit from interacting with her. Believe me, she remains one of the most brilliant people I’ve ever interacted with, most of what she shared with me are still very relevant to most of what I do today and I’m glad I didn’t let her choice of how she wants to worship God get in the way of what I could learn from her.

I was told a story of a young brilliant accountant who decided to resign his appointment a few weeks after being employed in this lovely organisation. He didn’t resign to take on another employment, no, he actually resigned and again joined the employment seekers market. Why? After his appointment, he realised he would be reporting to a woman who incidentally is younger than him in age and this young woman’s boss is also another young woman. He’s older than both of these ladies and guess what, they are of the same tribe.

He couldn’t stay simply because he’s from a part of the country where the male gender is raised to believe he is superior to the female. Even if he’s the last born, as a boy, he is more important, valuable and in fact superior to all his sisters. As the male, he makes the decisions on important family matters and the female siblings have no say – their place are in the kitchen and the market. In this part of the country, it is widely believed and entrenched that women are not as smart or intelligent as their male counterpart, hence should not be allowed to make decisions or even be entitled to any inheritance from their parents.

Having been raised this way all his life, it was psychologically difficult for him to cope, reporting to two female bosses from his tribe. No, he couldn’t handle it, so he left.

Truth is many of us are raised with generalised negative believes and narratives about other tribes and religions, genders and races. Hence when we have a first encounter with anyone of this tribe, ethnic group or religion, we judge by what we’ve been told and what we have decided to believe.

This, unfortunately, robs us of the opportunity to see other people for whom they truly are hence, we miss the opportunities to benefit or gain anything meaningful from them.  We shut the door against great gains from them.

The fact that the majority of a tribe or religion or race act in a particular way does not mean each and every one of them is that way. Judging people before sincerely interacting with them is the costliest mistake many of us keep making and that’s why we have remained small, limited and insignificant. Most of the help we need are in the hands of these people we judge and reject before interacting and knowing them. I think God deliberately made it that way.

Cross-cultural friendships, relationships, business partnerships and interaction have made most billionaires, billionaires today, go check history.

If you choose to focus on what you don’t like about someone, you will miss out all you truly need from that someone.

I’ve heard many people advocate the need for us as Nigerians to forget our differences and try unite and progress together as one, but in my opinion, this may not be the smart option for true unity and progress. I think what we need to do is learn about our various differences, acknowledge them as Nigerians and choose to respect these differences.

I don’t have to think like you, act like you, behave like you, dress like you, worship like you and reject all that makes me, me, for you to think I must have something good to offer.

I don’t have to let go of my roots, my origin, my uniqueness, the way I speak and my source for you to relate well and kindly with me.

That man you disdain, the lady you ignore because of tribal, cultural, religious and age differences may have that master key that would unlock your greatness and your glory in this life.

I don’t have to be like you for you to think I’m somebody just as you shouldn’t be like me before I respect and reckon with you.

In this difficult socioeconomic times, breaking this restricting mindset, orientation and bias may just be the sustenance you need or even your escape from hard times. Your real help may be in the hands of someone you discriminate against, this would be your loss. Dear friend, Be wise, always keep your doors of great opportunities open.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m commencing a series of business teachings at my life class from this Sunday that could help you increase your current cash flow.

These are practical realistic teachings on doing business in today’s Nigeria. As the teachings progress we’d cover several areas including hidden business opportunities, business remodelling, business funding, effective branding, customer retention, profitable route to market, wise partnerships and alliances, how to profit from barter agreements, growing your profit margins, market share expansion, effective advertising and communication, employee management for profit and so on. Many other business owners would be there to rub minds and we’ll take questions and you’ll have answers.

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