It’s the start of a new year, and more than ever before, everyone is pumped to put their best foot forward, strive for success, attain new heights and be relevant in the scheme of things. People are on a high at this time, there’s that push that comes from wanting to achieve the goals set for the year. The memories of the unaccomplished resolutions from the previous year are all too fresh in the memory, and many swear that the present one will be nothing like the last. So we attack the year with fresh zeal and a consuming passion to right the wrongs of the previous, be on top of our game career-wise and generally make sure we are many steps ahead three hundred and something days later.
There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious. As one who has always been self-motivated and ambitious, I do not understand people who aren’t. I struggle to wrap my mind around a lack of drive to be more. I mean, how can a person not have something that makes them want to get out of bed every morning, how can they wake up each day devoid of a mission or vision for their lives. Beats me! So, perhaps more than the average person, I can relate to the need to get the best out of life.
However, there’s drive, there’s mild obsession even, and then there’s unhealthy desire…a ruthless ambition to be relevant at any cost. There are those who are bent on getting to the “top” via any means possible. These days, people have become desperate to be recognised, to be seen, to edge their contemporaries out, to be viewed as doing far better than their peers, and because of this, they are open to doing anything that will propel them to the spotlight.
Social media is one of the factors responsible for this. It takes an independent-minded person not to get carried away with all the glitz and glamour on Instagram or the incessant display of picturesque existences on Facebook.
Social media has the tendency to make one feel inadequate. You look at your colleagues and friends from the past years, and how they are seemingly doing better than you and you cannot help but wonder what you are doing wrong. You are tempted to think you are not working hard enough (and maybe you aren’t).
Your mates are not now managers and directors, and there you are barely scraping to get one promotion since you started your job almost a decade ago. It’s tempting to adopt a cold-blooded approach to getting out of your rut. You have been the good guy for the longest time, you have played by the books, done things right, been the quintessential model human in your personal and business dealings, valued relationships above the pursuit of material things, yet the universe hasn’t exactly rewarded you for your uprightness.
You look around you, the snitches at work are the ones gaining ground. The busty belle sleeping with the boss has been promoted twice in 3 years while you who’s been putting in incredible hours to hone your craft and turn in excellent work are languishing on the same level. The position you have stayed in for donkey years.
The loquacious, who can make the inconsequential stuff they have done sound like they discovered the cure for cancer gets all the accolades and monetary rewards, while you, the real brains in the organisation are marginalised because you would rather let your work speak for you than engage in bootlicking or high falutin talks that have no substance.
And so, you decide to do things a little differently, after all, your methods up until now have not catapulted you to the stratosphere of career fulfilment like you had expected it to. You have your plan all figured out – a little snitching here, a little backbiting there, a sprinkle of deception and syphoning of funds in the mix. You’ll “roll” with the guys that make things happen even though they are getting stuff done through “unconventional” means. Through all these, you are sure to find your self among those who can truly be called successful.
It’s an enticing prospect. More so, in these climes where evil always appears to trump good all the time. It’s one of the mighty frustrations of being Nigerian. Shady characters get the longer end of the stick all the time. They call the shots. They command respect. They rule us. Therefore, it’s becoming more and more difficult to preach the virtues of honesty, hard work and all the other qualities our parents and teachers tried ever so hard to instil in us.
But you don’t want to toe that path. That path that seems to get you farther faster, but ultimately leads to regret.
Sometimes, in our pursuit of relevance, we forget that it’s not merely about reaching a certain height, but sustaining the success when we get there.
While the “benefits” might be immediate, nobody ever achieved longevity by bringing others down or cutting corners. And what about having to live with the guilt of causing another man distress or constantly looking over your shoulder because you have attained that coveted status through dubious means.
I think it’s instructive to be conscious of how we go about achieving those things we have set as goals to be accomplished before we bid 2018 goodbye.
Be hungry for success, but not at the expense of others, pursue greatness with dignity.
In your quest for relevance, be driven, but not desperate.