One of the mistakes people make is assuming that success (or rather, wealth) comes from hard work alone. And when people define “hard work”, they give it the analogy of stress. Of course, when you bring “hard” and “work” together, the space in between the words is assumed by “stress”; except that it is silent. But I believe people that work hard understand how stressful that could be.
Anyway, this essay isn’t about hard work as the key to success; it’s about other, rarely mentioned, elements that must be present before success could be achieved. As implied earlier, “success” here is aligned with “financial independence”, which is something every human on Earth craves for. But do you really need to work yourself to death in order to become financially free? Did wealthy people actually work sleeplessly and tirelessly to become who they are? Can you really achieve success from hard work alone?
I believe you must have heard the “if making money na by hard work, bricklayers for done hammer” ideology. I used to think that was scandalous until I started toiling day and night with little result. In fact, I realised that if I force myself to sleep better and longer, I achieve more. If not for anything, my brain will be more active after a good rest. But many of us are still keeping vigils, planning and executing works in order to make it. I say “kudos” to those of us on this lane; it’s actually not easy. But then, as you work hard, remember you should also seek these other elements that must be added to the sauce called “success” before it becomes palatable.
You must have heard that “opportunity comes but once”. My friend’s mother will tell you that opportunity can come a second, a third and infinite time. But then, it takes longer to come back after each visit and it also comes less juicy than before. Hence, if you miss an opportunity to scale through, you don’t have to lose hope because another one will come, definitely. But you might have to work extra hard to find it; and when you do, it might not be as juicy as the previous one(s).
But the problem remains, “How do you know an opportunity when you see it?”
Of course, you don’t run around every shiny juicy thing that resembles opportunity; there are many decoys out there. You wouldn’t want yourself trapped in the false opportunity only to miss the real one. So the major challenge we all have is differentiating between real and false opportunities.
Like a popular quote implies, sometimes, opportunities come in ways we don’t recognise them. Honestly, most of us realised we missed juicy chances after we’ve lost them. I don’t know why but it happens. But then, a few of us are lucky to have opportunities coming after us, even waiting for us, until we embrace them. This is why we need to add other ingredients to that sauce in order to make “opportunities” pursue us.
- Skills Acquisition
If you ask me, I’ll say this is the only ingredient, other than hard work, you have control over. Note that “skills” here is not “certificates”: certificates should be evidence that skills were acquired and not the other way round. Hence, if you have certificates you can’t defend, please shelf them; don’t bring them out because they won’t take you to the top, and keep you there.
But one question people ask regarding this element is, “which skills do I need to succeed?”
Well, you need to spend your time, energy and MONEY picking up skills and learning strategies that are required in whatever area you’re pursuing opportunities – it’s up to you to cut your niche. Remember the higher and better your skills are, the higher the chances you have of making it through. But please, as you go for “hard” skills, also seek for “soft” ones. Nobody wants to work with a foul-mouthed professional, even if he’s the last one in the market. A lot of people will prefer working with an amateur with excellent interpersonal skills to a callous expert. So, make yourself likeable as well. And learn patience too.
This is where divine intervention comes in. Some people will rather replace the term “luck” with “grace”, “blessings”, “destiny”, or “privilege”. Well, they are almost saying the same thing here. So, whatever term you choose, hold onto it.
So, you need a sprinkle of luck (not salt) on the sauce to get there. Just one lucky move could be all you need to get into the system. But then, you need your skills – both hard and soft ones – to remain there.
A lot of people are already privileged or lucky to have resources and connections that will lead them up. All that people in this category need to make it the extra mile is their skills. But for those of us that have to work from scratch in order to rise to the top from the dust, we need to positively pray for opportunities to come our way. Hence, you might have all the certificates in this world but without this divine intervention, opportunities will continue to fly over your head until you start accusing your village people.
Well, here is the simple mathematical equation: success = hard work + opportunities + skills + luck.
Anyone that chooses just one out of the combination will find it hard to climb that ladder. So, when people complain about working hard and earning nothing, ask them to add the other ingredients. But you see those people that combine only opportunities and luck without adding skills or hard work, well, they may rise, but they will crash land soon. Likewise, picking up dozens of skills without seeking opportunities and the other elements will only leave you unemployed, broke, frustrated, and antagonistic. This could explain why we have many people with “big” certificates and no jobs.