Chude Jidenwo, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of RED, shared this on his twitter account recently and we thought it’s an interesting piece that needs to be read by not just Nigerian youths, but every African, home and abroad. Enjoy
One of my fellow fellows here, is the most amazing human being you will meet, and from Liberia. He is same age as me 32. And he has lived in Liberia all his life. According to him, this trip for this fellowship is the first time he is leaving his country. Think about that. 32. Never left your country. But been doing incredible work at community level. Many young Nigerians – and their parents – would have spent plenty of time on deliverance grounds trying to ‘break through’. But to hear him tell it, he never let that bother him. He had more important issues – war, want, and then later, Ebola. He just kept living, being, growing getting better. His apartment is close to mine. I have watched him. I totally believe him. He lives a life without fear, without hurry. He takes each day as it comes, and he keeps living his life with patience and character.
But that’s not how many Africans, or Nigerian live their lives. Patience and character after all are for ‘losers” here. About this time last year, I got together the smartest guys in the room – @toyethebot, @Edgothboy and @FuadXIV – and we brainstormed on what are the key aspirations for Nigerians generally, and especially for young Nigerians. The number thing by a mile? “We just want to BLOW”
‘Blow’ = Get rich, get famous, and live the largest possible life. Often, by any means. This is a terrible, dangerous thing to have as a national cultural aspiration. But it is the thing that most drives young people here. And so what do people turn to in other to make sure that they ‘blow’? Hustling. Doing anything and everything to make, as they say, ‘coins’. From my Masterclass, I found what makes people most unhappy: “This is not where I am supposed to be in life.” Rili? Who showed you the map. Think of my friend who I just spoke about. Who spent 32 years in near obscurity and then catapults far from that to a fellowship at Yale. One he didn’t even struggle for, but that someone who was watching from afar contacted Yale and said: This has to be your guy? But a person who lives a life of fear/desperation will choose a life of hustling – hustling to get visa, hustling to get contract, hustling
But there is a big difference between hustling and growing. A massive, big difference. Hustling is driven by desperation. The idea that u must take every opportunity you find, meet everyone you see, fight with everyone for space.
Growing is different by wisdom. The idea of the world as a place of abundance, with amazing opportunity for all kinds of people. With growth, you learn to say no to filthy money, to say no to opportunities that don’t respect you, to say no to toxic people.
Think of what I call the principle of the traffic light. Often you see people speeding past you, racing over limit, endangering their lives. But here’s the thing about the law of averages. Because of road blocks, other road users, speed limits, etc, even after all their speed. When you get to a traffic light, you still meet them there! Feeling sheepish, all that overspending/hustling – for nothing! Now of course, why you met them there was because you yourself you were not playing na. You were moving. Moving competently, solidly. And so, cos you are moving, just as they are. Just that you do it with wisdom & joy. While they with desperation. You often arrive same spot.
Think of that analogy very very very very very carefully. I have seen nothing truer about the way the world works than that. Think of Jason Njoku starting iROKO at over 30. Think of LIB after so many blogs. Think of how 2face remains A-list without hustling. Because we like pop culture references, think of KSA and how he continues to be the biggest draw. On, and on, and on. People often speak of how young I started. And I say it’s unnecessary. I spent too much hustling. Many who calmly moved after me were wiser. Stop hustling; start growing. Stop ‘networking’; start connecting and building relationships.
You go an event. Stop hustling for pictures with every speaker, unless that’s ur job or something. Listen to them. Enjoy the message. Learn! Stop collecting everybody’s complimentary card, and hustling for their direct number. Find the one person who you connect with. Find the one person you’re truly interested in, that you can truly have a connection with, that you enjoy talking to. I have been working in the media in Nigeria for 17 years now. I know this for a fact. The hottest designers then are mostly not here anymore
The hottest musicians (chuckle), they keep releasing albums no one pays attention to anymore. All across industries, same thing. The common thread I see is that the few that last the test of time stopped hustling for every role, and every red carpet. They spent time growing, reflecting, reinventing, building their capacity, taking a break from their industry, thoughtfully changing course.
I thought my love, @DamiOyedele was bad shit crazy for leaving her job at KPMG to say: I need some time to rethink my life and where to go. I wanted to scream at her to get a grip & resume earning. I wanted to give her her old job back. My mom said ‘let God take her his own way’. Those who know her now know that her investing two years, getting two degrees, with that huge investment of capital, has paid or.
I see my team members who stayed put, kept growing while peers pursued 20k more; how they have come into their own thru wisdom & patience. Do some hustlers succeed? Oscof! After all don’t some hookers become rich, don’t some cocaine takers avoid addiction? There are always outliers. Always exceptions to the rule. But we learn wisdom by admitting and assessing the preponderance of evidence. And just like all those super bankers of the 90s who went bust after consolidation, while builders lasted long haul, hustlers mostly lose.
Hustling always feels good. It feels like you taking action, you are doing something. Like those actors who think red carpet photos = role. It feels good to do, to rush. But that’s all it is – the thrill of the overtaking, the thrill of the speed racing, the thrill of the chase. But it doesn’t lead to you to be more successful than those who avoiding speed-racing; who moved with confidence, fearlessness, and calmness. One of the most important passages in Clinton’s new book is how Obama told her that she was hustling too much in ’08. He told her that while he and his people were moving calmly and without fear, her people were harried, unhappy, closing late, working harder
And guess who won that race? And actually guess who won Republican nomination? Not any of the guys who have been running for 8-12 years! Feyikogbon o. Its not she that runs the marathon fastest that wins oh. It is she that runs steady. Its not he that scream loudest on TheVoice that wins oh
Whenever ever one tells me ‘God bless your hustle’, I say to myself ‘I don’t hustle. I grow. I evolve. I get better.’
So sleep when you need to sleep. Take a break when you need to take a break. Spend time with your thoughts when you need to. Do only what you have to. Go only when you need to. Meet only those you want to. Only love the life you choose to. This I know for sure: If I had listened to my mom all the times she told me to take it easy, I wouldn’t have ended up with backpain, OAB & IBS.
I took an audit of my life over the past 17 years I have been working, and my biggest opportunities didn’t come from any of my hustles. They came from a place of calm strategy, wise counsel, patient and consistent work, and above all: from the simple idea of ‘keep moving’.
This message is brought to you courtesy of “The heartfelt 17-year life/work experiences of Chude Jideonwo”
Featured image source: Bellanaija