I am something of a realist – at least that’s what I tell myself. But I know truly that deep within me is a deep well of optimism. Else, why would I persist at pursuing my dreams with the doggedness I do? Why would I plug in, day in day out to submit myself to the grueling, cruel process of becoming?
I probably would have mentioned this quality in passing in one of my earlier pieces, as it is a very important ingredient in the formula for becoming an entrepreneur. But because it is mentioned in passing most of the time, it is not taken as seriously as it ought to be.
Optimism is everything.
One of the hardest things in the world is being a Nigerian. Even harder is being an entrepreneur in a society where it seems as though everything is designed for one to fail. In the words (title of his book) of Ayo Sogunro, Everything In Nigeria Will Kill You.
Think about the fuel scarcity that keeps assaulting Nigerians. Look how long it has persisted. Imagine having to wake up twice as early as you would normally because you want to go queue at a fuel station in the hopes that you’ll get fuel to buy early enough so you won’t be penalised for coming to the office late for the second time in a week.
As an aside, how many people did not get queries from their bosses during the fuel scarcity?
How about the constant and consistent blackout that covers more than half the entire country like the blanket of a widow in mourning? How about the constant threat to life and property – even from those who are supposed to protect these things?
Frankly, depression is a Nigerian.
But then, in the midst of all the bleak and unpromising situations, we still have people who wake up every day to do what they’re supposed to. I read a period piece in which a tourist was talking about the Nigerian spirit. One of the things he said was: “Do you call yourself a hustler? Go to Lagos and watch people chase a bus for kilometres because they want to sell you a fifty-naira sausage roll. And when you buy, he collects his money with a smile. Sometimes, you even get a thank you.”
Nothing quite captures the Nigerian spirit like that.
An entrepreneur has to learn to see the hill in every valley. He has to learn to be grateful for whatever comes his way. The best lessons come in the midst of adversity. Many times, though, we’re so stuck in that situation and lie in self-pity that we miss the lessons. And sometimes, we have to repeat the class again because someone insists that we learn.
Those who don’t learn from their mistakes are bound to repeat them.
One thing I never lose sight of (and it’s the one thing I learnt from the half-full/half-empty glass scenario) is that everything depends on perspective. Almost everything can be fit into a context, implying that there’s hardly nothing cast in stone. Everything depends on how you look at it.
And that’s the thing I’m learning about optimism. It’s not a refusal to acknowledge what is going wrong, or that things can go wrong. It’s more of a choice to stay focused on the brighter side of things. A conscious decision to believe that things will always work out for the best – and then following through with action. Optimism keeps the believer in control of things he can control, and helps him let go of those things that are out of his hands. Optimism is an understanding that “everything works together for good”.
Expect the best yet prepare for the worst. Optimism isn’t blind faith; neither is it stumbling around while being encumbered with wishful thinking and flights of fancy. Optimism is faith accompanied by hard work. Optimism is believing that things will work out for the best because you have done the best you can as a person and that whatever’s left is out of your hands. Optimism is seeing the glass as half-full constantly and consistently. Optimism looks at a rose and sees the thorns but doesn’t dwell on them. Optimism stays focused on the rose petals and smell.
Optimism is learning to smile, no matter what.
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