Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Being The Best I Can Be - Know Thyself

Quell est la difference? I am currently learning French and I am proud to say that I have reached intermediate proficiency which means that I can carry on a conversation in the language. In all of the French that I now speak; my favorite sentence is “Quel est la difference” which when translated to English means, “What is the difference?”
I love this sentence so much because it is a question I ask myself all the time and it is a question that all young people who want to be the best they could be should ask themselves. I will explain.
In life, decisions must be made on a daily basis. How well a person makes decisions depends on their ability to recognize the alternatives available to them as well as their strength to choose correctly regardless of immediate consequences. I will focus on the former (i.e. identifying differences between alternatives).

Young people make decisions that often have a significant impact on the rest of their lives; decisions that surround what University to attend, what to study while in school and what career path to follow. These are some of the key decisions that we have to make.

When making these decisions, it is important to know who you are and make decisions that fit the mould of who you are and are trying to be. As a simple example, I knew that I could not be a doctor even though it is a field for which I have the utmost respect. Also, I know how much prestige is attributed to people who practice in that field and let’s face it, who doesn’t want a prestigious job. With all these considerations examined, I had to decide against the alternative of aspiring to become a doctor for 2 simple reasons; first, I am squeamish at the sight of blood and I loathed the smells the emanated from every single hospital I have ever visited in my life.

hose simple signs were enough to help me learn the difference between the pursuit of prestige, respect and wealth in the medical field and the practicality of doing something that I obviously would not be good at. Oh by the way, Biology was my least favorite subject in high school.
I am quick to tell you that you can do anything you want but I am quick to advice you to try to make sure that while you try to do anything, let that thing be something you should be doing. There is a huge difference between what you could do and what you should do. Not every profitable profession is a good profession for you.

As a young child, I used to say that I wanted to become an aeronautical engineer. I had very little idea what the field was about. I just believed that I wanted to do it. Now that I am a little older, I realize that mine was a classic case of what I now call “concept infatuation.” This is when you are in love with the idea of a field but you know nothing about the field. I liked the idea of one day becoming an engineer. I did not know what I needed to do to make that happen. The gist of what I am trying to say is very simple and it is this; know yourself and know why you do what you do. Don’t get caught doing the right thing for the wrong reason (for example, trying to become a doctor because of social status). Learn who you are, your strengths and weaknesses so that can make the right decisions. Most importantly, learn the difference between success and wealth.
These two are by no means mutually exclusive. You can be successful and wealthy at the same time but the fact that one is present does not imply that the other is. 419 people are wealthy but not successful. Some teachers are not wealthy but successful. In the end of it all, success is achieved when you have done all you can with all you have been given!

‘Being the best I can be’ continues next edition with ‘Befriend the best to be the best – A community of excellence’.

Written by Ayo Sopitan (

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