Youths are the architects of their Destinies
By Ethelbert Obinna Umeh
(CEO Blueprint Consulting & Vice President, International Institute for Global leadership, USA)
Delivered at 2018 edition of Ntorobia Ideato lecture series, April 4th, 2018
I am pleased to be here discussing this topic. Due to want of time, I wouldn’t like to bore you with a comprehensive dictionary or encyclopaedia analysis of who a youth is. The three key terms in this presentation are ‘youths, architects and destinies’.
However, as a point of departure, many scholars adopted a working definition that a youth is simply the period between childhood and adulthood; the period of being young.
An architect simply means, a person whodesigns buildings and supervises construction, or someone who is readily responsible for the invention and realization of a meaningful project. The second part of this description is relevant to our discourse, and we will be adopting it.
While, Destiny (Plural destinies) is the events that will necessarily happen to a person in the future.
This great period of youthful age is identified with vigour, freshness, strong energy etc, and could be within the range of 18 to 40 years old, probably that is why the popular maxim says ‘a fool at forty is a fool forever’.
If you are around this age, and you have not charted a meaningful course for yourself, you could be well regarded as a loafer, a social-never-do-well, ‘full of sound and fury signifying nothing’ (with gratitude to William Shakespeare).
We all have a great choice to design our lives to the way we want it to be. Success is a continuous process against all odds, nobody has ever climbed a staircase or mountain by folding hands, standing akimbo or looking at it.
Success is not a wishful thoughtful thinking alone; it is a science requiring accurate action. The mental picture you have of yourself determines how far you will go, whether you will succeed or not.
Excellence says the great philosopher, Aristotle ‘is not an act, but a habit, which must be cultivated and nurtured, so that it can grow and shine like a million stars’. An excellent person is a highly successful person.
Successful people have wonderful stories attached to their histories. To be excellent or successful requires a habit, and you must develop it. The best time to develop it is now.
You are the only person who can design your life, if you allow someone else to design it without your consent, there are possibilities that they will do so based on their terms, experiences and often times for their selfish reasons.
And you may end up becoming a victim of their own selfish interests like it happens especially among our youths and politicians during election periods in Ideato nation. I take bold to say that no one has ever used me without my consent, and no one will ever do so. I have a plan; I am on a mission on earth to create a transformational change, to be a gift to humanity, to be an inspiration to my contemporaries, to worship my God in spirit and truth. I have many people looking up to me, so I can never afford to disappoint them. I can never be used as a tool for destruction.
My growing up was never rosy at all, I didn’t grew up from the moon, I was born, bread and buttered in Ideato land, both my nursery, primary and first stage of my secondary school, up till JSS3 at Bonus Pastor Seminary, Osina took place all in Ideato land. So, I understand the terrain of activities in Ideato, and I boldly feel the challenges our youths are facing.
Are Youths really the architects of their destinies?
This is really a provocative question, and the answer is in the affirmative, that is why there is urgent need for self-discovery. Self-discovery is a pathway to self-actualization, and unless we recognize what is possible for us, we can never achieve anything meaningful in life.
Our destinies are in no man’s hands. Unfortunately and unhappily too, many youths placed their destinies in people’s hands, and most often in the hands of wrong people.
These are people that have nothing to do with your success; they crossed your path simply to take advantage of your vigour or energy to achieve their selfish interests. For example, men and women of our political class.
Some of them have no systematic plans for you; they have no plan to contribute to your sustainable human capital development. They only come to you when they feel you are useful to them, tell you things you will like to hear and win you over by giving you peanuts.
Since you are jobless, lonely and poor, lacking in direction, you will accept these peanuts to satisfy momentary pleasure, without looking at the big picture, the long-term plan. Be careful with this type of people.
Keep working hard and strategically. Hard work pays, hard work does not kill- what does not kill a man, makes him stronger. Ignorance kills, but education and strategic, sustainable skill acquisition brings high returns.
May I most humbly appeal to Ideato thought leaders to give our youths the roots to grow, the opportunities to excel, and never to exploit them. Don’t give us fish, don’t even teach us how to fish alone, instead teach us how to own a lake. That is what our youths need now.
How Ideato Youths can take control of their destinies
There is no shortcut to excellence or success, because success is a process. It doesn’t come by a sudden flight. It comes often by burning midnight candles; it comes often by taking action that makes a difference in our lives. Don’t aspire to make a living, aspire to make a difference.
Your success is up to you; some Ideato youths today look at their lives and figure that it depends entirely on someone else to get it. They wait and wait, hoping that it is up to someone else to make it happen, and then the wait is over, yet nothing meaningful was achieved, and they are filled with regrets or have practically nothing to show in their lives.
Some people in this category blame their uncles, parents, aunties, brothers and sisters for their inability to be a success.
It is not as if you don’t need the help of others, absolutely you do need mentors, because no man can survive in isolation, no man is an island, you need the help of others at one point or other in your journey of life.
But taking control of your destiny is entirely your project, you determine how it goes. God has created and launched you into the world, therefore nobody owes you anything. So, stand out and take your destiny in your hands now. Stop procrastinating; procrastination is a killer of dreams.
The fact is that you must take responsibility of your life, and nobody will do it for you. Some people in different parts of the world will be wishing to have the opportunity you have at the moment, and yet it eludes them.
Different people have different dreams, and they are expected to live by it. You reap what you sow; no one can stop you from achieving your dream without your consent, you will definitely face obstacles, rejections along the way, but these experiences shouldn’t weaken you, instead let them energize you, make you better.
There is great personal fulfilment that comes with setting your minds and hearts on achieving success and then accomplishing it. If you live with a victim mentality, you will never experience the joy of winning.
Where will you be in the next five years? Ten years? Twenty years? Thirty years? Do you have any plan for it? Have you ever dreamed of a beautiful future? Or set a realistic goal for it? Are you ever willing to take responsibility and recognize the fact that it is up to you do something? Who are your mentors? All these questions require honest answers. The choice is in your hands, you decide where you will be. The best time to make the decision is now.
Never give up on your dream; your dream might be what the world needs to add value to life. It may be what we need at the moment in Ideato nation. Keep working hard, and despite not the days of your humble beginning says the Holy Bible. Work until people can no longer doubt your results, results don’t lie.
Work with God. It doesn’t matter your little start, have absolute trust in God. Not everyone will believe in your dream, associate with the right people, and distance yourself from bad friends. Work until people can no longer question your results.
Never give up on God, because He will never do same. Professor Peter Bodunrin says ‘the scientist or philosopher may be a good churchman, but he has learnt how not to seek from heaven what is not there’. The choice of making a difference, the choice of becoming a success lies in our hands. Until you realize your purpose of living, sleeping or wishful thinking will no longer be interesting.
In the course of my life, I have met many Ideato youths, they complain about their families, jobs, spouses, cars, house they live in, their environment, government of the day and every miserable thing in their lives as caused by someone else. Happily, I have worked with some of these people to chart a new course for their lives. Some of them are better now, living and actualizing their potentials.
If you are still within this category, there is hope for you. I challenge you to rise above your present limitations, because you are the architect of your life. You have control of the choices you make. If you have an abusive friend, what you need to do is to leave that friend, and relate with someone that will bring out a better version of yourself.
I am also aware that a lot of things may be beyond your reach or control, but the way you react to it matters. Create a plan and start building a meaningful future for yourself. I am sure you may have read about many great people who had nothing, yet went ahead to achieve success. Success comes by strategically thinking about your life, and designing a beautiful future for yourself.
Study the right materials, look for opportunities to improve yourself, enter meaningful contests, start something, start now, delay is dangerous, stop waiting for tomorrow, the future we have been waiting for is here and now.
Action words to take home
You are the architect of your destiny, design your life and make things happen. Set realistic goals for yourself, monitor your progress periodically, be of great service, keep doing the right things, obeying your superiors, submit yourself to mentorship, get mentored by men and women of proven track records of achievements, keep giving your best without counting the cost, learn from your past mistakes and failures, turn them into victories, relate with people that inspire you, keep planning, never give up, start small, you may not always have a great start, you may have a humble beginning, but with God on your side, and strong determination, success will be yours.
As architects, you are visionaries of your generations; you are conscience of the time. You are a light to your compatriots, you are your story, what kind of story are you telling with your life? If you want to tell a significant story, start now.
Get started first- that is the secret of moving forward, the secret of succeeding; connect with right and supportive leaders that will assist in achieving your dreams.
Begin to grow your influence, capacity and opportunities. Make a decision today to be useful. The purpose of your life is to make your life better, become a better version of yourself and the world.
Life gives you options to either succeed or fail. Choose the one you want. Translating your dreams into reality means that you must set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant goals within a given time period and take the required action to meeting them.
If you are a student, focus on your education, and make no mistake about it. Education is a strong weapon that will liberate you from ignorance, slavery, and prepares you for future challenges or competition in the world. If you are into skill acquisition, then learn useful skills that will add value to life. However, it would be honourable if you have both features- education and skills acquisition.
May I leave you with this quote of Robert Shuller ‘Tough times never last, but tough people do” the beauty of life does not depend on its duration, but on its donation.
Use the opportunities available to you today, learn to do more, become more, achieve more against all odds, break the barriers, and push more. Donate yourself to learning the right principles of life, and you will become an overall success story.
Thank you for the rapt audience!