Dreams come in various shapes and sizes. They range from the good, the bad, the bizarre, and the incredulous. Dreams constitute an important factor that has propelled many “ordinary” individuals into the realm of achievers. However, a dream is meaningless without direction and a zeal to work towards it. That is why many persons never transcend from mere dreamers to achievers.
Earlier this week, I had a chance encounter with a thirteen-year old JSS 3 student. In my usual way, I asked the young chap about his studies in order to know if he was the studious type. His response showed that he was in the same clique of a large number of Nigerian students who are not convinced that reading should be done outside examination periods.
I proceeded to ask him if he currently fancies any profession that he would like to go into after school. My goal with this question is normally to use a person’s response to show that person why diligence at school would help towards becoming what he/she fancies. In truth, I was not expecting his answer. He calmly said he wanted to be a furniture maker.
Furniture maker? Why? Are your parents into the furniture business? No. Further questioning showed that he really liked furnitures and would like to create top-range products for sale. At this point, I had to switch into full advice gear.
I realized that his parents would have a hard time accepting that their son wants to be a furniture maker. “My son, an ordinary carpenter? Tufiakwa!” In a status-obsessed country like Nigeria, most parents want their kids to become doctors, lawyers, engineers—something with “class”. They forget that an artiste like Tuface Idibia and a business mogul like Dangote earn a lot more, and have more “class” than many in the anointed professions.
Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, Lionel Messi, and several other topnotch athletes can trace their achievements to an early start. Whereas they had families that supported them from the start, in Nigeria, families tend to be critical the moment a child appears to face something other than pure academics. Many talented youngsters are made to dump their strengths and join others in a struggle for academic brilliance.
Academic work is of course very important, as it expands an individual’s capacity for reasoning, giving him tools to strive towards the peak of any field. My advice to the young chap was for him to chase his dream, while ensuring that academic work was not ignored. His first task would be to sell his dream to his parents. Technical colleges, like football academies, are designed to nurture a mixture of talent and academics. For a youngster like this, a technical college, combined with a useful internship would give him a solid footing.
Imagine this kid being introduced to the furniture world at this age, while also gaining value from schoolwork. He definitely would not be like an “ordinary carpenter”. With proper nurturing, and diligence, in some years’ time, this chap may become the next Roche Bobois or Bedmate. It all starts with a dream.