In the course of an intensive week at the Lagos Business School, several speakers hammered on two possible life choices—one that prioritized making money and another that prioritized making impact. Their views quickly came to mind a day later when I encountered a lady who had already made her choice.
As my friend and I sat in a restaurant, while I serviced my alimentary canal, a young lady walked up to us. She introduced herself as a musical artiste, showed us copies of her album, and asked us to support her. When I enquired about what she meant by “support me”, her answer seemed a bit beggarly. She offered a copy of her CD if we showed support. Wanting to help, though not having much extra cash, I offered her the naira’s fifth highest usable denomination, and then declined the offer of a disc.
Immediately the money entered her hands, she said “thanks”, and moved to seek another potential “supporter”. My observant friend then pointed out her failure to make any effort to convince me to accept the disc. If her real aim was to publicize her music, he argued that she ought to have spoken proudly about her music. By prioritizing money, she had turned herself into a well-packaged beggar. In the course of her “support-finding missions”, she may have come across someone with the means or the links to set off her musical career. However, by keeping her eyes on instant gratification, what had the potential to better her life was being ignored.
This bifurcated choice concerning money and impact is a common one faced by every human at one point or the other. It may not be money per se. However, it always involves a choice that represents instant gratification, and another choice that may appear unpleasant at first sight, but offers sustainable rewards in the end. Some generic examples should drive home this point.
The requirements for sprinters and marathoners are different. A marathoner who trains like a sprinter would fail woefully. Whereas such a person might be in the lead for the first 100-400 or even 800 metres, when the real marathon begins, beyond 1500 metres, wisdom will prove its worth. How many footballers have ignored potentially sustainable upward-facing careers for instant large paychecks, seeking the club with the highest financial offer instead of the club that offers programmes for development? How many persons have hurriedly embraced high-paying jobs that neither offer personal satisfaction nor career advancement opportunities? How many persons have hurriedly embraced the thrills of pre-marital sex instead of marriage that offers more plus sex? How many Nigerians chanted for the continuation of petroleum subsidies instead of sustainable policies that are better in the long-term? There are many more examples of this choice between the instant and the long-term.
The instant offers just what its name implies—instant gratification. On the other hand, the long-term option ends up providing what the instant initially offered. The presence of patience is what differentiates those who rush and those who consider. Patience enables a person to sit back, and really weigh available options. It allows one to look at the resent with an eye on the future because the future is as important as the present.
As someone recently told my class, “money is hardly the right reason to do anything”. Money, as quick as it can come, is good, but it is not usually the best bet. Another person topped up the earlier quote with one of his own—“if you chase money, you may get it, but if you go for impact, the money will come”.