Stand Out! 
This was a two-part lecture I gave to young ones at the annual conference/camp meeting of the Today For Tomorrow at Yenagoa.
Somebody once said, “If your mates are sleeping, wake up. If they are lying down, sit up. If they are sitting up, stand up. If they are standing up, stand out. And if they stand out, be outstanding“.
It is not enough to stand out from the crowd, it is better to be outstanding.
To be outstanding means to be conspicuous. You can be visible without being conspicuous. It means to be a standard and a reference point. It means to be the best of the things you do in a sustainable way. It means to do exploits. Outstanding people are usually people who fulfill the purpose of God in their lives.
In Luke 2:41-52, we can see that Jesus, at the age of 12, separated himself from the routine, comfortable, and familiar crowd of His parents, friends, relatives, and community, and went to the Sanhedrin during their annual visit to Jerusalem. After 3 days, the parents found Him in the Temple Courts, sitting amongst the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone was amazed at His answers and understanding. When His parents saw Him, they were astonished and questioned Him. He responded with, “Don’t you know I should be about my Father’s business?”
There are issues that stand out in this passage:
- He was young—12 years.
- He separated Himself
- He knew where He had to be
- People were amazed at His understanding and answers
- His mother was astonished
- He said, “Don’t you know I should be about my Father’s business?”—He was aware of his responsibilities
- He grew in statue and wisdom and obtained favour from God and man (and became outstanding).
Having a DREAM
Most people who become outstanding in life start very early to have a dream. This dream is a picture of their future that they are willing to put effort to achieve. Some individuals have this picture painted for them by parents, mentors, or by observation of those they admire. Occasionally, it can be from a very intense desire to rectify what they hate passionately. Just like Mary Slessor, who reacted positively—creating beauty in the process—because she intensely hated the killing of twins. Others could be as a result of a very-early discovery of their talents and passions and the willingness to pursue their talents to the peak of their abilities.
Being DISCIPLINED, DIRECTED, and DEFINED while young.
Cristiano Ronaldo started playing football from the age of 7, and subsequently enrolled in a football academy a few years later. Rory Mcllroy started playing golf at a very early age, when he joined the Hollywood Golf Club at the age of 7. Tiger Woods equally started playing golf at a very tender age. The William sisters were prompted by their father to start playing Tennis at very tender ages, when he said he will make Wimbledon Champions. At one time, both sisters played in the finals of the Wimbledon. Serena Williams, even after giving birth, is still a very top competitor in the world of tennis.
Greatness is rarely accidental; it is usually deliberately and strategically planned for; the earlier the planning, the better.
A teacher in Indonesia asked the little children in his class who would like to be a president. Only one boy raised his little black finger. He was Barack Obama. His mother was in her second marriage to an Indonesian man. The whole class laughed at this unusually tall African-American. Years later, he was celebrated when he visited them as the 44th President of the United States. His teacher and classmates remembered that singular act.
The founder of IKEA—a multinational retail company specializing in furniture—Ingvar Kamprad, started at 5 to sell match boxes. Aliko Dangote, even as a child, was doing his own tradings in his grandfather’s house. His grandfather, Alhassan Dantata, deliberately said that he’ll transfer the craft of making wealth to him, so that he can transfer it even to the fifth generation. At the age of 20, Dangote was already in Lagos with his uncle, Usman Amaka Dantata, hobnobbing and negotiating deals with the then Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, and later with Obasanjo and the military top brass. At 26, he had become a millionaire in his own rights.
Carlos Slim Helú, of Mexico, was compelled by his father, as a young child, to deliberately keep accounts of how he spent his money at an early stage. This contributed to why he became the richest man on earth, at a time, because he developed value for money very early.
Chief Morrison Olori, one of the men I bought a lot of landed property from, told me this when I asked him how he became rich, “The desire to become rich is cultivated very early“. He built his first house at the age of 17; he still collects rents from it. He equally said that the spirit of hardship and poverty is equally cultivated very early. Justin Trudeau, the present prime minister of Canada, was, very early in life, introduced to different leaders of the world. In fact, Richard Nixon met him as a child in Canada during a state visit and said, “Behold the future president of Canada“. Yakubu Gowon, of Nigeria, also met him as a child. He got addicted to meeting presidents at a very early age.
When a child is introduced to reading books very early, the attitude of study and oratorical prowess is cultivated very early, and in adulthood, such people are very outstanding. Pat Utomi started reading at a very early age. By the time he was made a librarian, he had finished reading all the books in the library. In his early twenties, he was appointed special assistant to former president, Shehu Shagari.
My father told me in Primary 4 that I was going to be a medical doctor in the similitude of the chief medical director of the Warri General Hospital, then, in the mid-1960’s. I became a medical doctor and worked in that same hospital. I would take my eldest son, then, as a young boy into the operating theater and write “professor” on his palm. He became a medical doctor too and he’s currently doing his residency in Germany. When individuals have a picture of their future formed in their minds very early, either by themselves, from inspiration, admiration, or instruction from mentors or parents, it gives them direction.
There is nothing as important as having a direction very early in life.
Having a direction early in life creates focus and less dissipation of energy. When a piece of paper becomes the focal point of a magnifying glass under the sun, it ignites; because the rays of the sun are focused, the temperature at the focal point increases from the average temperature to a 100 times the room temperature and the paper ignites. A lot of young people dissipate their energies on too many things that would not advance them in the direction of fulfilling their destinies.
It is only what is defined that can be refined.
A lot of parents in Africa assume that their children are too young to start taking responsibilities, especially among low-income families. The children of the elite are graduating with First-class honours in British and American universities at the age of 19, while a lot of the children from low-income earning families are still resitting the secondary school leaving certificate exams.
My friend’s daughter, whose father is a clinical pharmacologist, pediatrician, and oncologist, and whose mother is a lab scientist in America, doesn’t have a mobile phone at the age of 13. She has limited TV-watching time with her parents’ supervision. She is far more intellectually-advanced than her contemporaries in low-income groups, who usually like a lot of entertainment, distraction, and would probably have had sexual partners.
When you see a young boy or girl play the piano with so much dexterity and expertise, he/she must have spent a lot of time and energy practicing. When you hear Barack Obama speak with so much eloquence, he did not start during the political campaigns. While in Indonesia, his mother arranged for special English and speech classes for him, because she knew he was an American and would need to be a good orator. The result is what we see in Barack today. When you hear Professor PLO Lumumba of Kenya speak with so much condensed information and extraordinary historical, political, literary, and oratorical prowess, he did not start today. He did not start in law school. He started very early in high school, because I learnt from the daughter of his classmate that he had always wanted to be a great orator right from secondary school.
Somebody once came to my office wanting to know the kind of books I have read, but there were not too many books in my library. I had been scavenging for and gathering knowledge right from childhood. The information is not on my shelves any longer, but stored in the chambers of my mind. When my mates were buying clothes and shoes, I was buying second-hand editions of Newsweek and Time magazines. I started reading newspapers, very early, from elementary school. I started reading the informative Jehovah’s Witnesses Publications—Awake! and Watchtower—very early in life. At a point, annually, I would buy the Guinness Book of Records and read it from cover to cover.
Having discipline and direction are best when started at very early ages; however, if there’s a determination, they can be applied at any stage of life to generate outstanding performances.
DEEP and DENSE Internal Lumination to create DRIVE
Your dream, besides giving you a direction, must have a very intense luminance in your mind. It is the intensity of the luminance (the brightness of your dream) that then generates the drive.
Early in the morning if you observe children going to school (public or private) you can easily identify the ones that would end up halfway. The bright ones are usually very punctual (they hurry to school), very orderly, and well dressed. The ones who will eventually not do well academically are sloppy, shabby, and have uniforms without buttons and that are rumpled. They fold their books like relay batons but are never prepared to run the academic race. At the other extreme are the ones who are very fashionable—without tangible substance or talents—with funny hairstyles, know all the musicians and can sing all their songs, but don’t know the names of their top Local Government officials. They dissipate a disproportionate portion of their time, money, and energy on issues that will not contribute to their academic success. They will eventually end up being smokers, drunkards, and indulge in premarital sex.
Research has shown that those who make First-class in universities, within and outside Nigeria, do not usually get involved in amorous relationships. They are usually described as triangular students—lecture halls, cafeteria, and hostel. That triangle, they repeat every day until they leave the school. The irony is that on the day of convocation, the so-called very social ones are the ones that applaud them when they receive awards.
DEVIATION from the Crowd
Very outstanding people usually do not follow the crowd. David was not with the crowd. Joseph was not with the crowd. Daniel was not with the crowd. Esther was not with the crowd. This is because your dream would separate you from your contemporaries. Most outstanding people usually find time for themselves and their dreams; their dreams keep them away from the crowd to eventually get through to the crown of outstanding performance.
Mediocre people spend their energies in enjoying the successes of those who have concentrated on their dreams by listening to their music, watching their films, or watching them play football or any other sport, not necessarily to derive value, but for sheer entertainment. Most mediocre people are to scared to walk alone from the crowd.
In the next post on Stand Out!, we’ll see how having the right models, diligence, and determination creates outstanding individuals. Also we shall look at how retaining one’s saltiness and luminance can gear one towards outstanding lifestyles.
God bless you.
Don’t forget to share with Friends if You’ve learnt something.