Have you ever heard anyone say that if they could just go back to school and get their degree they would be successful? Or if they could only get their Master’s degree they would be better off? Of course you have!
I have heard several statements of the same effect and every time I hear such statements I always ask, “Why are you waiting for a piece of paper to determine your success in life?
Sure, if you are looking for a professional white-collar job it may be necessary for you to have gone the whole yards in formal education and attained that degree or that Master’s degree.
But is this the only road to success? If you are anything like me, then the answer is definitely a ‘No’.
Formal education actually takes you out of the class environment right into a career, possibly for a big company. But who are those that create these companies you want to be employed? Entrepreneurs! Entrepreneurs like Nafiu Bala Rabiu. The entrepreneurial force does not mull over your educational level, and the truth is: if it finds you it finds you. Entrepreneurship is not a career you have to be qualified for. Entrepreneurship is sort of like a calling, a burning fire inside you that overwhelms you; it becomes a lifestyle, a way of life.
For Nafiu Rabiu Bala, who is the Managing Director, Balnara Universal Ltd; Executive Director, Ramu Unique Resources and Co-Founder/General Manager, Cement Distribution operations, PIYO GLOBAL Ltd, formal education in a way limits you in a conventional environment where the results are fixed and controllable. According to him, the formula has always been: go to school, get your degrees, get a well-paying job in a big company or become a university professor.
Total dependence on formal education might not encourage you to think outside of this box and most people never break out of this line of thinking, but Rabiu did, and he did so right after his secondary school when he started working at age 18 as a BUA Cement Distributor with Ramu Unique Resources, a multi-billion naira company and the number one BUA Cement Distribution Company owned by his elder brother.
Today, he owns one of the top ten BUA Cement Distribution Companies in Nigeria. He was able to achieve this feat by following his instinct of becoming a businessman.
According to Rabiu, he has never been a fan of school and getting a degree in his vision of success. He has always believed that entrepreneurs are the people who create the jobs for the college graduates. They are the ones who dared to break out of the conventional definition of success in the society and dependence on formal education to achieve success. And he was willing to take that risk. He took it and it worked out well for him. “Education has not been a barrier to my success” Rabiu stated.
“Don’t get me wrong”, he said, “I think education is very important and just because it worked out well for me does not mean it will work out for others too. This is probably one of those 1 out of 100 chances. And the world is changing; opportunities are becoming slimmer, so I will definitely encourage anyone and not just my kids to go to school.
However, at the same time I refuse to believe that formal education and being an employee to someone is the only way I can end up becoming a successful businessman. If you are anything like me, then you believe in creating employment, being creative, being an entrepreneur, you appreciate freedom and enjoy being your own boss.”
Digging through his thoughts, he believes that the common perception that going all the way through college to get a certificate, and getting a good payment package from a certain big company, being the key to success, is becoming extinct. This is why the unemployment rate in the country is on the rise even for graduates, it seems everyone is just waiting around to be ‘employed’ by a company, and no one is willing to create employment for themselves and some few others. This might have worked out well for the older generation, but it is about time that we change our way of thinking about the path to success.
“For a change, what you need is to first re-think your thought of success. A lot of people my age and below consider success to be a big bank balance, exotic cars, a huge house, and a prestigious job title like CEO”, he said. Rabiu thinks this is an illusion of what success truly is, and what a successful life entails, but again, everyone will have a different idea of what success is to them, and that’s okay. He feels that success is measured by how much impact (positive) you have on the world when your story is over.
For Rabiu, success will be changing the social culture of the world, teaching the people how to look at the world from a different angle. He intimates that achieving that success cannot be done by only going through college and getting a degree, but by feeding your passion, educating oneself and taking certain approaches that resonates with the masses, hence effectively positioning oneself to influence change. For him, this is the most important kind of education, an education driven by passion as opposed to the hopes of a stable life.
In the past, a lot of people like Rabiu, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerburg, among others dropped out of school to the dismay of their friends and family to follow an exceptional idea of success, to work on their passions, and they became tremendously successful. These people chose to educate themselves informally to reach their goals and they eventually found success and happiness in their pursuit.
“I think we have missed the real meaning of education”, Rabiu said. I think the real point of education is to make us aware of ourselves and the world around us. And once a person has realized what they really want in life, they can educate themselves and acquire the necessary skills to reach the heights that they set for themselves.
In wrapping up, being educated is being able to make independent decisions and opinions about different subjects using the knowledge that you possess, enabling you to make an original contribution in the field you have chosen to delve in.
This is not to dispute or cancel the fact that education is important, but is not necessarily the key to success. What happens when you have all the degrees and still there is no job to complement your educational success? I suggest you take a cue from Rabiu’s success story and pursue what you are passionate about as long as it brings in positive impact in the society.
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