Monday, May 5, 2014

Why Are You Reading Motivational Books? by BabaWilly

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I received a telephone call from Lagos last week. A friend was speaking to me sat in a dark room because there was no light and no fuel for the electricity generator. At the end of the call he had a request. He wanted me to buy a copy of a particular motivational book that had just hit the market. I agreed to grant the request but as soon as I put the phone down I began to ask myself if those books work in Lagos.

One would think that having no electricity was motivating enough. These books are written for a first world audience with electricity and running water, in other words people who have voted in officials into power who can deliver on their promises. They are the privileged ones too relaxed to hustle and thus in need of motivation.  How can a man in Lagos in a hot dark room who has been slapping mosquitoes all night tell me he needs an American to ‘motivate’ him to start hustling?  Proximity to the equator surely means you are primed for action. No bi who e pain go draw bodi near fire?

The basic physiological needs of life such as food, water and clean air must be desired and acquired without the aid of a motivational guru. If yu wan die, no breathe na.  Security and housing are also necessities so important that people usually do not rest till these things acquired.  If it itches, scratch it. Reading motivational books is just like watching the Champion’s League football. Looking at fit people running themselves into more fitness and wealth does not make you fitter or richer. It is a mere distraction from depressing ‘matters on the ground’ like a lack of vision or the absence of courage and fortitude.

Self-help books are not new.  There used to be this book that I heard so much about in the late 70s; How to approach girls and win their love. I never read it but was tutored by those who did. That book sef was a waste of time. Whether the book has been read or not, once the DJ plays the track, you didn’t need motivating to walk across and say ‘excuse me dance’. (I wonder who invented that line). In today’s world depending on who has your ear, everybody is in need of motivation.

Even those doing well could do better. The main stars in the motivational industry are Americans and they have electricity and other comforts that make writing books easier. Now how does one with light know how to motivate one without light? Is motivation trans- cultural? Shouldn’t the Nigerians write their own books? Who moved my cheese ke? In Naija? We should be reading Who moved my ewa? Or Na who wan put san-san for mai garri? I know the US hip hop artists make beats that make Naijas dance and Oprah inspires no end but can their guys motivate us? The titles don’t resonate ra ra.

Chicken soup for the soul is lost in the translation as it lands in Murtala Mohammed international airport. More appropriate would be Pepper soup for the mind (less facts and fat make pomon thick as Eboh bomb will say). Then there is the daddy of them all. Rich Dad, Poor dad. That is rich (excuse pun abeg). Na who papa dem dey call poor? A complete lack of traditional sub Saharan respect.

Come to think of it, with the high unemployment rate one would expect titles like Poor dad unemployed dad. Poor dad ritual dad, poor dad 419 dad or poor dad poor dad but I better pass my neighbour by God’s grace. Let a naija man write a book in which he calls his father poor in every chapter and he will be surmoned home for a family meeting. He would be accused of biting the fingers that fed him Mr Biggs.

The Naija is a hustler abeg. I know this. I get five marriage proposals every day from romantic 419s in search of a mugun to part with his cash.

Ehen, when I was last in Lagos, I saw the street vendors selling Think and grow rich by Napoleon Hill. I grabbed my copy, for I need motivating myself and it was a good deal. I have since covered the book with plain brown paper as I do not want to appear desperate. Have you noticed how people crank their necks to read the titles of books or magazines you are holding?

I saw this one, the seven habits of highly effective people at Yaba. Hmmm. I didn’t buy joor as I knew their habits already.

1. They travelled with police escorts who went ahead of them clearing traffic.

2. They had a chronological age and an official age

3. They were Church or Mosque members by day and Ogboni by night.

4. They had leg in Abuja (Contacts).

5. Their wives and girlfriends never met.

6.  They brush their mouths before using it and flushed the toilets after using it.

7.  They were featured in glossy magazines.

There you have it. I don’t need an American to tell me the habits of the people I see daily. Notin do mai eyes. There are other ye ye titles too o.

How to win friends and influence people –naija answer; brown envelope and if na party spray dem wen they dance.

Have the great body you deserve- naija answer; I have that body already.  Rare to see a case of anorexia among the 167 Million people in Naija as we have fitted clothes that conceal or enhance the bulges. Agbada for apku belle and blouse and wrapper for orobo curvaceous beautiful naija babes. Anorexia kini? Eat expensive Chinese food and vomit it out for wetin? When the bill was 18K? Na lie o. Whatever body you have is your dream bodi. If yu no like complexion yu bleach. We don’t need books for that.

Motivational books cannot courage give. Rather it can become the procrastinator’s tranquilising tonic read from the safety of a cosy armchair which is free from risk or danger. The only perilous threat encountered  is that of the £10 book being uninteresting after the third chapter. These imported titles are all like Hollywood block busters or Nollywood hut busters sef. The Quantum leap strategy ke? Bros, abeg fashie that one and go for anointing service jare as power must change hands and your miracle will locate you.

The power of positive thinking for where? Power of focus when power no dey? Secrets of the millionaire mind abi? All these books are written by people who have obeyed the 10,000 hours rule of hustle. They have practiced their art for 10,000 hours and are now unconsciously competent at what they do.  They have paid their dues over the years but now need a new holiday home and have written a book for muguns to buy.

There is definitely a place for apprenticeships at the feet of wise people who have gone before, but even in an apprenticeship you arrive at the place of work before oga arrives and wash his car. You don’t roll over in bed and expect the guru to come and wake you up. You stand by the guru’s side and watch the guru labour all night and you learn the meeting of sleepless nights first hand.

Speaker positions at motivational conferences are the rewards of successful risk taking. That is why they get paid and you pay to get in. They have the courage and you experience the cash haemorrhage. While they clean up, you get pumped up. These conferences are pure entertainment, no different from going to the circus or watching a dance act. People even request signed copies of books afterwards. If that is not show biz hero worship then what is?

Even the Bible teaches that Joshua was told by God to BE COURAGEOUS. Read the Bible, meditate on it day and night but be courageous No book helps you overcome that inertia you have derived from the fear of failure or help you see the hidden opportunities within your grasp. This is why TED talks have an advantage. The speakers who have achieved something give talks that are both inspirational and instructional. You get tips on how to go out and make your ideas happen. No idle dreaming.

Yes, the world belongs to dreamers but only to those who wake up early after the dreaming session and hustle. Ted events are better than talk shows. Say you watch Elon Musk on aTed talk, objection insights into how his mind works will be on show. On a talk show however they will probably interview his wife, show the kids and soon everyone gets emotional, entertained and inspired without learning anything they can apply to their lives.

Anyway, if a naija man is stood in the sun and needs a motivational book to know he should buy an umbrella or seek shade under a tree or perhaps buy a car, then he is beyond redemption. In a land that can devour its inhabitants from time to time, being unmotivated can be a risk to your life whether you know the richest man in Babylon or not.


Dr Wilson Orhiunu


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