Rethinking Talent: What we should really be doing when people discover themselves

Since we agree most people become clearer about what they want to do after the early stages of their career and in fact encourage most people to find their “purpose”, isn’t it logical to throw open the employment/opportunity gates to people who are switching careers?

 

When it comes to choosing careers, very few people are so lucky to find out early on what they want to do life-long. The reality is that most people stumble into it at different points in their lives; early, mid-life or later in life. We repetitively ask people to find their purpose because ”purpose” is so important. It gives life meaning, it makes you content, fulfilled, it energises and it refreshes. When they do find that purpose, how much of a chance do we give to them exploring it? Should we allow people to continue to work to keep up with bills or really encourage work that makes them thrive?

 

I believe we should do more. I believe we need a talent re-think especially because we know most people discover their real interests later rather than earlier. I believe people should be given the opportunity to explore their interests to the maximum and hiring policies need adjustments to accommodate what is simply reality.

 

What to do when you figure out what makes you tick:

  • Make a transition plan; immediately. Writing things down actualises thoughts and adding timelines gives you a mission. Make a detailed transition plan to include the skills needed where you are going, where to learn them and when to have learned them by.

 

  • Create a plan for networking in this new space and building the necessary connections.

 

  • Learn the skills, within the timelines. Things change rapidly and you most certainly do not want to complete your learning only to find that you are already out-dated. Review constantly and keep up with industry trends.

 

  • Volunteer, Volunteer, Volunteer: Cut your teeth, make your errors where you can be forgiven. Give volunteering everything like it were a paying job and learn as much as you can.

 

  • Respond to vacancies, sell yourself and confidently advance towards chasing your dreams; you have everything to gain.

 

 

This is for HR Professionals:

You cannot be the human in Human Resources if you are not applying human nature to the way you view and accept talent. Inclusive employment should include people who are changing careers at various levels. It’s a reasonable assumption to believe that an older person who has recently re-trained may be more disciplined and come with a higher level of work readiness than a younger one.

 

We ought to drive policy that really ensures we are equal opportunity employers and provide access to great talent at all levels.

Networking: You’re still getting communication wrong!

Networking for personal and professional advancement is important; indeed it is very important. The way you communicate will make or break you. Your writing, like how you are dressed, determines how your reader profiles you.

 

Is there a way to communicate effectively for this purpose? Yes, there is. This list is not exhaustive but we’ve kept it short and sweet to get you on the right trajectory:

  • Be formal: Unless the person you are communicating with asks you to do otherwise. “Hello, dear” is not formal communication for someone you have never met.

 

  • Cultivate relationships: How early should your asks come? People do business with people they have a relationship with and trust. Work towards both, especially the latter.

 

  • Give and give more: What you should do instead of asking is give, give, give; connect other people, offer help, solve a problem if you can and build your networking reserves.

 

  • Tact, manners, respect: When you comment on posts, please be respectful. We can agree to disagree without belittling the other party or parties.

 

  • Friendly versus familiar: There is a thin line between being friendly and familiar. Learn the difference and improve your writing skills.

 

  • Quality: Read, proof-read and then read again before you send anything out to anyone. Spelling errors, typos, misplaced punctuations are signs of a sloppy writer. You will be judged on the standard of your writing.

 

Networking has a significant impact on your progress and should be approached with deliberateness and consciousness. When in doubt about what form your communication should take, keep it simple, keep it formal. If still in doubt, just google the best approach.

What work should NEVER take away from you

 

If we take a second to look critically at our lives, as workers or business people, we’d begin to see just how much our lives have begun to revolve around work. We tend to get carried away with it – so carried away, sometimes, that the entirety of our days, weeks and years become devoted to it. Now, this is not entirely a bad thing, getting immersed in work. Where the problem lies, is how we tend to forget other areas of our lives, which in the long run, are actually more important than work. Some of the things your job should never take away from you are:

 

  • Family: If you never had to grow up with a parent who was constantly jetting off chasing contract after contract, then you might not fully understand how fortunate you are. Sadly, family is one of the easiest aspects of life to consider; to brush off because “they’d still be there when I get back”. However, constantly chasing work could cause you to miss some important developments. Like how Chris Brown had to find out on Instagram that his daughter had started walking? You don’t want that, do you?

 

  • Friendships: Very similar to family, it’s easy to keep your friends on hold because of work. What we tend to forget, however, is that when all is said and done, these are the people that hold it down for you.

 

 

  • Love: Working 9-5 jobs already make it difficult to socialize. Trying to get a startup on its feet makes it even more impossible. At some point, it’s easy to begin to imagine that one can live without love; but we really can’t, we weren’t designed to and shouldn’t. Make time for love – people, passions and things you love.

 

  • Adventure: Traveling, climbing Mount Everest, taking a swim in the ocean might just seem like a waste of precious time, but adventure is great. Do something new, do something different, take up a challenge, alone or with company. Keep pushing your boundaries. Adventure keeps you young and vibrant. Variety makes it even more exciting. Push your boundaries and have a blast at it.

 

 

  • Healthy Living: This is also one of the easiest but detrimental things to ignore. Exercising becomes a thing of the past when you’re too busy waking up as early as possible to beat traffic, or when you get back really late and all you want to do is sleep. Eating healthy is difficult on the go and you have to get creative with meals. We know being sedentary is extensively damaging to health and need to include as much natural movement as is possible to fit in. Eat better, move more, you know the drill; borrowing from Nike, ‘’just do it’’.

 

Every so often, it is necessary to take a step back, to recalibrate, redefine the things that are truly important in the bigger picture. While work is important, we need to learn to invest ourselves in the things that truly matter!

Museum of Unity, Enugu: History, Heritage, Harmony

I’ve always been interested in history, world history but particularly African and Nigerian history. My father is definitely to blame for this love but it is one interest I am glad he piqued. Our history discussions spanned geographies, coasts and seas; we talked about everyday living within cultures, influencers and developments. It was and is still very interesting to mentally experience the evolution of a people.

 

As an adult, I am even more interested in Nigerian history especially as I know how that knowledge has shaped my view of my beloved country. I believe it is a disservice that we no longer teach Nigerian history and are missing a critical aspect of ensuring we remain a united Nigeria in thought and deed.

 

I have always lived in Lagos and for secondary education, attended Federal Government College, Enugu. I cannot fully express how that experience has shaped me as a person. I attended this school in an era when unity schools were the most prestigious schools to attend and student population came from across the entire country. I had the opportunity to interact with peers from different cultural, socioeconomic and religious backgrounds. In that melting pot, we became one, our unification emanating from emerging behind mom and/or dad to become independent teenagers, needing to survive in waters solely navigated by basic survival instincts. Today, those friendships span a quarter of a century and longer.

 

And so it was with glee that I returned to my roots as Life Skills facilitator on Nigerian Bottling Company’s (NBC) Youth Empowered programme. Enugu, being my city, I thought it wise to spend a few days stomping the city I no longer recognised but which had its imprints all over my heart. Plus, I would get some time away from the mania that is Lagos. As part of my “re-culturisation”, I convinced two of my friends to accompany me to the Museum of Unity in Enugu.  The 4-part display consists of:

 

  1. A unity exhibit
  2. An igbo culture exhibit
  3. A coal city exhibit
  4. A Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe exhibit

 

 

Eureka Moments

 

  1. Established after the Nigerian Civil War (1967 – 1970), the Museum of Unity identifies the commonalities in Royalty, Deity and Ceremony not limited to human and agricultural fertility, life and death, celebrations, fairness and equity across the approximate 350 ethnic groups that make up Nigeria. In other words, the displays are not only relevant to igbo culture, beliefs and traditions but to every tribe that makes up modern day Nigeria.

 

  1. The interactions between and amongst the tribes became evident as I toured the exhibits. The values and systems that maintained order in the day-today lives of indigenous peoples were apparent in dress, governance, trade, war and ceremonies.

 

  1. As we toured the Unity exhibit, I noticed that the full dress of the Obi of Onitsha (King of Onitsha, South-Eastern, Nigeria) was made from Damask, a fabric predominantly thought to originate from South West Nigeria. My interpretation of this was that there was extensive trade and transfers between the different groups. Also interesting is that fact that one display clearly alludes to the origin of the Onitsha masquerade as Igala, a tribe in today’s Benue state. Part of its dress aso-oke, also belongs to South West Nigeria.

 

 

  1. Art has always been a part of human existence and often represents beliefs in the tangible. It also was a form of passing on oral tradition with references. I discovered that the oldest bronze sculpture in Nigeria is actually from Oron, Akwa-Ibom state in South-South Nigeria and not from Nok in Plateau State, North Central Nigeria.

 

  1. The exhibit without meaning to, became evidence of transition from wholly indigenous societies, albeit with local interactions, to one with western influences through first trade and then colonialism.

 

  1. Money evolved from brass (so we’ve been smelting iron forever and of course knew some technology), to cowries, to fabric, to beads and then to glass. Don’t ask, I don’t understand the rationale either. We did have our traditional medium of exchange that sufficed until we were told we needed a more formal currency.

 

  1. The ancient linkages were clear. Nigerians have always co-existed and thrived.

 

Conclusion

The Museum of Unity in Enugu was a revelation to me in many parts. It achieved what it was designed to do; I learnt about other tribes, I saw similarities, I discovered we had been exchanging ideas and adopting best practices amongst ourselves for a long time. I felt a deep appreciation of the belief systems that drove ancient peoples; most of all, I felt truly Nigerian.

I recommend you visit this museum if you are ever in the Enugu area.  It will enhance your appreciation of the nation and our tribal heritage; that Kings and Queens were revered and we had functional governments with participation by both sexes; that our societies worked effectively and our beliefs were enough to provide a moral compass that ensured fairness, equity and justice. I saw that our commonalities are a lot more than our differences. I saw Nigeria.

 

Addendum

Thank you ‘Gbubemi Atimomo for pointing out that Nok art was made from terracotta. Old Benin Empire, also in the South-South region of Nigeria is typically the reference for bronze works.