By Frederick Mordi
George Washington, the first President of the United States, and one of the founding fathers of the country, is reputed to be an honest man. He imbibed the noble virtue of honesty as a child. His father taught him that he should always stand up for the truth.
An incident that reportedly happened while he was growing up proved to be a test of his character. As the story is told, his father gave him a present of a hatchet, one day. Washington was proud of his small hatchet. He swung the axe around the garden playfully, and used it to trim down plants everywhere that fancied his attention. Doing this must have made him feel like a strong lad. He did not know when he cut down his father’s favourite young cherry tree.
Upon discovering that his cherry tree had been chopped down, his angry father demanded to know who did it. Shaking like a leaf, Washington quickly owned up: “Papa, I cannot tell a lie. I did it with my little hatchet.”
His father’s anger dissolved away at once. His face brightened up as he said, “It is all right George. I shall not beat you because you told me the truth.”
Another boy named George Brown, also mistakenly chopped down a tree that his father very much cherished. His enraged father thundered: “Who cut down my apple tree?”
“I did it dad,” replied the lad boldly.
Mr. Brown gave his son a good hiding for cutting down his apple tree. Still sobbing, the boy sought to know why he got smacked, even when he owned up like George Washington did. To this, his father replied sarcastically, “you are George Brown; not George Washington!”
The tale of the two Georges has a valuable moral lesson: no matter what, honesty is the best policy in life. This resonates with the words of Alexander Pope, a famous English poet, who once wrote that “an honest man is the noblest work of God.”
By Frederick Mordi
Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, was a dogged fighter and an enduring symbol of perseverance. Lincoln grew up in abject poverty and often went about without shoes. For this reason, he was nicknamed ‘Barefoot Abe.’
He did not receive formal education because his parents were poor. But he loved reading. He was an omnivorous reader. He read any book that he came across, often by the fireplace, as electricity was not common in those days. Little by little, he taught himself how to read and write. He eventually became a lawyer. As a lawyer, he had a reputation for being honest. This also earned him the moniker: ‘Honest Abe.’ He did various jobs including: manual labourer, railroad builder, store clerk, soldier, and surveyor, before he entered politics.
It is said that he failed several times in his political career. He was defeated when he ran for the position of Speaker; he was defeated when he tried to get nomination for Congress; and he was defeated for the Senate. He also lost the nomination for Vice President. But he did not give up, until he finally became President. Apart from politics, he also failed in business. Lincoln’s interesting story demonstrates man’s inherent ability to triumph over adversities. It proves the truth in the well-known saying often used to encourage people who are passing through difficulties in life: ‘Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.’
People have different threshold levels for managing adversity. Some people have low threshold, while others have high threshold levels. Those with high threshold levels are able to push on, when others give up easily. Successful people appear to have high threshold levels of managing adversity. A few examples will drive home this point.
Henry Ford’s early business ventures failed before he became successful; Soichiro Honda, the man who founded Honda, once failed a job interview with Toyota Motor Corporation, but did not lose hope; even Bill Gates Jr. founder of Microsoft and one of the wealthiest men on the planet, failed in his first business. All three surmounted the initial obstacles on their path and went on to become successful.
Dr. Paul Stoltz, who has studied the capacity of people to handle adversities, coined the term Adversity Quotient (AQ) in 1997. Stoltz defines AQ as a score that measures the ability of a person to deal with adversities in his or her life. AQ is also referred to as the science of resilience. Stoltz put together his research findings in a book entitled: Adversity Quotient: Turning Obstacles into Opportunities, which became an international bestseller.
It all started during his undergraduate days at the University of California, when he sought to know from his professor what makes people win in business, sport, school and even life. The professor could not answer this question. And so Stoltz took it upon himself to find out why. It was his research that eventually culminated in the concept of Adversity Quotient.
Stoltz discovered in the course of his research that people respond differently to adversity. He found out that how people respond to adversity determines how successful they become in life. Perhaps, the most interesting part of his discovery is the fact that AQ is not fixed and as such can be improved upon. Stoltz and his team have come up with a series of scientifically backed, internationally tested, and verified methodologies that consistently drive improvements in AQ.
Currently, PEAK, an organisation that he set up to research into AQ, has helped schools and companies to increase their performance. For instance, Harvard Business School has integrated Stoltz’s AQ theory and methods into its executive education courses. Apart from education and business, the AQ concept also finds application in the field of health. A study in the United Kingdom further established that there is a correlation between AQ and optimism, happiness, meaningful engagement at work, and general quality of life. AQ is quite different from Intelligence Quotient (IQ), which measures one’s level of intelligence; or Emotional Intelligence (EQ) that relates to a person’s ability to make mature decisions.
It is important to build up your strength to be able to confront adversity, when it comes. One of the ways of defeating adversity is by refusing to give up in the face of daunting challenges. The words of Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, may serve as an inspiration as you do so: “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.”
By Frederick Mordi
It was a pleasant surprise for Nigerians on August 30, when news filtered in that Mark Zuckerberg, Founder of Facebook and one of the richest men in the world, was in the country. Understandably, this generated a lot of excitement in Nigeria that reportedly has the largest community of Facebook users in Africa. According to reports, there are 16 million Nigerians on Facebook. This figure is more than the population of Sweden and Denmark put together.
Although the organisers kept the high profile Zuckerberg’s visit secret, social media users in the country were not quiet when it became public knowledge. The news went viral at once on various social media platforms.
The 32-year old American billionaire was in Nigeria to attend a workshop on ‘Facebook for Developers,’ for local engineers, corporate executives and partners. The objective of the event was to explore ways of empowering Nigerian techies.
Zuckerberg had earlier visited the Co-Creation Hub in Yaba, Lagos, which is often regarded as Nigeria’s ‘Silicon Valley,’ where he talked to youngsters at a summer coding camp. “The energy here is amazing,” he was quoted as saying.
He also met with Nollywood celebrities and local software developers, and later jogged with some tech entrepreneurs in Lagos, where he savored the splendour of the nation’s commercial capital.
Apparently impressed with the prodigious talents that abound in the country, Zuckerberg has promised to use more Nigerian languages such as Igbo and Yoruba, in offering services on Facebook, which currently accommodates only Hausa language. He left for Kenya, an East African country, which has one of the best mobile money transfer services on the continent, the following day.
No doubt, Zuckerberg’s brief visit to Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, and Kenya, would have gone a long way in correcting misconceptions about Africa. The handful of Nigerians who managed to have audience with the billionaire, would have discovered, as others have, that Zuckerberg is quite simple and down-to-earth.
He proves the truth in the saying attributed to John Ruskin: “I believe that the first test of a truly great man is his humility.”
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