When I pray to the Almighty, I do not ask Him to give me anything just for myself. I ask Him to put me in a position where I can give of myself to create positive change for the people I come in contact with. I believe that success is putting a smile on the faces of as many as I can.
If I enter an office, hotel or restaurant, the people I endeavor to give most of my attention to usually are not the General Managers or Managing Directors or Ministers. I try to find time to spend with the security men, the junior staff, waiters, janitors, drivers, clerks, etc. They are the ones I believe need my smile and attention more. I try to find out how life is treating them and how they are managing. Boy, you cannot imagine what it does to them when you show them that you care.
I believe that there are two kinds of human beings; the givers and the takers. I also believe that the difference between successful nations or institutions and the never-do-wells, is in the percentage of givers and takers each of them harbors.
Giving is what builds nations and institutions and families. It is the giving by many of their intellect, time, love, hard work and sometimes, their lives that have created those countries that we admire and whose visas we are desperate to have stamped on our passports. It is giving that has built the institutions that have stood the test of time – Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, Greenpeace, etc.
I recently observed the spiraling New York subway system and marveled at the giving that went into building that incredible network of rail lines under the dizzying skyscrapers of Manhattan and the under-water tunnels that connect New York and New Jersey.
Oh! the marvelous road network in Germany, the Autobahn, is also the product of giving.
Across the world, you see nations with structures and systems that work so very efficiently. Why? It is because these nations have people who are happy to give of themselves.
There is nothing wrong in making money if it is done without milking the system and if the objective is to try to bring happiness to the greatest number. In 2007, the world was stunned when the Billionaire investor, Warren Buffet gave away almost $3.2 Billion of his money for charity work around the world. The sage of Omaha says that he plans to give away practically all of his massive wealth for the benefit of mankind.
In 1997, CNN founder, Ted Turner announced a one billion dollars donation to UN agencies to do charity work around the world.
The Carnegie Foundation, the Ford Foundation and other such foundations continue to do great work across the world. The great men who set up these foundations could have willed their enormous wealth to their children and grandchildren so that they would never need to work in their lifetimes. No, they decided to give so that the world can be a better place.
Why is poverty and hopelessness bestriding Nigeria, our fatherland? It is because we have become a nation of takers. We give nothing and take everything. Give a Nigerian the nation’s pension fund to manage and he takes all the money and leaves the pensioners hungry on the streets. Give a Nigerian Army General money to buy arms to fight the terrorists traumatizing our people, the General will bury the money in a soak away pit and send innocent soldiers without weapons to go and die in Sambisa Forest. Across the country, everyone is in a mad scramble to take. Very few are willing to give. Pastors are on the take, civil servants are on the take, INEC officials are on the take, custom men are on the take, immigration officers are on the take, judges are on the take and policemen are on the take. And we want to build a nation? How?
I know people who every day warn me that I work too hard. In my country, work is seen as drudgery instead of a source of pleasure and satisfaction. So, a lot of Nigerians go to work but do no work. They spend much of their time scheming about how to sap and sap their employers.
Considering that we come with nothing and go with nothing, is it not curious that we spend so much time acquiring and taking and taking things much of which we do not need and will not go away with?
I am convinced that if you make your life one of giving, the good Lord will make sure that you do not lack. It is the same way that I am convinced that if you take that which does not belong to you, you will not escape from paying for it one way or another.
Think about it, Nelson Mandela did not become great by being a taker. Martin Luther King did not become great by being a taker. Mother Theresa certainly did not become great by being a taker.
I was very pleased to learn that in the later days of his life, the immutable Prince Bola Ajibola whom I had great admiration for, sold practically everything he had and used the money to set up a university from which he was not expecting any profit. When asked why, he said that your wealth is of no use if it does not meaningfully impact on others. Gbam!
Please think about it: Are you a giver or a taker?