Don't Give Too Much For a Whistle

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Several months ago, I bought and read the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin and one of the numerous parts that I thoroughly enjoyed was his story of how he paid too much for a whistle when he was seven years old.

Here's the story:

When I was a child of seven years old, my friends, on a holiday, filled my pocket with coppers. I went directly to a shop where they sold toys for children; and being charmed with the sound of a whistle, that I met by the way in the hands of another boy, I voluntarily offered and gave all my money for one. I then came home, and went whistling all over the house, much pleased with my whistle, but disturbing all the family. My brothers, and sisters, and cousins, understanding the bargain I had made, told me I had given four times as much for it as it was worth; put me in mind what good things I might have bought with the rest of the money; and laughed at me so much for my folly, that I cried with vexation; and the reflection gave me more chagrin than the whistle gave me pleasure.
This, however, was afterwards of use to me, the impression continuing on my mind; so that often, when I was tempted to buy some unnecessary thing, I said to myself, Don’t give too much for the whistle; and I saved my money.

As I grew up, came into the world, and observed the actions of men, I thought I met with many, very many, who gave too much for the whistle.

The trouble with being a youth is that we have too many options. Lots of opportunities. There's hardly anything we don't qualify for or can't qualify for. And, naturally, a lot of things appeal to us. Hence, it's very common that we end up paying too much for a whistle.

Regularly, I examine my life to be sure that whatever I'm paying for -- in time, efforts or money -- is worth it. It's the reason I have put an end to all my ambitions to further my formal education. I'm not going to need more than my B.Eng to get to where I'm going in life. It's also the reason I have never applied for any job with a government institution, including NNPC. It wasn't easy. I have relatives who could and actually offered to get me a good job in a government run organization. I turned down their offers and avoided applying to such jobs, even when I was fresh out of school and wasn't sure how long I would wait in the job market, and when I lost my first job, and when I wanted to change my job. Reason. I have seen first hand how our government can ruin the lives of those who depend on it. Right from the strikes at university and poor university funding to the ill-run NYSC and to the decay I see in a lot of the government run institutions. I even didn't apply for the federal scholarship that was open to all final years students, and for no reason other than my aversion for anything government run. I was sure I would be sacrificing too much of my potential and then end up a mediocre if I worked for the government. It would be paying too much for a whistle.

Whenever I examine my life and all my activities, the question I ask myself most is, "Why am I doing this?" If I can't provide an answer that is not dependent on popular trend (everyone else is doing it) and that is not beyond monetary gain, I begin to plan the death of that activity. Like my previous job; for many months the only genuine reason I could give for doing it was that I get a paycheck at month end. But I knew the solution was not getting another job. No job is perfect. The job description might be perfect, but your boss or the work environment or your colleagues would undo that perfection. In my last job, it was the work environment. Every other thing was perfect. It was my third job and I chose my job role. I loved the job so much that I would come on some Saturdays and enjoyed my workdays than weekends. I was always closing late. I had a perfect boss. He is now my mentor, life and business. I had the best colleagues in the world, and a good relationship with almost everyone. Then when I began interviewing for other jobs I noticed their own imperfections, most had two imperfections: usually the work environment and the job role. In the end, I decided to work for myself. To create my own work environment, continue with the work I love doing, associate only with the people I admire and groom myself into a perfect boss. It's going to be a tough task but it's the only way I can avoid paying too much for a paycheck.

Finally, frequently examining my life is the reason I don't follow popular advice (tradition). My goal is not to live a perfect life, one with no faults. No. My goal is to understand the life God has given me, with it's good and cracks, and then make the most of it. Not absorbed in fixing the cracks. God must have put the cracks there for a reason. I don't spend my time trying to fix everything people complain of about me. I will be paying too much for acceptance. I focus on being the best I can be. And I will always remember that, no matter what I become, I've got feet of clay with it's cracks. But I will never pay to much for a whistle no matter the buzz around it.


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