Why You Should Never Remove The Hard In Hard Work

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Next week is going to be a special week for me. It's the week I'll be going for the NLI Future Leaders Seminar. At the start of this month, I was sent No Longer at Ease by Chinua Achebe and a huge anthology of mostly political and philosophical writings. After several days (and nights) reading, yesterday I was done reading the books. 

It marked the second time I read No Longer at Ease. My first was over 10 years ago. I grew up reading my mum's collection of books -- Things Fall Apart, No Longer at Ease, Zambia Shall be Free, Mine Boy, One Man One Matchet, The Second Round, A Man of the People, Carcase for Hounds, The Drummer Boy, Treasure Island, Little Women, Little Men, The Black Arrow, Children of the New Forest, Gulliver's Travels, A Midsummer's Night Dream, As You Like It, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Henry V, The Jero Plays, Plato's Dialogues, On Man in The Universe and Merchant of Venice.

But the anthology was filled with chapters from books I haven't read -- by Friedrich Engels, Obafemi Awolowo, George Orwell, Ibn Khaldun, James O'Toole, Karl Max, Karl Raimund Popper, Lee Kuan Yew, Leo Tolstoy, Martin Luther King Jr, Milton Friedman, Niccolo Machiavelli, Peter Drucker, Thomas Hubbes, Tony Elumelu and Ursula Kroeber Le Guin. All interesting read. But the one that inspired this post is the one by Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of modern Singapore. 

He did the impossible in Singapore. Took it from a shaky existence to a highly developed country with the highest percentage of millionaires and almost no acutely poor citizen. And in explaining how he did it, he said nothing can take the place of people who work extremely hard and Singaporeans believe in hard work. All he did was to ensure that the right political and economic structure was in place, and that no one got nothing he didn't work for.

image: conejochurch.com
Here's a country that has achieved the world's goal of eradicating poverty, and did it not by setting up charity homes and giving people money they didn't work for. They did it by creating a culture that rewards hard work. A culture that had no place for corruption and laziness. They worked hard as factory workers after independence, then with a compulsory education they worked hard as knowledge workers, and now they are working hard as entrepreneurs/intrapreneurs. Books like Retire Rich at 40 didn't sell in Singapore. They never remove the hard from hard work.

And you shouldn't. Nigeria is in a bad mess but you don't have to sink to the bottom of that mess. You can be a nation within the nation, a nation of one. Make the changes you want to see in Nigeria in yourself. Be a great nation of one. The world is messier than Nigeria, yet there are nations that look like paradise already. You can become the paradise in the messy Nigeria. Follow the example of Singapore, work hard, then smart and harder.


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