The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head – King Solomon
After corruption and selfish and clueless leadership, what would you rate as the next biggest problem?
Many answers would come to your mind. No doubt, many answers would come to your mind. I daresay most of what would come to mind will be a reflection of the socioeconomic challenges currently facing the nation. But think again about my proposition. The second biggest problem in Nigeria is that loads of our youth are lazy and casual about their lives.
There is pervasive laziness and casualness amongst youths across the country. Like the huge deposits of untapped mineral resources under the earth, so lies large, wholesale, but untapped creative and economic power within our youth…but for laziness and casualness.
This twin evil of laziness and casualness has robbed us in more ways than we can imagine. If you reason that 60% of the population is below age 35, then imagine what the strength, resolve and tenacity of our youth would have done for this country!
Politically we’ll have more qualified youths occupying public offices and much more participating in the political process and ensuring that leaders are held accountable.
Economically, we’ll have more thriving businesses formed by the youth, more business partnerships, much more skilled and multi-skilled youth, fewer vacancies and higher employment rate, more and richer expressions through music, poetry, book publishing, movies, drawing, oratory, beauty, art etc.
Socioeconomically, crime and restiveness reduced (after all didn’t they say the idle mind is the devil’s workshop?), more neighborliness, better care for the environment, the less privileged, the disabled etc.
Casualness and laziness though initially encouraged by factors external to youths, have now been internalized, embraced and magnified by them. My submission: here is where we have an urgent need for change.
This article to the youths, and their parents, is something to mull over as the world observes the United Nations World’s Skills Day (July 15th) and the United Nations World’s Youth day (August 12th), with the theme, “Youth Civic Engagement”. This article is auspicious also within the clamour for change within Nigeria.
What does this Laziness and Casualness look like?
As an aside I was somewhat surprised that Wikipedia even has a page for laziness? Who needs a dictionary to explain laziness you would say? It’s defined as: disinclined to activity or exertion [unwillingness to work]; not energetic or vigorous; encouraging inactivity or indolence (merriam-webster.com).
Synonyms are: lethargy, negligence, inertia, sluggishness, slackness, dormancy, tardiness, heaviness, idleness, dullness, sleepiness, slothfulness, inactivity, laxness, slowness, neglectfulness, do-nothingness, lackadaisicalness.
What about casualness? It’s defines as: without definite or serious intention; careless or offhand; seeming or tending to be indifferent to what is happening; apathetic; unconcerned; without emotional intimacy or commitment, etc. and the synonyms are: nonchalant; unconcerned; plan-less; directionless; lackadaisical; unintentional; uninterested; indifferent; careless; purposeless; not thorough; not detailed; any which way; doing little; not deliberate; carefree; nonchalant; unconcerned…shall I list more?
A lot of young people in this parts, would win awards for laziness – without any effort. Many of them have deleted ‘nothing’ on their To-do list. People want to get ahead without doing anything. I know how we arrived here. I know. It is a mindset young people have inherited from our rent-seeking leaders.
The Federal Govt sits there hoping to collect rents from crude oil sales. Implication? No need for innovation and hard work towards creating new sectors/industries. Same with State govts. They wait for allocation from the Federal government. Every govt is now a form of omooni le.
These days quality effort doesn’t seem to matter. All you need to be successful is to join politics, penetrate or secure a few government contracts. Mental and physical lethargy has now set. We are now a generation of minimum or nil effort. Youths are casual about skill development, their job search, their entrepreneurial pursuits, creativity, innovation and generally their own lives.
Laziness and Casualness shows in Knowledge and Skill development
- People are okay just having a certificate as against having clear know-how or skill.
- We are okay with having what we think are the essential skills in the present and ignore having a breadth of skill that lends the owner to situational adaptability. For instance, “I studied Accounting and so all I need to know and be is to earn my ICAN or ACCA. I don’t need to learn about selling presentation skills or social media skills”.
- It is now okay to be a graduate that cannot communicate adequately either orally or in writing.
- The pursuit of depth and breadth is almost gone. Depth is when you know a lot about something and breadth is when you know a little about a lot. Knowing enough to make a pass mark seems just fine. No need to knuckle down to the grunt work required to know and grow.
- Few would choose to gain more knowledge or acquire a skill as against being idle.
Youths bring Laziness and Casualness to the Workplace
- Waking up early and arriving early are some of the biggest challenges many youngsters have till today. The desire to burn the midnight candle is waning.
- Some are led more by the clock than by the demands of the job ahead of them. I am not advocating for keeping people in the office for long hours. However, in business and the workplace, long hours sometimes arise. Some would prefer to do a shoddy job just because it is time or close to the time for them to close from work.
- Excellent and inspiring output takes time, effort, creativity and persistence. We seem to be seeing less of this now. None of the Seven Wonders of the World happened by sipping tea, sleeping longer, doing little and certainly not working overnight.
- “Ability to work under little or no supervision” and “ability to work under pressure” have their resting place on most people’s CV but not demonstrated in the quality of their work.
Laziness and Casualness shows in our Job Search and Career Pursuit
- A senior colleague of mine once told me that youths aren’t looking for jobs, rather, it is their parents and guardians that now job search for them.
- Some people would not attend career seminars or job fairs but would prefer to go for concerts and weddings. Few will mine the internet for useful information about companies, industries, and thought leaders. But most would rather spend time on Facebook, Whatsapp and BBM.
- Very few job seekers have bought any job search book like Getting a Job is a Job: A No-Nonsense Practical Guide to getting your desired Job by Aruosa Osemwegie and squeezed value out of it. For it is one thing to buy, then another thing to read and definitely another and the most important to put to use or practice the ideas espoused in it.
- Many have not taken the trouble to learn how to write a great CV. Many have not taken the trouble to practice endlessly for pre-employment tests or even to rigorously prepare for interviews. Some arrive late for interviews with unbelievably flimsy and irresponsible excuse such as “it was traffic”.
- Many would go better dressed and prepared to attend a weddingthan a job interview. It is sickening. I am not referring to the bride. These people would have their hair made up and clothes carefully selected. For females, high heels would be in place (or freshly purchased to match the cloth colour) but would come for an interview in flat shoes!
- Instead of investing in learning MS Office skills and how to use social media or maybe even buying a small laptop, many would rather party, buy expensive phones, or simply even do nothing.
Youths bring Laziness and Casualness into Enterprise Development
- Aliko Dangote is credited with saying “I built a conglomerate and emerged the richest black man in the world in 2008, but it didn’t happen overnight. Youth of today aspire to be like me, but they want to achieve it overnight. It’s not going to work. To build a successful business, you must start small and dream big. In the journey of entrepreneurship, tenacity of purpose is supreme”. Youngsters now wish to start big.
- Graduates desirous of building enterprises cannot seem to understand the concept of ‘apprenticeship’. For them it is a concept for the unschooled and semi-educated. They don’t understand how you can deliberately work with someone or in an organisation for some years just to gain access to their knowledge, methodologies, and networks. They can’t learn to earn. They can’t delay gratification.
- Many attempts at starting a business fails because casualness chases away thoroughness and detail and embraces ‘anyhow-liness’. Customers therefore don’t get great products nor exceptional service.
Laziness and Casualness Shows in Every Area of our Lives
- Generally the quality of preparation for anything has reduced. I remember a guy who came to see me in the office in search of a job and I got him referred to someone else. In just a few hours after he was back. So I asked him how it went. He replied that he didn’t think the guy wanted to help him because the man kept him waiting – even though the man had expressly told him to wait.In my own case I learnt how to wait (I mean really wait) for people during my SIWES (industrial attachment) days in the university. Loads of thanks to my elder sisters Stella and Amalawa, who gave me notes to the few people they knew. I could sit and wait all day (I confess to dozing, sorry sleeping off on the couch). I wanted it to be clear to the person I was waiting for that I was keen on getting the job.
But today, the people graduating from our schools are already bigzboizand gals. My friend Ngozi would say, “Never be lacking for effort”. Then I started to notice anyhowor mediocre effort. So I have had to add, “Never be lacking for great effort”.
- Young men and girls do not take particular care with personal cleanliness, starching and ironing their clothes. Looking like a success is essential to becoming like success. A clean and smart look is painstaking work. My friend Paul says there is an incredible way that people confer competence on you based on your dressing.
- Even the type of music we hear these days lacking in content, originality and creativity is also a fruit of this casual spirit.
As we join the world in observing the United Nations Worlds Skills Day (July 15th) and the United Nations Worlds Youth day (August 12th), with the theme, “Youth Civic Engagement”; we must start by realizing that many social and economic opportunities are lost every time we encourage, allow, and exhibit these twin ills called laziness and casualness.
King Solomon had quite a lot to say about laziness, “Lazy people should learn a lesson from the way ants live. They have no leader, chief, or ruler, but they store up their food during the summer, getting ready for winter. How long is the lazy man going to lie around?
When is he ever going to get up? “I’ll just take a short nap,” he says; “I’ll fold my hands and rest a while.” But while he sleeps, poverty will attack him like an armed robber”. He also said “A person who doesn’t work hard is just like a person who destroys things.”
The national change we seek would not be transformational and transgenerational if the youth do not collectively and individually begin a journey back to doing hard work, being industrious, being persistence, being thorough and detailed, and being known for excellence.
“Excellence can be attained if you care more than others think is wise, risk more than others think is safe, dream more than others think is practical, and expect more than others think is possible.” – Author Anonymous.