The Burden of Freedom


I don’t remember where exactly I saw that title, but it must have been a book I read during an earlier part of my ongoing lifelong learning experience. And that title comes across as the exact wrap on my thoughts this morning…

From the moment a child is born to the last moments of any individual, one burden we carry is that of the need for freedom – freedom from fear, freedom to do what we consider important, freedom of choice, freedom to disagree, freedom to express freedom, etc. And as we move from childhood to those thoughtful years of adulthood – when career, family and responsibility are more frequently used words than toys, teachers and curfews – the burden gets heavier. At this point, we begin to consider anything that holds our freedom back as an enemy. It could be a job we don’t enjoy, a lifestyle that gets us into trouble or even relationships or environments that tend to limit what we consider a grand vision for our lives.

I have spent the last few days responding to various questions that point in the direction of that serious yearn for freedom, and think its high time I addressed that issue on this blog so I can always refer people to this page when they ask very similar questions. One of the questions was more like a threat, it ended with: “… you need to help me, otherwise a good boy with a lot of potentials for [his nation] will be forced to join hands with the bad boys”. In an apparent reference to his temptation to pursue the path of cybercrime, an innocent young man had written to ask me if there was a solution to his lack of freedom – financial and career alike. What he failed to acknowledge was the fact that my inbox had so many similar eMails, and that life itself is about meeting challenges.

In my few days on earth, I have come to see two major kinds of people on-the-job: those who are just there because the employer is helping solve their unemployment problem, and those who are actually there because the employer considers them a solution to his/her problems. Note that the employer could be anyone, including yourself (in the case of an entrepreneur) but these two categories still stand out clearly. The difference, however, between these two classes is the fact that while the former mostly consider themselves unlucky, the latter are proactive enough to arm themselves with appropriate skills that literally make them indispensable. Coupled with nice attitude and an appetite for learning, these people always end up as the cream of managers or entrepreneurs! Bottom-line, you need to be valuable… so valuable that the thought of not having you on board makes the employer consider a quick phone call to find out if you’re okay – not a query to ask where you were last night!

Regardless of how much value you hold on any job, it is also important to be sure that you do what you’re wired to do. I have always maintained that two of the most important considerations for a career choice is the evidence of appropriate skills and unmistakable passion — and I have learnt that the role of economic value can also not be compromised. It may be tough to achieve this through a job search, but in a nation where only 10% of graduates will get a job, I honestly think we have a big opportunity through entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship. It solves the major problem of unemployment, helps the entrepreneurs clients gain value/meet their needs, and gives young people the opportunity to use their skills and passion to earn economic benefit. For Nigeria and Africa, I am strongly convinced that social entrepreneurship is the answer to the number of annual jobs we need to create in order to catch up with percentage growth projections, meeting the numerous social needs that exist across the continent, and get Africa on the path of sustainable development.

It would be unfair to say this much about social entrepreneurship as an avenue through which we can earn through freedom without referring to an amazing platform that has not only changed the way we live, but provides unique opportunities that we cannot deny. Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) hold a lot of promise for developing nations, and have proved to be trusted bridges with which individuals can connect their dreams with their desired destination. The Internet, for example, opens unique doors through which the entrepreneur can gain knowledge of the world of business and get exposure to the heights of his/her chosen enterprise path. For example, I have had to use online templates and sample documents in the design of proposals and consulting documents, and think that this is beyond mere campaign by an ICT expert.

Over the last few days, I redefined the man, ‘Gbenga Sesan, coming up with a new profile and resume (both available on my website, that I aptly nick-named ’Gbenga Sesan 2.0. This was made possible because of multiple ICT opportunities – from the simple to the complex. The burden of freedom is a necessary one, but when it ends on the path of true freedom and satisfaction, then we can sit back and smile. That smile can only come when we apply ourselves to the task of maximizing existing opportunities. Will you? At least, the butterfly does, moving from its trapped dwelling place to the heights of freedom.

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