I usually don’t care about status; my major interest is in satisfying my inner crave, and that crave is my passion to inspire for good. Most people who are genuinely celebrated today, did not set out to be celebrated. They simply went out to do what they love most, or meet a need they consider pertinent, and from doing what they do, the world appreciate and celebrate them. That is why I believe that fame isn’t as a result of your ability to tweak, weave or twist. Those with real and genuine talents, and the desire to truly meet the needs of humanity hardly tweak or twist. They don’t need spin doctors or PR gurus to help them gain some fast-forwarded publicities; they just enjoy what they do, even if it doesn’t bring publicity or financial rewards. When Leymah Roberta Gbowee formed the women’s peace movement, “Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace,” she didn’t do it to gain any recognition or for pecuniary reasons; she saw a war, and knew that someone had to do something to bring it to an end. Rather than wait for someone to do something, she became the change, and that difference she made brought the Liberian civil war to an end. Without ever brooding the intention, in 2011, together with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Tawakkul Karman, she was awarded Nobel Peace Prize. Up till now, not many people know her, but take it or leave it, she has built an evidence-based status!
When I see people competing for ‘relevance,’ I laugh because they have missed the whole essence of making a difference. When you make a difference, it isn’t you that makes the announcement; it is those you touched or impacted that tell the world what you’ve done. If you have to be the one reminding people how important you are, or what you’ve done, you must now begin to question your achievements. Achievements don’t scream for attention; they don’t order people to respect them or say to people, “don’t you remember how I affected your life and made you a champion?” Heroes are silent – they are quieter than utopia who live in imaginary worlds.
How do you build an evidence-based status?
Build Viable Substances: great but unrecorded speeches with no intention to inform the next stage of life add nothing to legacy. Great speakers only live in the moment if no actions are taken to document what they say, so that the upcoming future can be beneficiaries of their knowledge. Many people die on the assumption that providence will remember them when they penned nothing down that will be read as history. There is no substance that isn’t tangible. If what you do only gets stored in your brain or ends in the air through public address systems, you only belong to now; the future has no place for you. You are only an inspiration when you leave a viable substance. A viable substance can be repeatedly read, repeatedly played, repeatedly heard and repeatedly watched by the now and future people. The television is a viable substance; we use it over and over again – we don’t go into the graves of those who designed it to watch our favorite programs in their heads. A book is a viable substance. After the death of the author, we continue to read till we’re knackered. Legacy isn’t a figment of man’s imagination; it is a valuable substance.
Maintain Credibility: lack of credibility damages viable substances. Some people build substances and legacies, but somehow somewhere along the line do certain things that damage their lifetime hard work. Some people claim Bill Cosby is maliciously being targeted by his foes but with too many accusations from so many women from different backgrounds, one is tempted to believe that something may have happened even if all may not be completely true. With too many accusations, credibility gets damaged.
Paul Gascoigne had a viable substance, but alcohol and drug addiction damaged his credibility. Mike Tyson was a hero, but the ghetto couldn’t get out of him. He wasn’t sensible enough to know that he shouldn’t fall into the traps of his detractors; he unwisely stepped in, and his career was abruptly destroyed.
To build an evidence-based status, you must continuously watch your credibility because it is so easy to drop off the top; more difficult to climb but very easy to fall flat on a concrete floor.
Promiscuity makes you lose credibility. Hanging out with the wrong crowd, cultivating bad habits, pride and arrogance, dangerous lifestyles, and many other factors rubbish a man’s credibility. Another subtle factor is making the wrong judgment or decision. The Iraqi war was a bad judgment because it was based on farce and unfounded evidences. George Bush and Tony Blair may be great leaders, but their poor judgment on an uncalled-for war dented their reputations. Whatever substance you have created, if you don’t watch your back to evaluate carefully your attitude towards yourself and people, you will self-deridingly cloak yourself with discredited apparel.
Less Titles Please: in one of my books, “Be An Icon,” I wrote a chapter titled, “Change that Mindset.” In “Change that Mindset,” I talked about title mentality especially among the black race. I have seen in United Kingdom many white folks with Ph.D who do not go with the title, “Doctor,” but among my own people, those who don’t know how doctorate degrees are obtained buy some quack honorary certificates from some quack institutions, and make so much noise with the title. It isn’t your title that makes you relevant; it is your actual contribution to humanity and how humble you go about it that makes you a substantial value. Many who qualified for the title never use it. Until recently, I never knew that some senior surgeons are called Misters, and they resent being called doctors because in the hierarchy of the profession, Misters are higher than doctors. But in social life, many can die if they aren’t addressed using certain titles. Building an evidence-based status have never and will never come from what stands before your name; you can have nothing before and still be very relevant, and most relevant. Most of the people we revere today don’t come with superb titles before their names. People like Nelson Mandela don’t come with titles. Mahatma Gandhi never came with a title. The big names are title-less, but the little minds are so crazy about the acronyms that come before their unknown names.
Never Settle: those who settle can easily be sieved. If there are debris inside a quantity of water, and if the water is continuously stirred, you can’t separate the water from the debris until the stirring stops. Your inspiration dies when you stop stirring yourself up, and at that point, you settle. When you settle, anyone can sieve you.
Relying on history while still breathing doesn’t make you build an evidence-based status. There’s a difference between “I was” and “I am.” “I was” is in the past; “I am” is past, present and continuous.
To keep standing out, you must dash the mentality of an achiever; forget what you have achieved and go for more. Stop writing your epitaph while you’re still alive.
Leave Them Alone: who are them? “Them” are your children or those you fostered – your mentees, so to say. It isn’t you that should go around screaming the names of valuable people you mentored and posting their names all over the social media; that is childish! Let those you helped do the screaming, and if they don’t, still leave them alone; let them be themselves. If you truly helped them, when they grow up, they’ll remember.
I have helped a number of people, and I have been treated by many of them like I did nothing, but that doesn’t bother me. I am happy to see them improve, and truly, I have noticed that many of them are improving. Unknown to them, I read their updates and seriously enjoy them. Sometimes, I say to my wife, “read what so and so person has written. I like it, and I think he has really improved.” That is because I genuinely want their progress without standing in their way. Don’t stand in the way of anyone you’ve helped including those you didn’t. Stop embarrassing yourself.
Let me end by saying that it isn’t how much PR you embark on that makes your status enhance; it is your humble determination to make a difference in humanity and make things work. When PR becomes louder than substance, your fickleness is exposed. If you’re on the right lane, making efforts towards the right direction, you need not fear competition, envy those who drive or hate those who do exactly what you do. Many times, some people have tried stealing my voice, and thinking that if I’m not heard by a handful of gathering, I won’t be recognized. Shame to them because I wasn’t looking for cheap recognition. I know where to hit the target and when it matters. Where I hit, they cannot enter, because if they do, their foolishness, wishy-washy preparations and mediocrity will be exposed. You don’t build values by pinching other people; in short, you show how weak you are. I hope I have made some sense!