• Sunday, June 16, 2024
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Discipline as the starting point


Actions are the physical manifestation of our thoughts. The thought process involved denotes our mindset. This mindset can be a reliable gauge of our core values and how we see life.

Perhaps the most noticeable difference between a Third World country and a First World country is their level of commitment to discipline; governments keeping faith with their professed policies and doing all to adhere to agreements; making punctuality a watchword and sundry other visible evidence of discipline as an established culture.

A discerning first time visitor to Nigeria may, between the airport and his lodgings, be able to tell if Nigerians are people he can do business with. This is particularly pertinent to Lagos. Lawless, inconsiderate and outrightly self-centred driving, are all tell-tale signs of a people’s values. Selective enforcement of the law, where both policemen and LASTMA officials turn a blind eye when commercial buses turn where they shouldn’t but instantly jump out of nowhere to apprehend private vehicles that do same, signifies a propensity by all to view the law as relative rather than absolute.

This is a sure recipe for disenchantment amongst the people and the resultant chaos. It exemplifies a total lack of discipline by both the law breaker and the supposed law enforcer. No one wants to feel hard done by and certainly, no one likes to fall victim to such blatant injustice. Once what is good for the goose is no longer considered to be good for the gander, an undercurrent of disgruntlement will well up and from that point onwards, things can only go downhill. This foreign visitor may therefore not be too surprised when he encounters epileptic power supply and might be that surprised when asked at check points to “shake body”. If we genuinely have the ambition to attract the right type of investors to our nation, discipline is sacrosanct because without it, most of them wouldn’t touch us with a long barge pole.

Selective enforcement of the law, unpredictable outcomes to actions and indiscretions and a collective mindset which asks, “Can I get away with it?” Rather than, “Is it right?” Simply won’t make them or their investment feel safe. Lack of discipline corrupts everything and the sooner we come to the realization that discipline can actually be a friend that enables us to ultimately get what we want rather than a stumbling block to our progress, the better.

Discipline needs to be inculcated from the home and further reaffirmed at school. A child who lacks discipline while at Secondary school where there’s still a modicum of monitoring is bound to go haywire at university where he’s essentially free to do whatever he likes; not to talk of when he’s out of the school system entirely. So, once you miss it in the formative years of an individual’s life, it makes it that much harder to get it right. Even if not impossible.

A visitor to Lagos who observes that in this society, it is when a motorist indicates that he wishes to change lane that vehicles will speed up to ensure you can’t, will quickly understand this is a society where you take what you want with cunning or by force. Politely requesting or sitting patiently with the belief that you will get what is due to you is often considered foolishness. When truth is, doing things the right way will eventually help both you and society in general because it will help to initiate order and bring sanity. You won’t have to “fight” for everything because what is yours will come to you. I was telling my children just the other day that every action or inaction has consequences. If you discipline yourself to prepare for your exams, you’ll pass. If you don’t and feel you can wing it, you’re likely to fail. Discipline is intentional. Decisions you take now will determine the direction your future will take. Yes, it is possible to correct things later but at what cost? So much time and resources may have been lost already. So, why not make the right decisions from the beginning. Why not discipline yourself to do the right thing at the right time.

Read also: Wealth building requires long term mindset, discipline – Adegoke

More than ever, our nation is desperately in need of transformational leadership; leaders who possess the resolve to say “No” to the normalization of wrong values; leaders who are no longer willing to stand by the sidelines while the nation burns and the future of our offspring disintegrates before our very eyes; leaders whose default mode is not to make excuses for non-performance. As my friend and brother, Uzo Enelamah would say, we need “leaders ready and able to inspire responsible citizenship”. Last but not least, we need leaders who don’t wait to be given a position or “leadership” title of some kind before doing all of the above.

So, if you’re one of those who turns into a street in the wrong lane because you don’t want to allow oncoming traffic to temporarily halt your movement; or you decide to form another lane just because of slow moving traffic, you’re actually part of the nation’s problem. You therefore lack the moral right to complain about the sorry state of our society because your selfish action inadvertently leads a multitude of Nigerians to “perdition” as they do the same. As the saying goes, “what goes around comes around.”

One significant thing I’ve learned is that social rejuvenation doesn’t require a whole population of geniuses; only a steely resolve by individuals like you and I, to always do the right thing, beginning from our own little corner.

Changing the nation…one mind at a time.