Saturday, February 21, 2009

Create Your Own Job If Nobody Gives You One

This is the time of the year when young people who graduated from school in 2008 would be looking for jobs. While a few would have had prospective employers hunting them down to offer them jobs, the majority would be out on the job market. Unfortunately, most of them will get "Nogat wok" in response to their enquiries.
The following article is taken from chapter 11 of my book "Success After Graduation". I hope that readers who find the article appliable to them will receive comfort, go out and create their own jobs instead of writing letters and knocking on doors.


School Prepares People To Become Employees
Before we look at how you can create your own job, let me say this: School prepares students to work for others. Students are taught how things are done, but not how they should do things for themselves.
For instance, accounting students learn about how to look after other peoples’ books (literally to count other peoples’ money). They do not learn how to set up their own accounting businesses. Doctors are taught how to diagnose and treat sick people. Medical school does not teach students how to establish and run their own medical centres or hospitals. Law school teaches students the law and how to argue matters in the court room, but not how to establish and manage their own law firms.
If you think of all other subjects taught in school, the story is the same. People learn how to work in various professions, but not how to make a living for themselves through self-employment, or to employ other people, using the knowledge they gain in school. So most students look forward to jobs while at school, and start searching for them upon graduation. School conditions them to expect ready-made jobs.
One day I asked my children what they thought about me purchasing a truck and ferrying passengers for a living. They all replied that it was not a good idea. One of the children even said she would be ashamed to see me driving a Passenger Motor Vehicle. When I asked why they were saying this, they replied that it would be unbecoming of me – a university graduate and an office worker who had a high-profile job – to be seen driving people around and collecting fares. I tried hard to convince them that there was probably more money to be made from operating a PMV than working for a fortnightly job, but they were adamant in their stand.
It was then that I realized they were just stating what they hoped to become and do themselves. They were in school to one day get a job in an office. They did not want to see their father driving up and down the road daily, even though it was better for the family financially.
That incident has taught me to talk to my children about their future, sharing with them the very things contained in this book. My aim is to steer them more towards self-employment, seeing that there are not many jobs around. If they get paid jobs, then good. If not, they can still succeed through self-employment.

You Are Not A Failure
Parents and society at large have been conditioned into expecting you to end up working in an office for a fortnightly salary after leaving school. Therefore when you do not get a job, everybody starts talking about you and labeling you as a failure or a drop out. People will gossip about you, reject you, criticize you and even hate you.
Such attitudes have filled many young people who have graduated without jobs with worry and self-pity. It has made them feel sorry for themselves, and led them to think of themselves as failures. Many have run away from home because they cannot stand the pressure and rejection.
You need to realize that failure and drop out are only labels people place on you. The truth is that you are not a failure. You are a person with a lot of potential. You have acquired a lot of information while being in school which you can use to make a living. You are able to read and write, which makes you better off than your parents and ancestors. You are better placed to become a success in life.
But a change in mentality is required on your part. You need to see yourself as someone with potential and a future. You must brush aside people’s opinions and judgments and move forward in life with a positive mental attitude.

Be Positive About Life
Many people think that failing in school is the end of the road for them. In countries such as Japan, the suicide rate is very high among those people who drop out of the education system. They just see no meaning in life without an educational qualification and a salaried job. The same happens to those who succeed through the system but then end up without jobs. They think that not getting a job is the end of life. So they end up feeling hopeless and taking their own lives.
You need to be positive about life. Not getting a job is not the end of life. There is hope for you, only if you think positively. At least you have received an education, which places you ahead of others who have not had the privilege. You can read and write, unlike your parents or ancestors. You can communicate better than many other people. And if you are young, you have many years ahead of you.

Think Positively
You do not really know what the future holds for you. The future has opportunities in store for you, but if you face it with a negative mindset based on your past or the opinion of people around you, you will miss those opportunities. In fact, your negative thoughts will become established, and you will become a failure.
Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Corporation, is said to have made the following statement: “If you think you can, you can; if you think you can’t, you can’t; either way you are right.” What Mr. Ford meant is that whether you succeed or fail is all in your mind. If you think you are a failure, you will fail. If you think you can succeed, you will succeed.
Napoleon Hill has said something similar: “If you think you are beaten, you are; if you think you dare not, you won’t; if you like to win but think you can’t, it is almost certain you won’t; if you think you’ll lose, you’re lost; if you think you are outclassed, you are. Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or the faster man, but soon or later the man who wins is the man who thinks he can.”
The Bible puts it this way: “As a man thinks, so he becomes.” What you think is real, will become your reality. James Allen, author of As A Man Thinketh, says this: “A man is literally what he thinks.” He goes on to say that the kind of people we are, what we become, and where we end up in life, depends on what we think.
You must be positive in your mind. Your mind is an asset which has the ability to help you discover ways to move forward in places where there seems to be no way. Your destiny starts as a thought in your mind. Therefore think positively. Thinking positively is like sowing good seeds, whose harvest is the kind of destiny you desire.

Be Open-minded
Most certificate, diploma and degree holders go around looking for ready-made jobs because they have a one-track mind. They were taught to expect paid jobs after graduation - jobs which other people had created. Everyone in school has the same mentality. They all hope that one day they will work for someone, in some office. Such thinking blocks out the possibility of the existence of other opportunities.
You need to be open-minded, and expect not to be given a paid job. You need to anticipate not finding a job. You need to open your mind to the possibility of working for yourself, instead of slaving for someone and making them rich with your labour, time and expertise.

Opportunity Is Seen With The Mind, Not The Eyes
Being open-minded is important because opportunity is seen with the mind, not the eyes. You can look at opportunity right in the eye but miss it, if your mind is closed.
Scientists say that 90% of our sight takes place in our minds. Our eyes are merely lenses. Real seeing takes place in our minds. This seeing with the mind is called perception. Each one of us behaves according to our perception of reality. What we think is real with our minds based on what we see with our eyes, is what is real to us. In other words, what we think is real, is our reality.
Two people can look at a particular situation, and while one sees the situation as a problem, the other sees it as an opportunity. Why? Because, although they are seeing the same situation with their eyes, they perceive different situations with their minds.
The story is told of two men who went out hunting wolves because there was a reward of $10,000 for each wolf caught alive. They searched for days without success, sleeping in the woods. One morning one of them woke up to see 50 angry wolves staring at them ferociously. He shook his friend and declared, “Look, we are rich.” His friend however saw the wolves and ran for his life.
Both men saw the same thing: wolves. One counted the wolves and his mind quickly calculated that if they could find some way of capturing each of the wolves alive without themselves being eaten, they could end up with half a million dollars. He was excited about the prospect, and took it as an opportunity. His friend, however, looked at the ferocious eyes and gnawing teeth of the wolves and saw death, so he ran away.
In the Biblical story of David and Goliath, we see two different and opposing perceptions which led to different reactions and results. When King Saul and the army of Israel saw Goliath the giant, each of them thought, “He is too big, he will kill me”. So each one of them ran away and hid every time Goliath came and challenged them. But when David saw the same Goliath the giant, he perceived something different. He saw Goliath, and thought, “He is too big I cannot miss him even with a pebble.” So he ran forward and met him with his slingshot and a pebble. And he won.
In your case, assuming that you have graduated with a diploma or degree but have been unsuccessful in securing a job, most people would see you as a failure and call you such. They may not see you as being of any use or help, an educated good-for-nothing. Those who supported you in school may lose confidence in you and give up on you.
What is important is how you see yourself. If you succumb to the opinions, labels and judgment of others, you will see yourself as a failure, and end up becoming a failure in life. But if you see yourself as someone with a lot of untapped and unrealized potential, you will see the fact of being unemployed as an opportunity to do something for yourself. What people say about you will strengthen and propel you forward, not weaken and press you down. Criticism will give you extra strength to go out and create the circumstances which will lead to personal success.

Humble Yourself
Many college and university graduates look down on seemingly menial jobs which have potential to provide good incomes which are better than some salaried jobs. They think that being college or university graduates means that they can only work in an office. To be seen doing menial jobs or being involved in the informal sector is too low and unbecoming of them.
You need to be humble enough to do those things which will enable you to make a decent living, regardless of what other people think or say. What people say will not feed and clothe you. You can maintain your status in the eyes of others as a graduate with a degree or diploma and starve, or you can humble yourself, forget about your diploma or degree, and do some dirty work, and succeed.
In many other countries, degree holders resort to menial jobs because there are not enough office jobs for every one. Farmers, for instance, are educated to masters level. But in Papua New Guinea, the majority of college and university graduates think they are too high to do dirty work.
Do not follow the majority. If you are willing to do those seemingly dirty things working for yourself, I can guarantee you that in time you will silence your critics and win their respect. You are also likely to end up earning more than your mates who are working for a salary, and you might even employ people better educated to work for you.
Here is what someone has said: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes to them dressed in overalls as work.”
Success does not come easy. If you hate what seems to be dirty work, you will not succeed. Your pride will lead to your downfall. Humility will enable you to carry out those seemingly dirty tasks which will eventually lead to promotion and success. As the Bible says, “Humble yourself and God will lift you up in His own time.”

Pressure Brings Out The Best In You
It is said that necessity is the mother of invention. What this means is that hidden talents and abilities emerge during times of personal crises, hardship and need. When you are pressed to the corner, your hidden potential and creative ability comes out and you can achieve incredible things. Problems bring out the best in you which you did not know you had.
People who have faced danger have testified that they did incredible things they had never done or thought were capable of doing. One man related how he scaled a high wall with a sudden burst of energy when being chased by a large dog. He literally ran for his life and scaled the wall without realizing what he was doing. Survival was his highest priority.
When he got to the other side and with danger behind him, he came to his senses and could not believe that he had accomplished this incredible feat. When he tried to do the same thing under normal circumstances, he could not do it because now there was no pressure on him.
It is said that if you would like something to be done quickly, assign it to someone who is busy. The busy person has so many things to do with so little time that he or she will somehow concentrate their mental energies to accomplish the task. A person who has time to do something will take it easy and usually work slowly and even do a sloppy job.
Many wars are won by those who have the most to lose. In tribal wars, there are stories of smaller tribes defeating larger ones. What happens is that the smaller tribes fight with all that is in them. They fight to defend their land and families, knowing that the bigger tribes possess superior numerical strength and fire power. The larger tribes go to war trusting in their numbers. And most of them are usually half-hearted. They have nothing to lose individually, so they lose as teams.
This is the main reason America lost the Vietnam War despite being equipped with the best war machinery. This is also why it is losing the war in Iraq. Saddam Hussein has been subdued but the war with insurgents continues. And America seems to be losing.
The Arabs did not win the War of Independence in 1948 and the Yom Kippur war in 1967 because Israel fought with all their might for survival. The Arabs fought half-heartedly because their survival did not depend on them winning.
We all have latent energy which does not come out until we are pressed to a corner. What enabled the Vietnamese to win against the Americans lies dormant in you. What was in the Israelis is in you, waiting for the right time to be activated.
When you are unemployed and people begin to talk about you, they are really helping to bring your latent potential to the fore. They are helping to create a conducive atmosphere for that potential to burst forth. As Edmund Burke has said, “Our antagonist is our helper.” In other words, those who criticize you are actually helping to you succeed.
But you need to allow the potential that lies within you to manifest itself by thinking positively and facing your situation with faith and confidence.
When you are unemployed and need to provide for yourself and your dependents, you will become creative. If you are positive about life, you will do things you would not do if you had regular income from a job.

Paid Jobs Suppress Potential
Our country now has many well educated people running it, but the level of services they provide to the public has deteriorated. Some services which were available during the colonial times have even vanished altogether.
Most of our public servants can be described as over-trained and over-qualified under-achievers. They are well educated and more than qualified for the positions they hold, yet their output is very low. Why is this so? One of the reasons is that having jobs which provide regular income makes people lazy. They do not need to apply themselves to their jobs, because there is no pressure on them to do so. Whether they work hard or not, they still get paid. Their potential and abilities therefore are suppressed and remain dormant most of their lives.

Looking For Diamonds In Faraway Places
A man by the name of Russell H. Cornwell used to give a lecture entitled Acre of Diamonds throughout America and Europe in the 1800s. In the lecture, which he gave 6,000 times to raise funds for what is now Temple University in the United States, he related the story of a man who sold his farm and went into the world in search of diamonds. He searched all over the world without success, and ended up committing suicide in hopelessness, by throwing himself over the cliffs in Barcelona. Meanwhile, the man who bought the farm discovered an acre of diamonds on the farm and went on to become the richest man of his time.
The morale of the story is this: sometimes the opportunities we look for are right in our backyards but we go to faraway places searching for them. Maybe you need to look within yourself to see what lies inside you that you can use to make a comfortable living.

How I Became Self-Employed
I read the above story only recently. Several years ago, I was like the man who went all over the world in search of diamonds. I pored over the newspapers daily in search of jobs. I wrote many letters to prospective employers in many parts of the country over a period of 8 months. I searched far and long.
One day our church pastor came to our house to encourage us. In the course of the conversation he used an illustration which opened my mind to see possibilities which were closed to me up to that time. He pointed to my desktop computer and said, “Carpenters use hammers and saws; mechanics use spanners; farmers use spades and knives; for you, the computer is a tool which you can make a living with.”
When he said this, it was as if a light came on inside my head, and ideas began to flood in. After he left, I sat at the computer and started writing a short training course for coffee exporters. Within 4 weeks of that conversation I made K12,000 from course fees. The previous year I had received K4,000 per month from the company I was working for. The K12,000 from the course was therefore equal to 3 months’ salaries at my last job.
The point is this: When I worked for somebody else, I earned K12,000 in 3 months; working for myself, I earned K12,000 in 4 weeks. When I saw this, a new world opened before me. This realization enabled me to launch out in faith as a freelance consultant. I created my own job, rather than waiting for somebody to give me a job. I can testify that that decision has changed the course of our lives as a family.
The computer that would change our lives was right inside our house, and the knowledge was inside my head. I had it in me. I saw the computer every day. I used it to write letters and job applications. But it never occurred to me that I could combine it with what was inside me to create a job for myself.

What Have You Got In Your Hands?
In the Bible, God asked Moses what he was holding in his hand. When Moses replied that it was just a shepherd’s rod, God told him, “I will use this rod to deliver the people of Israel out of bondage and slavery in Egypt.”
To Moses, the rod was just a rod. To God, it was a mighty instrument of deliverance.
Notice that God knew Moses was holding a rod, yet He asked him what it was. This is not because God could not see what Moses had in his hands. God wanted Moses to realize that what he had in his hand was a mighty instrument of miracles and liberation, not just a rod.
What have you got in your hands? What do you have in your mind? What do you have in your backyard? Is there something in your house you could use? Do you have talents you could use to earn a living? Is there something you are good at doing, or enjoy doing (a hobby), which you could do for a living?
The acre of diamonds which you may be tempted to look for in faraway places could already be right where you are, in you, or in your hands!

The Essence Of Business Is Discovering And Meeting Needs
The secret to business is finding needs or problems and addressing them. Every product sold by a company meets some need. Every service fulfils some need. People who founded businesses saw needs and developed ways to address those needs, and became financially independent and free as a result.
I want to use a simple example to help you look for those needs. In the town I live, ice cream used to be sold only in the shops. The fresh food market, where many people congregated, was some distance from the shops. Outside the market was the main bus stop, and there was no shade. When people wanted to cool themselves, they would walk into town to buy drinks.
One hot afternoon an old woman who was selling ice blocks saw a need. The next morning she bought an esky and a container of ice cream. She took the ice cream to the bus stop and set herself up at a corner. Within a few minutes a crowd gathered around her to buy her ice cream, and the container was gone. She went into town, bought another ice cream container, and it too went within a few minutes. She made more money from selling ice cream than she used to make from ice blocks.
That day she decided to switch from ice blocks to ice cream. She started selling ice cream in two eskies, and then expanded to a few more locations around town. She kept on selling ice cream until she was making more than her husband, who was employed by a semi-government organisation.
It was not long before the husband resigned from his job to help his wife sell ice cream. Within a few years they were able to buy their own house. They could not do this when the husband was working for a fortnightly salary.
Today, there are many women who sell ice cream at the bus stop. But the old woman made the most, because she was the first to see a need and fill it.
The old woman was definitely not as educated as you are. She has probably never been to school. You have an advantage over her. Your mind is more enlightened than hers. Can you see in your mind a need in your community or town which is currently not being met? Or can you think of a better way to meet a need which people are not currently fulfilling satisfactorily? If you really think about it, opportunities abound. If you can imagine it, you can do it.
As Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is greater than knowledge.” In other words, what you can imagine is more important and has greater potential than what you know from what you have seen and heard.

Papua New Guinea: A Land Full Of Opportunities For Self-Employment
Papua New Guinea is truly a land full of opportunities for self-employment. Apart from growing and trafficking drugs, stealing and engaging in prostitution, which are illegal and immoral, you can do everything else to make a decent living.
For a start, you can always live off the land. You do not really need money to live like in other countries where people do not own any land. If you have a sound mind, physical strength, time, land, willingness and a determination to succeed, you can make a comfortable living.
The laws governing business are very relaxed and favour local entrepreneurship. In fact, you do not really need to become registered with government authorities to carry out economic activities in Papua New Guinea.
With the enactment of the Informal Sector Development And Control Act of 2004, more opportunities for legitimate small business activities have opened up. The sidewalk in your town or the street outside your house can now literally become your storefront, as long as you observe sanitary rules, maintain quality standards and obey other regulations. You can produce and sell anything apart from illegal items such as contraband, drugs and phonographic materials.
I once attended a conference during which we were told that the mineral resources that have been developed since political independence in 1975 represent only 25% of the total resources the country is endowed with. The bulk (75%) remains to be developed. And there is more which has not been discovered yet.
One geologist who is well-versed with the resource endowments of the country described Papua New Guinea as “a mountain of gold sitting on a sea of oil.” If you look at the resource map of the country, you will see gold mines dotting the country from the mainland to the islands. There is gold under the sea as well! So it is true that Papua New Guinea is a mountain of gold sitting on a sea of oil.
What this means is that the natural resource base exists for every person who wants to, to become a millionaire in Papua New Guinea. Each of the 5 million citizens of the country has the potential to become rich. You do not need to be a traditional landowner to benefit from the resources the country has been blessed with. Use your imagination to tap into the vast revenues from resource developments.
Because of rampant corruption and people in high political and business circles taking short-cuts to quick riches, most people in the country have been led to believe that unless one is well-connected with people in Government or business, one cannot become financially prosperous. This is a mistaken belief. While the corrupt scheme and devise ways of enriching themselves from the public purse, there are many ways of making honest money. You just need to open your mind and eyes to see the opportunities that lay before you.
Educated people in particular do not have any excuse for being unemployed and poor. Papua New Guinea is a country with so much potential and opportunity that everyone who is willing to work hard can become rich.

You Don’t Really Need Money To Make Money
Most people believe that you need money to make money. This is not necessarily so. I know of a young man in my village that started off without any money. At one time he made 5 pitpit blinds and sold them for K20 each. With the K100, he purchased blinds from other men in the village for K16 each, transported them into town, and sold them for K22. He did this over one full year. With the savings, he bought several bags of dried tobacco leaves and transported them to Lihir Island, where he sold the leaves for very high prices.
He has been selling tobacco at Lihir for the past few years, and has made a lot of money. Recently he paid cash for a second hand bus to ferry passengers. He plans to continue selling tobacco while running the vehicle. He will now have two income sources, and he will definitely be making more than the average worker in the country.
So, do not allow the lack of money to block your mind to the opportunities that are before you. Think about what you can do without huge capital outlays. There are ways to make money without money, only if you really think about them. As somebody has said, “Money is just an idea.”

Unlimited Earning Potential In Self-Employment
One of the advantages of being self-employed is that your earning potential is unlimited. When you work for others for a salary, what you earn is limited to your fortnightly pay, and it is highly taxed. You are paid for the amount of time you expend on the job. That is to say, you are paid by the hour. And there are only so many hours in a day.
For example, say your hourly rate is K8. In an 8-hour day, you earn K64. That works out to be K640 in a fortnight and K16,640 a year. This is gross income, from which you deduct taxes and superannuation contributions. A gross salary of K16,640 would translate to income tax of K2,541 and superannuation contributions of K998. Notice in this example that tax takes up 15% of your income.
The K13,100 you have left is your net or discretionary income in a year. That is the maximum you earn in exchange for your labour. You may receive allowances, bonuses and commissions from time to time. Salary increases take place only once in a while, so you will be on a particular salary level for years before your income is raised, if at all.
The point is that what you can earn in a year is limited to the number of hours you trade with the employer. To increase your earnings, you must work more hours. But there is a limit to how many more hours you can trade too. So your upward earning potential is limited.
In contrast, when you work for yourself, the downward limit is that you might not make anything, and may even lose your initial investment. This possibility creates fear in many people and they do not launch out to create their own jobs. They find paid jobs to be less risky and more secure.
But the upward earning potential in being self-employed is infinite. There is no limit. In fact the sky is the limit. And there are many tax advantages for those in business which are not available to employees.

Being Unemployed: A Blessing In Disguise?
You might be one of those who do not get a job after graduation. What happens to you again depends on your attitude. If you take it negatively, you will end up in frustration and disappointment. But if you take it positively, you will emerge a winner. Being unemployed can become a blessing in disguise.
Let me explain this. One of the things people value in life is freedom to do anything they want, with whomever and whenever. When you work for somebody for a fortnightly salary, in many ways you become that person’s slave.
In the days of slavery, slaves were usually well-looked after by their masters. They were not free to do anything they wished or go anywhere, but they were valuable to their masters, so the masters cared for them. Some masters were cruel, but most treated their slaves well. This is because the slaves were of economic importance to their owners, not only because they worked on the masters’ fields for free, but also due to the fact that healthy slaves could be sold for large sums of money on the slave market.
What the masters did was to provide food and accommodation for the slaves. But because it cost them, they made sure that they fed the slaves just enough to keep them alive. Some slaves were even trained to manage their masters’ estates.
Later, when slavery was outlawed, the former slave masters resorted to indentured labour to keep their estates in operation. Under this arrangement, the workers signed contracts with their employers to work for fixed rates of pay for fixed time periods.
Today’s work places operate along similar principles. People are free to work for whomever they want, but the moment they sign the employment contract, they operate in a similar manner to the slaves and indentured labourers of old. Employers pay for the workers’ time and expertise, and in return the workers agree to submit their lives during official working hours to the employers’ dictates. They cannot do anything or go anywhere they like, without the employers’ permission. The employers generally ensure that they pay enough to keep the workers fed and healthy, so they will keep on working for them.
People may argue that this is an incorrect analysis, but if you really think about it, you will realize that what I am saying is true.
Most employers do not pay people more than they think people need to live. They assess the cost of living, and pay something at that level. Most workers are therefore paid at their cost of living – to keep them alive and working. The unseen tussle between employers and employees can be described as follows: Employees work hard enough not to get fired, and employers pay enough so the employees do not quit. Both sides give their minimum to each other.
That is why I am saying that if you do not get a job, you need to take it as a blessing in disguise. It means you are free to do what you want with your time, talents and expertise. Use that freedom to initiate something for yourself. People who are employed are too busy minding their employers’ businesses that they have no time to think about being in business for themselves. Being self-employed is really about minding your own business.
If you would like to know more about why you should consider becoming self-employed, I am writing another book on the subject. It is titled Be Your Own Boss. I urge you to purchase a copy for yourself, as it will inspire you to start thinking about becoming your own boss and providing employment to other people, rather than slaving for your employers and making them rich at your expense.

Do Not Give Up
Do not give up. If you try something and it fails, keep on trying. Failing is an integral part of the road to success.
John C. Maxwell has written a book entitled Failing Forward, which records the true life-stories of people who failed on the road to success. I encourage you to obtain a copy and read it for yourself.
Thomas Edison made 10,000 mistakes in the process of inventing the light bulb. Sir Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain during the Second World War, told young college students: “Never give up; never, never give up; never, never, never give up!”
Somebody else said, “Nothing can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not: unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
All these people were successful in their lives, and they spoke from personal experience. If you try doing something for yourself and it fails, learn from it and persist at it from another angle. As Winston Churchill said, “Never, never, never give up.” This is what somebody else has said: “Winners never quit, and quitters never win.” Think about that statement. Those who win are people who confront obstacles head on and do not give up, while those who lose are people who give up in the face of obstacles.
Soichiro Honda, founder of Honda Motor Corporation, has said this: “Success is 99% failure.” To Mr. Honda, success is losing 99 times and winning once.

Do You Really Need A Job?
I hope that this chapter has stirred up something in you and helped you to see things differently. You may not really need a job. Go out and create your own. Don’t think about being an employee. Think about becoming an employer instead. If nobody gives you a job, create your own. Think of what you can do with what you have, right where you are.

Being A Student Is A Once-In-A-Lifetime Experience

Below is a speech I gave to the Western Highlands Students at the University of Goroka on their Introduction Night for the 2009 Academic Year. It is taken from my book "Why Study Hard?".


There are four main stages in a person’s life. The first stage can be called the childhood years. This stage starts from birth to around 7 years. This is followed by ages 7 to 24 (16 years), which correspond with the years a child is in school. Then comes the working years. This stage lasts around 30 years. The final stage is the retirement and old age years, from 55 to 65 years (10 years).
Basically we spend 7 years of carefree life followed by 16 years in school. The following 30 years are occupied with making a living either from a job or self-employment, followed by 10 years of rest, for a total of 40 years after school.
Someone has described the first two stages as the “learning” years. These are the stages where we learn about the world in preparation for the next stage which he called the “earning” years, when people work for their living. The final stage has been described as the “yearning” years, when people sit down and wish that they were young again, or contemplate on the many opportunities which they had missed in their younger years. These are the years when grandparents tell their grandchildren stories about their own lives, stories of valour and failure, sometimes stories of their own lives disguised as legends that took place in some faraway place in some far off time.
The four stages of life can be summarized as follows:

Age Stage
0-24 Childhood/Schooling (“Learning”)
25–55 Work (“Earning”)
55–65 Retirement/Old Age (“Yearning”)

The forty years after school can be divided into four quarters of 10 years each as follows:

Age Quarter
25 – 35 First Quarter
36 – 45 Second Quarter
46 – 55 Third Quarter
56 – 65 Fourth Quarter

We all go through these stages, and that only once in our life time. We cannot live our childhood years again, nor can we relive the earning years. Likewise, we cannot rewind the clock and live the learning years. We live only once, and we can make the most of them or lose the opportunities presented to us at each stage.
We grow old with each passing day. That is why we ask people, “How old are you?” (Although I have had a few positive-minded people ask me “How young are you?”) When we ask that question, we are looking for an answer in terms of the number of years the person has lived since being born into the world. But the truth is that years are made up of months, weeks, days, hours, minutes and seconds. If you really think about it, we grow old with each tick of the clock’s second hand.
You can do everything in your power to disguise the effects of time on your life but you cannot reverse it. I see many elderly people dyeing their hair to hide the grayness or whiteness of their hair, but disguise and pretend is all they can do. In their hearts they know how old they are, and how their hair really is. Women can spend all their money to buy all kinds of cosmetics to maintain their beauty and sense of youthfulness, but a few days without such make-up betrays how old and ugly they really are.
I was born in 1965. At time of writing (2008), I am 43 years old. I can never go back to my year of birth. It has come and gone, never to return again. The year 2008 has come and will likewise go. There was never a year like it, and there will never be a year like it. I can use it well, like writing this book, or laze around and watch it come and go.

Time is a very important and unique resource. When we are young, we have time on our side. When we become old, time runs out on us. And the thing about time, which is different from other resources, is that it moves on. We cannot conserve it and use it later like we can do with natural resources like trees, gold and oil, or even money. We cannot save it for future use. We can delay doing things, but we cannot delay time from passing. It marches on. We either use it as best as we can for our own good or lose it for good.

The point I want to make is this: When you mess up the opportunities that are presented to you, you mess them up for good. Life does not give you a second chance. Time does not wait for you.
You may seem to get a second or third chance, but never under the same circumstances. For instance, you may have a second chance to become educated through distance learning, but this is not the same as being in school with the same classmates, teachers, etc.
Many students do not realize that there are thousands of young people in the country who regret that they messed up their studies when they were students. Today these people look back and wish that they could rewind their lives and be given a second chance to be in school.
Unfortunately, to be a student between the ages of 16 to 25 is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Nobody gets a second chance at being a young student again. It is therefore imperative that you do your best and gain as much knowledge as you can while you have the opportunity now.

I have met many people who have said that if they were given another chance to get a good education, they would grab the opportunity with both hands. I have also met drop-outs who look at their classmates who have succeeded academically, with envy and even jealousy. Such people are filled with regret for the rest of their lives.
Recently, I received a letter from a young lady who had to leave her university studies because she got pregnant out of wedlock. She related the struggles she was facing because her boy friend deserted her when he discovered that she was pregnant. The boy did not want to take responsibility for the child she was carrying because he was also a student who didn’t have an income to support a family. He was so afraid that he broke the relationship the day she told him she was expecting. He went on with his studies, but she was forced to withdraw from her studies.
She lost her HECAS scholarship when she withdrew, and at the time she wrote to me, she was living with her parents. She could not return to continue her education after weaning the child, because her parents refused to pay her fees. She was therefore forced to look for a job to care for her child as well as to pay her fees to return to school.
She regretted entering into a broken relationship which resulted in her being set back in life by years. Had she concentrated on her studies and not become distracted by friendships, she would have graduated and got a job. She would also have gotten married properly. But now that she was a single mother, there was not much hope of her getting married to a young man. All she could do was to look for a man who was already married or a widower, or else stay single for good.
There is something I have noticed about men and women in Papua New Guinea, which is this: Married men and men who have been married before but do not have wives for reasons such as the wives having died or deserted them, can easily marry young women who are virgins. On the other hand, not many women that have married in the past or entered into de facto relationships with men, get married to young men. Only in rare cases do we see women who have been married in the past remarrying with young men. In almost all cases such women get married to men that have already married, but the women don’t enjoy the relationships because there are always other women in these men’s lives.
That is why if you are a young girl, you have to exercise a lot of self-control while at school. You are there to get educated, not to look for boyfriends. Once you start fooling around, you will not only perform poorly but also end up leaving school prematurely. And once people know that you have gone around with men, you will never regain their respect for you. You will lose your dignity, possibly for good. You will only be treated as “second-hand” by people.
I received another letter from a young man who related how he was expelled from school because of drunkenness on campus grounds. He had gone out on a weekend and had been invited to a party by some friends, at which alcohol was served freely. He returned to his dormitory while being intoxicated, and got involved in an argument with some other students who were also drunk. A fight broke out during which school property was damaged. He was among those who were expelled by the disciplinary committee.
When he wrote to me, he regretted what had happened but the damage had been done to his life. He said he was thinking positively and was trying to move on with life, but he would regret messing his studies as long as he lives.
I know of several young men who either got expelled or failed their exams because of involvement in cult activities and drugs. There are also stories of young men flunking their studies because of too much involvement with sports or student politics.
I also know of young men and women who have had to leave school and die from contracting HIV/AIDS. I have heard of frightening statistics of students from primary school to university who have tested positive to HIV/AIDS. Soon the country will stand and watch helplessly while these young people suffer and slowly have their lives snuffed out by this dreaded disease. It will be one of the most moving tales of wasted life.
Real-life stories of missed opportunities and life-long regret as I have recounted above highlight the fact that opportunities come to you only once in life. You either make the most of them when they come to you or miss them, never to have the same opportunities come your way again.

I have preached many sermons in the church over the years that have impacted the lives of my listeners as well as my own. Many of these messages are memorable, meaning that people cannot forget them. One such message I preached in September 2003 was titled “If not here, where? If not now, when?”
In this message, I challenged people to appreciate the fact that we all live on the earth for only a short time. Living in Goroka, in Papua New Guinea, was by divine appointment and not by the will of man. People should therefore thank God and do all they could to promote the interest of His kingdom while they have the strength and are alive. When they become old or die, they will not have the chance to serve God as they can when they are young and alive.
This message is relevant to you as a student as well. If you are not going to work hard in school, in which area of life will you work hard? The answer is obvious: You are a student right now. So you can only work hard in your studies. And if you are not going to work hard in your school work now, when are you going to do so? Next term? Next year? No, let it be this term, this year. Next term or next year might never come.
Let me repeat: Being in school is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Don’t mess it up. Do not let the opportunity you have now to be in school and study pass you by. Take full advantage of it. If not now, when?