I attended the combined Grade 10 & 12 Graduation of the Mount Hagen Secondary School on Wednesday 3rd December. I was not the Guest of Honour but was one of the speakers. Below is the speech I presented.
My short speech is titled “You’ve Got What It Takes To Succeed In Life.”
Have you ever wondered what are the basic ingredients which you need to become a successful person? Many people think that to be successful, you must be educated to university level and hold a high-paying job. Others have other ideas.
What I want to tell you today is that every one of us possesses the basic ingredients necessary for success. What are they? The first is time. All of us have 24 hours in a day – 12 hours of daylight and 12 of night, or 8 hours for sleeping, 8 for working and 8 hours of free time.
Secondly, we have sound minds. Our mind is the greatest asset which is totally underutilised. Scientists say that the average person uses only 10% of their brain capacity between the time of birth and death. 90% goes to the grave unused. We think we think, but we don’t really think. Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Corporation said that “Thinking is the hardest work there is, that’s why not many people engage in it.”
Related to our minds is common sense. All of us basically know what is right and what is wrong; what is good for us and what is bad. Common sense is what we are born with. You certainly don’t learn it in school!
Fourthly, we have health and strength. Many of us take our strength for granted and apply it wrongly. But we need to realise that every night we go to bed very tired and worn out, but each morning we wake up with new strength to face the day’s challenges and take advantages of the opportunities each day presents to us.
On top of these four – time, mind, common sense and health – in PNG we are very fortunate to own land. We are among a few countries in the world where nearly 100% of land is owned by the people. In most other countries land is owned by the State. And when you consider that land is the basis of wealth, we Papua New Guineans are born rich and wealthy!
Students, I am telling you that if you combine your time, mind, common sense, physical strength and land, you can become successful in life. You have all these ingredients available to you right now.
Notice that I have not included education or money as ingredients for success. Let me take education first, and say this: To succeed, you don’t need a university degree. How do I know this? By observing that the majority of university graduates are failing financially and in other areas of life, while the relatively uneducated are succeeding. That tells me that being highly educated does not equate to being successful.
You see, the purpose of education is not to enable you to get a paying job. So many of us make an automatic connection between school and jobs. This is wrong. And this is why we have so many young people becoming frustrated all over the country because they cannot get jobs. No. The purpose of education is to provide you with information and knowledge. When you possess knowledge, your mind becomes open to the many options that are out there, that’s all. Getting a paid job is just one option, not the only option. In fact, if you want to make a lot of money in life, a paid job is the last option you would consider, not the first. Why do I say this? Well, if you look around, the people making the most money are not employees; those who make the most money are those who work for themselves. And many such people are uneducated.
In my list of assets you have to possess to succeed, I did not include money. This is because money is just a by-product of applying your mind, time, common sense, strength and land. Many people think they need money to succeed, but this is incorrect. If you combine what you have, money will come. You don’t need money to make money; you can make money without money – particularly in Papua New Guinea.
As some of you may know, I am an advocate of self-employment. I have written a book on the subject called Be Your Own Boss and I have been sharing my ideas in the newspapers. I am glad to report today that many Papua New Guineans are catching the idea and are starting their own businesses. I believe that is the way to go. The country needs many small business people who create jobs. We have too many job-seekers. We need to take our economy back from large multinational corporations and foreign businesses that are mushrooming all over the country.
With the LNG project and other resource developments taking place all over the country, the environment is right for us local people to start small businesses. Let us not leave the playing field wide open for Asians to play the game. We must not complain when they succeed under our noses. We must get in, play the game and beat them.
So my friends – students, parents and teachers - I am sorry if I have messed up your minds by what I have said today, but before you dismiss it and stick to the way have been looking at things, I urge to you think about what I have said.
I would even go so far as to suggest to you that if you do not make it to Grade 11 or a tertiary institution next year, be very glad, not very sad. Take it as an opportunity to do something with your time, mind, strength and land. Don’t rush to upgrade your marks or look for other options to further your education. Consider the option of starting a small business instead. Be committed to it, and I can assure you that in 2 -6 years time when your colleagues who have continued up the educational ladder start looking for jobs, you will be a few years ahead of them. When you have the money, you can always go back to school if you feel you need it.
YOU’VE GOT WHAT IT TAKES TO SUCCEED IN LIFE!
To graduating students, CONGRATULATIONS! To everyone, A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR! God bless you all!