11. Simon Itodo

Iya mi baba won bi mi da,  emi gan motun ra bi,  loruko n se n ga si

My parents did well with raising a child but a man has to disrupt himself to find honour.

There is a written pattern that the society expects of us. Like this is the way we are supposed to live our lives. You go through the rings of schools – primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. You are supposed to go for Masters and at a cut off period of your life, find love and get married, bear children, send children to school, marry them off……

If you tamper with this pattern by saying “you are not going to finish University or you will wait till late thirties before you marry,” something has to be wrong. Either the devil is at work or that you are being too ambitious and this will work against you.

I was a beneficiary of God’s grace. I got a job in First bank few months after finishing my NYSC. First Bank is  like a place to rest, I mean the targets are not in a frenetic pace like Access Bank and the rest. I worked in the branch for one and half years before I got into the Head Office.

When I decided to go the Head Office after taking four interviews, a lot of people asked me:

“Why do you want to do that?”

“Why not  stay in the branch?”

“They don’t promote fast in Head Office, why not stay here?”

The way of the world is crafted on the side of safety . According to legendary Lord Maynard Keynes “Worldly wisdom tells us it is better to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally.”

“Like don’t do this, don’t take that step”.

When I got to First Bank’s head Office, I came in the hail of strong recommendation. Like this is the bright guy from the branch that we found out. This is the guy who writes well. But something was wrong. I was the youngest in the department and I had the lowest grade in the department hierarchy. That was my second year and promotion was not looking close.

Sitting down with my fellow “youngsters”  – Saheed and Mayowa – in the Bank, we could see others though few years ahead of us in age – Yvonne, Eloho – who were already senior managers and principal managers.

“Like this person is just a few years above us, she is already a manager and we are here waiting for another round of promotion, tying our fate to the discretion of our line manager”

Now I kept counting. This is what I say to myself: “I have spent three years in this bank and no promotion. I am an Executive trainee and how long will this continue. Some folks few years ahead of you already Principal and Senior Managers. If you stay here, you will need at least 24 years before you can reach that level. What is the plan?”

I was  in a nightmare. I was very troubled. Looks like there is no future here. My productivity dropped at work. I have to confess that I usually ask myself “Do I even deserve a promotion anymore?”

I thought the problem was that I did not have Masters in a foreign University, maybe that why this road will be long. So I planned to do MBA  in Yale or Stanford. I needed to pass GMAT. Sunkanmi Agbomeji and I did so. I read and read a lot. It did not work out. I came out with a very weak score.

I had this friend. I  can’t remember his name. We met at the office canteen and we were both going through this crisis. He had only been promoted once and he looked at the long years ahead. He kept telling me.

“Will we keep slaving through the ranks?”. I am sure I repeat this statement to myself at least once in a day.

“Slaving through the ranks.”

My daily rant those days in the First Bank Communicator was to Simon Itodo. I will everyday tell him my mind, exclaim to him why this can’t just work. Why I needed to get out of there. Why I have lost hope because the road to glory is just too long. Simon Itodo was a true friend and right from my initial venture – Green Acts – in those days. He saw it. He saw BudgIT and he knew it.

The months I worried on the right time to resign, he was aware. I look back and cherish the times of those comfort, soft spoken encouragement till l left.

We need all of that in our lives. Someone God sent  to quicken us and strengthen our resolve to go on.

Those who change the world never believed in routine and patterns. The world has never moved further by conformity. I listened a lot to these glorious words to Steve Jobs:

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

When will I get out of First Bank? Till  I found courage, found BudgIT, kept faith in God and I faced Samuel Asabia House (FBN Headquarters), I took a bow, clocked my shoes and I was gone.

A man in the course of his destiny must disrupt himself.

Disclaimer: This is not to defeat the interest of being an employee. This is just a personal experience. 

This post is the part of the 30-day series on the “irinkinrido” adventure of Mr. Oluseun Onigbinde who clocks 30 this month. 

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