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Cobhams Asuquo is a Nigerian song-writer, music producer and singer. He shares some things which he has learnt from blindness, a reality he has lived with since birth. He was faced with the looming possibility of failure in his life when he discovered the intricate possibilities of living in a world of sighted people and the fact that people were ready to excuse his failure because of his disability.(To find out more about Cobhams, check out his website here).

In his Ted X Euston talk, he shares some lessons he has learnt so far. Some of each lesson is written below but I cannot do justice to these points half as good as he did so I suggest you watch the full talk here.

  1. Do Not Excuse Failure for any reason or on any account

“This doesn’t mean to be unmerciful or impatient with the less abled, weak or disadvantaged because failure will come, but the same way that it comes, we should see to it that it goes. Wherever there’s a larger-than-life seemingly insurmountable flaw in our lives, leaders, system, etc, we tend to indulge in it, overlook it and get comfortable with it. And even give it names. This should not be. By excusing failure, we miss the opportunity to scale through those seemingly insurmountable obstacles: to elevate ourselves and elevate others.”

  1. Trust

“Life has enough unfortunate things already, regardless of your status. Trust, even when you have no reason to. Trust has no expiration date: keep trusting, keep hoping, keep believing.Hard as it may be to trust, it’s like a 50-50 lifeline. It may be worth your while to trust, but you’ll never know if you don’t take a leap of faith, and trust!”

  1. Focus

“Sight sometimes is a distraction. On your way to your destination, what you see can also be a big distraction from your goal. You have to be blind in order to be focused. Focus is blindness in a sense. You need to be blind to several things.”

The last point hit me like the unexpected palm of an African parent. It’s so true! You can’t do everything all at the same time. I often tell my friends to make a shopping list whenever we go grocery-shopping because they tend to want to pick things they did not plan to buy. This may be excused once or twice but not on every shopping trip- that would easily become a bad habit.

It’s hard, but as human beings, we must be disciplined. I refer to being disciplined as the act of ‘being the horse and the horse rider’. This is the dual act of living your life and being in control of your actions at the same time. It’s doing your thing but also pulling the reins on yourself like the horse-rider would do. The aim is to self-evaluate your actions and to know when you are going or have gone off course. If you are going to lie to everyone else, at least love yourself enough to tell you the truth. And it ties back to what Cobhams said, to achieve the many things on your bucket list(or weekly/monthly/life goals), you can’t afford to do it all and expect excellent results. There’s a need to plan and more importantly to prioritise.

I remember some stuff from my Economics class in high school: the scale of preference and the opportunity cost. The scale of preference consists of the things you want in an order of importance, the most important being at the top. It was to help in spending and budget making, so that you can allocate resources to the most urgent needs. The opportunity cost is the alternative foregone(some textbook definitions just stick, don’t they?) This is the cost you have to forego to get what you need. For instance, if I have £20 and I want to get a purse for £15 and a pair of shoes for £12, I can only afford one with the cash I have in hand. I would look at my scale of preference to determine which is more urgent and it’s the shoes. They cost £12, but the opportunity cost is £15, i.e. the cost of the purse I had to forego. These two concepts have helped me in managing finances and making decisions also. They are useful in doing a lot of everyday activities as well.

Challenge yourself to make no excuses for failure, trust and fous!

Have a lovely day!

*MBW

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