My son, Fiifi, loves football. He’s good at it too. He’s only four years old, but he shoots more accurately than most of the older kids in his school, and he’s really fast. His teachers all joke that Fiifi will be a premiership footballer someday, Recently, while he was in Ghana for his summer holidays, we went to visit one of his many grand aunts. While Fiifi played keepie-uppies (that’s ‘totals’ to you and I), in the garden, I joked that we might be looking at the next Michael Essien.
Grand-Auntie’s answer? “God Forbid”.
I asked why she wanted God to forbid my son from earning £200,000 per week before tax, and she said. “He was not born to kick a ball around all day long. He’s going to be a doctor, or a lawyer, or an accountant. If you allow him to have too much fun, how will he learn the discipline to pursue a career which has nothing to do with fun?”
Now, this sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Perhaps your parents told you this when you were young. Perhaps you are telling YOUR children this today. In fact, I wonder whether you actually see the problem with my respected Auntie’s opinion.
Well, apart from the obvious fact that a footballer will earn more than six times the combined salaries of all my auntie’s professions of choice put together, her comment also highlighted this interesting desire we have as Ghanaians to raise all our children to believe that fun is related only to leisure, and has nothing to do with work. Why is that? Can our children not enjoy the fruits of their talents? Should work not be fun?
The inconvenient truth is that the average person will spend one-third of their time on earth at work. So if you are going to spend 33% of your entire life doing something, should it not be something you enjoy? Don’t get me wrong – I believe in hard work. If I told you that by the time I get home at night, I am still only half way through my working day, you probably wouldn’t believe it. I work hard. But I’m also doing something I love. I’m following a passion. Which means my job is fun.
My all-time favourite quote from Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, is this one: “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
Truly happy individuals do what they love for a living. They pursue a passion, which means every single day of work is enjoyable. Even the challenging days. Even when they’re just starting off and don’t have any customers. Even when they are training for long hours while their friends are having drinks at the pub. Even when their bosses and colleagues aren’t half as committed as they are. Even when the world hasn’t yet recognised their prodigious talents. Even then, the thrill of spending their days pursuing a passion is an unbeatable feeling.
I’m doing what I love. Because of this, I am happy. Even when things go wrong at work, even when my working day starts at 5am, and doesn’t really end before midnight, I still crawl into bed with a smile on my face, eagerly anticipating the next morning, because I believe I’m making a difference. This is the exact feeling I want my son to have about his career – whatever he may choose to be. How about you? What do you want for your children? A job they will love, or one that “has nothing to do with fun”, as Fiifi’s Grand-Aunt put it?
My name is Kojo Yankson, and I want my son to do what I do: to change the world, and not just fit into it.
GOOD MORNING, GHANAFO.
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