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Opinions of Monday, 21 October 2002

Columnist: Annoh, Lyssiemay

My Kind of Success

The other day I was reading a newspaper article and came across a financial interview with a lady, a self-help guru who is financially well off as being the daughter of a famous person. In this interview, she answered a question about whether she is a saver or a spender, with: “I am not a saver. When I was 26, with three young children, no husband and no source of money, I asked God to help me find a way of earning money and he continues to answer my prayer.”

This is not the sort of thing that is cool to admit to. Saying that you pray for money especially for a Ghanaian, sounds as if you’ve got a screw loose somewhere. Also I have noticed that it is only the people who have money already who say things like that. I mean, if it truly worked, we would all do it, wouldn’t we?

Well I will let you into a secret. When I was growing up as a student in Paris, France, I chatted with a woman who owned a Mercedes. Being a high school student with no money and a taste for flash cars, I was desperate to get a Mercedes for myself. I did not want to spend all my student life in those small rooms called “Chambre de Bonne” (room for maids) which most students rented. I wanted to live well and wanted to know the secret behind her success. She absolutely floored me when she told me she had prayed for it and that I should try it as well. So from then on, when I get worried about money and career and stuff, I climb up the bookshelf ladder THEN THROW MYSELF OFF.

No. I climb up the ladder and dig out a book I keep hidden from guests and visitors. Not even my closest friends knew about this one. It is called ‘The Smooth Ride to Prosperity by Lyssiemay Annoh’. Even if the advice within this book doesn’t work, (I think it does) it at least cheers me up. It also made me one of the very few students in Paris to live in an upmarket Studio or one-bed apartment. And that’s worth money when you’re feeling like you want to give up and go home and live with your folks and die.

The book is, shocking, quite religious, being the Christian that I am. At first I thought I was barking because I had always believed that if you do not work you do not eat and to succeed you have to learn hard. At least that is what we are told. But what I think is good about this book is that if even you are not a Christian, because not everyone in Ghana is, it teaches POSITIVE ATTIDUDE. Most of what I say is worth a try. Attitude is key. Finding and removing negative and self-defeating mind-sets is important – you know, like, when life gives you

lemons, make lemonade. If you live near the corn farm, sell ‘kooko’ (porridge made from fermented corn dough). I knew that as a student, I was obliged to wake up early to read before going to classes which usually started at 8am in Paris so I sought for all the early morning paid jobs on my way to school and did them on the way in.

You see, I believe there is a vacuum law of prosperity: you get rid of what you don’t want to make room for what you do want. Another example of this would be, say, when we lose a job we hated but stayed in because we were afraid or lazy. We then have to get motivated and look for another job. Those of us who are determined and focussed on what we really want to do can usually find a job that is better than the one we lost. (Trust me. I have been fired a lot. In fact, I have been fired and redeployed more than any Executive I know in Ghana’s renowned multinational system – so there!)

Another thing I like is persistence. I quote Calvin Coolidge: “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Education will not: the world if full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press-on’ will solve and always has solved the problems of the human race.” We all know people who are not talented at all but who have jobs we would kill for. In fact, it is tempting to believe mediocrity rules the world.

While I wholeheartedly agree with the persistence thing, I would add that: “Know when to give up.” I’ve stayed with jobs and relationships, which were coughing blood months before they officially died. It may not be your goal which is wrong (happy relationship/great job), only the way you are going about (smiling when unhappy/hoping boss will promote you). Know when it is time to make adjustments and try a new path to your goal.

You may wonder what I am going on and on about. What I should be saying to you is, if you want to succeed, stop depending on others. Choose a career path and make the best out of it. It does not have to be glamorous, but it has to make you comfortable and afford you all the luxuries that you crave for. You do not have to cheat others in the process – and watch out there is something called greed; that includes when you think you have to have all even when you cannot afford it. Enjoy your money when you get it, thank God for bringing it your way, give freely when you can and go out and earn some more. For those of you who have credit cards pay off your credit cards and start saving a bit of money every month, which is fairly sound financial advice for starters. With the lurking fear of recession, war and rising interest rates, I am trying to get you to understand that if you have a better attitude, you may be able to learn a better way of life from tough times.