People have a deep affection for the United States of America. When you walk the streets in far flung countries, people are eager to relay their stories of America. Sometimes, these stories are inaccurate, incredible even: with visions of an America where Dollar notes litter the cobbled streets, merely in need of someone to pick them up and help these notes find an accommodating home where they will be loved, cared for and inevitably spent on the cares of this fabled Good Samaritan.
When vision is set in stone, not even temporary sight can dissuade the driven individual.
Often times, people are unaware of Richard Wright’s America- an America of poverty and desolation described in the book “Black Boy”; they are unaware of the America of inner city dwellings of people so depressed with life, that it seems irreconcilable that this too is America.
In the midst of this is vision; the steady compass from which the individual, despite present reality of destitution, remains deeply aware and steeled in belief of better things to come from the sacrifice of hard-work. From the background of the tales of a perfect America, is the man: Gbenga Oyebode. Unlike the people above, he had a more nuanced view of the balance in American society; indeed having been put on a subscription of “Reader’s Digest” from a young age, his pursuit of the American dream went beyond the fantastical tales, to America- the land of opportunity. The fact that he was an immigrant and that he was black was not a deterrent. He made up his mind to go to America, but not only that, he made up his mind that despite race or status, America would make him successful.
This was the end goal, this was the vision. When vision is set in stone, not even temporary sight can dissuade the driven individual.
Gbenga Oyebode was a man on a mission. I draw parallels from his life with the advice given by Shonda Rhimes at the commencement speech at Dartmouth University recently. It is not enough to be a dreamer, indeed to be a dreamer alone is not encouraged- one must be a doer. Equating dreams with visions, you can write it down in your fancy highlighters and stick it up on post it notes all over your bedroom window, but if the only way these dreams ever crystallize is in highlighter marks, then this is a sure path to depression.
As demonstration of his drive, Gbenga graduated with a Bachelor of Laws Degree in Nigeria, passed the bar in Nigeria, moved to Pennsylvania and pursued a Master of Laws Degree at The University of Pennsylvania. Thereafter, he passed the New York state bar; and was an associate lawyer at the prestigious law firm White & Case and subsequently the Gulf oil corporation (known today as Chevron Corporation). He did all this as an African immigrant in 1980’s America.
Eric Thomas at a recent motivational event did not let the audience rest, he chimed these words down their brains “…innovation is rewarded, but execution is worshipped…” in essence and as a lesson from Gbenga Oyebode’s life, one must not only plan but be willing to execute the plan. As many will often attest to, execution is difficult. Execution is waking up before everyone to get to the library and work harder than your body will let you; execution is cutting off distractions in the pursuit of a goal, of a dream, of the vision; execution is- to borrow the phrase from a recent adidas world cup advertisement: “…all in or nothing…”
“…all in or nothing…”
Gbenga Oyebode executed, guided by the vision to allow the opportunities America had on offer become his launching pad; he ensured that when opportunity knocked, he was ready and did not squander it. Gbenga had good academic results, was sought after in his workplaces and soon founded his law firm “Aluko & Oyebode” in Lagos, Nigeria (Africa’s biggest economy by GDP). In addition he sits on the boards of the multinational Telecommunications provider- MTN, serves a director at “Nestle Nigeria PLC” amongst other business successes- Result.
A lengthy conclusion is not adequate here; so I leave you with this-
“…innovation is rewarded, execution is worshiped…”
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