It was another Monday morning and as usual I had to set out of the house to work. There is something unusual about Monday mornings in Lagos – it is so unusual, difficult to explain, but I’ll try.
I woke my usual time, did my usual thing, and set to leave the house at my usual time. The Monday drama started when I called a colleague who stays along my route if I could connect him and get a ride to work: his responded that he was already set to leave and cannot stay any second for us to hook up, immediately I discharged him. Got out of my gate, met a childhood neighbor combing his hair and running – “how far? He shouted on the run”, the story was similar on getting to my bus-stop, the bus in front of me demanded me to run up into the bus – the conductor yelling that it was a Monday morning but I was not on that frequency. I got to my stop, I met a BRT bus going towards my next stop – I opted for a BRT, dashed into my pocket for the closest money – because it was a Monday morning the lady selling the ticket said she doesn’t have change, when I saw her with a lot of it (It is apparently too early to give change). I had to get to my wallet, got the specific change she needed, by the time she gave me the ticket, and I turned back, the BRT bus was in a Monday haste left, despite seeing that there were still some folks getting tickets to make the bus. I turned back to the lady if she could refund the cash but the look on her face told me all I need – who returns money on a Monday morning?
I gently slipped the ticket back to my wallet and went ahead to take a commercial bus, seated in that bus I began to wonder: why do people get unnecessarily in haste especially on Monday morning in Lagos. These were my thoughts:
Lagos is quite densely populated with over 10 million people living and struggling to make some money, if I fail to add that Lagos is the business hub of Nigeria then I probably have not told you anything about Lagos. Everybody just wants to come to Lagos – I guess I’m the only one who wants to get out of it very quickly. People practically work 24 hours a day just to make ends meet, its one business here another deal here – what a chaotic environment.
There is a TGIF mentality that brings rest to the brain of an average Lagos office worker, which is even if you do not get to be on duty on Saturdays. Lagosians can’t wait for the next weekend, weekends are big deal, that’s all the time you have to do other personal things, get committed rest, relax with family and friends, attend any available ceremony, Friday even is a club evening, Saturday is all you have to attend a bar, Sunday is a full of church activities and all other activities.
However, the much anticipated weekends get very short because of the loads of activities begging for your attention, within a twinkling of an eye – it’s Monday morning again and you have to resume working very early.
Lagos is a very competitive environment for business, it’s almost impossible to do business and you do not have a competitor, for you to remain in business you have to be on-top of your game, giving the best, forecasting trends and making necessary adjustments to keep your market share and even overtake your competitors. Sequel to this, most organizations do this:
1. They have a very tight recruiting process – every organization wants to get the best person fit for the job description.
2. They engage every of their staff meaningfully to get value for the money they pay them at the end of the month.
3. Every serious minded business gives its employees targets on daily, weekly or monthly bases as the case may be for the purpose of appraisal.
These 3 points here are the least of what every typical private entity in Lagos ensures to do among others. These targets keeps employees on top of their seats from Monday to Friday, they work out their heads just to meet up with targets. It is very important if you want to build a career. Meeting targets is not an exclusive reserve of the office worker, it cut across: traders, contractors, even to the transport workers. For many, the hustle demands of Lagos can be so overwhelming.
Adding together your absence from work since Friday, the rest your body is demanding, and your determination to meet the target for the new week ahead, everybody just gets too serious on Monday morning. It is very difficult to get a warm smile from someone on a Monday morning.
Understanding the traffic situation in Lagos too will also help. Lagos is a “show town” everything involves (branding), you probably want to impress your neighbor or competitors to make them know you are on the good side. People buy big cars – cars they probably would not need, a man leaves home with a car, the wife leaves home with another and their destinations connect each other. The Fashola led government saw that as a major reason for traffic congestion in Lagos – so he experimented with the BRT, with the intention to create a conducive transport system that can take people to work and people can do away with their cars to reduce congestion on the Lagos highway – this project in my opinion failed. Everybody sets out on Monday morning to work – all cars on the road, traffic congestion everywhere.
All these factors pulled together makes a typical Lagos workers unnecessarily in a haste, everything is as fast as the speed of light, no one wants to get to work late – not on a Monday morning! Everybody wants to start the week on Monday using it as a pace setter for the week. Even the bus conductor is in haste because it is Monday morning.
Here is the irony: Despite not being in haste, I got to work on time, I had time to reflect, I was mentally ready for work. Why then the haste? Getting to Ikeja, I picked a tricycle to get me to Allen, under the bridge we got stocked in traffic, in less than 1 minute, a fellow commuter got down in haste. I wonder why my eyes are seeing this evil. The haste after much thought is just a mentality, it doesn’t take you to your destination faster than you should or make you more efficient.
Dear reader, if you stay in Lagos or anywhere in Nigeria or the World; please do not be caught up in the rat race that is going nowhere. I understand we live in a fast world, everything is changing fast, a lot calls for our attention, we want to get so many deals, 24 hours is even becoming insufficient in day – all that is good, but in the midst of the noise and speed around, try to practice “slowing” as a principle. Never be in haste. Being in haste does nothing than rubs a man of his creativity and innovation.
The richest and the most productive people on earth are less busy despite their numerous activities, they understand the value of rest, they never joke with solitude, they do not entangle themselves with the noise and fast activities of the world – they dress simple – they do not have time to bother on fashion, they spend long time on leave, they deliberately create a world of quietness around them.
Deliberately remain on the queue, never sell your leave for any price, just slow down in the midst of the noise and race. You can only be more productive.
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