Has it ever occurred to you that being “too educated” could be a problem? Well in a world where education seems so prestigious most people go through their entire life acquiring one qualification after another in the hopes of “getting ahead” or increasing their worth. However, is a qualification the only way one can attach value to their worth? Let’s face it; we are in Africa where the unemployment rate ranges around 30% so it makes sense to hedge unemployment by pilling up qualifications.

However, I surely cannot be the only person that finds this systematic way of life problematic. We move from day care, to primary school, to high school, university, internship, then a permanent job, from this company to the next, from this position to another, overseas and back, senior management and finally mentoring the next generation on how to follow the same script, then retirement. That’s life for most people, so predictable and safe. But why does it have to be this way, are we trained to abide by organizational rules from childhood to adulthood till death? Were we created to be institutionalized, where we follow other people’s rules in order to safely navigate through life?

What puzzles me is, when does one break free from this societal norm? Can one ever “grow up” and create their own rules in their own organization? The truth is life is not kind to the outliers who dare to be different, I’ve experienced it firsthand. You have to be brave, persistent and an independent thinker to truly create your own playground. Hence most people just stick to the systematic way of living to avoid uncertainty.

So to those who find climbing the corporate ladder appeasing, never make the mistake of accumulating too many qualifications and expecting to be remunerated for it. If you, for example, complete your MBA but still make the same decisions as you did before the qualification, then you wasted your time and in fact don’t expect your incentive to sky rocket, because employers incentivize those who add value. Getting ahead depends on making a valuable contribution that saves or makes your employer more money.

Therefore, it’s vital to discern why you are obtaining an additional qualification, how it fits into where you see yourself in future, how will it help you contribute or add value to the organization you are currently at or plan to join, and most importantly how will it improve your decision making process. Most of us do not have labour intensive professions so feeding the mind is so instrumental to our individual success, and that’s what I see is lacking in young professionals. There seems to be too little time spent on investing in one’s self, and the truth is, your value is based on how well you think and execute.

Recently I’ve learned to be more realistic, open minded and less judgmental, because people are different and we are not exposed to the same things, neither do our brains process information in the same way. However, it pains me to see brilliant people not earning to their full potential because they haven’t mastered how to survive in the real world. Life is about survival and those who succeed have found the formula to surviving well. If anything, please strive to add value, be an asset and ensure your existence positively impacts others. It’s no secret that I’m one of those economists who advocate for entrepreneurship, however I’ve become so sensitive to the fact that it’s not for everyone, especially since one has to be extremely crazy to think that they can reshape the future and most people aren’t that crazy.

4 Responses

  1. Prince says:

    Hi Lindiwe, I like your topic and I believe it is very critical to engage in these pertinent discussions.

    Primarily, I am quite sure that many of us are aware of the structure or setting of our economy, that it is set up in a way that it is seen as a giant aplenty with red tape in that the majority feel emasculated or discouraged by it in their attempts to apply themselves in the economy.

    Based on my observation of the different resident settings, some people based in middle class (assuming middle class income) environments tend to be more content in their living standard and more often do not feel the need to apply themselves more in the economy thereby adding value, while majority eventually end up with a negative credit threshold, after which case, they start or tend to accumulate the urgency to have a different/additional approach to supplement their mainly consumption based lifestyles which constantly puts them on a downward sloping graph of value or wealth creation.

    The people from lower class environmental settings, assuming lower income, tend to want to emulate their “middle class” counterparts, with whom they are related in one way or the other, having the mentality that this person has money or is living good, which seems like that to the average relative eye/Joe, but in reality, isn’t almost always is not the case.

    But what I think the major problem to the issue of adding economic value or value that can be applicable or quantified economically, is mainly the same class-based system. Here’s why!

    If we are to observe the human being, we will realize that they are a self-esteem based creation, and that self-esteem is heavily reliant on sight and acceptance, ‘what I see, I do, what is current tradition, I will follow it’, etc. So because of this, majority of people hardly ever dare to play outside this wall, out of which lies the opportunity for creativity for example, ‘what I don’t see, I will create/innovate’. This kind of mentality heavily stimulates the creative, heavily under-used part of the human brain which is what created value in the first place, the cars, planes, technology we use, etc. So we seem to have a society that is set up institutionally in a way that heavily discourages creativity (which human beings are relatively creative and intelligent by nature) but encourages consumption of what is currently in supply.

    • Lindiwe says:

      Hey Prince. Thanks for sharing your opinion on the topic.

      I agree with you 100%, the encouragement of consumption does discourage creativity/innovation. To be honest it’s nothing new, it’s just that we currently have more distractions than before.

      I also loved how you point out validation being one of the drivers of this way of life.

      You have really added to my perspective. Thanks again.

  2. Godlovesu says:

    I lost my mind (in a good way) when I heard; “your value is based on how well you think and execute.”
    This!!!!! We add value, we become an asset, and positively impact others through how we think and execute.

    This is great!

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