AOC Generation

I don’t really know how it works these days, but I remember well that while I was in secondary school, we had a habit of always asking our teachers whenever exams were approaching for what we called an AOC.

AOC is acronym for Area of Concentration. The idea is that, if we were taught 8 topics during that term or semester, and the exam will only cover say  4 topics, the AOC tells us where to focus our reading efforts on such that rather than read the entire 8 topics, we can focus effort and attention on the 4 guaranteed exam topics.  Good way to save energy, focus energy and increase efficiency!

While AOC proved to be a good idea in some cases; in some other cases, it wasn’t. There were times when certain ‘wicked’ teachers decided to mislead us by giving us wrong AOCs. So he says read topics 1 to 4, and then he ends up setting topics 5 to 8 in the exam. I’m sure you know that the result of that is usually not pretty. Someone reading this must have had such nasty experiences too. So early enough, I’ve learnt not to be an AOC dependent student; when I have an examination, I leave no stone unturned, master all I should; and in retrospect, I think it is a good idea that has worked well for me.

Being an AOC person is too risky as a student in school and even more importantly, as a student outside school. Many people want to know that ONE thing that they can do to become successful, that ONE thing they can do to make a first class in school, that ONE thing they can do to make more money, that ONE thing they can do to land that dream job, that one thing that will make their marriage heaven; just that ONE thing!

Newsflash- there is hardly a one-thing-to-do! Instead there are usually SEVERAL things to do. Success in life and any endeavor is rarely an easy-one way-formula. If it were, everybody would be successful. Further still, what works at a particular level might not at another level. To crown it all, life as a teacher doesn’t give AOCs… it doesn’t even have an examination timetable. You have to ALWAYS be prepared and not only that, you also have to be FULLY prepared.

You have to ALWAYS be prepared and not only that, you also have to be FULLY prepared.

In conclusion, examinations in life and other specific circumstances are not just given so that you can pass them. There are there so that you can become something by reason of them. There are there to certify that you have learnt enough if not all of what they are about. AOCs are good, but they only make you half baked. Sooner or later, questions will pop from areas outside your AOC. The question then is- will you be able to tackle them?

Afolabi Soaga


I have often heard people say stuff like ‘if I was in so and so place, or if I had so and so opportunities, or if I was alive during so and so era, my life would have been so and so better’. Chances are huge that you too have said such at some point in your life. Most of the time, when we encounter failure by performing below what is celebrated or below what we really wanted, we tend to fall into one of these 2 extremes.

The first is a state of complete loss of belief in oneself and ability. This is when we come to accept failure and as such tag ourselves as failures. This is the root reason why many people drop out from school. When we fall into this mind-set, we stop seeing the need to try again and as such we simply just decide to quit and sometimes not do anything again; or quit to take up a different route and challenge.( example of such people are those that transfer from science related studies in school to the less tedious administrative courses. Of course, at times this is the wisest resolve to take on)

The second category consists of those who decide to give excuses like the ones in the opening paragraph. I heard someone describe an excuse as the tool of the incompetent and a monument of fools. I like to call it an unjust justification of failure. An excuse given is a failure tolerated and so excuses should be avoided at all cost.

The both categories are not good responses to failure. But somehow, I believe the latter is worse because it places you in a fool’s paradise where deceit is forcefully and foolishly accepted as reality. And many people especially in the school I come from like to take this option.

I finished from Obafemi Awolowo University which is arguably the best university in Nigeria and one of the best in Africa. We are notoriously known for being tough and difficult and we boast of having the best human products to show for it. The curriculum there is tough and so not too many people finish with first class honours. It is in fact believed that employers rate a second class lower honour from OAU higher than a second class upper from most other schools in the country. These facts and many more is what forms the basis why many students who don’t perform too well in my school console themselves with the idea that they would have struck better academic fortunes in some other schools.

I don’t believe this is always true and I would prove that with the knowledge from a concept in the field of marketing called the structure-conduct-performance-paradigm.

Well, it has been a proven fact that a first class student from OAU would most likely repeat same fortune in any other school not just in Africa but in fact, any other school in the entire world and that a first class student from many other schools might have to struggle to clinch a first class or even second class upper honours in our school. But I am not in any way convinced that a 2:1 student in OAU will automatically translate to a 1st class student in any other school just as much as a 2:1 student in those other schools will not automatically translate to a 2:2 or 3rd class student here.

Let’s do a quick little lesson in marketing. Under the structure-conduct-performance-paradigm approach of understanding market situations, performance of the market is usually a function of conduct in the market; while conduct is a function of structure of the market. Therefore, invariably performance is a function of conduct and structure. Now let’s apply this to our foregoing discussion.

Your performance anywhere and at anything is a function of your conduct and attitudes in as much as it is a function of your abilities. It could be argued even further that performance at anything is more influenced by attitude and conduct rather than innate abilities. Like the saying goes, it is your attitude that determines your altitude in life. There are several tales of geniuses who never went far; men of great potentials that ended as non-entities in life…. There are also great stories of ordinary men who achieved extraordinary feats and natural men who achieved supernatural results. These stories are everywhere; in movies, books (I recommend Malcolm Gladwell’s outliers), in sitcoms, history literatures, the bible, etc. so we can say directly that performance is determined by conduct (or action); and also that attitude more than ability influences your conduct and actions.

In the same vein, attitudes and conducts are also a function of environment (except in extreme cases which we would look into later on). In the bible we are told that when King Saul got into the company of prophets, he also prophesied (1Sam10). This is a classical biblical example of what I’m trying to establish.

The implication of this is that, when we get to certain places, we tend to behave the way the people there behave, i.e. like the environment requires. This has been termed in some literature work as the ‘joneses effect’. The field of economics also has some stuff to say about this in its explanation of consumer behaviour. We are more likely to be influenced by external factors than internal ones especially when it comes to social behaviour.

Now to those second class students who like to make those lofty claims….the reason why you behave the way you behave and study the way you study so hard, is simply because you are in a relatively tougher school. If you were in a relatively less demanding school, you would most likely have behaved differently. And since performance is a product of conduct, your results might not have been any better.

The only time when your claim and boast could have been right is if and only if after being trained and conditioned in a more demanding environment (like maybe after you finish your first degree in the ‘tougher’ school), you move to the relatively less demanding school, you could then with the superior culture and conduct that your previous environment had accustomed you to, act superiorly and differently to produce different and superior performance.

The highly contemporary the message translation of the bible reads Roms12:2 as “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking ……” because it is just how we naturally tend to be. Humans are generally adapters and conformers and as such act like thermometers which respond to the temperature of its surrounding rather than being thermostats that dictate and regulate the temperature of its surrounding.

And so the bible in that same verse advised that “Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out”. This implies a subscription to God’s own culture, system and training. Only then can you act differently and as such produce outstanding results. Therefore, it is clear that if you with a higher culture move to a lesser environment, you would most likely perform better because you have being shaped by a different environment.

Without stretching things any further, a 2:1 student in Harvard I believe is not an automatic 1st class anywhere else because if you had been in any of those less rated schools from the start, you would have been like one of them. They are not all dunces and perhaps truly, schools like OAU in Nigeria can boast of having better brains than most other schools in the country, but the truth I believe remains that If some of those brains have been conditioned in the any of those other schools, because of that environment and its easiness, you might not have given any better or reached your deepest potentials and so you might not have performed any better.

Performance is a product of conduct and conduct is usually influenced by environment. The only time when environment or external influence doesn’t affect conduct is when there is a strong internal conviction, culture or force that is strong enough to wade off the external influence. (This doesn’t justify you’re the claims and excuses I have thus far tried to disproves because if indeed you have that strong internal strength in the first place, it would have made you a first class student even in the seemingly ‘tougher’ school).


why i DONT hate school and love education

Let me set the record straight first. I am a big fan of Sulli Breaks work and this is in no way an attempt to rubbish it or even dispute what he has said. Rather, this is a message that seeks to reinforce his message but at the same time address many folks I have seen that might want to take that message out of context.
Listening to chimamanda Ngozi Adichie made me learn the danger and ills of listening to an incomplete story which she called a single story. It is the same error done when we make dangerous conclusions about a mountain based on just one view. For a ski-diver, that could be as expensive as human life; it could cost you your life. Many young people today are repeating that mistake as regards their education and schooling and I hope this can somehow help us see a different perspective.
Let’s look at the argument. Steve jobs, Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, henry Ford, Stephen Speilberg, Bill gates; none of the above mentioned people ever graduated from an higher learning institution. And we don’t need Google to tell us that they are very successful and wealthy.
Point 1. A lot of the wealthiest people the world knows never graduated from a college. But have you also considered the fact that same can be said about the world poorest people. They too never graduated from an higher learning institution. Dropping out of school was not their good luck charm. It never was, it never will.
Hypothetically speaking, a larger percentage of drop outs fail in life than those that did complete school. The examples given above are probably exceptions and it is simply foolishness and not faith to make an exception the rule.
Those people are not successful today, because they didn’t graduate from college. Some didn’t graduate from college because they were already successful. Many others didn’t graduate because they didn’t have the opportunity to.
What I am trying to get across is that school is not the evil, maybe some specific schools are; but school generally isn’t. So we shouldn’t just categorize schooling as evil and then choose to run from it. In truth, your success in life isn’t really based on whether you have a degree or not, but having a degree is also very well NOT a licence or route to failure. (This applies also to many others who claim having a first class isn’t what guarantees success; having a first class doesn’t guarantee failure either. Plus I would rather have a first class and be successful than have a second class and be successful.)
Education indeed is the key. But what are you really in school for. Isn’t it to get educated? Instead of running away from school like it is a one-eyed monster seeking to devour you, why not take it serious and ensure you are getting educated while you are in school. Schooling and education can go together and I am a living proof of that fact!
Pro 17:16 It does a fool no good to spend money on an education, because he has no common sense.
Pro 4:13 Always remember what you have learned. Your education is your life—guard it well.(GNB)
If you are opportune to be in school, my submission is that you shouldn’t waste it. Many have regretted doing that and many more worlds over are wishing they have the kind of chance you have. And while you at it; give it your best shot. Whatever is worth doing is worth doing well.
Let me conclude with a nursery school rhyme I learnt long ago:
Good better best,
I shall never rest,
Until my good is better,
And my better best!
I hope with these few words of mine, I’ve been able to convince you on why I DON’T hate school, and love education.
Succeed. No matter how crowded the top is, there is always an extra space to accommodate YOU.
PS: in case you are still hell-bent on dropping out, please at least, make sure you are dropping out for something. But I trust you wouldn’t even bother.

pathway to fulfilling your financial fantasies

The 2 paths to Financial Freedom.
On the mind of mind of most people I know, we are constantly asking ourselves, how can I make more money? For many of us in school that are about to graduate or have just graduated from college, we are pondering what next. We all want to find that path that leads to our land of freedom. Where we can maximize life and find happiness.
This perhaps prompted a classmate to ask me which category I fall under. Job/career seeking or business starter. That got me thinking about which one is better. Is it Finding a good paying job or risking suffering loss or gain in Business. Well these are my thoughts:
A job gives you security, a business Gives you opportunity. If you have a good job and you are doing your job, you can be rest assured that regularly you’d have something to fall back on. Something steady you can plan on. And always rely on.
A business however is quite different. When you about to start, it doesn’t give you security, only. Promises. Its like planting a seed today. It might germinate and it might not. If it doesn’t, its your big loss and you might have to go hungry tomorrow for it. But then, just as a seed. planted poses a risk of not germinating, it also avails you great opportunity. You can count the number of seeds in a fruit, but cannot count the number of fruits in a seed. There is usually opportunity at the other side of the coin of risk. And starting a business offers you that. Businesses are often possibilities rather than final-ities. They have potentials of helping you fulfill your greatest financial fantasies and desires. A quick look at the richest men you know, and you’d see that they all run businesses that one day was only like a seed- risk and opportunity.
For a young person about to enter the adult world of self dependency and responsibility, or someone else who is contemplating quitting his job or starting a business, you must recognize that both are quite important.
There are times when being secured and ensuring your family’s security is all that matters. But there are other times when we need to seek something better than being safe. Things like experiencing the world that is more than ourselves and probably creating security for others other than ourselves are very commendable and self rewarding.
My answer to my dear friend was this- I am for both. I’m in school to get a degree and I intend to pursue a career I’m passionate about but also well keen to have my own business. I take one of my biggest learning on earning from billionaire investor warren Buffet: don’t put all your eggs in one basket; always have a multiple stream of income.
On whether it is possible to combine both effectively? Answer is yes. At least for a start. Till your business can effectively provide you the kind of security any job could. You only need to set your priorities right. Getting a new job will require you. To focus on it and make it a top priority. So if that’s your option A, nothing stops you from having an option B. Afterall there are 26 letters in the english alphabet. Only remember that A always comes before B.
There is a great world of opportunities waiting just for you. Take it! Go for the best and never settle for less. There is not a scarcity of money, only of men who REALLy have it. Do more than wish to be one of them, become it.
Job seekers seek to play it safe but business owners are risk takers. When we only play safe, we deny ourselves the opportunity to live. While we strive to make a honest living, we must however ask ourselves whether we are honestly living or just bearly existing and surviving.
Man was not created to just survive, he was created to live; he wasn’t created to simply manage life and its resources, he was designed to rule over them. Always remember, no matter how crowded the top seems to be, there is always an extra space to accomodate you….only be interested enough to go for it.
Much love!
Please feel free to share this and drop your comments too. I would really appreciate it.