Saturday 11 May 2024

A reflection on delaying instant gratification

The many gigs I overlooked

As I was walking around Manchester last night, I realised that Take That was playing at the AO Arena for 4 nights, having been moved from the unfortunate poor launching of the Coop Live venue in Manchester.

When they launched in 1990, I thought the 5 boys were some of the sexiest boys on the scene, I appreciated them more for their ability to dance and bringing such great energy to their performances. In those early years, they played the gay clubs in London and elsewhere. Indeed, Madonna, Kylie Minogue, and Anastacia among others have played at these venues too. Gays were probably their first big fans.

I guess I was not too keen on attending overly crowded venues. The music in Heaven and Bang was also too loud, you could hear and feel your eardrums beating, and it became unbearable after a while.

Fixing the issues happily

However, what came to mind was the memory of how I refused monetary reward for helping fix computer problems which even led to greater appreciation and gifts. In Nigeria, as I worked for IT Systems on the ground floor, there were occasions when Deji Sasegbon Publishers upstairs who were in the race to publish the Nigerian Supreme Court Cases would have an issue and ask for an engineer to visit and resolve it.

I would go up, fix the problem in 5 minutes and be on my way when Deji or D-Shash, as he was known to all, would dip in his pocket to give me 50 Naira, which was a quarter of my salary, I refused the offer, waving it aside that the issue was hardly worth anything. This happened a few times and I think he took my gesture to heart.

I left IT Systems to go into self-employment that everyone around me thought was crazy, yet, I was comfortably earning 10 times my salary from IT Systems, just teaching people about computers and even so, desktop publishing.

The result of delaying gratification

Before long, word got around about this desktop publishing whiz kid and Deji invited me for a conversation about being a desktop publishing consultant for his firm. His offer was broad and generous, not offering employment, flexible hours, attending a few days in the week, guiding, and teaching his team, whilst taking on some projects. The remuneration was a stipend and my ticket to the UK was paid for, whenever I was ready to travel.

The stint got me a few other jobs along with a directorial partnership with a legal firm that veered into desktop publishing from traditional printing, we called the outfit NextStep Limited, and I had 30% of the firm. I made my first visit to the UK in a while under the auspices of our firm to acquire equipment and software for our fledgling firm. Sadly, our venture did not last because my partner was not accustomed to the personality and confidence of a self-assured young man. I got on better with Deji, in all respects.

After returning from my business trip to the UK, I began to plan for my return as I saw opportunities to thrive and succeed, despite the odds and the impressions others had for my lowly academic qualifications despite my rather advanced computing skills.

Free tickets as great reward

In any case, I found myself fixing what in my view were minor computing problems for friends and acquaintances, never taking money from them because I felt those issues were insignificant. This laid up store for other rewards. Two tickets for Micheal Jackson, Earth Wind & Fire, and Bryan Adams, amongst many along with tickets for innumerable West End shows, none of which I could normally afford, but I would receive as gratitude for my help.

Then there were gifts and presents, even offers to spend as long as I wanted at villas by the sea that I never took up because I did not appreciate the value of such gestures. I know better now. It made me reflect on how delaying instant gratification does lay in a store a greater reward from the appreciative and many never forgot to extend that generosity at any opportunity they found to so do.

Life matters more than work

Invariably, while money does matter, it is not everything. It informs why I have preferred working in Europe where we have workers’ rights baked into any contractual agreement including the right to holiday and much more. I appreciate that Americans might earn a lot more for the kind of work I do, but none of them can take up to 10 weeks off a year and still have enough for the enjoyment of a work-life balance that emphasises life helping work be more productive.

Building goodwill helps networking and references that make for the essential connections in work and life. I am thankful that what I have gained from many of these relationships has been worth more than money can buy. Cultivate relationships over remuneration, and the rewards will always follow.

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