MY ACADEMIC SUCCESS PRINCIPLES BY CHIKEZIE UZUEGBUNAM
Intro by Edith Ohaja:
In 2017, Chikezie Uzuegbunam was named one of the 100 Brightest Young Minds in Africa. He also gave a TED Talk to top Business Executives/Communicators in the 2017 edition of the MasterClass conference by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC, Africa Region).These recognitions came as no surprise because the 30-year-old’s numerous research works have been published by such renowned publishers as Routledge, Taylor & Francis, Intellect and Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Chikezie, who was Best Student in Media and Communication at every previous level of study (diploma, bachelor’s and master’s degrees), is currently a doctoral scholar and teaching assistant at the University of Cape Town’s Centre for Film and Media Studies. He is also a lecturer at the Mass Communication Department of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka.
In view of the foregoing, I requested that he share with my readers his Academic Success Principles and he graciously obliged. What we, therefore, have in this guest post are not ideas borrowed from here and there but standards that have actually worked for Chikezie in his own endeavours. As expected, his writing is lucid and engaging. You will also find more than a few profound quotes in it. It is long but I was loath to break up such a beautiful and important piece into parts. I am confident that this post will be a great blessing not only to students and teachers at all levels but to others who desire success in fields beyond academics.
A whale of thanks to Chikezie. May God continue to take him higher and use him to bless many in Jesus’ name. More information about him is available at the end of this post. Do join the discussion after reading and kindly share the post on various social media to benefit others.
MY ACADEMIC SUCCESS PRINCIPLES by Chikezie Uzuegbunam
In today’s world where people aspire to be politically-correct, where status-quos continue to be challenged and stories of people who “dropped out of school to become millionaires” fly, such things as academic success continue to be questioned and discarded by the younger generation. Education is increasingly becoming an endangered norm. To these cohort, it is no longer “fashionable” to go to school; money can be made outside citadels of learning and money is what the world needs. The major challenge isn’t that academic excellence has seemingly gone out of fashion, it is a deeper question of a generation that is unprepared to play by the rules; a generation of impatient people; a generation of shortcuts and of unhallowed hastiness.
People want to make it in life without stress: students want to pass exams and get degrees without going through the process. People want to be successful by dubious means; no longer is hard work extolled. Many want to bypass the process and get the product. They want to get the glory without understanding the story behind the glory. From my experience travelling the world, this problem isn’t context-specific, it is rather a common pattern found in the younger generation, from Africa, Asia, to Europe and the Middle East. Everyone wants a stress-less life. People seldom want to do the “dirty” hard work. Youth are becoming academically lethargic and among the millennials, there is little drive for success, as many are continually distracted by a whole lot from digital technologies and the Internet. Again, society is too fast-paced to pause and notice the deep sense of loss felt by many young people, and one in which they are expected to make it through hell or high waters alone, to figure things out by themselves.
I am very gratified to say that education got me where I am today, but with a great dose of God’s grace and favour. Academic excellence is not a congenital trait. It cannot be inherited. It is not a virtue that I acquired naturally; I worked it out. Academic excellence is more than just achieving good grades; it is equally, maximum development of your intellectual capacities and skills. Academic excellence comes with a price, only those who understand its worth can pay for it.Academic excellence is not a congenital trait. It is worked out. - Chikezie Uzuegbunam Click To Tweet
Academic Success Principles I Apply and Recommend
My academic success principles may not be anything fascinating, but when you consider that these same principles that I am about to share, have within a decade, changed my life, made me a fulfilled young person at 30, brought me before prominent people, given me international visibility, then you might just begin to think again, to ponder on these things. I promise not to sugar-coat anything but to simply be downright honest.
1. Discover who you were created to be and why you want to go to school:
One of the first and amazing things God did for me and which had a direct impact on the extent to which I became academically successful, was my discovery of what I was created to become. Once I was able to realise this by the help of the Spirit of God, through a series of events in my life – including a surreal childhood and my father’s demise when I turned 15 – I was able to define why I wanted to go to school, why I wanted to go in for the long haul. If you do not define why you want to go to school, and how education fits into the Big Picture of your future, you’d struggle.
(Related: Don’t Be a Square Peg in a Round Hole)
2. Embrace hard work and God’s grace:
I acknowledge God in all that I do. We live in a world that believes attributing success to some unseen God somewhere is plain stupid and trivialises the essence of hard work in the equation of life. I am a staunch believer in hard work. In fact, I often would say that Christians who go to church to shout Hallelujahs and “claim” miracles and breakthroughs and go home to sleep, are plain foolish. I completely understand that without hard work and committed discipline, success would remain a pipe dream for many of us. However, when I consider that there had been times I worked so hard, when all I did was work and not play, and yet, I needed some sort of spiritual endorsement to push through with something major, I realise that Christians cannot afford to keep God’s favour and grace out of the equation of life if they must get ahead.
3. Practice isolation:
Success is a lonely place, a lonely journey. Successful people – in whatever endeavour – are those with very few friends, and the same could be said of me. In fact, my experience with friendship has been truly odd. From childhood, it has always been difficult to keep friendships with age mates; I have always been drawn to older people. Those days, I would cry, and I’d feel terribly lonely because I could not get the bond I needed with my contemporaries. Today, I know better – God was preparing me for the future ahead. I accomplish more when I am alone; not when surrounded by people, by friends.
4. Share your knowledge:
Another principle I would recommend is to share what you know. From my days as a diploma student, I found myself sharing what I know with classmates and friends. I am never one to hoard what I know because for me, there is always that exhilarating joy in teaching other people. It was in doing this that I learned a huge lesson about learning: the easiest way to learn and master anything is by teaching others. The Bible says in the book of Proverbs that, “One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.” – (Chapter11, verse 24 – NIV)
5. Learn time management:
Time management is key. In the fast-paced world in which we live, time management has become quite far-fetched for many, especially young people. With mobile digital devices enough to sway our attention and to keep us “hippy”, millennials are always caught in the web of prioritising the wrong things. Time spent on the Internet and social media robs us of the discipline and capacity to give attention to important aspects of our life. Time management is self-control, and the Bible says that a person without the latter is like a city without walls. Time is a gift from God, and if you waste it doing immaterial things, you sin. Proper time management is what distinguishes excellent and successful people. Time wastage occurs when there is no vision and focus. When this happens, time becomes a burden, instead of a tool.
(Related: Cultivating A Spirit of Excellence)
6. Go the extra mile:
It pays to go the extra mile. Going the extra mile means going beyond the norm, beyond what is convenient and ordinary. Stars shine at night and not in the day. If you desire to be a star, then you must get ready to shine in the night, to work hard when others are sleeping, when others are seemingly enjoying life. By going the extra mile, I also mean going beyond and above what you are taught or given, to self-learn. The Internet is a huge learning resource; however, it remains largely under-utilised. Education is free on the Internet, but lack of desire makes it costly.
7. Seek mentorship:
Submit yourself to mentorship. Find, submit to, listen to and learn from people who have been where you want to go. Benefit from their experience, advice and guidance. Choose your mentors wisely and try to develop a real, beneficial relationship with them. Good mentorship is hard to find these days as either the mentors are too busy and impatient to guide anybody, or the mentees are unavailable and too self-conceited to submit. One of my greatest secrets to success is that I surround myself with mentors more than I do with friends. The Bible says that in the multitude of counsel, victory is guaranteed.
8. Be hopeful and thankful:
Finally, but far from being the least, be a possibilitarian – expect the best from yourself, always. Keep a positive attitude. Do not go about with a long face expecting something bad to happen or your plans to go askew. Pursue that dream with vigour and a positive outlook. A depressed heart dries up a person’s life. The joy of the Lord is your strength all the time. Celebrate your small breakthroughs while striving for the big ones: do not despise the days of small beginnings. I always pull off a special thanksgiving in church or secretly whenever I achieve anything in my life. God is happy when you do this, and He’s moved to do more.
Nelson Mandela once said: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” I strongly believe that knowledge is power, and the use of that knowledge is even greater power and greater force to change your life and the world. Most people are often afraid to chase their dreams. For me, I constantly live in fear of not even trying, and so I always pursue, to be better than I was yesterday. God is intentional with each and everyone of us because He takes care to build into us gifts and talents we would need to succeed in our life. Discover yours, and go to school to polish them. Perhaps the problem is your fear of failure? Hear this: There is strength in you that you never dreamed of. There is understanding in your brain that you never believed possible. I share with you one of the greatest words I’ve ever heard, by Samuel Beckett: “Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” Welcome to Success Land. You get here by no other means.Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. - Nelson Mandela Click To Tweet
About the Writer:
I am a lover of Jesus, a lecturer, a PhD scholar and a mentor. My family background and an early thrust into the world of responsibility, got me thirsting after the fatherhood of God, Christ’s saving help, and the friendship of the Holy Spirit. My life became filled with meaning afterward and I would later pursue my life vision and goals with such vigour, grace and passion as have surprised me and those around me. Besides honouring God through my secular work, I desperately yearn to see young people of my generation become their fullest selves. As a proud product of keen mentorship, I run a youth mentoring clinic and use the same platform to bring hope and succour to young people, especially in Nigeria.
I am a media opinion writer and my works have appeared in several online and traditional media platforms. To view some of my works, feel free to go to my Academia profile. My Facebook page is Chikezie E Uzuegbunam Professional. You can also learn more about me and my work by checking my profile on ResearchGate and Google Scholar. May God help you attain the heights you desire in Jesus’ name.
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