Seven years of plenty

Wilson Orhiunu

First Gentleman with Wilson Orhiunu

Email: Twitter: @Babawilly

Life events occur in seasons and seven years is just about when things change.  Nothing is ever static in life.  We struggle uphill; celebrate the summit and when the time at the top is over, we start the downhill journey.

Everyone can see this to be true in retrospect 14 years down the line. Knowing where we are at this very moment is almost impossible for everybody.  People rarely tell you they are at the peak of their game and everything is going well. It might be that they feel they are on an upward climb and would peak later. Sometimes they may not want to appear immodest.

It is very easy for observers to tell that an individual is at peak performance but self-assessment of performance is fraught with the errors of bias.  That is why the greatest performers have coaches and mentors.

Listening to eulogies of old men show clearly that retrospective reflections demonstrate the cycles of life.

The capacity for skill acquisition and subsequent performance varies as time goes by. The body’s physiological capabilities and the demands and opportunities in the environment are all constantly changing.

Learning is best done with a young brain. These are the primary and secondary school years. Intelligence however, peaks later at about 18-19 years old when information processing is fastest.

The teenage years represent seven years of abundant learning capabilities.  It is also a time when there are little responsibilities, no dependants, no debts and high energy levels.  The social life is an additional distraction.  The battle for life is to fight to keep the mind focused on the area where there is abundant opportunity for success in the face of attractive distractions.

The next phase of life, after graduation from formal or informal education is when the energy levels are high and long hard hours at work are possible. The first flurry of money tends to flow in and usually gets squandered as the wisdom of fiscal prudence is lacking.  Fertility is also highest at this point and without discipline, it is possible for a man to father numerous children between the ages of 20 to 35 years of age.

For those in their 40s, who have not been crippled mentally by drug and alcohol addiction, they might notice that their abilities to communicate with people starts to peak.  Emotional intelligence peaks and social interactions and wisdom increase.  Those in a profession can now begin to lead and broker deals as they have learnt how best to choose their words – the definition of hard work changes.  It is a complete waste of a life, for someone who is in a seven-year period of high emotional intelligence to be locked away in a room doing work that involves little human contact.

In the late 50s and into the 60s, vocabulary improves.  These are times best suited for politics and being on the board of companies.

There are exceptions to every generalisation, but mostly people who miss the boat at any stage in life, regret and tend never to get on the boat again.

The good thing about life is when one flops at one stage, there is always the next phase.  The musician who suddenly has ideas for music popping out of his brain daily and drops hits back to back like a chicken laying eggs will be in that phase for a limited period.

That is the time not to get intoxicated with the cash flow but plan for the next wave of competence. Once there is a back catalogue of hits, then learning to do quality stage shows might be an option.  I watch unprepared artistes with no stage show and no statesmanship go on stage miming the songs and pointing the microphone at the crowd and getting paid bucket loads.  This lasts for just a phase. If the skills of being a stage performer are not picked up, when the hits dry up, it is game over.

The Nigerian musician, King Sunny Ade, is one who epitomises this as does the Rolling Stones.  One must exploit whatever phase of life one is in and then adapt it to a changing world.

Seven years of famine follows seven years of prosperity.  The good news is that it is not a famine in every sector of life or the economy.  The harvest might dry up but the technology to store and transport food might peak for seven years.

One needs to look closely to what is peaking and not lament the loss of the golden years of harvest. There are soccer stars that peaked as players and later peaked as very high earners only to retire and find no source of income in the game.  During the heady years of ‘cash avalanche’, they did not leverage their popularity on acquiring new skills that were stirring within them.  Hangers on and praise singers convinced them that the cash will continue to spring forth for an eternity and the lifestyle will continue.   Some players with good advisers prepare for retirement by leveraging on the growing communication skills that age brings and learnt to be journalists.  Gary Lineker, a good case in point.  He almost made me faint when I saw him commenting on athletics during the last Olympics.  Athletics! (there are retired footballers who cannot comment on football!).

The general knowledge of the world and the expedient use of information gathered throughout the years can be used till one’s last breath. There is always a chance to carve out a niche for one’s self if we listen to that inner voice and observe society well.