A good friend requested for a meeting with me recently. According to him, he wants me to mentor him because he wants to take his craft to the next level. As someone who is always eager to help, I decided to grant him audience and gave him a Sunday evening appointment, so that we can get to meet in a relaxed atmosphere.

Sunday evening at about 5.15pm, I got a call from him, signalling that he had arrived and went outside to welcome him. Not long afterwards, he settled in and we kicked off the discussion. For the purpose of this post, let us call him Daniel:

Daniel: CFA, thank you for accepting to see me at such a short notice.

CFA: Always my pleasure, you are my boss now!

Daniel: I decided to come and see you to get your thoughts and ideas on how to make the most of what I do. Currently, I provide services for a number of organisations, but they hardly get to pay. Sometimes, it takes them months to pay up and it is making life unbearable for me. Due to this fact, I have started doing a number of other things, such as public speaking, lecturing, training, etc. I am, however, saddened because, they are still not adding up financially.

CFA: Welcome to the world of the club! I must confess to you that I am faced with similar challenges. Monetisation of creativity is a big challenge, especially, in a country like ours, that has not really understood what it means to invest in knowledge. Individuals will rather spend money attending a comedy show or musical concert, while organisations will rather spend billions on entertainment figures rather than on you, who is trying to add value intellectually. We try to copy the United States, but we do so wrongly. While Hollywood and the rest earn big, so does an average lawyer, professor, doctor, startup founder, etc. Our system needs to understand that, the knowledge economy is one that will be characterised by rapid innovation.

Daniel: I feel you CFA, but one of my biggest mistakes was that I did not get to move to Canada when I had the opportunity. Now, I am regretting it. All my friends have moved and many more are moving.

CFA: So, why are you not moving? Nothing is stopping you. I know for a fact that they are still welcoming more skilled workers.

Daniel: I know, but what am I going to do there? Work?

CFA: Yes

Daniel: No, I want to be an entrepreneur because, it is what I am cut out to do.

CFA: Then, stick around here and make things happen.

Daniel: How about a number of guys that have made it big online – all they do is post on instagram and social media. From what I see, they are not doing badly because, they have built a following.

CFA: Like who?

Daniel: ***** ********* (I choose to keep it secret)

CFA: Why do you think they have made it big? Is because of what they post and how they dress? I can tell you for a fact that, the person you mentioned now, is also struggling but, because he has mastered the art of social media marketing and personal branding, you think that he is all balling – that is a huge lie.

Now, I know the root cause of your challenge and seeming feeling of inadequacy and hopelessness – it is simply due to the fact that you are spending so much time on social media. Knowingly and unknowingly, you have started to compare yourself with what is mostly unreal. This is not a healthy lifestyle.

Daniel: Yes, it is true, My wife has been complaining about how much time I spend on social media. I have become some sort of addict and I think that needs to change.

CFA: Yes it needs to change. Nothing stops you from making the most of social media but make sure you create a barricade around your heart, such that nothing gets to you. Stop snooping around aimlessly. Rejoice with others, but never covet, always having it at the back of your mind that, there are more fake stuff going on in the social space and if you are as radical as I am, then, you should silence all those app notifications because, they are a major source of distractions.

Daniel: Wow CFA, thank you so much for this insight.

CFA: If I said nothing meaningful during this first mentoring session then, just control your social media usage.

Daniel: God bless you.

CFA: Amen!

Lessons from this Conversation

  1. Social Media plays an important role, but unfortunately, it now fuels comparison, which can make people unhappy.
  2. Research has clearly shown that, there is a connection between your performance/productivity and your level of social media usage.
  3. Addiction is Addiction, whether it is being addicted to a service, solution, substance or whatever. Use social media, but do not be an addict as, I believe, Mark Zuckerberg is likely not an addict.
  4. Live a life of gratitude. There is a tendency that, the more of other people’s so-called happy life that we see online, the less we want to be grateful. I find myself falling into this trap every now and then, but at the end of the day, I know that being grateful to the creator is key to one’s overall well being.
  5. Finally, if you shut down your phone for a day, the world is not going to end. Why not give it a shot?