A stimulating guide to the path of self-discovery

July 7, 2021
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A review of Olushola Adeborode Kolawole’s Practical Approaches To Choosing A Career by Folorunsho Moshood.

IN philosophy, the truth about oneself is anchored on an injunction, ‘Know thyself’, which has responses from psychologists. In seeking this truth, the therapist and the experimentalist act differently. While the therapist seeks the truth that illuminates a single life, the experimentalist seeks the truth that applies to all human beings in equal measure. Human beings, however, gain insights to the truth and know themselves fully through the reading of stimulating books or seeking guidance. Even the scripture says, ‘Know the truth, and the truth shall set you free’. Knowing the truth about yourself is the process of self-discovery.

Olushola Adeborode Kolawole – OAK’s book exposes the truth that applies to every student in the process of choosing a career. It is a book that leads the reader to the path of ‘self-discovery’.Apart from the introductory chapter that explains its focus and target audience, the book is divided into 10 distinct but interwoven chapters. Though the setting of the narratives in this book is Nigeria, the illustrations and examples can be adapted in other settings for easy understanding.

Chapter one begins with a personal story abouta career mismatch. Through the story, OAK takes the reader on the journey of what he has become today – from money/peer-induced career to passion-induced one. A graduate of Economics and aspiring Chattered Accountant, the author later set himself free by heeding the call of his passion as an organiser and administrator. For his Master’s Degree and later PhD, he opted for Logistics and Supply Chain Management, which has now become the bedrock of his happiness.  This chapter defines the term, ‘Career’ and helps in dividing it into two – legitimate and illegitimate. The application of his story and four career tips conclude this chapter.

The next three chapters explore three vital checks in making career choices. These are Ability Check, Talent Check and Interest Check. In chapter two, two brief illustrative stories are used to explain the term, ‘Ability’. One story treats Mental Ability while the other, Physical Ability. The message on Ability Check is that one must choose a career that s/he has ability to do to be able to excel.  The chapter sets four determinant questions that will help in identifying one’s ability.

If ability is defined as power to do something, talent is the natural ability to do something very well. The use of talents is most common among artisans,OAK admonishes that any artisan who will excel in his or her choosing career must be educated. He uses two brief exemplary stories in chapter three to explain the term, ‘Talent’ and the significance of choosing a career based on talent. Four positive steps to be followed in putting one’s talent into good uses conclude chapter three.

The expository on Ability and Talent serves as the tonic for the reader to continue reading the book, but the subject matter of chapter four makes the book to breathe in the mind of the reader. It is the chapter that deals with the term, ‘Interest’. Thus, if one has ‘Ability’ and ‘Talent’ to do something, s/he must develop an ‘Interest’ in the something. Without ‘Interest’, ‘Ability’ and ‘Talent’ will wane considerably.  This chapter reveals that career choice is never accidental, though complex process influenced by the decisions of both individual and social forces. The chapter leaves the reader with ‘What works for A may not work for B’.

The subsequent five chapters elucidate some basic tasks that one should undertake in consonance with the three terms. The first task is studying. OAK reveals the various strategies of acquiring education as well as some limitations. Towards the end of chapter five, he uses the example of Haben Girma, the Eritrean Refugee who, though deaf and blind, pursued her law dreams and today is Harvard Law’s first deafblind graduate, to buttress his points on education and achieving success in difficult circumstances.

In setting career goals, OAK is not seeking a perfectionist, who usually sets unrealistic goals, but one who will be bold enough to set realistic ones. To enlighten the reader on goal setting, in chapter six, he explains three kinds of goals in relation to time and seven glaring steps in goal setting. He rounds off chapter six with a comparative analysis of experiences of those who have goals to achieve and those who don’t have.

The task of actualisation becomes necessary for the goal to come into fruition.  Actualisation is the process of practising what one has studied in school. In chapter seven of this book, several factors that may hinder a graduate from practising what s/he has studied are explained. The chapter is rounded off with what actualisation entails.

As brief as chapter eight is, it brings to the fore the whole essence of this book. Whatever career problem one may have, it is pertinent for the person to seek guidance from a counsellor or learned person. Reading good books on career choice will lead to ‘self-discovery’.

However, the feelings of helplessness occurred through what we cannot control. Underneath a complex situation lies a simple solution – one needs not to be helpless. Chapter nine gives simple ways of overcoming complex situations especially those that may be imposed on students by social forces such as parents, school’s regulations, and poverty.

Chapter 10 enjoins the reader to be cognisance of our ever-changing world. One’s course of study must be relevant to today’s world of work otherwise one becomes irrelevant. This is an unusual book, possibly one of the best in the field of career choice. The author has successfully applied some aspects of lateral thinking in helping young people choose their paths to self-discovery.

The storytelling approach is effectively employed as a powerful technique in reaching out to the target audience, young people, incontextually anchored ways. This is the strongest point of the book, which also provides adequate covers for its few inadequacies. It is a must read for every student, graduate, potential worker, career counsellor and parent.

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