Last night, the President announced that international travel to Ghana will once again be possible, starting from the 1st of September. I know we are all still concerned about COVID-19, but I absolutely love to travel, and so, having our airport reopened for business evokes all the exciting prospects of once again, taking trips to beautiful places. 

I’m sure I am not the only Ghanaian who lay awake last night, playing back some of the most amazing trips I’ve ever been on. One in particular that came to mind was a trip to South Africa in 2017. I travelled on Kenya Airways, and it was nothing short of a heavenly experience. Great service, comfort, convenience and an exceptionally hospitable crew.

Now, first I must confess that as a passenger I’m rather high maintenance. I travel with insulin, so i  need a cool place to store it, then i need to fetch it regularly so i can inject after each meal, i need lots of water because the cabin pressure makes me dehydrated. I also need painkillers, because my teeth vibrate … basically, I’m the most wretched soul during flights, and it literally takes a village to get my poor soul from A to B.

Well on Kenya Airways, that “village” was a lovely lady named Eva. All through the flight, she kept a big smile on her face, no matter how often I called for her help. At one point, I felt so guilty about the amount of work Iwas giving her that I went up front during a quiet moment, just so I could thank her, and apologise for being such a handful.

But she shook her head with a smile, and said, “You know, straight out of college, i wanted to be a flight attendant. I competed with hundreds of applicants from all over Kenya to get this job. Every day i put on this uniform, i realise how lucky i am to be doing the job i always dreamed of. I’m fulfilling my destiny every day with everything I do. Every time you ask for my help, you give me another chance to fulfill my purpose in life. So don’t thank me. I should rather thank you”.

I tell you, I was moved. I know we all talk about taking pride in our work, but I wonder whether we appreciate what it truly means to do that. We all insist that we love what we do, but in reality, we only love it until a challenge comes along.

When we apply for jobs, we say things like, “oh, i have excellent customer service skills”‘ or, “I’m a real problem-solver”, or, my favourite, “I work best under pressure”. We say these things because we want to get the job. But when the job is given to us and the first difficult customer walks through the door, we lose our patience with them. We are all problem-solvers until we encounter problems. We all work best under pressure, until we are put under pressure.

Today, I would like to recommend Eva’s attitude to you. Just cast your mind back to the day you interviewed for the job you’re complaining about today. Do you remember the things you said about yourself? Well those things you said became the purpose for which you were employed. So permit me to ask: just how well are you fulfilling your purpose?

A new week is here. Together, I want us to make the most of it. I want us to consider every challenge, every task, every obstacle, every moment of crisis as just another opportunity for us to fulfill our purpose. Let’s welcome these opportunities and grab each one as it comes. That’s how you go from being indifferent to making a difference.

My name is Kojo Yankson, and it is the pressure that gives me pleasure.