When I was barely four years old, a family friend brought my mother a gift. It was the biggest bar of chocolate I had ever seen – about half my height at the time – the size of a bar of key soap.
The moment I set my eyes on it, I wanted to eat it so badly, but my mother wouldn’t allow it. She said we would all have a piece in a few weeks’ time, at Christmas. A few weeks?! How on earth was I supposed to wait that long? My mother must have seen the look of desperate craving in my eye because she placed the chocolate bar in her suitcase on top of the wardrobe in their bedroom.
I remember watching her with the strangest feeling of desperation and deprivation, which I now recognise to be impatience. Why was she putting it all the way up in her suitcase? I was barely two feet tall, so there was no way I was going to reach it up there. Or so she thought…
That evening, while everyone was watching TV, I snuck into their bedroom. I moved two bedside stands and placed them next to each other, I brought a plastic chair and placed it on top of the stands and climbed on top of the whole precarious pile to open the suitcase and pull out the chocolate bar. I then sat on the chair, unwrapped the extension-board-sized bar of goodness and started munching away. Of course, I was caught in the act, at which point I burst into tears from the sheer embarrassment of it all.
Standing there with my sticky little fingers wrapped around the chocolate bar, and tears streaming down my face while my parents and older sister laughed and took pictures, I know I may have been too young to understand all the complexities of my shameful situation, but I definitely remember thinking the brief taste of the chocolate was definitely not worth the hassle that followed.
So that was the end of my criminal career, but definitely not the end of my impatience. And my friends, I can tell you today, that almost every mistake I have ever made since can be traced directly or indirectly to impatience. You name it, from my health to my marriage to my career to major investments and life-changing decisions… anytime I’ve got it wrong, it was because I simply refused to wait.
I saved for years to buy my dream car at the time, an Audi A4 S-line twin-turbo that could do 0-60 in 5 seconds flat. The minute I had enough for the deposit, I walked into the dealership and bought the car. I couldn’t wait another minute. The very next week, Audi released a new model, and the price of the old model I had just bought was slashed by almost 40%!
You see, my problem is, I want results now. I can’t stand bureaucracy of any kind. Some people just don’t understand how people can deliberately do things to delay the final result. Why? Why don’t you want it now?
Well, as I mature, I have begun to slowly understand why. You see, good things take time. Time allows thought. And thought leads to discernment. Discernment is an essential ingredient of good decisions. And my friends, you can never have too much discernment. We call you our discerning listeners, so I have no doubt you know exactly what I mean.
Today, I want us all to resolve together, that whatever we’re doing, whatever we’re pursuing, whatever we’re applying for or aiming at, we will take a minute, pause, and think it through a little bit.
For example, many are now calling for the government to lock down the country now with mandatory quarantine. And you know, that might be the right solution. But before we rush to that, have we stopped to think about it?
How will our brothers and sister who sleep 7 to 10 in a room in the slums isolate themselves? How will our neighbours self-quarantine without toilets in their homes? How will our fellow Ghanaians stay at home when their only way of feeding themselves is by going out to work daily? How will this nation lock down without enough water or power? How will we enforce a lockdown? Have we thought it through?
Sometimes, deliberately delaying the end result is the best favour we could ever do ourselves. Instant gratification is just that – instant. And it’s often followed by regret, as the fullness of time reveals the folly of our haste.
My name is Kojo Yankson: first, thought, then action. That’s the process. Let’s not be rushed through it.
GOOD MORNING, GHANAFO!