“A man’s life doesn’t consist in the abundance of the things he possess.”
It’s a reminder we need to keep before us, these eternal words of Jesus as we go about this transient journey called life.
It’s true what Akon said, “Even the life that you have is borrowed because you are not promised tomorrow. So live your life as if every day is going to be your last.”
I’m not ordinarily very reflective on the subject of death. However, the death resulting from a car accident of one of my mentors, Kunle Olaifa, whom I greatly respect, forced me to again confront the inevitability of life.
Isn’t it a wise counsel from the writer of Ecclesiastes not to distance yourself from the house of mourning? We can learn far more life shaping lessons there than where success and merry making abounds.
I met Kunle during my first two years as a member of AIESEC Ibadan. He was one of those mentors who inspired us to become more and achieve more as AIESECers. He was a former local chapter president at the University of Ilorin.
Best known for straight up and frank talk, Kunle shared his passion with young people about personal and career development. My encounter with him continued in 2012 at the Workplace and Enterprise Readiness programe (2013).
At WeReady 2013, I was coordinating the organization of the event and was responsible to follow him up to ensure he doesn’t miss his training schedule, one of those commitment to youth and career development that he kept in spite of his busy schedule in the corporate world.
He wasn’t even paid for it. Yet he would give nothing less than 4-5 hours of his hectic schedule on those days he was scheduled, both to train and to counsel young people afterwards.
He was always humble, kind and approachable. The kind of person you want to talk to after a seminar.
I was privileged to facilitate a session just before him at WeReady 2014. He shared his vast experience in the field of recruitment across various nations all over the world, resume writing, interviewing skills and the use of social media in career development.
I vividly remember him asking a question he self-assuredly knew nobody in the audience would have an answer. In a bid to show that I have built on the things he taught me, I shared my answer with the class which became a point of illustration for a part of the topic he was teaching.
But what am I driving at? Kunle Olaifa had an impact on me, both near and afar.
I’m finding it difficult to make sense of his demise. I even had plans to include him on a project I was scheming on towards the end of the year.
Career wise, he was BIG but you would hardly notice. He didn’t have that air around him. He was in the business dailies on HR issues. He was until his death the Head of HR at Samsung West Africa.
Kunle’s potential wasn’t yet at its peak and there was going to be more if not for his death. Indeed, Nigeria has lost one of its best minds in the HR profession.
Barely two Sundays ago, we still shared our friendly hug in church and I simply can’t believe I won’t be seeing him again. He was one of the greeters at Daystar Christian Centre, the ones who smiled, welcomed you to church and wished you a great week.
I’m broken because I believe he still had more years of impact ahead of him with Career Solutions Africa and his numerous projects. But God knows best.
Kunle was bigger than his job. He had an influence and network especially among young people that is rarely seen among many pompous and accomplished professionals of his caliber. He only had to sneeze and a lot of us will rush to his aid.
But now he is gone but he will live forever in the hearts of some of us.
I remember how he always retweeted my blog posts, exposing me to his twitter audience to read my content. They were small things but they meant a lot to me that he found my writing useful to share. In person, he showed through his gestures and warmth that he believed in me. He fondly called me my guy.
He was in fact one of those who first inspired me to take social media seriously and to use the internet for learning, something I have taken to beyond expectation.
It gets me asking – what will my legacy be?
Trust me, we don’t value Kunle because of his accomplishments. True, we respect his accomplishments but he lives in our heart because of the little ways he impacted us while just doing his own thing.
A friend still told me that he was still at AIESEC Ibadan shortly before his death to inspire the young leaders there.
I wish I had the power to reverse this but it reminds me of our frail humanity and that man at his peak is often like dust, soon gone with the winds.
It reminded me that my Impact and service is more important than my accomplishments.
And that is the lesson of today.
You will leave this earth someday. Death is inevitable. You are not here forever. Whatever impact you want to make, do not postpone it. Imagine If Kunle thought he was too busy to help others grow and instead focused solely on building his career.
Do you think I will be writing this? You bet I won’t.
I hate to be cold but people die every day. It is one of the realities of life that I grew up with. But it’s different when someone who has been a blessing to you and others die. You simply can’t shrug and say that’s just the way it is.
I wish it could be different. But when it can’t be. We need to learn from it. And it bears repeating.
Make your impact and service greater than your accomplishment.
I hope you and I who have the privilege of life will take this seriously.
#RIP kunle Olaifa.