In those days (late ‘1990s to early 2000s) when recruiters come to campus for career talks, student workshops or seminars, they give us an idea of the kind of graduates they seek. Quite often, top of the list of abilities is ‘mental ability’.
I remember one pointed a finger at his skull, saying ‘we need graduates who can think’. Another stated it more bluntly, “we are looking for sellable heads”.
If you ever worked in a consulting or an accounting firm, you know what that means. In fact, the expression “B.O.B.O” originated from defunct Arthur Andersen as an acronym for “Billing Our Brains Out”. So you hear something like “Please don’t Bobo me”
What was hardly mentioned is the ultimate ownership of ‘the head’ or the real beneficiary of its commercial use.
From my experience in the past thirteen years, a few thoughts come to mind. Some of these are expressed as metaphors, so you don’t have to take them too seriously.
Oftentimes in life, you’re either using your head or someone else is using it. A few times, both are happening.
When someone teaches you how to use your head (either for yourself or for others), it is called education.
When someone uses your head for sometime so that you can use it for yourself in future, it is called apprenticeship.
When someone is using your head because you cannot use it for yourself, it is sheer slavery.
When someone uses your head due to your ignorance or lack of capacity, and pays you far less than your due, it is exploitation.
When you use your head by yourself to create value for others, that is enterprise.
When a person’s head is active but unused, it is called indolence, or worse still redundancy.
When your business requires you to engage others, please make sure they learn, grow and can one day use their heads for themselves, or own a part of the business, if they so desire. And you’re willing to share the risk.
In all of these, the effective and creative use of the human head is not mere labour. It is indeed the highest form of capital.
What are you doing with yours?
– By David Adeoye