9 June 2014
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Get to know The Other Side

If I say Nigeria, what would you think?

Most people, I think, would say “kidnapped girls”, “terrorism”, “corruption”, “scam letters”, “poverty” or some other negative word, a nd all those descriptions could be used on Nigeria.

But I just came back from delivering two speeches in Lagos and my strongest insight from that trip is how slanted our world view becomes when we only get our news about the world from the news.

It’s like some parts of the world can only get negative news.

Yes, Nigeria has huge problems. But did you also know that the country just became the largest economy in Africa? That its 170 million (!) nationals is expected to have grown to 400 (!) million in 35 years, making it the 3rd largest country in the world? That Nigerians are a very, very, happy people?

A few years back you had to carry huge bags of cash with you if you went to Nigeria because there were no credit cards, not even ATMs. Today the ATMs are plenty (I had 3 different ones to chose from in my hotel but settled all my bills with credit card.)

A few years back the 170 million in the country had only a few hundred thousand phone lines. Now there is 20 million mobile phones, and growing fast.  The country has gone from being the world’s second largest importer of cement to being a net exporter, and so on.

Nigeria is “gloom” but also “boom”.

But we only hear about the gloom, or mostly a nd it got me thinking. When we only hear about one side of a story, we start to believe that, that is the only story there is and that limits our minds.

In his famous poem “The road not taken” Robert Frost wrote:

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

I love those lines.

To take the road less traveled should be celebrated – but what truly made the difference was not that he took the road less traveled by – but that he traveled at all.

Traveling – both physical and mental traveling, as in seeing new places, new sights, new ideas – is what makes us grow. Is what makes us less close-minded. More open-minded.

And if there is anything the worlds needs right now it is more open-minded people. More people being open to new, better – and yes, different ideas.

When ever there is something that you feel strongly about – especially something you feel very negative about – question if you are really looking at from multiple perspectives. Or if your perspective could benefit from looking at the same issue from some other points of view. It usually can.

– Fredrik 

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