One of the best things I love to do is to break things into their simplest forms and then form a philosophy out of them. I actually learned this from the law of first principles. A first principle is a basic assumption that cannot be deduced any further. You cannot break it further — you have reached the elemental form. The assumption has been stripped to its empirical state — the barest minimum. Aristotle defined a first principle as “the first basis from which a thing is known.” Sorry, let me not bore you with my engineering background.
In the spirit of first principles, I present thee with the law of natural consequences. It is a very simple philosophy. It simply suggests that if you continue in a certain pathway, you will end up with what is at the end of that pathway. The Yorubas have a saying that if the boy does not die, he will grow up to be a man. QED. If you keep lying, then lying becomes a habit. Further down the path, you will become a liar. You and lying would be 5 & 6 — inseparable. You become the SI unit of lying.
What the law of natural consequence enables you to do is either course-correct or make you check the path that you are on. Will this path lead you to where you are heading to? If you intend to be a medical doctor, but you spend all your time in a class meant for architecture students, you will either end up as an architect or at some point realize that you are in the wrong class and then course correct.
Let’s try more examples.
If you stay in the rain, you will get wet. Wetness is the natural consequence of exposing yourself to the rain. If you doubt this, you can try it out on a rainy day. Oh, please do not go legal on me🤣!!!!! Do not say “how about if I am wearing a raincoat?”. Yeah, you may evade the rain but I am sure you know exactly what I was saying in the first place. In other words, if you want to stay dry and not wet, stay out of the rain.
The natural consequence of hanging out with thieves is that one day, you will join them to steal. Do not worry for I understand thee. I know your reason for hanging out with them was not to become a thief, but these things rub off. You start with hearing the gist of their escapades and how they have been able to evade the law. You find it very interesting. It seems like a movie to you. Later, they will tell you how some law enforcement folks are their friends and how nothing can ever happen to them. Then you actually see them pallying-up. Your curiosity grows into interest. Furthermore, you will join them since they are almost invincible.
If you have seen the movie, The Godfather, the man never planned to be in the underworld. It started with him being friends with thieves. Then one day, one of them asked him to escort him somewhere. That somewhere, was a place to steal. He became a stealing accomplice. Actually, he did not know what was going on until the man finished the stealing operation. Then he realized, “This was smooth”. Then he did another, then another…before you know it, he became a boss of his own.
As a young boy, I enjoyed watching football, whether it was on the screen or just watching others play. One day, while watching people play, the team was not complete. I was told to join. I felt I was not up to level. One trial led to another opportunity. At first, I fumbled and was laughed at. But I did not give up. I noticed how others played. I became more aware of how to align my velocity with that of the ball. I saw how others ran into space and I copied shamelessly. Within a year I was featuring and playing at their level. I became one of them. It was a natural consequence of playing daily.
In college when my grades were hard hit, I went to a lecturer to seek counsel. He told me that I should spot those doing well in class and I should start asking them questions even on matters that I already understood. I took his advice and implemented it. My grades skyrocketed. It was such a great learning experience because some of the scholars in my class showed me different ways of understanding some phenomena.
During that time also, I asked another top medical student what she did to keep her grades up. She told to me to always read. She said, “you need to ensure that every day you are in touch with your books”. That led me to start a habit that I have to date — keeping in touch with that was important daily. As an engineering student, I used the day to calculate and the night to learn the concepts. I am naturally a nocturnal person so that night was for heavy lifting (reading, cramming, learning new concepts) and the days were for attending classes, clarifying things with the scholars and solving calculations.
When I combined these two great nuggets of wisdom from my lecturer and my friend, what you become by following such advice became inevitable. By the end of that year, I also become one of them. The law of natural consequence…..at play again.
Whatsoever you are doing today is a vote for your future self.
Whatsoever you are not doing today is also a vote to your future self.
You have to choose what you are going to do or what you would not do.
Both are active votes to who you will become in the future.
Assuming you catch yourself always exaggerating things. If you want to see yourself as a man of integrity, whose word is his bond, then you can do something about it. You can start today to course-correct.
It will be difficult at the beginning.
There would be temptations to go back to your past way of doing things that have yielded results (though you know that it has made you a person that you do not like).
However, consistently and persistently staying on the path of your “yes” being “yes” and your “no” being “no”, will make you a better man. The bonus is that it would make you an example to your kids and your community.
This whole process is termed “concerted cultivation”. We will handle that on another day. Concerted cultivation can latch on to the law of natural consequence and make a success out of thee. The quote below is when concerted cultivation jams the law of natural consequences.
It is never too late to start.
If you think it is too late to start or to course-correct then you may stay forever in the same spot. If you are 40 today and you need to start that MBA, by 42 you will be done. Now, this is the fun part, whether you start the MBA today or not, two years will come and go. So in two years, will you be the same person with regrets or the man that did it against all odds?
The choice is yours.
I am not offering a solution in a pill. Nah! Far from it.
If you are changing habits or trying to form new ones, the journey will be tedious and arduous. However, if you continue on the same path, success is inevitable. When that habit is formed, natural consequences will take it from there.
Let’s have a toast to your success.
All the best on this path.
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