Ahmed: The World is Changing! Are You? Steps to elevating yourself

Dr. Nasir Ahmed is a Professor of Public Administration at Grambling State University. 

Since my teenage years, I got used to seeing ‘change’ happening around me right and left. My teenage years include attending a Civil War when Bangladesh became an independent country in 1971. We thought the sun will be shining on the land of Bengal forever. Sorry; things turned ugly pretty soon. Every family with some means tried to send their kids abroad for education and safety. I hung around for a while. After my High School and Bachelor’s degree, I landed in the USA for my Graduate studies – four decades ago. Of course, I was experiencing ‘change’ in every turn of my life. My assumptions about anything and everything was  hacked very regularly. So I want  to put some perspective on my life’s experience for the younger generation. 

The third decade of the current 21st century started with both hope and challenge. Hope is needed for inspiration and challenge indicates the difficulty in achieving goals. In terms of economic & political power rearrangement, the Third decade will be transformational for the world. Two pieces of data should be considered carefully, one occurring in the First decade and the other in the Second decade of this century.  

Since 2008, the economy of the developing countries superseded the economy of the advanced countries in PPP index. And since 2014, GDP based on PPP index, China became the largest economy in the world. These are mind boggling events happening in front of our own eyes after almost three/four centuries. We need to give attention to these events and many others – just to make sure, we are dealing with facts – not fictions or fake news.

Since I deal with young people all the time, I believe they are our best hope. But they can’t lead us if they are not prepared with factual knowledge.  

In this ever changing world, one needs to be alert all the time. You are changing, your surrounding is changing, the world is changing, the economy is changing, the culture is changing, the countries around the world are changing, the demography is changing and the technology is changing. Change and Change. It’s making world more challenging. So young people need to be well prepared if they want to survive well. Their academic & knowledge skills have to be profound  – if they want to live in a society based on fairness and effectiveness. The question is how:  

Young people may consider following these Steps: 1. Try to develop ‘Good Habits’. Scientists have found that 45 percent of your everyday actions are Habits – manners that you repeat so often that you simply don’t realize they are part of you. Aristotle famously said; “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.”  (Read Stephen Covey’s ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.’).

 2. Enhance Wisdom by reading classic books dealing with big ideas (one classic a quarter at least), and Travel whenever possible. 

3. Develop Network of friend circle. Treat new friends like old friends and don’t prejudge people. Also try to find some mentor whom you can rely for authentic advice (professors, community leaders, uncles/aunts, big brothers/sisters & whoever).

4. Be a Good Person by demonstrating Niceness, Ethical conduct, and forgivingness to people. Dalai Lama said’ “Be kind whenever possible, it’s always possible.” Remember everything comes back to you.

5. Be financially sound. Learn how to manage money. Leave below your means and save at least 10% when you earn. (Read WSJ and  Economist regularly). 

6. Exercise for 30 mins and do not eat more than 2000 calories a day. Reduce intake of processed food and eat organic.

7. Wonder about a ‘Big Picture Idea’ that you think will make an impact on the world & work for it – one/two hours a week.

8. Give Back – the ultimate meaningfulness of life is what you give – not what you get. Always better to help anyone who needs help and  Mentor someone younger than you. The above steps, if executed properly will make your soul Happy. 

We want our youth to be ready for change. If you are not ready, someone else will be. Change is the only constant. Are you ready?