Success factors in the life of the young pharmacist

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(By Pharm [Barr.] Steve Okoronkwo)

Pharmacy is unarguably a profession. Therefore, pharmacists are professionals and young pharmacists are among young professionals. According to Wisegeek, there is usually a great deal of fluidity when it comes to identifying the specific characteristics of young professionals. The phrase,”young professional” or “young pharmacist” is, at best, ambiguous, as there is scarcely any generally accepted definition. For one thing, there is no age bracket for classifying “young professionals.”

However, there are about three schools of thought on whoa young professional is. The first school uses “age” as the key factor in classifying young professionals. According to Young Professional Association of City of Greater Grand Sudbury, “A young professional is a person aged 20 to 40 who has an interest in personal and professional development. . .”

The second school uses the number of years of practice or a combination of years of practice and age of the individual in its classification. The International Pharmaceutical Federation classifies “young pharmacists” as pharmacists under 35 years of age with less than 10 years’ experience as practising pharmacists.

The third school posits that young has nothing to do with a number. According to this school, “young” is merely a mindset, an approach to living, a choice. This school further opines that young people of all ages share three traits, namely:

A thirst for knowledge

A young person or any person, irrespective of age, with the mindset of a young person knows that it is not possible to know everything. Bearing this limitation in mind, a young pharmacist, in order to succeed, must never stop learning.

Will Rodgers was absolutely right when he said: “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”Unfortunately, most pharmacists think that a B. Pharm degree is an automatic ticket to prosperity and success. Let it be known now that our degrees and certificates are simply potential tools for success; they do NOT guarantee success. I am sure you know of some persons who came out with “distinction” or “first class” but are not particularly living a “first class” life today, while their classmates who were not as academically successful are faring better.

Rodofo Costa has warned us thus: “Learn to adapt. Things change, circumstances change; adjust yourself and your efforts to what it prescribed to you so you can respond accordingly. Never see change as a threat, because it can be an opportunity to learn, to grow, evolve and become a better person”. Success is never given; it is taken.

A necessarily naive courage

Young people are usually bold enough to take on huge challenges and courageous enough to risk failure. As young pharmacists, you must be courageous to face that fear that haunts you. When you do, it will disappear. According to Robert Strauss, “Success is a little bit like wrestling a Gorilla. You don’t quit when you’re tired. You quit when the Gorilla is tired”.

You also need courage to be positive and filled with hope while you travel on this success journey. According to Will Rogers, “The road to success is dotted with many tempting parking spaces”. Don’t  park !

An enthusiasm for life

Young people believe a passionate life is a successful life. They embrace life fully. They constantly push, poke and prod. They dance wildly, love fiercely, and burn brightly. According to Albert Einstein’s formula for success, “If A is a success in life, then A equals X plus Y plus Z. Work is X; Y is Play and Z is keeping your mouth shut”.

Permit me to say that I align myself with the third school of thought on the description of the young professional and endorse its perspective on the matter at hand.

What is success?

It is apparent that an agreement on what constitutes success is perhaps impossible. However, a few insights from some personalities are apposite here.AccordingtoAnatole De Lafarge, “All the virtues and all the joys of living are contained in one word – success.”Elizabeth Taylor asserts that “success is a great deodorant.” On his part, Michael Korda contends that “success builds up self-esteem and self-confidence and opens up wider horizons; it stimulates what amounts to a process of rejuvenation.”

I must state from the onset that “success” does not necessarily mean having a large cache of cash as many young persons are bound to think. While money can be used as one of the variables to measure success, we will all miss the point if we are to think that success begins and ends with money. A number of very rich people live very unhappy and miserable lives. Now, can we still classify such people as successful? Your guess is as good as mine.

For starters, one needs to get a thrill from whatever job one is doing to have any chance of being successful at it. To succeed as a young pharmacist, you must not only be interested in your salary or bothered only about increment; you should also be passionate and concerned about the growth of the company you work for. It is apparent that a business that isn’t growing is a no-good business; therefore, we should always remember that the company’s growth is vital to ours.

Success factors

There are several factors that can lead to success in our professional and personal lives. Different authors have written extensively on success factors. Some factors are, however, more fundamental to success than others. I must state that this is not an exhaustive list.

Self-motivation

It was Abraham Lincoln who said, “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.” This goes to emphasise the point that everything starts in the mind and ripples out. Success is a choice, irrespective of whatever life throws at us. According to Steve Maraboli, “No matter what the cause, God is only as willing as you are.”

The paradox of life is such that even some people that may have supported you as a student may see your current success as a threat. If you are looking outside of yourself for the motivation to succeed, you are very likely not to get it. While you may get some inspiration from external sources (your role models,for example), the most important motivation you need to succeed is intrinsic.

Farouk Radwan has said, “Contrary to common beliefs, there are no successful or unsuccessful people; instead, there are people who have the potential to succeed and who do things that help them realise this potential and there are people with the same potential who don’t do those things.”

Follow your natural instincts and appetites

Warren Buffett, one of the world’s richest persons, has this invaluable advice on how to be successful: “You only need to do very few things right in your life so long as you don’t do too many things wrong.”

Were it to be merely a matter of choice, most people would rather succeed than fail. But success is more than wishful thinking or deciding to succeed, as the saying goes, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” Accordingly, we must first RESOLVE or DECIDE that we want to succeed; then we must translate such decision into action.

One sure way to succeed is through hard work. However, the problem is often not that people don’t work hard but that such hard work is not focused towards success. John Wooden has warned us thus, “Don’t mistake activity for achievement.”

Follow your natural instincts. When you do, your work will become fun. Initial hiccups and failings will be but temporary detours on your road to success. To enable you identify your natural instincts and interests, you must HONESTLY answer these questions for yourself:

a.    Are you a pharmacist by choice or by chance?

b.    Which area of pharmacy practice interests you most?

c.     Are you honestly finding fulfilment in the practice of Pharmacy?

According to Richard Branson, success is about the fun, innovation, creativity with the rewards being far greater than purely financial. Only when you follow your natural instincts and appetites will your success bring fulfilment.

Your definition of success

How a person defines success is very important. But we must understand thatsuccess is relative. Not every pharmacist will become a professor, or the managing director of GlaxoSmithKline, or the registrar of Pharmacists’ Council, or the director general of NAFDAC. According to ZigZiglar, “Success means doing the best we can with what we have. Success is the doing, not the getting, in the trying, not the triumph. Success is a personal standard, reaching for the highest that is in us, becoming all that we can be.”

As young pharmacists, perhaps the best way to succeed is to begin with a reasonably realistic goal and work towards attaining it. This is to be preferred to aiming at an outlandish goal that is virtually unrealistic and unattainable.

As the saying goes, success is a journey and the road is always under construction. Success is not a destination. It is a marathon, not a 100-metre dash. Winston Churchill has said that “success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”  The fact is that anyone can be successful. Obtaining a B. Pharm degree is a huge achievement and can pass as a significant milestone in one’s life. To achieve that success was a journey on a rough academic terrain that lasted between 5 and 6 years. It was obviously an academic marathon to get here, if you recall that the foundation was laid even from your crèche days! But see how it has turned out today. The same is true of every worthwhile achievement or successful venture. Often, it takes time, commitment, determination and concerted effort.

However, Robert Kiyosaki has warned us all that “success is a poor teacher”. Success is also its own greatest threat. Success craves for more success. Thus, success at one stage in one’s life does not automatically guarantee success at the next stage. The greatest challenge therefore in being labelled a success is to remain successful.

As young pharmacists, you must note that during the course of your “success journey,” rules may change. Your original ambitions may be superseded by different and larger ones. The strategy that brought you success as a pharmacy student may not be the strategy you need to succeed as a pharmacist. Being successful as a student or very brilliant in school may not guarantee success in practice. Therefore, being a success and remaining successful is awork in progress(WIP).

Loyalty

According to Po Bronson, “If you want to give yourself a fair chance to succeed, never expect too much too soon.”Studies have shown that it is generally better to stick with one company than to junket from one job to another. As the saying goes, a rolling stone gathers no moss. A level of stability is needed to succeed in life.

Pharmacists in Nigeria have been described in terms that are less than flattering, even derogatory. The level of employee turnover in the industry is not only staggering but destabilising to the entire industry, ultimately affecting the fortunes of all the stakeholders. In fact, some pharmacists make it a point of duty to change jobs on a yearly basis. Unfortunately, most of these pharmacists use monetary incentives as their major benchmark or reason for moving jobs.

One of the drawbacks of this frequent ‘porting’ or changing of jobs is that it has eroded investors’ interest in pharmacists in particular and Pharmacy generally. Increasingly, more organisations are beginning to see pharmacists as professionals that cannot be trusted to hold down jobs for any meaningful length of time. This impression has adversely affected pharmacists’ chance to succeed.

As young pharmacists, you must understand that loyalty counts. Almost all the top executives of multinational pharmaceutical companies stuck with their companies. I am also sure that almost all of them will attribute their success to the stability in their careers and sustained experience. Loyalty and long experience on a job are vital attributes for success.

Nevertheless, loyalty does not mean that you must remain a square peg in a round hole. Are you fascinated by production but stuck in a marketing job?Michael Korda cautions that if you do not want to change jobs but feel that your values are unsuited to your current area of practice, then start changing your values – fast!

 Energy

It has been said that a successful man continues to look for work after he has found a job.According to Michael Korda, the first rule of success and one that supersedes all others is to have energy. As young pharmacists, you must know how to direct and focus your energy on things that matter rather than wasting it on trivia.

Energy does mean working long hours, taking a slavish interest in details or being engrossed in office politics or gossip. Michael Korda posits that energy is a positive quality – a desire to get things done and done the right way. Energy is also an active quality – an urgent need to move from one point to another, to rise to a specific goal, to advance to a new position, to accomplish a given job. Energy is never static. As young pharmacists, your entire body should convey energy. You must understand that the way you stand and walk speaks volume about you and your energy level. We are usually judged by appearance. If you appear listless, slow-moving and lethargic, no amount of hard work or academic performance will convince people that you are worth promoting.

Persistence

Gerard de Marigny has said that “success can be defined in many ways but failure is only one . . . quitting.” Is there any good in having a B. Pharm or Pharm. D or skills if you lose hope in succeeding after failing once or twice? Napoleon Hill’s three Ps of success – patience, persistence and perspiration – make an unbeatable combination for success.

As young pharmacists, you must understand that you cannot succeed by only looking for a “quick fix.” You cannot succeed merely by hopping from one company to another in search of bigger pay cheques without pausing to think about how to build an enduring career through gaining requisite skills. Michael Korda notes that “success is an accelerated learning process, a form of growth. You learn from everything, even the moments of failure, but you stay in the game; you never give up.” The secret of success is constancy of purpose and the only guarantee for failure is to stop trying.

Accept responsibility

Lorii Myers has said that “your success is your responsibility. Take the initiative, do the work, and persist to the end.” According to Michael Korda, “In the final analysis the one quality that all successful people have (and which is the most difficult one of all to fake) is the ability to take responsibility.”

You must be willing to take responsibility for your thoughts and actions, for, according to Victor Frankl, while there is a gap between a stimulus and response, the freedom to choose lies within this gap. Accepting responsibility requires being proactive. Proactive people do not blame their circumstances or conditions. According to Stephen Covey, “It is not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurt us.”

Farouk Radwan notes that most unsuccessful people have what he calls “External Locus of Control” (ELC). According to Radwan, this is the way of thinking that makes a person assume that everything that happens to him is the result of external factors. An example is one saying that an examination was too difficult when one does not do well or blaming the high unemployment rate in the country as a reason one cannot find a job.

The flip side is the “Internal Locus of Control” (ILC)which is the thinking pattern of successful people. The ILC makes the individual believe that he or she is in charge and in control of everything that happens to him. Accordingly, he takes responsibility for his failure and does everything to redress it instead of blaming his plight on his environment or other people.

As young pharmacists, accepting responsibility requires a good deal of courage but, according to Michael Korda, it is ultimately the one test you cannot afford to fail.

Conclusion

Let nobody delude you that the way to the top is paved with gold. If you are one of the few who have success thrown into their laps, good luck to you. For the vast majority of others, success requires carefully identifying your talents, channelling such talents into a career that gives you the most joy while giving you an opportunity to contribute meaningfully to human development.

Having chosen Pharmacy as a career, let me recommend this saying by Bill Cosby to you to wit: “I don’t know the key to success but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” Even more apposite is the advice by Farouk Radwan that “the only thing you need to succeed is do exactly what successful people did”. Perhaps I only need to add, with a little adaptation:

 

Good luck to you all and see you at the top!

 

(An address presented by Pharm (Barr.) Steve Okoronkwo to the Young Pharmacists’ Forum of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Lagos State, on 30August, 2013 at the Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja)

 

 

Success factors in the life of the young pharmacist (Feature)

By Pharm (Barr.) Steve Okoronkwo

 

 

Pharmacy is unarguably a profession. Therefore, pharmacists are professionals and young pharmacists are among young professionals. According to Wisegeek, there is usually a great deal of fluidity when it comes to identifying the specific characteristics of young professionals. The phrase,”young professional” or “young pharmacist” is, at best, ambiguous, as there is scarcely any generally accepted definition. For one thing, there is no age bracket for classifying “young professionals.”

However, there are about three schools of thought on whoa young professional is. The first school uses “age” as the key factor in classifying young professionals. According to Young Professional Association of City of Greater Grand Sudbury, “A young professional is a person aged 20 to 40 who has an interest in personal and professional development. . .”

The second school uses the number of years of practice or a combination of years of practice and age of the individual in its classification. The International Pharmaceutical Federation classifies “young pharmacists” as pharmacists under 35 years of age with less than 10 years’ experience as practising pharmacists.

The third school posits that young has nothing to do with a number. According to this school, “young” is merely a mindset, an approach to living, a choice. This school further opines that young people of all ages share three traits, namely:

 

A thirst for knowledge

A young person or any person, irrespective of age, with the mindset of a young person knows that it is not possible to know everything. Bearing this limitation in mind, a young pharmacist, in order to succeed, must never stop learning.

Will Rodgers was absolutely right when he said: “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”Unfortunately, most pharmacists think that a B. Pharm degree is an automatic ticket to prosperity and success. Let it be known now that our degrees and certificates are simply potential tools for success; they do NOT guarantee success. I am sure you know of some persons who came out with “distinction” or “first class” but are not particularly living a “first class” life today, while their classmates who were not as academically successful are faring better.

Rodofo Costa has warned us thus: “Learn to adapt. Things change, circumstances change; adjust yourself and your efforts to what it prescribed to you so you can respond accordingly. Never see change as a threat, because it can be an opportunity to learn, to grow, evolve and become a better person”. Success is never given; it is taken.

 

A necessarily naive courage

Young people are usually bold enough to take on huge challenges and courageous enough to risk failure. As young pharmacists, you must be courageous to face that fear that haunts you. When you do, it will disappear. According to Robert Strauss, “Success is a little bit like wrestling a Gorilla. You don’t quit when you’re tired. You quit when the Gorilla is tired”.

You also need courage to be positive and filled with hope while you travel on this success journey. According to Will Rogers, “The road to success is dotted with many tempting parking spaces”. Don’t  park !

 

An enthusiasm for life

Young people believe a passionate life is a successful life. They embrace life fully. They constantly push, poke and prod. They dance wildly, love fiercely, and burn brightly. According to Albert Einstein’s formula for success, “If A is a success in life, then A equals X plus Y plus Z. Work is X; Y is Play and Z is keeping your mouth shut”.

Permit me to say that I align myself with the third school of thought on the description of the young professional and endorse its perspective on the matter at hand.

 

What is success?

It is apparent that an agreement on what constitutes success is perhaps impossible. However, a few insights from some personalities are apposite here.AccordingtoAnatole De Lafarge, “All the virtues and all the joys of living are contained in one word – success.”Elizabeth Taylor asserts that “success is a great deodorant.” On his part, Michael Korda contends that “success builds up self-esteem and self-confidence and opens up wider horizons; it stimulates what amounts to a process of rejuvenation.”

I must state from the onset that “success” does not necessarily mean having a large cache of cash as many young persons are bound to think. While money can be used as one of the variables to measure success, we will all miss the point if we are to think that success begins and ends with money. A number of very rich people live very unhappy and miserable lives. Now, can we still classify such people as successful? Your guess is as good as mine.

For starters, one needs to get a thrill from whatever job one is doing to have any chance of being successful at it. To succeed as a young pharmacist, you must not only be interested in your salary or bothered only about increment; you should also be passionate and concerned about the growth of the company you work for. It is apparent that a business that isn’t growing is a no-good business; therefore, we should always remember that the company’s growth is vital to ours.

 

Success factors

There are several factors that can lead to success in our professional and personal lives. Different authors have written extensively on success factors. Some factors are, however, more fundamental to success than others. I must state that this is not an exhaustive list.

 

Self-motivation

It was Abraham Lincoln who said, “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.” This goes to emphasise the point that everything starts in the mind and ripples out. Success is a choice, irrespective of whatever life throws at us. According to Steve Maraboli, “No matter what the cause, God is only as willing as you are.”

The paradox of life is such that even some people that may have supported you as a student may see your current success as a threat. If you are looking outside of yourself for the motivation to succeed, you are very likely not to get it. While you may get some inspiration from external sources (your role models,for example), the most important motivation you need to succeed is intrinsic.

Farouk Radwan has said, “Contrary to common beliefs, there are no successful or unsuccessful people; instead, there are people who have the potential to succeed and who do things that help them realise this potential and there are people with the same potential who don’t do those things.”

 

Follow your natural instincts and appetites

Warren Buffett, one of the world’s richest persons, has this invaluable advice on how to be successful: “You only need to do very few things right in your life so long as you don’t do too many things wrong.”

Were it to be merely a matter of choice, most people would rather succeed than fail. But success is more than wishful thinking or deciding to succeed, as the saying goes, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” Accordingly, we must first RESOLVE or DECIDE that we want to succeed; then we must translate such decision into action.

One sure way to succeed is through hard work. However, the problem is often not that people don’t work hard but that such hard work is not focused towards success. John Wooden has warned us thus, “Don’t mistake activity for achievement.”

Follow your natural instincts. When you do, your work will become fun. Initial hiccups and failings will be but temporary detours on your road to success. To enable you identify your natural instincts and interests, you must HONESTLY answer these questions for yourself:

a.    Are you a pharmacist by choice or by chance?

b.    Which area of pharmacy practice interests you most?

c.     Are you honestly finding fulfilment in the practice of Pharmacy?

According to Richard Branson, success is about the fun, innovation, creativity with the rewards being far greater than purely financial. Only when you follow your natural instincts and appetites will your success bring fulfilment.

 

Your definition of success

How a person defines success is very important. But we must understand thatsuccess is relative. Not every pharmacist will become a professor, or the managing director of GlaxoSmithKline, or the registrar of Pharmacists’ Council, or the director general of NAFDAC. According to ZigZiglar, “Success means doing the best we can with what we have. Success is the doing, not the getting, in the trying, not the triumph. Success is a personal standard, reaching for the highest that is in us, becoming all that we can be.”

As young pharmacists, perhaps the best way to succeed is to begin with a reasonably realistic goal and work towards attaining it. This is to be preferred to aiming at an outlandish goal that is virtually unrealistic and unattainable.

As the saying goes, success is a journey and the road is always under construction. Success is not a destination. It is a marathon, not a 100-metre dash. Winston Churchill has said that “success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”  The fact is that anyone can be successful. Obtaining a B. Pharm degree is a huge achievement and can pass as a significant milestone in one’s life. To achieve that success was a journey on a rough academic terrain that lasted between 5 and 6 years. It was obviously an academic marathon to get here, if you recall that the foundation was laid even from your crèche days! But see how it has turned out today. The same is true of every worthwhile achievement or successful venture. Often, it takes time, commitment, determination and concerted effort.

However, Robert Kiyosaki has warned us all that “success is a poor teacher”. Success is also its own greatest threat. Success craves for more success. Thus, success at one stage in one’s life does not automatically guarantee success at the next stage. The greatest challenge therefore in being labelled a success is to remain successful.

As young pharmacists, you must note that during the course of your “success journey,” rules may change. Your original ambitions may be superseded by different and larger ones. The strategy that brought you success as a pharmacy student may not be the strategy you need to succeed as a pharmacist. Being successful as a student or very brilliant in school may not guarantee success in practice. Therefore, being a success and remaining successful is awork in progress(WIP).

 

Loyalty

According to Po Bronson, “If you want to give yourself a fair chance to succeed, never expect too much too soon.”Studies have shown that it is generally better to stick with one company than to junket from one job to another. As the saying goes, a rolling stone gathers no moss. A level of stability is needed to succeed in life.

Pharmacists in Nigeria have been described in terms that are less than flattering, even derogatory. The level of employee turnover in the industry is not only staggering but destabilising to the entire industry, ultimately affecting the fortunes of all the stakeholders. In fact, some pharmacists make it a point of duty to change jobs on a yearly basis. Unfortunately, most of these pharmacists use monetary incentives as their major benchmark or reason for moving jobs.

One of the drawbacks of this frequent ‘porting’ or changing of jobs is that it has eroded investors’ interest in pharmacists in particular and Pharmacy generally. Increasingly, more organisations are beginning to see pharmacists as professionals that cannot be trusted to hold down jobs for any meaningful length of time. This impression has adversely affected pharmacists’ chance to succeed.

As young pharmacists, you must understand that loyalty counts. Almost all the top executives of multinational pharmaceutical companies stuck with their companies. I am also sure that almost all of them will attribute their success to the stability in their careers and sustained experience. Loyalty and long experience on a job are vital attributes for success.

Nevertheless, loyalty does not mean that you must remain a square peg in a round hole. Are you fascinated by production but stuck in a marketing job?Michael Korda cautions that if you do not want to change jobs but feel that your values are unsuited to your current area of practice, then start changing your values – fast!

 

       Energy

It has been said that a successful man continues to look for work after he has found a job.According to Michael Korda, the first rule of success and one that supersedes all others is to have energy. As young pharmacists, you must know how to direct and focus your energy on things that matter rather than wasting it on trivia.

Energy does mean working long hours, taking a slavish interest in details or being engrossed in office politics or gossip. Michael Korda posits that energy is a positive quality – a desire to get things done and done the right way. Energy is also an active quality – an urgent need to move from one point to another, to rise to a specific goal, to advance to a new position, to accomplish a given job. Energy is never static. As young pharmacists, your entire body should convey energy. You must understand that the way you stand and walk speaks volume about you and your energy level. We are usually judged by appearance. If you appear listless, slow-moving and lethargic, no amount of hard work or academic performance will convince people that you are worth promoting.

      

Persistence

Gerard de Marigny has said that “success can be defined in many ways but failure is only one . . . quitting.” Is there any good in having a B. Pharm or Pharm. D or skills if you lose hope in succeeding after failing once or twice? Napoleon Hill’s three Ps of success – patience, persistence and perspiration – make an unbeatable combination for success.

As young pharmacists, you must understand that you cannot succeed by only looking for a “quick fix.” You cannot succeed merely by hopping from one company to another in search of bigger pay cheques without pausing to think about how to build an enduring career through gaining requisite skills. Michael Korda notes that “success is an accelerated learning process, a form of growth. You learn from everything, even the moments of failure, but you stay in the game; you never give up.” The secret of success is constancy of purpose and the only guarantee for failure is to stop trying.

 

Accept responsibility

Lorii Myers has said that “your success is your responsibility. Take the initiative, do the work, and persist to the end.” According to Michael Korda, “In the final analysis the one quality that all successful people have (and which is the most difficult one of all to fake) is the ability to take responsibility.”

You must be willing to take responsibility for your thoughts and actions, for, according to Victor Frankl, while there is a gap between a stimulus and response, the freedom to choose lies within this gap. Accepting responsibility requires being proactive. Proactive people do not blame their circumstances or conditions. According to Stephen Covey, “It is not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurt us.”

Farouk Radwan notes that most unsuccessful people have what he calls “External Locus of Control” (ELC). According to Radwan, this is the way of thinking that makes a person assume that everything that happens to him is the result of external factors. An example is one saying that an examination was too difficult when one does not do well or blaming the high unemployment rate in the country as a reason one cannot find a job.

The flip side is the “Internal Locus of Control” (ILC)which is the thinking pattern of successful people. The ILC makes the individual believe that he or she is in charge and in control of everything that happens to him. Accordingly, he takes responsibility for his failure and does everything to redress it instead of blaming his plight on his environment or other people.

As young pharmacists, accepting responsibility requires a good deal of courage but, according to Michael Korda, it is ultimately the one test you cannot afford to fail.

 

Conclusion

Let nobody delude you that the way to the top is paved with gold. If you are one of the few who have success thrown into their laps, good luck to you. For the vast majority of others, success requires carefully identifying your talents, channelling such talents into a career that gives you the most joy while giving you an opportunity to contribute meaningfully to human development.

Having chosen Pharmacy as a career, let me recommend this saying by Bill Cosby to you to wit: “I don’t know the key to success but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” Even more apposite is the advice by Farouk Radwan that “the only thing you need to succeed is do exactly what successful people did”. Perhaps I only need to add, with a little adaptation:

 

Good luck to you all and see you at the top!

 

(An address presented by Pharm (Barr.) Steve Okoronkwo to the Young Pharmacists’ Forum of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Lagos State, on 30August, 2013 at the Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja)

 

 (Feature)

By Pharm (Barr.) Steve Okoronkwo

 

 

Pharmacy is unarguably a profession. Therefore, pharmacists are professionals and young pharmacists are among young professionals. According to Wisegeek, there is usually a great deal of fluidity when it comes to identifying the specific characteristics of young professionals. The phrase,”young professional” or “young pharmacist” is, at best, ambiguous, as there is scarcely any generally accepted definition. For one thing, there is no age bracket for classifying “young professionals.”

However, there are about three schools of thought on whoa young professional is. The first school uses “age” as the key factor in classifying young professionals. According to Young Professional Association of City of Greater Grand Sudbury, “A young professional is a person aged 20 to 40 who has an interest in personal and professional development. . .”

The second school uses the number of years of practice or a combination of years of practice and age of the individual in its classification. The International Pharmaceutical Federation classifies “young pharmacists” as pharmacists under 35 years of age with less than 10 years’ experience as practising pharmacists.

The third school posits that young has nothing to do with a number. According to this school, “young” is merely a mindset, an approach to living, a choice. This school further opines that young people of all ages share three traits, namely:

 

A thirst for knowledge

A young person or any person, irrespective of age, with the mindset of a young person knows that it is not possible to know everything. Bearing this limitation in mind, a young pharmacist, in order to succeed, must never stop learning.

Will Rodgers was absolutely right when he said: “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”Unfortunately, most pharmacists think that a B. Pharm degree is an automatic ticket to prosperity and success. Let it be known now that our degrees and certificates are simply potential tools for success; they do NOT guarantee success. I am sure you know of some persons who came out with “distinction” or “first class” but are not particularly living a “first class” life today, while their classmates who were not as academically successful are faring better.

Rodofo Costa has warned us thus: “Learn to adapt. Things change, circumstances change; adjust yourself and your efforts to what it prescribed to you so you can respond accordingly. Never see change as a threat, because it can be an opportunity to learn, to grow, evolve and become a better person”. Success is never given; it is taken.

 

A necessarily naive courage

Young people are usually bold enough to take on huge challenges and courageous enough to risk failure. As young pharmacists, you must be courageous to face that fear that haunts you. When you do, it will disappear. According to Robert Strauss, “Success is a little bit like wrestling a Gorilla. You don’t quit when you’re tired. You quit when the Gorilla is tired”.

You also need courage to be positive and filled with hope while you travel on this success journey. According to Will Rogers, “The road to success is dotted with many tempting parking spaces”. Don’t  park !

 

An enthusiasm for life

Young people believe a passionate life is a successful life. They embrace life fully. They constantly push, poke and prod. They dance wildly, love fiercely, and burn brightly. According to Albert Einstein’s formula for success, “If A is a success in life, then A equals X plus Y plus Z. Work is X; Y is Play and Z is keeping your mouth shut”.

Permit me to say that I align myself with the third school of thought on the description of the young professional and endorse its perspective on the matter at hand.

 

What is success?

It is apparent that an agreement on what constitutes success is perhaps impossible. However, a few insights from some personalities are apposite here.AccordingtoAnatole De Lafarge, “All the virtues and all the joys of living are contained in one word – success.”Elizabeth Taylor asserts that “success is a great deodorant.” On his part, Michael Korda contends that “success builds up self-esteem and self-confidence and opens up wider horizons; it stimulates what amounts to a process of rejuvenation.”

I must state from the onset that “success” does not necessarily mean having a large cache of cash as many young persons are bound to think. While money can be used as one of the variables to measure success, we will all miss the point if we are to think that success begins and ends with money. A number of very rich people live very unhappy and miserable lives. Now, can we still classify such people as successful? Your guess is as good as mine.

For starters, one needs to get a thrill from whatever job one is doing to have any chance of being successful at it. To succeed as a young pharmacist, you must not only be interested in your salary or bothered only about increment; you should also be passionate and concerned about the growth of the company you work for. It is apparent that a business that isn’t growing is a no-good business; therefore, we should always remember that the company’s growth is vital to ours.

 

Success factors

There are several factors that can lead to success in our professional and personal lives. Different authors have written extensively on success factors. Some factors are, however, more fundamental to success than others. I must state that this is not an exhaustive list.

 

Self-motivation

It was Abraham Lincoln who said, “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.” This goes to emphasise the point that everything starts in the mind and ripples out. Success is a choice, irrespective of whatever life throws at us. According to Steve Maraboli, “No matter what the cause, God is only as willing as you are.”

The paradox of life is such that even some people that may have supported you as a student may see your current success as a threat. If you are looking outside of yourself for the motivation to succeed, you are very likely not to get it. While you may get some inspiration from external sources (your role models,for example), the most important motivation you need to succeed is intrinsic.

Farouk Radwan has said, “Contrary to common beliefs, there are no successful or unsuccessful people; instead, there are people who have the potential to succeed and who do things that help them realise this potential and there are people with the same potential who don’t do those things.”

 

Follow your natural instincts and appetites

Warren Buffett, one of the world’s richest persons, has this invaluable advice on how to be successful: “You only need to do very few things right in your life so long as you don’t do too many things wrong.”

Were it to be merely a matter of choice, most people would rather succeed than fail. But success is more than wishful thinking or deciding to succeed, as the saying goes, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” Accordingly, we must first RESOLVE or DECIDE that we want to succeed; then we must translate such decision into action.

One sure way to succeed is through hard work. However, the problem is often not that people don’t work hard but that such hard work is not focused towards success. John Wooden has warned us thus, “Don’t mistake activity for achievement.”

Follow your natural instincts. When you do, your work will become fun. Initial hiccups and failings will be but temporary detours on your road to success. To enable you identify your natural instincts and interests, you must HONESTLY answer these questions for yourself:

a.    Are you a pharmacist by choice or by chance?

b.    Which area of pharmacy practice interests you most?

c.     Are you honestly finding fulfilment in the practice of Pharmacy?

According to Richard Branson, success is about the fun, innovation, creativity with the rewards being far greater than purely financial. Only when you follow your natural instincts and appetites will your success bring fulfilment.

 

Your definition of success

How a person defines success is very important. But we must understand thatsuccess is relative. Not every pharmacist will become a professor, or the managing director of GlaxoSmithKline, or the registrar of Pharmacists’ Council, or the director general of NAFDAC. According to ZigZiglar, “Success means doing the best we can with what we have. Success is the doing, not the getting, in the trying, not the triumph. Success is a personal standard, reaching for the highest that is in us, becoming all that we can be.”

As young pharmacists, perhaps the best way to succeed is to begin with a reasonably realistic goal and work towards attaining it. This is to be preferred to aiming at an outlandish goal that is virtually unrealistic and unattainable.

As the saying goes, success is a journey and the road is always under construction. Success is not a destination. It is a marathon, not a 100-metre dash. Winston Churchill has said that “success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”  The fact is that anyone can be successful. Obtaining a B. Pharm degree is a huge achievement and can pass as a significant milestone in one’s life. To achieve that success was a journey on a rough academic terrain that lasted between 5 and 6 years. It was obviously an academic marathon to get here, if you recall that the foundation was laid even from your crèche days! But see how it has turned out today. The same is true of every worthwhile achievement or successful venture. Often, it takes time, commitment, determination and concerted effort.

However, Robert Kiyosaki has warned us all that “success is a poor teacher”. Success is also its own greatest threat. Success craves for more success. Thus, success at one stage in one’s life does not automatically guarantee success at the next stage. The greatest challenge therefore in being labelled a success is to remain successful.

As young pharmacists, you must note that during the course of your “success journey,” rules may change. Your original ambitions may be superseded by different and larger ones. The strategy that brought you success as a pharmacy student may not be the strategy you need to succeed as a pharmacist. Being successful as a student or very brilliant in school may not guarantee success in practice. Therefore, being a success and remaining successful is awork in progress(WIP).

 

Loyalty

According to Po Bronson, “If you want to give yourself a fair chance to succeed, never expect too much too soon.”Studies have shown that it is generally better to stick with one company than to junket from one job to another. As the saying goes, a rolling stone gathers no moss. A level of stability is needed to succeed in life.

Pharmacists in Nigeria have been described in terms that are less than flattering, even derogatory. The level of employee turnover in the industry is not only staggering but destabilising to the entire industry, ultimately affecting the fortunes of all the stakeholders. In fact, some pharmacists make it a point of duty to change jobs on a yearly basis. Unfortunately, most of these pharmacists use monetary incentives as their major benchmark or reason for moving jobs.

One of the drawbacks of this frequent ‘porting’ or changing of jobs is that it has eroded investors’ interest in pharmacists in particular and Pharmacy generally. Increasingly, more organisations are beginning to see pharmacists as professionals that cannot be trusted to hold down jobs for any meaningful length of time. This impression has adversely affected pharmacists’ chance to succeed.

As young pharmacists, you must understand that loyalty counts. Almost all the top executives of multinational pharmaceutical companies stuck with their companies. I am also sure that almost all of them will attribute their success to the stability in their careers and sustained experience. Loyalty and long experience on a job are vital attributes for success.

Nevertheless, loyalty does not mean that you must remain a square peg in a round hole. Are you fascinated by production but stuck in a marketing job?Michael Korda cautions that if you do not want to change jobs but feel that your values are unsuited to your current area of practice, then start changing your values – fast!

 

       Energy

It has been said that a successful man continues to look for work after he has found a job.According to Michael Korda, the first rule of success and one that supersedes all others is to have energy. As young pharmacists, you must know how to direct and focus your energy on things that matter rather than wasting it on trivia.

Energy does mean working long hours, taking a slavish interest in details or being engrossed in office politics or gossip. Michael Korda posits that energy is a positive quality – a desire to get things done and done the right way. Energy is also an active quality – an urgent need to move from one point to another, to rise to a specific goal, to advance to a new position, to accomplish a given job. Energy is never static. As young pharmacists, your entire body should convey energy. You must understand that the way you stand and walk speaks volume about you and your energy level. We are usually judged by appearance. If you appear listless, slow-moving and lethargic, no amount of hard work or academic performance will convince people that you are worth promoting.

      

Persistence

Gerard de Marigny has said that “success can be defined in many ways but failure is only one . . . quitting.” Is there any good in having a B. Pharm or Pharm. D or skills if you lose hope in succeeding after failing once or twice? Napoleon Hill’s three Ps of success – patience, persistence and perspiration – make an unbeatable combination for success.

As young pharmacists, you must understand that you cannot succeed by only looking for a “quick fix.” You cannot succeed merely by hopping from one company to another in search of bigger pay cheques without pausing to think about how to build an enduring career through gaining requisite skills. Michael Korda notes that “success is an accelerated learning process, a form of growth. You learn from everything, even the moments of failure, but you stay in the game; you never give up.” The secret of success is constancy of purpose and the only guarantee for failure is to stop trying.

 

Accept responsibility

Lorii Myers has said that “your success is your responsibility. Take the initiative, do the work, and persist to the end.” According to Michael Korda, “In the final analysis the one quality that all successful people have (and which is the most difficult one of all to fake) is the ability to take responsibility.”

You must be willing to take responsibility for your thoughts and actions, for, according to Victor Frankl, while there is a gap between a stimulus and response, the freedom to choose lies within this gap. Accepting responsibility requires being proactive. Proactive people do not blame their circumstances or conditions. According to Stephen Covey, “It is not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurt us.”

Farouk Radwan notes that most unsuccessful people have what he calls “External Locus of Control” (ELC). According to Radwan, this is the way of thinking that makes a person assume that everything that happens to him is the result of external factors. An example is one saying that an examination was too difficult when one does not do well or blaming the high unemployment rate in the country as a reason one cannot find a job.

The flip side is the “Internal Locus of Control” (ILC)which is the thinking pattern of successful people. The ILC makes the individual believe that he or she is in charge and in control of everything that happens to him. Accordingly, he takes responsibility for his failure and does everything to redress it instead of blaming his plight on his environment or other people.

As young pharmacists, accepting responsibility requires a good deal of courage but, according to Michael Korda, it is ultimately the one test you cannot afford to fail.

 

Conclusion

Let nobody delude you that the way to the top is paved with gold. If you are one of the few who have success thrown into their laps, good luck to you. For the vast majority of others, success requires carefully identifying your talents, channelling such talents into a career that gives you the most joy while giving you an opportunity to contribute meaningfully to human development.

Having chosen Pharmacy as a career, let me recommend this saying by Bill Cosby to you to wit: “I don’t know the key to success but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” Even more apposite is the advice by Farouk Radwan that “the only thing you need to succeed is do exactly what successful people did”. Perhaps I only need to add, with a little adaptation:

 

Good luck to you all and see you at the top!

 

(An address presented by Pharm (Barr.) Steve Okoronkwo to the Young Pharmacists’ Forum of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Lagos State, on 30August, 2013 at the Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja)

 

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