Last weekend, I took my nephew to Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar), formerly Bunda College as he was embarking on his journey into the third year of his undergraduate studies there. I like his focus on education and preparing a decent future for himself. He never leaves anything to chance. He loves to ask for tips and guidance from those who have been there before him. He does not believe in reinventing the wheel. He knows and respects the value of experience.
When we were mid-way between the Lilongwe City Centre and Bunda, he asked me some good questions on what he needs to do besides scoring good grades if he is to excel in industry. That discussion agenda took us to the topic of extra-curricular activities. I challenged him that besides earning the good marks that he does already, he needed to build some good curriculum vitae beyond the lecture room.
Then he told me that he was recently elected a class representative.
I was impressed. But I went on to tell him the brutal fact as well that being a class representative or class president as others prefer to call it, is not big enough. What can really set him aside is the value he brings to the role and the impact he will make on his class or on the lecturers or even the wider Luanar community or surrounding communities. He needs to think about what he will write on the curriculum vitae (CV) as the unique achievement that he registered when he was a class representative. Simply stating that he was a class representative has little value, little impact and no unique impression. He needs to add value.
The value-adding approach does not just apply to my nephew or just to Luanar students. Not just college-going students. This principle should apply to all of us all the time. In fact, as we live on earth, each one of us needs to have a purpose in life that adds value to society and to our generations as well, if not more importantly, the future generations. In everything that we do, we need to ask ourselves if we are adding value.
If you seek office on any committee or to serve society or any team that you represent, you must be clear to yourself and to your stakeholders on the kind of value that you will add. When you attend meetings, you must make sure that you are adding value-do not just be a pretender or a bystander, you need to be actively involved and to actively generate value. Make sure that your being involved in anything makes a difference compared to the situation where you may not have been involved. Ask yourself the question, will you be needed again in that role or now?
Value adding is where your presence or participation counts. Value is where the rest of team would feel the impact of your absence.
If we know that we may not add value to something, it is better not to sign up. This way we will avoid wasting our time and wasting the time of others. The time you could have wasted on things where you add no value can now be channelled to things that you have passion for, things that you are good at, things where you can easily add a lot of value.
Good luck as you change your approach in life-embracing a value-adding approach. If you adopt and maintain this approach all the time, people will find you valuable and important to work with. Your value will always be felt. Good luck! n