We all admire the story of the underdogs and the many battles they must fight to stand as champions. We all love winners, not because they’ve never been tested and defeated by life’s adversaries, but because they succeeded despite the obstacles in their way. Not surprisingly, we all cherish the stories of people with humble beginnings who do the impossible and shatter the myth of social class.
The story of the Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW) 300 soldiers against 1000 plus in the battle of Badr remains one of the classics that wowed, stumped, and gob-smacked us. How was he able to do that? We often ask. Oh, that’s way out of this world! We equally exclaimed. Daniel Coyle’s Talent Code, Ryan Holiday’s The Obstacle is the Way, Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath, Outliers, Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins, and Audacity of Hope by Barrack Obama, etc. are some of the remarkable modern books that captured the rise of the world’s superstars from the bottommost rung of the societal ladder.
Ultimately, confronting such a huge number of well-trained soldiers with a ragtag army gives us a sense of hope that with faith, unconventional wisdom, extra efforts, and unwavering commitment to a course, we can always emerge victorious. Of course, nothing inspires that kind of optimism more than the story of those at the backwaters of life who fought their way through the front burners of any endeavors with diligence, resilience, and confident humility.
I love the biblical story of David and Goliath. It was the story of small vs. mighty, underdog vs. giant, and misfit vs. consistent champion. In a way, Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers and David and Goliath offers such an incredible insight into the powerful story of how ordinary people were forced by life’s inescapable tests to confront outsize challenges. Gladwell spoke about the advantages and disadvantages, the theory of desirable difficulty, and the limits of power.
And he was just an ordinary guy who truly believed there was more to life than hawk pepper on the street of Ibadan. With a pan on his head, he was able to imagine and create a world of endless possibilities for himself and his family. “My mother was instrumental to my educational trajectory,” Saheed Oladele once remarked. “It was her insistence that I must be educated that kicked off this whole adventure; otherwise, I might have ended up as another statistic from the heart of Ibadan.” He would go on to become a poster boy for success outside of conventional wisdom.
First, he was a dreamer. He dreamt of what was possible, neither within the confines of his abode nor the comfort of his vicinity. He was a young man bubbling with vision. Ground up, he knew the world hadn’t been fair to him, yet he was determined to rewrite that narrative and turn the tide of his circumstances. When he finally met Mr. Martin, his first guardian angel at Oke ‘Badan High School, his hidden potential was discovered, and the journey toward intellectual erudition began. He wasn’t a self-made man. He has consistently attributed his success to the deliberate efforts of others.
He takes enormous pride in sharing the podium of his success with others. He knew his background but fought hard to ensure his back did not stay on the ground forever. He started with the firm belief that, against all odds, he had a chance to make a difference. He wasn’t just a dreamer; he was equally a doer. He was well aware that neither dream nor talent were enough. He knew over thinkers hardly have the time to do and doers hardly have the time to over think. He must have been fascinated by the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but he knew Dr. King’s oratory prowess was on par with his faith in non-violence activism and civil rights engagement. Like Dr. King, he not only had a dream but knew more action would be needed to accomplish and actualize the core of his dream. Where others fret because they only have a little to start with, he was grateful for the opportunity to start on a blank slate. He knew that would give him the chance to tinker with his ideas and shape his reality. He wouldn’t simply conform to the established norms.
He would rather set out to raise the bar, fly the flag higher, and teach others how to do the same. He was an outlier by all standards, a trailblazer by all measures, and a pacesetter by all parameters. Saheed Oladele, the first Baameko of Ibadan Land, has a lot to teach the world about success. He came from the bottom to the top. He fought and won the battles of the mind. He tricked his mind, mindset, and state of mind to see life beyond the limits of binary bias. He wouldn’t allow the opinions of others to become his reality. He chose to be different. To be the guy who will enter the room and command the atmosphere. He graduated with a first-class degree and now makes a fortune through his brilliant and innovative ideas.
One-time popular American TV host Steve Harvey once posited that he was invited to give a speech at a billionaire summit. He said that after his lecture, participants told him that they needed to hear from him because of his story. He reported that most of the ultra-rich inherited their fortunes and that they were all curious to learn from his zero-to-hero story. Like Steve Harvey, Saheed Oladele’s rise has not only touched but also been quite inspiring. Just like Nelson Mandela once remarked, Saheed Oladele has learned and internalized that “the greatest glory in living lies in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”.
OYO101 is Muftau Gbadegesin’s opinion about issues affecting Oyo state and is published every Saturday. He can be reached via @muftaugbade on X, email@example.com and 09065176850.