In Ghana, there is a lot of traditional value placed in the order children are born. Especially when the first child is a boy. Forget it!. Pressure Galore. Everything is on you, for if nothing at all, not to disgrace your father’s name (whatever state you come to find it- good or bad). It is a challenge, because even your cousins, aunties, uncles all remind you not to mess up- at all. Don’t let me even start talking about the grandmothers. You are the de facto leader of the next generation and all your siblings are to follow your footsteps. It is pressure, however over time it has taught me 3 valuable lessons I still apply today.
1. Taking Responsibility
Among the many things i learnt very early as a first child is the need to take responsibility for the actions of my sister. As young as 10 years old, I was entrusted the responsibility of taking care of two younger siblings. Growing up in a house where my single mother was always at the Makola market selling sardines and corned beef products, i had to take charge and set the tone as to what each of us needed to do to have a fruitful day.
Getting my sister to do her homework and put to bed before my mom came home was critical to scoring responsibility points with her. It may seem like a small task, but i sacrificed spending time with friends and playing football (small posts). I had to prioritize. I literally had to grow up and become responsible at a very young age in life. Today, from learning to manage 1 at the time, I have acquired the skill to now be responsible for up to 10 people in my publishing company. I look back and realize taking up all those early childhood responsibilities played a significant role in my success in the management of people.
2. Sharing & Sacrificing
I also learnt quite early in life that as a first born I should expect little and but be prepared to share and sacrifice more. I grew up with many cousins in our little house in Mataheko. I grew with the understanding that the needs of my family must always come first. I cannot recollect the number of times I had to sacrifice my lunch so we could all get an adequate proportion of food so we would not go hungry.
For me, it was always about giving and sharing and expecting very little in return. Years later, as I run my publishing company, I sacrificed my earning sometimes to allow my employees get paid as we were not generating enough cash in this economic downtime. I do all things possible to make sure that my employees are given everything they need to help them succeed.
3. Being Strong For Others
Toughen up here means be strong in order to defend my siblings under any circumstance. I remember I had to fight several young men who tried to bully my brother at school. Being strong very early in life also strengthened me to know i could overcome anything life threw at me. This character was very instrumental when I was working at a financial institution –my first job. The strength showed when I began to fight for my clients and go after the debtors to recover monies owed. It wasn’t for my direct benefit but i understood the strength that was needed to undertake such a task in this environment. To be a first child among many siblings is not always a pleasant experience but sure pays exponentially in the long run.
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Author: G.K. Sarpong