· KSM at the Accra College of Medicine
In 2010, I invited Kwaku Sintim-Misa (KSM) to a Leadership Seminar I was teaching at Ashesi University to share his views on how one developed a positive mindset for leadership roles. His insights motivated me to write the article, “Nurturing human capital through critical thinking mindset” (Daily Graphic, November 22, 2010). He said, in Ghana we set the bar so low it is painful as it induces the poverty of mind and spirit. To support that outlook let’s consider this imaginary dialogue between three men arguing about the lack of water in their communities.
The first person begins: “In La Bone, we haven’t had water in three weeks.” The second person reacts: “Ah, you don’t know anything; in Ashaiman, we haven’t had water in three months.” The third person, with pomp and self-assurance, outshouts both: “You guys are so lucky with your weeks and months; you haven’t seen anything yet. In Adenta we haven’t seen water in three years.” In the shout-fest, the person with the loudest mouth and worst case scenario won the argument.
With ignorance, a twisted irony, and a hollow sense of reality elevated into the status of victory, the real loser pounded the first two to recoil in defeat to the behest of all three.
It was an honour to have had KSM again to interact with my Level 100 “Creative and Critical Thinking” class at the Accra College of Medicine at Adjiringanor, Accra. He offered the youth those profound and precious potions of insight that can change the course of one’s life. Why aim for average when it is possible to be first class, and when first class is in demand everywhere every time?
The following are excerpts from the students’ reflections after the interaction with him.
Set the bar high
The one statement that left me thinking was “The bar has been set so low in Africa, don’t be jubilant when you jump over it.” He pushed us to understand that we shouldn’t be impressed by the low standards of the bar. We’re in society where the worst situation becomes the winner. We shouldn’t settle for average when we can be great. There are too many ordinary people in the world: Dare to be unique! Choose to be different! [Gbagi Omemawa]
Be among the best
“The modern age has so much dynamism but we lack the ability to be critical thinkers”, he lamented. We are blessed with so much in resources but unfortunately for us the bar has been set so low that we think we have achieved a lot yet we have achieved nothing despite all the opportunities availing themselves. “Knowledge, as it is said, is power but I say knowledge is power only when you have the ability to apply it to effect a course,” he relayed. And so with this idea about what knowledge is, he urged our class to strive for extraordinary achievements without any mediocrity. He made us understand that it was very important to build ourselves and be hungry to be among the best. Some of the ways he advised us to adopt was to read widely, research more, practice always, re-evaluate one’s self and have a positive self-talk. [Francis Sanchebe]
Face your fears
Always face your fears. You shouldn’t run away from your fear but rather face it at all costs. You shouldn’t be afraid because someone might laugh at you, or be afraid of how to start something, or what people will say about you. Always have a goal and that goal will help will you conquer your fear in life. It is difficult to face your fear without a goal in life so therefore we ought to have a goal in life in order to face our fears. For you not to fear so much, be prepared for any obstacles on your way and prepare to overcome them. [Emmanuel Botchway]
Apply your knowledge
Knowledge is not power, rather power is the application of knowledge. Being able to apply what you study is the key to attain greater heights. We are in an era where accessing information is very easy so in order for an individual to stand out or become “the go-to-person”, he or she must be able to apply information in an uncommon or unconventional way that will bring about solutions to the world’s problems. Doing research that will challenge your thinking capabilities and going to places where you can draw inspirations are steps you can take now to help you think outside the box. [Yvonne Harley]
“Thoughts of a confused black man”
The presentation of his life’s journey vividly showed how critical thinking in many instances have put him where he is today. From the very beginning, Mr Sintim-Mensah explained how he achieved one particular goal that has truly made him unique in his profession. This is that of becoming the first African to stage an original Off-Broadway play when he produced “Thoughts of a confused black man”. This was made possible through critical thinking whereby, he first identified his goal as making a mark in his profession then critically analyzing it in order to find a defining factor that will make this goal possible. This was the birth of edu-tainment where he used comedic acting performances to explain certain pressing issues in the American community at that time. [Emmanuel Kwashie]