It’s All Around You
While the world was trying to understand the fast-spreading coronavirus, 17-year-old Avi Schiffmann, from Washington State, USA launched a homemade website in December 2019 to track the spread of the virus right from his bedroom. Avi who began teaching himself to code at age seven (7), mainly by watching YouTube videos has made more than thirty websites including platforms that collated the scores for his county’s high-school sports competitions and another to aggregate news of global protests. His recent website, ncov2019.live, which uses a coding tactic known as “web-scraping”, collates data from different sources around the globe including the World Health Organization (WHO), various Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCs) as well as News Agencies. These data representing the latest numbers of COVID-19 cases around the world is displayed using simple graphics and easy-to-read tables divided by state, country and continent. It is automatically updated every minute on the site. Since its launch, Avi’s site has had more than 200 million visitors. Describing the experience, He said “I wanted to just make the data easily accessible, I never thought it would end up being this big,” In the midst of the highly politicized pandemic, where rumour and panic sometimes go out of control, Avi’s site grew to become a reputable source of information to track and manage the spread of the disease in his State, the entire nation and even the world. Avi Schiffmann started from his high school and now is helping the world to fight against a global pandemic.
Avi’s story shows us how a person, with a good understanding of the resources available in his/her environment (In Avis’s case, what I would call his “Cyber Environment”) can pick up skills and use them to solve problems in his/her environment.
Napoleon Hill once talked about the importance of our environment saying it is “the mental feeding ground out of which the food that goes into our minds is extracted.” The interesting thing about our world today is that we have the privilege to create our social environment beyond our physical location. By reading books, surfing the Internet, watching movies and documentaries, we can learn about realities beyond our space and situate ourselves in different places, mentally experiencing some realities beyond our physical environment.
As you continue your journey towards a value-adding life, it is important you stay connected to your environment. Among other things, your environment will do 3 things to you, namely:
- Your Environment Influences You
You are a product of your environment. Psychologists say that every child is born “tabula rasa” meaning you were born with a clean slate, without preconceived ideas. We only pick up our beliefs, values, world views and skills from the environment we find ourselves. The influence our environment has on us might be positive or negative or a mix of both. We are to reinforce the positives and use them to make lives better, while we confront and strive to change the negatives.
- Your Environment defines the Opportunities You See
Opportunities abound everywhere, we are only limited by our ability to see and grasp them. When we have a good understanding of our environment, we will be more aware of the challenges and with the right mindset, get inspired to solve them. Like Avi, who figured it would be helpful to create a system that can track the spread of the Coronavirus, saw how an automated data gathering website could help not just his community but the world in fighting the pandemic. In fact, he didn’t have to leave his room (his immediate environment) to create a solution. Indeed, great ideas are found everywhere, we just need to be open-minded enough to see and utilize them.
- Your Environment Reflects the Relationships in Your Life
Another key component of our environment is the relationships we build. We cannot overemphasize the importance of relationships. The direction our lives will eventually take will be greatly influenced by the quality of the relationships we keep. American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker, Jim Rohn said: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” This means; you are a reflection of the people you associate with. In Avi’s case, he most likely belonged to a virtual community of coders who try to solve various problems through coding.
I will like to close out by taking this a step further. After looking around you and evaluating how your environment has influenced your life so far, ask yourself: “How am I shaping my environment?” “Am I adding value to my environment?”
Remember, You Have Only One Life to Live, MAKE IT COUNT!