Growing up in Nigeria, I heard the saying “stoop to conquer” countless times. It's often used as a motivational phrase to encourage young people to work hard and make sacrifices in order to achieve success. However, as I've grown older and experienced more of life, I've come to realise that this saying is not for everyone.
At its core, “stoop to conquer” implies that in order to achieve something great, you must first humble yourself and do things that may not be desirable or enjoyable. It suggests that you must be willing to sacrifice your own wants and needs in order to reach a higher goal. And while there is certainly some truth to this idea, I believe that it can also be harmful and misleading.
For one thing, not everyone wants to conquer anything. Some of us are perfectly content living ordinary lives that are free from the pressures and stress of trying to achieve greatness. We may have different priorities, such as spending time with loved ones, pursuing hobbies or passions, or simply enjoying the simple pleasures of life. And there's nothing wrong with that1.
Furthermore, the idea of “stooping” in order to conquer can also be problematic. It indicates that there is something inherently wrong or inferior about the act of stooping, as if it is a sign of weakness or lack of character. But in reality, there is nothing wrong with being humble or doing things that may not be glamorous or exciting. In fact, these traits can be incredibly valuable in many aspects of life.
Of course, I'm not suggesting that we should never strive for greatness or push ourselves to achieve our goals. There is certainly value in setting high standards and working hard to achieve them. But I do believe that we need to be careful about how we approach this idea of “stooping to conquer.” We should recognise that it's not for everyone, and that there are many different paths to success and fulfilment in life.
So the next time someone tells you to “stoop to conquer,” take a moment to reflect on what that really means for you. Is it something that resonates with your values and goals? Or is it just another piece of empty advice that may not be relevant to your life? Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to success, and that it's up to each of us to define our own path forward.
FURTHER READING ⬇️