Last Updated on February 20, 2024
Want to know how passion, purpose, and duty are intertwined in your journey in life? Here’s my story.
On a bright Saturday afternoon in November 2013, I had just finished doing my chores. I was very tired and just wanted to relax with my very entertaining soccer video game. Yes, I am a FIFA guy, FIFA 14 was hot and I was killing the tournament. I was at the finals of the tournament and there was so much pride, joy, and contentment at the level I reached on the very tough game.
As I was about to start the final match, I heard a knock on my door. Behold, it was my younger sister. She always came to me to help her solve her mathematics problems or assignments. She always complained that the teachers are doing magic when it comes to solving math and she gets lost in the steps. I noticed that after a while of helping her the teachers do skip some steps when solving the math problem assuming that the students know them but alas most do not.
I had already started the game and I decided to juggle both activities since the math problem she brought was on a quadratic equation which is very simple for me as a second-year engineering student. In the process of helping her understand how to use the almighty quadratic formula I was scored twice before half time and at half time I was able to come back with a goal making it 1–2 (Me Versus Computer).
How My Passion and Duty Were Birthed
I still pressed forward to the next half and along the way, I was scored again and I was so angry. I ignored my sister to focus on just the game to know if I could come back. But I was only able to come back with a goal and the finals ended as 2–3 with me losing the tournament. I was so pissed off. I yelled! My sister on the other hand was sad I did not aid her in understanding how to solve her math problem. She left the room unsatisfied.
In the midst of my anger, I wished in my mind that there was something like a calculator encyclopedia that she could always use whenever she had a math problem just like a dictionary. No one would disturb you to tell you the meaning of a word. You simply tell them to go and check their dictionary and that’s all. I thought why is there nothing like that for calculations?
In Search of a Solution
So, throughout the evening, I searched the entire web to check if I could find anything like that, but to my surprise, there was nothing similar anywhere. I was shocked in a humorous way. At that time, I had just finished learning web design and development at Afrihub in Enugu, Nigeria. I also taught myself the Java programming language after being exposed to it at the Federal University of Technology in Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria. In the middle of the night, I woke up and decided to build a desktop app in Java that could solve any quadratic equation and show the steps accurately and comprehensively for anyone to understand very easily. It was crazy because I enjoyed developing it so much. It felt like a spiritual calling in a way.
The next day, I presented the app to her to use it. She used it and was able to understand how the process went down without my assistance. I was amazed at how I used my knowledge to solve both of our problems in less than 2 hours. I was free from her disturbing me with questions, and she was happy to have a tool she could rely on to understand how the steps of quadratic equations unfold.
As time went on, I added more and more calculations to the app, and I started developing an immense passion for the work I was doing. I still kept looking for anyone doing the same thing to see if I could draw inspiration from them, but I could not find anyone. My siblings started enjoying the work I was doing.
Inspiration from Friends
One day, I took the app to my very close friend, Agu Bright. The app blew his mind, and he suggested that I make it a web app so that it could be accessible from anywhere in the world online. I decided to do it, and behold, in a week, I moved the software to the web. I was not getting any traction, but I was very happy and passionate. At that point, I did not care about the number of online users. My friends started requesting calculations I should add for them to the software. The Nickzom Calculator started getting popular amongst my friends.
One evening around March 2014, my friends, Eze Nnamdi and Ekeh Joel, told me that they wished they wouldn’t always have to go online to access the Nickzom Calculator. “Can’t you make it into an Android mobile app that doesn’t require internet access?” they asked. At that point, I didn’t know anyone who programmed for the Android OS. It seemed strange to me, but I had such a strong passion for what I was developing that I couldn’t back down and relax.
The Duty to Build an Android App for my Passion
I searched for various e-books on how to program for Android. Luckily, I found “Android App Development for Dummies.” I dedicated a lot of my time to studying the e-book, completely neglecting my duties as a student and the reason I was in school. So, I skipped a lot of classes and tutorials, focusing solely on my passion. I stayed indoors for a whole month, and afterward, the first version of the app was ready.
The design of the first version of the mobile app was very poor, but everything else was working. I remember launching it online and receiving a lot of good reviews for the effort, but also a lot of complaints about the design. I kept working on all three platforms simultaneously (desktop app, web app, and Android app), adding more content and feeding my passion with everything, while completely neglecting my duties.
The Review I Will Never Forget
One fateful night, I received a call from a foreign number. I was amazed and wondered why I would be getting such a call in the middle of the night. I answered the phone, and to my surprise, it was an Indian lady. She was calling to immensely thank me for my app and how it had saved her, how it had made her start to enjoy mathematics. She thanked me repeatedly.
When the call was over, I was overwhelmed with joy. I wondered how majestic it was for my passion for developing the world’s first calculator encyclopedia to bring me so much joy. Then, I started to see a purpose as to why I had such an occurrence with my sister. I felt fulfilled with a definite purpose, as if it were divine. “Is this why I am on Earth?” I asked myself.
Struggling with School
When exam time arrived for the first semester of my 300 level as an Electrical/Electronic Engineering student, I felt very scared and less confident than usual. I had completely neglected my duties as a student. I started to realize there was a very big problem. Although at that point I was no longer a first-class student, I was very close, and I knew deep down that I had to graduate with a first-class to make my parents proud of me. My mum always kept telling me, “Chinazom, I believe in your capabilities. If you want to be the best-graduating student, you can. It is all in your hands and depends solely on you.” So, imagine how it would have felt not to come out with a first-class at all. So, I started catching up with my duties, but my passion was constantly calling. I was completely divided in two.
I did my best with my duties until the exams were over, but deep down, I knew I could have done better. Once the exams were over, I went straight back to my passion, which was leading to a big purpose chase.
Afterward, my CGPA started to become highly unstable, fluctuating between 4.50 and 4.42. In between, I started to worry that I might not come out with a first class if I am not careful, but rather with a very close second class that resembles a first class. Although I sincerely did not care much about it, I was worried for my mum because it felt like my duty.
Nickzom, my Brainchild Started Growing
By October 2015, Nickzom Calculator was able to solve over 6,000 calculations. I was glad with what I had achieved and I wanted to showcase it to the world, so I decided to try advertisements. Then, I had worked so hard and saved up NGN 100,000. I decided to go All In or Nothing, like I had seen in a Nike Commercial. I tried Google Adwords and invested the whole amount into it. In one week, I lost everything. After that, I fell into a very deep depression. I could not believe it. My whole savings were gone, and I got nothing in return. I wondered, “What is the meaning of this?” I decided to stop developing the app and abandon everything. For about 3 months, I slept, watched movies, and was angry with myself.
I was eager to continue working on Nickzom Calculator, but I kept asking myself, “Is there any point?” I wasn’t even making money from it, and passion alone wouldn’t sustain me. However, if I accomplished my duty as a student and graduated with a first class, I could secure a good job and provide for myself and my family. I guess the depression was severe.
Wisdom From a Friend Who Helped My Passion and Fired My Duty
By December 2015, after Christmas, I met up with one of the greatest friends I have ever had, Okenyi Dominic Chukwudi. I showed him the app and told him about my struggles. He laughed and said that it was clear I have a huge passion for what I was developing, and it sincerely has a purpose. He said no great thing is easy to come by, and if I am facing this kind of obstacle, then it means that I am developing something really great and awesome.
So, he shared so much wisdom with me, and I started to reconsider my thoughts. I decided to pick up the pieces and try once again. Chukwudi then connected me with someone who linked me to another person. He said this person is an expert and would guide me on how to develop the app to be worthy of my time.
After a while, in the early days of 2016, I met a specific individual. He had a fancy office and was very calm. I showed him my work, and he said he loves it but there was a problem. The problem is that Nickzom Calculator cannot be profitable. He vividly told me that Nickzom Calculator could not generate NGN 5,000 in a year. I was disappointed but not derailed. I had picked myself up and developed a very thick skin.
Reduced Interest in School; a Close Shave with Death
Therefore, I returned to school to complete my studies. From the beginning of my final year first semester, I found myself lacking interest in school or fulfilling my duties. All I could think about was pursuing my passion, yet dropping out of school wasn’t an option. I had a strong desire to prove that individual wrong. That is, I wanted to dedicate myself entirely to my purpose but I was torn between my duty and my passion, which led me into another episode of depression.
I recall one day walking back to my lodge from school, consumed by my thoughts. Unfortunately, I was completely lost in my mind, disconnected from the outside world. A large truck approached me from behind, honking incessantly, but I remained oblivious to the sound.
As it drew closer, a stranger swiftly pulled me out of harm’s way. I felt the rush of the truck passing by, and upon returning to my surroundings, I heard people shouting and cursing. However, what struck me the most was my initial thought: that if the truck had hit me, at least all my worries would have ended quietly. This realization shook me to my core, highlighting the depth of my turmoil.
Mom Knows Best
Summoning the courage, I confided in my mom about my desire to drop out of school. She was incredulous, almost shedding tears, and openly questioned how her 20-year-old son with a 4.45 CGPA in Electrical/Electronic Engineering could consider such a drastic step. She asked, “Are you certain you are okay?” Despite her concern, I remained steadfast in my decision.
Although I understood her perspective, my passion had blinded me to my duty. Seeing my mom’s worry, I resolved to learn time management skills. She had begun to perceive my interest in programming as a problem, so I delved into numerous books on time management.
Ultimately, I decided to use my mom as a motivational factor to fulfill my duty of graduating with a first class.
Time Management and Successful Graduation
I successfully learned how to manage my time, balancing my duty, passion, and purpose. The design of my app improved, and by May 2016, I had implemented over 10,000 calculations in Nickzom Calculator. My CGPA was on the rise, and I even began to enjoy my engineering courses again. Despite facing numerous obstacles, I was able to overcome them using my newfound knowledge of time management.
By December 2016, I graduated with first-class honors in Electrical/Electronic Engineering from the Federal University of Technology, Owerri. While my app was performing well in terms of content, revenue had not yet started flowing in. Nevertheless, I felt fulfilled. I had accomplished my duty. My passion had gained me recognition among many people, and I began receiving numerous contracts to develop software services, allowing me to earn my own money as a student. I had found purpose in my life, which was to develop the world’s first Virtual Teacher Calculator Encyclopedia App.
I finished my service to the nation on October, 2018 and My app now has a source of generating revenue through its professional version Nickzom Calculator+ which is available on Google Play Store and Apple App Store for $25.99 and Web for NGN 1,500 per year.
Nickzom Calculator+ can now solve over 50,000 calculations. Nickzom Calculator (free and limited version) has over 20,000 installs on Google Play Store with a 4.7 out of 5.0 rating from over 189 users. It led me to the 2017 West Africa Mobile Awards, Lagos and has been featured on Channels TV, Techpoint.ng, and LindaIkeji.
I am currently nowhere in completing my purpose but as long as this passion burns within me I am on the right path to fulfilling my duty.
How to Access Nickzom Calculator
Web – https://www.nickzom.org/calculator
Android (Free) – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.nickzom.nickzomcalculator
Android (Paid) – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.nickzom.nickzomcalculator
Apple iOS (Paid) – https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/nickzom-calculator/id1331162702?ls=1&mt=8
This article was culled from our Founder and CEO, Idoko Nicholas Chinazom‘s medium account. Link – https://medium.com/@idokonicholaschinazom/passion-purpose-and-duty-ac6146679d17 November 26, 2018