Let me ask you this question?
What comes to your mind when you think about Africa, this beautiful continent of ours?
Well, I bet someone out there is going:civil wars, poverty, crime, corruption, hunger (living on less that $1.00 per day),etc, and the list of hopelessness goes on and on.
There is no denying that there are many challenges that Africans have to deal with on a daily basis. The conditions are very tough for ordinary citizens. The difference is on how each one of us use those challenges to shape our futures. Others face these obstacles head on and succeed, that is use them as a reason to do well in life because they “don’t want to suffer like my parents”, but for some – and I mean a lot – all we see around us are roadblocks or roads with dead ends; a life filled with nothing but hopelessness and blaming others for our troubles. And we use or point to these challenges to justify our struggles; that we are in this debacle because of the colonizers (the damn Europeans or Americans or The Arabs) or someone else who came to Africa many years ago and stole our land. It is a situation that we all face as Africans but the difference is on how we look at the situation and use it to shape our future – good or bad.
The unfortunate fact is that a lot of us are “happy” to use these challenges as a reason or an excuse for us to just cruise along with the masses and take this painful life journey as it comes until our last days on this earth (and hoping that maybe, just maybe one day during this painful journey “The Messiah” will come and free us from our misery.) We all know that in most cases “The Messiah” does not arrive or arrives only to be told that we passed on a couple of days, weeks, months or even years ago. And I am saying this with all due respect because I have faith (and FAITH is really important because without FAITH you may as well forget it because we use faith on a lot of things) but we should not place too much burden on our Good Lord without helping ourselves.
Reasons or excuses?
The one interesting thing about the majority of us in this great continent of ours called AFRICA is that we always have “good” reasons to explain why we are not doing well in life. For anything that happens in our lives whether it is good or bad – and especially when it is a bad – we always come up with an explanation to justify why things happened like they did. This is down to the environment in which most of us were brought up. We are all shaped by the environment in which we grew up in. This explains the reason why in most cases people from poor upbringings (families) end up living poor lives. It is mainly due to the environment. Only a small percentage of the “lucky” ones who go to school and associate with good friends who have good influence end up upgrading or lifting their living standards higher than their parents.
When we are at fault we tend to shift into a “defensive mode” to make sure that we clear our names to look good. It is a bad habit unfortunately. I call it a bad habit because we were not born that way. It is down to how we grew up and made to believe that we must have reasons to explain anything that goes wrong in our lives. This sometimes leads to lying or coming up with excuses to explain ourselves.
The unfortunate thing with this habit is that we tend to spend more time looking for reasons to explain our failures instead of addressing our failures. Once we feel like we have good reasons, we relax and eagerly wait for the next person to ask the question… and in most cases the reason (or answer to the question) would point a finger at someone else and NEVER ourselves. We are never at fault. Blame everyone and everything else but ourselves.
Well, the problem with this habit is that it is infectious just like a virus and affects almost all aspects of our lives to the point where we never take responsibility for anything including the challenges we face in life. If we fail to achieve something worthwhile for our families it is never our fault. We blame it on our corrupt government officials who line up their pockets with “our” monies.
But guess what my brethren and sistren, it does not have to be like that. We can Make Africa Better than what it is today and leave a great legacy for our future generations. It is called from rags to riches. Wouldn’t it be nice to one day tell a true life story about how proud you are for having turned your life around and thus inspiring others to look up to you and say “if he/she can do it then I can do it too.”
Some of the things that deny us the opportunity to live great lives are as follows (not limited to these):
- Waiting for the right moment
Life is full of risks regardless of what do and does not matter whether you do anything or not. A lot of us stack up money or ideas somewhere safely and wait for the right moment before we commit to doing anything. Look, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that if you are happy with your life the way it is. But if you want to make a difference then there is never a better or right moment than now! Now is the time.
I remember looking at the stock market and deciding that as soon as the shares drop I will buy myself some. Then I would painfully watch them as they keep going up and up. Generally the shares trend upwards, even though there are times where they would sustain that downward trend like in a recession but generally they trend upwards and that is Mr. Warren Buffett made his billion dollars – shares.
So if you want to start something just go out and do it because there is never going to be a good or better moment.
There it is my friends. Do not wait because the likelihood of a perfect moment “arriving” for you is almost zero percent.
A lot of people in life have watched their potential breakthroughs just disappearing in thin air just because the conditions were not right, or so they thought. Our arable farming parents are a perfect example of people of taking their chances in Africa. As soon as the first rains fall around October (in Botswana at least) they start ploughing and planting in their fields because they have faith that it would rain some more. They don’t wait for the “good” rains to come because they know that if they waited then they could end up waiting the entire summer.
This one is more like the waiting for the right moment but the difference is that in this case you keep convincing or telling yourself to “wait, oh start, no no wait, start, oh maybe not today but tomorrow, but what if this happened,…” and you go on and on – it is called INDECISION. You just cannot make a decision either way.
This is applicable for anything in life and that could be reading a book, increasing your vegetables intake in your meals, walking a kilometer a day, etc. I mean this will destroy you. Before you know it, it is life over; you are 75 years old. You can still start at 75 years of age and live a quality life for the next 10, 15 or however long you have left on planet earth but that sounds a little too late.
It is about deciding and disciplining yourself that you are now taking a different direction in your life. You are now in charge of your destiny and saying “enough is enough with this life of mediocrity and indecision. I am done! And I am deciding today to lose 10kg in the next 4 months!” Obviously there has to be that decision and a plan in how you are going to achieve that. But that decision is the step n the right direction.
This is more necessary – in fact it is urgent and others may call it an emergency – in Africa than any where else in the world. We are dealing with a lot of challenges and they must be faced head on. But it requires people in their own private space to take a stand a decide. We have to all make a decision and tell ourselves that we are going to live better lives than our parents. Those incremental changes (improvements in our qualities of life) generation after generation would have an exponential impact in our future generations. These so-called first world nations made it be making decisions and saying “this is how we want to live” and that revolutionized everything. It became a crusade where nobody wanted to be left behind.
Can it be done in Africa, one may ask… The answer is a resounding YES.
This is one of those negative attitudes holding us back in all aspects of life. We have this attitude of thinking that the world owes us something and if what we want doesn’t materialize we start complaining and blaming others. This is a very dangerous behavior and it is holding a lot of us back.
Yes, there are times or situations that deserve a bit of whinging if you will but it should not be permanent. Raise your concern and make your opinions known (and you are entitled to your opinions) but don’t hold on to them and do nothing. If you look at a lot of us in Africa we tend to blame the colonizers for all the ills and challenges facing us but just a few take a stand and decide that they don’t want to live tough lives like their parents. In South Africa, for instance, there are still people who blame apartheid for all the ills of the country. I am not from South Africa and I would be lying if I claimed that I knew the pain they went through and I am not in any way being judgmental but I can make an informed opinion.
The apartheid regime left a legacy and some bad scars that can never be ignored. Having said that my fellow Africans should rise and be counted among the successful who say “I used the pain of apartheid as a motivator to make it big in life!” And it s possible. It is not easy. It takes time. It requires some sacrifices. It is a journey. But it is possible to turn the corner and stop complaining and blaming others without trying.
- Fear (and what would people say if I fail)
What will others say? Wow. I have a good secure job, mortgage and raising my family. Or my parents are providing me with everything I need and if I need something they are always willing to help me. Therefore, why would I want to risk it all by trying something new? If it all fails how would my friends look at me? Have you asked yourself some of these questions before?
We have all asked ourselves these questions and many more similar ones. And at the end we always have enough reasons to justify not doing anything because of fear of failure. The difference is that under similar conditions there are about 3 – 5 percent of the population who would say “what the heck, I am giving it a shot anyway! If it fails then I would have learnt a valuable lesson and would come out stronger!” Jim Rohn once said it is better to try as quickly as possible because then if you fail you would have found out quicker.
- Wrong associates
It has psychological proven that our behavior is mainly (and highlight the word mainly because it is not always the case) defined or shaped by the environment in which we grow up in. And this is for most the time; probably over 90% of the time. If you associate with criminals you are likely to end up as a criminal. Similarly, if you associate with successful people then chances are that you will end up successful in life.
Jim Rohn says that if you spend most of your time with 5 individuals then you will become the average of those 5 people.
- Lack of goals
Personally I believe this is the main one that if not in place then we may all just call it a day as a human race. Someone once said lack of a goal is like getting into a car and going on a road trip without any clue about where you are off to and hoping that along the way you will arrive at a great destination. It is possible for that to happen of course but we all know the problem with this kind of thinking and that is, you could end up up driving hours upon hours and wasting fuel (and money) without finding anything. But also the problem is that if there are things (opportunities) along the way chances are that you are likely to miss them because you don’t know what you are looking for. This is because you set out on a road trip without any goals in terms of what you wanted to achieve on your trip.
Our lives are like a long road trip if you will. We have to set goals and set out every day, week, months or even years trying to achieve them depending on whether they are short or long term goals.
As you must have already noted, it is all about ourselves. We just have to change – stop blaming everything & everybody but look at the image in the mirror and accept that it is down to that reflection in the mirror.
We just have to put on our thinking caps and go to work – start thinking outside the box. All it takes is a complete paradigm shift on how we view life. That is, have the belief that all these challenges are big but they are not insurmountable. The late Jim Rohn (in my opinion the best motivational speaker of his generation because his message was clear not full of emotion; that’s my opinion though) used to say, “don’t complain about the challenges but ask for more wisdom” to be able to solve the challenges. So these challenges can be tackled head on and be defeated. We can all achieve something to be proud of.
Don’t get me wrong people, we have big challenges in Africa and we have lived through these for many generations and these have now become a part of who we are except for the few who have had the opportunity to be exposed to the other side of life full of opportunities.
I like these comments from Les Brown and Jim Rohn respectively I am sure they will make you realize that you have a lot to offer in the world:
- the richest places on earth are not South Africa (diamonds and gold) or the Middle East (oil); the richest places on earth are the cemetery! Yes the graveyards… I am sure you are wondering Well I wondered too but he says the richest places are the indeed the cemeteries because those are places where you have brilliant ideas that died and got buried with their owners. People who had some really good ideas but never took action to try them or share those ideas with others to at least see if they could work because they had a lot of FEAR – fear that they will fail and be the laughing stock of the entire village. The old “what will people say” attitude.
- The worst thing one can do is not to try, to be aware of what one wants and not give in to it, to spend years in silent hurt wondering if something could have materialized – never knowing.
These are powerful messages friends. The sad truth is that only 1% of the earth’s population that is coming up with ideas, trying and implementing them (ideas) own around 50% of the world’s wealth. Then we end up with politicians saying we need to address this inequality. Well, it may be called inequality but these wealthy people are the very same people who went out there and gave it a go; some failed a few times but they never gave up until they succeeded because they had the desire to try something.
Now this website… “what is here?”, you may ask. Well, below are the answers
The idea behind this website is for you and I to sit down and work out a plan of turning that around. Under the forum section I want or am hoping that like-minded people who want to turn their lives around can share ideas, discuss and come up with “real life” plans to turn their lives around.
Remember that you cannot even contemplate making money or starting something without an idea.
It starts with one individual sharing his or her story to inspire others; the inspired would then go ahead a do likewise to inspire others with similar ambitions. This would create an exponential effects across the continent. People – this must happen. There is no any other way around this. Africans must rise and face the challenges head and not wait for handouts and leftovers form the developed world.
What Needs to Happen
In life for one to achieve something, however small that thing is, one has to have the end in mind. You must have a goal to work towards. This is more like a dream and achieving a set target or goal means your dream is realised. Obviously successful people dream big dreams. Others dream small dreams and that is still okay. You have to start somewhere.
If you read how Warren Buffett (one of the richest men in the world) then you will realize that sometimes it requires a bit of patience to create a better future for yourself. The story goes like this:
“During his high school tenure, he and a friend purchased a used pinball machine for $25. They installed it in a barbershop, and within a few months the profits enabled them to buy other machines. Buffett owned machines in three different locations before he sold the business for $1,200.”