It is said hope deferred makes the heart sick. That was what was on my mind as the curtain went down in 2022 and fireworks ushered in the New Year with cracklings in the sky. I thought of those who had written down their resolutions at the beginning of last year only to see it wind down without achieving anything tangible. Your hope may have been deferred but hopefully it is not extinguished. With a brand new canvas that 2023 offers, you can paint your destiny afresh and make it a rosy one.
As a leader, the question I get asked most wherever I encounter those that dream is about how to make it to the top. Experience has taught me that there is not a fit-all answer to a question like that. The inventor of the light bulb, Thomas Edison, once said that success is 99 percent perspiration and one percent inspiration. Thus success rarely comes on a silver platter. It’s an odyssey with many labyrinths that you have to navigate while chasing your supreme dream.
Cus D’Amato, who was the trainer and foster father of Mike Tyson, once told his boxing prodigy that there is no difference between a hero and a coward. They both fear dying and getting hurt but what differentiates the two is action. The hero faces his fears head on while the coward becomes a shrinking violet in the hour of need. You have to be willing to show up and fight for your dreams to stand a chance of making it.
To be clear, you fight better when you have a vision that springs from the heart and keeps you awake at night. That sage of old, Habakkuk, captured it succinctly when he said that you must write your vision down plainly, clearly and precisely so that it can even be read on the run.
What’s your vision? To be a university professor, a movie producer or a top business person? It starts there. Once you know what you want to do, it creates clarity which makes it easier to develop a success formulae that you can follow.
You must then determine to be the best in your field. The wise king, Solomon, put it this way: do you see a man diligent at what he does; he will stand before kings and not obscure men. Nothing is as crystal clear: being the best you can be will open massive doors. Chinua Achebe put it another way: that if a child washes his hands, he could eat with kings. Cleanse yourself from a lackadaisical attitude and look at responsibility as a noble thing to be embraced gladly. Cut ties with bad company that corrupts morals. Clean yourself from a sense of entitlement and know that nobody owes you success except yourself. Then there’s hope.
To be the best comes with serious preparation and sacrifice. We just witnessed the FIFA World Cup which was won by Argentina. Contrary to popular commentary, it was not a Messi affair.
No doubt he was at the top of his game but it was a team effort where the first team gelled with the manager and backroom staff to win that golden trophy. The preparation that undergirded that success was surpassing. There is no hiding. Success has to be prepared for physically, emotionally, intellectually and socially. You must work out to stay in shape, you must network, you must read widely, and you must show up every day to chase your dreams with the determination of champions.
There is a cheaper option of choosing to lose yourself in social life, blaming your failures on actions of others yet it was mainly due to inaction on your side.
In a world of fast foods and fast internet, many young people think that success can come at a snap of finger, which explains the fascination and obsession with stuff like sports-betting and Ponzi schemes that leave more heartaches that sometimes sadly lead to suicide.
Refocus. Stop focusing and questioning other people’s success but rather learn from how they have succeeded. From such a positive approach you will derive inspiration to build and sustain your own success however mild it can be.
If you didn’t fulfill your resolutions last year, well, the New Year is here now and you have a wide canvas and a paintbrush of life with which you can start colouring your destiny. Thankfully, although a dream deferred makes the heart sick, a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. The ball is in your court. Happy New Year.