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Inspiration, discipline bulwarks of life


I read an amusing take on the saying “It is darkest before dawn . . . that’s the best time to steal your neighbour’s newspaper!”

The reason I am writing this is far too often we exhort people to be passionate and to light their candles instead of cursing darkness; but what if there are no matches or a gust of wind keeps blowing through the broken window that represents the situation that you are in?

The chief executive officer of Pepsi once said: “The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious.”

People like Kaka, once an ordinary Brazilian soccer player when he had a swimming pool accident at age 18 and faced a career-threatening spinal injury.

Lying in hospital, he wrote out a 10-point plan that included making it to the Brazilian national team, moving to Europe one day and winning both the European Champions League and soccer World Cup.

Shall we talk about Stella Chiweshe, Oliver Mtukudzi or Jairos Jiri? Define success in any way you want;
the best mother ever or the first female chief executive officer on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, the one thing you may want to consider is that it does not, in the majority of cases, come overnight.

The most successful people you know may all have one thing in common: Staying power.

Some grew up selling vegetables in Chegutu sitting next to their mothers in the dust ignoring the scorn and derision from other “more successful” kids at the time — passing by on their way to school.

Everyone has a story and instead of envying the “successful” as they drive by in their beautiful cars or shop with their white picket fence families, perhaps you would do well to read a biography or two. Not everyone has access to the Internet, though, so here are some practical ideas:

l Speak to someone you consider successful. Just as Mary sat at the feet of one Jesus, so must you too. Speak to your local soccer star and discover words like practice, discipline, harsh soccer coaches, and low pay! Go to the local supermarket retailer and ask them how they did it. You will be surprised that they might take you under their wing;

l There is no such thing as a stupid question. Thirst for knowledge and ask as many questions as you are able to get answers to. Experience follows knowledge and it is far better to appear stupid once, and learn something new, than pretend to know it all and remain an ignoramus. Read a book;

l There is nothing wrong with “foolishness” either. I can imagine that many people told Strive Masiyiwa and Richard Branson that they were foolish to take on the government of the day and British Airways, respectively. I am sure many a relative sighed in anguish when former South African president Nelson Mandela engaged the apartheid regime head-on, instead of remaining in the safe and rewarding confines of his blossoming legal career. Read up William Kamkwamba, a Malawian peasant who, at age 14, was “foolish” enough to build a windmill when his parents could not afford to pay the $80 school fees for his high school. He went to the small community library and borrowed a book which had drawings of windmills in it. Guess where he is right now? “Stay foolish, stay hungry”;

l Life rewards action! You are not saving the earth from global warming by being inert. Ever heard of Bucky Guntz? Me neither, at least until he won yet another prime time Emmy (41 actually) award. So what about him? Well, according to the voice over during the telecast, he “majored in hotel management at Cornell University but changed to television (foolishly?) after his thesis on ice-making machines was deemed wildly speculative and probably dangerous”. Act on your ideas; and

l Give back. Always give back, whether it is in the form of a word of advice, personal time or money. It gives meaning and richness to your life rather than “being a selfish little clod of ailments complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy” as George Bernard Shaw has so eloquently stated.
Be a force for good for goodness sake, not because you expect a return and the goodness will surely bounce back to you.
Life is about Innerzela, inspiration and discipline, both of which are not easily achieved but are badly needed for Zimbabwe, individually and collectively.
Find some matches, fix that broken window pane and light your candle.
“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!” What’s your excuse? Your boss? The government? The Shonas? The Ndebeles? The Whites? The Blacks? Zanu PF? MDC? Get over it.

Albert Gumbo is a fellow of the Duke University-UCT United States Southern Africa Centre for Leadership and Public Values writing in his personal capacity
Email: gumbo.albert@gmail.com

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