By Sifiso Masiye
I guess some of this life’s greatest lessons do come with the seasons and you so wish you’d known it all a whole lot earlier. Urban “civilisation” and its attendant consumerist fads that create a never-ending rat race, an imprisoning desire to trend and to “fit in” , has so consumed us and stolen all our productive youth years, robbing us of the truest gems and value of the days of our lives. Trapped in a futile mental race with time, our minds locked on wanton accumulation, validation, job titles, Keeping up with Kardashians, or engaging in those preoccupations that accord us a public visibility that strokes our fragile egos… for years, the lot of us have been escaping our reality, trying to erase every memory of the poverty of our past, creating new histories and manufacturing personalities, so often based on a contrived, false sense of self — a self that glorifies things decidedly alien to us and bangs the door on our embarrassing wealth of intimate, intriguing experiences zaseKasi and in the villages.
Our whole moral compass and authentic sense of community is lost and with it goes the fulfilling opportunity to impact lives and contribute meaningfully to our humble neighbourhoods and natural habitats when we are ashamed of the rural school that gave us A E I O U, when we can’t relate our bed-wetting stories and when the wrinkled grandmothers that groomed us seem a discomforting feature of our life story. How is it we are happier and so adept narrating tales of global capitals we happened to pass through for a couple of working weeks than we are at embracing and relating the story of the village we spent 15 years in?
You need a mindset overhaul Switch on by switching off. Regularly, disconnect from the madding crowd. Find the quiet spaces where you can hear your own thoughts thinking. Reconnect in deeper and more meaningful ways with the socio-natural architecture of your evolving context. Develop contentment and a sense of real comfort in who you are. So many things you seem to want, you really don’t need. Focus on doing those things that create the opportunity for you to create, to explore yourself and contribute the best of yourself to the advancement of greater humankind.
Explore your potential and unleash it
We are all engrossed in the dance- of-the-blind, an endless race for consumption, survival and in ceaseless prayer for freebies, material wealth that must often sicken God himself. Rarely do we ever explore our inbuilt individual potential to contribute value to the world. Human capacity is limitless. Lying undiscovered, deep inside each of us is a Messi, a Madiba, a Serena and Mother Theresa. But unless the holder of the potential makes a conscious decision to explore, nurture, exhibit and unleash it to the world, that potential will return to God sealed, unused, an absolute waste. This counts for 71% of the world, but 97% of Africans!
We are raised in social environments that offer extremely limited options of talent exposure and simply follow a channelled wind, doing what everybody else does and terrified of failure. You need to realise that what you are doing today does not define who you are. It only pays the bills. Think about what it is you are passionate about. Formulate an action plan that enables you to overcome your obstacles. The obstacles, in fact, are all in you. Trust in yourself, invest in your dreams and develop and implement your transformational strategy today. No one else will!
See the potential in the next person and help nurture it
Often, we hardly stop to question our prompt negativity towards the next person and to check how irrational it may all be. Because of fears and insecurities of our own, we amplify our doubts of others and proceed to shut out the good in them. However, in choosing to see the inherent potential in others, we open endless possibilities for ourselves and them. Indeed, there aren’t any guarantees, but fear of failure may not justify inaction. If truth be told, someone gave you too, an opportunity for that first job and enabled you growth and experience into your next. Help the next person!
Allow young people and other people to express their dreams. Identify how, without imposing yourself, you may assist their dream come true. Create the opportunity and to the extent possible pave its way and facilitate its effective utilisation. The fulfilment, invariably, is immeasurable.
You are a product of your own thoughts. Think positively!
The brain that mothers our thoughts is a minefield both of hope and, sadly, of fear. The tendency for fear and hopelessness and the readiness to concede defeat and give triumph to circumstances over us has become something of second nature to most Africans “singakuthini, siyancengisa!” Your attitude towards difficult circumstances determines whether or not you can overcome. No doubt that the world is a terrible place in a million ways and we do not have the circumstances we want. But what is different is the frame of mind we bring to the chain of challenging experiences we encounter. You need, in the first place, to accept the reality of a bad world, to understand it as fact, so as to enable you to focus more on what you want.
You always have three options to deal with bad reality. Work or smash through the reality. Work around the reality. Banish the reality altogether from your mind. Positive thinking is not a means to fame or riches, but a practical application of your wilful power and faith to overcome fear and defeat and accomplish worthwhile creative values in life. Do not seek sympathy from others. They have their own fears of the world to justify inaction.
Have principles and make them clear to all
So often, we either lack principles or sufficient willpower to act on them or affirm them to the next person. We are quick to blame the world for failing us on standards we haven’t the confidence to articulate and insist on. This opens us to repeated abuse.
Rather than assuming universality of values, it is useful to develop a worldview anchored on a clear set of personal principles around your fundamental outlook to life. To the extent possible, understand and share the underlying motivations of your principles to the next person. You gain effective traction of your belief system, values and principles by living them out and demonstrably promoting and protecting them in your conduct in your personal and organisational spaces. As such, the moral ground for conflict or feelings of betrayal may be based only on prior and continuous shared understanding of what you hold dear and non-negotiable rather than your ad hoc private fancy of good.