By: Confidence Seleme
Most of us have goals and visions for our lives. We want to excel and succeed and become people of significance and influence. We want to progress! In order to progress, we have to settle it in our minds that progress is the only option before us. We must decide that ‘I will progress! I will not fail!
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the entire staircase.” A person who believes and then adds action to what they believe is a person who will achieve great things. Jim Rohn, the American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker once said, “Imagination and faith must be deposited in activity or it is wasted.”
Progression is a result of productivity. No great thing was ever built without productivity. The growth and development of our society and our industries was pioneered by men and women who had ideas, faith that those ideas were valid and worth pursuing and they added action. One speaker went as far as to say ‘faith without works is not faith at all’. At first glance, it might seem like quite a harsh statement but if you evaluate it, it makes a lot of sense. If you really believe, your actions will reflect it.
Progression is an upward or forward movement. It’s not backward or static. Human beings are not designed to move backwards or stay in one position for too long. We are most effective when we fix our gaze ahead and move forward to what or where we envision reaching. And everything that we use for transport moves forward and/or upward, i.e. cars and aeroplanes. Yes, sometimes we need to take a step back but that is so we can position ourselves better. A driver who misses a turn may go into reverse gear so that he can position himself to make the turn he missed. But they will not travel his journey in reverse gear. Not only is it impractical, it’s also illegal.
There is value in studying ourselves and evaluating our lives. Looking back at our past experiences and learning from them gives us wisdom and knowledge. From such exercises, we can deduct, measure and compare to evaluate what has been valuable and what hasn’t. We can make decisions that are more informed when we look back with an eye that seeks to learn. But the past is something at which we glance. It’s not a place where we should reside. We have to be present in the present, even as we look forward to the future. Don’t let mistakes you’ve made in the past keep you from progressing. Learn, forgive yourself and move on.
Progression also requires single-mindedness… not to be confused with its ugly cousin, ‘narrow-mindedness’. Single-mindedness implies focusing on a specified goal, dream or vision. Single-mindedness is zeroing in on the thing you’d like to achieve. Let’s say you wanted to build a multi-faceted enterprise, that’s your single-minded vision. But it requires multi-lateral thinking. When you are single-minded, it means you are clear about your goal but it also means you’re open-minded and flexible enough to make adjustments when required to. Whereas, a narrow-minded person is rigid in their thinking and they have an inflexibility that becomes an inhibiting factor. Let’s be single-minded but never narrow-minded.
Progression requires motivation. When a baby is learning to walk, it’s often the smiles and cheers of his/her parents that motivate him/her after he/she stumbles and falls. It was Andrew Carnegie, the American entrepreneur and philosopher who said, “If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes”. There has to be a target that you’re aiming for. A target that excites and stirs you enough for you to devote yourself to. A higher purpose that goes beyond materialism. I’m not against driving fancy cars and living in amazing mansions but I do believe that a truly worthwhile vision goes beyond fulfilling material desires.
Many people of wealth have become philanthropist. And I’m by no means suggesting that you have to have a lot of money before you become a giver. Sometimes, money is the last thing people need from you. Sometimes, they need an encouraging word, a smile or a hug. There is high reward when your life benefits other people. I read somewhere that ‘Success is not measured by the amount of money you have in the bank but by the amount of people you impact.’
Money can dress you well, it can take you on trips to exotic places and give you truly exquisite experiences. But we must not allow money to be the be-all and end-all of our endeavours. We must balance our expenditure on ourselves with more selfless spending such as donating to charities, funding schooling for underprivileged students and feeding the poor.
Progression requires passion. When you are passionate about something, you pour your heart into it. Passion is a fiery word. It is full of life and emotion. It activates the dormant into action and allows you to transcend the realm of the ordinary.
Study the most successful people in any field and you will find that those who are the most passionate are more often than not, the most successful. Whether it’s a sports-field, a business-field, Literature, and so on, passion is a vital ingredient in the recipe for success. Passion drives you to give more than what other individuals are willing to give. Passion pushes you to work on it, to keep at it, and ultimately, to win it.
Progression also requires perseverance. Will, determination and staying power are good travelling mates to take with you on your journey. These will fortify you as you tackle whatever obstacles you may encounter along the way. Perseverance also strengthens your character, making you a stronger person able to achieve more and reach higher.
Confidence Seleme is a speaker, writer and entrepreneur. His book, titled, ‘When the pen is pregnant’ is available at Xarra Books situated at Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg.