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The DART Experience

July 18, 2016

I had a very interesting experience on Friday, an experience I now refer to as the DART experience. For those who don’t know what I’m referring to, I am talking about the Dar Rapid Transport (DART) system that has completely revolutionized the transport system in Dar Es Salaam; at least for the areas where the system is now available. I chose Friday to use the system because I didn’t have the convenience of my own car and so I decided to have a real life experience of how the system works. I call it a real life experience because it wasn’t a “site seeing” tour I was taking, but I really needed to get to various places in the shortest time possible and being a Friday, I knew a taxi was out of question due to the usual Friday traffic we always experience in Dar Es Salaam.   

So I got a ride up to Morocco bus-stop and excitedly walked towards the elegant blue rides that were patiently waiting for passengers. The bus at the front of the waiting buses was about to pull out of the station and so I ran towards it right from the street, not, knowing that you don’t just get onto the bus like you do with the hundreds of dala dalas dropping and picking up passengers anywhere they feel like. No. With the blue buses, there is a process to follow which makes the system theft proof, at least for now. The only way to get onto any of those buses is by getting a ticket that costs Tshs 650 and is valid for 2 hours. This means you can use the ticket for any route that is operated by the DART system as long as you are within those 2 hours, and you don't exit from any of the available stations in the city. So the first lesson I learnt from the experience is this; change must be implemented in order to get a result that is different.

This being the first time I was using the service, I didn’t know what routes it operated and I had not bothered checking because my assumption was that there were only two routes; i.e. from Morocco to Kivukoni, and the other route from Mbezi Kimara to Kivukoni. What I didn’t know is that there is another route that covers Kariakoo. It so happened that I was going to Kariakoo but because I didn’t know there was a route that covers the area I was going to, I got off the bus around the Fire area. Bad mistake.  You can imagine how bad I felt when I kept seeing the blue buses swiftly passing  the road I was walking on, but because I didn’t know how far they were going, I opted to walk. Right there I got my second lesson; It is important to do due diligence before embarking on any project. Learn whatever you need to learn about it before doing it.

Eventually I did get the hang of the system and in conclusion, I can confidently say that I will no longer be using my car to go to certain parts of the city. I will be using those blue buses because they are convenient, comfortable, cheap and fast. They indeed live up to their name, DART which can also be translated to mean that they move like an arrow i.e. they dart from one part of town to another in a very short period. It is from this experience that I would like to derive my message for this week.

Since the month begun, I have been writing about why many people never achieve the goals or resolutions they make at the beginning of the year. As a result, I gave us all the permission to have a new year right in the middle of the year, and I encouraged us all to ensure we have SMART resolutions. Resolutions in this case could also be referred to as goals or dreams. You can read the article here. Last week, we looked at two characteristics that make it possible for people to achieve their resolutions i.e. commitment and focus.  Of course those are not the only two characteristics that make people achieve their goals, but they are key elements that if coupled with other things, you will definitely achieve your goals. If you missed the last week's article, you can check it out here.

The lessons I got from my DART experience are no different from what we go through when we are working on our goals. We could have SMART goals yes, and we could be committed and very focused as well. But have you ever seen a situation where someone is focused on doing a project without really knowing the facts around that project? This is exactly what I did on Friday.

Friends in order for you to achieve your goals or resolutions, you have to make sure that you have done your due diligence first. What do I mean when I say due diligence? You need to know all the facts that surround your dream before you can embark on making it a reality. Let us take the very first example I gave in the first article in this sequel, losing weight. If you want to lose weight, you need to ensure you have figured out everything there is to know about losing weight e.g. the diet to take, the exercises to do, where to be doing them, what training gear you need to wear, whether you need a trainer/coach, what time you will be doing your exercises, etc. in other words, you need to take time to learn everything there is to learn about the project you are undertaking in order for you to be successful.

Secondly, you need to stop assuming that what works for something else will work for the project you are working on now. In my case, I thought that the blue buses use the same process as the dala dalas. I was pleasantly surprised (but also a little embarrassed) when I realized they have a different system. Friends, for you to achieve something new in your life you have to apply different methods from what you were using before. The reason why the dala dala “system” does not work well is because there is no specific procedure or process or system for that matter that makes it work. For instance, going by the above example of losing weight, you need to have a working system for it to work. You have to change how you now do things and start doing things differently. Switch from dala dala mode to DART mode and apply the changes they have brought to the transport system.

So what are these changes? They are punctuality, consistency (in fares and service offered), discipline and order (the buses don’t just stop to pick and drop passengers just anywhere like dala dalas do), etc. These are just a few changes we can work with. If you want to lose weight, you have to change what you’ve been eating and start eating healthy; you have to be disciplined enough to ensure you stick to the regimen you come up with for exercises, you have to be consistent meaning you have to do it every day at the appointed time without failure. Now that is change.

I like what Einstein said in one of his quotes that I like so much. He said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. In other words, he is saying what my favorite book says in Galatians 6:7, that you reap what you sow. How can you plant beans and expect to harvest potatoes? How can you plant mangoes and expect to harvest melons? That would have to be the highest form of witchcraft then!

You want to achieve your dreams? Do what it takes to achieve them. Make sure you take the time to learn everything there is to know about them and apply it in achieving them. Ensure if one strategy has not been working then you try a different one. Be consistent, be disciplined, be focused, be committed, and keep redefining your strategies until you get to where you want to be. And that my friends, is how you move from the 80% category to the 8% category.

So, how do you ensure that you keep achieving your goals all the time you set them? And is this even possible? Join me next Sunday and let’s explore these questions together.

Remember, in order to get a different result from what you have been getting all along you have to apply a different strategy.

PS: Article originally published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 17th July, 2016, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words".

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