There’s nothing as bad as getting lost on the way to some place you’ve never been to before, yet the GPS on your system tells you that you’ve reached your destination, but when you look around there is no way your destination can be anywhere near where you are. Why? Because the entire place is just bush and shrubs, yet you are sure you were not going to a camping site but someone’s residence, even though you were going for a bootcamp. On top of that, before you can figure out how to get back to the nearest main road, it starts raining and as the rain pounds on the windscreen, you suddenly realize your bladder is full and you need to use the bathroom, and because you are so pressed, your stomach starts acting up, making you even more uncomfortable.
True story. This happened to me.
Fortunately, I had the cell phone number of the person whose residence I was going to and so after calling her and making it known to her that I thought I was lost, she requested her son to give me fresh directions and 45 minutes later, I got to my original destination albeit over an hour later than I had been expected to by those I was going to meet. The distance between where I was coming from and where I was gong was less than 2 Kms, but it took me over an hour to get there because I got lost! In short, the GPS location I had initially been given was showing a completely different place from where my final destination was! How that happened I’m still wondering, but it did happen. Talk about technology getting “technical” on me.
But here’s the thing; in all that “lostness” I never changed my destination. What I changed was my direction because after being given fresh directions I discovered I’d been going in the wrong direction. This experience was so symbolic of what happens in everyday life that I felt I should actually make a message out of it.
At the beginning of every year, many people have dreams, desires, visions, goals (of things) they would like to achieve by the end of the year. Some are “lucky” enough to achieve their goals within the stipulated timelines while others are not so “lucky”. I use the word “lucky” in quotes because it is not luck that causes people to succeed. I would say that luck is a function of preparedness. It is the intersection where preparedness and opportunity cross paths. Where those two meet, they produce what many call “being lucky”. It doesn’t matter how many opportunities come your way but if you are not prepared for them you will never be “lucky”. You will only start being “lucky” when the opportunities you get find you prepared to handle them. Unfortunately life is choreographed in such a way that it is very rare for someone to come across the same opportunity twice, especially after missing it the first time. If that happens, then you know you are not lucky but highly favored and blessed, and that someone high above you in the skies has some serious affection for you.
Like I already mentioned, many are the people who have annual goals at the beginning of each year, but few are those who actually achieve them. Why? There could be a myriad of reasons such as lack of passion, improper plans, lack of discipline which breeds inconsistency among other vices that cause people to not achieve their goals, lack of dedication, etc. In this article today, I’d like to talk about persistence or lack of it.
According to my usual online dictionary, “persistence is the continuing in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.” Like my spiritual father says, it is being stubborn about refusing to give up on something you completely believe in.
Taking my experience above as an example, if going to the house I was going to had not been of importance to me, if I didn’t believe in what I was going to do there, then I would have used the “getting lost” experience as an excuse to not go. Instead, I persisted and made phone calls, stayed on the call for as long as I had to until I finally got the proper directions to where I was going. Surprisingly, I even forgot that I had been feeling pressed and only remembered when I got back to my point of origin that at some point I'd seriously needed to use the small room.
Unfortunately many people in life give up or change their “destinations” (dreams and visions) mid-way through the year when things go wrong or when they encounter unexpected challenges and obstacles. That is the worst thing you can ever do because it not only kills your dream/vision, but it also kills your spirit. In the same way a mother in labor cannot decide to close her legs to keep the baby in her womb, or postpone her delivery date when the labor pains become insanely unbearable, it is the same way you shouldn’t shut down your dream because of the “labor pains” you have to endure in order to bring your dream to life.
Just like a baby, once you get pregnant with an idea, there is a process it will take before you finally hold that baby (your dream) in your arms. Even after you hold it in your arms, there is another level of growth that will need your patience in nurturing it so that it can grow from being an infant, to a toddler all the way to a teenager, and later on to an adult that then starts reproducing its own offspring. None of that will come without persistence, tolerance, dedication, discipline, change, tears of joy and sometimes sadness especially when the baby gets sick (i.e. when challenges hit your dream), etc.
Still using the analogy of the baby, what happens when a mother realizes the baby is allergic to something? Do they throw away the baby or do they spend time finding out what they are allergic to then they change it to another product? Why then do people “throw away their babies (dreams)” when they become allergic (encounter challenges) along their growth curve?
Dear reader, it doesn’t matter what your dream is, or how hard it seems for you right now, but if it is something you feel strongly in your heart about, and you can’t stop thinking about it then it is worth your giving it your all until you accomplish it. Like Michael Jordan said, “if you can’t stop thinking about it, don’t stop working for it.” Whether it is a relationship, or a business, or your education that you wanted to do something about at the beginning of the year, if you felt so strongly about it then and you still do, please don’t give up on it because you have hit a rough patch. Instead of giving up or changing your destination, how about you try a different approach and see whether you will arrive at the same destination?
If for instance it is a relationship which was sweet and great and fulfilling emotionally but all of a sudden things have changed and the sweetness has reduced, it’s become good instead of great and instead of it being fulfilling you are left feeling unfulfilled emotionally half the time, how about you take a step of boldness to find out where you went wrong in your direction and reset your GPS so that it takes you to the right direction in your relationship? Maybe the problem is lack of heartfelt communication between the two of you, or lack of transparency from one party, or constant emotional manipulation by one party to another, or it could be that you suddenly stopped speaking each other’s language of love. Whatever it is, go back to where you lost your way and find your way to your original destination, instead of changing the destination all together. Nothing great comes easy. You have to put in the work for it.
However, here's a very important thing to note in the case of relationships; it takes two to tango. If you are the only person putting in the work while the other person is enjoying a free ride, then you might want to reconsider your destination all together. This is a topic for another day, probably sometime in February 2018.
If it is about a business idea you had that seems too far fetched for you and you think you can’t hack it, instead of letting it die before it sees the light of day, how about you look for different ways on how you can bring it to life. You could look for partners with whom you can partner, or look for sources of funding that are comfortable for your pocket, or look for a stepping stone that will bring you closer to your dream. Whatever it is, I have learnt that there is always a way out of a sticky situation, no matter how bad it may look. I like a quote by one of my favorite speakers that says, “When life knocks you down, try land on your back because if you can look up, you can get up”. If that business idea means something to you, don’t give up on it. Pick yourself up and find a way of making it work.
If it is about climbing your academic ladder, I know that too can be challenging especially if you are doing it when you are already in your 30s and 40s, where you already have many more responsibilities to deal with. Trust me I can write a 500-paged book on my experience of going back to school late in life. However, that should not stop you if that is your dream. Fortunately we now have platforms where we can study online without necessarily being in class physically, we also have part-time classes where one goes in the evening after work or on weekends when they are not working. Whatever the case, it is possible to go after your academic dreams if you persist.
I don’t know who said this but whoever they are I totally agree with them: “if you can’t fly then run. If you can’t run then walk. If you can’t walk then crawl. Whatever you do, keep moving forward”. And I add, your mode of transport could be the problem, not your destination.
This week I choose to leave you with the words of Sean David Jenkins who said,
“The difference between a quitter and someone persistent is one tiny moment.
The quitter says, “That’s it, it will never come, I can’t finish this, I’m not good enough”. But the persistent (stubbornly optimistic) person says to that moment, “Not yet. I’m going to try just a little big longer. I think I might be able to figure this out”.
It may take thousands of those tiny moments for the persistent person to finish, but that is really the difference”.
Are you accumulating “tiny moments” while in pursuit of your dreams, or you have given up on your dreams already?
Make that one phone call to tell them you love them or send that one text message to apologize for hurting them; send that one reminder email to that client; send just one more application letter to that NGO; visit that office one more time to speak to the CEO.
Whatever it is you are almost giving up on, just give it one “tiny moment” and another, and another, before you quit. Just like one tiny drop of water can cause massive ripples across a huge water body, one tiny moment is all you need to trigger a ripple effect that will catapult you to another level.
Be Ignited. Be Inspired. Be influenced. Become the best version of yourself you can ever be.