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Tough Times Expose Tough People

April 15, 2018

Animals never cease to amaze me, and when I say animals I don’t just mean dogs because they are my favorite animals but I mean animals of all kinds, except creepy crawlies like snakes and crabs which creep the living daylights out of me. I don’t know why but this past week I received a lot of animal-related clips and messages from friends, all having some very interesting takeouts. 

For instance there is this one where a mother impala and her baby impala were crossing the river but then from the corner of her eye, the mother impala saw danger and when she calculated the distance between her young one and the riverbank, she knew if she didn’t do something about it her young one would be eaten alive. She opted to sacrifice her own life in order to save the life of her young one. It was a bitter sweet thing to witness but isn’t this the same maternal instinct that human mothers have when it comes to protecting their young ones?

Then there was this one from Kruger National Park where an elephant, a lioness and her cub were crossing the road. They had walked for over 2Kms and the cub got tired. Then the elephant (not sure whether it was male or female) did the most amazing thing for the little cub; it lowered its trunk to let the little cub climb on it, and carried it the rest of the way. Unfortunately I later learned that this was an April Fools prank from South Africa’s Kruger Sightings platform but like someone asked on Facebook, “who cares if it is a foto shop, the concept is wonderful”. All the same it also reminded me of another story where a lioness killed an impala only to realize that the mother impala had just given birth. Not sure whether the lioness felt guilty or not but immediately she realized what she had done, she become the baby impala’s protector. True story.

But the story that really led me to write this article today is one about the first few minutes or hours of a baby giraffe’s life. This one stunned me but I later understood everything.  To help explain what happens, I borrowed some text from www.monsterindia.com. Read the copied text here below. 

Baby giraffes never go to school. But they learn a very important lesson rather early in life. A lesson that all of us would do well to remember. 

The birth of a baby giraffe is quite an earth-shaking event. The baby falls from its mother’s womb, some eight feet above the ground. It shrivels up and lies still, too weak to move.

The mother giraffe lovingly lowers her neck to smooch the baby giraffe. And then something incredible happens. She lifts her long leg and kicks the baby giraffe, sending it flying up in the air and tumbling down on the ground. As the baby lies curled up, the mother kicks the baby again. And again. Until the baby giraffe, still trembling and tired, pushes its limbs and for the first time learns to stand on its feet.

Happy to see the baby standing on its own feet, the mother giraffe comes over and gives it yet another kick. The baby giraffe falls one more time, but now quickly recovers and stands up. Mama Giraffe is delighted.

She knows that her baby has learnt an important lesson: Never mind how hard you fall, always remember to pick yourself up and get back on your feet.

Why does the mother giraffe do this? She knows that lions and leopards love giraffe meat. So unless the baby giraffe quickly learns to stand and run with the pack – it will have no chance of survival. 

Most of us are not quite as lucky as baby giraffes. No one teaches us to stand up every time we fall. When we fail, when we are down, we just give up. No one kicks us out of our comfort zone to remind us that to survive and succeed, we need to learn to get back on our feet every time we fall. That is why I encourage you to listen to as many motivational podcasts as you can as well as read as many self-help, inspirational and motivational books as you can. It is by feeding your mind with content from such books and platforms that you get encouraged when you realize that you are not the only person who has suffered failure in life. 

A classic example is Walt Disney. Today we hear of Mickey Mouse and other such characters and we think it was a one-touch button of success that Walt Disney pressed. If you read the story preceding the Mickey Mouse creation, you will be shocked to realize how many times he failed. But he believed in himself and even after failing many times over, he still never gave up. Today we read that he holds the record for most academy awards. From 59 nominations he won 22 Oscars.  What if he had given up the first time he failed? 

And he is not the only one. We have people like the late Steve Jobs, Warren Buffet (still alive) and now Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg who is currently going through a tough time, thanks to data privacy issues. This is not the first time he is going through a major challenge and so I believe he will find a way of bouncing back.

Every successful person you see today has gone through a series of falling down and rising up again. At every level of their success they have faced one kind of failure or another, but what makes them successful is the fact that they refuse to stay down when they fall. Like the baby giraffes, they pick themselves up and start all over again no matter how tired or frail they feel. The journey of success is like a rollercoaster; one minute you are down and the next minute you are riding high at some crazy speed.

The road to success is never an easy one. There are several obstacles, and you are bound to fall sooner or later. You will hit a road block, you will taste failure and sometimes you might feel like giving up. But success lies in being able to get up every time you fall. That’s a critical life skill. And it’s the habit of all successful people. Unfortunately most people think success is a straight line, one where there are no turns or detours, one where there are no disappointments or frustrations, one where everything you touch turns into gold. Well, that my friends only happens in movies and in fiction stories. 

Speaking of gold, I am reminded of the guy who gave up too soon. You might have read or heard about the story but for purposes of understanding this article today, kindly allow me to jog your memory. 

The story goes like this. 

For months upon months a man went about prospecting for gold in the hills. Somehow he just knew that he would strike gold.  Everyday he got up early in the morning and walked to the hills in search of his "fortune". He dug and dug with his simple tools. He found some gold here and there. But never anything to write home about. 

The story goes that he finally gave up digging because he was convinced that he could not find the "mother load" he was searching for. 

Hearing this, another prospector came to him and offered to buy all his tools. The man agreed and sold all his tools for whatever money he could get for them. 

This prospector then went on to hire a land surveyor, an engineer and geologist, all whom combined their knowledge and went to work on the mine where the first man had been digging without results. 

It is told that upon studying the area and the mine, the men discovered that the first man had been literally three feet from where the real gold deposit was. Literally 3 FEET! The poor prospector who had given up was so close to the gold, he could reach out and touch it. But there was no way he could know this because he gave up too soon, and he did not have the proper tools for the job. 

When he heard about the discovery, the man could do nothing but wonder what might have been. 

Again, there is a lot of lessons we can learn from this ill-tooled prospector. In a nutshell I would say this; he had the right attitude, the right energy and the right focus, but the one thing he did not have is a set of the right tools, plus I guess he did not take time to prepare himself properly before starting his quest for gold. 

If you read the book I had recommended last week by John C. Maxwel, Beyond Talent, one of the chapters in that book talks about how Talent + Preparation = Talent Plus. If you didn’t read last week’s recommendation, trust me that is one book you need to get and read fast.

Most people fail in life not because they lack talent or have a negative attitude or they lack focus, but because they lack preparedness. Like Robert H. Schuller said, “Spectacular achievement is always preceded by unspectacular preparation.” When you are ill-prepared to do something, you will always end up expending more energy than necessary, which becomes frustrating and might cause you to eventually give up. 

Learning to win in life is quite like learning to ride a bicycle. As you start to ride, you might fall and get bruised. It doesn’t matter. You need to get back up and continue to ride every time you fall. Otherwise you’ll never learn how to ride. That’s all it takes. Learn to get back up every time you fall and eventually, what seemed so tough for you to do in the beginning becomes easier as time goes by until it becomes a part and parcel of you. 

Indeed tough times don’t last but tough people do. That is why this week in the #52BooksIn52Weeks2018 Reading Challenge I am recommending a book by the late Robert H. Schuller that has a similar title; Tough Times Never Last But Tough People Do!

I don’t know what you might be going through right now but one thing I can tell you is that you have the power in you to get up and try again. If the baby giraffe, as feeble and weak as it is when it is born can be able to stand up to avoid the kicks of its own mother, you too can stand up after falling. It doesn’t matter how many times you fall, what matters is your ability to pick yourself up and stand on your feet once again. Your perseverance is one of the key ingredients required for you to walk down the corridor of success in this lifetime.

Today I leave you with the words of George A. Custer who had this to say about perseverance; “It's not how many times you get knocked down that count, it's how many times you get back up.

 

Be ignited. Be Inspired. Be Influenced. Become the best version of yourself you can ever be.

 

PS: This article was originally published in Tanzania's Guardian On Sunday on the 15th of April, 2018, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words".

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