Two idle youngsters are engaged in a heated debate outside a shop. This quickly degenerates into an argument and soon, they are hurling insults at the top of their voices. Each party works to drown the other's voice and when that fails to unequivocally determine the winner of the debate- turned impasse, we hear some jostling and; "Hold me! Hold me! Somebody hold me back before I hurt this fool!".
This is chest-thumping à le village where I come from. The warning insinuates that the warner is the stronger of the two and is on the verge of rearranging his opponent’s dental formula. The truth of the matter is normally the contrary — the warner is on self-preservation mode, knowing that he is likely to be beaten to pulp in the event of a bare-knuckle brawl.
This kind of scenario doesn't just happen in my village shopping centre. It plays out in our personal and professional environments on a daily basis. There are those who are constantly on the verge of doing something — something more productive than physically harming someone. Unfortunately, they never really do. These are the people who simply will not shut up about being on the verge of impressive and sometimes life-changing break-throughs in this, that and the other area. Many are held back from success because they do a lot more threatening to succeed than doing the things that actually result in success. These are the large groups of people who know what to do to improve their lives but do not. They nearly complete their projects on time, they nearly get promoted and they nearly become successful leaders. They are forever looking for drawbacks to plausibly explain their “near-success experiences” — their failure.
Their biggest failure really is the small matter of not coming to the realisation that success lies in actually doing, not merely threatening to do by incessantly talking about anticipated success. Much like the village idler, their inactions metaphorically shout; "Hold me! Somebody hold me before I embarrass everybody around here by becoming wildly successful!" Most people laugh such characters off as jokers because they rarely actually achieve the success they are constantly heard threatening the world with. Enough, already.
I would not call them jokers, though. These chest-thumpers are fairly serious people. They are the cell-phone subscribers who are permanently out of reach and have over-active auto-responders should you attempt reaching them on email. Call their offices at your peril because all you are likely to get is a narration of how many back-to-back meetings they are involved in day in, day out. In fact your telephone conversation is likely to end abruptly because they are usually getting into another meeting "in a few". That means; in a few minutes but actually vocalizing the word "minutes" might take a lot more time from their already “very busy” schedules, you know!
The truth is that many of us are perpetually scurrying about unfocused all day without much net effect to write home about. In fact, we are quite convincingly busier than the very effective few. We may seem very hard-working but what we do not understand is that we do not need to wander around aimlessly without getting any further in our quest for success.
All we require to do is to chart a clear course and stick to it. We do not have to work harder. We need to work more effectively. We must ensure that our actions are progressive. We have got to be high-performers, not simply record high mileage. High-performers entertain ridiculously ambitious goals that inspire them to meaningfully move ahead without hesitation. That is to say that they engage in real work. You know; we are not made for work. Work is made for us. Work is where our psyche comes alive. It is our source of satisfaction and we need that as much as the material income. We must be self-starters who see tasks through to the finish line.
It is not about what we know but what we do to benefit the world that it rewards us for and remembers us for. We don't get paid for what we know. We get paid for what we do that adds value to others... And it is the payment in cash and in kind that brings about our success. The biggest reason for our failures is seldom a lack of smarts, character or willingness. We fail because of our inability to get things done.
Seraphine Ruligirwa-Kamara is an expert on Attitude & Human Potential
[email protected] | @SRuligirwa