On a cold Friday evening in Eldoret, I sat next to an old man. In a room where the average age was about 24 years old, he was noticeable. When he opened his mouth, it was like hearing a bird sing its first melody of the morning. The old man and the map of wrinkles on his face told of an incredible journey.
As we spoke, he asked me: “What makes a chair stable?” To which I answered the legs of the chair. “How many legs does a chair need to be stable?” “Four”, I answered. At the back of my mind I knew it was a trick. He then showed me that a chair can achieve stability on three legs.
“There are many things that can make a man successful, but there are three things that can make him truly successful”, he continued. In the conversation that ensued, he shared with me the following three pillars of true success, which I live by.
THE TRUTH: Today, it can seem as though the truth is becoming a relative commodity. But there is a marked distinction in telling the honest truth. Many may argue that stock must move and that business needs to make profit at whatever cost. This school of thought is myopic and does not consider the long-term effects of manipulative behaviour in the market, for example. Honesty is the best policy, in business and in life.
HONEST HARD WORK: Honest hard work is a virtue that has been eroded yet there is no substitute. When we separate hard work from reward, our work becomes art! If you have ever bought a piece of art, you feel as though you have landed a great deal. Similarly, when you provide art that is a result of honest hard work, the effect is priceless.
HONEST SERVICE: Honest service speaks to the “how” of work. When called upon to serve, do it with finesse. The hallmark of great leaders such as Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa stemmed from the fact that they offered honest and selfless service.
It involved looking out for the wellbeing of others before the self and offering a seed of inspiration. This pillar is fuelled by honest hard work and honest truth.
A life grounded in a foundation of these three pillars will be deemed as nothing short of successful, the old man in Eldoret told me. We live in a society that needs quality people with strong and true ideals and who live according to these three pillars.
As the author Ellen White put it, and in terms that apply equally to men as to women, “The greatest want of the world is the want of men — men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right, though the heavens fall.”
That night as I retired to rest, I thought about whether I was living these ideals and if as a millennial trying to cobble together an authentic experience in life, how those few moments of interaction had deepened my perspective.
I resolved to consider these simple yet profound pillars more carefully. That resolve is a gift in and of itself.
The writer is Senior Associate in PwC