Greatness through difficult spaces

Milton Kamwendo Hunt for  Greatness —
LIFE is a collection of seasons and reasons. Rejoice in the season you are in. It has its pleasures, pains and gains. If you do not like your circumstances, change them.

If you cannot change them, then change the way you think about them. Be determined never to die in the winter. Be determined to outlast and outlive your challenges. Be so resolute that you cannot be taken out of the game. Even if you do, go back to the gym and come for another bout.

Do not give up so soon. Challenge your limits and challenge your adversities. In your winter, determine to be the winner. Winners are not those who give up; it is those who refuse to give up. It is those who keep trying and trying, and trying once more.

Greatness that comes without effort is always suspect. I respect a person who is willing to stick to the fight, even when hardest hit. Pain is the process of growth.

To avoid the night is to miss the stars. Stick to the race even when the muscles ache. Problems are not stop signs. Challenges are not “No Road” signs. If there is no road, create one.

Grow
When you are faced with difficult times, as you sometimes will, focus on growing.

Whatever does not kill you, will make you grow.  Grow daily. Nothing accelerates growth more than difficulties and challenges. Embrace the pain of learning and growing and use it as fuel for your journey. Whatever stretches you is painful, but without stretching you will not build any muscle or strength.

Gems are never polished without friction. Challenges are the chisel you need to sharpen your edge. The best of captains earn their stripes in difficult moments. Anyone can hold the controls in fair weather. Anyone can masquerade as a holder of a Master of Business degree in fair weather.

In difficult times, please do not show me your certificates. Show me results delivered in adverse conditions.

Examinations are not real success. Real success is what you do with your adversity and the way you apply yourself to real life situations.

Khalil Gibran (1883-1931) was a Lebanese poet who wrote extensively about life. Perhaps his best known philosophical work is “The Prophet.”

In addressing the difficult and painful moments we face, he wrote a poem entitled, “On Pain.”

The poem reads: “Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.

“And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy; And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.

“And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief. Much of your pain is self-chosen. It is the bitter portion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.

“Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquillity: For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen, And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears.”

Whatever you face, always take it as an opportunity to grow and develop.

The winds you face determine how high you climb. Your kite always rises high when flying against the wind. Only dead fish swim downstream. You stop growing when you stop confronting your challenges and seeking to grow thereby.

Your spirit is stronger than you think. You are made to survive and thrive in whatever situation you find yourself in.

If you cannot change your circumstances, adapt yourself to your environment. Do not give up or run away. There are solutions and pathways beyond your wildest dreams.

Keep your cool and hold your tool. Life is a process of growth and development. Every challenge you face is a growth stimulant. Grow daily and grow in every way.

Give your worry a time-line and spend your time in creative mode. Rather than blaming, create solutions. Rather than being a victim, realise that you are the protagonist. Every pain you grow through is a prescription for greatness if you are willing to be mindful and focused.

Dr Joshua Nkomo is commonly known as “Father Zimbabwe” in view of his seminal work in leading the independence movement in Zimbabwe.

In his biography, “The Story of My Life”, he describes his early days at Tjolotjo School. He says, “The classroom subjects were more than the old three Rs – reading, writing and arithmetic.”

When times are tough, the last R standing for arithmetic is important. Learn to count your blessing and not your miseries. Compute solutions and not blame and complain.

If you cannot find a way, make one. Thank God for your challenges, they show that you are special. It is a privilege to be at the centre of creating solutions than being at the periphery of life where you just watch things happen and never cause any to happen.

In the strategy development work that I do with organisations, we sometimes go through an analysis of their visible and invisible balance sheets.

The visible balance sheet refers to the tangible assets that we can all usually see and easily compute. These include land, buildings, cash and all the other assets that are normally recorded on final statements.

When times are good, the visible balance sheet glows.

It is when times are tough and markets are turbulent that you have to look at your invisible balance sheet and think through it carefully.

It is what you see in your mind that determines your level of confidence. When you see your hidden assets, you will innovate when others are crying. It is what you see in your mind that is key to the positive changes you bring.

Do not cry when others are crying, that is your time for thinking and innovating. It is in times of adversity that the biggest and best opportunities emerge.

Aspects of the invisible balance sheet include the following assets:

  • Traditional intangible assets like intellectual property, brands and know-how.
  • Customer and supplier relationships and the nature of your customer interactions. This allows you to develop deep insights that you would not have developed otherwise.
  • Strategic real estate and market positioning.
  • Enterprise networks and synergies.
  • Information, data and insights.

You have more assets than you think and more possibilities than you see. When times are tough as a business or individual practice the right arithmetic is crucial.

Read the situation as a creator and actor. Write the vision of possibilities and count your blessings instead of your miseries. Keep thinking with your head and not your pain.

See the full array of your assets, not the full array of your miseries. The key to innovation is thinking differently and seeing what could easily have been ignored.

Accept finite disappointment. Accept that times are tough, but never ever lose infinite hope and possibilities.

‘Shin’
In Japan sumo wrestling is popular.

The big-bodied fighters are called yokozunas. The three keys to success in sumo wrestling are strength, technique and “shin”.

The keys to building physical strength and technique are well known. Perhaps of these three elements of success, the most important is “shin”. Shin refers to the spirit of the fighter.

It is that will, passion and desire to fight and win. Shin is the ability to rise after you have been thrown hard onto the floor. It is the will to keep coming back again and again.

Tough times and difficult moments are not the seasons to give up. You need to master some “shin”. Get up more times than you fall.

That is why the Japanese have a proverb that says: “Fall seven times, stand up eight.”

You do not drown by falling into water, but by refusing to swim. I know who you are. You are a winner and a champion.

You are reading this article because you are bold and courageous. Now take action and deliver results. This is not a time to be making noise and complaining. It is time to create and deliver results.

Greatness is not mere talk, but results delivered. Show us a little more “shin.”

Milton Kamwendo is a leading international transformational and motivational speaker, author and coach. Feedback: [email protected], Twitter @MiltonKamwendo and WhatsApp +263772422634

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