Something happens when you grow up

If you are not growing, you are dying while pretending to be alive. Something happens when you grow up, whatever your calendar age.

MANY things happen when you grow up. Growing old should never be mistaken with maturing. One is a state of body, the other is a state of mind, character and behaviour. As you grow, you learn to fight for what matters. You also realise that there are fights that do not matter and nests you should not kick. You also learn to look at some things closely, but you also learn to ignore some things. Growth is a painful do-it-yourself process and you cannot delegate it to someone else.

It was such bundles of joy as, woollen-swaddled, my mother strolled out of Mpilo Hospital in Bulawayo and made her way to the Lewis Lumber factory compound where we lived in the Westgate of Bulawayo.

Those were the days when men waited outside the hospital or at home for the baby news and would not dare be present in the delivery room. Today, things are different, but as we all still know, when you are present when your baby is born, you learn to respect and honour women. Honour and respect are earned. Age is not an instant badge of honour. Your pathways and manner speak for your name. Looking back now, my parents could never have prophesied what and where I would be. We are all products of grace.

Growing up is like reading a book. Some books are small and pocket-sized, yet others are thick volumes. So is life. The birth phase is the front matter. This is where the introduction to the world comes through. Then the chapters begin. Refusing to grow is like reprinting or re-reading the same chapter many times over. At first, life is measured in days, then weeks, gradually months and we seem to graduate to marking years. The more the years, the more painful it is to count them.

Over the last few years, my perspective to things has continued to change, broaden and deepen as I pass through the various chapters of life. The chapter that I am on today may be interesting, or challenging, but that is not the end of my story. Never let adversity or critics tempt you to tear the book of your life. Hope is always in the next chapter. Never die in the winter or expire in mid-air.

Open new pages often and that is how you grow.

It’s not what you get,

but what you give

In youth, I spent countless hours playing football. Those were the days when most boys in my township aspired to be part of the Bulawayo Wanderers team. We played, any time and any place where we could. The street always made a good cleared and ready field. Often times the plastic ball was carefully made from mealie-meal plastic bags. Then once in a while, someone would turn up with the real “skin” ball. Whoever owned the ball was an instant hero, had power and usually could guarantee immunity from involuntary substitution. Then at other times in the heat of the game, we would all get so engrossed in the game and forget about the “ball” rights. An unfavourable decision would be taken and the owner of the ball would simply run towards the ball, grab it and announce that he was going home. Game over! I can still feel the disappointment even today, but realise that some of these township tendencies never quite leave us as we grow.

From an early age, we tend to associate success with accumulation. The bigger the toys, the bigger the plumage and the more out-sized the ego. As my life journey continues, I am beginning to realise that it is not so much what I get that matters, but what I give and what difference I make. Those who give more are rewarded more. Life is about service because we are all servants. It is about spurring inclusive development and not just accelerating personalised extraction. Serving other people and being useful in their lives is what makes you valuable and it is the essence of true maturity of spirit.

It’s not about size, but use

In my younger days, I was obsessed with size and comparative parameters. I seemed to always be on the race to whatever looked like a number one. Most races are disguised rat races. Size is not absolute, it is a matter of interpretation. What I am increasingly learning is that it is not size that matters, but what I do with what I have. I am learning not to confuse speed with direction. I am also learning not to compete with other people, but to compete with myself, bury my own past and embrace great noble visions. I am learning never to wear my past as a chief’s badge.

I am learning that it is not what I get that matters, but how I use what I get. This is the lesson from the parable of the talents. The one who was blessed with one talent, looked down on what he had and in fear decided to hide it. All along, as I grew up, I kept looking for the enemy of my success and greatness. I have finally met my enemy — he is putting on my shoes, wearing my shirt and he is me.

Fear torments and fear-induced behaviour makes you do insane things. Hiding is not using or application. In the parable of the talents, the other beneficiaries used their talents and made more out of what they had. What you do not use you risk losing. What you use promotes you. In the growth journey, you choose the mathematical symbol that embodies you. Some divide, others subtract, but others multiply and integrate.

While resources matter, what matters more is the mind of the one possessing a resource, talent, gift or asset. If you do not use what you have, you will always think that other people have greater blessings, privileges and advantages than you.

Count your blessings, use what you have and fight the mother of all battles. It is the battle to face your fears, mould your character, use your gifts and be the best you were meant to be. Private battles can be ignored, but they never go away. Face and chase away your demons.

It’s not where you go,

but what you do

Geography matters because it defines your location and gives you a base. However, the most important geography is not the physical but the mental one. In my younger days, I dreamt of far off lands, to which I would sojourn and see new lights. It is in those lands that I felt the alchemy of life was to be found. As I journeyed within, I learnt that it is not so much where I go that matters most but what I do wherever I go. The canvas of success is everywhere I am willing to think and zealously apply myself.

Most limits are self-imposed and many more come from a lack of self-belief. If you do not believe in yourself and what you have, why should anyone believe in you? God already believes in you. If you do not put value on what you have, why should you cry foul and complain of abuse? Go far, think big and bold, but never forget that greatness is closer than you think.

It’s not what other people think, but what you think that matters. You either have the mind of a slave or the soul of a free person. Refuse to be chained to your past, failures and faults.

Open new windows of growth and progress. History has authority. It gives you legacy and legitimacy. It gives you structure and culture.

History must never be your compass. It is vision that has fertility. It is not who you blame that matters, but who takes responsibility and supplies solutions.

Playing blame games does not win championships. Taking personal responsibility has always helped me grow, given me painful realisations and opened my eyes to the vast opportunities to grow that I dare not squander.

If you are not growing, you are dying while pretending to be alive. Something happens when you grow up, whatever your calendar age.

Committed to your greatness.

Milton Kamwendo is a cutting-edge international transformational and inspirational speaker, author and coach. He is a strategy and innovation consultant and leadership coach. His life purpose is to inspire people to release the greatness trapped in them. He can be reached at: [email protected] and on WhatsApp at: 0772422634.

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