The Sunday Mail
Milton Kamwendo Hunt for Greatness
HEROISM is not necessarily fame.
There is heroism everywhere, but not all heroes matter to everyone. In our world of big names, inflated egos and a lot of wannabes, true heroes tend to be anonymous.
The person of solid virtue and honest hard work, who can be admired for something more substantial than his fame and popularity, is often an unsung hero.
Every day heroes — people who touch lives, make a difference — are everywhere.
Think of the teacher shaping the minds and characters of children, the nurse tirelessly labouring to help the ill, the single mother working night and day for her children, the policeman working hard to rid the community of crime.
Think of the hard, lonely, underpaid, unglamorous, unpublicised jobs. Open your eyes wider and your mind further, you may just be living with an unsung hero. And seek to be a hero and difference-maker yourself.
Live intentionally, aware that someone looks at you as either a blessing or a curse. You are someone’s answer that has been waiting in the shadows. Take what you do seriously. You are either a plus or a minus factor to those you serve.
Give more than you are paid and do more than you are asked. Heed the challenge of your generation. You are not here by accident, nor were you born at this time by luck.
Fill the shoes you wear and make a difference wherever you go. Wear your shoes of responsibility in such a way that someone will bid to buy them when you die.
Live intentionally, aware that regardless of how long you live, yours is a short life that flees like a shadow. You have a reason to be here. Stop living apologetically and express life fully.
The world’s a stage
Everyone has a part to play in this big stage called life. No part is a humble one; it is what you do that brings dignity to the part you play.
William Shakespeare in As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII, Jaques says to Duke Senior:
“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant, Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
“Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel/ And shining morning face, creeping like snail Unwillingly to school. And then the lover, Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad/ Made to his mistress’ eyebrow.
“Then a soldier, Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard, Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel, Seeking the bubble reputation Even in the cannon’s mouth.
“And then the justice, In fair round belly with good capon lined, With eyes severe and beard of formal cut, Full of wise saws and modern instances; And so he plays his part.
“The sixth age shifts/ Into the lean and slippered pantaloon, With spectacles on nose and pouch on side; His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide/ For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice, Turning again toward childish treble, pipes/ And whistles in his sound.
“Last scene of all, That ends this strange eventful history, Is second childishness and mere oblivion, Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”
Do not wait for perfect circumstances to make a difference, be relevant and make a difference where you are. Stop looking for someone to create favourable circumstances for you.
True heroism is confronting your realities and positively affecting your sphere of influence.
You do not have to wait for your twilight years to make your mark. Do not excuse yourself. Answer the call to be a difference maker and a torch bearer.
There are so many questions and few people daring to answer them, and so many challenges and a few people will to take them on.
We are all called to serve faithfully and diligently. We all sit on the stage of life, with our turn to perform. Other people’s stages are wide, elevated and decorated.
Not forever though as Shakespeare admonishes.
Yet every stage is important. Every place of service is special. Whatever you do for yourself or someone else is worth doing well.
All work, regardless of other people’s opinions, that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance. No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.
It is not just about the money, but the service and dignity with which you serve that matters. No one can look down on your work when you do it with passion, excellence and dignity. There is no big or small work, all there is work and service.
Work should be undertaken with painstaking excellence, knowing that it is always a privilege to serve.
You do not need power to be abusive; it all starts in your attitude, mind and values. Power, money, position are simply magnifiers of your soul.
The street sweeper
Martin Luther King Jr was at his inspired best when he said: “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry.
“He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’”
That quote is worth re-reading. It is the true anthem of the hero. No one can make you feel inferior without your permission. Your work is your life, live it with dignity and do life with respect.
It is not where you are that matters, but what you do where you are. If you are a street sweeper, sweep like the best artist you know.
Whatever you do, bring mindfulness, creativity and pride to your work. Do not wait for a large office and fearsome title before you serve with excellence and dignity. Stop being obsessed with fame and titles, focus on making a difference, bringing solutions and answer the call that others flee.
The foundry of all heroism has no glamour or accolades. Choose to be a hero that every day people can relate to.
Anytime you have a chance to serve, serve well. Serve faithfully, with dignity, grace, humility and honour. Let your work speak for itself and do not be too much in a hurry to speak for the work.
It is not where you get buried that matters most, but what gets buried in people’s hearts as you serve and interact with them.
May the whole of Heaven declare a celebration and salute your service when you die. Serve even if people do not see you and see the exacting commitment, sacrifice and excellence you uphold in the shadows.
Someone is seeing, watching and taking notes. Make yours a noteworthy life and indelible contribution.
Choose your gallery
Stop looking at circumstances and using them as an excuse for not serving and making a difference. Your history and obstacles are not enough reason for you not to be a hero.
If Steve Jobs had done so you would not be knowing his name.
Steve Job’s biological mother was Joanne Schieble and his father was a Syrian, Abdulfattah Jandali. After a youthful adventure trip to Syria, both aged 23, Joanne found herself pregnant.
Her dying father threatened to disown her if she got married to Jandali, who was then a teaching assistant at the University of Wisconsin.
At birth on February 24, 1955, Jobs’ mother, Joanne, gave him up for adoption. The initial lawyer couple that would have adopted Steve Jobs changed their minds when he turned out to be a boy at birth.
He was finally adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs, everyday heroes. Paul was an artisan and Clara was a bookkeeper.
Whatever the circumstances of your birth, they are not enough to write your relevance off. Do not park where history or adversity left you. Even if you were rejected, do not carry it like an alibi.
Your parents’ circumstances are not an excuse for your failure to be great. Do not go through life excusing yourself because of the past and stop feeling that you are inferior.
Rise to your greatness and in whatever you do, give your best and make a difference.
In an interview with his biographer Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs shared that his adopted father taught him to do things well.
He always insisted on crafting the back of fences and cabinets properly, even if they were hidden from view: “He loved doing things right. He even cared about the look of the parts you couldn’t see.”
This ethos shaped him and embedded in him the passion for excellence. Do the things that people will never see and know well. Choose your audience well and play your best. Your children, family and team are your gallery.
Care about the parts that people do not see. Care about the painstaking work that you have to do that others do not see.
Be obsessed with excellence, even if people do not see it. Do things well and it will positively affect and influence someone.
For Jobs, it was this obsession to do things well and give attention to the way even things that are hidden from view look that affected his design philosophy. If no one was examining your work, would you do it well?
Let your works speak
What would you do with a man who changed whole industries? Who at his death in 2011 aged 56 he held at least 342 technology patents.
Where would you bury a man with a net worth that was then over US$8 billion and had created the world’s most valuable company?
He chose to be buried in an unmarked grave at a California Cemetery. Perhaps this was to say, it is not the burial site or tombstone that matters but what lived before and beyond it.
True heroism is creating a legacy that outlives the hero. What matters in life is not the number of years in one’s life but the amount of life in those years.
Live in such a way that the funeral director will weep uncontrollably at your funeral. Make a mark in your day and be a hero — right there where you are in the daily realities that you face.
Milton Kamwendo is a leading international transformational and motivational speaker, author and coach. He is a cutting strategy, innovation, team-building and leadership facilitator. Feedback: [email protected], Twitter @MiltonKamwendo and WhatsApp +263772422634