The Sunday Mail
Hunt for Greatness
Sow love and display passion for life, for growth and for progress. At every moment you are teaching and influencing. Choose to be the light and not darkness.
Choose to be the healing plan and not the evil weed. Choose greatness by building bridges, mending tears and seeking to understand and heal. Elevate your thinking beyond the petty, the selfish and the meaningless.
Choose to be the seasoning and illuminate the way. There is so much to do and so little time. There are so many places to go. There is so much inexhaustible opportunity. Choose greatness and go with others.
The things that divide people, and inflame emotions are usually small and not worth a bet.
Just like the disastrous effect of a senselessly thrown small match, that can light up a whole complex. Lift your thinking from obsessing on small hurts and nursing senseless ego battles. Choose your fight carefully and let the unborn guide you in the judgement process.
Think big, see big and elevate your thinking. You do not have the luxury of thinking like an ant when you want to play in the elephant spaces. Adidas and Puma should have known better were it not for their blind zealots that framed the river in between.
Herzogenaurach is a Southern Germany town named after the river Aurach that flows through it. The river could just have been like any other river were it not from a small matter.
The matter was not Climate Change, Politics, Disease, or the threat of a nuclear Bomb explosion. The Aurach river could not have been a mental barrier and a generator of ill-feeling if a tiny matter had not been taken to heart and held as a diving line.
It would not have happened had dialogue been prioritised. It would have mattered little which side of the river one lives were it not for failing to hold crucial conversations.
The river, Aurach serves as a dividing line between two fiercely polarised and rivals town resident groups. There is no middle ground except the river.
Keep checking those that you are fighting and what you are fighting for. Keep looking within and checking your motives and stand. Every time you open your mouth you are creating a culture. Every time you do anything, you are modelling. Be an intentionally-building teacher.
Choose to make a positive difference and be the glue that unites.
Make it your business to reach out with a healing touch and building hand. Spending time framing friendly is futile and a time waster. There is so much opportunity if you are willing to look and sow the right seeds.
Let’s talk about the saga of the River Aurach. The saga can be traced to two Dassler brothers—Adolf (Adi) and Rudolf (Rudi) who were cobblers. Before World War 2, they made shoes together and collaborated.
They started their humble business in their mother’s laundry room where they founded the Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik, and specialised in producing sports shoes. The brothers’ factory made the shoes that Jesse Owens, a Black American athlete, wore and went on to win four goals medals at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Jesse Owen’s win gave the brothers international acclaim and the sales of their shoes exploded. Business was good and sometime the unlikely hits from the unexpected.
It is not known how Adi and Rudi’s rivalry started. Jay Van Bavel shares one of the stories in his book, “The Power of Us: Harnessing Our Shared Identities for Personal and Collective Success”. He reports that according to legend, the rivalry was triggered by a bombing raid that took place in 1943.
During that raid Adi and his wife climbed into the same bomb shelter as Rudi’s family, and Adi without thinking much exclaimed, “The dirty bastards are back again.” Adi was probably referring to the Allied troops warplanes, but Rudi and his wife believed the insult was intended for their family.
Make no mistake small hurts can live long in people’s heart. For greatness let your heart choose to contain great dreams and your mind dwell on the positive and life-giving. You are an influence whether you believe it or not. Whether you feel great or not.
After the war, Adi and Rudi’s battle grew and sucked in many other people, ultimately becoming the battle of their hometown. With fighting and bitter exchanges being the order of the day the Dassler brothers’ shoe company could not survive. Misdirected energy always destroys much. Focus your efforts, value your time and attention.
By 1948, the brothers had split the business, and their home town, Herzogenaurach became home to two polarised and the largest shoe manufacturers in the world headquartered in Germany. Each side of the river aligned itself to one of the two brands.
The two shoemaking businesses are collectively worth more than twenty-five billion dollars but they are bitter crosstown rivals.
The brothers conflict spread with a rebellious cancer. It spread to employees, their families and relatives and kept growing. As the fire of hatred and animosity grew the town’s citizens identified exclusively with Adi’s or Rudi’s company.
When they walked around the town, the people looked down at each other’s shoes, to make sure that they talked only with members of their own group. Visitors to the town soon called Herzogenaurach the “Town of Bent Necks.”
Each side of the town had its own stores, clinics, bakeries, restaurants, and suppliers. People from the other side were refused service if they wandered into the wrong establishments, especially wearing the wrong shoes. Families were divided and relationships were severed.
Neighbours that used to enjoy fellowship became enemies. In some cases, marrying across company lines was even discouraged. It was fierce and bitter. Needless battles for a town that was blessed and that could have stood together; fought together and not against each other.
Always check the seeds that you are sowing. Always check the fires that you are stocking. Check what plants you are planting. Some species are inversive. Watch what you are teaching and how you are leading by word, deed or example. Never teach hate, unless you want many people hurt. Rejoice not at any acts of violence and baseless conflict. Senseless banter can easily become an unstoppable inferno. Never sow the seeds of animosity regardless of how small or scattered they may be. Never carry the root of bitterness. Stop polarising for petty gains. It will drain the energy for greatness. What you sow you reap – this is the law of compensation. No seed ever escapes and nothing hidden will stay hidden forever.
It was not until the Adi and Rudi Dassler (the brothers who started a senseless war) died that the ambers of tensions died down and the businesses established a rivalry that is focused on business and the sports arena. Not for the brothers. They fought in life and in death.
They would not give up or give in. The brothers took their enmity to the grave and chose to be buried at opposite ends of the town’s cemetery.
The two businesses founded by the brothers live on today. You likely know them well or are wearing their brand and hoping you are not mixing the brands. You know the businesses and their brands: Adidas, founded by Adi, and Puma, founded by Rudi – the brothers who fought, fought, and fought. To what end?
Let your light shine and run in your lane. Be bold and be courageous. Do not let yourself stoop so low as to start fires mindlessly and fight in wars that do not make sense. Never erect barriers and walls unnecessarily. Build bridges and help others to cross. Keep running and do not let petty hurts slow you down. Do not dwell on little thought, little fights and hate that turns into boiling blood.
Committed to your greatness.
Milton Kamwendo is a leading international transformational and motivational speaker, author, and a virtual, hybrid and in-person workshop facilitator. He is a cutting-edge strategy, team-building and organisation development facilitator and consultant. His life purpose is to inspire and promote greatness. He can be reached at: [email protected] and His website is: www.miltonkamwendo.com.