The Sunday Mail
Hunt for Greatness
It is not enough to live in a community. What is important is to know how to live in that community, as a contributor and a difference-maker. What you focus on determines what you see and do. Do not be boxed in old and toxic thinking. Think in new boxes as an innovator and difference maker. Whatever you focus on directs your creativity and energy. Focus on what is within you because that is your anchor. Focus on what is in front of you because that where your opportunity lies. Focus on ideas that make look edgy because that is where innovation lies.
President Theodore Roosevelt (pictured right) left his office as United States president in 1909. He needed the break and wanted to hunt in Africa and enjoy the wild. He spent a year hunting in Central Africa, then embarked on a tour of Northern Africa and Europe in 1910. When you are a leader what you say matters and sets the tone.
You do not have the luxury to pass the blame when things do not work. Whenever you open your mouth as a leader you create a culture. Roosevelt as part of his itinerary attended events and gave speeches in Cairo, Berlin, Naples, Oxford and several other places. It is his speech in Paris that seeded a thought on focus that is unforgettable and is worth reiterating.
On April 23, 1910 he made a stop in Paris to give an address at the Sorbonne. His audience included government ministers, army and navy officers, students and a paying audience of 2 000 ticket holders. His heartfelt speech was entitled: “Citizenship in a Republic”. In time, some special lines in the speech he gave would come to be more popularly known as, “The Man in the Arena”.
You are the man in the arena. You are the main actor in the movie of your life. It is this man in the arena you should be concerned about and who should never be lost despite the winds and gales of life. Refuse to let life speed way while you stand by, aloof, unengaged and unconcerned. You are the man in the arena. You make a difference, and one is not too small a number to start a positive revolution. What you focus on matters.
Focus on making a difference and being a solution provider. You are the protagonist. You are too busy to be distracted and too focused to retreat to a life of armchair criticism and recreational complaining. Moments of greatness are birthed in ordinary moments by ordinary people with an extra-ordinary determination. Your focus fuels your greatness and shapes your destiny. Protect your focus and direct it towards what builds greatness.
Theodore Roosevelt drove his point deep when he said: “The poorest way to face life is to face it with a sneer.” How you face life determines how life faces you. Face life with focus and not an idle negative sneer. You do not have the luxury of habouring negative thoughts, and live streaming them. To face life with a sneer is insane and senseless. You cannot run towards greatness with a broken focus or flawed reasoning.
Roosevelt went on to describe the nature and profile of a critic and his habits: “A cynical habit of thought and speech, a readiness to criticise work which the critic himself never tries to perform, an intellectual aloofness which will not accept contact with life’s realities — all these are marks, not of superiority but of weakness.” The tragedy in life is criticism is passed as judgment. Weakness should never be paraded as strength. Idle talk should never be decorated as strategic insight and fools should never be celebrated as heroes. Be ready to engage and make a difference. Be ready to accept life’s challenges. Be ready to step up and be counted. Be ready to do what you know you must. Be ready to take action.
Having laid the stage, vintage Theodore Roosevelt went on to fire the immortal volley of a speech, whose tremors can still be felt today: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Focus is the hidden driver of excellence. Focus on what works to drive performance and delivery. You are what you focus on. Whatever you focus on, you will be drawn towards. Focus magnifies effort, talent and resource. Focus attracts friends with similar focus. You attract the things that you focus on. Whatever you focus on grows in significance and relevance to you. Your focus becomes your reality. To charge towards your greatness, manage your focus. Choose deliberately the things and conversations that deserve your focus. Focus helps you cut through chaos and focus on what matters. All excellence can be traced to some focused and determined soul.
It is easy to focus on those who are not working, and that which is not working. Plug the loss of energy by adjusting your focus. Lead from where you are. The traits of focused leadership are integrity, inspiration, inclusion, illumination and inquiry.
When you focus on integrity, the spines of many are strengthened and values are upheld. Focus on inspiring others towards greatness. There is enough to pull down your focus without trying. Try inspiration and see how different you feel. Include those who matter and make your table wider. Bring light to issues and inquire with a view towards solutions and not fixing the blame. Focus makes you positively powerful and gives you momentum.
Whatever you focus on reveals who you are at the core. This old Indian saying is worth noting: “When a pickpocket meets a saint, all he sees are the pockets.” When you see a problem, see the opportunities to bring solutions that you can monetise. Whatever situation you face has “pockets” if you are willing to look carefully. There is opportunity in every season. Focus on what matters and choose to see what matters.
Focus on what matters and doors will open everywhere. You may have to change your lens, or move your seat. See the present squarely and take account of the big picture. Reflect on the patterns, systems and messages in the messes. Focus is like a muscle, that gets stronger as you use it and stretch it. Learn to focus amidst the chaos. Conditions to unleash your greatness are rarely ideal. Waiting for everything to be perfect is always a futile exercise. Just focus!
To inspire focus, ask positively powerful questions. Questions that inspire solutions, creativity and positive action. Bring out the best in people and situations. Focus on the best that is in people and believe in them. Engage with people to co-create positive solutions. Nothing is impossible if you bring around the table people focused on co-authoring solutions. Awaken the creative spirit through focus and make choices for good. If you can do this, focus will follow you everywhere you go.
You are the person in the arena, focus and make positive moves. Do what matter to unleash your greatness and make a difference.
Committed to your greatness.
Milton Kamwendo is a leading international transformational and motivational speaker, author, and growth mentor. 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 Twitter: @MiltonKamwendo. His website is: www.miltonkamwendo.com.