The Sunday Mail
Milton Kamwendo Hunt for Greatness
H Life is either a daring bold and strategic adventure or it’s nothing. Never look down on anyone who is busy trying to make a difference.
It is never the critic that matters but the doer. It is better to fail attempting greatness, than to succeed at armchair criticism.
When you are pursuing nothing you can be sure that you will hit nothing 100 percent of the time. You cannot just sit waiting on the touchlines of life, playing victim, playing incurable critic and hope for greatness. Get into the arena, or get out of the arena. If you cannot do any of the two support those that are in the arena.
You are either on the side of greatness or you will be swept by the howling wind of change. You do not have to wait for everything you have been hoping for in order to move forward.
Start where you are, work with what you have, and make a visionary difference where you stand. You are a leader and not a laggard. Lead from where you are by making a difference there. You do not have to be in charge to lead, but you have to take charge of your thoughts and actions all the time. Without discipline, talent is wasted and resources are squandered.
See beyond events
The twin of leadership is strategy. Do not play if you do not have a game plan. You cannot base your whole game plan on a single and passing event and hope for greatness. Greatness is a journey and not an event. Life is larger than a single event, however grand that event may be.
Leadership is more than just an obsession with events. Discipline is staying the meandering course regardless of the seasons. There will always be life before an event, and after any event. Unless you can see the future, you will do ridiculous things in the present.
Those who do not see the future abuse the present and clog the way for many, while raising unnecessary dust. Unless you have a plan, do not play just to be seen by other players.
Salute the doer
Strategy is not just a matter of analytical tools, high sounding formulae or endless workshops. Strategy is not just a document but a clear programme of action that you pursue. You have no strategy unless you have a clear action plan that you are pursuing. Leading strategically means that you have to have a clear winning aspiration. Boxing the air and living in virtual realism are keys to self-deception, frustration and delusion.
Life is too big and busy to accommodate wishful thinkers that want everything to be brought on a silver platter. There will never be any change without chore, promotion without process and greatness without grit. Without a vision — a clear picture of what greatness looks like you will just be fumbling in the dark and hoping to strike something big.
Purposeless fishing is not a sport for winners. Waiting and hoping without a strategy, except criticism, just makes you a victim. Playing defence with no strategy of offence positions you to be an ultimate loser. Empty talking without forward momentum and engagement leaves you in any empty, cheese-less commentary box, but without any silverware or lessons to build on. You learn to do by doing. You grow by taking action. Salute the doer not the dawdler.
Decide where you will play and where you will not play, then play seriously. There is no room for half-hearted champions. You cannot do everything and hope to win. You cannot be everything to everybody and hope to have strategic advantage. Do not let anyone tell you that you cannot do it, when they are doing nothing.
Do not let anyone tell you that it is too late, when they have given up on their dream. Do not let anyone tell you to just wait, when their powder is wet and they have no plan, play or playbook. You better have a clear plan of how you will win and who you will play with.
Stop playing pretence and courting attention when you are not going anywhere and you are simply a chancer. Take massive and bold action until your plan begs for mercy.
Citizenship in a Republic
Knowing how to behave and what to do in the moment makes all the difference. When change comes, it is time to change and not to wait in surprise, self-denial and wishful thinking. President Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919) showed the way and demonstrated the way in his speech that he delivered at the Sorbonne in Paris on April 23, 1910.
His speech was entitled “Citizenship in a Republic” and its message is still as relevant today as it was then. Take action on your plans, not perennial excuses. Do not bother sawing sawdust, or fighting yesterday’s battle.
It is worth noting that Theodore Roosevelt was the first American president to fly an airplane, own a car, have a telephone in his home and travel outside the borders of the United States while still in office. You too can do a lot more and be more where you are. Dump your excuses and do not hope for pity. You have so much power and resource in you.
Never let the trappings of your current position and situation stop you from dreaming big and doing great things. Roosevelt had an attitude towards life and leadership that many lacked then and some still lack today. The way you think determines the things that you do. Your actions reveal your mental models.
In his famous speech, which is sometimes just referred to as “The Man in the Ring”, Roosevelt emphasised his belief that the success of any republic rested not on the brilliance of its citizens but on disciplined work and character. It is the quality of its people that mattered most.”
Indeed, those two cardinal qualities are the touchstones of all greatness — disciplined work and character. Greatness is not all about talk, talk and more talk. It is about disciplined action and courageous character. The quality of a people is more important than mere musings. What you have inside you is more important than anything outside you. Look within and you will see greatness and possibilities. Look outside and all you will see is inadequacy and fear.
Roosevelt was truly inspired and prophetic when he told his Parisian audience: “Self-restraint, self-mastery, common sense, the power of accepting individual responsibility and yet of acting in conjunction with others, courage and resolution — these are the qualities which mark a masterful people.”
He went on to add that importantly, a democracy needed leaders of the highest calibre in order to hold the average citizen to a high standard. He emphasised that this was not by words alone but by their deeds as well.
“Indeed, it is a sign of marked political weakness in any commonwealth if the people tend to be carried away by mere oratory, if they tend to value words in and for themselves, as divorced from the deeds for which they are supposed to stand.”
Mere words do not mean much unless they are backed by massive resolute action.
The words that you speak today can ring into eternity with a cutting and ever fresh multi-generational message. Never look down on anyone who is taking action, regardless of how small that action may seem. Roosevelt strongly believed that one learned by doing and should not be judged merely by success alone.
Just sitting and being a critic, is no way of living or leading. It is better to stumble than to do nothing or to sit by and criticise those that are “in the arena” he explained.
Roosevelt cut deep when he then said: “The poorest way to face life is with a sneer.”
To him this was a sign of grave weakness — one that you have to work to cure in yourself.
Roosevelt than went on to lay the golden standard of leadership by which he judged himself and others. A standard still worth holding high for anyone aspiring for greatness in any arena. This standard is expressed in this immortal and famous paragraph of his speech:
“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, and 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 the 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 know neither victory nor defeat.”
Such is the standard of greatness. You do not judge any person simply on the basis of success. Salute the man in the ring who dares to take massive action. Waiting for great things to happen without taking great action is the path of great delusion. Stop playing defence and start taking action.
Change never comes through dreaming, waiting or writing proposals. You have to take massive action and dare great things.
No failure is ever final so long as you are willing to keep trying and crying to improve. Not everything that you do will succeed, but never stop doing. You cannot wait to have everything in place; work with what you have a make a difference.
Ask seriously what you are waiting for and you may find that you are waiting for the man in the mirror to wake up. Reject passivity because it will kill you. Reject cynicism because it will cripple you. Reject laziness because it will make you barren and a burden. Lead from where you are and wake up to take massive action daily towards greatness.
Committed to your greatness.
Milton Kamwendo is a leading international transformational and motivational speaker, author and coach. His life purpose is to inspire greatness. He can be reached at: [email protected] and Twitter: @MiltonKamwendo or WhatsApp at: 0772422634.