The Sunday Mail
WITHOUT a commitment, decision, vow and resolve to achieve greatness you are a spineless wimp and a coward in life.
Life is either a daring adventure or a joke. Until you attempt something that is really challenging, you may never know how far you can grow.
Life is rich, abundant and full of possibilities for those like you who dare great things. Life changes when you draw a line on the sand and set yourself some great ideals and worthy goals to pursue. These become your magnificent obsession.
At that moment you change and experience a rebirth of desire, vision, faith and focus. You exchange the soul of a slave for the soul of a free person, ready to soar. My understanding of this view was broadened when, far from home but present in Africa, I came across the concept of “imihigo”.
It had been a long but exciting day facilitating a strategy workshop for a business that is close to my heart that is looking at spreading its wings and penetrating deeper into East Africa as a growth frontier. I was invited to join the group for dinner at a newly built restaurant that is perched on one of the refreshing hills of Kigali. I sat next to a gentleman who was beaming with a humble confidence who started narrating the story and journey of Rwanda.
He said that the key to the transformation in his country has been a historical concept that history could not rub off and the dark shadows of the genocide could not erase.
It was the concept of “Imihigo.” You either have it and you dare to take on challenges or you are a coward and you stay at home.
Legend has it that in pre-colonial Rwanda men going to war would set themselves some commitments, resolves and vows they would swear with their lives to live up to. They would then make bold public declarations of what they were accountable to deliver and do.
If it was as much as a single commitment or vow, it was called an umuhigo. If they were many, they would be called imihigo. From the individual, a group would also make it’s commitment and declare its imihigo. The imihigo was more than just a clowning war cry, it was an unflinching vow. It was an absolute commitment and resolve that someone would stake his life on.
This spirit of imihigo lives on today. Animated by this spirit, the Rwandan government at all its levels mandates that performance contracts are set and that deliverables are tracked and measured every six months. This practice has seen the government begin to run differently and deliver with the animated zeal of a warrior fresh on the battle field.
My new friend started pointing to all the buildings around and declaring that before the unfortunate genocide which claimed a million lives in one hundred days, all of them were not there. Rwanda was a sleepy village consumed with divisive narratives but no focused national vision. The new resolve, the national imihigo is for the country claiming its place among the great nations of the world. Its a race out there, nations are racing and only focused warriors with clear goals and intentions win.
As I sat listening quietly and soaking my mind into the concept of the imihigo, I knew that this was the missing piece for many arenas.
It is easy to make empty plans you do not believe in or to sing resolutions you are not willing to keep. When you make an umuhigo, it all becomes a different game. It is a serious vow and not a mere managerial cliché.
You commit to deliver on your declaration and get to do whatever it takes to get there. It is no longer fools party or goals that you do not intend to pursue. Frivolous chatter will never make you great, vows for greatness do.
Set your Imihigo
It is not enough to dream of what you wish to do. Wish lists will always be wishy washy. Go beyond drunken textbook talk. Pick a few goals and I recommend no more than five. Write them down. Just the very act of writing your goals down is the start of any umuhigo.
A goal that is not written does not exist. A vow that is not verbalised and articulated is empty. Make the goal specific enough that you can be held accountable for it. Make it easy for you to plead guilty for having set and pursued this goal. Give it a timeline, give it geography and give it coordinates. Greatness is beckoning for those who dare.
Make Imihigo visible
It is easy to hide a private umuhigo or even not to pursue it. Make the resolved goal visible. Build a model, write it out on a board, make it a screen saver. Do whatever you need to make your imihigo visible. When your goals are visible, you have no option but to live up to them. You start by working on your imihigo, then the imihigo turn and start working on you. When your goals start fueling you, you become unstoppable. A lack of motivation is the evidence of the absence of imihigo. Without determined goals, it is easy to be bored and boredom is a luxury of fools.
Declare the Imihigo
Your victory is in your mouth and in your words. Your words must line up with your desired destination. Declare your imihigo boldly and affirmatively. Every time you do so you strengthen your commitment and resolve.
You make it easy for other people to hold you accountable but better still you give your mind and those you lead specific marching orders. No one closest to you should be surprised about what you do and become because they would have been hearing your imihigo all along. Speaking once is never enough, declare until it happens. When it happens, turn the imihigo into a warrior testimony.
A warrior without a testimony never fought anything. A hero who pretends to have fought when he never held any weapon but only heard other people’s stories of gallantry is a dangerous preacher.
It is not enough to set up a performance vow and deliver goal that you never review. Keep the end game in sight and evaluate and review as a way of life. Feedback fuels achievement.
You have a job to do; you can begin where you are. Do not put off setting your imihigo. Do it today. Set some good goals that have meaning and significance for you. Make them bold and inspiring.
Pursue them with zeal of a crusader and the agility of a hunter. Nurse your goals with the patience of a farmer and we will meet you in the circle of greatness. As the evening wore on, I could not shrug off the image of my grandmother shouting in her Karanga dialect, “Mhiko, Mhiko, Mhiko! “
She seemed to be asking me what my winning aspiration was, how was I determined to win, where had I chosen to play and what I was committed to doing to make that plan a reality. I knew how my next day at the workshop would start.
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 Whatsup at: 0772422634.