The Sunday Mail
Hunt for Greatness
When truly great people die they are not mourned — they are celebrated. What matters most in life are the lives that you touch and how you are faithful to live your purpose daily. Aim to live a life that matters. Your attitude is more important than your current circumstances.
No adversity is strong enough to stop you or kill your dream. No personal tragedy is big enough to write you off. Do not take yourself off the shelf before your sell-by date. Life is too big to be wasted in empty living and discourses of dismay, despair and disaffections. Disheartening jeremiads are not an investment business case.
This week we celebrate the life of Dr Oliver Mtukudzi. In his 66 years, he produced 66+1 albums and was in the music industry for 44 years. His beginnings were humble, yet his shadow looms so large. He found his place and occupied it with great grace and humility. He worked hard and was not a lazy bone. He had his battles; he fought them with courage. Ever so committed to his craft. He was a true patriot with an unmistakable love for people and country. His was a great life. Wherever you lay him, his life is too large to fit into a grave and his music is too special to die with him.
A life that matters
Live a life that matters. Do not wait to die to decide how the message on your tombstone will read and what your obituary would read like. Write out your own funeral speech and define what matters to you. As you do, make that speech inspiring and aspirational. What will trend on twitter when you die? What will the people who love you say? What will those who hated you say? Who will rejoice when you die? Will you be celebrated or people will spit at your grave? Write out your own obituary. Keep writing and your pen moving. Next, decide to live intentionally. Live everyday with passion, focus and make that last message, a lasting one. Live in such a way that no one will be tempted to edit your “Tombstone Message”.
Write as you like
The life you live is like a blank book that you fill up and write with each passing day. Live intentionally. Pursue big and exciting goals. If your life was turned into a documentary would it sell? If your life-story was written in a book, who would want to read the book? If your life was a song, would anyone download the song? If you do not decide how you will be remembered, you may easily be remembered for all the wrong things. Live a life that matters. Do not run away from challenges or scale down your dreams. Challenges will come to test your commitment, faith and quality of spirit. Live a life that matters.
All memory was once a mere dream and vision. Paint your vision, make it inspiring and challenging. Live a committed life where you do what matters and you give your best to whatever you do. I am sure that you do not want to be remembered for giving up, being too afraid to start again, too timid to try, too scared to live on the wild side of life. Live up to your honour. Do whatever it takes to make the final part of your life story movie the most interesting one. Life is too big to be lived in an uninteresting and unchallenging manner. You are destined for greatness. This is your birthright. There is no shame in trying, trying and trying again.
Luther King’s own eulogy
One of the people in history who lived a committed life and touched many was Dr. Martin Luther King Junior. One of his last sermons was a personal eulogy. At his funeral and with the permission of his widow, this message was replayed. How would your own funeral speech read? Here is the text of his recorded message:
“Every now and then I guess we all think realistically about that day when we will be victimized with what is life’s final common denominator — that something we call death. We all think about it and every now and then I think about my own death and I think about my own funeral. And I don’t think about it in a morbid sense. And every now and then I ask myself what it is that I would want said and I leave the word to you this morning.
If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy tell him not to talk too long.
Every now and then I wonder what I want him to say. Tell him not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize – that isn’t important. Tell not to mention that have 300 or 400 other awards – that’s not important. Tell him not to mention where I went to school.
I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to give his life serving others. I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to love somebody. I want you to say that day that I tried to be right and to walk with them. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe the naked. I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison. And I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.
Yes, if you want to, say that I was a drum major. Say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness.
And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won’t have any money to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. And that is all I want to say. If I can help somebody as I pass along, if I can cheer somebody with a well song, if I can show somebody he’s traveling wrong, then my living will not be in vain.”
Do not allow your life to be a waste. Make every day significant. Bring passion to what you do. There is real work to put in and you are able to do it. It is not what you leave behind that matters but what remains behind which is too precious to bury.
Your Obstacle Course
Life is an obstacle course that is peppered with lessons and challenges that grow and improve you. There is something in your spirit that is too strong and too precious. There is greatness in you that is waiting to be unleashed through worthy service.
What does it really take to stop you? Who are you really at the core? You are not a coward, deserter or escapee from the path and heat of greatness. Use your towel to wipe off the dripping sweat but do not throw that towel in the ring in early surrender. Face your obstacle course and work through its challenges. You may experience a setback, or many setbacks, that is part of how the obstacle course of life is set up. The most interesting golf courses have interesting and creatively placed challenges. So it is with life. The bigger the challenges, the more interesting your story will be.
There is no mountain of setbacks that is reason enough for you to retire to a life of regret, cowardice and self-preservation. Stage your comeback to the race of life and the course of greatness. Every setback that you face is a setup for a comeback. Every spring knows that the bigger the pressure, the further the spring. It is when thing look tough and rough that you must not quit. There is something so strong in you. Your spirit is stronger than your body. Your determination and resolve to win are stronger than any obstacle that stands in your way. Those obstacles in your path are your stepping stones to greatness. Your future is more exciting than your past. There are inexhaustible possibilities that lie ahead. What is in store is too precious to allow anyone to write you off too early.
Never let failure stop you from trying and making another worthy attempt, then another. You may succeed with another blow. Come back to the ring and do not die in your winter or wilt in your wilderness moments. Do not give your problems hero status. Your challenges are not unique and you are not the only one who faces them. Do not canonise your suffering. Face whatever you have to face and overcome it. The path of greatness is not for the timid. No one will pity you so much that they promote you to greatness. The path of greatness is not for those who are begging their way through life. Put your problems in context and race for greatness and not self-pity. If you go around curating problems, you may find that yours are so small than its not worth all the pouting and mourning. Everyone has problems. It is just that those who are great choose their problems and those that are not great are chosen by their problems. True greatness takes time, effort, stamina and sustained focus. Never let other people’s ignorant complaints and negativity become an epidemic you catch, suffer from and pass on to others.
Your life is an unfolding story. It is a special drama that features you as the main actor. You do not have a license to bore your audience. Do not let your story be dry, uninteresting and one that just end abruptly. Get out of your shell and live life fully. You are not practicing to live and today is the youngest that you will ever be. This is the real thing and not a dress rehearsal.
Do not let the current chapter of your life be the last chapter of your life. Live fully, turn more pages. Determine to make yours a story of triumph, faith, courage, tenacity and passionate pursuit of goals that matter. Hunter S. Thompson challenged all the living when he said: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” Do not be stuck in the past, always regretting and never moving forward. Do not nurse your ego so much that you fail to pursue great things. Do not denominate your life in the currency of the past. Do not let discouragement be your life’s narrator. Stop playing despair songs as your background music. Pain and wounded pride are too precious to waste. Your wilderness moments are too precious to be wasted telling scary stories to would-be great dreamers. Your story has not ended yet, open new chapters and write new verses. Do not die until you are really dead, even then live through others whose lives you have touched and in the difference that you have made.
Failure is an Art-form
Greatness is a land of second, third or so chances. Every failure that you face is a set up for your come-back. Do not despair or give up too soon. Failure is not fatal so long as you are willing to learn from it. Dust off the ego-injuries, stand up and get onto life’s dance floor. When you fall on the dance floor, that does not mean that the party is over. Stand up and dance with life. It is too early to go home. Make failure a stepping stone to something bigger and better. Make it an access point to a victory that could not have been experienced without a momentary failure and set back. Anyone who has never risked failure never achieved anything worthwhile. Dream big, live humbly, knowing that to fail a few times is not to forfeit your dream. Your spirit is too strong.
Committed to your greatness.
Milton Kamwendo is a leading international transformational and motivational speaker, author, and executive coach. He is a cutting 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 or WhatsApp at: 0772422634. His website is: www.miltonkamwendo.com