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Be the change you want to see

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With Patrick Achitabwino:

Tragedy comes in when we become masters at rhetoric only; when we are just good at talking about what can be done to transform our lives, our communities and our businesses. You fall into the trap of stagnation when the only thing you do is to dream and wish but taking no action, lamenting that others are not doing it. The business as usual mentality abandons us in the dungeon of stagnation.

It is imperative to realise that the world is changing but the tragedy is that we do not want to change. We are happy in our comfort zone as Tony Dovale noted, yet our comfort zone is the death zone because there is no growth in a comfort zone.

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If we are to transform, as a country, we need to bring more out of ourselves into our work and focus on the things we do best. It means we have to stop waiting for other people to make changes we desire as Mahatma Gandhi noted: ‘Be the change that you wish to see most in your world.’

Now is the time for the change philosophy to spearhead Malawi’s growth. If you think politics is failing the country, then join it to smooth out its errors and give it a new look. Do not just talk of farming, you have to do it. Do not just teach entrepreneurship, practice it. Do not just take pictures of people sleeping on floor in the hospital; provide beds and essential medical facilities to them.

Mother Theresa of Calcutta once said that if you go into a room full of darkness, you do not curse the darkness, you light a candle. In this dimension, we should not expect other people to do things for us, we have to be proactive. Words alone are nothing; we need action, be the change that you want to see. Be the changer.

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To be the changer, we need to be positive in our thinking. We have to rise beyond the mountain of impossibility. Napoleon Bonaparte was right: ‘Impossible is a word only available in the vocabulary of fools.’

Because we lack confidence, then our default instinct to any development agenda or project is that it is going to fail. We become what we think. If we think in terms of failure, we can only realise failure. Benjamin Disraeli a British statesman challenges us to nurture our thinking with great thoughts, for no human can go higher than he or she thinks.

We, on our own, have the capacity to achieve more, but we think negatively and have no trust and confidence in ourselves. We are no more patriotic – we never do things in the interest of the common good. We d o not have to be crying over what we do not have. We have to start developing with what we have. We should find great wisdom in the ancient Persian proverb: ‘I wept because I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet.’ It is so easy to magnify our problems and lose sight of the many blessings we all have to be grateful to God for.

What distinguishes us from the people and economies that are doing well is the thinking. While we lose belief and confidence and we wait for other people to do things for us, our colleagues take the challenge to do the unthinkable and that makes a difference.

Leadership guru Robin Sharma well explains that all the great geniuses of the world were inspired and driven by their desire to enrich lives of others. Thomas Edison was inspired to manifest the visions he saw on the picture screen of his imagination into reality.

Jonas Salk, who discovered the polio vaccine, was inspired to help others from suffering from this dreaded affliction. As Woodrow Wilson said, ‘you are not here to merely make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.’

We need to become the change we want. Talk alone is nothing; it is time we channel the energy we lose on criticisms into tangible action that can bring development. Theodore Roosevelt well explains: ‘It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done 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, who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows in the end triumphs 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.’

If we are to be the change we want we have to enhance affirmative action. We should be builders and not breakers. We should always bring the best out of other people. We should be the inspirer of hope and success in others than being perennial messengers of despondency and disillusionment.

It is high time we stopped concentrating on the weaknesses of others but on their strengths to let them perform beyond measure. What has been killing us is the culture that makes us happy when others fail. The bottom line however remains that failure is nothing more than learning how to win. There is a saying that for every arrow that hits the bull’s eye is the result of one hundred misses.—www. believe-youcan.com

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