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Mindset change: Breaking the four-minute mile barrier

Patrice Loch Otieno Lumumba, who is well known for his oratorical excellence and probably Africa’s best voice on Pan Africanism, pointed out that what fails Africa is that we want things that require effort without putting in the required effort. Malawi is no exception, we want a bumper yield and bumper harvest yet we do not invest highly in Agriculture. We are lost in the primitive way of farming, relying on the rain at the time that Israel uses drip irrigation. We want first class medical treatment in our public hospitals yet we are the very same people that steal medical drugs and other amenities for sell to private hospitals. We want a country that is corrupt free yet we are the ones rushing with khaki envelops when tendering and bidding for projects. We certainly do the inverse of the dream we want to live.

If we are to reach our potential then we have to work extra harder, to push everything to the edge, to break the barriers. It is possible for Malawi to shake itself out of the dungeon of poverty. What sticks us in the quagmire of poverty is that we put limitations on ourselves on how much we can achieve. Robin Sharma was right; the life that you see this very moment is not necessarily the life of your future. You might be viewing things through the eyes of fears, limitations and false assumptions. Once you clean up the stained glass window you see the world through, guess what? A whole new set of possibilities appears. We see the world not as it is but as we are.

We have been seeing and measuring our country through the stained glass windows of poverty and we believe we are meant to be poor. It is not surprising therefore that we celebrate poverty, that our language confesses that we are a hopeless poor nation, even our actions lean towards begging and we are not ashamed. We celebrate donations and have no courage to implement policies that can make us self-sustainable. We want free things: education, medical services, farm inputs, land. No wonder therefore that even property grabbing is entrenched in us. We want things that require effort without putting in the necessary effort.

We have conditioned ourselves to believe that politics is the philosophy of ensuring that winners fail so that those that failed take over the reigns of power. We are yet to start practicing developmental politics. Our corporate sector is conditioned in calling for more and more concessions and tax breaks and tax exemptions on almost all imports than looking at how best they can penetrate international markets and become dominant market leaders or market challengers. It is not amazing that their financial underperformance will always be blamed on rising inflation and weakening kwacha currency. But why is it that in the very same harsh economic environment other players are doing well economically? Why is it that Burundians and Asians and Chinese are competing brilliantly and dominating the business side? It is all just because they do not put limitations on themselves, they believe in breaking records that were set previously.

It is on record that before 1954, it was believed that no runner could ever run a mile in under four minutes up until when Roger Bannister did it. Within weeks many people replicated his feat. It is all because he showed that it is possible, he set a new reference point.

If the corporate world has to be vibrant then it has to live in the post 1954 record breaking world. As long as they consider the environment not to be conducive for business they will never break their four-minute mile. There is flourishing business into ug h environments in Mogadishu, Baghdad, Tripoli and even other war torn cities. Even when there is just a day long cease fire in Damascus, you see markets opening. These people do not put limitations on themselves, they look at maximizing on every upcoming opportunity no matter how short lived it may be. They are always there to break the four-minute mile barrier.

Eleanor Roosevelt was right; the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.

It is worth realizing that the success DNA entails that we develop in ourselves the leadership that begins on an extra mile. Robin Sharma teaches us again, ‘leadership is shown when a salesperson makes extra phone calls at the end of an exhausting day – not because it is the easy thing to do but because it is the right thing to do. Leadership is shown by the manager who finishes a report that has taken the very best from him, then gets back to it a little later to polish and improve it even more. Leadership is shown by a team that delivers on their value promise to a customer and then digs even deeper to wow them.’

Nothing beats hardwork. We have the mediocre appetite of spending fruitful time with endless conversations on whatsapp and uploading self-praise profile statuses and pictures on facebook than working hard to achieve our dreams. We treasure our suffering from the diarrhea of words. We have mastered the art of criticism and yet we that criticize more do nothing that can lead to progress in our lives, our communities and our beloved country. It is not a spectator that makes a team win, it is the player that risks every limb to score that makes a team win and it is him that makes a difference.

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