Leadership Nuggets

"But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave." Jesus Christ (Matthew 20:26, 27 NLT)

Monday, 15 August 2011

Words of Wisdom for my youths: ‘Plan for your future NOW’

My dears,

Is there an A B C of how to plan for the future? Maybe but I doubt you could plan every single thing. For one thing, who knows the future, where would one be tomorrow, day after tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, five years time, ten years time, twenty years time? It is not possible to say for sure. However, we can have a desire of where we would like to be. You could have a vision, a picture in your mind or articulate where you would like to be at different times in the future. But whether that happens or not depends in some part on you and in other part on someone else, the one that has power of life and death.
I am not here to teach you but to empower you with knowledge of some key principles. I will share some of my experience with you that could help you to gain more understanding of these principles. I believe in sharing principles than giving you to do list. Principles can be applied to different situation, context or people. An example of principle is ‘you cannot harvest without sowing’. Whoever you are it does not matter, your religious beliefs, your culture does not matter. Someone has to sow something before it can be harvested.
VISION
To talk about planning for the future, we need to start in the future. What future do you vision for yourself? The vision of your future would determine the sort of plan you need to put in place now.
A woman that just want to finish Uni; marry, have children and be a home maker would plan differently from a woman that wants to head the Vogue magazine in ten years time. A man that wants to build a multinational corporation would plan differently from one who wants to be the next President of Nigeria.
Your vision matters to no one but you. What do you want to be in the future? Who do you want to be in the future? Where do you want to be in the future?
Vision of your future is necessary to help you plan to bring it to pass
Vision of your future is necessary to help you focus on what would help you bring it to pass
Planning for the future requires you to know the future you want to plan for. Have a vision
This vision might not be easy to know or understand for some people. Whereas for some, their vision or dream is very clear to them.
How do you develop your vision: The starting point is to understands your purpose in this world. Why are  you here? What are you here for? Different people have different ways of understanding their purpose. Mine is embedded in my faith in Jesus. When you are clear on what your purpose is, having a vision for your future becomes clearer. If you feel that your purpose is to live and enjoy life to the fullest, your vision might then be to be a rich man with many mansions and cars in the future. The question would be how do you achieve this?
You might already have a vision or not, it is necessary for you to know and understand what that vision entails.
What do you have to do?
When do you have to do it?
How do you have to do it?
Who are the critical people necessary for your vision to come to pass?
Where are you now in terms of what you need to do?
What are the gaps and how do you go about filling or bridging these gaps?
Articulate your vision and let this be a source of reminder to you when the going gets tough.
SET GOALS
Once your vision is clear, and you are able to answer these questions, you need to set yourself goals that would enable you to achieve that future you want for yourself. You need to be able to see progress towards achievement of your vision. This would keep you motivated and encouraged.
How do you set goals? When you know what you have to do to achieve your vision, turn that into a to-do list, add time line and discipline yourself to do it.
Articulate your goals and tick them off as you achieve them
You might need to revise your goals as your future unfolds. It is okay as long as it’s still aligned with making your vision a reality.
UNDERSTAND YOURSELF
I do not believe anyone is perfect. We have been born with areas of abundant talent, gift, character and areas with less abundant talent, gift and character. You need to know yourself in order to help you to know where you need help from others for you to make the future you want. There might be areas you might need technical training on. I sincerely believe that our vision would be aligned with areas we have been blessed with, and as such we can put to good use these talents and gifts.
How do you understand yourself? You would need to study yourself, what do you know you like, don’t like, don’t like doing, can do even if you are sleeping, can do 24/7. What have people said about you, ask people what they like and don’t like about you, ask them what you do that add value to them, study yourself over a period of time
DEVELOP YOURSELF
As you learn about yourself, you should deliberately develop even more your areas of talents/gifts (example Microsoft, constantly striving to bring new things to their office platform) aim for excellence in the areas of your strength.
Learn the minimum you need to know or have for those areas you do not have strengths in if they are necessary for you to get to your desired future. I am not proficient in languages, I’ve tried but it just does not come easy. When I was living and working in Senegal, I learnt the key words and numbers to be able to call a taxi, stop a taxi, buy things in the market, greet and ask after health. Ce tout. That is all. Being proficient in French is not critical to the future I want for myself. When it is necessary for a particular event, we will get a French translator. On the other hand my daughter is very good in languages and speaking French would enhance her vision.
HAVE A MENTOR
Mentoring is having a more experienced person support, advice and guides you in any area of your life, could be career, lifestyle, adulthood etc. You benefit from their years of experience and wisdom. Experience they say is the best teacher. You learn from you achievements and mistakes. Someone with the experience can pass these on to you to help you.
In Nigeria we do not have a culture of mentoring young people when I was growing up. I went to University to do a subject I really did not care about, but was the next best for my University entrance marks and it’s was generic enough for me to go into any other area. What my strengths were did not know. I wasted so many years. Now that I’m clear about my Purpose and the future I want, I seek mentors that can help me to achieve this in an easier way.
Mentors should be
·        Someone that inspires you, which means you should know something about them.
·        Someone you trust because you would share intimate and personal things with them and you want the confidence that it stays between you two.
·        Someone that has the experience in the area you want to grow in or develop
Mentoring is not necessarily costly in terms of money but you would need to dedicate time to meet or discuss with your mentor.
Who should mentor you?  I would suggest that you look for someone within your family or circle of friends. The person does not have to be a professional mentor. You could also write directly to your role model and ask them to mentor you. Usually, people see this request as an honor and privilege
BUILD RELATIONSHIPS
No man they say is an island. We cannot achieve our future by our self. We would always need other people to help us along the way. Every single person that comes into your life at different times of your life is important. You learn from them either negatively, positively or indifferently.
I have learnt over the years that you enhance or add to your own skill when you learn from the strength of others. Things that they do or say that makes a positive impact.  We learn from our leaders like Nelson Mandela. Many people in South Africa and outside have learnt the act of reconciliation. This was an act that made such a positive impact in building the new South Africa that it is now replicated in so many different places.
You are able to influence people when you either have something to offer or you have a relationship with them already. Planning for your future includes deliberately cultivating positive relationship with those who meet along the way. You never know what their own future would be and how important they might be in you having that great future you want.
You do not have to like those whose values are not aligned with yours but you can demonstrate respect and caring attitude to all people at all times.
There is a quote from Carl Buechner that says that people might not remember what you did for them but they would not forget how you made them feel.
I bet those classmates of Obama that were making fun of his big ears would be gnashing their teeth now!
The friends you keep now can either help you in achieving your vision, or not. When you have goals you are working towards achieving, how you spend your time, what you spend your time on, who you spend your time with should be aligned with working towards achieving your goals. Less time would need to be spent with friends that pull you away from focusing on your goals.
DISCIPLINE AND DETERMINATION
There is nothing that would be impossible when we are determined, disciplined and hard working. Failing to plan is planning to fail. Once you define and start working towards your goals, you need to be disciplined and determined. There would be time when you can’t see that progress you envisioned, when you feel like giving up but don’t. At such times, take out that vision you wrote down and remind yourself. Bring out your goals and review those that you have completed.
"The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of determination." Vince Lombardi
Remember every little step you take, takes you nearer to your vision! The greatest oak was once a little nut that held its ground.

 
 

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