When John F. Kennedy (The 35th President of the United States of America) asked Wernher von Braun what it will take to take people to the moon and bring them back, his answer was;
“The Will To Do It”
We know that the United States has been the most advanced country on the planet in many areas of life (science, technology, business, war, sports, etc.) for over 100 years.
And it has conquered space and advanced human knowledge in so many areas.
Learning about the different individuals involved in these achievements will lead one to understand clearly that they achieved these fit for humanity primarily because they had the will to succeed.
They were determined and didn’t give up when things looked unachievable.
The same “will to succeed” runs through human history and has catapulted many individuals to do wonderful things and create legacies in the world.
My question for young Africans today is;
Do you have the “will” to do your part to help yourself, your community and entire Africa develop?
What is the “Will to Succeed” and Why Is It Important?
“Will”, simply means “Determination” or “Courage”
We all do things (decisions and action) every day of our lives that we need the determination to follow through.
These are serious things that impact our lives.
Unfortunately, the majority of people lack determination or courage to follow through with many of these serious things.
Most people put these serious things on the back burner, hoping and praying that they may continue to live their lives without experiencing the consequences.
This behavior is a major factor for us in Africa.
We and our leaders are not willing to make the decisions or take the actions to take Africa to the next level of our development.
Why do many people put-off the things that are most consequential to their lives?
Many different reasons!
Fear, incompetence, erroneous beliefs, selfishness, corruption, etc.
Whatever your reasons for a lack of will to succeed, you need to deal with them if you ever want to succeed in your life.
“You can’t stop people from trying to discourage and limit your dreams, but you can stop it from becoming your reality. Achieving your dream is up to you”.
– Kobe Bryant
A strong will is extremely important to success in anything.
Your courage holds the keys to your personal progress and Africa’s success!
Without a strong will, you cannot drive yourself to come out of your comfort zones to achieve anything of consequence.
This is how a lack of determination will affect you on a daily and lifetime basis; in your work, play, relationships, career, business, and even your health.
We need to make decisions every day and we need determination most of the time to hold fast to our decisions.
Making Hard Decisions Is Inevitable
The majority of people lack decision-making muscles.
A major reason for this is that we have not practiced enough.
In many of our cultures, elders and religious leaders make decisions for many people.
This breeds a lack of know-how when it comes to decision-making for many young people and this has serious consequences.
People are afraid of making the wrong decisions and many times it stops them from making any decision at all.
In truth, not making a decision, is a decision itself.
Unfortunately, it’s the worst decision many people never made.
Anyway, those people tend to leave their decisions making to their same elders and religious leaders.
Many young people have made the decision to let someone else make their decisions. This is the most consequential decision that we can make as humans.
Today, the majority of young Africans are bungled this with dare consequences of the decisions that they allowed someone else to make for them.
It’s a big tragedy!
Millions or even billions of people have made this error.
But, if we realize our mistakes and are ready to make amends, things can still be fixed.
Asian countries made the decisions to start fixing theirs about thirty years ago.
Now, look at them!
Africa and African have this opportunity to do the same.
Courage Is Needed to Show Integrity
Living in the world with people around you saying and doing what is expedient, it’s easy to join them.
What is not easy, is to separate yourself by saying and doing the right things.
You will most likely be seen as a troublemaker and blackballed.
What do you need to do to avoid this big headache but still keep your integrity?
There are a few suggestions;
Find Like-Minded People
The saying that no one is an island generally means that one cannot succeed alone.
This is very true.
I also want to use the phase to tell you that you are never alone in the first place.
No matter how different your thinking and actions are, there are always other people who think and act like you.
All you need is the find them.
Finding other like-minded individuals will give you some energy to continue to show your integrity and courage.
Find Common Grounds to Build Vital Relationships
You cannot change everyone to the way you do things, and you shouldn’t attempt to.
On the other hand, you should make yourself valuable to other people especially those who see things differently from you.
Find common grounds to work together with them and give yourselves the opportunities to get to know one another and what you stand for.
You may never come fully on the other side, but everyone will eventually respect each other for what you stand for.
That for me is a win-win situation.
Choose Your Battles and Never Fight to Annihilate Your Opponent
Most people in life genuinely believe in what they say, even when you can clearly see the error(s) of their thinking.
This is the reason you should never want to belittle them.
Choose the battles you fight and fight honorably by genuine engagement and reasoning.
Always remember that your rivals are your brothers or sisters; fellow human beings on the same journey of life.
Your goal is to solve problems and move your community forward.
If you take the stand of education, your rival brother and sisters will eventually have collaborators with you to move your community forward.
What Can Hinder the Will to Succeed?
I am very sure that many young Africans will willingly accept the notion that they lack the will to succeed.
And I can bet that many people of the older generations will also swear to the “fact” that it’s not the fault of the youth at all.
That the game of progress and success is totally rigged against the young generation.
I absolutely agree that the game is rigged against young Africans by the older stakeholders in the Africa development discussion.
This is my point;
It’s at this time, where the “powers that be” are against young Africans, that their will to succeed is most needed.
So, to muster the will to succeed, young Africans need to understand the elements in the chain used to hold them back and to deconstruct it.
I would talk about a few of these elements.
Fears, Beliefs, and Ideology
Fear is a disease that affects the human race.
It’s the ultimate enemy of progress and the will to succeed!
Everyone is born into this world with only one fear; the fear of falling.
But within a few years, you acquired myriads of different fears that will eventually hold you back to achieving your purpose in life.
You acquire them from society; your parents, family, community, schools, tribe, etc.
Fears are fed into you through beliefs and ideologies.
Your beliefs and ideology run your life and are hard to dislodge because they have been ingrained through years of practice.
The beliefs and ideologies shape the way you think, see your environment and the world.
Your beliefs create your REALITY!
And they create the fears that we experience every day.
So, the reality that you experience every day is not absolutely real. But they are your just like the reality that I experience is mine.
They come from yours and my belief systems.
It’s a never-ending revolving cycle unless somehow, you can acquire new beliefs to reshape your thinking.
I encourage you to discard any fear, belief or ideology that does not serve you to strive to achieve your goals because they are holding you back
Inadequate and Mis-Guided Education
I love to learn new and varied subjects, but I was a good student in school.
I had a few ‘A’s in school.
But I can very comfortably discuss most subjects intelligently with anyone.
I’m a very lucky person to have grown up with two educator parents. I learned the value of critically thinking, analysis and debate on my parent dinner table.
The first twelve years of school are the most important and should be compulsory in Africa.
I personally believe it should be a right.
After the 12th year, everyone can choose to do anything they desire.
Everyone does not need a university education, but all need a solid foundation to educate themselves.
Unfortunately, some countries in Africa are producing University graduates with less than middle secondary school education.
Ethics, philosophy, and logic are most needed in our school curriculum, especially in our secondary schools.
This is the biggest way that the game of progress has been rigged against the young generation; inadequate and misguided education.
You need to do something to help yourself; commit to self-education.
Living in a physical environment that is full of poverty, ill-health and many time corrupt public servants can make a lot of people lose hope in life.
And having friends and family with little desire to do better than their current circumstances will keep you in a similar state of mind.
If you have an opportunity to separate yourself from a depressing environment and people, should you take it?
A negative and depressing environment and people do not go well with a will to succeed.
So, sticking with a depressing environment is not smart or loyal, and you can’t help yourself and anybody else.
You can’t see the whole picture if you are in the frame.
So, make the right decision if and when you have the opportunity.
Refusing to Leave Your Comfort Zone
The earlier reasons above are bad enough, but you don’t really have much control of the situation.
In this one, you are taking a “Micky” on your will to succeed. You are in charge and you deliberately refuse to act.
In their minds, you know that you should move. But they are either satisfied with their achievements in your life or you are happy to be seen as a victim of circumstances.
Either way, you do not move until life happens to you in a tragic manner.
I know a little bit about this, and I would sincerely advise you to move voluntarily.
Life is not a big fan of people who live in their comfort zones for a long time.
How to Acquire and Build the Will to Succeed
The will to succeed requires, leadership, wisdom, tenacity, …
These characteristics are not very abundant in most people. I believe that these characteristics can be taught to young people.
The following methods are effective;
Use Your Imagination
Everything that the human race has achieved started in someone’s imagination.
Your phone, computer, your clothes, books, car, your house, any and everything started in the mind of someone.
You also have the ability to dream and imagine!
But, most likely, you do not use it enough.
As you grew older, you were repeatedly told that your imaginative visions are not realistic, that you should grow up and you listened.
So did I, but it was wrong!
The most successful people on this planet use their imagination to create and recreate this world.
Today, I close my eyes several times a day, and I imagine anything I want to do. I see them in my mind’s eye as vividly as I want them to be in reality.
You should try that.
Be Tenacious Like a Child!
How often have you seen a child any contest to an adult?
I can’t remember my youngest daughter lose any to me.
If she wants something, she will tell me a hundred times in different ways until she gets it. She never gives up.
Right there, that’s the will to succeed.
As an adult, you need to maintain that tenacity; never give up attitude. Just add strategic thinking and planning and you are good to go.
Read Biographies of Successful Individuals
People who have demonstrated the will to succeed have driven human civilization from the beginning.
Lucky for you and me, we can be inspired and learn from their journeys.
Learn the way they think, solve problems and take action. Their decisions, tribulations and ultimate success. All in the pages of books for little money.
There are no better deals in life than these.
Coaching and Mentorship
Taking personal responsibility for the results in your daily actions is huge in acquiring the will to succeed.
Every successful person who has walked on this planet has had a coach or mentors (even before these terms were coined).
If there is one individual who embodied a “Will to Succeed”, it was Nelson Mandela.
A great who was imprisoned for 27 years and lived for a long time in solitary confinement. Yet, when he was released, he was sharp as a knife.
He didn’t harbor any resentment towards the people who held him for just cause. And he instituted the healing and reconciliation of everyone in the country.
He was a real man with the will to succeed and the rest of Africa will do well to learn from him.
Paul Kagame is another recent African leader who every African can learn from. He also united his country after a terrible genocide.
Today, Rwanda is a beautiful and developing African country. And it’s this way because Kagame showed his will to succeed as a great leader.
You can find many other mentors from all works of life.
Surround Yourself with Fellow Dreamers
Sometimes, you feel alone, the people around you do not seem to understand what you are saying as if you are from Mars or Pluto.
To them, you look and sound like a crazy person.
Believe me, you are not alone.
But you and your kind are in the minority in the population. You just need to look harder to find people who think and see things like you.
You need people who see a bigger and brighter future of Africa and the world for several reasons;
First of all, they will keep you sane, by telling you that if though you think and see things differently; you are okay.
Secondly, you can collaborate with them so that you can achieve your goals for yourself and for Africa.
This is the foundation of the Think Big for Africa platform.
To bring like-minded young Africans together to do what is needed to develop Africa.
Thirdly, seeing fellow young Africans who are determined to achieve their goals and dreams will be infectious.
That your “will to succeed” gene will be fully activated.
I can’t wait to see what you will become once you take the steps needed.
To yours and Africa’s progress…