You and I are very familiar with the reflection, enthusiasm, planning, goal setting and resolutions that attend a new year. And this is necessary. Even philosophers and scientist agree that we have the opportunity to set a trajectory for our entire year by how we navigate the beginning.
The interesting thing about Beginnings is that they come laden with potential. It offers just that opportunity to close the chapter on our past failures and to proceed to rewrite our history on a new slate. Beginnings afford us the opportunity to stand on the foundation of past successes and to build something better. Beginning is an opportunity to start again. In it, we can disallow the past, its successes or failure, from creating impediments in the future.
You know the best way to begin again? Start by letting go of what was so that you can focus on what you would like to experience instead. Release yourself from resentments, past mistakes, fear, hurt, sadness, guilt and disappointment. This will help you cultivate the renewed awareness and expansive feelings needed for a fresh start.
The essence of today’s post is that these heightened feeling of enthusiasm, optimism, vision, and resolution that we begin a new year with need not die in the first few weeks. It must be cultivated and sustained anew every single day of the year. We must begin again daily, all through the year like it’s the start of the New Year.
Why do I say this? I have come to understand as a fact of life that there will be series of events, starting from the first few weeks that will seek to deflate your optimism by running contrary to your aspirations. Things will not always go as we planned. The difference maker then will be how we harness the power of new beginnings and deploy it all year round. The present is all you have and where real life happens. The present creates a new path and defines the content of the future.
Since every new day is steeped in the opportunities and power of beginnings, how then can we harness the power of daily beginnings?
1. Make a radical commitment to wonder
No matter what you have been through or currently going through, try to Imagine the world through the eyes of a child. Joseph pears says it succinctly “The more we can live in constant astonishment, the more we can harness a new dawn in every moment.” Choose to pause, observe and marvel. This makes life more satisfying and connected. It will help you remember that the minor sparks and hiccups, the things we all encounter everyday and often defined as stressors, are totally trivial after all.
2. Keep track of your perceptions
The power of beginnings hinges on the power of own perception. A chaplain once spoke with a soldier in a hospital bed, “You have lost an arm in a great cause.” “No”, said the Soldier. “I didn’t lose it, I gave it.” Profound! Between your choice and your perception lies your reality. We must keep track of the inner workings of our minds in harnessing our new beginnings.
3. Keep a journal
One great way to keep track of the inner workings of our mind is journalling. Get a small diary, jot down a few notes at the end of the day. What was the mood, tone, texture of the day? You can include a few details of the outward circumstances that made an impression on you. Focus on what happened inwards and record it. This will offer you a retrospective guide as you go through the rest of the year. You just mind find clues to understand yourself more as other impressions come along through the year.
All great things have come because of one initial decision to honour that single moment and to make it a new beginning. The beginning of anything has within it the seeds of the totality of that thing. So, begin the year on a great note. BEGIN EACH YEAR EVERYDAY
It no longer takes uncanny insight to see the weak and popular variables that define most young people. This includes sexual prowess, parties, clubbing, money, clothes, cars, fame, acceptance, approval just to name a few. It is in the midst of this errant crowd of competing values that destinies are lost and lives utterly destroyed. They are quick to forget that the choices of today are the creators of the happiness, pain and regrets of the years ahead.
Young people, get this straight – It is impossible to live recklessly today and then hope tomorrow will turn in your favour. We must invest a significant amount of positive reasoning and meaningful sacrifice in today if we are to reap prosperity, joy and lasting peace tomorrow.
Some ladies who fail in their attempts to find a good husband have forgotten the days of rebellious living and selling their bodies to men. Some men wonder why they have still not yet achieved their dreams but don’t acknowledge their clearly refusal to harness their youthful energy to produce productivity, efficiency and relevance at mid-life. Some are now recluse as their generation left them behind because they refused to do the needful when it matters the most.
My own life story has shown me that regardless of the depth of error, yesterday’s fool possess within him or her the power to embrace the requirement for today’s wisdom, to lead a fresh and new life of hope and transformation. I must not forget that providence has been gracious to me in restoring my lost years and using my failures as my stepping stones to relevance. I say this because I have friends in jail, psychiatric homes, and some dead who ignorantly abused their youth and have not risen from that quicksand. If they knew the end of their youthful folly, they would have made a better choice. But like I said, providence shielded me.
I wish young people will be cured from a destructive mindset focused on the present alone, heaping up pains and misery as years persist without a change of mind. Some of them refuse to take responsibility for their future but instead, ignorantly, they work hard to hurt their future. They refuse to be held accountable and will rebel authorities that try to curb their destruction. It is their way or no way.
I wish they would stop faulting everybody but themselves. I wish they would stop cooking up excuses for misbehaviour. I wish they can see the making of an unfruitful life best described as children in adult bodies. I grieve when I see these attitudes because another failed life, another weak future, and another crashed destiny are in the making. My greatest desire is that young people will see the impact of their today’s behaviour on their tomorrow.
Let me say this to you, young man or lady – truth is higher than your opinions or views. While opinion is a creation of man, truth is a creation of time and has been existing before life began. I say this to you because if we will be someone the world will reckon with even in death, our everyday must be seen as an opportunity to change our personal lives and be better.
Never forget that you are responsible for the outcome of your life; that today counts and must be maximized to arrive at the future you desire. This is the Life!
The search for meaning in human life is an indication of the meaning and mission that is called life itself. The intrigue called life lies in the ambiguity that precedes the discovery of our mission and the disciplined pursuit of the mission. Fannon said “each generation must out of relative obscurity discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it”. A choice however lies before each person, to either fulfill or betray his mission.
The founding fathers of America discovered their mission and fulfilled it. They birthed a nation on strong principles, unrivalled in stature and might today. Leaders such as Churchill during the World War II era rose up to a mission to end Hitler’s proposed Nazi world domination. We will also remember the Zuckerbergs, Larry Pages, Gates, Mandelas who found their mission and embraced it. The world will never forget their contributions.
On the contrary, we have examples of young Africans who rose out of obscurity, discovered their vision and betrayed it. The proof is in the post independence experience of many African countries and leadership.These newly minted independent states soon lapsed into political crisis, economic breakdown and widespread disillusionment among their citizenry.
The question all of these pose is this: what is this generation’s mission? Will it find it? And if it finds it, will it fulfill it or betray it? The answer to this question is in the minds of the principled young men and women who are willing to accept responsibility at a critical level. And these young army will have to confront the now ambiguous moral codes of their times. They must shun the use of activism and social causes for self promotion and enrichment. They must delay gratification, avoid the lures of quick wealth, fame, and focus on the long term good.
See, it is the absence of principled living and self leadership that will be the undoing of this generation. I have observed a great deal of potential among our youth and that is commendable. However the moral foundation upon which their potential can find expression is fundamentally fractured. I’m not here referring to religious affiliations but a willingness to stand uncompromisingly for a cause, to rise above self and to genuinely pursue the great cause of the common good.
‘For this generation to achieve its mission, it must be willing to play from a foundation of principles demonstrated in a habitual commitment to maturity through mental, emotional and behavioural governance’.
I will advise the principled young women and men willing to take responsibility for the future of our nation to embrace these ten principles:
1. Put the interest of the institution they serve above their own self interest
2. They should understand that character is defined in the small acts they perform when no one is looking.
3. They should recognize that respect must be earned and nurtured over time and can be lost in an instant.
4. They should promote their people and not themselves.
5. They should take responsibility for their personal failure and the failures of the groups they lead.
6. They should share credit for their successes with the individuals who made them possible
7. They should be consistent and predictable in their decision making and in the exercise of their discretion
8. They should strive to do what is right rather than what is expedient regardless of the consequences to themselves, even if it means death
9. They should not be afraid in making unpopular decision and clearly communicate their rationale for such decisions to those affected by them.
10. They should only serve people and institutions that do not require them to
compromise their principles.
The fate of leaders who live by these principles is that they are not appreciated until they retire, leave the scene or die. But they still proceed with the consciousness that a life of meaning and power begins with the discipline to ensure that our personal egos, feelings and emotions do not override our sense of thoroughness and mission.
We are each called upon to discover our individual mission and fulfill it, standing on maturity grounds. And maturity is the habitual application of principles. THIS IS THE LIFE!
Young people have some lessons to learn about youth and responsibility especially in an age that considers immorality, frivolity and recklessness as hip or trendy. Young people of today are synonymous with light hearted frenzy and a gross incapacity to rise up to the demands and responsibility of their generation. We seek not to promote the exceptions but to recommend a rule for all.
This brings us to the question of how Nelson Mandela engaged his youth. Mandela was just 26 years of age when he became a member of the executive council of the ANC youth league. He and other like-minded young men rose up to confront the critical situation of segregation and marginalization of black people in South Africa. And in doing this, they upheld one of the virtues of youth – a capacity to take responsibility beyond self, to engage society, to look at the problem surrounding you and resist the temptation to think someone else will solve them.
However, the society of today is raising late starters, slow to take responsibility for their own lives let alone for others. Especially in this part of the world, youth are engulfed in the fanfare of sports, fashion, and entertainment and the fame, wealth and glamour that attend them. They are still struggling to get a hold of what life is really about and are barely prepared to play larger roles within society.
I’m afraid young people here are being raised to be victims in light of the nature of challenges confronting them. They are endangered species. What I find appalling is that young people have mastered an incredible but strange art of watching everything go against them and talking against it without doing something constructive about it.
Unlike today’s youth, Mandela would not allow his background or age define the limits of his responsibility or circumstances. He applied for a job as a night watchman while he pursued a degree in law at the University of Withwatersrand. He took study loans to make this possible. Yet, against the backdrop of a system that discouraged the education of young black people, Mandela emerged determined to be educated, not allowing himself be daunted by the apartheid regime nor borrowing the weakness of governance to excuse the creation of a great future. He maintained the belief that the creation of his future was in his own labour and not in circumstances.
A culture of entitlement and dependency on government has robbed many young people off a primary sense of responsibility for the success of their lives. They must take responsibility like Mandela for a thorough education. He persisted through unsuccessful attempts until he got his law degree. This sense of perseverance would come to serve him in pursuit of the worthy cause for which he is now known.
As a younger generation replaces another, we must ask the question of what kind of men or women will they be? The answer lies in the commitments they embrace today. We can’t expect them to give what they don’t have if they make wrong or superficial choices. Young people must maintain a religious and life-long dedication to self improvement and cultivation of virtue like those found in Mandela if they ever hope to come near the corridors of greatness. There are no shortcuts and the price of rigour and perseverance must be paid.
They must labour to improve themselves within and embrace without a commitment to a common good even at the expense of themselves. By the way, they won’t be needing grand Mandela-like platforms. They must begin at their homes, schools, workplace, businesses, friendships and relationships. GO!