“Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be.” George Sheehan
One great and insightful speaker had been asked to come and speak in one of the universities. He opened his speech by asking this question, “How do you measure the number of lawyers you’re producing so that it just fits the number that is needed out there?” And they said, “We make no such attempt. We don’t try to match the number of people we’re educating with what the job market wants, that’s not our concern. Somebody wants to be trained as a lawyer, she or he can come here and we will train them.” This got me seriously thinking.
We are socialised to believe that success is mainly about money, nice cars and houses and prestige and this hugely influences how we choose careers. Let’s be honest, when you are a young adult of about eighteen years of age, you don’t know better about yourself mainly because of a lack of exposure. So, within few years of my working as an engineer, I realised that engineering wasn’t something I would be married to till the end of time. It really wasn’t something that made my heart sing. My passion was more on people, management and systems hence I enrolled for a management science degree with operations research and statistics as majors. I then did project management and few other things. Assuming different management roles gave me an opportunity to understand myself better in terms of my strengths and passions. I always felt I could do more but didn’t know what exactly. Whenever I did things, I did them with an investigative mind that was always asking, “Is this what I’m meant to do?” This approach really help me because I managed to win myself over from getting swallowed by my roles and university qualifications. Most graduates define themselves by their qualifications. I learnt through my personal experience that one is not their qualifications. I get to see so many people who have qualifications but are not cut out for whatever they are qualified for, they don’t have the drive to be the best in that field. If you don’t have the drive to be the best in your chosen field by continually developing your skills that will set you apart, you may be the victim of mediocrity in that field as I was in engineering.
Now, how do you decide what you’ll do, say five years from now? Well, there are three approaches to this:
- By default or luck. This is when you say, “Well, I’ve already spent too much time here and I can’t change it. I’ll continue and if something good happens, it will happen.”
- By Intuition. This is almost like the above, the difference here is that you are keeping your eyes opened, just in case you notice something that seem to spark interest in you. You are not being deliberate in changing, you’re just keeping a watchful eye on something that connects with you. In my case, this was the approach.
- By design. This starts with self-awareness and asking yourself these questions?
– Do I like to work with just information/data most of all? Or;
– Do I like to work with just people most of all? Or;
– Do I like to work with things, like computers, cars and stuff most of all?
Do I like fixing things?
Then, once you’ve decided that, you need to choose which of the three do you give preference to. Which of the three do you establish priority for? If for an example you most like to work with data or information, in that case, then what you pay attention to in the next years until year five is everything you run into that has to do with jobs dealing with data/information. This helps you in terms of narrowing your focus. And when you see deviations, like, oh that sounds really interesting, I’ve never heard that before, you start to pay large attention.
The second part to this is taking good stock of yourself. This is very important because we’ve already put ourselves in boxes. The question to ask yourself is, “How have I put myself in boxes?” How have I said, oh, I am an engineer; I’m an accountant, I’m a doctor, I’m a lawyer, etc. When I asked some medical doctors that I have coached as to why they became doctors, they told me of parent’s influence and also because of their IQ that was high, they got bursaries to do medicine. Money and prestige also had a role in their choice. Sadly many people are stuck in their boxes though they know deep down in their hearts that they are not where they are supposed to be. To be on top of your game requires that you continually learn what works, unlearn what doesn’t help and relearn what works – that’s the process.
When you are trying to figure out what you’re going to do five years from now and you decided not to go down the road of luck and that of intuition but that you’ve decided really to try to design, to gather stuff you may need, the first thing you need most of all is rethinking who you are. This is because what you’re going to do flows from who you are especially if it’s appropriate and meaningful work for you. Remember, nothing great was ever achieved with passion and enthusiasm.
I trust this helps you find your way in designing your best life and become the person you are meant to be!
Veli Ndaba is a Professional and Motivational Speaker, Life-Coach and Neuro Linguistic Programming Practitioner, Author of four books (You Are Born to Win, Your Dream is Calling You and SWITCH ON! And Set Your Soul On Fire!), Newspaper Columnist and Entrepreneur. To book him to speak at your next event or to help you and your team unleash your greatness, contact him on email@example.com , www.velindaba.com or +27 83 304 9773