11 June 1988, a concert was hosted in Wembley stadium to celebrate the 70thbirthday of Nelson Mandela. When it was Stevie Wonder’s time to play, he discovered that the hard disc of his synclavier containing 25 minutes of his synthesised music was missing, and that was meant to be used in the concert. He got frustrated, started crying and walked out of the stadium. This created a gap meant to be filled up, as the spectators were waiting for the next act. Tracy Chapman was then new and unknown, although her new album already sold 250,000 copies, which was relatively small to make her known, but in spite of that, she stepped up to fill the gap. She performed two songs from her new album, “Fast car” and “Talkin’ ‘Bout a Revolution,” and that shot her to stardom. In two weeks, she sold two million copies.
First, Tracy Chapman was prepared and ready to take advantage of opportunities that will come her way in her area of profession. So when it came, she wasn’t found wanting – she just latched on it. Secondly, she was ready to take a risk. Stepping into Stevie Wonder’s shoes is a big risk. If you aren’t bold, you can’t wear it. Thirdly, she didn’t ask for extra pay to do a second performance. Before the main artists came on stage, she was one of the side artists that did just one song performance, but that wasn’t enough for people to acknowledge her or for her to impress her music into the minds of people. On a second performance, with a whole 25 minutes, she won the hearts of the world. Some people who don’t know the difference between opportunity and money would have probably asked for financial reward before accepting to play, but she saw it as a rare privilege, and today, she’s one of the female music legends of the world. In this year, if you want to succeed, you must be ready to take your chance when it comes. The keys to taking your chance are readiness and character.
Stepping into a year is like giving birth to a young one – you have to travail to make the baby come to life. The expectation of everyone for the year is to be successful, but succeeding does not come by mere wishes – it comes by doing the right thing. So, it may suffice me to say that success is deliberate, and failure is also deliberate, even if a lot of people think it’s by luck – the bitter reality is that it comes by taking advantage of opportunities through proper preparation. If you are lucky but not prepared, you’ll miss your chance. The general key that unlocks the door of success in any year is preparation, and if you aren’t prepared, you won’t reach anywhere. To prepare, you must work on something, and that something begins with coming up with ideas. One way of coming up with ideas is silencing every noise around you so that you can clearly hear from within. Some noises are friends who always buzz you. They buzz you by constant chats, and you just can’t resist the temptation even if for the moment, it isn’t to your own advantage. You must understand that if that noise isn’t silenced for a while, you can’t generate new ideas. Some other noise is the social media. The social media is a great blessing to our world because of its numerous advantages, but if you don’t know how to manage it, you, on your own can turn it into a curse. You must know when it’s standing between you and your dream, and learn to halt it when it isn’t necessary, and resuscitate it when it is.
How about your inner turbulence? Sometimes, your physical environment may be quiet, but your mental one isn’t. One thing that kills idea generation is worry. When you’re worried, you can’t generate any sensible idea, because you can’t think straight. Recently, I watched a London football derby, and the home team was leading one nil, but the game turned around with the visiting team leading by two goals to one – the home team started getting agitated, and began to make some silly mistakes. Their head coach spotted it, and with arm signals communicated to his team to calm down – they did, and they won the game. By calming down, the coach was able to know where there were issues, and he made tactical substitutions. The idea gave them victory. Games aren’t won in mental turbulences because ideas that make you win don’t emanate from mental turbulences. You must be calm to win.
Still talking about ideas, sometimes, ideas are born out of conflicts. When you’re taken through hell, and you really want to survive, and there isn’t anyone to help you survive, you will look for ways, on your own, to survive. From TED website, I read that Bernard Sadow, a luggage company executive, was toiling through an airport in the early ‘70s lugging two suitcases. He noticed airport workers pushing a machine on a dolly, giving him the idea that he could ease his load by putting wheels on his suitcases. But his solution — a sort of leash that pulled a bag — was still clunky, especially if you had to go around a sharp corner. About a decade later, pilot Robert Plath, who also spent much time huffing through airports, came up with a better solution — wheels on one edge of a bag, with a rigid handle that could be extended. Today, we can easily carry heavy suitcases because they have wheels and extended hands to pull them. That idea came out of pains – it came out of conflict.
There are ideas that trigger through listening to other people, reading books, or even watching a movie or documentaries. That’s why you must be alert and ready to learn from anyone, anything, and anywhere. The solution to greatness is embedded in anything, whether you respect it or not. You have to be smart and humble to suspect when an idea is lurking in the corner.
After generating your ideas and sorting them to get your plan A, B, and C, you must go crazy. I mean it, go crazy. It is crazy people that make the unusual happen, not those who always bow to conventions. If Bill Gate wasn’t crazy, we wouldn’t have Microsoft. If the late Steve Jobs wasn’t crazy, we wouldn’t have Apple. If Larry Page and Sergey Brin weren’t crazy, we wouldn’t have Google. If Jack Ma wasn’t crazy, we wouldn’t have Alibaba. The United Kingdom National Health Service was born on July 5 1948 out of a long-held ideal that good healthcare should be available to all, regardless of wealth. When it started, some people felt it was a crazy idea, and that it wouldn’t work, but today, it is the best healthcare service in the world. To make your idea work, you must be crazy. Do what people say cannot be done. Take a risk. Take a chance!
After idea generation and taking a risk, show some character – be patient – be self motivated, and keep taking the right steps. Apportion a reasonable time to your belief and pursuit – don’t starve your dream – be hardworking. Persevere on what is working, even if it hasn’t yielded dividends. Be disciplined in the direction you’re going. As you go, keep looking out for opportunities of making things get better, and take prompt advantage of them. Don’t be lazy. I repeat, don’t be lazy. Laziness will cripple your expectations. And if you fail in an aspect, make sure you learn from it and move on. Don’t repeat failures.
Next, have a clear picture of where you’re going. This picture is called vision. If you’re going to a destination, the first thing you see is picture, even if you’ve never been there. If from the beginning, you don’t have a clear picture of where you’re going, what you want to become, and who you want to build yourself to be, you cannot be.
The last advice I will give is, don’t abuse your team. When people give their time to help you to where you want to be, don’t take them for granted. When people give you money, no matter how small it may be, to help bring your dream to reality, don’t think they don’t have better places to put their money. When people buy your books, music, come to your paid or unpaid events, give you advice on how to go about your dream, don’t abuse them by thinking you’re too much, that’s why they’re doing it. You must always be grateful and thankful.
I wish you the very best of the year!