By Dr Wilfred Isak April
ONCE upon a time, lived an extraordinary late uncle of mine called Jaffet Apollus. He was a subsistence farmer at “Groot Dabaras” in southern Namibia - Vaalgras to be exact. One day as I was driving through this village with my cousins, he asked me one key question that changed my life to a certain extent.
He asked: What are you studying? My response was - business. His immediate response was why on earth would anyone study business? I have been a farmer for almost more than seventy years. Do you want to tell me I don’t know how to count my own money?
You can come and stay here for a couple of days in “Groot Dabaras” stand behind the little counter in my house and take the money from the customers/members of the community and give them sweets in return. Why would you travel around the world and study business? What for Adolph? That’s a waste of money, he told me emphatically.
Comments and advice of this nature are common amongst most of our relatives, friends and acquaintances and they can either make you stronger or in some instances make you lose motivation completely. Whether I want to believe it or not, Uncle Jaffet was right at that particular point in time, because that’s all he was used to for almost 70 years. In addition, he only viewed entrepreneurship from a cultural perspective and also its practical application in reality.
However, we all are far greater than we have ever dreamed of being. No matter the comments our uncles, friends and colleagues make, whatever you experience in your life right now, trust that all happens for the right reasons and unfolding in your best interest.
Everything occurring in our daily lives has been perfectly orchestrated to inspire us as human beings and to bring us into our own power. As you read this column some of us have received similar advice at school, church and in the workplace. This could be from your academic instructor, supervisors and co-workers. Be they positive or negative comments - learn from them in order to take you to where you are meant to go.
Ok, Dr. April what is the key lesson to be learned here and what is so special about late Uncle Jaffet? First of all, he was a highly blessed and favoured human being who was special just like you, and secondly when he said you can come and work in my Tuck Shop I will not deny the fact that my ego was bruised and it hurt a little bit.
It was a typical ouch! moment. Here I am dreaming of finishing university and getting a great job, and my uncle thinks that it was not that important for me to study business.
I can only thank late Uncle Jaffet for the advice since it made me realize that with quality education I can have choices, and with choices I can search for and exploit entrepreneurial opportunities, and with opportunities I can become an expert in my field and touch the lives of many others by teaching them the fundamentals of business.
Uncle Jaffet taught me the need to be obsessed about what I do, and I was also able to teach myself the need to demand perfection of myself. It is a powerful realization. Trust me. For another prominent example of obsession at work, and what can be achieved, take a look at a man who is arguably the greatest performer of the last century - Michael Jackson. It is no coincidence that we still use terms like legendary, King of Pop, when referring to the late star.
The movie “This is it” features footage from rehearsals prior to what would have been his final tour. In this footage we witness an incredible level of the demand he placed upon himself and the kind of exacting standards expected from his co-performers.
This footage teaches us that we should strive to bounce back from adversity and the - ‘I will just go ahead and do it approach’. We should at all times try to do everything in the best possible way. Again, obsession. There are few things more powerful believe me.
So fellow Namibians, whether our goal is to become the highest paid consultant or the best domestic engineer, this is your first step to greatness. Obsess about being the best. Don’t aim merely for good. Always aim for the greatest. In addition Uncle Jaffet taught me the traits of persistence, perseverance and being assertive and to stand firm in what I believe. You may have heard the phrase ‘good is the enemy of great’. There is a lot of truth in that sentiment.
At times we reach a certain level of performance competence and hence become too comfortable and act, as if we own the institutions and companies. Whether you would like to agree with me or not, when we become good at something it holds us back from being great. People tend to settle for good. Sounds familiar to you? I don’t have to work very hard, I’ve nothing to prove, I have been here for the past 25 years.
My fellow citizen, sometimes good becomes merely good enough. And from my personal observations, good people are not usually very hungry. People who are good are not desperate. People who are good are not eager to prove themselves. Hold on…why do I have to?
Let me tell you my fellow countrymen and women - greatness is born in discomfort and dissatisfaction with the status quo. I know it can be extremely difficult to make yourself unhappy with the status quo when you are comfortable and relatively well off. I ask you what the point of being born is, and to leave this planet as if you have never existed.
Forgotten and only a Rest in Peace (RIP) tombstone or sometimes only a cross to bear witness to your presence in this world. Now my dear reader, you all are very much better than that. Make sure that the place that you secure in the hearts of people lives on, long after you have died, just like Uncle Jaffet did.
Next week, we explore the North America with the Inuits (Eskimos) of Alaska.
Please do join me. I wish you a lot of blessing along this voyage called life.