The world’s cheapest car is a Tata Nano. It is the brainchild of Ratan Tata, chairman of India’s Tata Group. One day in 2003, Tata was in Mumbai, India, when he noticed a man riding a scooter in the rain. The man’s older son was standing in the front part of the scooter behind the handlebars. The man’s wife sat sideways on the back of the scooter, with a small child in her lap. All four were drenched by the rain. Although Tata had witnessed this scene countless times before, this time it led him to produce a $2,200 car that lower middle-class people—or those who could buy a scooter but not a car—could afford. If you want to be an innovative disruptor, you will need to start looking at the world around you differently. You should LOOK at what EVERYBODY else is looking at and SEE what NOBODY else sees. This is the essence of disruptive innovation.
A few lessons:
1. Observation is the bedrock of innovation
2. Many eyes look, few eyes see
3. Opportunity sometimes comes dressed as a problem
I just watched a short clip on TV about a group of young women in Rustenberg, South Africa who have started an organization that recycles empty plastic bags into a textile. They then use this textile to make school bags for disadvantaged children. This bag is aptly name Repurpose Bag. The bag has a solar panel attached to it which charges as the kids walk long distance to school and reflective material for them to be visible and safe. The solar panel is then used in the night to provide lighting. Off the hook ingenuity!
In a simple innovation they have solved the problem of plastic pollution, lighting for kids in rural areas, unemployment, road safety for the kids. This is the essence of leadership – ability to solve problems.
A few lessons to ponder:
- Innovation is about asking new questions to old problems
- Every big problem is a big opportunity
- Don’t look for resources. Be resourceful
- You can turn anything into something
You can also turn trash into cash…
What do you do when clouds gather and storms break? Run for cover? Not with the eagle. Eagles love the storm. When clouds gather, the eagles get excited. The eagle uses the storm’s winds to lift it higher. Once it finds the wing of the storm, the eagle uses the raging storm to lift him above the clouds. This gives the eagle an opportunity to glide and rest its wings. In the meantime all the other birds hide in the leaves and branches of the trees.
When life gives you clouds, make some rain and if it gives you a storm, ride on it! There is an opportunity in every opposition. There is a testimony in every test. The darkest clouds yield the greatest rain. Your breaking point is your breakthrough moment.
The challenges of life must never weigh you down. Your situation is not your destination. You must never allow where you are to determine what you can do. Where you are, is not who you are. When an eagle finds itself in the midst of the storm, it rises above the storm. An eagle is an eagle and will rise above every storm. Your identity determines your destiny. When you know who you are, you will never allow circumstances to define. Don’t be defined by your problems, define your problems.
Many of God’s masterpieces were created in obscure and difficult circumstances. Moses and David were trained to shepherd Israel at the backend of the desert looking after goats and sheep.
The circumstances of your birth must never determine the circumference of your worth. Jesus was born in a small Judean village called Bethlehem in a manger, yet his influence reached the uttermost paths of the earth. Mary delivered in a manger. When you are carrying a dream, you can deliver under any conditions. Greatness gravitates towards your gift – the wise men from the East visited Jesus in a manger! Cheer up, wherever you are – you carry something special. Your gift will give your life a lift. You can ride every life storm!
You were created on purpose, with purpose for a purpose. The storms of life do not and cannot change your purpose – they reveal it!
Extract from my book : How To Rise Like An Eagle
In my last article I wrote about the importance of focusing on “being” than “doing” As a social scientist I have a keen interest in intellectuals and philosophers especially from an Afrocentric perspective. One such intellectual is South African politician Pallo Jordan. For over 40 years he masqueraded as a “Doctor” only to be exposed two weeks ago as having neither earned nor honoured with one.
It’s tragic for a man who is credited with being one of the architects of the first post apartheid government manifesto. I am at thesis stage for PhD myself and I can attest that Pallo Jordan is intellectual as they come. He never needed the title because he already had the mantle! Alas he probably has now lost the mantle chasing the title. It’s sad!
Thank God while he has lost integrity he has gained honour by apologising and resigning from all public offices he held.
What are the lessons?
1. Embrace WHO you are and the world will celebrate WHAT you do
2. If you have a mantle you don’t need a title. Pallo Jordan is an intellectual title or no title
3. Don’t lose your mantle in order to get a title
4. Who you are is more important than what you do
You can never substitute your being (substance) with what you do (subject).
I marvel when I see people jostle to get this or that position. Positions don’t make you…you make positions. People can take away all you do what remains is who you are. You are a human being not a human doing. Who you become is more important than what you achieve. It’s not what you are CALLED that matters, it’s what you ANSWER to.
The story of Joseph who was sold as a slave by his brothers is insightful. Joseph had a special coat of many colours. Metaphorically it meant that he was multi talented. The brothers took away the coat. Little did they know that the coat was only the evidence of the gift and not the gift itself. Joseph went on to prosper regardless and became Prime Minister of Egypt.
There are some lessons right there:
1. If you are gifted you can never be shifted…you will be lifted
2. Never let your work define your worth, define your work by your worth
3. A coat (TITLE) goes out of fashion, but who you are (MANTLE) lasts forever. If you have the mantle you don’t need the title.
People can take away all you do (your coat) but you can never be FINISHED because you are COMPLETE! Make a difference where you are. You have it in you to make a difference whether you are in a pit or prison.