To succeed once, challenge the traditions of others; to succeed twice, challenge your own traditions – Lovemore Nyatsine, Founder of Seedbed
This weekend I have been reflecting on the things that limit us in life. I flashed back to my early years. I imagined myself in my mother’s womb for 9 months. I fast forward a little bit when I was now in my crib. I can imagine my mother’s protective eye and hands making sure I do not venture into danger. A few years later, there I was at the local crèche, in a classroom full of crying toddlers on the first day….I am crying the loudest. It’s getting a bit uncomfortable, but soon the discomfort disappears and let the games begin. This place is fun, oh I love this place! I wonder why mum and dad did not take me to this place earlier. Two years later, my game is up and am now in junior school. My elder siblings go out of their way to ‘protect me’ to make sure I am behaving and not putting the good family name to disrepute.
At this school they soon begin to put us in groups, and they say we can’t do this or that sport. Everything in the school is directed by a bell which signals when a lesson is over and when we must go for breaks. And there are these people called prefects who interfere with my ‘liberty’. I don’t like this place. Fast forward. I am now in secondary school…having been forced to do some stuff called Biology and Math’s. But I really don’t like this stuff. I complete secondary school, and there is discussion in the family that I must go to an agriculture college so I can help in the family farm. A farmer? Ummm wrong move. That day I became a rebel.
My father had bought the family farm in Juliasdale in 1981 when I was in crèche and the routine had always been when the schools holidays come we would all go to the farm. Being the youngest I was the shepherd boy looking after the sheep in the paddocks. I believed there was more to my world than this routine. I took my brother, Livingstone’s old maroon blazer, and old school case (trunk) and went to high school with no school fees. I had decided to make a different investment in my life and break with traditions and limitations. That day marked a new journey of self discovery.
Get Out of the Box
It is clear life is lived in a series of boxes. The womb, the crib, the home, school, town, faculty, syllabi, curricula, department, industry or job description. That is all good. However the danger is these boxes can rob your life of meaning and purpose. If you don’t challenge these boxes you can have a life without a soul, education without learning, a job without a career, happiness with no joy, motion with no progress. You become a slave to limiting paradigms, concepts, values, perceptions and practices. I could have been a farmer, but farming is no fun for me. I am not wired for farming. You need to get out of the box. It could be your hometown, industry, job description, qualifications. Life is too short to be lived in a box…burn the box and start to live as your Creator intended for you.
The deeply encoded lessons of the past that are passed from one generation to another while good can be limiting. You cannot intercept the future by repeating the past. Neither can you drive a car by looking in the rear view mirror. To escape the gravitational pull of the past, be convinced that the future is a better proposition.
Let me quickly share with you something about kids. Kids are naïve. They don’t know what is possible and impossible. Why can’t you touch the stars, they ask. Adults are smart. They know the possible from the impossible. So they don’t ask silly questions and don’t hope for the impossible. And when confronted with a child’s mind, they quickly dismiss it and say, “Because that’s the way it is!” But it needn’t be that way. Why not ask “Why couldn’t it be different?” Having watched her father take a picture, Dr. Edward Land’s 3 year old daughter asked if she could see the results NOW. That innocent question set Dr. Land off to create instant photography now known as Polaroid. Years later Land was quoted, “We really don’t invent new products…, the best one’s are already there, only invisible, just waiting to be discovered.” We need to begin challenging everything by asking, “Why Can’t”, Why Couldn’t”, “Why Not”, “Why”?
We need to not only challenge the norm, but expand our peripheral vision and extend our boundaries.
In the next article I will share about Extending Your Boundaries covering the principles you must apply to break traditions and limitations.