Eyes on the ball, Why You Need to Stay Focused as a Youth.
A friend of mine, the Community Manager of Ndoto Hub, Tully, requested me to offer a mentoring session to a group of young female leaders who are running early-stage businesses and social enterprises. This article is inspired by the question from one of the girls. She asked about setting up goals and how to make sure you stay in line to the goals you have set for yourself.
Essentialism, I was lucky a few years ago a friend of mine gave me a book about “Essentialists”, a group of people who do a few things as possible to the best of their abilities while staying focus, that is the best way I can define them, get the book. The book helped me to understand the difference between “a priority” and “priorities” and why not until the 1900s there was no plural of the word priority in the English dictionary. The need to stay focused and channel all your effort to what matters most.
Recently, I have been following closely discussions happening online about leadership programs and opportunities available for African youths. These opportunities target the most active African youths and natural young leaders of the continent who spend most of their time searching for these opportunities online. There is nothing wrong with this if someone looks for opportunities that are directly adding value to personal or career growth. The challenge is when these opportunities become a destruction to those who are doing really good where they are right now careerwise. Some tend to lose focus and become full-time travelers, explorers and “jumpers”, they jump into every opportunity that comes on their direction.
Being an essentialist simply means sometimes you have to say “NO” to great opportunities that don’t align with your personal or career growth mission. How do you travel for six months while you are running a startup? How do you travel more than half of a year and you are leading an organization? and the program or opportunity you are attending has nothing to do with your professional growth, attracting investment for your business or developing your organization.
As a young African leader, we expect you to stay focus and keep your eyes on the ball. Jumping here and there doesn’t only reduce your credibility but it jeopardize your chances of being good on what you do. It’s okay to be desperate and finding different ways to succeed in life but patience pays. Stay focus for a while and see where does that takes you. You need to have that identity. It will help you to grow and attract the right people into your path and save you from embarrassing yourself from trying to look good on things you are less competent.
You want to be a politician, to run a business, to be featured in a local movie and an analyst on the status of the national economy. It works for some time but after 10 years I bet, you will ask yourself, “Who Am I”. You will realize you are an expert in nothing, no legacy, no cash. Invest in developing your career in such a way that everything you do converge together into your main life goal and not “goals” and that is how you set up your life goals.
I was lucky, I was introduced to the concept of VCP at a very early stage of my career when I was trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. VCP stands for; Visibility, Credibility, and Profitability. The person who taught me about it told me; you have to invest enough time to become visible to the right people on what you do. This will help you to become credible. More deals, opportunities and right people will fall in your direction and there will be a huge chance if you becoming profitable. There is a prize to pay for this to happen. Sometimes you need to drop real opportunities that come in as a destruction; a well paying job, a very nice trip abroad, leadership position etc
I have personally in my career dropped so many great opportunities; traveling opportunities, working opportunities, scholarship opportunities etc simply because they were not aligning with the overall mission of what I wanted to do, and not influenced at all the things that I loved to be involved in. Don’t do things just because everyone else is doing them. Make sure they make sense to you and what you stand for. It is productive and healthy that way.
Another important thing, have you ever wondered why there are so many leadership programs targetting youths in Africa? and over 90 percent of them are not run by African themselves. This is just food for thought.