My Reply to X’s eMail


After 2 days of multiple calls, X waited for me in the hotel lobby for our scheduled discussion. I had an idea of what he wanted — involvement in his project — but little did I know that his question would make me dig deep into the heart of my actions. In his eMail after our meeting, he asked: “My request from you is simple, please make available to me the information that was instrumental in your transformation, because I believe that behind every miracle there is a PRINCIPLE.” My reply to him, which I decided to share with a possibly wider audience, follows:

While I would love to tell you my “secret of transformation” (even though I’m very much undergoing that process as is), it is almost impossible to lay one’s hands on what is singularly responsible for such change and success. But, I can share a few thoughts on the principles that have guided my actions and little successes.

First is the fact that we all need to recognize that we are responsible for our individual lives (and if we so choose, others’), and next is the decision to either live a usual life or to go the extra mile to build an exemplary (and enviable) life which can promote positive change and inspire others. It is also important to note that each of us will have (or have had) one or more experiences that will form the trigger that helps us decide how our lives proceed from that moment. For Mandela, it was the evil of apartheid; it was the need for leadership for the underserved for Martin Luther King (Jr.); for Prof. Wole Soyinka, it was the need to lend a voice to the pains of the “dumb” (mostly due to environmental/state influence); and the list goes on. For me, it was the denial of access to a computer lab way back in 1993 – when a teacher hinted that computers were not for “people like you”! For you, you need to look inwards – or out – for that trigger.

Once that trigger comes into action, it is then important to find the “three circles” that define an enviable life (I have been teaching with these “three circles” for a while now and they’ve proved to be effective eye-openers). The circles include Passion, Skills and Economic Value. Our passion is what drives us when there’s no external encouragement – and the only reason we go the extra mile. Until you’re able to locate these elements of passion that define what you could do even if for free, we won’t be able to realise what our “centre of gravity” (the point where we need little effort for maximum outcome)! Your skills (mostly developed from talents and desires) will help add value to your passion by ensuring that wishes don’t only stay at that level – but go on to become visible action. We need to map out the skills we have, the skills we need and the skills we don’t necessarily need to acquire! If I could be the guinea pig here, I have skills around words, I need to build ICT skills and I don’t need to know how to sing!

The last of the circles is that of Economic Value. This circle is the one that speaks to the need for each person to take care of their primary (and possibly secondary and tertiary) needs – and this helps us focus on the need to deliver value instead of worrying about how to “raise funds” to “pay the bills”. Each individual’s skills and passion are able to bring economic value if well groomed and opportunities are not missed. The intersection of these three circles (Passion, Skills and Economic Value) define the area each individual should see as his/her “fulcrum” to ensure that little effort can produce maximum benefit! For me, these have been universally binding circles and I have seen that the better I get at these three – and the wider I’m able to make my intersection – the better value I’m able to deliver, and the happier I am. Again, I don’t believe there are formulae that define how to become happy, successful and influential, but this brief reply describes what has worked (and is working) for me. I hope you find the thoughts useful.

PostScript: I have just included a “GS Geo-Locator” (‘Where in the world is GS?’) in my blog. Its on the sidebar, just below “Books You Must Read” and above “Meta”. Hint: The image above shows where I am until Saturday.

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