Impetus to achieve: The period of stagnation


BY MUKUNI Having tried once and failed; one has to marshal the energy to get up and try again.

As an old saying goes – if at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again. When you take a second bite at the cherry, you will have the advantage of having learnt from your mistakes the first time round, and naturally you should do better; this is not to say that you shall automatically succeed. The spirit of endeavour is one which is deeply entrenched in every outstanding achiever out there, for the journey to success is filled with so many tests and obstacles. The questions I wish to pose today dear reader are these: what happens when you hit a period of stagnation? What happens when you have picked yourself up one time too many and still have not made your breakthrough? When does enough become enough and you hang up your boots having finally come to the conclusion that whatever you are pursuing is perhaps not your calling?

The answer to the above questions largely lies in your character as an individual. You generally will have two options when you reach a period of stagnation – you can quit or you can hang on to your dream despite the fact that there is nothing tangible in the offing, in the hope that your miracle will come one way or another from somewhere and you will finally make your breakthrough. In the instance that you quit, it will not necessarily mean you are a loser; in fact many people out there tried their hand at one aspiration or another only to learn that their passion or talent actually lay in a totally different field of endeavour. People such as legendary basketball player Shaquille O’Neal had tried his hand at rap (rhythm and poetry) but he failed to make a mark, yet he has certainly carved himself an undeniable legacy as one of the greats in basketball. Stories abound of how many people including our friends and family members dreamed of becoming one thing, but eventually wound up as another upon entering university or college. As we may have heard a million times before – God’s plans are not our own.

There is nothing more painful than putting your heart and soul into a venture only for it to fail not once or twice but on quite a few occasions. It is always a challenge to muster the psychological strength to get up and do it all over again. Different things will ring in a person’s mind such as how much energy and money you expended only to end up disappointed; how high your hopes were at the start only for them to be dashed after a spirited effort in your marathon; others worry about what other people are saying about them, or even thinking about them – let’s not forget that every society has got individuals whose only discernable occupation appears to be peddling gossip wishing ambitious people the worst. This pain of failure applies to whatever goals you may have set for yourself. It may have been an effort to seek a job in formal employment or perhaps a business venture which you put your heart and soul into. Maybe you attempted to start a Church or become a renowned motivational speaker.

During your period of stagnation – which in this case is the period between your last failed venture and your next attempt – you will have the time to reflect on what went wrong; could the problem have been with you? Could it have been with anyone else that you worked with? If the problem was with you, what exactly could that problem be? Are you able to identify it? If so, are you able to rectify it? It’s important to note that a self-introspection is one of the most difficult exercises to conduct because whether you like it or not, you will always be conflicted by a self-review threat to your independence. We are all naturally biased when assessing ourselves and therefore cannot do so objectively. It is often better to ask someone else to point out your flaws as a human being. Having analysed what went wrong, you can then take the time to rectify any character flaws on your part to have a better chance next time. Also, it’s worth remembering the famous words: ‘The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and expect a different result.’

The period of stagnation is the worst. The wait for you to get on another project can kill you, and it most often leads you to take certain desperate measures to get back on track. At this point, you will also suffer the mental anguish of kicking yourself for having allowed things to go wrong. You make all sorts of calculations here and there about the best way to get started again, but often there are too many limiting factors to take into account, it almost feels as though you will have to wait for a miracle more than anything else. But as is often the case in such instances, indeed your ‘rescue package’ will come from an area or source that you could have least expected; that is when you begin your turnaround.

Have you not heard of someone who pursues a certain path that people feel is overly ambitious for that individual, they doubt his/ her ability to excel in the chosen path. Then slowly but surely, day in day out, week in week out, and year in year out, this individual defies the odds, silences his/ her critics and converts the naysayers into believers. These stories are there everywhere. You must have belief when you are in your period of stagnation. If people have climbed out of the worst positions – including worse than your period of stagnation – then you can too. Remember the words of renowned author Napoleon Hill – what the mind of man can conceive and believe, the mind of man can achieve with PMA (positive mental attitude). When you reach too high and you fall, just know that if it was meant to be that way and like the phoenix you shall rise from the ashes to meet a new dawn where you shall excel in glorious fashion. These are my personal beliefs, they are deep convictions that I hold.

The period of stagnation is the worst really. Ask anyone out there who has built an empire, they will tell you that each time they fell, they itched to get back in the game. The period of stagnation is much like a talent footballer seated on the bench in the game of his life, perhaps due to injury or suspension – he would kill to get into the game. This is what it is when you know the reality of what is achievable in this life, but due to small constraints here and there, you cannot get into the thick of things. What’s odd is when all is said and done, achievers tend to become very relaxed individuals. It’s almost as if the thrill and anxiety really lies in the period when you are pursuing your dream, and the more milestones you achieve, the more relaxed you become as an individual – you truly become seasoned in your field of endeavour.

So if you are out there having a tough time having tried and failed not once, not twice but numerous times, do not despair. The period of stagnation is truly part of the journey to success. Failure is truly part of the process of success – you cannot have success without failure. Interestingly enough, I once read in a book that owing to my last sentence, unsuccessful people are people who never fail. In life, we must learn to relish the good times as well as the bad for it is the bad times that define who we become in life. Every dark cloud truly has a silver lining. So do not be depressed when you are in your period of stagnation; instead, rather hate your state of affairs because hating our low station in life and yearning for a more privileged position is what leads us to get up and go and get what we want. The world is yours for the taking. Get up and grab it all.

I know right now in our economy, things are not as good as they were a few years ago, and many companies and individuals in one way or another have been forced into their various periods of stagnation. As for those that have been supplying government, things are particularly bad as government struggles to mobilise resources to pay these suppliers as well as implement its programs. Small businesses have been choked leaving their promoters in a quagmire. My advice to all these small businesses is that they must do whatever they can to survive, this period of stagnation will define if they make the list of tomorrow’s list of celebrated entrepreneurs. Hang in there. Fight for your dreams. Aluta Continuaa.

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