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Sometimes when I look at nature I used to observe very intently and I would understand that for successful growth of anything and everything there has to be order. If you look at a rose plant or cut an apple in half or look at birds’ nests or see the symmetry of a flower, all these things bear witness to the fact that successful growth requires order and organization. The same principle applies to people. If we want our business to grow and if we seek personal growth, then we also need to have an organized method, a plan of action – in a word “order”.

There is an old African proverb known as the “four steps to achievement” which goes like this: –

Plan purposefully

Prepare prayerfully

Proceed positively

Pursue persistently

Humanity has always cried out for fulfilment. We have a basic human need to feel significant, to feel wanted, loved and appreciated. It’s true that our family, friends and work do give meaning to our lives and indeed life itself would be utterly intolerable without them. But even with such things people still seek their place in the world, their niche, role or calling.

The law of averages tells us that during a typical lifetime of a person, a person would sleep for about 23 years, spend around 6 years watching T.V, about 3 years eating and drinking another 3 years getting dressed or undressed and around 9 months in the bathroom! Now there must be more to life than this and there is. It’s called purpose.

But of course it is impossible to effectively prepare, proceed or pursue without taking that first step to plan purposefully. Very few individuals bother to sit down and plan how to achieve their aspirations. What I have observed generally in the world is that if we are not serious enough to plan properly or we can’t be bothered to set targets and structured goals then, we are not serious enough to achieve them.

A goal genuinely desired and properly set, is already half – reached. A goal is something we must be passionate about and something we will work for, something that is important to us, something that we can focus on.

Have we ever seen a cat watching a mouse hole? Now there is a felin passionate for its cause. The cat is practically oblivious to everything but its target and it will wait patiently for as long as necessary to pursue its prey.

In a nutshell, we have to find something that we can be passionate about, something worthwhile and something that is bigger than we are. Then we can set our sights on the target and prepare for the battle.

We have to think big and dream big, to make our goals worthwhile. Author James Allen said “The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn, the bird waits in the egg and in the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities.” Allen further said that we should aim high and try to reach for the stars in the sky. At least if you miss, you might still hit the moon. Another author John C. Maxwell wrote “A goal is a dream with a deadline” There has to be a plan of action or a time table to follow, otherwise there is no order to the goal and instead it becomes a mish – mash of events or a stab in the dark, a hit and miss exercise .

If we review our goals regularly and measure the progress of our efforts properly we would know where we are and what action we need to take towards realization of our goals. I would like to quote below an incident about which I had read years ago in a book which was about World War II: – One night prior to the World War II (1945) and just before the invention of radar, a battleship on the high seas spotted an intermittent light fast approaching from out of the darkness. The captain of the battleship, thought alarmed but ready for action ordered his signalman to flash a message in Morse code “ “Unidentified vessel, change your course immediately”. No sooner had the message been dispatched, than back came the reply. “Unidentified vessel, change YOUR course immediately”. The captain of the battleship saw red and instructed his signal man to send a new message. “Change your course immediately, I am a captain”. The response was again instantaneous and read “change your course immediately,I am a seaman Third class”. By now the captain was furious and so one last time the signal went out “change your course immediately, I am a Battleship”. As before the response came back just as swiftly “change your course immediately, I am a Lighthouse”

What the above incident illustrates is that sometimes we might find that we are miles off target or we may even consider that we are no longer on the right track. When this happens we need to understand and remember that it is one thing being persistent and another being pig-headed obstinacy. If we are able to discern that our endeavour is no longer worthwhile, then we have to change our course and destination. And sometimes it is the wisest thing to do instead of attempting to flog a dead horse. Is it not!

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