Our world is full of people who have dreams of making it big in their lives but have never ventured to do so. This, for the fear that they will not get off the starting block well, let alone cross the finishing line.
During his stellar career as a journalist and television host, the redoubtable David Frost interviewed Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a pillar of the South African apartheid movement. It was during this interview on the “Breakfast With Frost” show that Archbishop Tutu made the now famous statement, “I have never been an optimist, I have been a prisoner of hope!”.
This statement may sound a little strange because we are normally wired to link the word “prisoner” with captivity, not freedom. But captive in this sense means dominance, having a commanding influence or exercising control over. Therefore, being a prisoner of hope means being dominated in thought by hope, victory and a belief that the best is yet to come – whatever be the extenuating circumstances one may be going through.
It today’s economic meltdown, it is easy for small and medium business persons to question their ability to survive, let alone grow and prosper. The media has been plastered with too many stories about the Davids being wiped out by the Goliaths in the past few years. Yet, standing tall amongst those ruins are those who weathered the storm, astonished the naysayers and actually grew. Steadfast hope along with a determined action plan is what keeps small businesses moving forward. In fact, steadfast hope and relentless determination drives the world.
In the small town of Elmira, Ontario, is a boutique “fb and me”. The economy was tanking and in tatters when the business was launched in March 2009. But as Tami Runstedler, the owner, states “thinking positively was the only defense” she had. Her advice to small business owners, “think positive all the time, provide great customer service, have a business plan but don’t be afraid to deviate from it and listen to advice. Most important of all – never lose hope, never give up”.
And there are plenty of examples around us that keep reminding us of the same.
I recently came across the phenomenal story of Jacob Barnett, a 15 year-old prodigy who was diagnosed with severe autism when he was 2 years old. At this age, he completely stopped talking for a year and half. Efforts by special school instructors and doctors to bring some semblance of order in his life did not achieve any results. His mother, Kristine Barnett, was told to expect the worst and that he may never develop into a normal person. Yet she never gave up hope. Allowing him to explore the world in his own way and do the things he loved, Jacob shocked the world at age 4. On a trip to look at Mars through a telescope at the Butler University in Indiana, he shocked the professors by answering a science question that no one else could. By age 8, he was auditing courses at the Indiana University and had joined there full time by age 11. Now, at age 15, he is one of the hand-picked students at the Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics at Waterloo, Ontario – a 90 minute drive from Toronto – learning and contributing in the cutting edge environment of the subject.
As miraculous as this sounds, this is a story of hope, determination of one woman who rebelled against what the world told her about her son. Her story is captured in a book, “The Spark, a mother’s story of nurturing genius” and is truly an inspiring read.
As Napoleon Hill wrote in his classic book, “Think and Grow Rich, riches and success begins with a state of mind and with a definiteness of purpose. Mankind’s familiarity with the word “impossible” has chained them down to achieving mediocrity. Hill talks about the power of auto-suggestion and vision combined with a strong desire and drive to achieve success.
So, all you small and medium business owners, all those who just have a crystallized dream of getting out of their comfort zone and achieving something bigger, don’t hold yourself back.
Go become prisoners. Of hope, determination, desire, action, resilience and a never-give-up attitude. You have nothing to lose except your success.