THE PROCESS IS THE POINT
We’ve all heard it being said of an individual, “He/She has arrived”. What am I saying? Don’t those Igbo importer/exporter guys say it of themselves all the time, “I have arrived”, in reference to some landmark achievement usually financially or materially inclined? It’s a common phenomenon, this arrival. It is therefore the dream of everybody to arrive. Arrive overseas, in the country of their dreams, land flowing with milk and honey; arrive in that 2015 Toyota Prado; arrive decked in Valentino from head to toe; the list is endless. We all want to arrive, but little is said about the journey, the process. We conveniently forget that nobody just “gets there”.
Oprah wasn’t always a billionaire. Neither was Bill Gates. By now you’re itching to give me a list of those old money people. But they were born into wealth because someone undertook the journey to success, and because of them, their generation unborn will have it easy. Besides, this isn’t about old money people. Years ago, I watched Steve Job’s welcome address to the Stanford University’s graduating class of 2005. That video is one of the many things that changed my life. I did cry, but you know that already, lol. I also found myself taking notes. I snatched a scrawny piece of paper from my colleague’s desk, and hurriedly scribbled down the things I was hearing. Of the many things he said, two have remained with me to this day. First, “You can’t connect the dots (of your life) looking forward, you can only connect them looking backward.”
Respect the process. Nobody just arrives. That old TV series Rent-A-Ghost, is only television fiction. The journey to destiny is like a carousel ride. It will take you up and then down, left and then right. But pay close attention to the experiences. They are the dots, and they are all connected, even though it will never look like it at the time. If you’re like me, you will believe that there’s no such thing as a coincidence and everything happens for a reason. Pay close enough attention and you will prove it. The journey is every bit as important as the destination. Maybe even more.
John C. Maxwell, world renowned leadership expert also obviously values process as a very important part of successful leadership. There’s a full chapter on the subject in his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. He says you do not just become a great leader because of your innate abilities, but that the consistency and deliberateness of your leadership actions over time will make you a great leader. I cannot say it enough: All of your life experiences come together to form your success story. Yes, including the failures. Especially the failures. There’s something in it that’s for your rising, but you need to relish the experience and not will it to pass away in the blink of an eye. You want examples? I’ll give you two.
First, there’s Oprah, billionaire philanthropist, talk show host, superwoman and you can help me with more titles. The Great Oprah Winfrey of the Universe. But she wasn’t always superwoman. Before this, she was born to unwed teenage parents, she was a victim of sexual abuse, was also the winner of a black beauty pageant, worked at a radio station, went on to television and grew to become the iconic Oprah we all know today. Stop seeing dollar signs, will you, and look at the picture I’m painting here. She grew. Evolved. Lived. Today, she’s so much more than owner and host of the Oprah Winfrey Show. But in connecting the dots, it’s safe to say that her experience in broadcasting led her to birth her own show. And this is a very obvious connection. Imagine other dots that the world knows nothing about. But that’s just Oprah.
Then there’s late Steve Jobs. American entrepreneur, inventor and co-founder Apple Inc. He was also born out of wedlock, and just the fact that he’s called an inventor would make you think he had a bag of formal education to his credit, but now we all know he was a college drop out. I’m not telling you anything new, but that’s not even where I’m going. Because he dropped out, he was able to drop in on a course he found interesting. Calligraphy. A decade after, those lessons in calligraphy helped him design the unique fonts that the Mackintosh computer enjoys today. At the time he found calligraphy interesting, he had no idea he would be inventing anything, much less something to which Calligraphy would prove useful. But looking backward now, the dots can be traced.
By now you must know you’re special and you exist for a reason. So if you’re one of those people who have a passive approach to life sharply snap out of it. Your experiences are everything. You won’t just “get there”, they will get you there. Live. Live. Live. Be deliberate about living. Travel. Learn a foreign language. Love. Be kind. Dream. Read. Follow your passion. Pray. Be spiritual. Give. Live. There’s no telling where life will take you. Not with foresight. But hindsight, that’s the real deal. In the meantime, the process, pay attention to it. Love it. Respect it. Above all, trust it. It is everything.
About the second thing I took away from that Stanford welcome address, we’ll talk about it later. Hehehe.