I had a conversation with a friend of mine yesterday at an event and we were just catching up. Kool K is a crazy dude who just recently finished campus. He is in someways like me; an overly enthusiastic guy with lots of directions to take for his life and none being the most obvious one.
When I was growing up a teen, my Dad gave me lots of freedom to make my own decisions. He didn't really impose anything on me. In fact, except for some obvious and extreme cases, he would neither approve nor disapprove my decisions. He just liked to let me swing like a pendulum until I arrived at my equilibrium. He's the best Dad ever.
But what my Dad didn't tell me is that "with great freedom comes great responsibility". I just kinda figured it out myself that I was responsible for my actions and decisions and if I screwed up, it was entirely my fault, not his. Having that much autonomy is one of the best gifts I received from my parents unlike the other kids whose parents made all the decisions and watched their every move.
Because of my upbringing, autonomy and independent thinking is second nature to me. And because my Dad took a neutral position in my life neither vetoing nor cheering on my decisions, I sort of had to find for myself the best course of my life. I had to be a self-starter.
Being a self-starter requires a willingness to take responsibility for your actions. You have to be able to look at your life and make decisions based on where you want to be. You have to be willing to accept the fact that not everyone will approve of your every decisions and face it up to the criticism and skepticism from the naysayers. If you are a jack or a pimp, you can't be a self-starter.
The fact is that you can't be a self-starter if you are very mindful of people's opinions all the time. You just can't please everyone. This is humanly impossible. But if fear to disappoint or disagree with people especially your close family and friends, then you might not become a self-starter.
Now don't get me wrong. You can disagree with someone without becoming disagreeable. Because of our diverse backgrounds and cultures, we can't all be agreeing about the same thing all the time. This is impossible. In fact, if two people are always agreeing on everything, then one of them is not thinking. But you can disagree respectively with your reasonable facts and "informed" opinion...even with your elders. I know here in Africa, disagreeing with an elder can be seen as disrespectfully or completely rude. You might even be labelled as an arrogant spoilt kid. I refuse to subscribe to that line of thought.
Because self-starters often don't wait for anyone's approval to do something, it means they have to be informed and knowledgeable. You see "knowledge is power" is the motto of my primary school I attended in Jinja. And it's true. Being knowledgeable means you have to read into other people's minds. You have to be willing constantly to learn about different cultures, religions, food, politics, geographics, philosophies. You might not have to agree with them, but at least you have to understand them. I learnt this later in my life and it's in part what has made me a self-starter.
Being a self-starter means you have to be authentic. Yeah, like being legit. Legitness is a very rare character trait in people these days. There are so many shady people and conmen who are will trade anything to achieve a certain end -- usually money. These folks don't understand that your reputation is worth more than gold and rubies. Yeah, your name or brand or image or whatever you want to call it. It's very precious and self-starters do everything within their means to protect it.
Finally self-starters are excellent people. They do excellent work and it usually goes before them. It opens doors for them and it brings them before kings and very important people. They start and finish a project to completion taking seriously every single minor detail. So in the end, they know they have done good work. They don't wait for someone's endorsement or approval. If it comes,it's simply a confirmation of what they already know to be true. It's not being proud, it's knowing yourself and what you capable of doing.
Okay Finally finally, self-starters are very passionate people. I have not met a single one of them that's not very passionate about what they are doing. In fact it's this passion that acts as a fuel for what they want to achieve. Their passion is their motivation. It's the starter motor to engine of their dreams. And passion isn't something you buy off the shelf of a supermarket, it's something you discover during the course of your life. That's what self-starters do in the first place -- find their passion in life and follow it.
Alright folks, hope this has been motiving enough. I want to meet some self-starters over coffee sometime. So hit me up.
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