The headmistress of Hillcrest College Anne Holman, the deputy headmaster Orbert Chipato, our young people, the students, parents, teachers, officials from the Primary and Secondary Education ministry, teachers from neighbouring schools, fellow Zimbabweans: I feel highly honoured to be your guest speaker tonight. I am just here to have a short discussion with you.
By Arthur Mutambara
There is one aspiration we all share, one ambition that drives all of us. We all want success in our lives. The students want to be successful. The teachers are desirous of success and of course, the parents love success. However, do we have a clear understanding of what it means to be successful? Ladies and gentlemen, fellow Zimbabweans, that is why I have titled my presentation today, “the definition of success and what it takes to achieve it”.
Famous people are successful, are they not? Rich people are successful, are they not? Educated people are living successful lives, is that the case? Of course those with power — the politicians — have success sorted, is that how it is?
No, no, no. Fame, wealth, education and power do not constitute the definition of success. They are not success. Do not get it twisted. At best, fame, wealth, education and power — if wisely used in an inspired and values-driven, progressive and effective way — can lead to success.
Success is about happiness and great relationships filled with love and joy. Let us start with the individual. How happy are you? Are you content? Do you have peace of mind? Do you have a smile on your face? How is your physical, mental and spiritual health? These are the questions you must answer in the affirmative if you are experiencing success. It is about self-satisfaction.
Success is about loving yourself, loving what you do, and loving how you do it. It is about living a meaningful and fulfilling life. How are you living? Success is about seeking wisdom and experiencing continuous growth.
Success is about the people around you, in the family, organisation, community or country. How happy are the people around you? Do the people around you love you? Do they even like you? Do you empower, inspire and give meaning to the lives of people around you? These are the challenges we must address as we seek to define success.
How is your marriage? Is there love in your marriage, or is it a loveless marriage? How happy is your family? Is there laughter and the abundance of joy? Are your kids happy, self-confident, driven and achieving their goals? The definition of personal achievement must include both a successful marriage and a successful family.
A key aspect of the definition of success involves having a lasting impact on society beyond the individual, our families and immediate organisations or institutions. We must combine knowledge, wisdom, and ideas to make an enduring difference in the world. Fame, wealth, education and power must be judiciously deployed to improve the state of the world, by enhancing the quality of people’s lives, and making their existence more meaningful.
The highest stage in the hierarchy of human needs — self-actualisation — as defined by Abraham Maslow, is highly inadequate. It is so yesterday. As we pursue success, we must self-transcend, go beyond self and leave a legacy.
The Gandhi legacy. The [Nelson] Mandela legacy. The [Herbert] Chitepo legacy. Legacy speaks to an enduring impact that will exist even when one is not alive to enjoy the glory or thunder that emanates from it. Success should not be about you. We must go beyond self. In fact, selflessness is the ultimate gift to yourself.
This highest stage of success is also called significance. We must all migrate towards significance. Hence, I say to you — the young people, parents, teachers and entirety of the Zimbabwean population, “Yes, you are a baller, but are you significant? Yes, you are a shot-caller, balling out of control, but are you significant? Yes, you are a rock star in your trade, the superstar of your profession, but are you significant?”
Tell us today, here at Hillcrest College in Mutare.
Ladies and gentlemen, fellow Zimbabweans, let us have clarity about the definition of success. It is about happiness, a meaningful life, fulfilling relationships, social impact, legacy and significance.
Now that we have a sense of what it means to be successful, the next part of our discussion then becomes: What does it take to achieve success? How do we travel from where we are to the desired destination, the Promised Land called “success”? There are three key enablers on that journey: (a) the development and adoption of good habits, (b) freedom from self-doubt, and lastly, (c) persistence and perseverance.
The starting point in the pursuit of success is the development and adoption of good and winning habits. A habit is something that one repeatedly or regularly does. Exemplary and keystone habits include having vision (starting with the end in mind), being proactive and action-oriented, planning, having strong willpower, hard work, self-determination, doing first things first, a win-win attitude, empathy, regular physical exercise, healthy eating, a reading and writing culture, doing the little things right, meditation, embracing synergy, and occasional personal renewal.
Stephen R Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a must-read.
Since we are at a school, it is important to emphasise the importance and impact of sport and other extra-curricular activities in the development and adoption of good habits. Sport teaches us the value of regular exercise, team spirit, perseverance, leadership and hard work. Beyond-the-class activities nurture our habits, and foster the attitude that says knowledge is global. All knowledge is important, and all fields of study are worthy of our curiosity. We must keep learning, about everything. These are the habits of the renaissance men and women we must aspire to be.
But why are habits important?
“We are what we repeatedly do. Success, then, is not an act, but a habit.” With these words, we are paraphrasing the wisdom inspired by the work of the great Greek philosopher Aristotle, and codified by the modern philosopher and author William James Durant.
Habits can transform lives. Furthermore, habits define and evolve into one’s character. As the old adage goes, “Watch your character, it becomes your destiny!” We want our destiny to be success — happiness, a meaningful life, fulfilling relationships, social impact, legacy and significance. Hence we must develop and adopt good habits and winning behaviours, as a basis for a fine character epitomised by dignity, integrity, humility and self-awareness. Strength of character is the foundation of success.
A high intelligent quotient (IQ) alone will not get you there. You need self-awareness, emotional intelligence (EQ) and cultural intelligence (CQ). Self-awareness refers to conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, personality and individuality. EQ speaks to the ability to understand your own emotions and those of others, leading to effective management of the relationships, processes and tasks. CQ is the ability to move in and out of different business, social and political cultures while maintaining high performance and premium results.
However, it all starts with good habits and winning behaviours!
l Adapted from the speech made as guest speaker at the Speech and Prize-Giving Night at Hillcrest College Mutare, Zimbabwe on October 19 2017 by Professor Arthur G.O. Mutambara, former deputy prime minister of Zimbabwe.