The New Times (Kigali)

27 December 2012

Rwanda: Dreams? and Discipline!

opinion

First things first: permit me to wish you a very fruitful New Year. I'm writing to you from Northern Tanzania and the mood is pretty festive here. It is such a welcome break from the juggernaut that is my life. I do trust that Christmas went pretty well for you too and you are revitalised and all revved up for the New Year. May all your dreams come true.

Talking of dreams, I do hope that you have a plan or two to make them real. Perhaps you were the early bird type and may have even started. I congratulate you, if this is the case. If else, you run the risk of confusing wishes with dreams...and you know what they say about wishes and beggars.

Let's delve into a bit more detail so that we do not mix issues; whereas dreams are ideas, thoughts and/or imaginations (our usual innovations and creativity would fall in here, I imagine), wishes would refer to desires, needs and/or requirements. The former refers to an active state as opposed to the latter which is more passive.

Dreams are powerful. When Martin Luther King Jr made his now famous 'I have a dream' speech, about a half a century ago, it must have been a beautiful speech that stirred up many a soul. Coming, though, from a Negro, whose place was at the bottom of the pile, it must have also seemed wishful thinking to many other folks. But behold just how far the America has come! Start from the very top and see the power of dreams!

We have a saying in Kiswahili; ukitaka kumla nguruwe mchague aliyenona (literally, if you want to eat pork, choose a fat pig). This saying came along within a Muslim context. Muslims do not eat pork, so the point was that should an errant Muslim choose to break the rules, they better ensure that the break is worth the trouble.

The point is; you should dream big. Shoot for the Sun. At least that way you are sure to shoot higher than someone who shoots at eye level, even if you don't get to the sun.

There are examples all over the world that attest to this. Japan, an island nation plagued with volcanoes and with no minerals, has risen to be an industrial power despite having no minerals (read iron ores) to speak of. As well as some major setbacks along the way (Tsunamis, earthquakes and Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs as a result of being on the wrong side of WWII). Alternatively, the rise of Singapore (a city state of five million people) to be the world's 14th and 15th largest exporter and importer, respectively, can be traced to one man's dream.

But these, plus other cases of dreams, realised point to point to something else: discipline.

Discipline is conventionally used to explain obedience and order. This is not quite what I have in mind here. I'm talking about the effort, time; sacrifice and restraint that you will put into realize your dream. The mental toughness and adaptability that a big dream exerts requires discipline. This is especially true when you take the unbeaten path.

The discipline to follow through will also help you break it down to smaller manageable daily tasks without losing sight of the big picture. Creating a link between the big picture and the tasks that you perform will make you opportunity-obsessed. You will be more alert to all the little breaks along the way. Often, it is not that the opportunities do not exist; rather we fail to see them because they are disguised as problems or something like that.

I must admit; dreams are scary and a lot of us dare not dream. Yet you realize, for example, that if no one dreams of making motor vehicles in Rwanda, we will remain importers?

Granted, you may not achieve your dream, but then, you cannot lose what you did not have in the first place. However, if you don't dream big, you will surely not achieve!

You have an opportunity to make 2013 a very special year or to run down the clock and have more of the same...you decide.

Stop being too realistic, dream big... and be disciplined!

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