The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: What We Need - the Achiever Mentality

Last week, we spoke about 'beggar mentality' as the reason that makes us under perform at work and in business. As a sequel and at the risk of sounding preachy, we will consider 'the achiever mentality'.

Achievers often know "what" they want to do and will stop at nothing to achieve that goal. Of course, plenty of people also just have a good work ethic and don't really do what they want to do as well, but when one knows "what

Chinua Achebe, one of Africa's most prolific captures this well in the character of Jonathan Iwegbu in his short story 'Civil Peace'. In the story, Jonathan has survived the Nigerian civil war, along with his wife and three of his four children, yet he faces the uncertain future with optimism. He gives thanks for what he does have (rather than regret what he has lost). He counts all the blessings he has been given, chief among them his family, and after that, his scant material possessions, his bicycle and his home.

He uses these possessions to immediately begin rebuilding his life; the bicycle becomes a taxi, and the house becomes a bar. His taxi service allows him to make money, and within two weeks, he has earned £150.

Jonathan then travels to Enugu, the capital city, and finds to his great surprise and delight his house still standing, even though some nearby structures are reduced to a pile of rubble from the war. The house needs some repair, so Jonathan immediately collects available materials: zinc, wood, and cardboard. He hires a carpenter to complete the work and soon moves his family back home. The entire family works hard to earn money and rebuild their lives.

This is a classic example of an 'achiever mentality'. The achiever needs to be productive, achieve success, and avoid failure. They work hard to receive appreciation for their accomplishments and are usually well liked by others. They are consistent, dependable. You will find them to be optimistic, confident, industrious, efficient, energetic, practical, and self-starters. They project hope, whether it is Jonathan Iwegbu soldiering on with his catchphrase, 'nothing puzzles God' or Barack Obama with his clarion call 'Yes we can'. They are able to recover quickly from any setbacks and to charge ahead to the next challenge. The achiever likes to stay informed and they are very good at motivating people.

Looking at life as achievers do is something each of us could use to better our lives and circumstances. As Dr. Anthony K. Mwami, puts it in his wonderful book 'The alphabet of your life', '... the battles of life are fought in the mind...' He continues to say that poor and non achieving people have a certain way of thinking, while rich and prosperous people also have their way of thinking. There is the achiever mentality and non-achiever mentality.

Dr. Mwami advises that you should specifically know what you want. What kind of house, family, car, e.t.c. Then you should write down a plan of how you are going to get them and include a time line to the plan. Ask yourself how passionate you are to get what you want for it is passion that will drive you to the objective. Next, you should review your plan regularly (put a date to it). Get someone who you can share the plan with so that you can get a different point of view as well as encouragement.

Achievers often know "what" they want to do and will stop at nothing to achieve that goal. Of course, plenty of people also just have a good work ethic and don't really do what they want to do as well, but when one knows "what" they want to do, sometimes the "how" just comes naturally.

As my trainer and friend, Robert Kibaara, would put it, 97 percent of people know what they do not want. They just don't know what they want to do yet and sometimes they never figure it out. Only three percent know what they want. When someone knows what they want to do--and truly wants to pursue that path, they will often find a way to make it happen.

Prosperity is not a game of chance; it is a game of principles. It is the practice of these principles that makes one perfect/prosperous.

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