A friend of mine has the most amusing answer to the question “how are you”. He always replies, “just like I was yesterday. Nothing ever changes – why should I be any different”?
I wonder how many of us agree with his statement. It seems pretty accurate, doesn’t it? Things don’t really change much in this life. Those who are born rich often die rich; those who are born poor usually die poor. Most people pursue the same profession all their lives. Many workers begin and end their careers with the same employer.
People don’t tend to change their religion, football team or political views that easily. Heck, most people don’t even change their dress sense at any point during their lifetime. My father still has the same hairstyle he used to have when I was ten years old! Even in this super-evolving technology age we claim to be living in today, the one thing we find hardest to do, is to stop doing something we are used to, and try something we’re unsure of.
Now, that explains a lot. It explains why most people have big dreams as children, but end up abandoning them in adulthood to do whatever job is available, as long as it pays the bills. It explains why we discourage our children from getting too excited about careers we ourselves could not even dream of. It explains why we laugh when our watchman tells us he wants to be an MP one day.
We know life follows a pattern – a routine – and people hardly ever break the pattern or deviate from the routine. Like my friend says, “nothing ever changes”. So indeed, why should you or your child or your watchman be any different?
My father and I have had some interesting debates about evolution. One of the reasons why some people find it so hard to accept the theory, is that evolution, as Darwin proposes, happens too slowly for us to observe it. If indeed we evolved from apes as Darwin suggests, then it happened over millions of years. Some even believe that we are still evolving, and another million years from now, we will be very different indeed. Now, whether this is true or not, it does illustrate the fact that some change happens very slowly. I don’t personally recall ever waking up one day in my life and feeling that I had grown taller overnight, and yet, here I am today, several feet taller than I was as a child.
You see, the most off-putting thing about change is that it takes time to see the results. You don’t get a six-pack the first day you go to the gym. You don’t learn how to play the piano in one lesson. You don’t become smarter after reading page one. You don’t become a superstar your first day on set. You don’t build an empire on your first day of business. It takes slow, painstaking progress to change the world, and not everyone is cut out for it.
Doing something different is a risk, you see. You might fail, you might look stupid, people might laugh at you, and on top of all that, it will take so long to see the results that it will almost be as if you’re doing nothing. So why not play it safe and actually do nothing? Why not stick to what we know? Why not stick to the routine? Now, that line of thinking is why 95% of us won’t make much of a difference to the world in our lifetimes. Sad but true.
If you’re reading this and thinking, “well, I’m happy to be in the majority”, then don’t even stress, my friend. The routine life is perfect for you. This is the best you will ever be. You have already hit your goal. But if you want to be part of the 5% that changes the world and makes the other 95% feel glad you were born, then you must rage against the routine. You must be allergic to normal. You must be willing to do something different – and keep doing it every day until you see results. You must be prepared to do more than everyone else in order to be more than everyone else.
If the world wakes up at five, just like you, then be up at four. If others save 5% after tax, just like you, then save 10%. If others sell a quality product, just like you, then add a quality service. If everyone follows a formula, then you must be willing to try something new. If everyone is confined by their colleagues’ or predecessors’ performance, then you must be eager to test the boundaries. You must be more, see more, learn more, earn more, give more, and live more, if you want to leave a mark on this earth.
If you want it to matter that you were born, then the norm is your enemy. A routine life is your nemesis. Rage against normal, and win. That’s how you leave a mark.
My name is Kojo Yankson, and I must be different to make a difference.
GOOD MORNING, GHANAFO!