Joshua was an amazing general and leader of his people. One of my favorite quotes from him is something I say whenever I have to do something new: “Now pay attention, because we have never been this way before.”
Simple words, but full of wisdom. There are many situations in life in which we find ourselves doing something new. This is when we must pay real attention.
Maybe you’ve just been promoted to supervisor, manager, or even CEO. You might even have just become a member of Parliament or a Minister of Government for the first time: #Pay attention, because you have not been this way before.
Perhaps you have been asked to serve on the board of an organisation or a company: #Pay attention, because you have not been this way before.
Then again you might be about to leave your job to start a business as an entrepreneur: #Pay attention, because you have not been this way before!
People who go into something for the first time without the humility to admit that it’s new, and that it requires learning the ropes, often pay a terrible price. In the process, they sometimes inflict suffering on themselves, the business (or government or NGO), and even those who follow them.
The Tentmaker said: “Don’t be like them.”
A friend of mine was a senior executive in a global company for many years. When he decided it was time to start his own business, he passed by my office to announce his plans.
“I think those are great ideas, but why don’t you do a short course at a local college or online on entrepreneurship first,” I suggested.
“My friend, I have been running large international businesses. Entrepreneurship courses are for kids!” He replied with obvious indignation. I shut my mouth.
Not long after, I sadly learnt that he had started something that failed dismally.
The other day, I learnt that one of the greatest football players had enrolled in a course to get a coaching certificate. When asked why he felt he needed such a course, he replied: “I was a player not a coach. As a player, I saw things as a player, not as the coach. Now I want to see as a coach.”
__This is the attitude you must always have.
Finally, don’t measure yourself against others by saying things like, “If so and so can do it, I can do it, too. After all, he was not so smart at school.”
That is the talk of someone who is not wise.
You can become a great entrepreneur. But first go invest in learning everything you can about it. Take some courses. Join associations and clubs of entrepreneurs. Read their magazines and newspapers. Immerse yourself in understanding how an entrepreneur thinks, and reacts. Read books about or written by entrepreneurs. Attend conferences. Learn their language. Spend more time with them, every day. That is how you pay attention.
When you’re about to go somewhere you’ve never been before, study the terrain carefully. Even if you plan to chart a whole new course, learn all you can from the maps and the mapmakers that have gone before you.
Strive Masiyiwa is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet, a diversified global telecommunications group with operations and investments in over 15 countries. His business interests also include renewable energy, financial services, media and hospitality. Masiyiwa serves on a number of international boards, including Unilever, Rockefeller Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Advisory Board, the Africa Progress Panel, the UN Secretary General's Advisory Board for Sustainable Energy, Morehouse College, Hilton Foundation's Humanitarian Prize Jury and the Kenjin-Tatsujin International Advisory Council. He is one of the founders, with Sir Richard Branson, of the global think tank, the Carbon War Room, and a founding member of the Global Business Coalition on Education. Masiyiwa took over the Chairmanship of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) from Kofi Annan. He is also Chair of the Micronutrient Initiative, a global organization focused on ending child hunger and improving nutrition. In 2012, Masiyiwa was invited by President Obama to address leaders at the Camp David G-8 Summit on how to increase food production and end hunger in parts of Africa. In 2014, Masiyiwa was selected to Fortune Magazine’s list of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders”. As a philanthropist, he is a member of the Giving Pledge, and his contributions to education, health and development have been widely recognized. Masiyiwa and his wife finance the Higher Life Foundation, which provides scholarships to over 42,000 African orphans. In 2015, he was the recipient of the International Rescue Committee’s Freedom Award and was presented with a UN Foundation Global Leadership Award for the work of the Africa Against Ebola Solidarity Trust, which he chairs and helped establish to fund the deployment of African healthcare workers to combat the outbreak in West Africa.View all posts by Strive Masiyiwa