By: Dr. Dennis Sempebwa
The Zulu People of South Africa have a proverb that says, “An Eye Crosses A Full River.” I have always thought about this proverb at the various stages of my journey. Before I can cross over the numerous obstacles that have attempted to withstand me, I dedicate focused time to look through the fog and see the other side.
As we ponder this powerful subject of the Next Level this month, kindly allow me to pose the question: Do you see it? Here is a fact: Everyone who has ever achieved anything of significance in life has pictured himself or herself there before getting there, regardless of how poor, uneducated or underprivileged they were. They saw the finish line and heard the cheers while still running the race. They see it – the other side, the next level!
There are three distinct kinds of people:
1. Carefree Charlie
Remember the old song by Doris Day back in the day… Que Sera, Sera, Whatever will be, will be, The future’s not ours to see, Que Sera, Sera. It was a smash hit, even back in Africa, mainly because besides the infectious melody, millions of people identified with those lyrics.
Meet Carefree Charlie. He is a simple guy. He doesn’t like to take time thinking about how he is actually going to walk out his life. He is too consumed with today, just happy to go wherever the winds of life blow, following crowds, and embracing every new fad. He generally tries to fit in with every other Joe on the block. He is carefree!
Tragically, Carefree Charlie’s usually end their lives without ever realizing their God-given potential. Dwight Eisenhower made this powerful statement: “We succeed only as we identify in life, or in war, or in anything else, a single overriding objective, and make all other considerations bend to that one objective.”
I must admit that life is much easier for Carefree Charlie’s. Yes, it’s much simpler to go with the flow. I like to say it this way: If you aim to shoot at nothing, you cannot miss. Successful people don’t merely “go with the flow”, as the cliché goes. In fact, most of them go against it. They look ahead. They prepare. They constantly look for the next level.
2. Busy Benny
Rather than just sitting by and doing nothing, Busy Benny lives on the other side of the pendulum. He grabs at everything around him. He changes jobs like dress shirts. He church-hops and has very shallow short-lived relationships because he doesn’t stay anywhere long enough to build them. Benny is busy, but not necessarily productive. He is active, but hardly effective.
Friend, just because your company or organization is buzzing doesn’t necessarily mean that you are productive.
Zig Ziglar tells a story about a French naturalist John Henry Fabre who arranged Processional Caterpillars in a circle around the rim of a flowerpot so that the lead caterpillar actually touched the last one, making a complete circle. In the center of the flowerpot he put pine needles, which is their food. The caterpillars started around this circular flowerpot. Around and around the pot they went, hour after hour, day after day, for seven full days and night! Finally, they dropped dead from starvation and exhaustion. These poor caterpillars starved to death with an abundance of food less than six inches away, simply because they confused activity with accomplishment. Principle: Activity does not always equal accomplishment.
I remember when I first met one of my mentors, Dr. Myles Munroe. As first thing he asked, “So exactly where do you see yourself in 10 years?” I was frustrated. Who ever plans that far out? I wanted to show him my biography and let him know what my buddies and I had accomplished. Clearly had no clue. Papa was asking if I had a snapshot of my next level. Ponder this thought: The Aimless person also has an aim, and is successful in his pursuit of it.
3. Purposeful Peter
The 3rd kind of person I call Purposeful Peter. As I pondered Dr. Munroe’s question, I began open my eyes to my next level. I wrote down as much and as clearly as I could SEE! Every day, I put that paper in front of me, looked at it, and prayed over it. Whenever an opportunity presented itself, I asked if pursuing it would lift me up to my next level, or not. Unbeknown to me, I had stumbled upon one of the most powerful principles of success.
In conclusion, here are 6 steps to help you crystalize your next level
1. Assess Your Current State: Most of us are either in denial about how bad things really are, or keep exaggerating our accomplishments. We cannot fix what we don’t look at.
2. Dream Big: A dream is a snapshot of the future – your tomorrow! You must see yourselves at the top, because it is impossible for you to perform in a manner that is inconsistent with the way you see yourselves.
3. Set Goals: Goals I like magnets. They attract your dream. They dictate what you give time and resources to. Set growth goals, social goals, economic goals, physical goals, spiritual goals, and so on. This is the only way to enjoy a balanced ride to the top!
4. Count The cost: What are you willing to trade to go up to the next level? What relationships will you let go; what vacation will you forego; which comforts are you willing to roll back? Make no mistake, this will you something!
5. Equip Yourself: It’s one thing desiring to go up, and a whole another thing actually planning for it. One takes imagination; the other takes faith! I often say that a dream without a plan soon becomes a nightmare. You might need to take a training course, to find a mentor or to get back school.
6. Set timelines: Your next level will cost us the currency of time. Set clear timelines. This shows how serious you are. I’m flabbergasted when CEO’s of large corporation tell me about their 50-year goals. Some Asian companies actually have 200-year goals. Where do you see yourself in, 2 maybe 5 years from now? Set some timelines. Will you always hit them? No, but like I always say, don’t be shocked if you miss a shot you never took. One surefire way of completely missing your target is not firing the shot.
The Bible says “The wise look ahead to see what’s coming, but fools deceive themselves” (Proverbs 14:8). May you garner up the courage to open your eyes and boldly look into tomorrow; into your next level. And like Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The World Makes Way For The Man Who Knows Where He Is Going.”