Self-Development and Positioning

Leading oneself and the quest for self-development is often a daunting task for most of us. It is fairly difficult to change your perception and the way you view the world. In a previous post, I had alluded to the power of perception and the strategies you could use to change the way you view yourself and others. Indeed, perception is the bedrock of leadership and it really matters that you maintain a good self-image before you attempt to lead others. Not only did I emphasize this point in that specific post, but I had also touched a little bit on the subject in my final conclusion of the book, The Double Win, by Denis Waitley. So, it would be safe for you to think of this as a supplementary post to the blog posts I have just mentioned. We are now moving away from an internal self-image to the application of a very important principle in self-development: Positioning.

Let’s take an Imaginary trip

Imagine if God, assuming that you believe in God, had allowed you to choose what type of family you would like to be born into. Let’s further imagine that he allowed you to choose the color of your skin, your gender, your country, and perhaps the financial status of your family. I can imagine that most of us would probably request a similar thing. We would say I would like to be born as a boy into a white American family with lots of wealth or perhaps as the son of Queen Elizabeth. Now, before you start throwing rocks at me, hold your horses. You see, whether we like to admit it or not, life on earth is tougher for some people than others. For example, women, black people, and other minorities, generally find it tougher to get respect. This is all because of our shared biased history. A lot of countries in Africa find it hard to grasp the concept of a female president and it’s really a painful sight to see. Now, I understand that not all of these assumptions can ring true to everyone because we have different preferences. But given the human tendency to avoid pain and seek pleasure, most of us would likely choose a family similar to what I’ve mentioned.

Anyway, what does this all have to do with self-development? Well, positioning is very important in attaining whatever goal you set your mind to achieve. But it’s also important that you are realistic about how you set your goals. You need to sit down and ask yourself, ‘what is my position in life and what exactly do I have?’ Knowing your limitations is very important. I mean here is a guy from a poor family in a third world country who thinks he will become a billionaire at age 30. What is he thinking? He says it’s because Warren Buffet became a millionaire at 30. I hate to sound pessimistic but chances are that he’s not going to achieve that goal. This is for the simple reason that the circumstances and positioning of life are different. But don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that some poor people from third world countries cannot become millionaires or billionaires at age 30, such people do in fact exist, but they are the exception and not the rule.

Aliko Dangote

According to Forbes, the Nigerian Billionaire, Aliko Dangote, is Africa’s richest man. I took a keen interest in finding out how he came to reach that position. His story is an interesting one. I found out that he started his business from a loan he got from his uncle. Today, this business has grown to be a multi-national conglomerate which generates billions of dollars in revenue each year. I often joke to myself that if I had a rich uncle to whom I could borrow those hefty sums of money, I also could’ve been like the Nigerian Business magnate.

Aliko Dangote was well-positioned to become the man that he is today. I believe there’s still hope for most of us in Africa who may not have been so lucky to believe in our ambitions. I have seen so many people beat themselves over the goals that they did not achieve when they were younger. They often say, “I wish I could have invested in stocks when I was 25, or I wish could have saved more money for the kids.” Such regret hits the soul with the force of a sledgehammer. It’s really heart-breaking and to make matters worse, there’s actually a quote which emphasizes this horror of life: “A man who views the world the same way at age 40 as he did when he was 20, has wasted 20 years of his life.” The inescapable fact is that people change but that doesn’t need to be a source of regret. We just need to learn a little bit more about the power of positioning.

Being realistic is not always a bad thing

When a person is realistic about his expectations and in setting his goals, seeing the importance of positioning becomes fairly easy. If you are from a third world country and a poor family, like me, you have to learn how to put yourself in a position where the possibility of failure is reduced. The ancient Chinese general, Sun Tzu once said that “Hence the skillful fighter puts himself into a position which makes defeat impossible, and does not miss the moment of defeating the enemy.”

Sun Tzu, arguably the greatest military strategist to ever have lived