The term ‘silver bullet’ originates from old Euro- American beliefs where there was the widespread folk belief that they were the only way of killing werewolves or other supernatural beings.
This was further fuelled by Hollywood. The cowboy series Lone Ranger where Silver bullets fitted well with the masked hero’s miraculous persona.
He typically arrived from nowhere, overcame evil and departed, leaving behind only a silver bullet and echoes of ‘who was that masked man?’
But the ‘silver bullet’ has now been adapted to a more figurative use. We now use it to refer to an action which cuts through complexity and provides an immediate solution to a problem.
The allusion is to a miraculous fix, otherwise portrayed as ‘waving a magic wand’; a direct and effortless solution to a problem that has extreme effectiveness.
The phrase typically appears with an expectation that some new technological development or practice will easily cure a major prevailing problem.
The need for an effective, quick and easy solution to a problem is only human, very human. You cannot really fault one for seeking this, especially in this digital era where things are either switched on or switched off.
However, mental maturity is the recognition of the fact that most problems you will encounter will not be not solvable just like that, ‘pap!’.
This is the difference between adults and children, reality and fiction, the real world and movies and, sorry to add, entrepreneurs and not non-entrepreneurs.
The interesting aspects of all the ‘silver bullet phenomena is that; one, the people with the problem are a helpless bunch at the mercy of the ‘werewolf ‘ (in this case the problem) and are greatly suffering from it.
Two; since they are utterly unable to even attempt a solution, they don’t try solving the same. Three; a hero or heroine come along just in the nick of time and saves the people from the ‘werewolf’.
Four; the problem that seemed huge and insurmountable is solved not only effortlessly but as the Kenyan people say, ‘pap!’ (within the twinkling of an eye). Five; the best part, people live happily forever after. Nice!
Welcome to the world; the real world! The ‘silver bullet’ scenario’s occurrence in the real world is so negligible that we would dare not assign even a tiny fraction of a percentage to it. You may seem helpless and at the mercy of your ‘economic werewolf’.
But this is hardly the case, especially, if you adopt ‘action-oriented thought’. Ask yourself where you could possibly get solutions to your problem (s), how can you go about it? What can you do? This kind of thinking gives you options and guides you towards solution.
Two; you must try and keep trying. You will most probably fail initially but try again. It is said that the secret of success is in trying one more time.
It is very beautiful to see someone who is not overwhelmed by her/his problem and keeps at trying for a solution.
Three; no hero is coming to solve your problems. Most of the time each of us has to solve their own problem(s).
There is a Kiswahili saying; ‘kitanda usichokilalia hujui kunguni wake’ (literally; you cannot tell where the bedbugs are in a bed you have never slept in). You know your problems best, ipso facto you are the best placed person to solve them.
You could get help, but you must surely at the forefront of the search for solutions. It is as simple as that.
Four; contrary to the ‘silver bullet’ scenario solutions do not come pap! You must work consistently and diligently at it, little by little, brick by brick. Japanese call it ‘ a thousand cuts of the samurai’. You make your small ‘cuts’ from now through little by little efforts.
Five; You could live happily forever after. But you could also start living happily forever beginning now beginning to look for solutions to your problem, no? It will give you a sense of empowerment which is very deeply satisfying.
If the problem is here, then the solution is here too. As you await the ‘silver bullet’ you postpone your own progress.
Sam Kebongo teaches entrepreneurship at Rwanda Tourism University College. He also is a Director at Serian Ltd that provides skills and business advisory consultancy services.