If you like the rose, you must like its thorns!

We all love Roses; at least most of us do, if the sales of roses on Valentine’s Day are anything to go by. But even the best roses have thorns, prickly thorns. These thorns are an essential part of the roses that lend them both beauty and authenticity.

We all love Roses; at least most of us do, if the sales of roses on Valentine’s Day are anything to go by. But even the best roses have thorns, prickly thorns. These thorns are an essential part of the roses that lend them both beauty and authenticity.

Father Dennis Pam, a Catholic priest in Kigali used this imagery in his homily (sermon) last Sunday.

He ‘accidentally’ touched on a matter central to every entrepreneur and other people with entrepreneurial mindset: That life has its challenges; they must be expected and overcome.

We must not delude ourselves that for one reason or another, we will never encounter any problems.

Rather, we should be positive and prepared for them with an intention of solving them. The good priest may have been preaching to Catholics, but the audience on that day could as well been every right thinking human.

How we look at and handle problems is a very insightful indicator to who each one of us is. More importantly it is the one thing that will determine how successful one is going to be.

After all, isn’t success just an aggregate of problems solved?

If you have a goal you will have obstacles. This is true even in folklore. Obstacles come in the form of problems in our way.

The beauty of obstacles is that they prove that you have a goal. They can only exist if you have a goal.

Typically, obstacle takes the form of fear. We fear to start a business because we feel that we lack adequate financial resources.

Granted, the financial resources may be inadequate, but the typical scenario is that most of us will not know how much we need because we do not calculate how much is needed.

We do not calculate because we fear that it will be too much to look for. Just the opposite! When we do not calculate the figure seems indeterminate, ad infinitum! Remember we are taught know that infinity is the biggest figure there can be.

The same reasoning applies to all other fears and inadequacies we have be it, fear of potential for financial loss, career risk among others.

The logical thing to do is to focus on and refine the goal. This focus should include elements of time and space, that is, if you cannot do something now, it is possible that you can do it tomorrow, or next year no?

Focus on the goal instead of the obstacle forces you to think of how you will overcome the obstacle in your path. This makes you ‘formulate the problem’. What exactly is the obstacle?

What is the extent of potential loss that you can suffer due to this obstacle? What can you do to overcome the obstacle? What are the alternatives? Where can you get help? Who can help?

In what form is the help? How can you solve the problem and overcome this obstacle? How long will it take?

You will notice that the above questions are action-oriented. Asking yourself such questions forces your mind into ‘action’ mode or as experts say ‘growth and expansion’ mode.

This is the opposite fear with ‘freezes’ thinking with panic and puts you in a ‘fight and flight’ mode. It is indeed a very uncomfortable position.

The key thing, as the good priest put it, is that whether you embrace entrepreneurial mindset or not, problems are part of life and always will be.

To expect life without problems like a student expecting to go through school without sitting exams. Of course just like students would rather not face exams, we would rather not have problems.

Likewise like good students prepare for their exams, we must do the same with our problems and obstacles. To do otherwise is to postpone your 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.

sam.kebongo@gmail.com

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