In Game Changers, Raymond presents his ground breaking philosophy on the art of changing the game. He also uses his personal experience to illustrate how this approach helped him win victory out of crushing defeat. Skilfully weaving his theory through business, academia, sport, religion, politics, nature and even cosmology, he makes a compelling case for the need to leave a legacy. Raymond pays homage to the current rising of Africa to take its rightful place on the global stage by dedicating the last chapter of this book to the African Transformation cause and the change agents driving it. This book is a must for every aspiring game changer.
I want to suggest that you pose a few questions to yourself and answer them honestly in the spirit of a true game changer. Ultimately, it was those questions that galvanized me into making this change. They prepared me psychologically and mentally to seize the opportunity when it presented itself.
Question 1. What can I be the best at? Honestly, in your current career, can you reach your full potential or you are just there for the money? Granted sometimes we all have to “job” but at some point we have to start living out our true dreams and true selves. I knew I was a good strategist in my day to day dealings so I put down “Strategy”.
Question 2. What kind of environment brings out the best in me? Are you comfortable with rules, regulations and generally structured environments or you like freedom and working towards a defined goal within a specific time period? This question is important because it will tell you whether you are in the right job or not. I answered that I like to work towards definite goals with the expectation of huge payouts.
Question 3. What are my 4 greatest strengths? Remember my article, “Know thyself”? I concluded that I was a visionary, a strategist, a people person who, because of my prior training at school and on the analytical jobs, could also function in a technical environment. A picture was emerging.
Question 4. What 4 words describe me? This one is not so different from the one above but for good measure I included it to make sure we capture your very essence.
Question 5. What am I not? This is a crucial question because as much as it is important to seize the right opportunities when they present themselves, it is also important to avoid the wrong ones that end up leading you in circles. And if you do decide to seize them, you will know your limitations and prepare a backup plan for them. I reasoned that I was not a natural analyst; neither was I a natural dependant on people. I accept help but try my best to wean myself as soon as possible.
Question 6. What is currently distorted about my career? As the picture continues to form this question becomes easier to answer. For me the distortion was that I was in a completely technical role within a people oriented organization and that just amplified my feelings of being alineated. I determined that I had to change this and started looking for other opportunities, even within the organization.
Question 7. What drives me the most? Is it recognition, money, admiration, etc? For me it was admiration from my family first and then the desire to be wealthy. This answer surprised me because I expected it to be money but when I really searched my heart I realized that everything I have done I have done it because I want my family to be proud of me. And yes, I still think I am very mature!
Question 8. What motivates me the most? As opposed to what drive me the most, this question is more a pull factor than a push factor. In other words, even if there were no pressure, what is that one thing that would still have you leap to your feet and do it all over again? I answered “Seeing goals accomplished, admiration (once again), success, acknowledgement.”
Question 9. What do I like doing? This question is the beginning of the conclusion and we are getting into details. Fine, you now know yourself very well psychologically, emotionally and intellectually but at the end of the day, what do you really like to do? What are those things that give you pleasure. My answer? Creative art, travelling, motivating, networking, strategizing, doing deals and making things happen.
Question 10. What is my passion(s)? This is also for good measure but indulge yourself and ask it anyway. You will begin to see a pattern forming. For me it was once again doing business and strategizing.
Question 11. What is my ultimate career goal and purpose? Having taken time to answer all the other questions, I found that it was much easier to know what it was I really wanted to do with my life. I then answered that I wanted to be a successful entrepreneur and investor. I wanted to become a financial parent to other people who would in turn feed their own families.
Question 12. What should I stop doing? So you now know what your career goal is. You know your strengths, you know your weaknesses, you know what you like doing. The question is what are you doing now that is not bringing you closer to your goal? For me I realized I was wasting my time pursuing an Honours in Statistics. Rather, I had to focus on business studies.
Lastly Question 13. How can I channel my findings into my vision and career? This is the moment of truth. What are you going to do about what you now know? Are you going to take a calculated risk in pursuit of being a true game changer or you will remain playing in a game you know you will never be your best. That is the decision we all have to make. And here is what I wrote: “1. Join a new company in their business development department. 2. Begin looking for entrepreneurial projects that I can pursue full time. 3. Pursue an MBA since I need a business qualification to be taken seriously.”
This is my story and is not for you to duplicate. I am doing my bit to change the entrepreneurial game because that is where my calling is. Answering these questions resulted in me making a life changing career transition.
So sit down, think hard, make some decisions and go change the game!
Having taken a hiatus from writing, I am more than delighted to start writing again on my favourite topic, Game Changers.
The question is why did I take a hiatus? And the answer is very simple. To implement my own advice.
Having grown up in a country obsessed with academic excellence at the expense of entrepreneurship, I pursued what are termed “Sciences” from secondary to high school because I was told that was where the money was.
I was to become a doctor, computer engineer, pharmacist or some other such fancy professional.
From the time I took Math, Biology and Chemistry at advanced level, at the back of my mind I always knew I was not very passionate about sciences and they were also not my best subjects despite getting distinctions.
I went to university and majored in Mathematics and Statistics. My period at university was one of the longest and trying times of my life. I hated school because I was not passionate about sciences.
After graduation, I joined a bank that gave me my first break from sciences as a money market dealer. I dealt with people, made deals, looked for new business and discovered I thoroughly enjoyed this. At that point I became so glad I did not end up an actuary; I wouldn’t have been able to function. I got another job in business development and financial advisory and wondered why I had not studied business instead of sciences. I thoroughly loved my job. And at that moment I knew what I wanted to do with my career; it was nothing to do with the sciences and figures I spent years perfecting.
I tried to do what society told me to do but eventually decided to become true to myself.
Next, I moved countries and ended up in data analytics. The next job was in business analytics with a strong emphasis on IT. I only took these jobs because they were available though I knew that was not what I wanted to do. Coincidentally, I studied Investment Analysis and Portfolio Management and thoroughly enjoyed it because I could see its applicability in the business world.
Soon after, I thought that since I wanted to get ahead fast, I had to build on my first degree and I enrolled for an Honours in Statistics. I didn’t last a term because more than ever I realized this route would not in any way bring me closer to my goals, by which time I had clearly defined. That’s when I decided that I would pursue an MBA instead because I had purposed that I wanted to go into business.
Let me draw your attention to the last job I held before moving into business and entrepreneurship. I learnt a lot as far as business intelligence was concerned and have gone on to use that knowledge as an entrepreneur but I also realized that I was not going to survive in IT for long. That was when I gave a friend of mine, who is also an entrepreneur, a call and asked him what opportunities he had in his companies.
Specifically I told him that I wanted to move away from strict analytics to entrepreneurship and business development. I was in luck as he was starting a new company and wanted someone to oversee it. I jumped at the opportunity and found myself finally combining my learned skills at school, on the job and my natural talents to build the business. And I have never regretted this move.
I have learnt so much and wouldn’t trade what I am doing as a business manager and entrepreneur for anything else even if they offered me more money. I am satisfied, learning what I love and see myself opening my own business using these skills that I have learnt. And I have already identified a lucrative opportunity.
Now if you read my earlier writings in this series, you will notice that I have been encouraging people to move into a field they know for sure they can be game changers. Identify the game you want to change, go in there and change it.
We have all heard of the term Pty Ltd. It refers to companies. And I want to propose that in order to know ourselves better and change the game more effectively we need to model our lives as a company, complete with departments, mission statements, visions and more. And this company will be called Self Pty.
Firstly, let’s explore a few concepts. Talents are gifts that you are born with and then develop so that you can make your mark on earth but the main reason for talents, in my opinion, is to be a source of income. By developing and using your talents, you can sustain yourself through your days on earth. Just think of academically gifted individuals, soccer stars, musicians, writers and the like. They are using their talents to sustain themselves. Without any talent that you can explore, life can be unbearably difficult.
Skills on the other hand are acquired and usually to compliment talents in sustaining oneself. Education, training, mentorship and many other methods are there to equip us with the skills we need to make it through life successfully. Reading is not a talent; it’s a skill. Normal talking is a learnt skill as are gardening, exercising and the like.
Passions are not talents and neither are they skills. Passions are what ignite the heart with energy. By our very nature as human beings, we are driven by emotion rather than thought, most of the time. This is in contrast to skills and talents which are technical in nature. They might ignite passion and warm emotions in those that watch or participate but their very nature is technical.
There is one major challenge presented in all this. What if you are talented in one area but your passions lie elsewhere? In other words, what if your talents and passions do not intersect? You maybe gifted in mathematics but what you really want to pursue is soccer. You try soccer and find that while at mathematics you excelled with ease, in soccer, because of a combination of factors like speed, height, strength, etc, you can only be average. What do you do? Honestly, I also do not know but I hope this helps you think deeper as you develop Self Pty.
Here is one more for you. How many people do you know who are so passionate about singing but after they finish their song people thank them for a fantastic speech?
What this says though, is that we need to understand what our talents are, what our skills are and what our passions are. We then need to find areas that we are passionate about and that are also supported by our talents. If you are passionate about soccer, decide to try it and find that you are gifted, you will discover no greater joy. But how will you know unless you try?
Once you have figured out your talents, your passions and assessed you circumstances there is one thing I believe you should do. You need to add purpose or vision to the mix. If you are just a talented and passionate footballer who plays for the love of the game, you will not make money unless you purpose that you want to play in a lucrative league and become the best.
So purpose comes in to give direction to your talents, passions and energy so that you actually produce something beneficial to you and those around you. Purpose is not limited to financial rewards. It may also lead to political change. Barack Obama is a gifted speaker, has immense energy and a very keen intellect but deep in his heart, he has always wanted to change the world. And he noticed that the quickest and most effective way to do so was to get political power. He then set his eyes on the highest office in the land. His purpose was not the Oval office; it was to change the world. The office is a mere tool for his purpose as are his talents and passions.
Purpose gives you a definite direction in life and represents what you want to accomplish. It defines the kind of game changer you are. Circumstances will not change your direction, which is determined by your purpose and supported by your talents and passions.
In conclusion, I leave you with this equation for Self Pty:
Talents (yours and others’) + Passion + Purpose = Productivity
“Do what you have to do in order to do what you want to do.” Forrest Whitaker
“What we hope ever to do with ease, we must first learn to do with diligence.” Samuel L. Jackson
Knowing oneself is a lifetime process but there are things the game changer needs to know about himself or herself while the opportunity to change the game is still available. And the starting point is asking questions. The right questions.
“What do I want to do? Why do I want to do it? Where do I want to do it? What do I need to do in order to do what I want to do? How much am I prepared to sacrifice to change the game?”
“What decides the game I am going to change? Is it talent, passion, circumstances, opportunity or all of the above?”
In other words, do you want to do want you want to do because you are talented at it or because it’s your passion? Is this distinction important?
Should you create room for your talent or rather for your passion? How do you create room for either? What if your talents and passions do not coincide?
What is the difference between talent and passion?
In a world that is obsessed with labeling everything, how are you going to utilize all your abilities and drive without succumbing to stereotypes or strait jackets? I especially included this question because of the current strong wave of personal branding, which in essence says just the mention of your name should conjure a certain image that you have become associated with. You then use the power and influence of that image to change the game.
These questions form the basis of Game Changers V.
“Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein.
So you have now made up your mind that you want to be a game changer. You have been inspired by all the great men and women who have gone before you; some in past generations, others in your own and yet others in the younger generation.
You have identified the league in which you are going to play, have determined in your heart that you will not accept the status quo and are prepared to fight to the very end to change the game. This is it. You have purposed in your heart that come rain, come thunder you will change the game for your own benefit.
Well done for identifying your league, your game, your opponents and still deciding to change the game! Except there is one enemy you never saw coming. The one within! And I will give you the name of that enemy. Success.
Man has been known to subdue cities and nations, to navigate treacherous waters and to tame vicious beasts but taming and controlling oneself has been the toughest battle of all.
As we begin to change the game and are initially buoyed by success, there is always a danger that the once lofty targets and visions we set for ourselves begin to look unnecessary because we are now comfortable. The drive to fight and change the game begins to fade once we have started reaping the harvests of earlier efforts. All of a sudden we begin to be philosophical. And in no area is this more obvious than in love and politics.
“I mean, I have done my part haven’t I? I have fought my way from destitution into relative prosperity so even if I don’t get to own the business empire I initially dreamed of, it wouldn’t be a train smash now, would it? I even give money to beggars by the traffic lights.”
Now if our employers had reasoned like that, where would we be? What about the hundreds and thousands of people that were going to benefit from our empire, to feed their families and make their own dreams come true? It is true; good is the enemy of great. Once we slip into this mentality we have entered our comfort zone.
The difference is in your attitude when you set out to change the game. If you just WANTED to change the game, you were never going to complete the change but if you felt deep down that you HAD to change the game then success, resistance and even your own habits would have no power to stop you. That explains why people have chosen death over life when it came to their cause.
If they just WANTED to change the game, they would say, “ Come on guys, isn’t there another way to work this out?”, but if they were GIVEN to their cause they would, like Nelson Mandela, say “Equality is an ideal for which…if needs be I am prepared to die.” That is the spirit of a true game changer!
I have a question for you. How important is your vision to you? Is it something you WANT to do and therefore can drop at any time, or something you feel you MUST do, like an obligation to yourself, your family and humanity. Do you feel that failure to accomplish it is not an option as long as you have breath in you? If the answer to the question above is negative, or unclear to you, you need to go back to the drawing board.
To avoid slipping into the comfort zone, where there are no risks and change is no longer welcome because we have security, we need a higher reason to change the game outside of personal benefit, otherwise once our own desires have been fulfilled we will relax.
And humanity would have lost another hero.
One of the most thought provoking quotes I have ever heard reads as follows, “It is not in the nature of the oppressor to give the oppressed freedom. Rather, the oppressed must demand their freedom.”
Then in Physics I learnt about the Laws of Friction, one of which states, “To every movement, there is an equal and opposing force.” This implies that for movement to occur, the force in the intended direction of movement must be greater than the resisting force of friction.
In church I heard, “Unless your righteousness is greater than that of the Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven”
Lastly, I give you the famous one, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight that matters, but the size of the fight in the dog that matters.”
Can you see a pattern forming here? I can clearly see a pattern which I have named The Greater Than Principle. And a game changer needs to master The Greater Than Principle.
In the original Game Changers article, I pointed out two of the hallmarks of a game changer, namely, refusal to accept the status quo and a dogged determination to change it once they are convinced they are onto something. But what I forgot to mention is that in the course of the game, change will not be handed to you on a silver platter; it will be contested, and sometimes to the death.
It is a natural law. Change is so crucial that it will be heavily contested. And by us choosing to be game changers, we put ourselves in a spot where we become prime targets for resistance. This is just a natural law, so do not take it personally when, as you embark on your project to bring change in your league, you face resistance from people, circumstances and even luck!
The issue is not whether or not you will face challenges as you attempt to change your game; that’s a given. The issue is, is your fight greater than the fight coming against you? This is where the men are separated from the boys. We call it staying power. We can all talk and even roll our sleeves to start on an ambitious project to change the game but few will eventually follow through to the end and harvest the rewards. No wonder then most people in life are perfect averages; it is tough being a game changer. Only game changers alter the course of events decisively.
See, it’s very interesting to note that after embarking on the journey of changing the game with much pomp and flair, when we get discouraged by circumstances and people, we become bitter and then feel like the world owes us something. We reason that what we are doing will benefit humanity after all, so why can’t it be easier for us to just set things in motion and change the game smoothly?
Oh but we forget that change will be contested. Something priced will always be contested, be it money, power, a life partner, a dream job or whatever else we can think of. But when the going gets tough, the true game changers get going! Bon Voyage!