Past happenings and future tracking

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Welcome to my blog for December 2015. In the month of November I did not post anything for the simple reason that in the previous month (October) I had posted twice. I am mindful of the fact that readers can only read so much and there is a danger of blog fatigue when there is too much writing.

It is the end of the year already….and I have heard it said more than once that this year has flown by very quickly; far too quickly than anyone ever remembers a year going by! This assertion can be true to some and not so true to others in more ways than one. Personally, this year has been quick, quicker than waiting on a child to be born; quicker than I ever remember waiting for exam results. It was quick because I had children in university, at different levels of course, all doing different interesting things and my eldest son got married. When you put all that together, you could say I was in a maze and my focus was to get things through.

The year-end also signifies some accomplishments at various levels so we can look back with some degree of satisfaction.

My topic for this year end is embedded in some topics that I have already discussed before. I hope that by re-presenting these principles we can illustrate actual events. If I achieve in doing that I will be succeeding in getting the messages through. If people can identify even one principle that I have discussed in their everyday events then we are winning. Many a time, certain subjects come across as academic; and can be said to have no bearing on everyday living and therefore one can be accused of being an armchair critic. Whenever there is a chance to illustrate the same to prove its practicality, I will try to do so.

In a few blog entries gone by I discussed the art of decision-making. There are commitments and lifestyle changes attendant to achieving the said decisions. We are all familiar with corporate strategic plan processes and sometimes the hype that accompanies their formulations. I have sat through many performance reviews of such plans. They come with varying degrees of success.

While every decision we make is not a strategic decision, it nevertheless requires of us some fundamental shift in what, where, when and how we do things. It sets in motion a cascade of smaller decisions right down to the smallest decisions that we make. This chain reaction, like the name implies, must be related i.e., the smaller decisions must reinforce the larger motivation and vice versa. Where there are some contradictions, they must be small and temporary so that it does not disrupt the mainstream direction or purpose.

New Years’ resolutions are a typical example. The reason why the failure rate is high could be attributed to the failure to follow up with fundamental shifts in the decision making processes right down the line. In corporate parlance this is called ‘systems failure’ or systems rigidities. Those things which need to be done/ changed require new designs. When new goals are set, it follows that new ways of doing things better and faster must be introduced. It could then mean that structures as they are must be changed. If not, the old system is not made to carry the new demands and failure is almost certain. The changes include new skills, rescheduling, new production regimes new location etc.

Ordinarily, I am not a football fan, but I have been keenly following the fortunes of our national team through the back pages of the newspapers. In 2012 our national football team won the much-coveted Africa Cup. I followed that campaign from the start. The performance initially was not spectacular but as they progressed things got better. The team was beginning to believe that it could actually happen. They reached the finals in 1999, when they lost 2-1 to Nigeria, so reaching the finals was not new for our team. They beat Ivory Coast on penalties and held the Africa Cup as winners. The whole country was in a state of elation.

Everyone forgot the frustrations that we had endured when we were close but not close enough. At the best of times however, it is fair to say our team’s performance is like a seesaw. One time they perform brilliantly another time they leave spectators gnashing their teeth with frustration.

Since that time however, we are back at gnawing of teeth with near misses by the players. 2012 was a fleeting event; a magical but temporary moment. One only has to look at the back pages of our local newspapers. A headline one day is pregnant with high expectation of a walkover/win of another team while the headline the day after is subdued rumblings of disappointment and excuses when the team doesn’t do very well. This has been going on for a good part of this year. Expectation of good performance must be accompanied by action.

A behavioral change can be suggested for the team. I am not by any means suggesting that this does not take place. It starts with scheduling of all the games to be played in a particular time frame. Once this is known, the managers and coaches should sit down and select those that will actually participate in the games. Once that has been done of course the said players are notified.

The managers must budget for all the activities required to prepare the team for play. This includes training, physical exercises, psychological mentoring, coaching, dietary planning everything required to prepare the team for the games. I would imagine that the team must to be aware of the tactics of the opposing team, the key players to look out for and develop mental and play for the game.

I am speculating that, like in strategic planning, everyone who needs to be involved is involved and everyone is aware of the game plan and what is at stake. Once players are in this mode for a considerable length of time, the results should change.

Also implied in this exercise are commitment (giving it all the time that you can get), buy-in (accepting the benchmarks and applying oneself to the cause), discipline (forsaking everything else and doing what is asked of you), application (applying all your strength, and other resources to the game plan) and consistency (doing it continually and making it a life habit). I can imagine that this is what goes on. I am suggesting that if they did more than the call of duty i.e. practicing a number of hours every day, followed the prescribed diet even when there is no game imminent, we will see better results. They will start to beat bigger teams.

I am suggesting that if they maintained a positive regiment over a prolonged period of time before the games, they would have a better chance of beating their opponents. Without attendant lifestyle changes the National soccer team will not be winning the Africa Cup anytime soon.

Reaching the very top of Continental trophies ladder i.e. the Africa Cup is no easy feat for the simple reason that every team is trying their best to win it. We should retrace our steps to identify all those things we did differently; the sort of training and preparation that took place; the mental support dietary regiment and mindset preparation that went on for the team to reach the top. Somebody must recollect the process and be able to replicate it. It definitely was not a fluke. You cannot reach the top by chance. Something happened and somebody should be able to singly or collectively recoup that success. How did it happen?

As we enter the New Year, let us be daring and set new aspirations. These new targets will transform us in a manner that everyone will notice. The targets will focus our energies in different things that we have not encountered before. It will take us to places where we will meet new people doing interesting things.

We may learn a new language, read different books and acquire new information. Can you imagine how life would be different?

Try something new, do something new, keep doing it until you forget what life was like before you made the change.

Happy New Year 2016!



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