Thought Leadership

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Learn from others to chart own growth path

“Life is the most difficult exam. Many people fail because they try to copy others, not realising that everyone has a different exam.”

Many of us have icons, in fact legendary icons as our inspiration. We aspire to be like them, think like them, dream like them and want to be them now or in the future. We see their success today and think that walking their path of success can get us there too.

What we sometimes fail to realise is that what they do now isn’t what got them there. There’s a risk you run of copying the wrong things from them. In fact, you cannot compare your beginning with someone else’s middle.

Does that mean we cannot draw inspiration from others, does that mean that we cannot learn from others? No, not really. You can draw inspiration and learn from others if your objective is not to merely copy or compare. Don’t copy or compete with or compare yourself to others.

Their path is not your path, nor should it be. Everyone has a unique gift to offer. Your objective should be to identify what your gift is and walk your own path. Best practices are to be learned, not mimicked. Here are a few tips for you to identify your own unique gift.

Discover yourself:

Whether you are a college-going youth or a small business owner, it is important for you to identify your self, your strengths and weakness. Once you have identified and accepted it, make a conscious effort to be yourself, after all an original copy is always better than a copy.

Don’t be in a rush to compare your life with others. You may have no idea of what they have been through or what they are going through. Instead of focusing on them, focus on yourself, where you are and what you want to be. Define your vision, your brand and build your values based on this.

Don’t let your past decide your future:

Most of us look at our future from the rear view mirror of our past. The challenge with the past defining the future is that you feel constrained. Things that went wrong in the past haunt you and affects your ability to take decisions for the future. Don’t let that happen to you. Stop worrying.

Take lessons from the past, see if you can apply those learnings in the present context, if they do, good for you. If they can’t be applied, keep them in the parking lot and move on. What was applicable then may not be applicable now, so don’t try to judge the current situation based on your past.

Keep looking for what you are good at:

It’s not about who everyone else wants you to be. It’s about being yourself and finding something you love doing as long as you are in the path of progress. Keep identifying what you are good at and put them to use. You may not be good at everything, or you may not be as good as the others are, but that should not define what you can do with your life or business. Look for ways of improving your skill, your strengths.

Go, give yourself some education (not necessarily formal), seek help, get some learning and work on your strengths. Put them to the best use.

Don’t constantly compare:

Stop worrying. Why compare yourself with others? No one in the entire world can do a better job of being you than you. You will never be happy if you constantly strive to be someone else and not your own self. Value the person who you are, your abilities, flaws and purpose.

When you compare yourself with others, you tend to live in their mould. Be careful not to turn others lives into the mould for your own. And the thing about blindly following other people and copying what they do is that you will always end up being one step behind. This constantly puts you under pressure, guilt and sense of failure.

Be in the company of positive people:

There’s nothing better you can do for yourself than avoiding being in the company of negativity. The negativity can be from the company you keep or even within your own head. You can’t hang out with negative people and expect positivity in life. The key to your success lies in keeping company with people who will uplift you.

Mr Sriram is the founder and chief mentor of Kuza Biashara Limited. Sri also chairs Entrepreneurs’ Organisation for Africa. He can be reached @Sbharatam or

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