“If it’s not done, it’s not done!” That was a phrase my ex-business partner used to say when things had not been done as per prior agreement. Basically, what it meant was if you make a plan to do or achieve something, it does not matter what you say or excuses you make, the fact still remains that it still is not done.
“Education is the key to development”; or at least that is the mantra that has been said over and over again for Africans. And so we have invested a lot into schools, universities and colleges. And yet, for all the education that people in Zimbabwe have, the economy continues to decline and companies shutting down. Surely education should have capacitated us to achieve the development we planned on. But instead the opposite is happening. Why is that?
I agree that education is an important component for development. But from the evidence, education alone does not work. So if education alone does not provide the capacity for us to achieve our objectives, what else will give us full capacity to get things done? For decades Africans have made grand plans which sound good when spoken out loud or look brilliant on paper, but ultimately were never fulfilled. Plans like the creation of jobs, the supply of housing, clean water, power, the eradication of diseases and so on are never fulfilled. But it isn’t just the governments guilty of this practice, even private businesses, NGOs and between friends and family, agreements are going unfulfilled and objectives not achieved.
The conclusion is Africans don’t achieve what they set out to achieve because of inadequate capacity. That simply means we do not have an ability to do i.e get things actioned, finished and concluded in the manner as initially planned. There are many definitions of the word Capacity, but the one I use for the sake of this discourse is “the ability to do.” Simply put, if something is done and completed as intended, then whoever did it had the capacity to ‘do it’. So if as Africans, have a culture of making plans, setting objectives and actually never do or attain the intended objective, then we have no capacity. B. WHAT MAKES UP CAPACITY
What else, other than education is needed to have full capacity? My research over years came to the conclusion that there are 5 elements for someone to have full capacity in getting things done. These elements are;
- Natural Capacity
- Belief/Faith Capacity
- Knowledge Capacity
- Experience Capacity
- Self Honesty Capacity
B1. Natural Capacity
When a young child begins school, there is always a time they are taken out into the field for sport.
The first thing they are usually made to do is to line up, boys against boys and girls against girls. They
are then told to race from that point to another point to see who is fastest. This is a common thing
the world over, from poor communities to the richest. Remember, these children would not have
had any training or any prior instructions on how to race. They are just expected to know how to
run. And as happens in each and every one of these instances, there are those who are naturally
fast, and those who are not. Its basic, it’s natural, it’s talent!
The fact is doing something very well needs to be grounded in talent. Please note, a profession is
not a talent. To be the best at anything you need to have a certain level of talent. To put it in context
of the race for young kids, those who are naturally fast already have a competitive advantage. You
might as well have placed the naturally fast kids in front for some meters and say this is a fair race.
Though most things in life are not so easy to visualise like a running race, the same concept applies.
It applies to countries, communities; it applies in different sectors and it definitely applies to getting
things done in a working environment.
Passion gives perseverance in the face of challenges. You can have talent with no passion, and
passion with no talent. Sport is a good example of this reality. Take soccer for example, one can have
such indepth love and knowledge of soccer, but you could still be the worst soccer player in the
world if you get on the pitch. That is passion with no talent. Or you can have the natural skills but
won’t train or put in the effort to be the best, that is talent without passion. Many a natural talent
have never succeeded in sport as they did not have the passion to work hard enough for them
succeed. So though you might be talented at something, it does not mean it is something you will do
well in; you need the talent to go together with the passion.
And how do you find out if you have passion. Well, in any endeavour in life you will encounter
obstacles. A good measuring stick is how you view that obstacle when it arises. View it as a problem,
no passion; view it as a challenge, passion. Another measuring stick is what makes you pause and
take notice of certain things. For example, if you are scrolling through TV channels, what kind of TV
programs make you stop and put down the remote so that you can watch. What kind of topics do
you like debating about, offering opinions on etc. The expression I like to use is “what lights you up?”
Part of this portion of your natural ability can also be part of talent. However there are certain things
that need certain character traits to succeed. The thing though with temperament is that a lot of it
can be learned; traits such as patience, perseverance etc. But some things also come natural to some
people. Some people can have a natural patience, a natural calm, others a natural ability to deal well
with pressure. That’s temperament. Always examine yourself to see the situations where you
naturally thrive without having to change drastically who you are.
B2. Belief Capacity
Any major achievement takes years to achieve. Along that journey will be obstacles, the temptation
to quit, try something else and so forth. If you are not deeply committed to where you are going,
you will abandon the journey. What you need on that journey is belief. Why? Because belief is the
thing that propels you to keep going in the face of adversity or ‘failure’. Your actions are initiated
and driven by the hope of things not yet seen, but solidly believed that they will come to be.
Therefore, for one to show they truly have belief in their talent, they must act upon it. You must act
with boldness and a drive that you will continue even if you have doubts.
That capacity to stay with faith in yourself and what your God given natural capacity can produce is
key to how things will work out for you.
B3. Knowledge Capacity
In the olden days, an older hunter taught a young man how to hunt. A farmer taught his children
how to farm. As time progressed, teaching someone became more formalised and the education
system as we know it today evolved. But the system we use in Africa was not developed
by us, but by the Western World with focus on their development. It evolved in order for them to
meet their objectives. The question for us Africans is, ‘what are our objectives and how do we
educate our people so that we can achieve our objectives? ‘
Education therefore is a tool, not a product. But somehow we Africans have turned it into a product
whereby the qualification is the end target, not the knowledge contained within. So we have ended
up with people who are qualified but not educated. They achieve but don’t become. Learning so that
they could do things better is not their core intention, and so we should not be surprised when our
educated Zimbabweans cannot actually do anything with a positive result. In other words, they lack
Once you know where your talents lie and you start on that road out of belief that that is your
destiny, expand your knowledge on how to do. Get the education on the things you are talented at
so that you can expand your capacity. Expand your ability to achieve your objectives.
The only way you can know if you can achieve set targets is to test yourself. And the way to test
oneself is to set targets with timelines and then act to complete them. Don’t worry, depending on
what it is and how complex it is, the initial results will probably not be very encouraging. But this is
where belief comes in. If you believe that this is your talent and you can do it well, keep striving and
try to find ways to improve yourself; always continuously learning. Be a student of learning from
every experience and get better at what you do. After a while, you find that things that were very
difficult in the first place become easier until they are effortless. But a word of warning, this is only
true if you have the talent for it. Without the talent, more effort is needed to accomplish the same
end goal but the results are not always the best.
B5. Self Honesty
Sometimes you can be mistaken about where your real talents lie. Sometimes you can just be
stubborn claiming talent, even if there is not. And sometimes you can convince yourself that you are
doing a great job when you are not.
The real test of how good you are is results. No excuses, no explanations, just results that show
achievement of objectives.
Many people are operating in mediocrity and outright failure but claiming to be successful. People
need to be honest with themselves. The results say different but they claim success. Failures are
explained away with reasons. So have the capacity to tell yourself the truth so that you can operate
in your real area of capacity.
Your challenge is a personal one, and a clear one. Are you capacitated enough to achieve your