By Strive Masiyiwa Mentoring African youths and Entrepreneurs
“Don’t look for a leader; you lead!” [My grandmother]
“I must do something” solves more problems than “Something must be done”…
As I walked around my grandmother’s rural homestead years ago, I was shocked at how dilapidated it looked. I wondered why so many of my relatives from the city, who all had means, simply did not do anything.
“We must do something about this, Grandmother,” I consoled her.
Then she smiled gently and said to me: “That is what you all say. If it is ‘we’ it will not be done. It will be done when you say, ‘I must do something about it’.”
Then she added: “I only put my trust in someone who says, ‘I will do something’. Don’t look for a leader; you lead. The others will follow.”
My grandmother died at 106, and she was already in her late eighties when she said that to me. It was such a stinging rebuke because I knew that I was shirking responsibility to act.
So, I went off and began to buy materials, month after month; here a little there a little—until it was done. I was still working as an employee at the time.
Would you be proud to invite me to your village, or would you be embarrassed because you have been waiting for someone else in your family “To do something” or better still “THE GOVERNMENT”?
Guys, as entrepreneurs, let’s get serious about the challenges we see around us. Time is not on our side. And not everything requires you to have a political stance. In this post I am talking about entrepreneurs like us, not politicians!
“Just do something, now.”
Last week one of you here wrote me a comment saying:
“A great man once said, ‘I must do something solves more problems than ‘something must be done’. “
This statement has changed me a lot. Anytime I see a situation, I first ask, what can I do about it? Thanks chief for always reaffirming this”.
This was my reply in case you missed it:
I love this statement so much!
“I MUST DO SOMETHING—solves more problems than—SOMETHING MUST BE DONE”!
It reminds me of a time I came from the funeral of a staff member who had died leaving small children, and his wife was also ill from the same HIV that had killed him:
“Something must be done about those children, otherwise they are lost,” I kept telling people.
“Surely there should be a government program?”
“What about the man’s relatives”?
One day I got into the car and returned with my wife to visit the widow:
“I AM GOING TO LOOK AFTER YOUR CHILDREN, NO MATTER WHAT,” I said then.
I will never forget that woman’s face. And with that we set on the path that would eventually help more than 300,000 orphans and vulnerable children so far. My business was still small at the time, and I often struggled.
There is no problem that you are seeing that you cannot contribute a solution.
Perhaps others will see what you do and will do something also.
Maybe you can work together, but YOU start. I know some #SeniorClass and others on this platform have joined together to try to solve some really big challenges, right where you are. I don’t say it that often, but I am so proud of what you all are doing, in Nigeria and other countries.
In Africa, a lot of problems don’t get solved because we make them look so big in our minds, and we make ourselves as citizens and entrepreneurs so small and insignificant.
There is only one thing worse than, “WE must do something” and that is pointing to someone else and saying “YOU must do something”. For action to really begin, try: “I MUST DO SOMETHING!”
I believe each and all of you here have the courage to say, “I MUST DO SOMETHING”.
Image caption and credit: Nigerian entrepreneur Ifedolapo Runsewe saw a problem and since 2020 she’s been busy solving it… with innovation and vision. Ms Rusewe’s company, Freetown Waste Management Recycle, manufactures another kind of “black gold” than Nigeria is usually known for. In this image, her workers are starting the #Process to recycle used tires, transforming them into floor tiles, paving bricks, children’s playground products and other in-demand items. She already has 128 employees! With thanks to Reuters for photo. This story is what I mean by “doing something”. Wow.