The 99% You Should Ignore

I am a little bit peeved. Okay maybe more than a little bit. Oh heck, who am I kidding; I am as mad as a swarm of hungry bees stuck in a box. The heart breaking immigrant crisis. The water contamination catastrophe in Flint, Michigan. The seemingly unmitigated levels of corruption in Kenya. The continued fight for race and gender equality. The Boko Haram in Nigeria. etc., etc., etc., Urrrggghhh! What the fright is happening to humanity.

Fred Swaniker, founder of the African Leadership Group, an ecosystem of organizations aiming to transform Africa by identifying, developing, and connecting three million game-changing leaders for Africa by 2060, says what I am feeling is my ‘moment of obligation’. He says these moments are usually caused by unfairness we see in society or by an opportunity that can revolutionize the world and benefit us personally. (ding, ding, ding). He is of the opinion however, that we should ignore 99% of these moments of obligation.

He states that we have been put on this earth for a purpose. Identifying this purpose, as most of you have already realized, requires great focus. We therefore cannot keep chasing each moment of obligation. Our efforts and energies are best spent preparing for our true destiny.

If we agree with what he is saying, how do we then decide the 1% to focus on?

Swaniker wants us to answer the following three big questions. Questions that will help us find that 1% requiring 100% of our attention.

  1. Is it big enough? – He echoes the sentiments of the following Bible verse “… From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. Luke 12:48” (New International Version).  He says “I believe that those who have been fortunate enough to receive good education, be healthy, have great work experiences and powerful networks should not be solving small problems for society.” So if it’s not big enough, give it a pass.
  2. Am I uniquely positioned, more than almost anyone else in the world, to make this happen? – Swaniker suggests a review of one’s experiences and circumstances both planned and unplanned. He feels this is necessary to determine whether we are better suited than most people to answer the call of an identified moment of obligation. If you are, then this might be a path that calls for your undivided attention.
  3.  Am I truly passionate? – Passion is a strong desire that can get you to do amazing things. Without action, passion yields no worthwhile results. Swankier reminds us that impacting the world is one tough assignment. If your passion tanks are not adequately juiced up, your efforts will miss their intended mark.  He suggests the ‘sleepless night test’ for helping in answering that passion quandary. If the idea/issue you want to pursue is consuming you so much that you can’t sleep at night, then it might just qualify as that 1% moment of obligation.

So if the answer to the above three big questions is not a resounding ‘yes’, Swaniker suggests you ignore the calling. However, if your reflection leads to an unequivocal ‘yes’ for each question, then, and only then should you step up and pursue, what most likely is your destiny.

Do you agree with Fred Swaniker? Share your thoughts with me in the comments section below.


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