“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle
Gofaone Nina Tladi
This quote is on every single desk calendar, corporate journal and even the yearly diaries I got at university. It’s great as the last slide on presentations, but like most clichés we have almost become desensitized and discard it as soon as it appears; yet it is profoundly true. A principle I live by is that of simplicity. I am convinced that if I can explain something simply, without my Livingstone House twang, then I have understood whatever it is that I am explaining to someone else. To simplify Aristotle’s quote, I say, “You can never become what you do not practice.”
We celebrate excellence, we even have #BlackExcellence but we often forget how one eventually gets there. Excellence is the byproduct of diligence, study and practice, years of it! We admire the end result, but despise the process of becoming. We post before and afters often but rarely the process when we fall several times and get up eight times. We are all about the following selfies: the “Glow Up”, cars with bows on them, passport gang, travel pics and lavish gift insta stories.
If we are to be excellent, we have to practice making the right decisions with money on a daily basis. Practice is non-negotiable in attaining anything of value. It’s not the big things that cause our finances the most harm, it is the small things that we do over long periods of time that devastate and leave us overcome with regret. The same is true for doing the right things over long periods, it can be transformative. “It’s just P10” has probably cost me P50 000 or more and constantly buying airtime to buy data every other week. We deceive ourselves with the escape routes we conjure up in our minds to keep us in complacency. For example, we believe that getting into a relationship or getting married will solve our loneliness but the truth is we almost always end up even more miserable because it is the things we choose to ignore that rear their ugly head over and over again.
With regard to money, we think that a higher salary will solve our problems or that we will give to those less fortunate when we have a lot of money, but this is not the case. If you can’t give P100, P10 000 will be like pulling teeth. If you mishandle P10 000, you will make a mess of P1 million. The more we make, the more indebted we become, living to work and pay debts. We get bigger and faster things, all in the name of matching our “status” but our real financial standing tells a different story. If we were to lose our jobs, the house of cards we have built will come crashing down, like all houses made of cards do. How many stories have we heard of people who win the lottery and after a few short years are left worse off than before? We must practice budgeting and living within our means to get us to the financial “promised land” and practice being humble, generous and not forget our core values. These are also the things that will keep us there. The thing about practice is that eventually, what you thought was impossible, is easier and those who practice good money habits always end up ahead, even surpassing those who “make more” than them.
In his book, “Outliers-the story of success”, Malcolm Gladwell puts forth that success is a result of several factors, one of them being practice, 10 000 hours of it. The people we admire and celebrate have this in common, practice; Oprah Winfrey, LeBron James, Christiano Ronaldo, Barrack Obama, Usain Bolt and Beyoncé, to name a few. It is said that to prepare for Beychella, Beyoncé had a vegan diet, 18 hours of practice a day with two workouts each day. Practice is hard, grueling and extremely lonely. You have to stay home while the other kids are turning up or off on vacation, but in the words of my money makeover mentor, Dave Ramsey, “You have to live like no one else, so that you can live like no one else.”
I want to be a multi-millionaire so my children and grandchildren can pick up the baton and take the family legacy to the hundreds of millions and billions. To never have to worry about money has surpassed aspiration for me, it is now a conviction that keeps me going when I want to abandon my financial sense and buy myself a pretty dress and have a cappuccino delivered to me every single day. When I was a child the parable of the talents was my favourite. My family tells me stories of how ke ne ke le sehakgale as a child and I would always volunteer to sing, dance or speak in public. To me this was ensuring and I will use my talents accordingly for the gold star on my forehead at the end of my life. Now I realise the parable was not only for both my talents (my writing and speaking), but also literal talents, money. Everyone has to manage what they have to the best of their ability. It is the lack of effort that keeps us in the financial rut. There will always be someone who has more money than you and those who have far less, so keep your eyes on your own work.
PS: You don’t have to be a hero, you just have to be what most people aren’t, consistent.