By Pearson Mbendera

I have read a lot of motivational stories, one too many if you ask me. I got hooked on them the moment I read an excerpt of the autobiography of Richard Branson, Losing my virginity from a torn out issue of the Readers Digest magazine. His story, from rags to riches was quite inspiring. I was young but at that moment I knew I wanted to be just like him, I wanted to transform my life in a similar way like he did.

It was eye opening. It sent me to a new realm. I was living comfortably in my littleness, engulfed in mediocrity, I had sentenced myself to a prison of self-pity, but the book, or rather the little part I read showed me something higher. I wanted to be successful, I wanted it bad. I had to be successful, I told myself. The how part wasn’t as easy as I had imagined. But I didn’t realize it then, it took me a while. I had to go through a journey of self-discovery. Which is more like getting lost, while being so sure I was on the right track, and for that I didn’t stop to ask for directions?

From that moment I read every motivational story I could get my hands on. From technology gurus like Steven jobs to financiers like Warren Buffet. Read about politicians like Barack Obama, spiritual leaders like the Dalai Lama I read them all. And don’t get me started on the motivational quotes. I can even write a page full of motivational quotes off my head. I was or am a motivational stories freak.

The stories differed from one guy to the next. Bill Gates, Steven Jobs and Zuckerberg had to drop out of college to go their own way. Warren Buffet has a college degree. Richard Branson was worse, he didn’t have good education after all, and he has dyslexia, a learning inability, impairing the ability to understand written language. My story is different from each and every one of them. How am I to take everything from their lives and use it in my own? How am I to shape my own life like they did when we are all different people? Hell they did it different from the other. Who am I not to be original?

The more I read, the more confused I became. There was no manual for success. Of course it did made me want to get off my behind and do something for myself, it got me confused nonetheless. There was no road map out there. These men surely haven’t followed some rule book, why was I going to make their success stories my own rule book. If they didn’t follow anyone, who am I to follow them.

At the end I realized the painful truth. I couldn’t relate to these people. We were different in so many ways. There is so much reading you can do to ‘get it’. I had to write my own story. My life, goals and ambitions have to make me the best man I can be. Reading about Richard Branson wasn’t going to solve that. I wasn’t going to live my life vicariously through the rich and famous. I also realized that there wasn’t much talk in their books about their following some other guy in a frenzy like I did them.

Bottom line is there are no 10 steps to making it big, there are no secrets, and the path that leads to success isn’t well tarred with signposts on the side, informing you to give way or turn right or inform you that you are now 20km from your destination. There is no roadmap. People who made it before you surely took a different path than the one you will take.

While watching the movie, Freedom Writers I finally got it. Personal change is only brought about by finding out what liesdeep inside of you, what it is that makes you. It’s only through opening up to your inner struggles, pain, happiness and every other emotion and experience locked inside, that outward change can be manifested. What we need more isn’t motivational stories, but ways to dig deep into our souls and do some soul searching.

You will never relate to the motivational stories written out there. Write your own story, about yourself. Start at where you were born and end it where you want to be. Then move forward filling in the blank space, which will be your roadmap, your secret. From that will you realize if there are 10 steps to making it or if they actually are a million. Your story may end up inspiring people, but they in turn, like yourself, will have to write their own story and live up to it.




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