It is important to set very ambitious goals and objectives for the tasks that we embark on. However, occasionally, we reach a stage where it is clear that our original objective cannot be achieved at all. You may have already spent a lot of time, effort and resources. Rather than giving up completely, an alternative response may be to change the objectives in order to suit the reality at hand. I will share two examples to illustrate this important point.
Recently, Pope Francis visited Africa, including Namugongo near Kampala in Uganda. At the time, I was living in Kigali, Rwanda, which is only a distance like from Blantyre to Mzimba. I decided to attend the public mass that the Pope presided over in Uganda. Our main objective as family was to see the Pope at close range, among many other objectives.
However, when we arrived there – at the venue of the event—it was clear that our chance to sit or stand near the Pope was very thin. Millions of people had arrived at the event very early in the morning. By the time we were arriving at the venue, all good seats and locations had been occupied. It was quite frustrating. Then I remembered a powerful lesson that I learnt from a friend Vuka Mkandawire—and we will discuss his lesson in detail below. Going by Vuka’s principle of changing objectives to match reality, I told my now disappointed family that we needed to change our main objective to the experience of having been there—not really having been close to the Pope’s stand! This shift in the objective rejuvenated our being there.
I was only able to enjoy our participation in the mass presided by the Pope after we changed our objective, in line with the lesson I learnt from Vuka Mkandawire around 2013 or 2012. Vuka and I were in the same social football team for our alumni group, known as Vatican Warriors—a team of ex-seminarians of St. Patrick. In one of our social football matches in Kanjedza, Blantyre, we had been losing something like six goals to one at half time. We gathered for pep talk and to strategise on a turn-around plan so that we could score more than five goals in the second half and win the match.
Many people gave lots of interesting and clever ideas for the turn around. However, what caught my interest was Vuka Mkandawire’s proposal. He said: “Let us face it, we cannot reverse the scores. This team is way better than us. The best thing we can do now in the second half is to focus on ‘individual brilliance’ so that when they go back to their base, the opposing team can remember that we too have some skill.” Everyone laughed but we got and adopted the suggestion. This made each one of us enjoy the game in the second half. By the end of the game, we lost the game on scores but won it on beauty of touches and passes and dribbles. We left a mark.
In the rest of life in the real world, it is all the same. There are times when our original objectives are no longer achievable. At that stage, it is important to find alternative goals and objectives that are practical, attainable and realistic. This shift in objectives can inspire us to work even harder and to get motivated for success. If we chase objectives that we believe are no longer achievable, we cannot achieve anything. That is why it is sometimes important to change our objectives to suit reality.
We have seen today that sometimes our original objectives become impossible to achieve. At that stage, it may be important to make adjustments so that we match the reality on the ground. This way, we may stand a much better chance for registering some achievement. Good luck as you embrace the idea of changing objectives when situations change! n