I have a close friend whom I have known since our secondary school days at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Rumphi at the beginning of 1990s. Frank Ziba is a civil engineer and for the last 15 years or so, he has been practising in South Africa. He is a very successful civil engineer and entrepreneur. He runs his civil engineering company and other businesses in South Africa and some subsidiaries on the local market.
He is a self-made man. Frank built his emerging empire from a scratch. Through his vision, ambition and drive, I have seen Frank build his business and success. His long journey to success will be a subject for a future column article. Today, we want to focus on how Frank manages his motivational energies.
Last weekend, I was chatting with him on WhatsApp. He was enticing me into some business idea. Then he told me that he had taken his family away for a weekend break. I remarked that I like the way that he treats his family from time to time. I know he works very hard. But he still makes time to be with them and make special treat for them.
His response was quite inspiring and insightful: “Yes, it is important so that they understand and support me when I work hard.”
This is a deep statement from philosophical and psychological point of view. Even from a sheer practical view point, this makes lots of sense. This is a man that works hard. And he is working to inspire his immediate family to find reason for them to understand his hard work and to support him accordingly.
We all need to consciously give our family enough reason to understand why we need to work hard. We need to give our family enough motivation to make us work hard. When family understands the motivation behind our hard work, they will not just understand and support us, they will actually encourage us to keep pushing even when we face hurdles along the way.
With this philosophy, Frank has guaranteed himself sustained zeal to work hard. As he offers good time to the family, he plays and relaxes with them. He rewards himself. This means that when he works hard, he works to ‘earn’ his play, rest and relaxation. He works with a good motivation ahead. This is supported by a well-known psychological principle of ‘delayed gratification.’ This is well covered by Dr. M. Scott Peck in his popular book entitled The Road Less Travelled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth.
There are several interpretations for delayed gratification. Basically, it has to do with the ability to postpone immediate reward for later while doing the more difficult or less enjoyable tasks. For kids, when they have to study and also watch television, the best sequence is to start with studying first before enjoying the games or other programmes on TV. As Dr. Speck writes, keep the best part of the cake for later. Start eating the other parts of the cake.
This is what my friend Frank Ziba is practising. He is forcing himself to work because in doing so, he is earning his play, rest and refresh. He looks forward to the enjoyment when he deserves it. He does this for the family as well so that they can understand when he works hard and so that they can support and encourage him as he works hard. Therefore, he continuously finds reason, motivation and support to keep working hard. Working hard becomes very important and easy. A sensible, obvious and a worthwhile activity. In fact, in a way, hard work cannot be painful this way, because it is directly linked with the reward later.
This means that if you work hard, you can play hard. And when you play hard, you find reason to work hard. Play comes after work. And work is great and easy when it is followed by play. Get your balance too. Play hard if you work hard. And only play hard if you work hard. All the best! n