Beginning of a great journey
Travelling is one of life’s greatest adventures, and the feeling you get the day before you leave on a trip is one of the greatest experiences. Personally, I cannot sleep the night before leaving on a trip. I will sit up till late just astonished that I will be travelling the next day.
To share one experience: At 8pm on January 14, 2009 I was leaving my home town to travel to Johannesburg to join the SOS Mission Team. However, the night before I could not sleep because I was excited and thrilled, all at the same time.
During the day on the 14th, I could not stay at home; it was like time was frozen. I was so looking forward to this experience that I even forgot I would leave my family and friends for a whole year. I travelled around my township bidding farewell to all my friends and family. My mom was worried because I just could not sit still and wait for 8pm. When it was time to leave for the bus terminal, my sister took me. I was still overwhelmed, and remember saying to her, ‘This is the first step in my journey to success’.
Taking a step towards your dream is one of the best experiences you will ever go through. I personally believe that you can never be satisfied until you become what you were born to be. This chapter will guide you to take the first step. A journey is never easy; but then who said life would be easy?
I am sure that after you read some of my experiences, you will also have your own victories/testimonies to share. Some people, on the other hand, just want to go to sleep early, hoping that the night will pass by faster.
When reading this chapter, I want you to have a destination in mind. The reason why I was overwhelmed and could not wait to go to Johannesburg was because I knew the joy I would find at my destination. One of my favourite personal development trainers said, ‘Aim for the moon so that when you fall, you may fall amongst the stars’.
I now realise that in life we’re on a journey. We have a point of departure and a point of arrival. In between are challenges and hardships. Challenges build and refine us so that we arrive at our destination better people than what we were when we started out. Remember, that what has a beginning must also have an end. Some of us arrive at our destination tired and weary, on the verge of giving up. This book, however, will guide you to persevere until you reach your destination.
They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. I believe that my journey as a young boy who wanted to take the world by storm, began before I even knew how to utter my first word. Here I share my journey of hardship, challenges and great achievements.
I am Malibongwe Nhlakanipho Xaba, and was born on May 12, 1986 at Poly Clinic KwaMashu. I grew up in a disadvantaged community called Lindelani where I was raised by my mother, Thabisile Xaba, as well as my grandmother, Gladys Xaba. I am the second born and have an older brother and three younger sisters. My father left me when I was two years old leaving a R2 coin as a farewell gift.
Maybe your mom or dad left you when you most needed them. Maybe you grew up in a disadvantaged community, and maybe you’ve experience unspeakable horrors. But do not let that discourage you. My father leaving me at a young age made me mad, but on the flipside of the coin, also made me the man I am today. That R2 he left me made me realise that you can do a lot with the little you have.
Do not underestimate your ability. The Bible says in 1Timothy 4:12: Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young. All things are possible if you put your mind to it. Take the first step towards your destiny; do not let your past derail your future. My friend and former teammate Peter Bibby once said to me, ‘Malibongwe, it does not matter how many times you fall, it’s about how you get up, dust yourself off and keep moving forward’. And Nelson Mandela said, ‘Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again’.
For me my first step came when I believed in my ability, when I knew that great is the ability in me. Martin Luther King had a dream, he may not have lived to see that dream being fulfilled, but he believed it was possible. So we need to believe in our dreams to be able to take the first step. Believing in yourself is the first step in realising your dream.
My life has been filled with many challenges, but I have overcome most of them with the support from friends, mentors and family. We all need support structures. If your friends do not believe in your dream, find people who will motivate you to achieve your dream. That’s what I did and now I’m on the journey to achieving my dream.
Your mind won’t visualise something you can never achieve, and that is why I’m sure I am on my way to my purpose. What I love about dreaming is that I do not pay for it, but by dreaming I stimulate my mind to get money. The more I dream, the more money I can make, but only if I put my dream into action. Notice that I said I can instead of I will, meaning I can only achieve it if I put it into action. Later in the book you will see how I turned my dream into a reality; and remember, love your dreams because it is the only thing that can move you from where you are to where you want to be.
Neither your background nor your past can govern your future. Growing up in a disadvantaged community does not mean you are disadvantaged. Captain P. Khathi, a pastor at The Salvation Army, said to me, ‘Just let your past motivate you in everything you do’. For example, a car has side mirrors (which are small) and a windscreen (which is massive). The small side mirrors are there for you to see where you’ve come from and be encouraged, while the windscreen is massive so you know your destination.
I’m illustrating that you need to know your past, but focus mainly on your future. I have learned to keep my focus on my dream even through difficult situations. I believe you can do the same. In this book I will guide you on how to focus on your dream. Remember that you were born to leave a legacy, so use the small chance you have to shine.
First, focus on what you want to be. You may want to change your life, but you believe there is nothing you’re good at. Believe me, I once thought the same. I could not play soccer, sing or dance, and I thought I was not gifted. That’s not true. I have a gift and it’s a great one. My gift is to motivate young people.
Do you want my help to take the first step in realising your gift so you can move to your destiny? Just think back as far as you can remember – there is something that you do with minimal effort, and when you do it you lose track of time, and most of the time you find joy in doing it. Now that’s your gift.
When I’m standing in front of a crowd and I share my story, I find joy…especially when someone comes to me after and says, ‘Thank you. I was on the verge of giving up, but your words encouraged me’. That’s what I was born to do. Now that you have something you love doing and you’re good at, do not lose focus.
You can never be successful if you are filled with hatred. ‘Forgiveness is not for the weak because it’s the attribute of the strong’. I realised that as young people, we have a lot of hatred; and hatred won’t take us anywhere. Remember everything happens for a reason, so it is not a mistake that you are an orphan, have a single parent or come from a disadvantaged community. For me, to be successful meant I would have to forgive my father who was never there for me, and be grateful that he at least gave me life. Sometimes, we have hatred for useless things.
The truth is that if you want to progress in life, the first step you must take is in Matthew 6:12: And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Your first step must be to let go of the past and start a journey with a pure heart. I have also learned that ‘Man’s disappointments are God’s appointment’, so what you see as a challenge, God sees as your victory and an opportunity to prepare you for your destination. So go ahead; face that challenge with a smile because you were born to rule over everything and nothing has power over you. Go ahead, you’ve already won!
You need to believe in your God-given ability. A short illustration of this point from A Zen Story: She was a lion. But living her life among sheep, she only knew sheep. The sheep never having seen a lion, did not know she was a lion. They all lived together in the same meadow eating, sleeping and moving as a heard. She became very good at spotting dangerous animals, so she guarded the herd at night and moved in front of the herd during the day.
This lion was being a lion amongst the sheep. There is a saying that says, ‘Show me your friends and I will tell you your future’. Maybe you are the odd one out amongst your friends. Do not let anyone underestimate the power God gave you from birth. The lion, although she was amongst the sheep, she still demonstrated instincts of a lion such as protecting the sheep from dangerous animals. I always ask people why they want to fit in when they’re meant to stand out. Stand out and believe in your ability.
When you were born, you were born with a mission; so do not let anyone or anything bring you down. When a child is born, his/her fists are closed. We believe that in those fists are all of the gifts and blessings God has for that child. I always say to people, “What you have in your hand is powerful enough to change the world,” come on and practice that power effectively. The Bible makes it clear in Romans 8:37: ….we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. If from the beginning you believe you are a winner, then you will overcome any situation you face.
If you have lost hope, trust and courage; know that all things are possible. There were times when I lost hope, but as Nelson Mandela said, ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done’. And Captain P. Khathi said, ‘Everything before it was, it was declared impossible’. People use to laugh at me every time I started speaking; they judged me even before I opened my mouth. One instance I still remember clearly was when a girl said to me, ‘I won’t be told by someone who stays in a disadvantaged community’. The above two quotes kept me going when I personally lost hope and when I was judged because of my background.
Maybe you have a dream but everyone says you won’t do it. Let me tell you, you’re not alone. We have all been told at one time or another that we’re not good enough. Michael Jordan (famous American basketball player) was kicked out of his high school basketball team because he wasn’t good enough. After realising that I am not alone, I moved from having no hope to believing that all things are possible.
Foolish people with all their other thoughts, have this one too: They are always getting ready to live, but never living. Your success will start when you begin to pursue it. To reach your goal or to attain success, you don’t need to know all of the answers in advance. You just need to have a clear idea of what your goal is. Don’t procrastinate when faced with difficult problems. Break your problems into parts, and handle one part at a time. Develop tendencies towards taking action. You can make something happen right now. Divide your big plan into small steps and take that first step right away. Everyone who ever got to where they are today, had to begin where they were. Your big opportunity is where you are right now. A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Take it.
Remember that taking your first step is the key to success and do not be scared to fail because ‘failure is success turned upside down’. Your journey begins by believing that you are more than what you are…and you are born to leave a legacy. Come join thousands of young people across the globe in the journey to the horizon. Let’s go…