Whatever your age, life is a competition. We all need a way to get the edge. Truly successful people all have something which sets them apart.
It’s nothing unique and it’s not available to them only. It is simply the fact that they have an intense desire to achieve. “People with the competitive edge have three things which make them great,” says Gavin Sharples, one of South Africa’s top motivational speakers, “discipline, knowledge and passion. Dedicated people need to eat, drink and sleep their goals. Olympic athletes are perfect examples of this. They are all totally consumed by their events. Every waking moment is taken up in preparing for the ultimate goal.” Gavin Sharples knows what he is talking about. He charges R20 000 an hour for speaking engagements and is not short of business. Although he is reaping the rewards of success now, it has not always been easy and he has had to work hard for what he has achieved. “But do not chase after money,” he says. “Do what really interests you first and the money will come later.” Gavin feels that nothing gives you the edge the way passion does. “There is a huge difference between people who want something just to have it and people who have a passion for it. For example a person who has a passion for a certain great car will always get it before the person who only wants it.” Then there is discipline. “You will not achieve success in life without discipline,” he says. “When you are young, it takes discipline to say no to peer pressure. Drugs and alcohol are often abused. If your friends are using them, it is not always easy to say no to outside influences which may affect you negatively.” We are also able to learn a lot from life’s failures. “If you try something and it fails, it does not necessarily mean that it was a bad idea. You need discipline to stick it out. Sometimes all it requires is a different perspective. I call it the fly mentality. Instead of repeatedly butting your head against the window like a fly, just move a few paces to the side. The way may be open there.” Proving just how effective it is to have discipline in one’s life, Gavin Sharples relates a story about a test done in America a number of years ago involving young children.
The children were placed in a room and given a single cream cake. They were told that, if they could wait five minutes without eating the cake, they would be taken to the next room, which was filled with sweets of all kinds, and they could eat as much as they liked. “Only about 20% of the children did not eat the cake,” says Gavin. “They were then all monitored well into life and it turned out that the children who had the discipline not to eat the cake became successful, self made people. While those who did eat the cake ended up working for others and battling financially. The decisions you make today, will either reward or punish you later in life.” The third factor which gives you the edge is knowledge. “Knowledge is power,” says Gavin Sharples. “We are in the age in which the Internet is the information super highway. You can access anything you like and it is available to everyone. In future you will be employed and paid according to what is in your head, what you know. The more knowledge you put into your head, the more personal wealth you will get out. In other words, keep looking and learning in ways that will better you – even when you are 50 years old. “Many people blame the Government when they’re in trouble, saying that unemployment is the Government’s fault. Yes and No! Bad governing does certainly contribute but – technology must shoulder a large proportion of the blame. Machines are replacing people in almost every kind of job. They are cheaper to run and easier to maintain than people are. All that is left for us is to recognise how trends are changing and how we can adapt to meet them. We should all read and study something new every day.” Gavin Sharples warns that there are plenty of dangers for the young person who wants to get ahead. For instance, South Africa’s biggest poor maker,” he says. “It takes discipline to get knowledge, Watching K-TV will not do it. The days of laughing at nerds are over. Look around you, they rule the world. Take a look at Bill Gates, if you don’t believe me.” Gavin Sharples feels that the lessons of life need to start at school during subjects such as history, geography and biology. “An example would be geography. We learn that diamonds are formed under extreme pressure. We can relate this to school by saying that homework and exams put us under pressure. The more pressure we are under, the better diamonds we will become, I wish someone had come to my school and told me these things.”