Who knew that a simple girl raised in rural Zimbabwe could be so skilled at making Mexican, Italian, American, Japanese specialty dishes- just for fun?? I was so inspired when I hear Pastor Gurupira at a recent ladies meeting speak about continual growth and being eager to learn. I was fascinated and challenged when I heard her rags to riches story and how over the years she had positioned herself for constant personal development. She spoke about how as a young woman all she knew how to cook was sadza and rice, but because of her tenacity she started watching her friends, other ladies and researching on line and now she is pretty much as good as a gourmet chef! She is a full time pastor and overseer of several local churches yet she makes time to upgrade herself and learn new skills everyday.
Earlier this year, I visited a designer who makes decorative vases. Because her studio was at her house I had a chance to see her breath taking garden. I found out that she is a self taught landscaper and designer. Self taught- I was amazed. Basically ten years ago, she was retrenched from her banking job and was unemployed for quite some time. Instead of having a pity party she determined to “upgrade” herself while she looked for other career alternatives. She knew that she had green fingers and started researching landscaping online, in books and the like. She joined garden clubs and worked on her garden. Very soon, friends noticed how lovely her yard was and asked her to do theirs. Today her landscaping is featured in local magazines and she charges thousands of dollars for her work. She can do this because she decided to upgrade herself.
To upgrade is to raise something to a higher standard, to improve or to add value. We all have areas in which we can improve, skills we can learn just for fun, talents we can sharpen, gifts we can explore and knew knowledge we can attain. It’s basically personal growth and development! Sounds so simple yes, but how many of us are purposefully “upgrading” ourselves.
I am determined to not die average. Failure to personally upgrade myself will make my life stagnant and ordinary. If I cannot upgrade, I risk being an ignorant person with inability to make any significant impact. In addition, if I don’t upgrade myself, the untapped gifts that I have inside me may lie dormant ….forever.
An upgraded person can put a price on their time and receive income for doing something they enjoy.
So since I determined right at the beginning of the year that I would upgrade myself somehow, particularly in the areas that I am not so strong, I found myself joining the business ministry at my church. It’s called CBF-Christian Business Fellowship / Kingdom Millionaires. Contrary to what people may assume when they hear the name Kingdom Millionaires, you don’t have to be a millionaire to join, you just have to have big dreams and a desire to see them achieved using business skills. It’s basically business school presented from a Kingdom perspective. For someone who has always leaned towards the arts, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to attain some solid business skills as a way of upgrading myself. Who knows, one day they might help me. So in the past few months I have learnt the basics of starting my own business and effective branding. Then next week I , along with my team of 18 people will present a detailed business plan for a metered Taxi business that we have been slaving over for the past 6 weeks. I will give a 20 minute presentation (on behalf of the team) to a group of real bankers (yikes) who will determine the best plan out of the three groups that will present. Though this is just part of an assignment, I am proud to say that this has taught me so much already and its been an interesting experience working with my team.
Upgrading can be in the small things. Harare, Zimbabwe is very small and I have realized that it is too easy to get comfortable and live in a bubble here. So because I want to keep exposing myself to important ideas I have made it a point to find inspiration on purpose. I have started listening to to ten minute TED Talks and Forbes Magazine Youtube channels almost every morning as I get ready for work. I figured that if I want to be influential, I have to start listening to people who are influential- on purpose!
Upgrading will be different for everyone. People can upgrade different areas of their lives for different reasons at different times. It doesn’t always have to cost money. Ask your aunt to show you how she manages to delicately ice those wedding cakes, spend time online or in libraries, feed your mind with inspiration, sign up for a short course. Upgrade!