“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”
Inspired by the words of Goethe, one man left his successful career in the States and returned to Ghana to build his dream of creating a new kind of African university with the aim of redefining ethics, innovation and entrepreneurship in Africa on the tenets of scholarship, leadership and citizenship. This is the story of Patrick Awuah, Founder of Ashesi University. Ashesi, which literally means “beginning” in Akan, has grown to become one of the leading universities in Africa and the world.
Another man’s dream of becoming the first elected African-American President of the United States was built on one of the most popular mantras of all time “Yes We Can!” On January 20, 2009, Barrack Hussein Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America.
An African-American woman rose from poverty to build a thriving beauty empire and became the first (documented) female self-made millionaire. Madam CJ Walker was inspired to create hair care products for black women after she suffered hair loss. Self Made which was recently released by Netflix was inspired by her life. The movie chronicles her struggles and journey towards building her beauty empire.
All these people had one thing in common: they had a dream. They visualized the goals they wanted to accomplish. They prepared mentally for the dreams they wanted to accomplish.
Visualization is one of the most powerful skills people possess. Being able to recreate or envision the life you want (coupled with hard work and resilience) can help you to achieve your dreams.
Noted as one of the greatest forms of mental exercise, visualization is very popular in sports. Many athletes have employed this technique throughout their career. According to Psychology Today, seasoned athletes use vivid, highly detailed internal images and run-through of the entire performance, engaging all their senses in their mental rehearsal, and they combine their knowledge of the sports venue with mental rehearsal. World Champion Golfer, Jack Nicklaus has said: “I never hit a shot, not even in practice, without having a very sharp in-focus picture of it in my head.” Heavyweight champion, Muhammad Ali used different mental practices to enhance his performance. He combined practices like affirmation; visualization; mental rehearsal and self-confirmation to become one of the greatest boxers of all time.
The start of most creative processes begin with the art of visualization. Before an artist creates a work of art, he visualizes the piece he wants to create. As he begins to draw or paint, the image he envisioned begins to take form. Advertising campaigns, mood boards, concepts, event designs, architectural designs etc are developed based on visualization.
Our mind is a very powerful tool which informs our ability to visualize and imagine things. So the question is, how far can you see? Let’s take a look at the story of Abraham.
After Lot had gone, the Lord said to Abram, “Look as far as you can see in every direction—north and south, east and west. I am giving all this land, as far as you can see, to you and your descendants as a permanent possession. Gen 13:14
Take note of what God told Abram “As far as your eyes can see…” It all starts with what you see. So, how far can you see? Let’s take a look at how we can harness the power of visualization.
Imagine it, paint the picture in your mind.
You have got to see it to achieve it. As Goethe said, “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it…” Patrick Awuah wanted to revolutionize education in Africa. He imagined a new kind of education in Africa.
Write it down
Habakkuk 2:2-3 underscores the importance of writing down visions. Then the LORD answered me and said: “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” Writing down your vision helps you to take stock of your goals and dreams and take the necessary action to accomplish those goals. You can keep track of your vision by keeping a journal or using an alternative which has become very popular now; vision boarding. Vision boards provides an overview of one’s goals. Having a visual presentation of what you want to achieve helps you to keep things in perspective.
Share your dream (with caution)
You can’t share your dream with everyone. You don’t want to share it with someone who will discourage you even before your dream takes flight. Talk about it with someone you trust. Recently, a friend sought my opinion on a project. Because I believe in what my friend wants to do, I offered to assist. Once you begin to work towards your goals, you will meet people who will believe in your dream and support you through mentorship, coaching, and sponsorship. Sharing your dream can also help you to find the right people to be part of your dream team.
Patrick Awuah returned to Ghana because his wife and other people believed in his dream. According to The Washington Post, Obama initially thought the words “Yes We Can” was “corny.” But Michelle convinced him otherwise. These words which were first used when he was running for the U.S. Senate in Illinois in 2004, became his campaign mantra and was widely used at political rallies among others.
Set actionable plans
Madam CJ Walker didn’t just wake up and build a beauty empire. She created a plan and worked towards it. Despite the odds, she was determined. She created the Walker System which involved scalp preparation, lotions and iron combs. She differentiated her products by emphasizing on their benefits. She sold her products directly to black women, using a personal approach that won her loyal customers. She went on to employ and groom women to sell the products.
Act on it
Patrick Awuah acted on his dream. In 1998, he together with Nina Marini and graduate students from UC Berkeley, conducted a feasibility study for establishing a private university in Ghana. After extensive background work, Ashesi University opened its doors in 2002 in Labone with a pioneering class of 30 students. Currently, Ashesi’s state of the art campus is located at Berekuso. Over the years, it has grown to become one of the leading universities in the world. My friend is already acting on her dream. She is set to launch the project she told me about and I can’t wait for it to take off!
These are uncertain times but that shouldn’t stop us from visualizing the goals and dreams we want to accomplish. Let’s use this period to reinvent and stay positive.
Let me reiterate the words of Goethe, “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it…”
It all starts with what you see. What do you see?Dare to dream
>>>Nana Akua Frimpomaa Amofa is a Writer and Creative Lead of Scripted Impressions, a creative consulting agency that helps individuals and brands tell their stories. She works as Senior Editor at El-Evangel Publications. Her work involves content development, strategy and review of publications. She is also the Project Lead for Community, a platform that provides support and resources to aspiring professionals and entrepreneurs. Connect with Nana Akua via Instagram/Twitter: @missamofa, LinkedIn: Nana Akua Frimpomaa Amofa, Email: [email protected]