As I walked along the Promenade at Umhlanga, KwaZulu-Natal this morning I noticed sand-sculptures created by an entrepreneurial craftsman. The message on one attracted my attention: ‘Poor people progress from poverty to prosperity provided they are prepared to pay the price’.
This message intrigued me. On reflection, I needed to consider it firstly from the point of view of the person who had chosen that message to display on his creation. He himself is some-one who most probably comes from a place of poverty. So he would have his own perspective on how lack of financial resources would impact on every aspect of his life.
Yet he has taken constructive action in finding a way of combining his skills to create masterpieces. And he has developed his work to incorporate a distinct African flavour. He has needed few resources as in that environment, he has no rent and the sand can be used freely. The water he needs to dampen the sand is easily accessible. He most probably has no formal employment so the opportunity cost is minimal. And he has chosen to work in a system where there is a captive audience which will bring financial gains. Locals and foreign visitors frequent the Promenade to have their daily exercise, to walk from one part of Umhlanga to another or to enjoy the seaside attractions.
Secondly, I needed to consider or reflect on his work and his message in terms of how it applied to us, the passers-by. I am always impressed when people take positive action to meet the challenges facing them. Our rate of unemployment in the formal sector is unfortunately exceptionally high in South Africa. So this man has recognised and optimised opportunities. Many people, even if they saw possibilities may not convert them to constructive behaviour which would bring positive outcomes. Yet, this man has done this, setting an example to others by achieving measurable outcomes.
And let’s also look at his message in terms of its interpretation. I’ll do that in true coaching tradition by asking you, the readers to consider the following questions:
- In which ways are you suffering from poverty? For example, you may be financially poor, time-poor or even emotionally poor.
- In relation to your poverty, where are you now on a scale of 1 to 10 with ten representing ‘prosperity’ and your score would show where you perceive yourself to be at present. If you are financially poor, your assets at present may be R1000 or less (poverty) and your goal R10000 (prosperity). Thus you’d score yourself as 1.
- What plans can you put in place in order to achieve your goal – in other words, to move you from 1 to 10?
- How can you measure your progress?
- What price will you pay to achieve this?
I would add that a BIG question might be: what price are you paying for not taking action to move from poverty to prosperity? I believe that paying a price is part of what needs to be done, but other constructive action is also necessary. Rights and responsibility go hand-in-hand.
While I fully appreciate and abhor the poverty in which some find themselves, I wish that more were able to come and see what a man like this has done and be inspired by his work. He has thought outside the box and found employment that lifts him out of the realm of hopelessness in which many tend to exist. He may not yet have moved far along his journey from poverty to prosperity, but he certainly deserves to stop paying and start enjoying his achievements.
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