I failed to convince my leadership at the time to believe in me so I had to endure 13 months without my favourite job – radio and TV. But, instead of getting angry, I got innovative. I spent time discovering my true potential. I let my biggest failure become my biggest teacher. It forced me to rethink who I was and what I wanted to achieve on this earth. It made me look at myself as a teacher, a leader, and a student of life. I was shown that anything is possible on this earth, absolutely anything. It’s been four years since I set off on a new journey as an author, leader, public speaker, influencer, MBA student and more. I know there are lots of successes and failures still to come. But I’m not afraid. In fact, I’m excited. I have no problem with failure. It’s the best mentor an innovator could ask for. It shows me how I can do better and what I must never repeat again. If I fail once, it’s okay. I dust myself off and get back onto the journey God has planned for me. But I have also learned that if I find myself failing at the same thing over and over again, it’s my mindset, not my actions, that need changing. Innovation lives in the realm of personal development, training your mind to think differently. Your mind has to be able to change and adapt quicker than your environment, which is pretty quick nowadays. If you are still stuck in old patterns and ways of seeing and being, you are failing yourself.
Remember that failure comes dressed in all kinds of outfits. You can find it in the way you react to something. You wish you had reacted better, but by the time you realise that, it’s too late. You can also find failure in your expectations of people. I try to always be kind, humble and genuine to people and pray for the same in return, because probably the greatest failure is when you let your ego hold you back. One of my mentors says E.G.O stands for Edge God Out. A lot of my previous failures have been because my ego got in the way of my greater goal. Being an innovator is not some random act. It’s about daily actions. And when you are in the public eye, you must learn to use that space innovatively.
Young people are watching and taking notes. They see your failures but they will also see you pick yourself up and do better, reach higher. So the public space and your failures can be their teacher as much as yours. If you let it. I have seen the impact. I have seen how young people start copying you and start believing that they can create their own things. And it’s exciting to see them realising they can and have to do things for themselves. Want to engage the youth? You need to meet them on their own terms. Young people are drawn to entertainment. It’s in their homes, on their phones and always on their minds. So why not be innovative and use entertainment to teach young people about things like entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship, and get them to think big and dream even bigger. That’s my approach in everything I do, from my energy drink to Leadership 2020 – to create a new kind of institution that teaches things in an unorthodox manner, that is innovative in how it educates and inspires. Because in that way, you don’t just change the game for a few, you change the mindset for generations to come. And what better vision for innovation than that, right?
I believe we are on this earth to do amazing and incredible things. To innovate is to think beyond the end of the week, month, and even this year. Once you adopt this expansive, limitless mindset, there’s no stopping who you can become or what you can achieve. Who would have thought that a radio host and DJ would launch MoFaya, an energy drink, in South Africa and Africa? So, if you are reading this piece and want to live your life as an innovator, start embracing failure as your mentor and growth as your teacher. Life will school you, yes, but, it will also help you to graduate to a greater cause, a higher calling, a fuller life. Welcome to the school of innovation, aka life.
By Sbusiso Leope