Be at the right place
“Position yourself well enough and circumstances will do the rest.” This statement by an American writer – Mason Cooley emphasizes how being in the right place at the right time makes it possible to achieve your dreams and goals.
This statement rings true in the case of the first black President of the United States of America – President Barack Obama. His father was a Kenyan immigrant who married his mother six months before he was born but they got divorced when he was 2 years old. Obama’s mother – Ann Dunham later remarried an Indonesian and moved with young Barack to Jakarta. Worried about her son’s safety and education, Dunham sent 10-year-old Obama to Hawaii to live with her parents. There Obama became conscious of racism and what it meant to be African American while schooling at Punahou Academy. He later got his university degrees in Political Science and Law from Columbia University in New York City and Harvard University respectively. All these significantly shaped the man who would become the number one citizen of the United States.
Upon graduation, Obama practised as a civil rights lawyer, taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School and later served as a community organizer for low-income residents in some parts of Chicago. He entered politics and won a seat in the Illinois State Senate in 1996 and later in the U.S Senate in 2004 – making him the third African American elected to the U.S. Senate since the Reconstruction Acts in 1967-1968.
In life, there is that opportunity that seems to pull together all the experiences you have gathered over time to propel you into the desired future. For Obama, I believe it was the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. He delivered the keynote speech in support of John Kerry who was running for president and that speech became a rallying call for national unity and an inspiring manifesto of hope. There he made the famous statement “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America… There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America — there’s the United States of America.” Boom! Obama, who was a little known state senator from Illinois at the time, became famous. In fact, in a piece published in 2016, the New York Times magazine called that keynote address “The speech that made Obama”. The game changed that night, Obama was the most searched word on google, he trended for days on twitter and many people including Oprah Winfrey predicted that he could someday be the President of America. 4 years later, history was made. Obama became the 44th President of the United State of America.
A close look at his life and achievements show us that among many other factors, Obama throughout his career was able to position himself properly for the life of impact we celebrate him for today. You see, positioning yourself correctly can make all the difference to your game. It is presenting yourself to the right person, at the right time and place, in the right way – with the right message. If you can do that every day, you will increase your chances of living a value-adding life. From the life of Barack Obama, here are 3 tips to help you better position yourself.
- Have A Clear and Consistent Message
Like Obama, you need to get your message right and present it consistently. Right from college days, Obama was clear about the message of equality, racial tolerance and hope for every American citizen, that’s what he was known for. You should also have a series of key statements that summarize what drives you. You’ll soon discover that people are quoting you, and people think of you when opportunities come up that align with your message.
- Put Yourself in the Right Environment
Do you know that aside from serving as a community organizer, lawyer and lecturer, Obama began volunteering for political activities as far back as 1992 during Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign? He had positioned himself in the political environment way before he became president. His choice of friends, job, and even spouse were influenced by his life purpose. I’ve said this various times in different ways – Your environment matters. If you want to fly with eagles, don’t hang out in the chicken pen. If you want to be a first-class student, don’t hang out with the party crowd. Make sure you stay around the place of your purpose.
- Don’t Waste the Opportunity
Like I said earlier, there may be times you’re fortunate to find yourself in a position of advantage. For Obama, it was the opportunity as the keynote speaker at the 2004 Democratic National Convention (DNC). Good for him, he aced it beautifully. Maybe you find yourself at the same table as your role model in a seminar. Or that person you like sits next to you in church. Or you’re called upon in a meeting to share your thoughts on an issue. My friend, when the moment comes, I pray you don’t waste it. The time to prepare for that moment is now.
Remember, You Have Only One Life to Live, MAKE IT COUNT!