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Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Should Have Been Phenomenon

By George Chingarande

Today I bring you the story of the ill-fated prince. His name was Nacirfa. He was the beloved son of the King of Eldora do and he was destined to inherit his own kingdom, the kingdom of Desiderata, which when transliterated meant the land of the desired things. One day the king went on a journey to a foreign land with his son. As was his custom he carried with him a briefcase in which was the title deed bequeathing on Nacirfa the rights to both kingdoms. As fate would have it the king died and left the son with nothing but the briefcase and in the hands of strangers who soon made him a slave. Thus he grew up as a slave of slaves. His only possession was the briefcase, but unfortunately he knew not how to open it because he did not have the combination required to unlock the key of the briefcase.

He labored day and night for his hard task master, and in the few spare moments that he sometimes got he would engage in low stakes games with other slaves. He would walk bare footed while the more privileged rode on horse- back. He would look down and despise himself for his state, and wish he could be a prince. After being sold from one master to another he eventually found himself laboring as a servant in the king's palace. There he would envy the king's household who had more than heart could wish for, while he lived in abject poverty. One cold winter night the prince froze to death. In the morning the King forcefully opened the late prince's briefcase and found the title deeds. It was then that he discovered that the slave was the lost prince for whom he had been standing in while the kingdom awaited his return. He commanded that an epitaph be erected on his grave and it read thus:

Here lies "THE SHOULD HAVE BEEN". For this man should have been crowned a king but was buried as a slave; He was a master but he lived as a servant.
He should have been a champion, but he existed as a victim
He should have been rich, but lived in poverty.
He should have fed on the choicest food but he settled for cramps. He should have been our hero, but he died a zero.
He should have been our ruler but he lived among us as a stranger, a foreigner and a sojourner in his own kingdom.
Above all he should have had a glorious life, but his life was smeared by shame.

It is not my intention to present a thesis on the prince who should have been and how he should have escaped from the shame of a timid existence. I will leave that to others. However, I can not help but think that our creator has bequeathed each one of us with a kingdom that we must possess before we check out of this life. I can not help but find myself asking, "How many people out there are misusing their lives like the prince?" There was no one who was born to be a failure and a non entity. We were all born to be winners. From the prince's story we can draw some important lessons. I will hasten to present some of them below.

The greatest lesson from the prince's story is that knowledge, especially knowledge of who you really are, regulates behavior. It is our behavior and patterns of action that determines our destiny. Ultimately the prince perished because of his ignorance of who he was. So who are you? What are you capable of becoming? Has it ever occurred to you that buried deep down in your bosom is a treasure worthy much more than the prince's lost heritage? Perhaps you are living on cramps when yours is the choicest food. Life imposes an assignment on us to discover for ourselves who we really are. Lance Armstrong is famed for winning the Tour de France for a record seven times, which is a great achievement by every standard. However, it is said that he took up the sport more seriously as a way of fighting cancer that was threatening his life. Prior to that he did not know that he was a sporting champion, and without that scare he could have died as a champion that should have been.

This is the great mystery. Each one of us, the winner and the loser alike, has unlimited potential. The magic is that no one will ever be able to discover the end to human potential. Even expertism is a myth. You may fool yourself by thinking that you are expert doctor, lawyer, sculptor, musician, scientist or author. If you are wise you will know that you are just beginning. There is so much to learn and you can become far better than you are today.

The tragedy is that like the prince we are not limited by what we are, but we are limited by what we think we are not. We are not hindered by what we have, but we are hindered by what we think we do not have. Some people think that they are not geniuses, and this regulates their behaviors and limits them. Some believe mistakenly that they do not have talent or whatever it takes to achieve great things and this too hinders them. We all grossly undervalue ourselves. Like the prince we envy others and wish for more, when all it takes is for us to perform to our full potential.

It is by consistently setting high standards for themselves, reaching out for more and stretching themselves that the winners achieve peak performance. Without applying ourselves boldly and diligently like Lance Armstrong, we risk perishing with our potential trapped inside us like the prince who should have been.

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