05.06.2015 Feature Article

Leaning your ladder against the wrong wall

Leaning your ladder against the wrong wall
05.06.2015 LISTEN

When I was a small boy growing up, I had a 'great' dream just like many of you did: my dream was to become an influential agriculturalist.

I was raised up by poor farmers who never enjoyed life, but lived and shared the same bed with poverty and disgrace from one generation to the other. Almost all the people in my village were peasants, so my family wasn't an exception.

As a child, I had dreams, dreams driven by hatred and anger. Wanting to bring an end to the poverty circle in my family and village I had to dream big; I would cultivate the biggest farm ever, employ large number of workforce, purchase the latest farm gadgets and implements, get enough food and money, share to the people of my village on daily basis and then say bye to poverty and suffering in the land of Gbedema. That was my dream! Unfortunately, that was akin to building castles in the air.

All the dreams I had were driven by pure hatred and anger for poverty, suffering and disgrace among my people and family. I remember there were days when my siblings and myself would eat 'zum' (local flour made from either millet/maize mixed with hot pepper) as breakfast, lunch, and supper. Where I grew up gari and sugar is a luxury. In fact, we hardly fed ourselves.

"If wishes (dreams) were horses", as the saying goes, "beggars would ride." I may have good intention for my family and community; however, the dream I had wasn't genuine. Those were just mere wishes triggered by hatred and anger. I was just laying a huge long ladder against a wrong wall. Being an influential agriculturalist wasn't what I really wanted to be.

The fact is that everyone born of a man has a dream. Dreams are the catalysts that drive our passion; therefore, chasing the wrong career will only end you in misery and regret that could take several years to recover.

Today we have so many graduates sitting at home after several years of graduation without jobs simply because they were coerced in one way or the other to pursue programs they had no/less interest in. Similarly, many have been pressured to learn a trade that only wasted their valuable time and resources but in reality meant nothing to the individuals in question.

In the book "The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People", author Steven Covey stated that to "Begin with the end in mind". Do you know what he meant by that? This is how Katana Abbott, a Certified Financial Planner explains it:

"Covey writes, To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you are going so you better understand where you are now so the steps you take are always in the right direction.

It is so easy to simply get tied up in the "busy-ness of life" working harder and harder only to find out that your "ladder is leaning against the wrong wall." How sad that would be.

"People may spend their whole lives climbing the ladder of success only to find, once they reach the top, that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall." Thomas Merton.

It's better to always be at the bottom of the ladder you want to climb than the top of the one you don't.

Leaning your ladder against the wrong wall is akin to a decision to travel from Accra to Gbedema in the Upper East Region, but boarding a vehicle that is heading to Hohoe in the Volta Region of Ghana. In life, time is of the essence to the serious minded individual; therefore, you do not have to allow yourself into making mistakes that could take several years to recover.

I am not in any way suggesting "no mistakes" in life. No! No!! No!!! There is no denying the fact that mistakes are integral part of man. Mistakes shape and challenge us to try harder until we are able to achieve what we set off to achieve. Mistakes committed in a lawful way to achieve a dream cannot be described as a failure but a challenge or a temporal situation.

On a daily basis, we all make decisions. The decisions we make today will determine where we will be in the future. Leaning your ladder against the wrong wall is that of a decision one has to make, and whether we fail or succeed depends on the wall one leans your ladder against. Effort and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.

There are obviously many reasons why the majority of us often lean our ladder against the wrong wall. Many of the reasons below are self-inflicted:

Unhealthy Comparison: Don't be unfair to yourself and compare yourself to people with different circumstances. Learn from them, but pursue your own dreams with your resources. By comparing yourself unhealthily with someone else, you are forced to live that person's dream. Many of us have failed in life because we try to please some people around us. Why would you want to be like Mr. A or B? We all have our destinies well defined before even we were formed in our mothers' womb.

Lack of planning: Majority of us don't plan. As the saying goes: "those that fail to plan, plan to fail." You cannot succeed in this diabolical world if you do not have a perfect plan guiding your dreams. You may have the best dream ever; failure to put those plans on paper will only lead to excruciating defeat. Plans guide us, they are like sign posts to our destination. People who really do not plan have no defined path. For them anything that comes their way is worth trying. You need to know what you want in life and not what everybody is doing. Until you are able to cure that weakness in your life, you will end up joining the bandwagon of individuals who have climbed the apex of their ladder only to realise they have actually leaned their ladder against the wrong wall.

Fear of Failure: Fear of failure has become almost a death threat to most people. Fear places a burden on our hearts anytime we intend to initiate anything different; the fear is always that "I might fail". After all so, so and so begun this and that and fail, so I may also be a victim. FEAR means: False Evidence Appearing Real period! We cannot get different results if we keep doing the same thing. Fear compels people who have greater talents in them to remain in their shells and only live the dreams of others to the detriment of their own success. The point is you wouldn't know where you are until you begin. Don't stay safe, because life isn't fair. Go all out and live your dreams else you will end up leaning your ladder against the wrong wall.

Analimbey's Folder
Inability to identify our God-given talents: Ask anyone what success means to him/her. Don't be disappointed if you are told success means; being rich or having a fat bank account, or having many mansions, or having the latest escalade or Benz or BMW in town because that is all that most of us have been taught so far as success is concerned. Unfortunately, that definition is wrong in the real sense. Being successful does not necessarily mean having money and the like. Being successful means: Identifying your God giving assignment, committing yourself to it, investing in your God-given assignment and positively impacting society. Jesus Christ changed and transformed many lives across the world but never had a place to lay his own head; Nelson Madiba Mandela changed many lives in South Africa, but when he passed on no one asked how many assets he had; however, he was revered for the positive impact he had made in his country. Today, Martin L. King is not remembered by how many houses he left behind, but the positive impact he had made on the black race. You can only be remembered by the footprints we make and not the number of cars one owns. Today we have so many so called "men of god" and mallams conjuring magic money on television. This means riches can be made. People who fail to identify their God-given assignments hardly succeed. Knowing what your unique gift is, gives you greater confidence to survive in this competitive world we live in. The question then is how can I identify my God-given talents? Well, that is something I shall rhapsodize about later.

Privation: Privation simply means the state in which food and other essentials for well-being are lacking. Privation is parallel to a complete state of penury or poverty. It instigates anger, hatred and a source of humiliation and ridicule. My desire to be an agriculturalist was driven by pure privation. A person suffering from privation would do anything to survive though oblivious of future consequences. Many young people are joining the 'sakawa' bandwagon because of privation in their homes. However, what we have to know is that none of us chose our families. We need to value what we have in us. Sometimes we feel like we have been neglected or cursed by God, but don't forget God in his word said: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" (Mathew 6: 25-27 NIV). What this means is that God knows you have needs. You may refer to "In My Position as a Parent" ( for better understanding of this subject matter. Any career decision chosen owing to privation will only end you up climbing the wrong wall. Some have chosen robbery as a profession in consequence to privation. You can do something better with your life even in difficult times. Difficult times should rather encourage and inspire you to greater heights.

Patience: Late 2008 I was in a banking hall here in Ghana for a business transaction when something unusual happened. It was precisely 12:30 when I entered the Banking Hall of Barclays Bank Ltd, Prempeh II Street, Kumasi. That day also happened to be Friday (as you may be aware, Fridays are always busy days in our part of the world). When I entered the banking hall I wasn't surprised to see so many people in the queue; however, something unusual happened that kept me thinking for several hours. A young man who had been in the queue for several hours and couldn't bear the pain to wait some few seconds more went out of the queue and eventually walked away. I was so sad to see my unknown friend walked out. The fact is this young chap had been in the queue with other people for several hours due to what Ghanaian bankers call "network problem". As at the time he had walked away, he was almost close – he was 3rd in the queue. Seconds after my unknown friend left, the branch manager came out of his hideout and profusely apologised for the delay. Thereafter the system was restored; additional tellers were deployed to help hasten things up. In less than 10 minutes, almost all were served with excellence. I tried to let go of my unknown friend who had just been defeated by impatience but my tiny brain wouldn't let go. My inner being started asking questions I had no answers to: "does it mean the gentleman is going to form another queue somewhere? So what happens if what just happened repeats itself again? Et cetera." I believe you would ask similar questions if you were in my shoes. There are so many lessons you and I can learn from this incidence. You and I have also been victims sometimes; we have been once or twice (even more) defeated by impatience. According to Jannette Oke, "impatience can cause wise people to do foolish things." Yes, I agree with my sister Jannette Oke. Impatience has made many deviated from their divine call; Impatience has made many denounced their Christian faith; impatience has led to many broken relationships; impatience has deceived many into committing suicide…….the list continues. Worse of all impatience has made many climbed the wrong wall. Personally, I think it's better to always be at the bottom of the ladder you want to climb than the top of the one you don't. Perhaps, Laura Teresa Marquez's advice should teach us something: "when we get impatient because something is taking too long, we should remember that life waits on us a thousand times more than we wait on life.'' The reason why many Christians are backsliding and running from one prophet to the other is because we lack the patience to wait some seconds more on our God. It is equally the reason why many are into the illegal drug business, 'sakawa', internet fraud, corruptions, robbery, etc. Any time we are faced with a temporary challenge and we prayed and there seems to be no answer we often conclude "God has refused to answer me". Some would even go to the weirdest extent to accuse God of punishing him or her because of some sins he or she may have committed in the past. People who lack patience always have excuses to give for their failure. You don't have to give up on God when He is still working on your case file. My unknown friend that left the bank due to his impatience never knew the management of the bank was busily fixing the problem. God has never run out of supplies. His promises, too, never fail. Know what you want and wait for God's time no matter how long it takes. It's obvious that a farmer that plants cassava or maize would harvest before the farmer that plants cocoa. "C'est la vie!" we all need to develop and nurture the spirit of waiting else you will end up learning your ladder against the wrong wall. In fact, some are where they are now because they could not wait some seconds more on God.

Your personal mission statement defines who you really are, what you value, and what is important to you in all the dimensions of your life. The desired outcome is a description of your ideal life; it is a statement of who you want to be. It is a tool you can use to keep your life in perspective, and have 'life balance'. The definition of a personal mission statement is: A declaration of who you are and what you want your life to be about in all the different dimensions: mental, physical, spiritual, social/emotional, abundance. Your mission defines your purpose on earth. Until you understand the fundamentals in your life you can't have a successful journey in life. In other words, you need to do a diagnosis of yourself to be able to understand yourself well before you are able to write a comprehensive mission statement. Life without a purpose is like wandering in the wilderness with no place in mind. In other words to live a life without a defined purpose is akin to leaning a ladder against the wrong wall.

I will now want to leave you with this important quote by Stacy Mayo: "Often we cruise through life on autopilot, and then find ourselves traveling in the wrong direction. Our definitions of success change with each stage in life. This requires a review of personal focus and values. By doing so, we can take conscious control of our lives." Stacy Mayo

By Christopher Adobe-Rah Analimbey (Writer, Inspirational Speaker and a Blogger)

Email: analimbey[email protected]
Twitter: @analimbeychris

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