I recently reread The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer. In this true story, there are many takeaways for all of us as we strive to create an amazing life.
The book is about William Kamkwamba who was born in Malawi. When William was growing up, Malawi was withered by drought and hunger. Hope and opportunity were as scarce as food and water.
Even in the midst of such dire circumstances, William was propelled by an inner force to make something of himself. He wanted to study science in Malawi’s top boardingschools. But famine had left his family’s farm devastated and his parents destitute. Unable to pay the yearly fee of $80 for his education, William was forced to drop out and help his family forage for food as thousands across the country starved and died.
In his poverty, William still sought ways of cultivating his mind. He came across an old textbook titled Using Energy, which described the principles of creating electricity. The more he read and learned, the more possibilities he could see. He wrote, “Before I discovered the miracles of science, magic ruled the world.” William could see the difference this newfound knowledge could make in his life and the lives of those around him.
Soon, a vision appeared in his mind. He envisioned himself creating a windmill to bring electricity and water to his village, a feat that would change the lives of his family and his neighbors around him.
In the beginning, and not unexpectedly, William encountered many critics. Many of William’s neighbors, the very people he was trying to lift, derided his efforts and called him crazy. But, his vision of bringing electricity and water to his village—things only two percent of Malawians could afford—was too compelling to abandon.
He started small and began to build a windmill using whatever he could find — scrap metal, tractor parts, and bicycle remains.After his first crude yet operable windmill powered four small light bulbs, he continued to make improvements. A second machine turned a water pump that could battle the drought and famine that loomed with every season. Soon, news of William’s magetsi a mphepo—his “electric wind”—spread beyond the borders of his small town, and this boy who was once called crazy became an inspiration to people all over the world.
As we consider William and his remarkable story, it’s important to note that he is not unique. While our own lives may not contain the same elements as his, we all have the capacity to increase our contribution in the world by raising our vision and expanding our belief systems. Whenever there is a problem to be solved, we have the ability to create change and make things better.
I think there are a couple of things holding both us and our youth back from really reaching our potential and making the contribution the world needs:
1. Victim Thinking – What propelled William Kamkwamba forward was his belief that he could make a difference. Too many times, we are limited by our own beliefs that we are the victim of unfortunate circumstances and there is nothing we can do to improve ourselves or our situation. Even in the most meager of circumstances, William never believed this.
What we believe about our capacity and about our power to alter our circumstances matters. It creates all the results in our lives. One of the most important truths you can learn is the principle that your thoughts are creating every outcome in your life. If you want a different result, you need to think a different thought.
The more we can help our children and our teenagers understand that they are responsible for the results in their lives, because they are being created one by one by their own thoughts, the more power they will have to choose their future on purpose.
How many more William Kamkwambas are there out there, unknown and unheralded, who could change the world, if they were given a bit more guidance in the fundamental lessons of creating a vision for their future, overcoming doubt and opposition, and then working hardand persisting until their vision becomes reality?
2. A Focus on the Past – When William Kamkwamba told people about his idea, they thought he was crazy. Nothing like that had ever been done before. To his detractors, this seemed like a valid reason not to try. But thankfully, to William it seemed irrelevant.
Too many of our youth and even ourselves are too focused on our past results to tell us about our future. Instead of imagining what is possible, we sit around recounting all the ways we failed in the past.
In order to create a new future we have to think different thoughts. We can’t use our past as evidence of what will happen next. We have to be willing to suspend our ideas about “reality” and entertain another possibility. This is why it is so important to harness the power of, what I like to call, visioneering—creating your future with your mind. Our minds have the ability to time travel at any moment. We can recall the past and envision the future with ease. We can give our youth an incredible tool when we teach them how to envision their future in great detail, designing it on purpose and allowing any possibility they choose, regardless of the story of their past.
As you think about these important skills—overcoming victim thinking and creating a clear vision of the future—you will quickly realize that these important skills are not taught in our traditional educational system. For most of our youth, they have never had real instruction or training in any of these areas.
This is why we created Own It! Our 10-module course is designed to teach young people about the power of their thoughts and how to use them to get what they want out of life. So many of our youth just want to “feel better,” but they have never been taught that they are in charge of that. Feeling better is not conditional in any way on their outside circumstances. But they don’t know that! No one’s ever taught them the fundamental connections between their thoughts and their feelings and how together they create every result in their life.
In our course we cover intentional mind management, and well as overcoming doubts and unproductive thought loops. We teach them how to process and manage their feelings and make emotional connections with other people. We give them tools for problem-solving, for working through procrastination, and for dealing with discouragement. In this course, your teens will get all the mental and emotional lessons as well as the practical application they need to be successful and happy in any area of their lives.
Come see what Own It! can do for you and your youth. Help them to harness their own power and create great things in their lives. Registering today will give your teen access to a whole new way of thinking and being.