Rules of Engagement

In military or police operations, the rules of engagement (ROE) determine when, where, and how force shall be used (for example, a submarine of country A cannot open fire on the shipping vessels of country B without an official declaration of war). Such rules are both general and specific, and there have been large variations between cultures throughout history. The rules may be made public, as in a martial law or curfew situation, but are typically only fully known to the force that intends to use them – From

I am not going to write on ROE based on the definition above nor the popular movie starring Samuel L Jackson and Tommy Lee Jones but generally on the simple rules that can guide us in living to the optimum in life. As Africans, we were most likely born into a lot of prejudices but it is time to correct that in our generation and those coming behind us. It is time to awaken to the responsibility of taking our continent to the peak of its potentials and declare our tiredness of the static form of energy we are so used to.

1. The importance of starting, not minding how small: I have watched coming to America, the popular film by Eddie Murphy not less than 12 times since the early 90s but it took me till 2000 or thereabout to notice that there was a very popular extra in the cast of that movie. He acted in just one scene as an armed robber and his role was over in about 2-3 minutes. This man went ahead to get major roles and became one of the best known actors in Hollywood. His name is Samuel L. Jackson. I wonder why many of us despise small beginnings and always want to start big even without adequate preparations. I wish we will learn from humble men who started small and learned to rise from those experiences.

2. Understand the law of Inertia:

Newton’s first law of motion states that – An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an external force.

This is a law that is very easy to practice and so common in the lives of many in our society today. There are two dimensions to it. Those who never started anything thus remaining in their green state. The second state points to those who started something and are comfortable with the height reached. Most people are in either of both states which is very obvious especially with the level of development we see around here in Africa. To be an inventor, great writer, Nobel Laurette, Industrialist, etc – you must be able to overcome Inertia and push to greater heights always. No man comfortable with his present accomplishment will ever progress without seeking for higher stakes.

3. The gains of constant improvement: In my first point, I mentioned the man Samuel L. Jackson and how he moved from being an extra in a film that got great reviews in the late 80’s to one of the best actors ever to grace the big screens. But I must say that not all extras become big stars! It is not a general attribute but a personal choice borne out of hard work, dedication and commitment.

4. You are what you think: The mind is a very powerful tool that shapes our life, the way we live, our belief system, goals and achievements. People tend to think when they use their mouth to confess negativity; they are humble. Whatever we sow in our thought process will be reaped at a later date; hence the importance of thinking positively and shaping our world in a good way. Everything that came to be in this world is a product of thought. The nuclear bombs that can destroy the world are a product of thoughts and the same nuclear power could be used for positive purposes like electricity generation – another product of thought. I know a lot of final year students of Universities who allow their thoughts to conquer them by believing they will also look for jobs for years like the brother or sister they knew who graduated years ago and most times, this comes to pass. When we realize the power we have to change our circumstances, I am sure our lives and the world in general will be a better place.

5. You are the only limitation to what you can achieve: I have a philosophy in life. I believe that every rich family did not start by being rich but a certain patriarch or matriarch decided to be different and put his/her family in the path of wealth. This means that the fact that one was born into a poor family is a chance to start a dynasty and be referred to as the harbinger of greatness for one’s family/community. It is therefore a big fallacy to think that only the rich families will continue to be rich and the poor will definitely get poorer. The Abiola family’s riches do not date back to many generations ago but started with the man M.K.O Abiola himself. Most of the World’s richest men cannot go back many generations ago in their wealth chronology but the wealth is due mostly to activities of some years past. Whatever we set our minds to do – we can!

6. Never lose focus: The ability to be consistent is not a very common attribute but one acquired through determination and discipline. The goal is always there to be scored but how many are prepared to stick to the game and ensure that the distractions of this world do not get to them? Not many I believe as we have seen many people start well but fall by the way side. I think this all boils down to preparation and the foundation. In this rule of engagement – focus is very important.

7. The Importance of finishing strong: Men who started well and kept the course most likely finish strong. I remember reading the book – Finishing Strong by Steve Farrah and crying at the end of the book. This is one book that got me thinking about the purpose of life and the stupidity of wasting one’s life with improper behavior and immorality. How many men will be able to look back when they are 50 or 60 and be happy knowing they did not waste their youth on booze, women and wickedness? How many women of same age bracket can actually allow their decisions to become a manual to guide the coming generations? How many of us will be able to stand in front of God at the end of this life’s journey and proudly declare they lived according to his purpose and made sure that humanity was the better for their coming to earth? It is only those men who stick to this rule that finished strong.

8. About being a nice candle: Those who continually seek to improve the lives of people around them end up being celebrated and always come out better than imagined. When people ask me to teach them something in any field; I become challenged and in my bid not to mess up, I realize I had to research the topic and become proficient in the field. I pass on the knowledge but at the same time, what I teach also stick to my memory. That is the process of being a candle, lighting other candles and eliminating darkness. An African proverb that scares me says – A dying old man is like a burning library. That should not be so but it is common in Africa where people die and they take with them a lot of knowledge that were never passed on to the coming generations.

9. About Love: The greatest law Jesus gave unto us is LOVE. He himself demonstrated it when he died for our sins and took away our sins. I wonder why the United Nations was formed when the most important ingredient of love was not sorted out. It is obvious that we can never vow to bomb our fellow men if love exists. We can start small by genuinely loving our family, friends, neighbors and the effect will resonate. To live without love is like not living at all. When we see the big picture and realize that the next person we are about to hurt is our brother or sister; I guess we will have a rethink. Most of the ills in our World can only be eliminated when we see that only love conquers evil.

10. The God factor: No man is good without the God factor. Most of the World’s worst dictators did not start by being bad men but in the quest to express themselves’, they did it the wrong way and sometimes think they are gods. Some even started with the aim of protecting their constituency’s interests but end up destroying the same people they wanted to save. A man is inherently selfish on his own and will only do things in the right perspective when the supreme being provides the motive. We can in the name of civilization decide to leave God out of our lives – but we know where it leads us at the end. Obeying God’s laws protects us from our self-inflicted hurt. Knowing that God exist and we will one day account to him keeps us from destroying ourselves and our world. Africa is ravaged by HIV/AIDS and corruption. Don’t you think that if God’s laws about keeping the bed undefiled are kept, we can eliminate HIV/AIDS? Is it not obvious that if we follow God’s laws, corruption will reduce because it is clear that God hates thieves and murderers? A food for thought.

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