5 Lessons About How to Succeed in Life from 10 Kids Under 12

5 Lessons About How to Succeed in Life from 10 Kids Under 12

By Jamie Matthewman
July 10th, 2015

Here’s a question…

If you had to wake at 5.00am, walk 15km, do a days work and then walk 15km home. Would you do it if it meant you might accomplish your biggest ambitions? Before you say “of course I would”. This isn’t a one off, I’m talking about everyday for…10 years.

Do you believe you have that level of commitment?

If you’re SURE you do, you inhabit a different league to most men, because only a minority are willing to dedicate that amount of time and effort to get what they REALLY want.

The majority of men, including myself, aren’t trained for it. We have been innocently conditioned to value ‘feeling comfortable’. We live in a society which wants men to follow the well trodden path and once on it, the perceived risk of going your own way can feel too much for many. So we stick with the safety we think we know, ignoring our biggest dreams and aspirations.

It’s no ones fault, it’s the life we’ve been born into, but it means many men crave that sense of adventure, life held in times when things weren’t so ‘easy’.

This is one of the reasons I was so inspired watching a documentary called ‘On the Way to School’ (it’s on netflix). If you need inspiring, a kick up the arse or you’re feeling sorry for yourself. Watch it. It follows 10 remarkable children aged between 5 and 12, as they embark on an arduous and sometimes dangerous daily mission to get school.

When I was 12, I’d moan about getting up at 6.30 to catch two busses to school, but these kids attitudes are vastly different. They live in some of the most remote, wild and dangerous environments on the planet, and travel distances, mostly on foot, ranging from 8 to 44 km per day.

Jackson who’s 10 and Salome his 8 year old sister, walk 30km in searing temperatures, across the wilds of the Kenyan outback, pitting their wits against the unpredictability of the big game that roam the African plains.

jackson and salome on the way to school

Samuel who’s 11 and confined to a dilapidated, rusty, old wheelchair is dragged to school by his 5 and 8 year old brothers, across soft sand and through waist high rivers to get to class on time.

sammuel on the way to school

Of course documentaries only offer a glimpse, but these children’s stories offer some powerful lessons about how to succeed in life. Here’s 5 I took away :

1. Get Clear About Your Vision & Purpose

Jackson wants to be a pilot so that he can fly over the highest mountains and great lakes of the world. Samuel wants to become a doctor so that he can help disabled children like him. Zahira also wants to train to be a doctor so that she can save the poor and destitute.

Their ideas will probably evolve, but at such as young age, these amazing kids can genuinely articulate what their lives to be about and as importantly why. They appreciate a good education is an essential part of the plan, so even though their daily journeys may be fraught with obstacles, they know each day takes them one step closer.

An inspiring vision, that comes from the heart becomes a guiding light. It provides a powerful incentive to help you ride the challenges with less effort, take action in the face of fear and do what’s required to move you in the right direction.

2. Commit to Your Quest

A quest in mythology, is generally a journey undertaken, that leads to the achievement of a goal, such as in Indiana Jones who travels the world in an attempt to find the holy grail. The goal these children are pursuing is an education, it’s essential to them achieving their vision.

Can you imagine, before you even start a days work, walking 15km in sandle’s or riding 22km on the back of a horse, through the darkness of a cold, snowy Patagonian winters mornings or in the heat of an African summer’s day. Everyday for 10 years.

I find that level of commitment astounding, especially when they don’t have to go to school. In fact it’s probably an expense their parents could do without. However can you appreciate how mentally tough this kind of training makes a person? They are learning to develop an inner strength many of us never get close to touching.

This level of commitment to a cause, will probably serve them even more powerfully than an education during their lives. I am positive if more kids were exposed to the challenges and obstacles these children are, the increasing number of anti depressants being prescribed to men with depression, would be greatly reduced.

3. Stop Complaining

Like most kids, I’m sure there are days when they don’t want to go to school. It’s not surprising when they have to walk 44km for the privilege! However they appreciate how lucky they are, to have the opportunity, because for many children in their part of the world, it’s not an option.

They awake at the crack of dawn eager to do whatever it takes to get to school. There is no complaining, feeling sorry for themselves or winging. They simply get on with it, doing what they have to do to get what they want – an education.

4. Challenge Yourself Physically

These children push their growing bodies to its limits each day. They are brought face to face with nature’s many obstacles including herds of wild elephants, fast flowing rivers and difficult terrain.

It isn’t easy for them, but they show us what a triumph we are of evolution. We have so much power, energy and possibility for amazing feats, yet most of what’s lying under our bonnets lays dormant in most men.

Men are built for pioneering and for adventure but a sedentary, actionless life makes men lazy, we lose our edge.
It is vital, like these children you have a physical challenge to accompany your big goal.

The body and mind are one system. Neither exists in a vacuum. Push one you push the other. If you want new ideas, find new ways to train and stimulate your body.

5. Beware The Trap of Comfort

I have to admit, that watching the documentary I felt a little jealous of the education these young warriors are receiving. It’s not their schooling that I envy, but what they’re learning about self reliance at such a young age.
I grew up in the suburbs not the serengeti, which meant food was a short walk away, school meant hopping on a bus, water abundant. On their way to school, they’re embedding powerful habits, learning to face their fears and develop disciplines that the comforts of ‘suburbia’ provide.

The trouble is, the perceived safety many men live inside of saps adventure from our lives. Everything it’s easy to get lazy inside a lifestyle that keeps us away from living a bigger adventure. We have become so conditioned for comfort that to commit in the way that these boys and girls do, in the name of making a different life for themselves, is often a step beyond where we think we can go.

Here’s a little clip of the documentary, when you’ve watched it I’d love to hear what you took away from it in the comments section below..

Jamie Matthewman

About Jamie Matthewman

Jamie is the founder, main contributor and editor of The Inspired Man.

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