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Friday, January 16, 2009

Self fulfilling prophecies and your construction marketing future

The bus terminus in in Masvingo, Zimbabwe is an ocean away from your challenges in finding clients for your construction business. Yet the lessons learned here taught me the principals of self-fulfilling prophecies: The world becomes what you think it will become.

Where do you really feel and think you will go? You will get there, most likely. This principal of success (or failure) underlies much of the self-improvement and personal achievement movement of the last century. You can argue and debate about the science -- or lack of science -- behind the concepts advocated by many motivational gurus, but (if you accept absolute responsibility for yourself in the real, current world) you can use these insights to shape your construction marketing, and business, direction.

Blog readers know that I achieved my first major life goal -- becoming a foreign correspondent -- in 1978-80, when I obtained employment as a sub-editor on the Bulawayo Chronicle and then, with a little white lie to the then Rhodesian authorities, obtained an immigration visa and work permit marked "journalist". This allowed me to live through the end of the African civil war, and the birth of Zimbabwe.

Most of the young Rhodesian whites I spent time with shared the same voice: Serving their nation in constant military call-ups, they said their black nationalist opponents were terrorists who would destroy the country, and black majority rule would be a sure road to poverty and destruction. Conversely, most idealistic western journalists saw the white Rhodesians as unmitigated racists, living (in 1980) with the values and paternalistic impressions of life common to whites in the U.S. south in the 1950s and 60s (or, for that matter, for Canadians, English-speaking Montrealers in Quebec.)

Now, fast forward 30 years, to 2008. In a few weeks, the U.S. will have its first non-white president, And Zimbabwe, still ruled by that 1980 war winner, Robert Mugabe, has just printed $1 Trillion notes (that is $1,000,000,000,000) which might buy a loaf of bread, as more than 1,000 people have died in recent weeks from cholera, a disease rare in any country with basic hygiene and medical systems.

So the majority of the whites I spent time drinking beer and riding motorcycles with in 1979-80 were right, eh?

Well, yes, but not everyone believed the same story. I didn't know him at the time, for example, but Eddie Cross didn't buy the white racist story -- he and a few other young business people even went to white Rhodesian leader Ian Smith and told him that the whites could not hope to win a protracted war with the black nationalists, and suggested compromise and a peaceful solution. And, as a journalist, I refused to buy into the obvious cliches and assumptions, and spent some time getting to know local blacks and realized that the great majority of the population in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe are just like the great majority of the population everywhere: Most set low expectations, hoped to win the lottery, just wanted to live their lives, and a few were of exceptional achievement, ambition and vision.

Next week, I expect, the Rhodesian situation will turn with a meeting involving the key players, including the South African president. The country will be rebuilt, and prosperity will return. And one of my projects as a senior citizen in the decades ahead will be to help this nation so close to my heart to rebuild.

You by now may be wondering the relationship of this far-away story to construction marketing.

Consider these foundations, and you will soon see the importance of the responsible application of reality and vision to achieve your goals and dreams.
  • Assuming your work and reputation in your respective trade or profession are great, you can succeed in marketing. If you are great at marketing but your underlying business and values are not of the highest standard, you live in truly dark spaces.
  • Your challenge is to find your place beyond the crowd, your own vision, your insights, and your world view. Most great construction industry practitioners are not great at marketing, but some emphasis and understanding of effective marketing will likely lead to the solutions of your business problems.
  • Think short term in your immediate life but think long-term in your vision (you may not know exactly where you are going, but you know in your intuition and heart you are heading in the right direction).
Read, think and learn. Most importantly, however, believe in yourself, truly. If you respect yourself and your community, if you view your life and the world in a longer-term frame of reference, you can, and will, achieve your self-fulfilling prophecies, and they will be wonderful.

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