Guest post by Mawuna Kuotonin Editor/Founder SiliconAfrica.com
Perhaps there is something to be said for ‘fake it till you make it’ in the startup world.
Great stories make great nations. Before nation builders there are great people builders.
The saying, “The sun never sets on the British Empire” was true as recently as 1937 when tiny England did, in fact, still have possessions in each of the world’s 24 time zones.
It’s widely known that the British explored, conquered and ruled much of the world for a number of years, but what isn’t as widely known is what made them believe they could do it.
For the first 1000 years after Christ, Greece and Rome were the only nations telling stories of heroes and champions. England was just a dreary little island of rejects, castoffs, barbarians and losers. So who inspired tiny, foggy England to rise up and take over the world?
Hoping to instill in his countrymen a sense of pride, a simple Welsh monk named Geoffrey assembled a complete history of England that gave his people a grand and glorious pedigree.
Published in 1136, Geoffrey’s “History of the Kings of Britain,” was a detailed, written account of the deeds of the English people for each of the 17 centuries prior to 689 AD… and not a single word of it was true.
Yet in creating Merlyn, Guinevere, Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table from the fabric of imagination, Geoffrey of Monmouth convinced a sad little island of rejects, castoffs, barbarians and losers to see themselves as a just and magnificent nation.
And not long after they began to see themselves that way in their minds, they began seeing themselves that way in the mirror.
Most people assume that legends, myths and stories of heroes are simply the byproducts of great civilizations, but I’m convinced that they are the cause of them.
Throughout history, the mightiest civilizations have been the ones with stories of heroes; larger-than-life role models that inspired ordinary citizens to rise up and do amazing things.
It’s no secret that people will usually do in reality what they have seen themselves do in their minds. In your mind, what do you see yourself doing?
Steve Jobs famously had a ‘reality distortion field’ and would proclaim things that were so out of touch with reality.
Larry Ellison sold ‘vaporware’ for many years, which got Oracle into a little trouble for a time, but eventually they conquered the relational database market.
And Ray Kroc, when raising capital, confidently declared rosy revenue numbers even as the company was bleeding cash and on the brink of bankruptcy.
According to his autobiography Grinding It Out, one of the temp staff members saw that and decided to join full time on the spot. He would become a millionaire from McDonald stock. When asked many years later why he did so, this employee said something along the lines of: How can anyone not want to work for a guy who projects such a clear and grand vision so confidently even when everything is going to hell!