The Sicho Standard: Message from the Morning Man
by Kojo Yankson
23rd May 2016
You might not believe it looking at me now, but when I was in secondary school, I used to be a rather talented break-dancer. My dance partner, Sicho and I, used to choreograph these intricate routines that were so perfectly timed and synchronised, people wondered how we did it. The answer was… practice.
We used to spend inordinate amounts of time practicing our routines. We had a little spot behind the school chapel. It was concealed behind some rather high shrubbery, so we had a bit of privacy to rehearse during prep without the prefects ever catching us (kids, breaking school rules is wrong. Prep time is meant for studying, but it would be nice if schools deemed it important to provide time and space for kids to explore their talents… but we’ll talk about that another time).
Anyway, I remember this one time when we decided to add some acrobatics to our routine. We wanted to do back-flips and land in the splits (forgive us – this was the nineties). Sicho botched it on his first try, so I stepped up, hoping to do better. The first time I tried, I landed on my knees. The second time, on my face. I thought that was a good time to give up, so I declared the task impossible, and suggested we try other moves. Suddenly, I heard Sicho’s voice from behind me: “Ah. Is that it? Is that all you can do?”
I turned round and stared at him, wondering what his problem was. “Massa”, he quipped, apparently too incensed to even remember my name, “you think we’re joking here? This is a serious move we’re trying to do. Why are you expecting it to be easy?”
I felt he was being extremely unreasonable. After scraping my knees and wiping the concrete with my face, I didn’t think it was fair for him to scream at me as if I hadn’t tried. So I defended myself. “Look, what do you want from me?” I asked. “I tried twice. It didn’t work. Let’s drop it and do something else.”
Sicho shook his head “Kojo. If all you can drink is two bottles, why order the whole crate in the first place?”
I often think about that question these days – particularly when I set myself ambitious objectives. I subject my goals to the Sicho Standard. I ask myself: How serious am I about this? What am I willing to endure in order to achieve this goal? How many bottles before finish the crate? How many failures before I give up?
You know, many of us set ambitions for ourselves without thinking through what it’s going to take us to achieve them. That’s why we tend to give up when the going gets tough. Sicho understood that it was going to take extreme hard work to get our new routine sorted. He had physically imagined the hardships and asked himself the tough questions. He knew the goal we had set for ourselves. He knew we were undertaking to drink a crate, so there was no way he was going to stop at two bottles.
Friends, this Monday morning, I want to challenge you, just as Sicho challenged me. What are your goals? What is your ambition? How serious are you about achieving it? How many times are you willing to fail in your bid to succeed? And when you’ve been trying for years and you still haven’t got that promotion, you still haven’t found that husband, you still haven’t passed that exam, you still haven’t started that business, you still haven’t had that child… when you have tried and tried and tried, but your success has remained beyond your grasp, when you have fallen to your knees, when you are lying flat on your face, will you be able to look yourself in the mirror, point a finger at your chest and ask yourself, “Is that it? Is that all you can do”?
For those of you who have drank two bottles and given up on the crate, for those who have taken two step and given up on the mountain, I want this morning to be the start of your new journey to greatness. But please expect many potholes along the way. Expect hardships. Don’t turn round at the first pothole. Victory awaits the one who keeps going.
My name is Kojo Yankson, and I’m willing to fail as many times as it takes to succeed.
GOOD MORNING, GHANAFO!