What ‘stops’ a positive force from leading Nepal ?

What ‘stops’ a positive force from leading Nepal ?

Ujwal Thapa

Nepal is full of intelligent and talented Nepali who love their country dearly. We often hear of a remarkable feat of a Nepalis living around the world. So here is a question for you.

Despite many intelligent and talented Nepali like uswhy is our nation still stuck in a rut of poverty while our neighbors leap towards prosperity? Why do we keep falling from one disaster to another? Why do incompetent leaders who fail us repeatedly continue to rule our nation?

The real question is, what STOPS us from creating that positive force which leads Nepal to prosperity?

The bitter truth is that “WE” – the most intelligent, talented and fortunate amongst all Nepali – are the key obstacle to getting the leadership Nepal deserves. Our cynical habits and fatalistic attitude consistently stop any credible leadership from rising to lead Nepal. Here’s how:

“Individually excellent, collective failure!”

We may have become experts and leaders in our fields. But we have become so comfortable in our own little cocoons that when someone dares to start on a nation building journey, it does not occur to us that we should help. We subconsciously fear that if we try to help, our carefully carved reputation might get stained. By refusing to align with other leaders we forsake succeeding collectively. As a result, while our nation reeks of failure, we stay cozy inside our bubble.

“My way or the highway!” 

We believe that only our way will bring “proper” change in Nepal. We have a nasty habit of dismissing other’s efforts as useless or even outright harmful. Our narrow-minded arrogance has stopped many remarkable Nepali from coming together to solve our nation’s problems.
“We bask in the warmth of power.”

We often rely on the very corrupt people and failed systems we seek to change. We rarely reflect on the consequences of this, especially how it harms those struggling to ignite progressive changes. We often become bystanders in their actions. Only if and when they succeed, we enter to reap the benefits, not unlike parasites who leech on their hosts to nourish ourselves.

“They must only be after money!”

We are deeply suspicious of positive deeds. If a person starts something promising, we suspect ulterior motives behind it. Our doubts soon take the form of subtle yet vicious rumors spreading like Chinese whispers which isolates any changemaker. Unknowingly, we become promoters of a culture of pulling others down – khutta tanne prabidhi.

“Such is life” – Yestai ho, Ke garne? attitude.

Have you noticed many of our conversations usually ending on this note!  We often blame our own “karma” for injustices we face. When we repeat this mantra of ‘fatalism’ daily, we unconsciously build an ecosystem that makes it harder for changemakers to persuade. We create a vicious cycle of resignation within us that dampens the drive for positive transformation from within.

“We over-promise, under-deliver”

How many times have we ourselves fallen victim to this? When invited to support a cause, even we are guilty of committing but rarely showing up. Even when we do, we seem to do it out of sheer obligation. We Nepali need to learn the art of saying “No”. We may dismiss this as trivial but to those seeking to transform our nation, these ‘no-shows’ and ‘unreliability’ slowly drains their efforts dry.
”I did them a big favor. They better pay back soon! ”  

How many times have we heard this? Many of us have a habit of counting our favors and expecting immediate returns. We have little empathy for those who have dared to take the difficult path of transforming our nation. We often prematurely cut short our support leaving them in limbo.

‘Grass is always greener outside Nepal’

How often do we hear this, “Their children are already in America while mine are stuck here...” A Facebook status about winning US DV lottery gets hundreds of likes. But, a call for helping flood victims in Nepal barely gets barely a few. We celebrate relatives who leave Nepal but when one comes back, we howl, “Are you crazy?” Our towns and villages have become old age homes. Our youth are busy building other nations. Ever wonder who our leaders will be left to work with to build Nepal?

“Tomorrow when I wake up, let there be a prosperous Nepal!”

How many of us silently pray for divine power like Pashupatinath to come and save us, ‘The good ones’? We expect our nation to heal on its own without any effort from our side. We often confuse nation building as an effortless task ‘some-one’ else should easily do for us. Instead of lending hand to those patiently trying to build our nation, we are busy daydreaming that somehow it will magically transform overnight!

So until and unless we cleanse ourselves of these negative attitudes, habits and beliefs, we – the fortunate ones – will continue to be the biggest barriers to any positive force leading Nepal to prosperity.

So instead of continuing to be a “leadership barrier”, if you want to cleanse yourself  and become a “leadership builder” here are some of my suggestions.

1) Recognize a leader: do they practice what they preach?

Check whether they only pay lip service or actually keep their word. Instead of falling for lofty promises, find out if they have delivered in the past. Always champion those who under-promise and over-deliver.

2) Don’t “Aid”. “Invest”!

Future leaders need your long-term commitment to change rather than your one-time donations. If you can, invest your time directly. Otherwise, invest by giving resources or your network. Nation building is like raising your own child. It takes years before you see results. Imagine how rewarding it will be seeing these budding leaders grow and deliver in the future (because of you).

3)  “Leaders are made (not born or found)” Make this your mantra.

Buddha, Gandhi, Mandela, Mother Teresa’s journey to excellence did not happen overnight. Pele did not become Pele on his own. Continuous faith and support from citizens similar to you moulded and sharpened these ordinary beings into extraordinary. Today, you have this exciting power to nurture the leaders and heroes you crave for in Nepal. So, take control for raising the next Buddha right here and make our Nepal shine again!

4)    Stop building another paradise, focus on rebuilding our own.

Nepal is a broken paradise. Over the years, we broke it. Now let us rebuild it. Instead of “building” already developed nations, why don’t we come together to rebuild our own? If you are outside, you can start building your own path back to Nepal by investing in positive changes here so that our paradise is rebuilt right here, with your direct help from there.

5) “Feed the hungry, not the already full”

Instead of continuing to support only those already powerful, how about giving a hand to those who need it? Those working for change are usually alone, starving for help. Embrace them. Instead of voting for those you think might win, how about voting for those who you believe are on the right path?

6) Help marathon runners, not 100 meter sprinters.

We usually fail right here. We often trust those who promise immediate results without questioning how they would deliver this. Change comes through persistence. We all know this. Let us build our patience to support these who are in it for the long haul and do not tire easily. If you want to see a nation transformed, seek those who are ready to run marathons, not quick sprints.

7) Embrace doers and bring balance to the system.

There is a deep imbalance in Nepal because those who prescribe change outnumber those who make that change happen. Planners, advisers and intellectuals alone are not enough to build our nation. We need to find and support the doers who dare to make that change happen in reality.

8) Be that “first follower”!

To build Nepal, you don’t need to have a PhD or be inside the circle of power. Neither do you need to be inside Nepal nor do you need to be a citizen. All you need is to consistently care. The first few dedicated followers is most critical to any future leader. Will you dare to become that ‘first follower’?

9) Place your bet on the ‘outliers’ (mavericks).

Modern Nepal came to be because of one man who ruled over a tiny hill, Gorkha. Nepali history is filled with sea changes brought about by people who rose from obscurity. Therefore build that courage and determination to incubate the mavericks amongst us. Who knows, you yourself might be the reason someone rewrites Nepali history yet again!

10) Spread positive rumours.

If nothing else, at least cultivate “positive gossip” as a habit. Practice spreading positive news, however small- be it a teenager who volunteered to manage traffic or donated books – spread these type of news wholeheartedly. And please restrain that impulse to spread negative rumors. Disciplining ourselves around this single habit would do wonders for our national well-being.

In conclusion, I believe that leaders are not only those who lead, but also those who build leaders. Nepal today needs leadership builders like you. While only a few may be able to make the sacrifices needed to become a leader, the rest of us are able to take up the role of building leaders simply by nurturing these leadership-building attitudes.

Nepal is a paradise. To realize its true beauty, the first thing we need to do is to change our own attitudes. Let us not wait. Let us start building the leadership our beautiful Nepal deserves!

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