If ‘desire’ is a strong feeling of wanting something, ‘aspire’ is more to strive for something ambitious,  to commit oneself to the achievement of a lofty goal. Anna Jameson wisely said that, in some sense, we are what we aspire to be. Our aspirations reflect our being. To lift our vision to a higher aspiration and connect our minds and hearts to it, transforms us. We are not the same after seeing a new destiny than what we were before seeing it. True aspiration is personal and authentic, but can also be shared with many others. It is personal in the sense that we can see ourselves working towards the goal with the intuitive knowledge we have and the ‘right design’ to realise or help realise it. It can be a shared aspiration in the sense that the vision is big enough to evoke similar aspirations in others.

We can raise our aspirations for many different reasons and the dynamic behind it can be different for different people, times and situations. Sometimes we can, with hindsight, recognise the early signs of new aspirations: those unpredictable sensations or moments of inspiration that are imprinted in our memory so clearly and vividly. At first, they were not neccesarily personal. Rather, it was like a frame of a movie in our mind that freezed for no apparent reason. At other times a person can be so desperate that the situation almost forced him to look in a new direction and thereby make a new discovery of a desired future. And then, at other times, it is as if a new worldview was built slowly and piece by piece through others’ words and insights, until one day the picture was not only recognisable but a personal revelation. The result being that our aspirations and sense of purpose changed. ‘Deeper foundations for higher aspirations’ is a contribution to building a picture of leadership for a new era.

Many people, sadly, don’t have any aspirations at all. They will tell you how life sucked their energy and belief out of them. If we allow our emotions to take control of us in times of hardship or times of major disappointment, we will never be able to grow into people who can make significant contributions to society – however talented we might be. We will in effect marginalise ourselves. We will forever be comfortable with the victim-label around our necks. Feelings of anger, resentment, depression and envy, or apathy and indifference, will take control of us. It will prevent us from taking constructive steps that could improve our sense of well-being and potential.

To rise above our disappointments and negative emotions, we need a faith to live by, a self to live with and a purpose to live for, to quote Bob Harrington. As long as we allow our problems, however big they seem to be, to occupy our minds as problems, we allow them to control our attitudes to life, our perceptions of ourselves, and our behaviours and interactions with others. We allow them to pull us down and make us send out negative signals to the world around us. Fortunately, as human beings, we are blessed with minds that can imagine and hearts that can be lifted to see possibilities, to start believing in something that can give us new meaning, and to recognise we are not alone in those aspirations.

Gerhard van Rensburg