Wilbur Smith. Everyone knows the name. Whether you are a fan of his books or not, there is no denying that he is widely recognised and read. Wherever you go, you will find an assortment of his books, some published years ago and others more recently. Born in Zambia Wilbur grew up on a farm, later attending school and university in South Africa. Influenced by his mother, he developed a love for reading from an early age. He qualified as a chartered accountant (yes, they can be creative!), sacrificed leave for three years and cashed in on that to pursue his dream. Estimating that his savings could sustain him for five years, he took the chance and left the accounting profession for a period to write. He faced rejections but kept trying and eventually it paid off. Now, at age 87, he is still writing. By early 2019 more than 130 million copies of his books had been sold worldwide. Apart from his passion for writing, Smith has lived an interesting life travelling the world, climbing mountains, scuba diving and exploring.
Although this scenario may only apply to a few, the reminders we can take from his approach to life are there for all. What he has done has been rewarded well.
- He sacrificed immediate pleasures for a long term goal. Instead of taking leave and time off he saved it up in order to pursue his dream.
- He saved money. Only by saving can we eventually do what we would like to do. Create choices with disciplined saving and spending.
- He did what he had to do, to get where he wanted to be. Despite rejections and setbacks, just keep going. Nothing can keep a good man or woman down.
- Find what you love and do that. We were born with passion, dreams and the ability to achieve them; do not forsake that.
- You can change direction – you don’t need to be stuck in a rut. You can learn new skills, try new things and do something completely different with your life.
- Explore, travel and learn. There are so many possibilities – in life, in books, in people, in experiences – live it.
- Read – it broadens the mind, stimulates the imagination and strengthens the brain.
- You are never too old to work, learn new things or be productive. When you love what you do, you will never want to stop doing it.
I may have used Wilbur Smith’s life as an example, but the principles above have been proved throughout history by many successful, happy and fulfilled people. So maybe you too can pause and think about what is it that you love doing – isn’t it time to do just that?
Wilbur Smith gained a film contract with his first book, When the Lion Feeds, and this encouraged him to become a fulltime writer.