by Thabo Owen Mokwena

Publisher’s Note

Fortune favours the brave

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In navigating the ups and downs of life, there are several mantras that stand the test of time. Can they be scientifically proven? Your guess is as good as mine. A mantra being what it is, is considered a sacred utterance and some believe it to have psychological and/or spiritual powers. One of the most powerful mantras is believed to be that “fortune favours the brave”. It is said that in ancient myths, Fortune was often personified as a goddess; her wheel betokening vicissitude. Otherwise, fortune refers to chance, good luck and a force in human affairs. Those who uphold this mantra have it in them, they have the fighting spirit, are brave enough to take calculated risks and, in most cases, are rewarded generously.

In his famous advice to the ruler of Florence, Lorenzo de’ Medici, on how to stay in power, Machiavelli wrote: “Fortune is the arbiter of half the things we do, leaving the other half or so to be controlled by ourselves.”

He further maintained that those princes who were utterly dependent on fortune would come to grief when fortune changed, but that those who adapted to the policy of the times would prosper. Likewise, the ones whose policies clashed with the demands would also not. It is rather difficult to counter such eloquent and well-reasoned contention.

Machiavelli’s assertion resonates with the phrase, “God helps those who help themselves.” Essentially, it cements the importance of self-initiative, taking control of your circumstances and determining your path, fate and destiny. I also consider this to be a mantra that has stood the test of time and which is still famous around the globe.

Striving for success and achievement requires a significant effort on our part. In all spheres of life—be it the acquisition of education and knowledge, seeking wealth, be it in politics, even in the religious domain, irrespective of beliefs—people must play their roles when it comes to determining their own fortunes. The quest to conquer and be an achiever in life is seldom delivered on a silver platter. Of course, there are those who are born with a silver spoon in their mouths, but they too need to do something to further and sustain their fortunes.

The challenges we face as a society and as individuals require us to heed the advice and meet our fortunes halfway. We must brace ourselves for brevity and put our best foot forward when asserting our own destiny. Fortune will undeniably favour those who innovate, think out of the box and are brave enough to re-imagine the future.

Better still, why be a Machiavelli if you can be the Prince? If you want tantalising future rewards, be prepared to roll up your sleeves and dirty your hands. Be ready to play in the mud.

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