The world owes you nothing.

Artwork By The KenyanBookJunkie

Artwork By The KenyanBookJunkie

“Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow.” – Aesop

I guess this is my somewhat vague attempt at explaining my hiatus for the past one month. I lost focus, I listened to the voices around me and I let my vision get faltered.

You see, everyone around you has a certain image of who you are and what you ought to be. Most people think that you could do so much better by doing things different which simply translates to doing things their way.

While some of these people usually have your best interest at heart, it is vital to remember that it is always up to you. The choices that you make, the path that you take are and ought to be your own prerogative. There is no right or wrong way to live life, we were never meant to be the same, you need to make your own mistakes,own them  and learn from them because otherwise, how do you grow?

As human beings, we are naturally inclined to passing on blame to literally anyone or anything other than ourselves. When we lose focus we want to blame it on circumstances or that friend or family member that keeps wanting to give you advice on how you should be living your life. I say this because I am no different. In fact, this has been me for the past few months.

I took a break from writing this blog because of all the things happening around me. I want to say that it is because of those things that I started to question my goals and my vision but I did that entirely on my own. I let those things affect me and in turn I lost momentum.

I lost focus and I could not bring myself to writing because I felt like anything that I would have written would have been a lie. You see, that is what happens when you lose faith and stop believing in yourself and in what you are doing.

I’m not saying do not listen or take advice when it is offered to you, I am not saying  do not ignore your surroundings or the things that happen to you, all I am saying is, be stubborn about your goals but flexible about your methods. Use the advice and your circumstances to get where you want to be.

Things I will Tell My Daughter Cover Page, Art Work By The KenyanBookJunkie

Things I will Tell My Daughter Front Cover Page

During my short ephemeral, I came across a book; Things I will tell my Daughter by Joan Thatiah. My thought at first were that using a title similar to Maya Angelou’s A Letter To My Daughter was a big risk to take. I was skeptical at first because I was afraid of being disappointed if the book wasn’t as good as the former or if it was just a replica of the same.

I am truly impressed at the fact that it is neither of those things. I found it very relatable and original in that, most of her lessons are centered on her experiences growing up. I could totally identify with some of the things she has gone through and it is due to that fact that chapter five really hit home for me.

I actually borrowed this title from that. Not very original I know but hey, repetition for emphasis? Joan tells of how she was born of a single mother and of how she had to learn to not let that and her unfortunate background define who she was going to be.

She tells of how she had to work to become something or someone bigger than that and of how she learnt that she wasn’t entitled to anything just because of these circumstances. The world didn’t owe her anything just because life had been unfair to her.

This is one lesson that most of us forget to take heed of and yet it is among the most vital lessons if we are to truly live fulfilling lives. Most people who fail to pay attention to this are often angry and bitter at life. Look around,tell me if i’m lying.

That’s all I have for now. I can’t promise i’ll be on here as much as i’d like to but i’ll definitely try. 🙂

 

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5 Things I Learnt From Oprah’s ‘What I know For Sure’.

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“When you get the choice to sit out or dance, I hope you dance.”

This was the refrain from the song that Maya Angelou had sent to Oprah, a song that pretty much summed up her life.

The first thing that struck me about this was a cliché statement that almost every teacher, preacher, speaker and even my parents have repeated on numerous occasions. “Show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are” It was and still is evident that Oprah surrounded and still surrounds herself with great people.

Oprah’s “What I know For Sure “was in every bit as insightful as I thought it would be but what I liked the most was how simple her stories were. They flow so softly yet you can’t miss the lessons and the advice.

This woman who loves her four o’ clock masala chai and red wine, this woman who has tremendous achievements, this woman who has a humongous fortune to her name comes off as humble and fun and happy in this book.

She also seems like someone who has been through a lot but from that she learnt and was fortunate to take the lessons and apply them to her life resulting in someone who is at peace with herself.

If I had ever wanted to meet Oprah Winfrey, I want to, now more than ever.

Like every other book I read, I purpose to learn and this is why if I’m reading a hard copy I’ll always have a note book with me and if I’m reading an E-Book on my work laptop or from home I’ll always have a note pad open.

This book was not any different, I gathered so much and here is some of it.

1.You define your own life. Don’t let other people write your script.

Great minds think alike, they really do. Almost every book written by a leader that I have come across never fails to point this out.  Oprah was no exception.

“Every day brings a chance for you to draw in a breath, kick off your shoes, and step out and dance – to live free of regret and filled with as much joy, fun and laughter as you can stand.

You can either waltz boldly onto the stage of life or live the way you know your spirit is nudging you to, or you can sit quietly by the wall, receding into the shadows of fear and self-doubt. You have the choice this very moment”

2.Pleasure is energy reciprocated: What you put out comes back.

I think the one thing that I love about Oprah is her generosity. From the give-aways in her shows to her selfless need to always put others before herself.

On one of her Birthdays, she says that she would have gone through the trouble to have a musician she loved come not for her but for her friend.

The fact that she cried so much when her friends did the same for only goes to show that she never expected that they would, imagine that. She would give without expecting anything in return.

3.He who dies with the most toys is still dead.

“The gift of deciding to face your mortality without turning away or flinching is the gift of recognizing that because you will die, you must live now. Whether you flounder or flourish is always in your hands – you are the single biggest influence in your life.

Your journey begins with a choice to get up, step out, and live fully.”

Don’t be so caught up in chasing the world that you forget to live. At the end of the day, the countless amount of money and the many late nights at the office will not matter if you never got out and lived.

4.You deserve to be happy.

Whether it’s a spouse, who constantly degrades your worth, hurts you every chance he or she gets, a family member who is always waiting for you to screw up or simply a person who is always dimming your light, you have no business being around them.

When Oprah was in her 20’s, she had a series of bad relationships and one time while she was hurting from one of them her friend told her this; “He’s just chipping away at your spirit. One day I hope he chips deep enough for you to see who you really are – someone who deserves to be happy.”

If it wasn’t for the last part, I would have called the friend mean.

5.What I know For Sure.

This book got me to thinking, if I was asked the same question Gene Siskel asked Oprah, would I be able to give an answer let alone write a whole book.

I’ll tell you this, right now at this moment; I know that life is tough, that I need to work my ass off just to survive but I also know that life has its happy moments. I know that I need to fight my natural inclination towards solitude and the depression that kicks in once in a while.

I need to make new friends and go out because like it or not people make memories more worth the while. It doesn’t matter how long they stay, it’s the impact and the influence that they had on us and vice versa.

“Your journey begins with a choice to get up, step out, and live fully.”

5 Great Leaders Who Suffered From Depression.

Depression

Image Courtesy of India Times

We all have days that we’d rather stay in bed than face the world. Call it a case of the blues. While we all experience a case of the blues from time to time, some are unfortunate to experience them more intensely and for long periods of time ranging from weeks to even years.

This in very simple terms is what you call depression. Depression occurs in many different states and affects your physical and mental health. There are a number of illnesses or disorders associated with depression ranging from the likes of anorexia to anxiety, insomnia and so much more.

A common expression of depression that has been there from time immemorial is suicide which is actually what compelled me to research and write about the topic. Just this past month alone I have heard about 3 suicide case and that is just close to home, there are so many more out there and the reasons they give in their goodbye letters are just so trivial they make you wonder, “people are starving, others are homeless and you kill yourself because of this?”

Ignorant as that question sounds, so many of us have thought it, some of us have actually voiced it but the truth is, you can never really know what is going through someone’s head that leads them to take their lives.

Those that commit suicide have probably been depressed for a while and I’d like to assume that, that insignificant thing written on the goodbye note was just a trigger. Most of us take this act as an act of cowardice. You were afraid to face the world so you took the easy way out, but rather than viewing this act as an act of cowardice, I got to thinking, most of us fear death more than anything, right?

So maybe those who commit suicide are actually braver than we make them out to be; I don’t know and in search of answers I stumbled upon two books, ‘Lincoln’s Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness’ and ‘A first Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links between Leadership and Mental Illness’. I was looking for information on depression but I landed on how some of the greatest leaders of all times battled depression some even becoming great because of it.

A first Rate Madness, albeit a good biographical collection of various leaders, felt a little bit shallow and at one point I even felt like Nassir Ghaemi, the author, was defending actions of the likes of Hitler.

That might not have been the case.

Lincoln’s Melancholy however, I found intriguing. It not only delved deep into Lincoln’s life from his childhood to his time in office but also proves in depicting Lincoln as a man who suffered from depression.

I found it rather enlightening as it made me view depression on a whole different perspective. It’s not news that some of the greatest leaders suffered from depression and that to some it was an asset. Lincoln’s Melancholy is a great example of this.

Here are five world renowned leaders who are probably the most well known to have suffered from depression:

1. Abraham Lincoln

Kenyan Book Junkie- Abraham Lincoln

Background Image Courtesy of History.com

Joshua Wolf Shenk through his book, ‘Lincoln’s Melancholy’ shows us how Lincoln managed to turn his depression into an asset. It is probably because of this infamous piece of biography that when we speak about leadership and depression, Lincoln is among the first people that come to mind.

In the first chapter, Joshua mentions that depression can be inherited and that as much as Lincoln’s depression was as a result of personal tragedies he faced as a kid such as seeing his mother’s ailment and death, the death of his uncle and aunt, the death of his sister and his father’s absence, it could have also been inherited. Biological predisposition is what the author calls it.

‘”Predisposition” means an increased risk of developing an illness. As opposed to traditional Mendelian inheritance — in which one dominant gene or two recessive genes lead to an illness or trait — genetic factors in psychiatric illnesses are additive and not categorical.’

Lincoln’s friends at times feared that he would take his life due to how extreme his depression got.

“As a young man he talked more than once of suicide, and as he grew older he said he saw the world as hard and grim, full of misery, made that way by fate and the forces of God.” The Atlantic.

2. Princess Diana

As I was looking for more information to support the fact that she suffered from depression, I found an article from India Today with the title “She was bulimic, depressed and suicidal. Why couldn’t Princess Diana’s Midas Touch turn her life to gold?”
Kenyan Book Junkie- Princess Diana's quote
What shook me the most was that according to that and many other articles, there was a series of tapes found (‘13 reasons why’ much?).  The series of tapes had been availed to Andrew Morton the author of Diana: Her True Story. According to the book, Diana in her tapes, talks about her pressure she received in her rather stressful position as the Princess, her husband’s infidelity that began before their marriage and continued well after and her battle with Bulimia.

Makes you think twice about wanting to become a princess right?

Having read from a few articles (I am yet to read the book) about what Diana was going though,  it’s no shock that she too had tried to commit suicide by slitting her wrists, something I unfortunately know too well about but that is a story for another day.

3. Winston Churchill

A well know journalist who described his depression as a black dog, My black dog seems quite away from me now – it is such a relief. All the colors come back into the picture.”

While reading about the- oh- so- great Winston Churchill, I came across another term, Manic Depression. Manic Depression is what we call today, Bipolar Disorder. Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder that causes people suffering from it to have alternating moods of abnormal highs and abnormal lows. The abnormal highs or periods where the person has elevated moods are called mania whereas the lows are called depression.

Winston Churchill would have periods where he was extremely low, unproductive and borderline depressed then there were periods he was in extremely high spirits, periods when he wrote enough literature to surpass Shakespeare and Dickens combine and even win a Nobel peace prize.

4. Adolf Hitler

This post was supposed to be up by the weekend, he is the reason as to why it wasn’t. I know, typical right? Blame everything on the bad guy why don’t you.

I debated for awhile on whether to write about him or not because the issue of his mental health has been the cause of great controversy for a very long time.

Adolf Hitler

Background Image Courtesy of Globe and Mail

The question that many ask is was Hitler crazy or just evil?

Now I am no psychiatrist nor can I ascertain whether the man was crazy or not but there have been a number of articles that have stated so from claims that he had a personality disorder to the fact that he might have been Schizophrenic.

It didn’t help that most of what was written on A First Rate Madness sounded like mere speculation and did not really provide proof to back up the state of Hitler’s mental health.

I thought Nassir Ghaemi would provide answers that have been sought out for ages but I was mistaken. I do applaud him for trying though and choosing to take on these murky waters.

5. Martin Luther King

Having have read about the man and idolized him since I was a youngin’ it was quite a shock to learn that he too had suffered from depression at one point in his life. According to A First Rate Madness, Martin Luther King was clinically depressed. It is also a well known fact that he had even attempted to take his life twice in his adolescence.

I came across an article from Medscape that suggests the same. According to this article, Dr. King exhibited symptoms of Mania Depression where he had highly energetic periods and periods where he’d be very depressed. Just like Winston Churchill, Dr King in his highly energetic periods would be very active, giving numerous speeches and sermons and then he’d have periods where he was almost always exhausted, slept a lot and could not concentrate.

These two books and the numerous articles written on the depressive states of these and many more leaders just go to show that even the best of us go through depression. The case of Princess Diana clearly shows that even those whom we think have it all battle their demons. Another thing that I got was the difference between crisis and non-crisis leadership. Lincoln’s Melancholy serves to show how depression fueled one man’s greatness while A First Rate Madness suggests that the leaders who suffered from depression and other mental illnesses were very good in times of crisis while those that were termed as healthy were just as good in times of non-crisis but failed in the former.

All things said, the two books definitely push you to look at depression on a whole other perspective.

Using The Art Of Persuasion To Get What You Want

What started as a series of (more than I would have liked to read) analogies mostly about animals (I hate watching animal planet) ended up being an elaborate explanation of why we behave the way that we do (at least that’s how I understood it).

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Background Image Courtesy of Meet Learn. Book Image Courtesy of The Market Agents.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” is the book that I have been reading. It’s written by Robert B. Cianldini. Now this is the first of his books that I am reading and I was very skeptical at first especially since the first chapter was just a series of long paragraphs about animals(did I mention that I hate Animal Planet?).

It took a bit of time to warm up to the book especially after I realized that our opinions are not so different.

In the first chapter he talks about how a female turkey uses the ‘cheep-cheep’ sound made by its young ones to identify them. In fact, other identifying features of the chicks, such as their smell, touch, or appearance, seem to play minor roles in the mothering process.

As ridiculous as this sounds, it works very well for the female turkeys and other animals who use the same technique well most of the time. This is because, by reacting to just that one pre-programmed stimulus, these animals will almost always behave correctly when faced with a threat or otherwise.

Robert B. Cialdini goes ahead to remind us that we too have our pre-programmed ways of reacting to certain things. He calls them our pre-programmed tapes.

It was at this point that I actually began to understand what he was trying in so many words to pass across.

I began thinking about previous arguments that I have had with people about beliefs. Let us take religion for example; this is one topic that has been the cause of conflicts since time in memorial.

The reason being very simple, we all think that our religion is better than everyone else’s and we are not entirely wrong because that is how we have been programmed to think from the minute we were able to comprehend things.

Take for instance a Christian who has been brought up in the church and more so has been taught to look down on other religions or Muslims who have been taught to do the same or a Hindu or any person from the thousands of religions that we have in the world.

These people will always think that their way is better and try to fault others who do not follow it simply because of their pre-programmed beliefs.

However, have you ever wondered what would have happened if you had been brought up to believe differently?

In the beginning of the first chapter, the author tells us about how a friend sold some pieces of jewelry that had refused to sell for a while simply by accidentally doubling the price when what she intended to do was actually reduce it by half.

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The friend thought that this was mere luck and most of us would have interpreted it that way which is not entirely false.

However, there is a logic behind this and Robert went ahead to explain it. The explanation is pretty simple and it has to do with the fact that most of us have been programmed to think that we pay for what we get and that cheap is expensive.

This way of thinking is simply based on experience which makes it very rational. In fact I have found myself not only thinking but also using these lines from time to time when buying things.

Robert says that although the people who bought the jewelry for twice its price did not realize it, by reacting solely to the price feature of the items, they were playing a shortcut version of betting the odds.

Instead of stacking all the odds in their favor by trying painstakingly to master each of the things that indicate the worth of the jewelry, they were counting on just one—the one they knew to be usually associated with the quality of any item. They were betting that price alone would tell them all they needed to know.

In other words, the higher the price of an item, the better the quality.

The other thing that he went to talk about is a principle in human perception that is called the contrast principle. This principle affects the way we see the difference between two things that are presented one after another.

If the second item is fairly different from the first, we will tend to see it as more different than it actually is.

One of the examples he gave that explains this principle, is when a guy is talking to an attractive lady at a cocktail party then they are joined by an unattractive one, (in his opinion of course) the second woman will strike him as less attractive than she actually is.

This is called perceptual contrast and can be used to explain our perception towards different things.

Now I knew I was hooked when Robert decided to explain how one can take advantage of this. He did this by simply using a company realty salesman that he accompanied once as he showed houses to prospective clients.

Whenever the salesman began showing a new set of customers potential buys, he would start with a couple of undesirable houses which he called setup property.

This company maintained a run-down house or two on its lists at inflated prices. These houses were not intended to be sold to customers but to be shown to them, so that the genuine properties in the company’s inventory would benefit from the comparison.

While this is a bit deceptive it is also very smart, don’t you think?

All this said, the part that gave me goose bumps was the letter at the end of that chapter.

 

“From the Parent of a College Coed

Dear Mother and Dad:

Since I left for college I have been remiss in writing and I am sorry for my thoughtlessness in not having written before. I will bring you up to date now, but before you read on, please sit down. You are not to read any further unless you are sitting down, okay?

Well, then, I am getting along pretty well now. The skull fracture and the concussion I got when I jumped out the window of my dormitory when it caught on fire shortly after my arrival here is pretty well healed now. I only spent two weeks in the hospital and now I can see almost normally and only get those sick headaches once a day.

Fortunately, the fire in the dormitory, and my jump, was witnessed by an attendant at the gas station near the dorm, and he was the one who called the Fire Department and the ambulance. He also visited me in the hospital and since I had nowhere to live because of the burnt out dormitory, he was kind enough to invite me to share his apartment with him.

It’s really a basement room, but it’s kind of cute. He is a very fine boy and we have fallen deeply in love and are planning to get married.

We haven’t got the exact date yet, but it will be before my pregnancy begins to show.

Yes, Mother and Dad, I am pregnant. I know how much you are looking forward to being grandparents and I know you will welcome the baby and give it the same love and devotion and tender care you gave me when I was a child.

The reason for the delay in our marriage is that my boyfriend has a minor infection which prevents us from passing our pre-marital blood tests and I carelessly caught it from him.

Now that I have brought you up to date, I want to tell you that there was no dormitory fire, I did not have a concussion or skull fracture, I was not in the hospital, I am not pregnant, I am not engaged, I am not infected, and there is no boyfriend.

However, I am getting a “D” in American History, and an “F” in Chemistry and I want you to see those marks in their proper perspective.

Your loving daughter,

Sharon

Sharon may be failing chemistry, but she gets an “A” in psychology.”

I did't see that coming

GIF Courtesy of E Online.

I can only imagine her parents’ reaction as they were reading; it must have been priceless especially at the end!

20 Things I’ve Learnt In My Early Twenties.

20 things I've learnt at 20

20 Things I’ve Learnt In My Early Twenties

“In my life, I’ve lived, I’ve loved, I’ve lost, I’ve missed, I’ve hurt, I’ve trusted, I’ve made mistakes but most of all I’ve learnt.” Hp Lyrikz.

I am still trying to find my way and my place on this planet. I keep falling but I get up; I am still learning.

Here are the 20 things I’ve learnt at 20!

1. This Life Is Not For The Weak

I have gone though enough things in the last twenty plus years to realize that I needed to toughen up my skin to survive.
You can’t go through life being fragile and easy to break. You have to be strong and willing to fight whenever you have to.

2. You Lose Some You Gain Some

Friends come, sometimes they stick around but sometimes they don’t. Some you simply drift away, some you fall out due to discrepancies.  Treasure the ones that you have and appreciate the time that you spend with those that are gone.

20 things i've learnt at 20

No Pain No Gain

3. You Are Capable Of So Much, Just Push Yourself

The most fascinating thing about this world is that anything is possible. You just have to push yourself and have some imagination. I have pushed myself and had some things happen that I didn’t even deem possible. Do not be afraid to dream big or to set high goals, believe in yourself and in those goals.

4. It’s OK Not To Fit In

I’ve always felt like I didn’t belong, like I could never fit in regardless of how much I tried. This can be a bad thing especially if you give into pear pressure just to fit in.

You do not have to fit in; I mean why be basic when you were born to stand out?

5. You Are Going To Feel Lost

When you get into your twenties, you are excited and pumped to take on a new chapter of your life. You have so many goals set out and so many plans for the future. You are ready to take on anything but life throws at you more road blocks than you can take.

It is at this point that you will question yourself, you will begin to doubt your capabilities and question whether it’s really worth it and the worst part is that it gets really bad before it gets better.

Hang in there.

6. Everything Happens For A Reason

Whether it is to teach you a lesson, make you stronger or simply to give you a fresh perspective, things happen for a reason.   The reason might not be clear right away but it’s there and it becomes clear with time.

Ever heard of the phrase God doesn’t make mistakes?

7. Things That’s Seem So Important Right Now Might Be Utterly Insignificant In The Future

If it’s giving you a headache and you simply can’t get a way around it then why not just let it be? I look back at some things that I considered extremely important a while ago, so important that I invested my time, money and peace of mind on them.

Right now some of those things are insignificant and not worth all the stress.

8. Character Is Everything

“The true character of a person is not defined by what he does in front of a crowd but instead by what he does when no one is around”

Strive to be a person whose moral qualities even you would admire.

Kenyan Blog

Make Memories

9. Build Memories That Last

Travel, go out, do all the things that scare you and make memories while at it. There is nothing as sad as looking back at your life and having nothing to reminisce about.

Take advantage of the fact that you have fewer responsibilities now and do all the things that you want to do. Enjoy your twenties and maximize your experiences.

10. Meet New People

Different people have different views on life and everything in general. The world has a population of over 7.5 billion people, meet new people and gain new insights on life. You might be surprised at how good your life could be if you just looked at it from someone else’s eyes.

11. It Is Better To Give

Getting clothes, money shoes you name it, feels pretty awesome but I’ll tell you this for free; nothing beats the joy and satisfaction that comes with giving. The look that you get as someone appreciates whatever it is that you’ve given then is simply priceless and the warmth that comes with giving is just amazing.

12. Work Hard

Nothing and I repeat nothing in this world is free. If you want the good things in life then you must work for them and not just work but work hard especially now that you have more energy and very few responsibilities.

13. It’s OK To Make Mistakes

Mistakes are a stepping stones to success and failures are part of life. You learn through mistakes and they are the only way you know whether you are improving or not. Own your mistakes and learn from them.

14. Do Not Compare Yourself To Others

Someone else’s success does not determine your and vice-versa. When I was in high school, I used to hear the athletes being told not to look back at their competition as they ran as that would slow them down.

The same can be said about life, while you are busy worrying about what is in someone else’s plate, the food in yours is getting cold.

The only  person that you should be in competition with is you. Work to become the best version of yourself.

15. Be Real; Be You

In a world where trends are constantly changing and being fake has become a norm, it is very easy to lose touch with yourself. Don’t lose your authenticity trying to become someone that you are not. Be you, live according to your means and above all love the person that you are.

16. Everything Takes Time

Everything takes time, even a bruise heals after a while. Don’t be afraid of getting hurt because it always gets better.

Kenyan Blog

Make Every Moment Count

17. Life Is Short, Make It Worth The While.

You only have one life and you owe it to yourself to make it as awesome as it can possibly be especially since you might not make it till tomorrow.  In the words of Bonjovi “It’s my life, it’s now or never, I ain’t gonna live forever, I just wanna live when am alive…”

18. You Are Not The Only That Is Going Through Something

Just because you are going through something doesn’t mean someone else is. Everyone goes through hardships and the magnitude of those hardships is only significant to the person going through them.

19. Take Charge Of Your Life, It’s Yours.

Never let circumstances or people for that matter determine how you are going to live your life. It’s your life after all and only you have the power to determine how you are going to live it.

Never let anyone make you feel guilty for living your life your way.

20. Happiness Is A State Of Mind

Happiness is a choice, not a result. Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be happy. No person will make you happy unless you decide to be happy. Your happiness will not come from you; it can only come from you.

I am in my early twenties which means there is still a lot more I am yet to see, that I am yet to experience, that I am yet to learn.

Are Your Desires Really Your Desires?

Kenyan Book Reviews

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

“Nature has so built man that he has Absolute control over the material which reaches his mind through his five senses.” Whether man chooses to make use of this power or not is totally up to him.

“In the great majority of instances, he does not exercise it, which explains why so many people go through life in poverty.”

I am almost 100% sure that I will get some bashing for this but these words did not come from me. I agree with the statement to some extent but the words came from Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich.

This is one of my favorite books mostly because it was among the first books that I read in this genre and it still resonates with me to date. I began reading it about 8 years ago when I joined high school.

I recently started reading it again and I was amazed by how much I gathered. I have grown so much over the last couple of months and that growth has come with the ability to view things from a whole new perspective.

In the first chapter Napoleon says that thoughts are things and powerful things at that, especially when they are mixed with definiteness of purpose, persistence, and a burning desire for their translations into richness or other material objects.

leadership

Quote from Think and Grow Rich

“When man desires something so deeply that he is willing to stick his entire future on a single turn of the wheel to get it, he is sure to win.”

But how do you identify what you really want/desire?

Especially when today there are so many things that influence how we live our lives and how we make decisions. People are stuck doing jobs that they do not like because they feel like they have to earn money now, others because society says that that is the right thing to do and so forth.

We pay so much attention to the world that we fail to concentrate on what we want on what our hearts desire and we in turn end up living unhappy and unfulfilling lives.

And the saddest part is that we cannot blame society nor can we blame circumstances. We can only blame ourselves because we chose to live that way.

I suggest ridding yourself of all distractions for at list a day or three. Take some time to yourself and with yourself alone and think. Evaluate where you are at the moment, how does it make you feel? Are you happy? Given a chance would you change, and if so to what/where?

I sit back at times and realize that most of the things I do or prioritize, I do so because of societal influence and because of trends but I have come to realize that you can do what you love and still be relevant.

The world might be evolving but the concepts are still the same. That is why almost all how-to guide books have similar ideas. Most of the leadership books I have read teach almost the same thing. The only difference is the writing style and the language that is used.

Once you have established what you want/desire then you can work towards getting it. Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich provides valuable insight on how you can do that. Here is a few things I gathered from the book.

  1. Identify your goal

What is it that you want from life? What do you want to achieve? Once you have answered those two questions, make your desire your obsession; let it consume your life. Visualize yourself already having achieved whatever it is that you want to achieve. Devote most if not all of your time to working towards fulfilling your desire. Let that be your first goal.

If you have read Think and Grow Rich then you know the story of Edwin C. Barnes. His desire was to become Thomas Edison’s associate, to work side by side with him.

This desire was neither a hope nor a wish! It was a keen pulsating desire that transcended everything else. It was definite.

Goal setting

Set Specific Goals

Let your goal be definite. I know you have heard it said numerous times that when you set goals they ought to be specific.

This is because being specific about what you want creates focus and direction for your efforts. It makes your goals seem more real and easier to personalize which makes them more meaningful to you.

Edwin had had this desire for a long time before he acted on it. I can only assume this was because he needed time to believe in it and make it his life’s mission.

Make achieving your goal your life’s mission, write it down and repeat it to yourself every single day if you have to.

  1. Do not apologize for wanting what you want

I made this my second point because I am guilty of doing this. Whether it is out of fear or just to be polite, I do this a lot. I recently realized that there is nothing wrong in wanting what you want. We were not born to be the same.

You see the difference between successful people and those that are not successful is, successful people are not afraid to dream big and more importantly, they are not afraid to act on those dreams.

I have never heard a successful person apologize for wanting something nor have I heard one give excuses for not going for what they want.

When you apologize for wanting something, you lose confidence in getting whatever it is that you want. You make yourself believe that it is ok not to get it. If you are asking something from someone and you seem apologetic for asking they interpreted that as lack of confidence or that you do not want whatever it is that you are asking for bad enough.

You give them a lee way to say no because you have shown them that you are ok with not getting whatever it is that you want.

If you are thinking of asking your boss for a raise then this point is worth noting.  Your boss as well as you needs to believe that you want the position as much as you think you want it and saying something like “I am sorry to ask but I was wondering if I could get a raise…” and when your boss hesitates to respond you follow up with, “but if it’s not possible, it’s ok.” does not help.

In fact instead of coming off as polite you come off as being timid and you succeed in getting yourself a big fat NO!

  1. Determine what exactly you intend to give in return.

Nothing and I repeat nothing in this world is for free. You must be willing to give something in return, whether it’s your time, your effort or simply money, you must be willing to give something.

Some things require more investment than others and that is why identifying a specific goal is so important and that is why it was my first point.

For you to know exactly what you are going to give then you must have a definite goal in mind. You cannot estimate the magnitude of the investment you are going to make if you do not know exactly what you are working towards.

  1. Be Persistent

“Quitters are never winners” This cliché quote right here just about sums up this point.

While in pursuit of your desires, you are going to fall, in fact you are going to fall more times than you can count but if you want to achieve your goal then you are going to have to pick up yourself every single time.

Five years passed before the chance Edwin C. Barnes had been seeking made its appearance. During those five years not one ray of hope, not one promise of attainment of his desire had been held out to him.

To everyone except himself, he appeared like another cog in Thomas Edison’s business wheel but in his own mind, he was a partner of Edison every minute of the time from the very first day that he went to work there.

There so many stories of people who persisted in spite of failing numerous times and what those people have in common is that they succeeded.

  1. Put it down in writing

When you write your goals down, you have a higher chance of achieving them. Write exactly what you want to achieve, give yourself a time limit and be realistic. You cannot expect to get a million dollars in one month; unless you are planning to rob a bank I do not see how that is possible.

Be realistic when setting the timing limit and write down what you intend to give in return, whether it is your time, money, services, write it down and live up to it.

You have to be willing to work for what you want.

Leadership

Visualize Winning

Once you have everything written down, read your plan out loud. Napoleon Hill advices that you read it twice daily, once when you wake up in the morning and once when you retire to bed at night.

As you read, visualize having have achieved your goal, see, feel and believe that you are already where you want to be. In other words have faith that you are going to achieve your goal. Faith is a powerful tool; it is the head chemist of the mind.

I came up with this list just after reading a few chapters of the book, I would recommend that you go get the book and read it, not like a novel but like a text book. Analyze every chapter, takes notes if you want, learn from it and try to apply what you learn.

Two Things You And Your Leaders Ought To Know!

“Nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.”
Mahatma Gandhi.

Mahatma Gandhi; One of the greatest leaders in the world.

One of Mahatma Gandhi’s famous quotes: Be the change you want to see in the world.

I felt like I should put this out there seeing as we are just about to have our elections. Now anyone who witnessed what happened in Kenya in 2007 would understand why everyone is anxious about the elections.

I just pray and hope that peace will prevail regardless of the outcome.

Speaking of Mahatma Gandhi, ever wondered how he got the people of India to stand and not fight back the British military even when they massacred more than one thousand people at Amritsar in 1919?

Gandhi challenged the people to meet oppression with peaceful disobedience and noncooperation. His vision for change in India was based on nonviolent civil disobedience. In other words he was all about peace.

And he got the people of India to adopt his way of thinking, it wasn’t easy but he did it and as a result he became one of the greatest leaders this world has ever known.

Gandhi studied law in London. After finishing his education, he traveled back to India and then to South Africa where he worked for twenty years as a barrister and political activist. He fought for the rights of Indians and other minorities who were oppressed and discriminated against by South Africa’s apartheid and as a result gained a lot of respect from his people.

When he went back home and called out people to have peaceful strikes and demonstrations they actually followed him.

This is because his people had bought into him as a leader before they even bought into his vision: The law of buy-in.

The 21 Irrefutable Laws Of Power.

The 21 Irrefutable Laws Of Power. Image courtesy of Mundial books.

If you have read The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Power by John C. Maxwell, then you probably saw that coming.

As a leader, your vision might be lit. Your intentions might be so noble that they’d put you in the same category as Mother Theresa or Kenya’s own Nobel peace prize winner Wangari Mathai.

Your heart might be in the right place but it takes people following you first to see that. You have heard it said that people buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.

This statement is very true, in fact it is because of this that you’ll see leaders with the exact same vision or in the case of political candidates, the same manifesto but different levels of influence.

Let’s take Osama Bin Laden or Adolf Hitler for instance. These two were horrible as human beings but they were incredible leaders and they got people to do unspeakable things simply because people bought into them as leaders.

They got people to trust in them as leaders before they could trust their visions. The law of buy-in.

To be honest, when I began reading this book, I had no intention of writing about it. In fact, at the time I was working on my previous post: What If You Wrote One Thank You Each Day?

Image courtesy of A Book Junkie's World (KenyanBookJunkie)

John C. Maxwell’s Tenth Law: Always Touch A Person’s Heart Before You Ask For A Hand.

Like all the other John C. Maxwell books I’ve read, this one did not disappoint. I could not put it down and it was not until I reached the tenth law (The Law of Connection) that I realized this information had to be shared.

The tenth law hit home for me. It spoke about all the qualities that I’d wish to have as a leader and all the qualities that I’d like my leaders to have.

Real leadership is not about what title you hold or who is in charge, it is about taking care of the people that are in your charge.

“People respond to benevolent intentions to a greater degree than they do to competence when reacting to authorities.”

The Law of Connection: People need to know that you care.

People Need To Know That You Care

It is just like the law of buy-in, before people buy into your vision as a leader they need to know that you care.

They need to hear it as you speak and most importantly see it in your actions. They need to know that the things that you do while in your position of power are for their own good and not laced with selfish intentions.

They need to trust you and the only way they can do that is if you establish a connection with them and I do not mean that you put on an act.

Be genuine and real, Barney Schwartz once said that it takes a lot of experience to learn how to care for people, the same can be said in regards to establishing a connection with people.

Out of all the 21 rules these two spoke to me the most because these are the things that most of us tend to forget when we take on a position of power. We tend to forget that we are in these positions because of our followers.

We forget that leadership is about servitude and that we need to give people a reason to follow us. Politicians tend to forget that it is because of the same people that they defraud that they are in power. They fail to realize that in a way the people are their employers.

Maybe this was more than a fascination with these two laws of leadership. Maybe it was a plea to my leaders to stop being selfish and think about the people, to stop lying to our faces and actually keep their promises and most importantly to practice servant leadership.

“The Servant Leader is a servant first. It begins with a natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from the one who is a leader first.” Robert K. Greenleaf.

Maybe it was a wake-up call to the people; before you even think about putting that leader into a position of power, do you trust him or her? Do you really believe that he or she cares for your well-being and that of others?

Are his/her words and actions a reflection of the type of leader that you want? Do they embody honesty and integrity, do they epitomize a leader who stands by his/her word and most importantly are they a reflection of a person who cares?

What If You Wrote One Thank You Each Day?

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Thanks Giving.

Fact: It is celebrated as a national holiday in nine countries around the world.

I personally think it should be celebrated all over the world because the truth is; we all have something to be grateful for.

From waking up in the morning to having clothes on our back never mind that they are not designer the fact that we even have them in the first place should be something to be grateful for.

We often take the normal things that we have for granted. We are so used to having them that we forget that they are gifted to us.

Take life for instance. It has been said time and again that life is a gift. Most of us underestimate the truth of this statement.

Unless you somehow gave birth to yourself or engineered your existence on this earth then you will agree with me that life is indeed a gift.

Before I continue let me just say that I got the idea for this post from my pastor one Sunday when he gave a sermon on the attitude of gratitude.

I do not remember the last time I sat in church and actually paid attention from the beginning to the end of a sermon. This particular one had been the first in a while.

It was a simple sermon, short and straight to the point. He had one message and he brought it home. A child could have easily grasped what was being taught.

I remember going home that day and deciding that my whole week would be dedicated to giving thanks. I started with very basic things, from my family, to the meals I had, the clothes on my back, the roof over my head and having a bed to lie on.

These are the little things that I take for granted every single day forgetting that there are so many people out there who do not have some of these things. Heck some don’t even have any of these things.

For instance, there are so many people on this planet that cannot explain how they came to being. They neither have families nor do they have proof that they ever did. Some lost their families to accidents and such; some were disowned while others had to leave their families for one reason or the other.

I have seen so many videos of people in my country dying of hunger, I have met people, children even sleeping out in the cold because they do not have place to call home.

I know you have had a child walk up to you and tell you to give him/her money for food or just the left over fries you were eating.

How many times have you been asked to donate some of your old clothes or shoes to an orphanage simply because these children are not able to afford new clothes?

And these are just the basics.

The Attitude of Gratitude is more than being able to say thanks. That is just the beginning. The attitude of gratitude in my opinion is about having positive mindset.

It is about finding something to be grateful for even when you are at your lowest. It is about being able to see the good in even the ‘worst’ of people and appreciating that.

Like I mentioned, this was going to be a short post mostly because these are the things that were at the top of my head and also because I was not reading anything on the same at the time I wrote this.

I however sourced out a few books on the attitude of gratitude and thanksgiving. You guys might want to check them out.

1. Grateful Leadership: Using the Power of Acknowledgment to Engage All Your People and Achieve Superior Results by Judy W. Umlas

She wrote an article on the ‘Workingwoman’ Magazine entitled ‘How not To Talk To A Pregnant Businesswoman’ and it was a hit.
“I have also witnessed the power of acknowledgements- How it changes lives, moods and self-perception of both the giver and the recipient virtually every time it is practiced.” She simply talks about the importance acknowledging what others do for you never mind how small it is.

2. Choosing Gratitude: Nancy Leigh De Moss

In her book, Nancy reminds us about the verses in the Bible that talk about Gratitude. Romans chapter 1 talks about how a nation was brought down for being thankless, Ephesians and  1 Thessalonians remind us to always give thanks to God the father for everything and so many more.
You see the thing is, it is not only the Bible that talks about gratitude. I am almost 100% sure that other religious books speak of the same.
Nancy is a quadriplegic so she has to have things done for her and with that she has programmed herself to always be grateful.

If she is able to have an attitude of gratitude in her state then why can’t you?

3. The Secret Gratitude Book: Rhonda Byrne

This one is one of those books that will keep you hooked from the beginning to the end. From the way it is presented to the way it is written and don’t even get me started on the message.
The part I like most from what I’ve read so far is the part about the law of attraction. John C. Maxwell talks about it in The 21 Irrefutable laws of power and so does Rhonda Byrne.
“Gratitude attracts like energy of gratitude to it, so as you are feeling grateful you are powerfully bringing like forces of energy to you…”

4. 365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life – John Kralic

Just because I found this one really touching.  Very many people go through what this man went through but very few can summon the strength and discipline to do what he did. Negativity always brews negative results but being positive does the exact opposite.
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He stopped focusing on the negativity in his life and started being positive and he did this in a very simple way, just writing thank you notes to people, for 365 days!
A simple gesture goes along way.

5. Gratitude: Oliver Sacks

“My predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved. I have been given much and I have given something in return. Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.”–Oliver Sacks
Can you honestly say the same thing? Can you stand and affirm that yours is a feeling of gratitude and that that is how you live your life?
There are so many more books written about this subject and this just goes to show how important and powerful gratitude is. I am working towards adopting an attitude of gratitude and you should too.
Whether you will write 365 thank you notes or just simply start saying thank you to anyone who does even the slightest bit of good to you, do it.
Be grateful!

5 Winning Practices For Effective Personal Leadership

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#LeadThyself

Personal leadership is not a singular experience. It doesn’t begin and end with the writing of a personal mission statement. It is, rather, the ongoing process of keeping your vision and values before you and aligning your life to be congruent with those most important things.” Stephen R. Covey.

This post is solely meant to help you become your own leader, your own C.E.O if you will.

If you made the time to read my previous post, then you know that I have been reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. I however never really went into detail about the 7 habits and what they meant for me.

I also mentioned having a bad week and a bad encounter at work. If you had asked me then, I would have completely alienated myself from the blame. I would have taken the effect side and told you that my boss, the circumstances at the time, the weather or even God was to blame for me having a bad time.

Everyone who exercises personal leadership, or has risen to the C.E.O position in their lives knows that as much as every situation has a consequence and as much as there are things that happen that we have no control over, we have the power to decide how and whether/if  we are going to react to those things.

See I chose to let the circumstances at the time affect how I felt and I chose to see the negative side of things thus choosing to have a bad time. Bad things happen all the time but how we chose to react to them is what makes the difference. I have said it before and I will say it again, it is all about perception.

How we choose to see things, how we choose to react to them. I could have easily said you know what, this and this happened, I should have anticipated that there would be consequences but they should not have been the determinant of whether that smile on my face would stay there or not.

I should have been the one to determine that.

You see there are two types of people on this world, the reactors and the initiators. The former are always controlled by the outcome of things, they react based on circumstances. The latter however choose to take control and not let circumstances control them. They have a goal and a vision for their lives. That is what drives them and not the outcome of things.

Which side do you belong to?

1.Response – ability

Habit one talks about being proactive.

“It means more than merely taking initiative. It means that as human beings, we are responsible for our own lives. Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions. We can subordinate feelings to values. We have the initiative and the responsibility to make things happen. “Stephen R. Covey.

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Proactive People Are Not Influenced By Circumstances

My take on this is that Mr. Covey was simply trying to tell us that we are our own bosses.

How we feel, how we react to things is a function of our decisions. We are the programmers of our lives. My NLP instructor taught us about the cause and effect side and Mr. Covey touches on the same. He talks about the difference between reactive and proactive people.

Reactive people according to him are affected by their physical and social environment. If the weather is good, they feel good. If it isn’t, it affects their attitude and their performance. When people treat them well, they feel well; when people don’t, they become defensive or protective. Reactive people build their emotional lives around the behavior of others, empowering the weaknesses of other people to control them.

Proactive people can carry their own weather with them.

Whether it rains or shines makes no difference to them. They are value driven; and if their value is to produce good quality work, it isn’t a function of whether the weather is conducive to it or not.

You know when I was in high school and it rained we would become very laid back and take that as a chance to miss out on things like the morning parade. Our principle then came one day and called us out for that. She told us that the rain should not affect how we get on with our lives.

We cannot stop living because it’s raining and now I see she was talking about the same thing as Mr. Covey.

My NLP instructor would have said that proactive people are the people on the cause side where as reactive people are the people on the effect side.

Covey has put all of this into perspective and he even went further to include Eleanor Roosevelt and Gandhi’s quotes.

“No one can hurt you without your consent.” Eleanor Roosevelt.

“They cannot take away our self respect if we do not give it to them.” Gandhi.

Now I hope it is pretty clear which side you ought to be in.

2.Start with a clear understanding of your destination

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us”

Oliver Wendell Holme.

Mr. Covey simply put the second habit as beginning with the end in mind. This means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.

When you have a clear goal in mind, a clear vision of what you want your life to be and where you want to be then everything you do every single day will be a clear reflection of that. It will be geared towards taking you there and only then will you be excited to wake up every morning because you will have found your purpose.

It is only then that your actions and feelings will stop being controlled by external circumstances. It is only then that you will be in control because no matter what happens, you have a clear goal in mind.

Habit two is therefore about being your own creator, it is about writing your program. Deciding the outcome of your life.

One way Mr. Covey mentions of doing this is identifying where you stand, identifying your centre. This can be done by looking closely at your life support factors such as security, wisdom, guidance and power.

By identifying what influences these things in your life you will be able to know whether your center is limiting your personal effectiveness and if it is, what you can do to change it to be in line with the outcome that you want for your life.

3.Prioritizing responsibilities

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least” Goeth.

image courtesy of affirmyourlife.blogpost.com

Prioritizing Responsibilities

I have actually written about this before in a previous post. I will therefore not dwell on it.

Habit three simply talks about putting first things first. Personal management. In that blog post, I talked about evaluating the importance and urgency of things in your life.

You have heard it said that where there is smoke there is fire. Just as well when more than one person‘s message though written differently has the same meaning, then there has to be some truth to it.

Now I am not saying that you take the things that I write here or the things written on the books I suggest to you as the gospel truth.

No. Not at all because if you do not get the outcome that you expected or succeed you will blame me or the authors.

Simply read then decide how or if you are willing to apply the teachings to your life. You are your own boss therefore only you have that power.

If you want to know more about prioritizing responsibilities and differentiating between things that are urgent and important and so forth then check out my previous post:  Leading Like A ‘Bawse’: What To Do When Everything Seems Equally Important.’

4.Think Win -Win

You wouldn’t believe how much meaning those three little words have. You wouldn’t also believe how hard it is to implement them but as leader you must.

Leaders are not selfish, leaders are not weak, and leaders are not driven by competition or the need to be better than others. Leaders simply take it upon themselves to build not only themselves but others.

Leaders have a win-win mentality, they believe in the mutual benefit in all human interactions and they most certainly do not believe that one person’s success is not achieved at the expense or exclusion of the success of others.

I have many times been made to feel that thinking about how my actions would impact other people or an organization was wrong. That if it was beneficial to me and only me that is what I should do.

This way of thinking is called the win mentality and it is the mentality that most people are taught to have this and the win-lose mentality.

The win-lose mentality is whereby you work to be better than others but guess what you can all succeed. The only person you ought to be in completion with is yourself.

“Win-win is not a personality technique. It’s a total paradigm of human interaction. It comes from a character of integrity, maturity, and the Abundance Mentality. It grows out of high-trust relationships. It is embodied in agreements that effectively clarify and manage expectations as well as accomplishments. It thrives in supportive systems.” Stephen R. Covey

If your goal is to establish long lasting relationships and to be at peace with yourself then this is the right mentality to have.

During my social media and digital marketing training at Kuza Biashara, a certain lady came to speak to us. She is a Kenyan designer; she makes bags, hoodies and what not from Ankara and makes beaded accessories as well.

She told us that she didn’t mind teaching her craft to others or selling her items at a whole sale price to resellers because another person’s success would not make hers any less significant.

5.Listen more talk less

Habit five is all about empathic communication. “Seek first to understand then to be understood.” Really listen and pay attention to what someone is telling you without interrupting and giving solutions based on an experience you’ve had or what you would have done.

Understand what someone else is saying, then what they are going through.

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The heart has its reasons which reason knows not of – Pascal

Oh how I wish I could just copy/paste everything Mr. Covey has written about this habit. He explains it so elaborately.

He made me realize that this particular habit I have a problem with.

When one of my friends or anyone really starts telling me about a problem they have, I almost immediately respond with advice or with a story on a similar experience I had thinking that I am being helpful where as in real sense I was just listening to reply, I didn’t really listen.

Empathic Listening is whereby you actually pay attention to what someone is saying because you are actually concerned and want to understand what he/she is actually going through. It is different from being sympathetic in that you are not just agreeing with what someone is saying and giving heartfelt sorries.

These are just five of the 7 habits that Mr. Covey has written about and I have written from my own perspective. Feel free to get the book and read it so that you can understand these habits from your own point of view.

How To Effectively Run Your Life: Being Your Own CEO

Covey – The 7 habits of highly effective people

“Be patient with yourself. Self growth is tender. It is holy ground. There is no greater investment” Stephen R. Covey.

Image courtesy of peloton accountants

The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People

We all have that one thing that we keep saying that we will do when we get the time and it always seems that we become the busiest after this and in our heads we get the perfect excuse to procrastinate even further.

For me it was reading this book that I had picked out two weeks ago. I kept saying that I would get to it but I never really did.

Today morning, I got a reason to. You see I recently started a new job and it has not been easy especially since I am doing something that I have not really done before. I was scared out of my mind from the beginning.

I was scared of messing up, I was scared of not measuring up, I was scared of disappointing not only myself but also my boss. I was scared of so many things but I could not let that be an excuse or rather be the reason I quit. My end goal was more important.

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Your Goals Should Outweigh Your Fears

So I decided to take on the challenge anyway and go in with a learning mindset because leaders who have a learning mindset learn significantly more, faster and as a result, perform at a higher level and create greater value for their company and for themselves.

This right here gave me some courage but all that almost went down the drain today. My immediate boss gave me a task to do today and even though I didn’t really know how to do it I took it on because I wanted to learn and I do not believe in ‘I can’t’.

I of course made some mistakes and normally my boss is very patient but today was not one of those days.. He was so mad and disappointed that I was even taken aback at first. It is not so much his anger that got to me but the things he said that really got to me.

I felt so drained and so down after all that. I honestly didn’t even have the willpower to do anything else. And just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse they did.

I calmly closed all the tabs on my computer, put away all the papers I was supposed to go through, took out my phone, opened ‘The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People’ and went to the break room. At this point I didn’t really care what would happen if I got caught.

Now have you ever been in a situation whereby one of those things that you had been procrastinating for so long turned out to be the one thing that you really needed?

That was me after I read the first chapter of this book. One paragraph immediately hit home and I could relate to the book right away.

“…I really want to change. I read all the new information, I set goals, I get myself all psyched up with a positive mental attitude and tell myself I can do it. But I don’t. After a few weeks, I fizzle. I just can’t seem to keep a promise I make to myself.”

And then I tell myself how much I tried BUT, there is always a BUT! I actually laughed at this statement because not so long ago I was telling myself how I have been trying to hack this new job but I just can’t because it is too hard and my boss is too mean.

Both of which are things that a leader or a person who hopes to become leader or any person who generally wants to achieve success should and can overlook.

“I’m busy — really busy. But sometimes I wonder if what I’m doing will make a difference in the long run. I’d really like to think there was meaning in my life, that somehow things were different because I was here. I see my friends or relatives achieve some degree of success or receive some recognition, and I smile and congratulate them enthusiastically. But inside, I’m eating my heart out. Why do I feel this way? “

At this point I could swear that Stephen R. Covey was talking about me. This part right here is something that I am not particularly proud of and trust me I have ‘tried’ to change but in vain.

Tried is in quotes because I had one speaker say that if you think that you have done everything that you can and you still haven’t been successful then you really haven’t done everything. This is a big world filled with endless possibilities. Nothing is impossible.

However, for you to change a certain situation then you have to change yourself. And to change yourself effectively, you have to change your perception. Because how do expect to change yourself if you are not willing to change how you look at things?

In this first chapter Covey talks about how he and his wife had a hard time trying to get their son to be ‘normal’.

“ We stopped trying to kindly, positively manipulate him into an acceptable social mold. Because we saw him as fundamentally adequate and able to cope with life, we stopped protecting him against the ridicule of others.”

Now I do not have any children nor do I have any intentions of getting any well at least not in the near future but still I could relate to this.

You see I am somewhat shy and socially awkward. I also don’t take confrontations very well and that applies to criticism and being scolded. I will try as hard as I can to do things as expected just to avoid these things. I’ll admit that this is not a good thing especially now that i’m grown and out in the world by myself.

I think the confrontation with my boss was so hard for me because I had not accepted the fact that even though making mistakes is part of my learning process not everyone will be OK with it.

In fact most people will put you down because of it and you will in turn feel defeated but it is at this moment that you really need to accept your shortcomings, own them and learn from them.

“The proactive approach to a mistake is to acknowledge it instantly, correct it and learn from it.” Stephen R. Covey.

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Own Being Different

The first step to really being happy is to accept the person that you are right now because I believe that that is how you will be able to initiate change in a positive way, not because you want to conform to society’s perception of who should be or what a successful person looks like but because you are at peace with yourself and are willing to improve the areas that you feel are larking.

I am not good at this job, yet. Not because it is hard or because I am incapable of learning but because I am not giving myself time. I am not a genius so really I have to put a little more effort to becoming good at whatever it is that am doing.

You may not be good at something today and  the world may frown at you because of that but that does not warrant you to quit trying. Who knows, you might be the person people go to for that particular thing tomorrow.

I have said it before and I will say it again, the reason as to why I write this blog it simply to empower you and to help you believe in the awesome being that you are just a little bit more. You are a leader not because you tell people what to do or because you have a group of people waiting to take instructions from you. You are a leader because you run your life.

You are the C.E.O of your life and let no one ever make you think or believe the contrary.

I would like to tell you that it is as easy as it sounds but it is not. It is hard and you will face so many challenges and go through so many things that will want to make you think otherwise and it is at this point that you will want to quit. Quitting will seem like such a good option at the time  but trust me it will be the worst.

Just hold on a little bit longer. It gets better.

The books that I write about or draw inspiration from help me deal with the challenges that I face everyday. They not only serve as a distraction but also a motivation and a pick me up. If what I write or the books I mention end up helping even just one person then I have achieved my goal.

“To touch the soul of another human being is to walk on holy ground.” Stephen R. Covey. That is what I aim to do, that and to bring out the leader within you.