Heaven always thows a big party whenever a human being on earth discovers their true purpose. A man can never be truly happy unless he starts playing the role for which he was born. When you are living your purpose, Mondays feel like holidays and holidays feel like a waste of time. When you are doing what you love you will be surprised how you will never have to work another day in your life. You will always sleep a happy and fulfilled person and wake up energised and ever curious to discover what treasures the day has in store for you.
When you live your purpose you become attractive to fellow human beings and also to all the good things that you desire. Misery loves company; isn’t it then logical that happiness should attract more happiness?
In your purpose you will discover that your life is free of clutter and distractions. By this I mean you will find it easier to say yes and no to the different things that come your way. You will make more room for the things that make you happy and find that you effortlessly repel the things that take happiness away from you. You will never have to make tough decisions just because you are not sure if the situation you have been presented with is something you want. It will be easier to attract great friends that add value to your life and drop friends that derive value.
Having a purpose is knowing who you are. This in turn gives you clarity on what you want for yourself. It gets much easier to turn down seemingly but not necessarily great opportunities. If you are living your purpose you can easily turn down a great job offering that offer a great salary simply because it’s just not aligned to who you are!
In the modern world we live in, most of us have gotten used to anxiety being part of our lifestyle. We are afraid of the future and terrified of the the unknown. We are terrified at the thought of losing our jobs and being diagnosed with a terminal illness. We are afraid of events that may never happen. This often happens a result of not being sure of who we are or even what our purpose is. Knowing what your purpose is gives you confidence and energy, after all you’re doing what you love! Simply put, discovering your purpose gives you the keys you need to live your best life!
Every human being is unique be it in thought, abilities, bone structure or eye colour. We are designed to be attracted to different things and the things that make us each of us happy are different. We are also made to be good in different things and that is why not everyone can excel in athletics. It is the reason why no one can be better than you at being you. We think differently and we experience the world in special ways and in the same breath, each one of us has a special path to follow to achieve their purpose in life. A fish is designed to live in water and would die if it were forced to live on land; when a person is not living their purpose, they will always experience discontent, anxiety,confusion and uncertainty. Purpose leads us to passion and passion to true happiness.
So how do we find our purpose? That is the million dollar question that has troubled mankind throughout our existence. Only a few people get to discover their true purpose in their lifetime. Finding our purpose is like finding our way to a great treasure through a complex maze. It is the reason why most of us are always trying something different always hoping that this time we will find something we can build our lives around. How do we eliminate these time wasters and focus on what we’re really meant to be doing? To find our purpose, we must be ready to lay our lives bare. Self actualisation is the first and most important step. It also happens to be the most painful part of discovering why we are who we are. Understanding, learning and accepting who you are now is a tough but liberating process. Deciding to change the negative aspects of who you are is a major step in beginning the hard work of uncovering the layers that have formed over time blinding you from your true self.
Many of us go into adulthood without ever discovering our true purpose in life. This is the thing that creates our biggest life challenges. We make wrong decisions when we are unclear about who we are, be it in relationships, money, friendships, careers or even when choosing a meal from a menu in a restaurant! The happiest and most successful people in the world all have one thing in common. They are sure of who they are and are clear on what they want in life. I believe that our first and most important task in life is to find out why we exist as this is the key to true happiness. Many of us are living miserable and boring lives where all the avenues to our happiness are determined by someone else but us. I believe when you find your purpose you will find your passion. When you find your passion it will complement your desires and you will be truly happy.
As part of my journey of self discovery I have been trialling a new way of helping people discover their true purpose through creative inquiry and the results have been exciting. This process doesn’t need a qualified life coach or a seasoned motivational speaker. It just needs you and the people closest to you such as friends and family to help you on your journey to personal discovery. It involves answering a series of simple questions together and recording trends and significant themes in a person’s life. It is simply a behavioural diagnostic tool that gives recommendations on the things you can do to discover your purpose. Just to give you an idea of how powerful this could be I would like to challenge you to ask five of your friends (separately) to tell you what they think you’re good at. You will be surprised by the trends in the answers you receive.
In the meantime, I hope I will arrive at a practical and inexpensive way of personal actualisation that can be applied by anyone anywhere in the world. I am grateful to the people that have volunteered in my purpose experiment that I have been running the past two years. I have learnt a lot about myself from these people and though we still have a long way to go, I believe we will find what we’re looking for and publish the process for everyone to use. I also believe that through this experiment I will also discover my purpose.
I believe discovering our purpose is the biggest question in the the universe. When you discover your purpose, you start living your best life. I believe that out there there’s a tool (or a way of thinking) that we can use for ourselves and also for our children to start living our best lives and if we look carefully we can find it.
This post is dedicated to one of my friends (from my experiment) who recently discovered her purpose and is just beginning to live her best life.
Patrick has been my friend for 18 years and I’ve known his wonderful family for roughly the same period. They are the most friendly, honest and good natured people you will ever meet. I knew his dad, a very friendly and insightful man. His mother, a woman full of love and understanding. It is why I am honoured to post this article where Pattoe (as we call him) shows us a simple yet effective way of living.
“We see the world not as it is, but as we are.”
— Ken Keyes
He poked at the fire, furrows creased, thinking, scheming. It was day 4, still no animal in sight, they had come a few dead carcasses, long dead to be of any use. “Such bad luck”, he thought but his father always had something positive to say. “The herd must be close by”, he said. The endless optimism was annoying at times, but anyhoo, to each his own. His critical mind liked to analyze facts, scheme, plot and decipher. He wanted a plan, a set course of action to follow. He wanted things to make sense. There was a drought and the animals had migrated, the crops had failed, people were starving but he was always smiling.
That smile, who could forget it? It was a constant feature in his everyday life. It was a part of his life and he couldn’t avoid it, he had come to accept it as part of everyday life. He glanced over at his father, sleeping, the smile plastered on his face. An SI unit, poked at the fire again and added some firewood. He thought about the hunt tomorrow. “Hunt? More like roaming around and hope we strike gold, or in this case meat.” Three days of long treks and committed hunting had yielded just a rabbit, long gone since they needed sustenance. Three days and nothing to show for it, well except the smile.
As much as he tried to worry, he couldn’t. Somehow, deep down, he knew they would find something. It was a sense of calm that he loved and hated. Why wasn’t he worried? Three days of nothing and he had this optimism. This undeniable feeling that someway, somehow they would succeed. It baffled him and annoyed him, yet it somehow made him want to go on pursuing, chasing, and searching for that ever elusive prize. He started smiling, “Am my father’s son,” he thought. The last few years had been HELL. The war came, bullets whizzing past, they lost everything, all they had left were the clothes on their back and each other, he had been through enough suffering to last three lifetimes but that ever persistent feeling of optimism never seemed to die, he had given up many times but it was always there lurking, never leaving him. Like that one mosquito you can’t seem to kill, that one, that gets inside the mosquito net and flies into your ear every five or six minutes.
You have to understand; this wasn’t his life. Four years ago, he was an aspiring engineer dreaming of building bridges. The “game” he hunted was the female kind, he was what the young folks called a “fisi” Now here he was, ready to eat a real fisi if he came across one. Oh how life changes! He was now hunting game like he grew up hunting yet he had been a city boy through and through, never had slaughtered a chicken in his life. The scariest thing he had killed was a huge banana spider. But here he was, sleeping under the stars, smiling and thinking about the antelope they would kill the next day. There it was, that optimism! Followed by that smile, he fell asleep, dreaming of laughter and meat.
They did eat the next day, a large antelope that had been left behind by the herd. Years passed, things got better, life improved. The smile was a constant feature; that never changed. But one day suddenly, no more smile, it was gone! Now, here he was, burying his father. He had heard many scary sounds, screams, gunshots, the roars of a hungry lion in the dark. Nothing filled him with more gloom or dread than the sound of the soil hitting his father’s coffin. There was such a finality to it. That day, after that sound, the optimism left him. Gone with the father that he was now burying. He tried to smile, nothing. Not even a forced one, it was truly gone. Gone like yesterday, never to come back.
I lost my smile one day, like him it disappeared with that awful sound. A sound that feels me with dread to this day. You see, I too lost my father, four years ago. Words fail to explain the trepidation that filled my heart, as the soil hit the coffin. I felt that life had to come to an end, not just his but mine too. Many of us, if not all, have buried someone. We have gone through the motions, we have missed, mourned them, drowned our sorrows in drink or other ways to try and fill that void. I did all that and then some. But as it may seem, this story does not have a sad ending but rather a celebration of the great men and women that once graced our lives. Though he is not here physically, the perspective he gave me in life will always live on. He instilled in me a never ending positivity that grows and wanes but it’s always there, a constant in my life. For that, I am thankful. So we aren’t here to mourn but to smile, and smile some more.
There is a story circulating on FB that goes like this:
“Two twin boys were raised by an alcoholic father. One grew up to be an alcoholic & when asked what happened he said” I watched my father” …
The other grew up and never drank in his life. When he was asked what happened he said “I watched my father” …
Two boys, same dad, two different perspectives.
In life, we are all faced with similar situations. Two people will look at the same situation and perceive it totally differently. I looked at the death of my father like the ending of a book. But what I later realized was his story was not yet done, he left a beautiful wife and four wonderful children, who continue to tell his story and add more chapters to his book. I have dreams and ambitions that were founded on his encouragement. So when my story is told, they will speak of a father who imbued me with optimism and a never quit attitude. Maybe one day, I will honor him in some grand way and everyone will know his name. Maybe not, either way, I am honoring him in the best way I know how. Being optimistic!
What about you? How is your outlook in life? How do you perceive things? Do you know that your perception is your reality? We walk through life sometimes trying to change the world, how about looking within and changing ourselves? We are constantly bombarded on how to look, what to wear, how to be successful etc. Every single aspect of our lives is micromanaged by one thing or other. I am not here to do that, I am simply making you aware that it’s your life, get in the driver’s seat and drive. The way you can do that is to change your perception if need be. Wherever you want to be in life, it may seems that’s its dependent on one circumstance or the other but it’s really just dependent on how you view them, are they obstacles or challenges? SMILE
There are a lot of things that I would like to tell you, but I will leave you with this. If you don’t do anything else today, SMILE. I know that’s what Mr. Ndung’u is doing and that’s what he would have told you.
Use your smile to change the world, don’t let the world change your smile!
My grandmother passed away this weekend. Last weekend, we celebrated mum’s birthday. A few months ago, we got grandmother a pacemaker, because of that my grandmother enjoyed her eldest daughter’s (my mum) birthday. We miss her, but we are thankful! She taught us to smile…if nothing else.
Dedicated to the loving memory and smile of Mr. Francis Ndung’u.
“The stench of rotting flesh filled my car as we rolled down Waiyaki way looking for a spot we could dump the black garbage bags. Every time we thought we had found a spot, headlights would appear from nowhere and we would abandon our plan. We had been driving for 3 hours now and we feared we would be stopped by cops at any time…”
A few months earlier we were sitting in a restaurant planning on what we thought was the best money making plan ever. It would be short term and best of all, the proceeds would be tax free. We held our meeting in hushed voices and wrote out a sketchy plan on some white serviettes.
The project was going to take 4 months after which we would cash in and move on to other bigger things. The partnership was made up of myself and my long time friends Jimmy and Muba. We felt invincible and we were confident that we had explored all possible scenarios of the plan. Little did we know our venture would end up with lives lost. It would also turn out to be one of our most memorable business lessons ever.
We set into action by ensuring our finances were okay. We asked around and carried out due diligence by gathering successful case studies. To cap it all, we already had a willing buyer who I had gotten connected to by a credible source. The buyer was specific; every ‘package’ had to conform to a weight of 1.5 kilos, no more. Otherwise it would raise a red flag with his boss and the whole deal would be considered suspicious and eventually cancelled.
We wrote out a plan and swung into action with the vision of a handsome profit burning brightly in our minds.
We bought 600 birds with 100 of them as insurance against the unpredictable. In poultry farming you have to account for losses, some stemming from negligence by the handlers and others just from random acts of God. We carefully followed our plan and not before long we started to see our project grow into the most promising venture. The birds grew big so fast that they crossed the 1.5 kilo mark on the third month, even our farm neighbours could not hide their envy. We had opted to feed the birds with the highest quality of chicken feeds available and the good thing was, all this was still within budget. We had estimated that we would break even with the first batch of chicken and start making profit on the second batch.So I called up my guy the buyer and explained to him our weight problem. He brushed it off saying we needed not worry as he’d ‘sort’ it with his boss. The only condition he gave was that he wanted a cut from our sales. We gladly agreed.
So finally the day came for the slaughter and our my guy gave us the green light to deliver the chicken at his boss’ hotel by 8PM that evening. So we enlisted the services of this giant of a man who had a reputation of being the most efficient chicken executioner in Nairobi. He was this 6 foot hulk with the most scarred face and the coldest eyes we had seen. He always walked around with his tools of trade; a set of knives, string, a sheet of polythene (which he wore to to prevent blood spatter) and a pack of cheap cigarettes. He looked like a morbid serial killer. Anyway he looked like the perfect person for the job because it takes a lot of cold heart to slaughter 500 chicken.
He filled a drum with water and started a fire under it. Soon he was snatching birds from the chicken barn, snapping their heads off their bodies like dry spaghetti and throwing them into the boiling water. He made short of the work and in two hours the chicken were hanging upside down dripping a mixture of water and blood; all ready to be delivered to the customer in the next two hours. Now it was time for the delivery.
The load was almost a ton and I could feel Iris my old station wagon groaning under the heavy weight as we flew down Kangundo road in the open savannah towards the city lights. We dropped ‘the executioner’ along the way after paying him [much to everyone’s relief]. It had been very uncomfortable riding with him at the back of the car just staring into a crazy trance. All the time, he never said a word despite our repeated attempt at having a conversation. We couldn’t stop fearing he would go crazy and snap our necks from behind, then bury us in shallow graves on a lonely stretch by the road.
As we edged closer to the city, I called my guy to tell him we were almost there. That’s when everything went south. He pretended not to remember that we had spoken about the birds being overweight. He also indifferently asked whether we had a signed order from the hotel which obviously we didn’t. He then delivered the final blow saying that they had already gotten a delivery by their usual supplier and therefore they wouldn’t take our stock. It took me a while to process the whole conversation and at some point I thought I was having a heart attack. As I broke the news to my partners, I could see Jimmy almost tearing up the steering wheel in frustration and I could hear Muba laughing in the distance as he usually does when he can’t comprehend what just happened. We pulled over to the side of the road and took a moment to feel sorry for ourselves. This was turning out to be a really bad day.
After brainstorming, we came up with our first idea for mitigation. We would ride into town and sell the chickens on the busiest highway in the city. So we drove to Uhuru highway and parked on the side of the Nyayo stadium round about and went over our preposition for the millionth time; a chicken worth 700 shillings at a price of 250 shillings. We were sure it was an offer customers wouldn’t refuse. We targeted to sell at least 50 birds each between Jimmy, Muba and myself. The plan was to offload as much as possible and sell the rest to a restaurant owned by a sister to Victor one of the friends in our circle. Little did we know this would turn out to be the hardest sell ever. Motorists would roll up their windows whenever we tried selling them of the chicken. It never occurred to us that selling chicken stupidly cheap (and on the highway) was suspicious! Someone in a matatu even told the rest of the passengers that we had slaughtered the marabou storks that are usually perched on the trees along Nyayo stadium, and that’s why our chicken were too big! We got so desperate we even offered them to motorists for free. In the end we had disposed only 10 fat chickens with 490 to go!
We packed up and headed to Victor’s sister and sadly, she would only take 5. By this time, we had even bought ice blocks because the executioner had warned us that after 24 hours the chicken would start going bad. It was almost midnight when we got the idea of asking our friends and families to assist with storing some of the birds in their refrigerators but they could only take so much. We still had 400 to go. At 2AM we gave up and decided to leave the remaining chickens in the car hoping the ice would keep them fresh until morning.
The next day was a work day and as we left the house we couldn’t help but catch a faint familiar smell as we walked towards the car. This is when our real ordeal started.
The Thika superhighway hadn’t been built yet and so the traffic usually started on our doorstep. We had opened all the windows and we could see everyone on the road sniffing and trying to investigate where the foul smell was coming from. I had never felt so defeated in my life. As usual, Muba wouldn’t stop laughing and Jimmy eventually joined the laughing band. I personally was just in a daze. Clearly we were having one of the worst days of our lives. As Jimmy dropped us to our workplaces, each person went into their office carrying two chickens for ‘advertising’. To date we all agree that Muba had the most hilarious experience of all that day as he was suspected of murdering his boss but I’ll tell you about later.
Jimmy went ahead and parked the car under a tree at his workplace hoping the shade would slow down the decomposition of the chicken. By midday he had called us saying his workmates were reporting an overpowering smell of death.
That’s when we all spoke on phone and agreed that our business had gone bust and it was time to pull off the final act. Disposal. We decided we would buy garbage bags and wait for midnight to find a discreet dumping ground. We also enlisted one more accomplice in our circle Naito who would help us with pulling it off.
At midnight we headed out into the dark. At first we tried finding dumpsites along Thika road where we used to live but the mayor had done his work well that year. We couldn’t find any. So Jimmy suggested Waiyaki Way as the perfect place since he had grown up there and knew the dumping sites like the back of his hand.
The stench of rotting flesh filled my car as we rolled down Waiyaki way looking for a spot we could dump the blag garbage bags. Every time we thought we had found a spot, headlights would appear from nowhere and we would abandon our plan. By now we had been driving for 3 hours now, and we feared we would be stopped at any time by the police. That’s when it hit me that we had committed mass murder because thanks to us, more than 400 chicken had lost their lives for nothing. As morning drew closer we decided to go back home because the situation was getting risky and out of control. We were tired and sleepy and as we turned into the last street home, Naito made a comment about dumping the whole thing on the roadside just before our gate. Little did she know what she had just said was the best idea we’d heard all week.
The next morning we woke up to chaos in the neighbourhood. Somehow stray dogs had managed to rip the bags open and strewn the carcasses all over. The stench was overwhelming. Good thing no one knew who was responsible. We quietly slipped into our car which was still reeking and drove out to work. We had gotten away with murder. But we wouldn’t eat chicken for the rest of the year let alone look at it rotating on the grill behind the Kenchic joint window.
The whole event taught us some hard and important lessons. Firstly every business idea needs a proof of market before one invests their hard earned money. Secondly always have a backup plan to your backup plan because anything can go wrong. Lastly, always be cautious when someone offers to hook you up with a contact while saying “I have a guy”.
I’m fat. That’s a fact. I don’t want you to ever call me a ‘big guy’, ‘mzito’ or ‘big mike’ again because I know that’s what we call fat guys so they can feel better about themselves. I feel heavy that’s for sure, but I don’t hate my body or appearance. Why should I? I am too awesome for that. I’m able to do everything my peers can do except pushups; which is understandable because my belly just won’t leave the ground no matter how high I push myself. The last time I managed to do five I almost drained my intestines in my living room. My arms wouldn’t stop shaking for two days and I almost visited a neurologist. I decided to leave that part of self determination to YouTube athletes. However I can run further many fit people but then I also understand it’s about fuel capacity and efficiency.
I have to admit that lean guys get more perks in life compared to fat guys. Lean guys can walk up to any store and walk out with nice clothes or even an extra large pizza. For a fat guy it’s different. You have ‘your guy’ when it comes to clothes. And even with this [your] guy, you have to keep your fingers crossed because clothing manufacturers make really bad clothes for fat guys. The evidence is everywhere from polka dot shirts with spots which look like little mini-me’s arranged in a neat motif, to jeans with a low belt-line meant to show my crack every time I stand up. I believe there’s a worldwide conspiracy to force us into losing weight. We must be using a lot of resources and just maybe, we might be the original cause of global warming.
The airlines are doing it too. Fellow passengers cringe when you’re pace up and down the airplane isle looking for your seat number. And for a moment in the plane it feels like lean people have been forced into playing a game of Russian Roulette; fat guy being the bullet. Which unlucky passenger will have their side squashed by fat guy’s upper butt? Who will be the miserable passenger who will have to endure an eight hour flight next to a sweaty fat dude who’s evidently eyeing their food and asking for whisky refills throughout the flight?
In defence of fat guys, I wish to state that the mind has a way of making you appear smaller in the mirror. Every time I’m topless mirror I can swear there’s a six pack peering through my one pack. Ok, you need to get your dirty mind of the hairy man boobs if you really want to get my six pack story. Fat guys are often called good huggers because they actually look and feel like oversized dolls or as you would call them Teddy Bears. They hate it and love it in equal measure. Being a fat dude makes you appear somewhat friendly and dumb at the same time especially when you’re in oversized clothes. Fact. A fat guy should never go a day without a shower. Too bad they have to use more soap than the rest of the population. We should seriously consider signing up for a daily scrub at the local carwash.
So what to do? For most fat guys, the whole fat experience involves learning how to deal with yourself daily. It also involves pondering over some strange challenges in our lives. For instance, most fat guys miss at least one meal a day which translates to something like “My car can go on an empty tank every now and then”. Genetics? Gastric abnormalities perhaps? Are we even trying to lose weight in the first place?
So this is where I speak for myself. This year, I plan to quit being a fat guy. Not because I hate how I look; please don’t get it twisted. I can still get laid more times than you skinny guys can count. I’m just tired of panting every-time I have to tie my shoe laces. Hint: That’s why fat guys totally dig slip-on shoes. A big stomach can make the world literally disappear under your nose. Honestly I just wish I that one day I will see my toes again.
Though very difficult, I want to eat right, train right and have healthy hours of sleep. I want to dance all night in the club without having the waitresses follow me mop-in-hand. I want to show off in bed and not end up waterboarding my lay. I want be able to pick an meal from the menu without feeling like it’s the night before my final exams. Did you know that it’s very hard for a fat guy to get a job waiting tables in a restaurant? Not because we’re slow but apparently the customers always suspect the fat waiter of foul play whenever the portions come small. Moving on…
Now I know almost every lean person is always looking to give a fat guy their secret of staying lean. But this is the world cup baby. It’s much harder than it looks. For one, fat guys naturally try to lose weight privately which will often fail. Why? Because the world doesn’t adjust for you. The food will be always be floating in the air and the beer will always be the right temperature after every long day. I like how Kiyosaki views obesity as a condition caused by emotional and psychological factors but not food. I think he’s right. We ate candy and greasy chips every breathing moment when we were kids and we never grew fat. But somewhere along the way life got real and suddenly the body went into self preservation mode.
I can write different fat article everyday for the rest of my life because I have tasted life (sic) as a lean guy and eaten it with a big spoon (sic again) as a fat guy. Both have advantages but one has more disadvantages than the other. Trust me, you don’t want to be that guy that suffers those terrible night sweats and snores like Godzilla even when you involuntarily nap during working hours. So if you’re lean, just stay that way and I mean stay that way! If you’re fat and you hate yourself I have no advise for you. You can choose to sulk and look fat and miserable and be sure the CIA won’t save you. But if you’re fat and you love yourself and you feel like it’s time to get your breath back then make friends with like minded people. The road from fat to fit is lonely and hard; it only makes sense to walk with someone. Regardless, let’s raise our (water) glasses to always keep trying to get fit.
Today I broke down in the car as I was driving to work. I surprised myself. For some reason I thought it’s been too long since you left me hanging on hope that you would pull through. At least once every year I get overwhelmed by this deep and helpless feeling of sorrow. But today was worse. I couldn’t help myself. So I cried and banged my fists on the wheel in rage not caring if the people in traffic could see me. You always said that you’d be surprised if I had any tears at all. You said my face made me look cold, disinterested and criminal so yes today I cried.
I have never forgiven myself for not calling you in 3 months yet you were my secret best friend. I hate the memory of calling you only to be told by your mother that you were in hospital. I can still remember how weak I felt when I came to see you at the hospital. I never imagined I could see you helpless. I thought I’d come in and you’d sit up and immediately ask me why my hair wasn’t shaved. You always wanted me to look neat and organised. For some reason I liked that I could handle your OCD.
I never understood why a beautiful soul with such a bright future would be taken first. I sat there at your bedside and for a moment my heart skipped when your heart monitor showed that my presence had gotten you excited. But you were trapped. I could see you fighting to come out from behind your tearing eyes. I could feel you trying to move your hand to touch my face. For a split moment I knew you just wanted for us to have coffee like we always did every couple of days just to talk and debate about anything and everything.
I have never forgiven myself for not being able to say anything all the times I came to see you. I was scared. I felt like you had abandoned me. I tried to speak but my throat always turned into a tight knot. I didn’t know how to talk to someone who was not able to respond. I felt angry and sorry to see you twitching and drooling all over the hospital sheets. I hated that for once I couldn’t fix it. I hate that we were so broke that we couldn’t afford you better care; I couldn’t shield and fight for you like the first time we met.
We were friends and we liked to keep it that way. We never dated and we never even saw the need of talking about it. I knew where your heart was and you knew the chaos that was my life. We were two sides of the same soul yet different in every way. But here you were, crying out for help. Trying to tell me something I will never know. There I was, trying to stay hard above my tears and trying to convince you that you’d get well.
I hate the day when I walked through the hospital gate and instantly knew in my heart that you were gone. Suddenly I knew all the things that I wanted to say to you but it was too late. We were born on the same day and hour so you know why it’s always been hard for me to understand why you were gone before our time.
I didn’t look at your face in the funeral. I didn’t cry. I didn’t want you to see me that way. Even now I find it hard to visit your grave because I know that’s not where you are. I want to hold on to the music, the laughter and the conversations that made everything okay. The best way I can honour your memory is to tell everyone around me about that brief moment in my life where I found a friend that promised she’d one day make me cry and delivered on it.
Tonight I will find a quiet spot and raise a glass to you.
– For Georgina Maxine Mueni, 1978-2007
To get my second gig, I had to convince a shopkeeper called Mwangi in our sleepy town centre that I was the best sign writer he would ever come across. The year was 1999 and I was 16. I told him that his kiosk didn’t have a name and that he was losing potential customers as a result.
To come up with a name for his kiosk I charged him 100 shillings ($1). To write the name of the shop I explained that I would charge him 10 shillings ($0.1) for every letter. Soon after I tabled my offer, I realised that my final pay depended directly on the number of letters I painted on his fascia board.To maximise my revenue I suggested that we name the shop Mwangi Shop & General Supplies Store Kamulu. That would give me a total of 470 shillings ($4.7) on completion of the job.
Mwangi agreed and I set off to work preparing the board and sketching out the text in pencil. But something inside me felt guilty about the the offer I had just made. I knew I was giving Mwangi a raw deal. I knew it would work better for him if we’d just named his kiosk ‘Mwangi’s Shop’ as this was easier to remember and as a result good for his business.
I had to make a decision. Should I do the job and walk away with my self serving pay or give Mwangi a good branding for his business by creating a memorable brand? I always walked past Mwangi’s shop everyday and so if I didn’t give him a working solution I would have to face my mistake everyday. Everyone would know that it was I who wrote that long sign that was hard to remember. And at that moment I realised that the money wasn’t as important as the outcome. I knew that if the board worked for Mwangi, I would get referral business from that one job and I would be proud to be known as the sign-writer who made his business flourish by giving it a memorable name. On the downside, this meant that I would now make only 200 shillings ($2) from the entire job; half of what I hoped for. Despite this, I chose my customer’s interests first.
The decision to choose integrity over my personal interests proved to be the best business decision ever. Mwangi’s shop became a known brand in the town centre. It even became a referral name for a bus stop which was very useful for a place so far out of the city. I got to write signs for several more shops in the area at a price of 30 shillings per letter and 200 shillings for images. I was 16 and just halfway through high school so this money was more than enough for me.
I learned what became my best lesson in design. That if you put your personal needs before the needs of your client, you will only profit once, no more. But if you put your clients’ needs first you will never run out of opportunities.
Secondly, learned that it’s hard to convince people to believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself first.
Thirdly I realised that I had to re-think how I billed my clients for creative work otherwise one day I’d be forced to sell my kidneys to make ends meet.
Once long ago there stood a giant tree where there now sits the great stump. The tree was magnificent and could be seen from far and wide. It’s branches were strong and it’s roots ran deep through the earth down to the rock beneath. Towering over the whole forest, this was certainly the tallest tree in the land. So big was the tree that it cast a very dark shade underneath it and not other tree would grown under or near it for many miles.
This tree was home to many birds who were ruled by an old, evil, giant eagle. Every bird feared the eagle because of his sharp beak and powerful claws. So terrifying was the eagle that it was said he had eaten his own family. He also had a reputation of killing any bird that defied his orders. The tree was his kingdom and the old eagle guarded it and it’s inhabitants fiercely.
To keep the birds submissive, he would eat their eggs and their young to his fill whenever he pleased. The birds were unhappy but there was nothing they could do.
Since the tree was the only home the birds knew, none of them had an idea what lay beyond the thick mist. The birds lived a miserable life and wished that one day the old eagle would die. Eagles live longer than most birds, so sadly the inhabitants of the tree knew the evil eagle would outlive them all.
One day, the birds saw many humans on the forest floor milling around their tree. They were making great noises and moving about in a disturbing manner. One of them stood in front of the tree and was shouting to the rest of the humans. Afterwards they moved on and it was peaceful once more.
Two young weaverbirds [a male called Loki and a female called lulu] that had been observing the humans became very curious as to where these strange creatures had come from. Since no bird had ventured outside the tree except the eagle, the two weaverbirds were filled with an urge to find out. They became very restless and as they discussed the strange creatures they had seen, they wondered what else lay yonder. They hatched a plan to fly in the direction the humans had gone. They agreed to turn back if they felt they had gone too far and could get lost. So there and then they made a deal that they would start their flight at first light the next morning.
Anxious and excited, the two weaverbirds could not sleep that night and at daybreak, they started their journey. Following the path they had seen the humans take, they flew into the dense mist until they could not see the great tree behind them. They flew on despite their fear of getting lost. They had never flown this far from the tree and were terrified; but something about this trip made them feel free and excited. After a long flapping their tiny wings,they got tired and were scared that they had gotten lost.
Lulu started crying “Loki I’m scared! I’m afraid we are lost and we may never be able to get back home!”.
Though scared, Loki gathered his courage and tweeted encouragement to Lulu,
“Push on, we’re almost there”.
And suddenly without warning,the mist opened up and they came to the most beautiful sight they had ever seen since they were hatched. A breathtaking forest with the most colorful trees they had ever seen. There were sweet looking fruits and insects on every tree. This was nothing like what they had anticipated. They flew into the trees and danced around the branches pecking on the sweet fruits and tasty insects. This was heaven! They wished they had made this discovery much earlier.
Without wasting time, they ate to their fill and set off for home to tell the others what they had found. At first, no one would believe their fantastic sounding tale but eventually some birds did and went and came back to tell the others.
In the end all the birds moved from the evil eagle’s tree leaving him weak starving and starving since there were no more eggs and nestlings to eat. The birds had also discovered that the eagle could not fly as he was too old and his feathers had fallen off.
As the old eagle perched on his [now quiet and lonely] tree staring into the horizon, he felt sorry for himself. He had no friends and now it dawned on him how miserable he was. He thought the tree was his greatest possession but without the birds it was just a cold and empty place.
A few days later the humans came back and cut down the tree. Initially they had decided not to cut the tree because they felt sorry for the birds but now there were not birds living in it. The old eagle was killed as the great tree came crashing down on the forest floor. As for Loki, Lulu and the rest of the birds; they went on to thrive and live happily ever after. The forest had everything they needed and they also knew that they could always fly into the unknown if they ever got unhappy again.
You will never discover new forests until you gather the courage to lose sight of your great tree.
Dedicated to you, the person stuck in a place or situation that you can’t seem to get the courage to get out of.
There’s always that one friend who inspires you just by how they live their life. From them you get wisdom, perspective, focus, inspiration and of course entertainment. Such people exist to remind you that every thing happening in your life could be an opportunity or a challenge depending on how you look at it. They are normal people just like you and I but [they] live an extraordinary life, because they choose to make extra ordinary decisions.
They are characterized by their constant effort to play outside their comfort zone, and their ever present cheerful attitude regardless of the obstacles they face. They are a different breed because their life is based on ambitions that are simple, selfless and unique. These people keep at it making small progressive steps which often turn into big gains because of their consistency. To the normal person, they tend to come off as lucky and undeserving but in reality their lives are littered with more failures than success. The only difference is that they keep their dreams alive through constant effort.
I find the majority of these people to be very good natured and somewhat charismatic. They speak more of optimism than pessimism; they see the good in things that to a normal person, would seem of little value. They make a conscious effort to see life through a positive eye. This makes them very loyal and annoyingly honest friends; but then again, isn’t it what we all so desperately need?
These people work hard and the world pays them for it by giving them wealth, satisfaction and happiness. They are forever consumed by their dreams and it is no wonder they always seem to be doing the same thing year in year out!
Looking at my friend this year I have learnt one big lesson;the world will always step aside for you as long as your ambition is honest and selfless. We are human and so we are bound to make bad decisions every now and then but we will always succeed if our aim is positive and true.
For a while now, I’ve been fascinated by Einstein’s theory of relativity where in my understanding, it is very difficult for an object to move faster than light. But WHAT IF we could move faster than light? The theory states that the universe would adjust by expanding at the same rate so it would still be impossible to achieve the fit.
In the same breath I believe that a person whose ambition is true and selfless has a solid positive future, and as long as they consciously keep trying to do the right thing they will arrive at their destiny. They will make mistakes numerous times (because we are human) but the universe will always adjust to accommodate these failures because there are laws that dictate destiny.
Such people do not come into our lives by mistake. As humans we are created to always strive to be better, and one of the ways this is meant to happen is through inspiration. Inspiration triggers action and ensures that the human race is better equipped to survive as a species. We respond better to inspiration from live examples (especially people we know) than from books and movies. This is why we all need that one friend who stirs up our creativity and gives us the reason to believe in our dreams.
It is also the same reason why we need to be that ONE friend that inspires others by striving to be better everyday.
Maybe my friend doesn’t know it but I intend to keep them around for a long time.
Do you have that ONE friend?
Hi my name is Michael and I am creative director at a leading marketing firm.
It’s 6am and I am watching the sunrise at the waterfront on the beach with my laptop wide open and a blank page staring back at me. I feel inspired but not sure what to write about. I am on a fact finding mission to understand two different consumer groups on behalf of the organization I work with. With the information I collect, we will be able to generate insights that we we use to develop creative strategies for our clients. This is what sets us apart as one of Africa’s fastest growing below the line agencies. Personally I can’t help feeling lucky and undeserving because deep down I know that anyone can do the job that I am about to do.
Some people are born artistic; that I totally agree. But the notion that some people are born creative is the thing that I will never concur with. I believe that everyone has the ability to be creative and I also believe that regardless of what profession or walks of life we come from, we all need creativity because it’s what sets us apart in everything that we do.
Growing up, I loved drawing and painting and one of my greatest influences of my life was my mother. You see, when I first showed her something I had drawn, she immediately told be it was the best drawing she’d seen in her life. That made me very happy and I can only remember that from then on drawing became my oxygen. I’d draw everyday and everywhere just so I could make people happy. Looking back, I think the first drawing I showed my mom was the most horrible sketch ever. She just happened to know the secret of inspiring talent. She knew that her response should ignite a spark that in turn would open up a world of possibilities for me. And that is exactly what happened.
As I grew up I realized that the world was flooded with artists and good ones at that. In my three decades, I have seen amazing talent often unsung and appreciated. You will always find them in art centers and street corners, broke, spiritual, conscious and unmotivated. In the art circles we are always joking that an artist only becomes rich and famous when they die. Ironically this is true most of the time. As painful as it sounds, the world really doesn’t need art if it [art] doesn’t address any challenge. So art without purpose just breeds artists. Art with purpose gives rise to creatives and problem solvers.
When I was 18, I decided I would be a graphic designer. Upon trying it out I realized that it was harder than I had earlier imagined. The responses to my work were more brutal and hardly encouraging. This is because design is all about addressing challenges. I discovered that being good in art wouldn’t just cut it if no one saw it’s usefulness. The world wanted something that addressed ITS challenges. I was used to making art straight out of my heart and this was new ground; I had to create art that needed to address the needs of others. To save my budding career now under threat, I decided I would try to understand what it is that successful designers did different.
I discovered that successful designers had one thing in common. They were always seeking to understand the dynamics. I realized that all along I had been seeking to understand myself and that is why I produced work that only made me happy and thus ended up seeking only positive encouragement from others. This was my eureka moment that changed everything.
Nowadays I get offended when someone calls me an artist because I don’t make art, I solve problems. I am a creative.
To harness creativity, I learnt that I needed to absorb knowledge from the environment. Yes, it was as basic as reading the paper everyday or asking everyone the most awkward questions; always seeking to understand who everyone else was and what they needed. I noticed the change immediately as I started realizing how the world is overwhelmingly filled with opportunity.
I’d passed by the shoe shiner’s everyday just so he could tell me what was going on in the city. The newspaper vendor always knew the politics of the day and what was going to happen tomorrow. I discovered our teal lady at the office always had an opinion on the challenges women were going through and all this information just opened up my eyes to a world I had been blind to since birth. I began to understand why companies and brands were going down while others succeeded within the same environment. It became my purpose to always seek information. It changed my paradigm and made my work better and as a designer. I had started making real impact.
I realized that as a creative designer, my work determined the bottomline for the organization I worked with and also the value of the brands I worked on. As a result I firmly believe that in creativity, knowledge is power. The key to creativity is understanding the dynamics of the situation in question in great detail and using this information to produce fresh, exciting and impactful solutions. This realization has been my lifestyle since then.
I believe that regardless of what your profession is, creativity can give you positive results and lasting impact. Whether you are a brand manager, accountant, actuarial scientist, doctor, janitor you name it. The principles of creativity work in the same way. Everyone has the ability to be creative. First get to understand the dynamics well, then ask yourself how you can do it bigger, better, different and with a more lasting impact. Creativity expands the playing ground and increases opportunity. With creativity you have competitive advantage and an improved bottom line. To be effective, creativity needs to be part of our daily life. Creativity is not rocket science but rather a power that is within reach to all of us. Creativity makes what we do enjoyable because it fuels passion.
So everything you have put down on your to do list today is essentially an opportunity to tap into your creative potential. That my friends is creativity lesson 101.
Next time I will write about how we can inspire creativity in organizations for better performance.
I have always been a spoilt kid. Apart from reading me story books at bed time (oh yes she did until I was 10!) my mother has been the voice in my head all my life. Despite our ups and downs as a family, she has been our rock and the strong glue that holds us together. This woman happens to be a thousand years old in wisdom. She passes wisdom in a way that is funny, reflective and unimposing. I credit her for installing in us this ever present homing instinct that guides us back to consciousness every time we get caught up in life’s complexities. I’ve been in serious trouble a couple of times in my life and it is her words that brought me back. I have deep respect for all mothers and the role they take in shaping who we are. Everyday is Mothers Day.
She said “My son, to work is worship God. Even the lowest of jobs has to be done by someone. You were born a prince but also a servant. Let no title be too big for you and let no humble task be too low for you to carry out because humility is an expression of confidence and gratefulness. A humble man is a powerful man. He can stand confidently before Kings and be trusted to lead by the poor”
She said “Love is first an attraction then a choice. If you find someone you truly love, hold on to them. Love is loyal despite betrayal. Love forgives despite hurt. When you love someone you stand by them unconditionally. Love is what you make it to be. You can be happy if you choose to be happy. You can never be sure of the character of a person you love as it takes time but in the meantime you can trust. But look for a person who loves God because only a person who loves God can truly love another human being. The rest are details. You will fight over the tooth paste tube and the socks you left at the door but you will never fall out of love.”
On Being a Man
She said “A man is only as good as his word. The character of a man is built of his action. A man never complains, he finds solutions. He takes care of those he loves and offers help to those in need. A man is honest and industrious. A man does not give up. A man is not scared to love and to say sorry. In the face of adversity, a man stands his ground. A real man knows that sometimes to win he has to lose. A man is the high priest of the house. A protector and warrior who lays down his life for his family.”
She said “As long as you have breath and are of sound mind, God has given you everything you need to succeed. From the deepest holes on the ground come the rarest diamonds. Never work for profit because this type of gain does not last. Work to fulfill your purpose because real wealth comes as a by product of a passion fully lived. Do not spend your gains on eating like a King but spend them on the moments that count. After all they are the most eternal of all investments.”
She said “To be sincere is to conquer yourself. To conquer yourself is to conquer the world. Know what you like and what you dislike. Know what you want and what you need. Know thyself. Be honest with yourself and you will know the reason why you are here. Be sincere with everyone especially the ones you love. Sincerity is the deepest and most profound expression of love.”
She said “ Son, the pain of work should be a reminder that nothing comes easy. Take care of the little you have. Water it and let it grow but most of all use it wisely. The bible says ‘A fool and his money are soon parted’. Thriftiness shows gratitude and it is the ultimate sign of responsibility. To be frugal is to be the master over money and not a slave to it. Before you spend, think. Do not spend your hard earned money to please others who add no value to your life. Every coin you spend should be an investment. Remember the story of the servants who were given talents?”
She said “I would be sad if I heard that you did everything just so your own belly would be full. I would be ashamed to hear you saw suffering yet you turned a blind eye when you could have ended it. We are all here to take care of God’s Children. God gives you strength and wealth to take care of others. You my son are just a tool that He uses. You can never be too good to serve others. I love you but I would be proud to hear that you met your last day giving up your life so that another would live. After all, what is it in this world that I cannot give up for you?”
She said “ If I was laying on my death bed today waiting for my last breath, I would only have one instruction to give you. Love God and devote your life to Him and you will receive measure beyond your wildest dreams. It is only a fool that says God does not exist. There are many questions that make you doubt if He is really there so devote your life to seeking Him. God is not on trial so as to be expected to prove His existence. Pay attention, look close and in your silence you will find Him. I have felt his presence and I have seen his work and I am still in awe of his greatness.
She said “In your time, life will be tough. Misery and hopelessness will be the order of the day. But you my children are special. You have the world under your feet. Write your dreams down and make it a prayer to God to bring them to life. God will grant you the desires of your heart but first you have to be clear of what you want. Dreams do not come to us by chance. They are the distant echo of destiny. It is sad for a man to die without fulfilling his purpose. Let your dreams be devoid of boundaries and let no one tell you that it can’t be done because it hasn’t been done before. Dreams become thoughts and thoughts become things.”
This woman is amazing.