Almost doesn’t count….

“……….Here’s a little song I wrote
You might want to sing it note for note
Don’t worry, be happy
In every life we have some trouble
When you worry you make it double
Don’t worry, be happy………….”

The above is the opening verse to Bobby Mcferrin’s song titled, “Don’t worry, be happy.”

PHASE II:

Thursday, 4th August 2016.

Tick tock! Tick tock!
Teren! Teren!

“..Dear Candidate,
Congratulations on passing the Aptitude test.
You are invited for a company Presentation and Interviews on :

Date: 5th August, Friday, Time: 08:00 a.m.
Confirm your attendance by replying to this E-Mail
Keep time
Fill the attached Questionnaire and send it back by4th August together with your resume….”

The email read.

What a relief it was! You mean I passed the test despite all that Russian roulette?

Heheh, Bryan! We ni ule msee!” I confidently whispered to myself as I thumped my chest in delight like King Kong.

chest-beating-gorilla

A critic would say it is not over until it is over. They would also say that that did not mean I got the job. Pause!

It was on a windy Thursday, 9.09 am. to be precise, when I received the email inviting me for the interview. As a prerequisite for any interview preparation, I expeditiously research on the company’s interview process. What I find out concerning the company is shocking! Have you ever been scared to the roots of your existence? Have you ever felt confused like a maggot in a collapsed latrine?

“What is 9647 multiplied by 312?”

“What is the cube root of 405234?”

“What is the square of 641?”

“What is the square root of 7586?”

Well, these are the types of questions asked in the company’s interview. Each is to be answered in less than 10 seconds. To make matters worse, one is supposed to calculate them without a pen and paper! Kwani, am I going to be hired as the company’s calculator? I stood there puzzled like Kobe Bryant in a tight basketball match. Eish! That is not what I signed up for! Surely, are these people even realistic?

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A puzzled Kobe Bryant

Oh! No! Damn it! For a moment, I contemplated missing the interview because that is not what I signed up for. However, what prompted me to proceed with the preparation is the sacrifice I made on Tuesday. Do you want to know what the sacrifice entailed? Well, you will know it soon.

“What is the length of this room?”

“What is the height of this building?”

“How many computers are there in our office?”

“If I were to give you $5,000 would you jump off the 7th floor of this building?”

The questions got crazier.

“If I were to give you $3,000 would you go out there in the street and kiss any random lady?

Enhe! Kwani was I auditioning for “Naswa” or “Kaa Rada?”

The four-lettered word that begins with an “S” got real. The types of questions asked by the company were not the conventional ones like:

“Why should we hire you?”

“Where do you see yourself in the next five years?”

“Why do you want to work here?”

No way! They were different. Sooner or later, different scares people. I was as scared as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs (you never want to imagine the fate of the tail, heheh). It is at that moment that I recollected Hessy’s words, “utajua haujui” and they rang deafeningly in my head to the point that I became thoughtless.

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How frustrated I felt.

Image Credits: Pinterest

Just then, an idea struck my mind. I logged into Youtube and searched for multiplication tricks. I searched for “square root tricks,” “how to find the cube root of a number in 3 seconds,” “how to multiply 4 digit and 3 digit numbers in 5 seconds.” For a moment, I felt like a Form 1 student being asked to take on KCSE after a single term in school. I just could not get the tricks. Besides feeling frustrated, I reminisced campus moments when we used to run to Youtube for quick fixes especially on topics such as Markov Chain Analysis, Kolmogorov Complexity, and Stochastic Modeling.

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Markov Analysis

Image Credits: Qualitats

1.07 pm. Damn! Time was moving as fast as an old maid trying to catch a bridal bouquet. I decided to tackle the questionnaire. Things got thick! I seemed to be jumping from the frying pan into the fire. I felt as muddled as a man trying to understand how women work.

Knock! Knock!

I tried to guess who was on the door. Well, I first imagined that it was the caretaker by virtue of the date and day. On opening the door, I saw my longtime friend. He looked hyper. I wonder what psyched him up and for a moment I wished that I could feel the same way.

“Buda, rada ni gani leo?” He entreated as he boxed my shoulder. I nearly fell (of course you know why).

“Eish, boss iko nini? Ugoigoi nini? Ata umekula kweli? Mbona mnyonge kama fan wa Asenali ivi?”

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Frustrated Arsenal Fan

Image Credits: Arsenal Fan TV

I scratched my unkempt and nearly-dreadlocked hair as I answered him,“Ustakejua buda. Kuna interview moto hapa joh! Ndio najipanga joh. Siko rada ata. Yaani nko nje design ya Wenger.” (Lol! We usually enjoy dissing Wenger and Arsenal in general).

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A quashed Arsene Wenger.

Image Credits: SkySports.

“Mguyz, usiwahi-tense. Interview tu? Heheh. Achanga izo. Form ni kuchillax na kungoja ikam vile itakam,” he remarked encouragingly.

“Ehe!” I snickered.

If only he knew the ‘trouble’ that I was in then, he would have given me heart in a better way.

I wanted to shut him up but I could not. I just decided to “bite the lemon and swallow the bitter juice” (kuuma ndimu lol!).

“By the way nko na bike!” He retorted suggestively.

Now what? Damn! It had been over a decade since the last time I rode a bicycle like silly.

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Mountain Bike.

Image Credits: Pinterest

“Good idea!” I responded assertively.

“Iko wapi nitoe stress nayo?” I asked.

“Cheki hiyo kitu,” he answered as he pointed at it through the window.

“MTB! Wow! Nooma design ya very,” I answered as I quickly went down the steps to have a ride.

The bike was light and comfy to ride. Wow! What a nice feeling. To me, the ride proved true the saying that goes, “you never know what you’ve been missing till it arrives.” Indeed, I had missed a bicycle ride.

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A Maasai man riding a bicycle joyfully.

Image Credits: Alamy

5.22 pm. 3 hours later.

I came back to the house feeling wasted away after hours of a fun ride around the neighbourhood. For a moment, I had suppressed the feelings of anxiety and tension. However, as scientists say, the act of resisting emotions is the act of granting it life.

“Acha niende ninyoe. Kesho ni nomareh! Si tuendanishe hivi,” I suggested as we left the house.

“Chillax buda. By the way, niliday kukushow that wasee hupatana hapo kwetu ku-fellowship pamoja kila Thursday. Sa si tushuke hivi angalau uulize Sir God akuokole kesho,”

“Eish buda! Manze time imeenda na siko rada bado. Itabidi nikutume na prayer request yangu joh! This is a do or die situation. Nielewe tu!” I begged.

“Cheki buda falai! Unafanyaje Sir Jah awe optional? Muombe na atakuhelp. Heheh wacha tension joh! Aminia!” he encouraged me.

“Zi!” I retorted, “Muniombee tu. Ntaatend next time.”

“Haina noma. Lakini usikuange hivyo. Huyu ni Sir Jah. Si wa kuchezewa ka besteako.” he replied.

He accompanied me to the barbershop as I instructed the barber get me a ‘jordan’ haircut. As the barber continued to gladly shave my head, I reminisced those days in the lower primary when the default haircut was ‘jordan.’  As I reminisced, I just wondered at how time has flown and at how far I had come from.

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A kid getting the jordan haircut.

Image Credits: Pinterest

9.37 pm. Tensed night.

“Take this number and find out the next odd number and write it beside the number…” Whatever the hell that is….

Multiplication Tricks

Video Credits: Youtube/Mandhan Academy

I was still streaming Youtube videos like the one above. As time flew second by second, I grew pale and tensed as a tree in a hurricane. I knew I stood no chance. Then a thought crossed my mind, well you got nothing to lose Bryan! I encouraged myself.

10.04 pm. Moments to happy hour in slumberland.

“That’s enough Bryan. Don’t worry, be happy!” I murmured to myself encouragingly as I bounced to Bobby McFerrin’s  “Be Happy.”

 

Bobby Mcferrin’s Don’t worry, Be happy

Video Credits: Youtube/ BobbyMcFerrinVEVO

I counter-checked whether I had filled the questionnaire as required.

Shirt, check! Trouser, check! Certificates, check! Transcripts, check! Stationery, check! Mwakenya, check! (Heheh, ata interview mtu huhitaji mwakenya lol!)

I was warily ready for the next day – let me call it – the scariest day of my life.

10.27 pm.

Lights out.

To be continued………

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Almost doesn’t count..

“…..Almost made you love me, almost made you cry

Almost made you happy, baby, didn’t I, didn’t I?

You almost had me thinking you were turned around

But everybody knows, almost doesn’t count……”

The above is the opening verse to Brandy’s song titled “Almost doesn’t count.”

PHASE I:

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016.

I wake up rather late for the test. Anyway, who cares? Aptitude tests have always been a piece of cake to me, or rather, as easy as ABC. I had always longed for that day that I shall step into PWC towers, and that day had come only that I was not going to PWC. Mark you, I had attempted the PWC aptitude test, and I failed, and it became the first one in my life that I had ever failed.

 

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PWC Towers at Waiyaki Way, Westlands, Nairobi.

Image Credits: SkyscraperCity

So today I am at the PWC towers on a different mission but the same agenda – to get employed. I had almost given up on the company because I had applied for the vacancy over two months ago and there was no communication from them regarding whether they had received my application. However, right now, all that is in the past. At least, I am glad that I have been invited for the first phase of recruitment.

I enter the fully packed room at exactly 8.47 a.m. At the reception, I can spot a tough looking security guard. If he were an American, he would simply pass for an ex-Navy Seal. There seemed to be no trace of warmth around him as I approached the reception desk.

“Confirm your name on this list and sign against it,” he commanded (I must use the word “command” by virtue of his description).

I manage to locate my name, and I append my signature with the utmost confidence. It seemed like I was signing a 221 million cheque (if you know what I mean, heheh) written in my favor. I then proceed to the next room as I await further instructions.

So we are like 100 contestants. I can spot schoolmates and classmates from campus. We exchange pleasantries and our conversations center on tarmacking.

“Ata wewe bado unatarmack?” One of them asks inquiringly.

“Hivyo ndio kunaendanga, heheh,” I mutter sarcastically.

In two shakes of a lamb’s tail, our conversations and interactions are cut short by a lady’s modulated voice from the sound system within the building. We are instructed to take all our luggage into a separate room and get ready for the test.

“Who carries luggage to an aptitude test?” I ask myself sardonically.

Surely, who does that? (In DJ Shiti’s voice).

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DJ Shiti of The Real Housewives of Kawangware.

Image Credits: Mpasho

After the preparation commotion is over, we enter a room full of computers and sophisticated workstations. Oooh! Where have you been all my life?

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A day trader’s workstation.

Image Credits: desktopped.com

Immediately, I begin to see myself trading behind one of the workstations. Swiftly, I move from dreamland into reality. The reality is that I have to pass the aptitude and probably three face-to-face interviews before I live my dream of trading behind one of the machines.

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Traders office set-up.

Image Credits: Cosmotech

We then sit behind the computers. We are then issued with passwords to the aptitude system. Then a plump lady walks into the room. She is wearing a brown official lady suit. Her hair, although shorter, reminds me of Whitney Houston’s curly locks when she released her album titled Whitney in 1987. I’m sure members of that SACCO are satisfied by what they see in her even though time and again we know that they never get satisfied. Their modus operandi is usually, “onto the next one.”

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The late Whitney Houston in 1987 when she released an album titled Whitney.

Image Credits: Pinterest.

Based on the instructions she gives us, I guess that she is the HR manager. I say so because she kept referring to a set of instructions that had been attached to the email inviting us to the aptitude test. She finally gives us the go ahead.

The test is to last for 40 minutes only, and it is composed of mathematical and observation questions. I know you are wondering what observation questions are. Okay, these are the questions that test one’s observation skills. For instance, you may be given a box full of words which are written in different colors, and you are instructed to observe the box carefully. Then after you answer three to four mathematical questions, you are asked to identify which one of the words are written with the wrong color. That’s a tough challenge, isn’t it?

As we continue solving the questions, some of the employees begin streaming in. I manage to find the opportunity to steal glances at them. Based on what I see, I can tell that there is a sense of freedom. It seems like the employees are given the liberty to operate based on their free will. It also seems like they are free to wear what they want. I am particularly impressed by one of them who is dressed in a pair of shorts and casual sandals. He drags himself to the coffee vending machine.

Focus! Bryan! Focus!

Back to the test. The questions are tough as that four-letter word. I regret saying that aptitudes are easy. Anyway, I encourage myself through adopting a positive mindset. At some points, I am forced to trust my gut feeling. Being a phlegmatic, I also use my sense of intuition in solving some questions. What motivates me to play Russian roulette with the questions is the long known trick of succeeding in any aptitude exam – finish all the questions.

“Chicago report coming in. I repeat, Chicago report coming in. Check mail. Over and out.”

A silken, sensuous, rumbling baritone voice is heard emanating from the room’s public address system. You know that kind of masculine voice that can make a lady’s knees to wobble like jelly? Yes, that’s what I’m talking about. I guess our sisters from another mother could not get enough of the voice. To put things clear, the voice sounded like Barry White’s (Do you really know what he did using his voice?). I guess they would have wished for him to talk on and on. Anyway, who am I to be quick to judge?

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The late Barry White.

Image Credits: PRX

At the 40th minute, the chubby HR manager orders us to stop. From where I am, I can see that the room is half empty. I guess some of the contestants gave up on the way. But then again, who am I to be too quick to jump to extraneous conclusions? Well, blame it on my phlegmatic nature. What a relief!

To be continued……

[NB: The story is to be written in three phases].

Conejo

Do dreams mean something?

dreams

Image Credits: Courtesy

Have you ever woken up in the morning with a dozen-load of questions in your mind like Hell no! What was that? What did I just dream? Is that even me? Is that even possible?

Indeed, dreams take us away from reality, and that is what they are – dreams. If dreams were a reality, then everyone would be that millionaire, or that famous Hollywood actor, or that great politician. Likewise, everyone would own that jet, or that tower, or the latest Ferrari model. In short, if we were to live in dreamland, we would all have attained our desires.

Dreams are there to make life worth living. The dreams we experience at night while sleeping are a product of what lies in our subconscious. According to scientists, the subconscious is the most powerful portion of our brains. As a matter of fact, the subconscious is smarter than we might think. Most of the times, we feel that we are in control especially when our brains figure out puzzles or read words. However, we should understand that this capability comes from our conscious mind. We should also understand that the subconscious can prepare simple stimulus-response actions, deliver basic facts, recognize objects and carry out practiced movements hence perform functions that would prove a challenge to the conscious thought.

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Importance of the Subconscious Mind

Humans daydream, and that is normal. However, we should not be carried away by the daydreams. During these sessions, we see ourselves in another state that we desire. To a large extent, this state is always contrary to our reality. At night, we lie down in our beds and also experience dreams. Indeed, dreams play a significant role in our lives. Georg Kaiser said, “If we couldn’t dream, our lives wouldn’t mean anything anymore.” Another great man said, “A life without dreams is like a garden without flowers.” So, dreams give meaning to life.

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Image Credits: Pinterest

The reason for writing this blogpost is simple and a rather funny one. I had a weird dream that made me jerk out of my bed to try and find its meaning. I was roaming out and about in the countryside. I then entered grandpa’s house, and there I saw a rabbit that had just given birth to two kits. The kits were having a peaceful bonding session with their mother when suddenly a cat appeared and devoured one of the kits. I could feel a violent, uncontrollable anger rise within me in my sleep. I hit the cat using a hoe killing it instantly. Mysteriously, I found myself in the airport talking to a high school classmate who was then a pilot. We reminisced memories from school, and just as we were about to board the plane, I woke up. Nkt! Why do dreams have to come to an end during the intriguing moments?

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Image Credits: Air Charter Service

After waking up, I set out to find the meaning of the dream, and this is what I discovered:

  1. If you ever dream of vehicles whether it is a car, an airplane, a train or a ship, the vehicles in our dream can reflect what direction we feel our life is taking, and how much control we think we have over the path ahead of us. Vehicles can give us the power to make a transition and envision ourselves getting to our destination — or highlight the obstacles we think we are facing and need to work through (huffingtonpost.com).
  2. Seeing other people in your dream often is a reflection of the different aspects of the self. The people in dreams can relate to characteristics that need to be developed. Specific people directly relate to existing relationships or interpersonal issues we need to work through (huffingtonpost.com).
  3. Dreaming of a baby often represents something new: It might be a new idea, a new project at work, new development or the potential for growth in a specific area of our waking life (huffingtonpost.com). [In this case, I had a dream about baby rabbits].

Wow! Wonderful! Isn’t it? So the dream meant that I have control over the path that lies ahead of me and that I should reach out to that friend to help me take charge of the next phase of my life. On the rabbit dream, I concluded that I should start rabbit farming and that I should tackle head on all the obstacles that come my way as I match towards my destiny. Funny isn’t it?

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Rabbit Farming

In as much as we are told not to struggle to make meaning out of a myriad of thoughts that cross our mind, I tend to disagree. My disagreement is based on the fact that it is through questioning of our lives that we can unlock ideas which we could never have imagined that we would be able to.

(Conejo is the Spanish name for a rabbit.)

Featured Image Credits: Anipedia.

 

Bon anniversaire

So, what is the best piece of advice you can ever give to a person celebrating their birthday? Or what inspiration or motivational talk can you give? Indeed, there is so much you can share with such a person. From telling them to plan, dream big and accomplish the impossible, to seizing every opportunity that comes their way. To others, you may advise them to live life to the fullest, travel the world and explore the undiscovered areas. To others, you may advise them to keep on keeping on with the good work especially if they are doing a commendable job.

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Sample Birthday Advice

Image Credits: Technique Junkies

But, the big question is, what piece would you offer to the uninspired? To that young person who works tirelessly day-in-day-out devoting 100% to everything they do yet, they see no tangible result? I know you will say that they ought to hang in there, and that good things take time. Well well well! Ahem! They will say that if there is anything that motivates them each day is that someday they know that they will get it.

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Image Credits: Pinterest

An individual’s birthday presents a favorable chance for them to turn over a new leaf. It also gives them the opportunity to review the year that has passed and see where they ought to rectify or enhance. I tend to view it as a time to conduct a SWOT analysis of one’s life. It is during the birthday that you will decipher your strengths and find ways to maximize on them. You will know your weaknesses and come up with a plan for minimizing them. You will probably look back and wonder why you did not grab that opportunity when it presented itself. In the end, you’ll look back and thank the Almighty for delivering you from hazardous moments that almost took your breath away.

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Image Credits: PESTLE Analysis

Today is my birthday. After a stock take, I have come to look at this new year as a chance to practice kai zen.

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Image Credits: mt.kaizen.com

I consider myself a Work-In-Progress. I choose to put in not 40%, not 75% but 100% in everything I do. As for commitment, this will be my principle: if I am in I am in, no dilly-dallying, no hesitation because I know that I am only as good as the chances I take.

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Tom Cruise on commitment.

Image Credits: Courtesy

Too often, we are faced with situations where we are required to choose. For long, I have been battling with choosing: I always want it all. The “I want it all” mentality is driven by the “fear of missing out” on the benefits of the foregone option. I suppose I am not alone in this. However, I am still learning to stick to a decision till it bears fruit. I have come to appreciate the fact that I cannot be at two places at the same time and that is what makes me human. If at all I am to pursue two things, then it is better off when I delegate the other duty.

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Image Credits: Frank Sonnenberg Online

Summing everything up, this year is a year of action, not hesitation. A year of focus, not divided attention. A year of constant improvement, not being a sloth. These are my goals. However, I am still in need of counsel for the scripture reminds me in Proverbs 11:14 (AMPC) that, “Where no wise guidance is, the people fall, but in the multitude of counselors there is safety,” and in Proverbs 19:20 (AMPC) that, “Hear counsel, receive instruction, and accept correction, that you may be wise in the time to come.”

So, please feel free to share your piece of advice with me at the comment box below.

Happy Birthday to me!

Life lessons from poker

Indeed #LifeIsLikeAGame of poker. Simple lessons in life can be drawn from the poker table. We have heard too often that we should  play our cards right to have the life we desire. That is just one sentiment regarding life and poker. Have a look at the summary below:

Lesson One: Play the hand you’re dealt

Perhaps, we have heard of poker. We all have different views concerning the game. However, one underlying thought that we are all accustomed to is that to win a game of poker you have to be lucky. Luck is an enthralling subject such that we tend to think and conclude that the people around us who seem to be more successful were born lucky. However, that is not the case on many occasions.

Lemmie keep it simple. The first lesson I learned from a game of poker is that in life, you have to play the hand you are dealt. Jawaharlal Nehru, the First Prime Minister of India, said that “Life is like a game of cards. The hand you are dealt is determinism; the way you play, it is free will.”
The first lesson applies in poker and life because we do not get to choose the cards we are dealt, we simply play the ones we do have to the best of our ability. Yes, it is harder to win with crap cards, but it is not an impossible task. On the same breath, it is hard to work your way through your low moments in life, but it can be done.

Possibly, it would be nice to be born into money like the Kardashians, and it would be nice to always get Pocket Aces when your opponent has Pocket Kings. However, this is not always the case in poker as in life. We are all born into different circumstances, how we handle these situations determines how high we rise or how low we sink in life. Hence, we need to play the hand we are dealt no matter what.

On another note, always have your eyes set on the bright side. As they say, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” and you will begin to discover that when you are dealt a crap hand, and you do make it, it is so much sweeter.

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(Image Credits: Philosiblog)

Lesson Two: Make your own luck

Thomas Jefferson said, “I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”

Have you ever realized that the more hard work you put into something the more things fall into place? It is during such moments that you tend to fall for the notion that you are indeed lucky! However, at times, you lose the spark that once motivated you to put in the hard work and all of a sudden things come tumbling down. During such moments, you can sit around and hope things work out for you, or you can take the necessary steps to reduce the role that luck plays in your life. The case is the same for poker game when you are dealt a pack of unfavorable cards.

However, you need to realize that being good at something doesn’t mean you won’t need to be lucky some of the time, it just means you won’t need to be lucky all of the time. Basically, the point that I am driving home is that the old saying of, “I’d rather be lucky than good,” is flat wrong, because if you’re good at something you don’t need to be all that lucky.

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(Image Credits: CBS News)

Lesson Three: Be open-minded

George Bernard Shaw said, “Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” Well, that is self explanatory, or isn’t it so?

Even though pundits would have us believe otherwise, not everything is black and white, and there isn’t always a “correct” answer. There is an awful lot of gray in this world.

What I’m telling you is, don’t close off your mind to other ways of thinking or other potential solutions to a problem.

Most of the time, in poker and in life, the answer will be clear-cut and simple, but other times it won’t. There isn’t always a right or wrong way to play a hand of poker, and the same holds true in your everyday life, sometimes you’ll find that there is more than one right answer, and on rare occasions there can often be no good answers and you have to choose between the lesser of two evils.

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(Image Credits: Poker News)

Lesson Four: Be PROACTIVE not REACTIVE

According to Steven R. Covey, the first habit of highly successful individuals is that they are proactive. Being proactive means that one takes responsibility for their lives; they do not blame conditions and circumstances, or the conditioning for their behaviour. They understand that they choose their behaviour. On the other hand, reactive individuals are often affected by their physical environment. They search for external sources to blame for their behaviour. For instance, if the weather is good, they feel good. If it isn’t, it affects their attitude and performance, and they blame the weather.

Pro-activeness can be likened to aggression. An aggressive person pursues something rather than waiting for things to happen in their lives. In poker, there is an age old axiom, “Aggression wins.”

In contrast, reacting to everything that comes along limits your chances to succeed, as sometimes you just have to take the bull by the horns and exert your own will. The perfect example of this occurs in poker: When you call you can only win by having the best hand, but when you bet you can win by having the best hand or getting the other guy to fold.

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(Image Credits: Meta Management)

Lesson Five: Know when to cut your losses

Jackie Robinson asserts that, “Baseball is like a poker game. Nobody wants to quit when he’s losing; nobody wants you to quit when you’re ahead.” This scenario can be likened to the pursuit of one’s losses with an aim of minimizing it.

In poker, chasing your losses is a prescription for disaster. As a poker player, you need to separate the money you’ve already invested in the game as well as in the current hand from your current decision. It is worth noting that the players who don’t follow this advice, and say things like “I’ve already put so much money in the pot, I can’t fold now” don’t last too long, or at least there money doesn’t.

You’ll find the same thinking is even more prevalent in your regular everyday life as well, with people simply unwilling to trade in the old car that they have been bringing to the shop every month because they just put so much money into it already. Or the people who buy an autographed artefact for lots of money that suddenly drops in price, but they won’t sell it (and cut their losses) because they can’t get what they initially paid for it.

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(Image Credits: 888 Poker)

Lesson Six: Enjoy the journey

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Life is Journey not a destination.”

A good poker player will tell you that poker is played for the long-run; you don’t look at individual sessions or even weeks or months of results to determine a player’s ability; it’s simply all one big, long game.

Likewise, in life, you should not sweat the small stuff. Moreover, you do not have to beat yourself up over setbacks. However, you should enjoy the process of becoming a skilled practitioner in whatever you choose to do. Sometimes it will take a long time before you become a winning poker player, but when you do those early losses will be wiped out fairly quickly.

Indeed #LifeIsLikeAGame

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(Image Credits: Etsy Studio)

Lesson Seven: Life simply isn’t fair, nor should it be

Barbara Kingsolver said, “Don’t try to make life a mathematics problem with yourself in the center and everything coming out equal. When you’re good, bad things can still happen. And if you’re bad, you can still be lucky.”

If you want fairness you won’t find it at a poker table, and you won’t find it in life either. Doing the right thing doesn’t always guarantee a good result, and just like in life, the poker tables can be unusually cruel and heartbreaking at times, but such is the nature of a card game and a world where randomness rules.

That being said, in between each of these kicks in the groin the poker gods give you there is a lesson to be learned; focus on what you can control and let the uncontrollable events happen around you; trying to control, or dwelling on, everything is a pointless exercise and takes away your attention from the things you can control.

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(Image Credits: PokerStars)

Lesson Eight: Protect yourself

From time to time, we can be swindled or be taken advantage of. As a result of this, we all have to learn how to protect ourselves at some point in life.

So, always be alert, be skeptical, and as Benny Binion would say, “Trust everyone, but always cut the cards.”

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(Image Credits: Gambling Sites)

Lesson Nine: Discipline

Thomas Henry Huxley said, “Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, whether you like it or not.”

In life, no matter how skilled you are, without discipline you will implode sooner or later; likely sooner. Likewise, in poker you need to be disciplined and control your emotions, you need to have a disciplined approach when it comes to your bankroll, and you need to be disciplined in the way you play, study, and approach the game.

Think of it this way; it’s fun to play soccer or even basketball, but it’s not so fun to do all of the conditioning drills that will make you a better soccer or basketball player. Often times it’s the little things –the things we hate doing– that are the difference between success and failure.

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(Image Credits: www.theprosplaypoker.com )

Lesson Ten: You don’t have to be the best

It is said that, “To succeed in business surround yourself with geniuses; to succeed in poker surround yourself with idiots.”

In poker, the key to success is to know your limitations and to find games that you can beat and the same holds true in life. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, and don’t make promises you cannot keep.

In life, it is important to know that when you are in need of help or advice, ask for it!

It’s simple, but if you understand what you can and can’t do, are willing to seek out the advice of others and actually listen to it, and do the absolute best you can in whatever you choose to do, your life will be a whole lot easier.

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(Image Credits: Vegas Young Professionals)

(NB: Much of the content in this blog post is retrieved from http://www.nj.com/onlinegamblingnj/index.ssf/2014/02/10_important_life_lessons_i_le.html)

 

The Game..

Too often, we have come across the following quote, “Life is like a game.” Many philosophers and motivational speakers have also contributed to the thought that life is indeed like a game. For instance, take Alan Rufus who says that,

“Life is like a game of chess. To win you have to make a move. Knowing which move to make comes with insight and knowledge, and by learning the lessons that are accumulated along the way. We become each and every piece within the game called life.”

On the same note, another wise man pointed out that,

“Life is like a game of chess, changing with each move.”

Chess is indeed a fantastic game. Surprisingly, its origin still remains a subject of mystery. This has left many individuals wondering how a person or a group of people could just sit down and come up with the game. It often comes as a coincidence that from generation to generations, parallels have been drawn between the game of chess and life. At times, we have to give up the thing or things we love the most. As one great man once said,

“Life is like a game of chess. Sometimes you just have to sacrifice the things you love most for the better.”

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Image Credits: TechnoBuffalo

Indeed, love is life. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Where there is love, there is life.” The same applies to chess. Each piece has a role to play. Funny enough, chess has been compared to true love. In true love,  a boy is always afraid of losing his queen, and the girl risks everything just to protect her king. Wow! How charming!

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Image Credits: Pinterest

In life, there will always be ups and downs. There are moments when we may seem to be taking two or three steps back and a step forward. In such a season, we often feel like we are not making progress. It feels like being stuck in the wilderness. However, we ought to remember that in all these, everything is working together for our good if and only if we are focused on progress rather than on the problems at hand. Back to the chess game, we ought to remember that no one has ever won by taking only forward moves. Sometimes it is necessary to move backward to take better steps forward and eventually win the game. That’s life.

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Image Credits: Pinterest

We ought to live organized lives. An organized life entails coming having a vision and backing it up with SMART goals. The scripture reminds us that, “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” (Proverbs 29:18, KJV). Without the vision, life is not worth living. Without vision, we lack a sense of direction. Without vision, a project is already a failure even before the foundation stone is laid. However, we ought to remember that in between accomplishing the vision and the goals lies hard work, discipline, and consistency. Additionally, living an ordered life involves taking calculated risks. The same goes for a game of chess where the players ought to take calculated movements to win. As Bing Gordon asserted, “Life is like a chess game – you don’t want to waste a move.” Indeed, we ought to be deliberate with every move we make.

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Image Credits: chess.com

Our lives are made up of the past, the present, and the future. We ought to dwell much on the present with eyes set towards the future, and this is why we need vision. The past is behind us with its achievements (which we celebrate and esteem highly) and failures (which at times frustrates us but we ought to learn from them). Forethought is considered as an essential element in our lives. So, what is forethought? It is simply planning ahead. It is becoming a visionary individual. It entails having a careful consideration for what lies ahead of us. Much of the problems we experience can be avoided when we become prudent enough to engage in forethought. Even in chess, the players engage in forethought before making a move because one mistake can cost them the whole game. For this reason, “in life as in chess, forethought wins.”

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Image Credits: Pinterest

One of my favorite authors, Stephen R. Covey notes that one of the seven habits of highly successful individuals is beginning with the end in mind. This habit or principle is also applicable in a game of chess. Before making a particular move, the player ought to have seen the consequence of the move (whether it will favor them or their opponent or whether it will move them one step closer to victory). The same way, we need to look into the consequences of the actions we intend to take. It is only when we do so that we shall avert the adverse outcomes.

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Bobby Fischer.

Bobby Fischer, one of the greatest chess players, said, “Chess is life.” Indeed, life is like a game.

My Dream Breakfast

Not long ago, I was listening to one of my favorite radio programmes. The topic of discussion of the day was, “3 people I would really want to have breakfast with.” I must say that I found the discussion very interesting as callers kept jamming up the lines, and text messages streamed in thick and fast. On my end, the topic reflected a time for reflection. It made me dig into my bucket list that contains the influential people I really dream of meeting one day. These are the people who I esteem highly and view as role models. My list of 3 was quite simple. Have a look below.

  1. Joyce Meyer

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Joyce Meyer delivering a sermon.

Credits: JoyceMeyerMinistries

Joyce Meyer is a Christian author and preacher at Joyce Meyer Ministries. Despite facing sexual abuse from her father, she grew up to where she is today and frequently shares about the abuse in her meetings.

I first came to know of Joyce through GOD TV programs back in primary school. Having little or no clue at all about what she was teaching, I used to change the channel and move on to interesting programmes. However, as I grew older, I gave more attention to her programme. I have made it a point to listen to her each morning at 4.30 a.m. on Family Radio 316 and I must say that her message usually gets me kick-started for the day! Supposing I miss the morning show, there is always a repeat at 1.00 p.m. Mondays to Friday.

Joyce uses exactly 25 minutes to deliver her message in a programme titled, “Enjoy Everyday Life.” It is amazing how she does not sweat out or seem to be in a hurry to get the message home or even lose track of what she is preaching on in such a short span of time. Besides preaching, she also has sessions where she answers questions regarding one’s walk with God in a programme titled, “Everyday Answers.” She also posts daily devotional messages. Her social media pages are full of messages of encouragement mostly drawn from scriptures. As an author, she has written several books such as Start Your New Life Today (2008), The Secret To True Happiness (2008), and the famous Battlefield of the Mind: Winning the Battle in Your Mind (1995).

I probably want to have breakfast with her as I seek answers to questions regarding life. I might even prompt her to go into her famously known stiff-armed imitation of a robot chanting, “What about me? What about me?”

Joyce Meyer imitating a robot

Video: Courtesy of Youtube

2. Strive Masiyiwa

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Strive Masiyiwa

Credits: Unilever

Strive Masiyiwa is the founder of Econet Wireless, an international telecommunications group. He is also an established entrepreneur, businessman, and philanthropist. He is also a board member of several organizations such as the Rockefeller Foundation, Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), and The Pan African Strategic Institute among others.

I came to know of Mr. Masiyiwa back in 2015 when he was the Guest Speaker of Kenya’s National Prayer Breakfast. What caught my attention was his humility despite all the achievements. Additionally, I was really impressed with the charisma with which he delivered his 10 minute speech. After the address, the first thing I did was liking his Facebook page and realized what I had been missing.

Through his page, Mr. Masiyiwa usually shares golden tips regarding entrepreneurship. He also gives afterthoughts regarding topics that he has shared and even has the chance to answer few questions from his followers. Recently, his page was ranked as the most influential business leadership platform in the world in the month of April. It is hard to find a public figure like Strive who share tips on what made them get to the top. I urge you to take the time to like his page and follow on his tips.

I would really cherish a breakfast with Mr. Masiyiwa and probably have a chat on starting and running a successful multinational company.

 

Strive Masiyiwa during the 2015 National Prayer Breakfast

Video: Courtesy of Youtube

3. Denzel Washington

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Denzel Washington

Credits: NeoGAF

When one is asked to create a list of successful African-American actors, Denzel’s name would probably be among the top if not top of the list. I bet our parents remember him for his portrayal of Steve Biko in the movie Cry Freedom (1987). I came to know of him after watching Remember The Titans (2000) in which he acted as an African-American coach of a high school team containing players of mixed races. His encouragement to the team members and the way he handled racial differences inspired me to make a follow up on other movies that he acted. Man on Fire (2004), Inside Man (2006), American Gangster (2007), Deja Vu (2006), and Equalizer (2014) are some of the interesting movies he has acted. His movie that impressed me the most is Training Day (2001) where he portrayed a rogue LAPD narcotics cop. In fact the movie earned him an Oscars Award.

Denzel knows how to bring the best out of movie characters that he is given. The charm with which he talks cannot fail to impress any observer. Besided acting, Denzel usually gives short keynote motivational and inspirational addresses. I have always looked forward to his quotable quotes and speeches.

I would probably cherish a breakfast with him and ask him a couple of questions regarding  what makes a successful actor and how one can also be charming and successful in life.

Denzel Washington commencement speech at The University of Pennsylvania

Video: Courtesy of Youtube

I would like to squezee in an extra person: Warren Buffet.

4. Warren Buffett

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Warren Buffett

Credits: AP

Warren Buffet is an American business magnate, investor, philanthropist, and one of the most successful investors in the world. He was recently ranked the second richest person in the United States, and fourth wealthiest in the world.

I came to know of Warren Buffett when I was selecting my university course. Back then, it was all about the money as is today. Money seems to be the guiding factor when one is making a choice on which course they will take up at the university. I settled on a business related course that would lead me into working at an investment firm. At first my parents wanted me to pursue accounting but I was against it. I became drunk with financial markets and therefore settled on finance. Over the campus years, I looked to Warren Buffett as a role model such that when we were required to present a proposal during Research Methods, I chose a topic related to the securities market. In fact, Security Analysis (1934), a book written by Benjamin Graham (Buffett’s mentor) and David Dodd was like a Bible that guided my group during the research process. It was not unusual to hear my group mates and some classmates referring to me as Warren Buffett. To date, I still look at him as a role model when it comes to matters to do with investing in stocks. I am an ardent follower of his advice regarding investment with a longterm view rather than the short term speculative view.

I would really like to have breakfast with him and probably ask for advice regarding the best stocks to invest in now at the Nairobi Securities Exchange especially at a time when the bourse is still recovering from its worst bear run of all time.

So that is my list. Who would you like to have breakfast with? Please share in the comments section below.

Lazylog

Lazylog.

That is the word that we coined together with the milk bar owner. It is a term we formed to refer to individuals who found it hard to own and clean a milk container. It is funny how we came up with the word. Remember 2012-13 when the current Kenyan regime used to refer to themselves as digital? Also, do you remember Smart Joker singing tumetoka analogue sasa tuko digital? Yes. That is how we formed the word. We have the analogue or the BBC (Born Before Computer) generation. We have the digital generation comprised of individuals born in the computer and internet era. They are the tech-savvy generation. Our lazylog generation was born out of the behavior of the present day individuals who found it hard to execute simple tasks such as washing a milk container. To these people, it was easy for them to hop into the milk bar, order their preferred quantity, and have it poured in a polythene bag. They would rather bite off the edge of the polyethene bag and empty the contents into a stainless steel sufuria than having a ubiquitous container. Moreover, they would rather use the disposable polythene bags that would not require them to do cleaning afterward than have a container that should be washed each moment they empty their milk in the sufuria to prepare tea, coffee, cocoa, milo or whatever.

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Milka in polyethene bags.

Image Credits: smmartpkg.com

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Milk in a container.

Image Credits: dreamstime.com

In this microwave economy where everyone is out to “save time,” it is not unusual to find these types of individuals. Besides that, we have another set of persons who prefer the “ready made” things. On one side, ready made has resulted in job creation in that you cannot fail to trace a mama mboga’s kibanda in any neighbourhood. However, on the other side, it has resulted in the lazylog generation. In the past, people would go to the market and order bunches of sukuma wiki. They would then walk home and chop the vegetables themselves. In the present day, you could come across as a rare species if you order the same sukuma wiki and proceed home to chop them yourself. As a matter of fact, mama mbogas have considered it their obligation to chop the vegetables each time a customer places an order. With long queues of customers waiting to be served, it is not surprising to encounter cases of quarrels among them because the mama mboga serves on an out of sight out of mind basis unlike the first come first served basis that is deeply bred in the minds and hearts of subscribers of the microwave economy. It is not rare to see them stocking the ready made vegetables in different quantities of ksh 10, ksh. 20, and ksh. 40.

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Mama Mboga in her kibanda.

Image Credits: fenesi.com

Shopping malls are springing up fast like weeds in an unattended garden. In these shopping malls, there are supermarkets. These supermarkets have found a strategic way to appeal to the ever-growing middle class that exhibits the “save time” tendencies. Proud members of this social class deem themselves to be ever on the rise up the money ladder. To them, time is money in the form that if you do not save time-oh boy!- money will run away from you like a gazelle being chased by a lion. They want chapati they get it there and then, they want githeri they get it there and then, they want ugali beef/matumbo/kuku/mboga they get it there and then. Recently, there was an argument that the ready-to-eat foods found in the delicatessen (or deli) has led to the emergence of a generation of ladies who cannot cook. Simply put, she gets home with cooked meat, ugali,and mboga. Later, when the husband gets home, it just becomes a matter of her heating the food, guess how? You got that right, using a microwave. The couple then proceeds to eat the “fast” food, fast in the sense that it takes around 10-15 minutes to prepare a supper meal that would normally take close to one and a half hours! Woe unto her when she arrives at the deli late. That is the day she will display her poor cooking skills.

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Garden City Mall.

Image Credits: potentash.com

On the contrary, delicatessens deserve praise because they fill a gap that used to bring trouble in the past, that is, convenience. Imagine this. You are starting out as a young couple each working in top corporations. You do not have a kid yet. To make matters worse, you stay in Ronga. You wake before the rest of Kenya wakes, and you reach home the last. The questions come: when shall the lady cook? When shall she have enough rest to be able to face the next day? How shall the couple create sufficient time to brainstorm and plan together? How will they find a chance to study? Again, you may be a young lad or lass, straight out of college and into your first job and because you are young, you are deemed as the company’s mtu wa mkono. By the end of the day, you feel wasted such that you find it hard to cook a simple meal of ugali mboga or even ugali and eggs. The questions still stream in: how shall you be able to maintain your top performance in the following day? How can you create extra hours of rest and sleep? How shall you get the time to catch up on the current top series and TV show? How will you create time to read your favorite novel? The questions go on and on, and this is where it becomes necessary to pursue the services of delicatessens.

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Customers being served with already cooked food in Naivas supermarket’s delicatessen in Westlands, Nairobi.

Image Credits: Daily Nation.

The bottom line is that if one can chop the vegetables and meat, and also cook for themselves, well and good, let them do so. If one is inconvenienced by the above duties, well then, let them pursue convenient options. Moreover, we should not shy away from the execution of certain tasks. It would be good to learn at least how to cook to avoid unnecessary embarrassment. Picture this. You have welcomed a couple of friends or even business associates then you proceed to get them food from a delicatessen, and then you wife or nanny heats it in a microwave in their presence. How embarrassing! Some may even wonder why you got married to a useless wife. Again, one should avoid becoming a lazylog with an excuse of “saving time.” The joy of life is in the learning and execution of simple task such as washing the dishes, chopping meat and vegetables and even cooking chapati however tough these tasks are. Just try executing these tasks at your convenient time, and I assure you that you shall enjoy the work of your hands.

“…..checking on you…..”

“……….Hey there? Longtime! Hope you doing well. I’m good. Was just checking on you. And BTW Happy New Month!!……”

This is just a simple text that I receive each moment we usher in a new month. I value such texts regardless of whether we have had little contact with the person inboxing me. I appreciate the ‘checking on you’ messages.

On the other hand, I usually send the same type of ‘catching up’ messages to friends and associates. However, in other times, I send them inconsistently. With the advent of technology and more so WhatsApp and Telegram, I prefer to download images bearing the words ‘Happy New Month.’ I get straight to the point. To close friends, I write customized messages to wish them well in the coming month. To friends who I haven’t contacted in a long time, I usually start a little conversation just to check on how they are doing and also update them on how I am doing.

It is usually good to check on people around us. Nobody knows when their time on earth will be up. The unexpected always happens. In the current generation, it has become the norm for individuals to be united by death. It is during the burial of a relative that people get to catch up. I remember late last year when I attended the funeral of a high school mate, the need for catching up with schoolmates and more so classmates arose. A good way of doing so was knowing where each individual resides such that when you are around their neighborhood, you just give them a call and meet them for one to two minutes. Another way was to create WhatsApp groups where individuals could share ideas. The underlying factor was that we should not be united by the death of a comrade.

Death reminds us that we are just but passengers here on earth. The world is not our home. Having this in mind, it would be good to be at least catching up with individuals around us. Make it monthly, or even quarterly. For those close to us you can make it weekly or fortnightly. The rule of the thumb is to know the limits and also to understand the relationship between you and the individual you wish to text. We all need privacy. Moreover, we are wired differently, and as a result, not everyone enjoys chatting. Just hit them up with a conclusive statement like the one shared above. You could start today since tomorrow is a new month. Go through your contact list and identify those people you haven’t contacted in a long time. Get to know how they are doing and also tell them how you are doing.

Happy catching up!

STOP!

Close to a decade ago, I came across my little brother’s exercise book. I must say the book was old judging by the wrinkled and stained pages contained therein. It would pass for paper used in firing up a charcoal stove. However, something caught my attention. Indeed as they say, never judge a book by its cover, I proved this adage to be true. In the middle of the book were written the words STOP STOP STOP. The final stop had been broken down into an acronym with each letter standing for something.

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Image Credits: https://thislittlecreature.wordpress.com/2013/06/

 

S-Stop

T-Think

O-Observe

P-Plan

I began to connect the dots. Previously, he had written the word ‘STOP’ on the wall using a red marker pen. We couldn’t understand why he wrote it. In fact, mom gave him a thorough beating for dirtifying the walls with nonsense. Later in the evening, I asked what really pushed him to the extent of writing on the wall. His reply was unimpeachable.

“Teacher alituambia tuandike pahali tunaezaona kila siku. Sa mi nkaona ukuta ndio poa!”

You know how kids are innocent. From this experience, I was able to draw one lesson. And that lesson is the importance of taking a pause. At times we may find ourselves stuck between a rock and a hard place. This is the point when we need to STOP. In that period of a pause, we need to examine the current situation and determine the causes of the setback. We need to think of a way out and then devise a plan to take us to our destination.

Games have halftimes, conferences have tea and lunch breaks, racing competitions have checkpoints, and schools have break times. You also need to have a break time in your schedule. This is a time where you reflect the seeds planted so far and the results achieved in the day, the week, the month or even the year. That is the reason jobs have leave days and holidays.

Despite having tight schedules, short deadlines and the desire to achieve more, just find it within your schedule to set aside time to STOP. It acts like a checkpoint towards your destiny. So the next time you feel restless or are stressed, STOP!