Hiatus

Wow! Just wow! What a while it has been!

Sincerely, I missed blogging. It has almost been a year since I last composed a blog post (314 days to be precise). Well, I attribute it to a hiatus, a hiatus pegged with many factors: work, travel, reading, business, and worse of it all – writer’s block.

writers-block

Image Credits: Wine In

On the one hand, I would say it was necessary that I have the long break from what I used to do best. On the other hand, I feel that I have missed out on a lot regarding the advancement of the mckanyanga brand. Essentially, this is the first blog post for 2018! Just imagine what I have missed for the past eight months!

The hiatus has taught me about life’s brevity. There are so many moments I told myself that I was going to finish the next part of Almost doesn’t count. I had even mapped out the story’s outline. However, I just could not come up with the words to fill it up! I was stuck. I suffered the writer’s block. There are other moments that I wrote a paragraph, and before I knew it, I had hit the backspace key to clear it! I could not feel the flow of the words. I could not make sense of what I was writing. Many writers will tell you that they often have to feel the flow and make sense of their work before they publish and share it with their audience.

During the hiatus, I have learned significant lessons about life which I would like to share with you.

It is okay to be tired, but never to give up

“I think that writing/business/ministry/accounting/sport/law [insert any pursuit here] is not my thing…”

Many are the times we have heard people complain that a particular profession, pursuit, or job is not their thing. In most cases, they reach this point after a long period of trying here and there. It is common to hear them say,

“I did everything right, I followed the rules, I put all my effort, I dedicated myself to the course, but things are not working out at all!”

Perhaps, such comments are made when one is tired, and their mind is clouded with negative energy as a result of the toil. During such time, it is necessary to unplug and do whatever you like – taking a walk, cooking your favorite meal, munching your favorite snack, watching your favorite series, or even listening to soothing music. Such activities have the effect of “deceiving” your mind into forgetting the negative and focusing on the good vibes only.

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Image Credits: Virgin

Remember that it is never that serious. Being tired is okay. Being tired makes us human. In essence, being tired shows that you are putting in the work and that is good! However, take care not to be chocked up in the negative mood that is brought about by fatigue. In this case, the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing – focusing on your work.

The break is necessary

When one suffers a writer’s block, they cannot achieve much. It is at this point that taking a break becomes handy. The break is necessary because it helps calm down your mind. Research shows that the brain generates fascinating ideas when it is at rest. As a writer, one of the most important assets to have is a creative mind, and that mind is often achieved when one is at rest. It is advisable that one writes up the fascinating ideas that come through their mind during the break. These notes are necessary for coming up with future blog posts.

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Image Credits: Meet, Plan, Go

Perhaps, breaks are essential in clearing up your mind and hence enable you to come up with better ideas. Additionally, taking a break is instrumental in shaping up your view of the world. In essence, during the break, you tend to focus on other things besides writing, and these activities influence you to see the world from a different viewpoint. Besides, these other activities may give you the answers or inspiration that is needed to fuel your passion.

So, the next time you feel stuck, remember to unplug from what you are doing and take that break.

Consistency is key

Consistency, or lack thereof, can be the defining factor between failure or success. Let’s say that I decide to do a blog post every fortnight and stick with it; it would somewhat be predictable for you to check into my blog for a new post, wouldn’t it?

Consistency enables you to measure your performance. For instance, in the above case where I choose to blog every fortnight, it would be right to say that I would come up with two blog posts every month and twenty-four in a year. My work would somewhat be predictable, and this would prompt me to come up with the best pieces.

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Image Credits: Quotefancy

Besides, consistency breeds accountability. Perhaps, if I know that I should have a blog post two weeks from now, I will start coming up with an outline soon. I would not want to miss the satisfaction that comes with the successful completion of the blog post. This satisfaction and the desire to be consistent in coming up with blog posts would be the catalysts that will enhance my accountability.

Do not chase the result

Your whole focus ought to be on the process. In writing, there is the tendency to focus on the number of likes to your blog post, the target reach, the number of individuals visiting your blog, and the money you make out of writing. It is worth noting that these parameters are not the main goal. I was guilty of focusing on the result, and I was frustrated when I never got the anticipated feedback. Eventually, I forgot the passion, the first love – writing.

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Image Credits: Float Universe

What I appreciate is that I have learned my lesson. When you focus on chasing the result, you will rarely get them. Instead, you ought to focus on the “why” of your work. Perhaps, it could be to inspire lives of teenagers out there or to guide first-time parents on how to raise their first child.

Remember, chasing after things and results only produces a tiring life. Essentially, focus on the “why,” and in no time, individuals will recognize it and start giving you what you are seeking – be it likes, readership, or money.

Have fun

During the hiatus, I invested more time into my business. It is less than a year old and is yet to break even. Of course, as a businessman, there are other great businessmen that I look up to for inspiration. One of them is Sir Richard Branson. Branson is known for his mighty exploits in business through his company named Virgin. I happened to study his autobiography titled Losing My Virginity (I am not talking about what you think here), and one of the essential lessons that I have learned is that you got to enjoy the process. Branson prides himself in having fun at work. If you look at the company’s structure, it is evident that he prioritizes the needs of the employees. He understands the importance of having fun in attaining the desired results. Well, I also transferred the same idea into my work plan. I would rather have fun while writing than being grumpy and grinding out an unsatisfactory piece of writing.

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Image Credits: AZ Quotes

Well, that’s it. Remember the break is necessary but do not give up yet. Consistency matters. Focus on your passion and have fun while at it.

Cheers!

[Featured Image credits: bradsknutson.com]

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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.

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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………

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].

Is this the best career advice ever?

So you are out of high school and you cannot wait to join campus and pursue a course that will land you in your dream career. Or probably you are out of campus and are busy paper chasing as you try to get that dream job. You probably want to make the best out of your career if the opportunity presents itself. You want to really avoid instances of making unnecessary career switches as you have seen some of the people who are older than you doing. All you desire is becoming an expert by sticking to one specific career. You probably prefer being a master rather than a Jack of all trades. So you go in search of some of the best career advice available. First, you identify those individuals who are most successful in your area of study. You even go further and find out some of the pieces of advice they offer concerning what it takes to have a successful career. You just can’t help it but admire their successful career. It also becomes your goal to emulate their achievements as you look towards becoming successful as they have.

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Jack of all trades but master of none..

Image Credits: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/jack-all-trades-master-one-robert-shimonski

From the emphasis on hard work to being nice to everyone to keeping it real to never giving up when the going gets tough to embracing failure, you find out that all these career advice from these successful men and women are related in one way or another. Inside you, there is still this burning desire that keeps you on your toes on your mission towards finding out what is the best and most effective career advice that one can get. So the next challenge becomes identifying the unique career advice that will help give you that desired edge. You go out of your way to compiling a list of the available best pieces of career advice ever given. One of the best advice ever given is that you need to find a mentor. Take this interesting case, Warren Buffet hails Benjamin Graham as his mentor and Bill Gates, the richest man on the planet who esteemed the early guidance he received from Dr. Ed Roberts, says that Warren Buffet is his mentor. Interesting, isn’t it? What is more captivating is that Buffet and Gates have consistently featured in the list of the richest people on the planet in the recent years.

Forbes' 2015 Philanthropy Summit Awards Dinner
NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 03: Warren Buffett (L) and Bill Gates attend the Forbes’ 2015 Philanthropy Summit Awards Dinner on June 3, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

So why is finding a mentor so important? A mentor is someone who is older than you that you admire and trust his/her pieces of advice. A mentor is usually experienced in your area of interest having encountered a lot of experiences that have taught him/her great lessons about success and failure. So the moment you encounter failure, your mentor will be of great help by aiding you in getting back to your feet. Remember, a mentor is someone whose hindsight can become your foresight. A mentor acts as a reference, also as a guide. Just the same way as the father leads his son in the journey of life so does a career mentor guide a worker in his/her career path.

Another piece of advice that will help you enjoy your career is that you need to be aware of your personality. We are all wired differently. No two humans are the same. Identifying your personality will help you be aware of your strengths and weaknesses. In addition, you easily become aware of what you are passionate about. You are also able to bring out your unique sets of interests, skills, goals, experiences and even a new way of viewing the world. This is the reason why reputable global firms such as the ‘Big Four’ administer aptitude tests and personality tests so that they can be able to help you know your personality type. The reason why these firms remain successful and reputable is the fact that they hire people with personalities that match those required in their workplace.

It is interesting to note that being aware of your personality type early in life holds the key to your success. Look at the professional sportsmen, they identify their passion for sport early in life and probably enroll in an academy. They develop their talents early in life and before long they are already plying their trade in the first team. The same can be said of people who are successful in their careers. Those who have successful careers are probably those who identified the path they wanted to pursue and set out to discover if it matches with their strengths and abilities. They then went on to fulfill what is required of it. It is never too late to begin finding your passion. The reason why we have a lot of men and women who are secretly unhappy with their careers is because they just pursued it on the basis of other reasons like the huge paycheck, the ‘big name’ and fancy job titles associated with it or even the desire to be seen that they are putting the grades they attained into good use.

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Personality types.

Image Credits: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/45528646203397149/

For a recent college graduate, it will be important that you choose to pursue something you love over money. This is according to Brian Tracy’s advice to college graduates. In other words, this means that one needs to be aware of his/her strengths and passion. It is better to do something you love for the rest of your life rather than ending up in a career that you hate. Being aware of your personality and strengths will enable you to take up roles that fully utilize these strengths and at the end of the day, you will be satisfied with your career. If you are still finding it hard to identify your core strengths, there are a good number of online sites that offer free personality tests with the results being delivered to you immediately you are through with the test. In attempting these tests, you will become aware of your strengths and find ways of utilizing them. For your weaknesses, you will find ways of converting them to new strengths. Isn’t that what we all desire?

The bottom line, therefore, is being aware of your strengths and weaknesses then finding a qualified mentor. Personality awareness will help you stay focused on your career roles and will also be important in helping you enjoy what you do. On the other hand, mentors offer great assistance especially when we are faced with a situation which we do not fully understand. They are like a tour guide leading us through a path we are unsure of. So the next time you are confused as to what is the best career advice you can ever get, remember that you will first need to be aware of your strengths and most importantly what you are passionate about before even embarking on a journey towards a successful career.