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The Alternative Perspective

In every work of genius, we recognise our own rejected thoughts which come back to us in a certain alienated majesty.

                                                                                                          – Ralph Waldo Emerson


As Alumni of a non-local institution of higher learning, we are bestowed with considerable advantages that exposure bestows upon a people than we seldom appreciate.


Dr Bamu Earth Photo


Most of us seem to take for granted the leverage that such an experience as leaving home for distant lands in pursuit of knowledge accords to us individually and collectively in our daily pursuits.

If you can recall the day you arrived in Bharat as a young person with nothing but hopes and dreams (and maybe some Blueband) of one time being referred to as an old-timer like the graduands preparing to return back home then, you made a vow to yourself, for the duration of your course of study, to pay the price that such role models had paid in order to bask in similar glory once your time came.

There’s little doubt that you experienced some difficulties in adjusting to the new environment, or what is commonly referred as entry shock; but within no time you had belonged. Years later after you had accomplished your goal, you probably felt a bit sad on your departure not sure of what awaited back home, and depending on the number of years that you had been away without a break, a re-entry shock was awaiting.

Nonetheless, you had become more knowledgeable and experienced than the last time you were here especially since India is generally considered ahead by a few years. On arrival, truth be told, you were not so impressed by the progress that had taken place during your absence.

That is why you would find yourself comparing both countries at every opportunity probably in a veiled attempt to demonstrate that you had the advantage of exposure and experience over your peers, and not necessarily to portray Kenya in a dull light.

Gradually, you started noticing society’s vain attempt to muffle your voice by comparing you with others yet conformity was nowhere in your DNA, and your star momentarily dimmed; and not because of what you would hear them say, but because the voice inside your head made you believe it to be true.

Years later, you have already proven your mettle to all and sundry yet somehow you do not like drawing too much attention to yourself. Gladly, the same society that thought they had cut you down to size now unreservedly begs more of you because you purposed to become a person of value – but still you are a bit hesitant about being so visible.

Everything has come to full circle now, and whether it’s in business or in employment, you have started noticing that your perspective on matters is a bit unconventional and a notch higher as a result of the matrix of experiences – home and away –  that you are now a product of.

Actually, the quality of your decisions is superior to those of your peers with a similar skills set and you tend to notice opportunities for improvement as readily. You do not split hairs over non-issues and you have developed your conceptual skills in such a way that matters that demand your attention are viewed in the larger context.

Exposure has, therefore, provided you with the advantage of opening up your mind to possibilities where others only see boundaries. But in order for you to make the most out of these experiences, you require a platform on which to effectively apply them and probably participate in the decision making at the highest level. You have no doubt that you can even become the advisor to the Head of State in your area of expertise, and you are done deluding yourself (like most of our fellow Kenyans) that those currently holding such positions are there primarily by other reasons other than merit.

However, there appears to be just one thing that always seems to stand in between you and your goal. It is like a shadow that is constantly lurking that you need to cast aside.

Could it be that that additional qualification, soft skill, a mentor, experience, professional network, a good habit or a combination of the afore-mentioned is what is missing from the equation?

By now you have done an honest skills inventory of yourself and arrived at the conclusion that this hurdle(s) must be jumped sooner, otherwise later might be too late as the possibility of mulling in regret at the lost opportunities in decades to come is real.

Weakest skill

Success coach Brian Tracy surmises that your weakest skill will eventually determine how far you can go in your business or career, regardless of how good you are at any particular task at the moment.

This has been supported by research as well and is documented through experiences of most self-made millionaires.

Mr. Tracy asserts that we are only as good as our weakest skill and, therefore, improvement on this one skill has a positive effect on your other stronger skills thus the potential of elevating you even higher in your business or profession.

For instance, you might be excellent in the technicalities of your expertise but lack public speaking skills, or team-building skills which could be hindering your career progression. A deliberate effort to improve on these skills be it by attending seminars, reading widely on the particular subject, studying gurus in these areas and seeking opportunities to practice these skills could enable you see further as a decision maker, attesting to author Jim Rohn’s succinct conclusion that success is 20% expertise and 80% strategy!

The lack of a professional qualification or a proficiency certificate or the requisite experience could also be what is hindering your upward mobility (You and I know it’s not tribalism or nepotism like we tell people), and the moment that we attain these, our present occupation will suddenly assume a diminutive status as we will be able to see opportunities beyond. It is noteworthy that it is not the eventual certification that matters, but rather the person it takes for you to become in order to attain it.

For those of us in entrepreneurship, a deliberate improvement of the business processes, products and our staff is vital, otherwise competition will annihilate us in a blink of an eye.

The Parthenon principle comes to the fore in this regard. Incremental changes in the various key performance indicators that are used to determine a business’ progress will eventually result in the overall business health.

As the resource allocator and disturbance handler, your weakest skill as relates to a particular function in your business, say e-commerce, might just be what is limiting your organisation’s exponential growth. But as Chinese billionaire, Jack Ma, taught us during his last visit to Kenya, you need only hire people that are smarter than you in that particular area of expertise that you are not so good at so that you can concentrate on your strengths. It’s like conducting an orchestra – only that you have to be an excellent conductor as well in order to be able to elicit the best out of your best people.

In conclusion

Continuous personal growth is the key.

Whatever position you are holding now may be scrapped tomorrow, and with robots fast replacing humans in production, the market environment might change and render your profession redundant.  However, it is whom you have progressively become in terms of bringing value to the market place that will keep you afloat, and not what you learned last year! (Leave alone decades ago)

To acquire those skills will demand change and thereby significantly disrupt your comfort zone. Self-discipline, therefore, is paramount; and as we all know, growth is centred around your discomfort and not your comfort. It is worth emphasizing that personal growth being a personal matter, it does not require you to spend time comparing your achievements with those of others because their journey is ultimately different and you know nothing about it.

The truth is that we never grow above our personal development – it is like the Universe conspires never to accede to our wishes until we demand the best of ourselves.

Our exposure will count for little if we can only peep through the window as decisions are being made on our behalf by those who worked on their weakest skills. Humility, therefore, is paramount so that you are able to learn, relearn and unlearn uninhibited.

Fortunately, we have the advantage of time, because great things take time; so if you start now, tomorrow you will not wish you had started today.

What possible pleasure can one derive from self-betrayal anyway, and by this we mean living below your potential and even worse doing nothing towards your self-improvement? Life is short and, therefore, having big, audacious goals could provide a robust footing (as attractive goals tend to pull us strongly towards them) and thereby help us to overcome temporary obstacles and downtimes.

Notice that if we do not have our own goals, we are condemned to work for those who do; and guess what? They will only compensate us for what they have no time and discipline to do themselves. That is why we reiterate that continuous learning is what will make us more valuable in the market place.

Clarion call

Whether in employment or in business, we are all entrepreneurs by default in that we are always in a value proposition mode in exchange for some consideration.

Going by our Association’s mantra, ‘Aspire to Achieve’, therefore, we feel it is our honorable duty at this juncture to prod our members to aspire to be ENTREPRENEURS.

Napoleon Hill is famed for his definition of an ‘educated person’ as, ”One who has so developed the faculties of his or her mind that he or she may acquire anything that he or she wants, or its equivalent, without violating the rights of others.”

While employment is essential as a means of acquiring relevant experience and mentorship, it should not be our ultimate goal. Yes, utilised well, it can provide an ideal platform for mastery of your craft in so far as possessing a marketable and transferrable skill that you can apply elsewhere is concerned. But it should not be our zenith.

Lest, with all due respect, we risk following in the footsteps of those who end their careers in the highest echelons of leadership in large organisations but later on embark on ventures that are totally unrelated to what they did out of frustration. These folks made the mistake of working harder on their jobs than on themselves, and that is why they are forced to learn new skills for survival when they are already too old.

As an entrepreneur, however, you will never retire! In fact, you will most likely resign from employment way before your time once you outgrow your current role and begin consulting for a market niche that you have identified could benefit from your unique expertise.

The beauty of it is that you will be operating from a point of abundance whereby it is easier to give back as opposed to when you are solely relying on employment where scarcity mentality is almost a pre-requisite for survival the higher you rise as a decision maker. (See how our Association benefits)

We are world changers! And the world has been transformed by entrepreneurs since time immemorial through provision of solutions and value addition.

Learning something new each day in your area of expertise, however little, will be the quickest and surest way of staying ahead of your competition for the simple reason that most people are content with themselves and would rather rest on their past glory.

Life has a sure way of rewarding persistence such that the fruits of investing in yourself will gradually begin to manifest as you come up with alternative perspectives to any problem-solving scenario thus making you indispensable. Impossible will be a word long-erased from your vocabulary as you now realise that with the right attitude, anything is achievable.

Inventor Elon Musk is quoted thus:

                 ‘‘Do not confuse that which is truly impossible with

                               that which has simply never been done.’’

Courage in expressing our ideas and boldly taking action especially when doubt seems to creep in (As it always does) will provide alternative and refreshing leadership to a world that badly needs it. This will entail demanding the most of ourselves first for we cannot give what we do not have.

We, therefore, call upon each and every Alumnus wherever they are on the globe to join hands, and not to live only for themselves. Every one of us has something to give and it doesn’t have to be monetary. There is enough room in our Association to accommodate everyone and therefore, your time, resources, advise, skill or expertise in any area is welcome any time, and a platform to express your greatest gifts yours for the taking.

Some of our members have been wanting to know how the Association will benefit them. Hopefully now they can replace that question with, ‘‘How can I give back to the Association?’’

You can Get Involved  in our Alumni Association’s activities and events as we seek to transform the world around us first. God did not bring us this far to conform and play small with all the advantages that we are bestowed.

We can do more!

Else, – to quote* Ralph Waldo Emerson – tomorrow a stranger will say with masterly, good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take our own opinion from another.

*Essay on Self reliance

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