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Ask Kirubi

I am a reason #AskKirubi


I am a reason because I believed the unbelievable.
I am a reason because I did not give up.
I am reason because I desired freedom from the shackles of poverty and I was determined to achieve it.

Success does not automatically qualify for riches. It means that you have achieved what you set out to achieve.

I recently watched a Coca Cola advert about the perceptions we have of others and the statement ‘Labels are for cans, not people’ struck me.

Indeed, ‘labels are for cans, not people’. It doesn’t matter what your parent, teacher, relative, leader, competitor, ex-lover has labeled you. You need to understand that you are more than that label and reach out for your greatness.

While growing up, I may have feared for ‘tomorrow’ but I never doubted that I would succeed.

I was raised in abject poverty; the sole definition of poverty was me and honestly I didn’t feel as though I was anything more than that. I was educated by well-wishers whom I never got to meet and thank. I would attend school without shoes; I mean, shoes were a luxury I simply could not afford. During one of the holidays my well-wishers bought me a pair of shoes which unfortunately I was afraid to use for fear of destroying them. When schools closed, I would never look forward to going home because of my status, so my friends would invite me to share in their festivities with their families.

Eventually, I began working over the holidays and I’d wear the only pair of shoes I had to move around so that I’d look presentable. I would use my earnings to support my brother’s education (now a professor at USIU) and whatever was left would cater to our basic needs.

Several times, I would watch my friends and their families, and desire some of the things they had. I vowed that I would not be bound by the shackles of poverty. I knew that one day my education and knowledge would be my means to success.

At that time, success for me was the ability to complete my education, earn money and cater to my basic needs (and that of my siblings) as well as seeing my younger brother complete his education.

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One thing is for sure; my difficult background did not deter me from having a vision. You see, poverty motivates those who have tasted its impact, and since I was lucky to have received support and advice from others, that was all the wealth I needed. For me, advice and encouragement was more valuable than money. It gave me the zeal and determination to do and achieve more.

I always say that you can be down but not out. The fact that you have failed on several occasions or fallen should not mean you quit. Only quit and move to the next thing if it’s not working out for you.

Just like a little child who tries to ride a bike, keeps falling but never gives up, or the tailor who kept trying to put the thread through the needle and eventually did it and began selling great threads, you cannot afford to give up. You are your only beacon of hope. When you decide to do something, DO IT! And if you don’t, you have no one else to blame but yourself.

Going to school barefoot and getting the education I got created opportunities that I never dreamt of. I never knew I would end up getting an opportunity to increase my knowledge at some of the advanced institutions in the world like Harvard. Better still, I never knew that same knowledge would help me establish successful businesses and gain a wealth of experience that would take me to sit on the external board advising the President of Harvard.

The soles of my shoes only know the many miles I have traversed and the struggles I have endured. Those struggles define my success and my reason for being.

Make sure you define your success; define your reason and be the reason. Remember, mistakes are proof that you are trying. Keep trying and be the reason you or someone smiles each day. Don’t let the label limit your potential.

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