Don’t wait for others to make a difference in your life

As we kick off the New Year, I have no doubt that many of you have sat down to make resolutions. You’ve looked at your life to date in the greater context of where you want to be in future and thought to yourself… surely I must change this or that.

Whether you achieve success in your resolve is another thing altogether.

However, measuring success is not as consequential as the process of periodically examining and re-examining your life. Without doing the latter you will never know whether you have achieved success anyway. So as you aspire to live by your resolutions, I thought I would share a few nuggets of wisdom that have the potential to make your daily life worthwhile.

First, I want to recognise that this is a time of great uncertainty in Kenya. We are anticipating a transformation that may define the political sphere and set a different standard for the next decade. We are witnessing a rise in civic responsibility by the middle class and the ordinary person, who says I do not like how things are going therefore I must do something. These are exciting times.

However, it is also a time that can be quite stressful. You are worried about the future of your country; your security; whether your business can survive or thrive under such uncertain times; your personal relationships etc.

The truth is, not much of it is in your control. You can preach the message of peace and all those good things until you are blue in the face, but you cannot force another person to act in the way that you think is best.

The trick therefore is to embrace uncertainty. This means that you have to be spontaneous and adapt to the environment as it changes. Successful entrepreneurs will tell you that this is one mechanism that is instrumental to their success. While they would prefer for factors to remain constant or in their favour, they also recognise that failure to adapt could mean the death of their businesses.

This is the reason why you have seen the traditional news print industry adapt to digital media. While am confident that the future of our country remains bright, I will need to adapt to a different political regime that I may or may not like. So must you and this may translate into redefining your goals and goalposts.

Secondly, you must avoid an ‘entitlement mentality’ if you are to be successful.

Too many times we see our fellow Kenyans waiting on others to make a difference in their lives. So when things don’t go as expected, they blame their failures on external factors. For example they will say the government has failed us; my employer is mean; my family is unfair etc. They will never sit back and say, what can I do to make things better for myself? My friend, please recognise that world owes you nothing. Yes it would be nice if your family could bequeath you with a tidy sum of money to start that dream business.

But what if they don’t? Know that you can never be able to go and tell them, you owe me this much because I am your child. Let us get off our rears, and quit that ‘naomba serikali’ drivel.

Thirdly, I must implore you to immerse yourself fully in your current occupation or project. Too often, I see employees working half-heartedly for a reason that is justifiable in their eyes. For example they will say, this is not the job of my dreams … it is the job that I’m holding while waiting on my ideal job.

Or they will say, my boss is making me perform duties that are outside of my job description. Whatever the reason, you can sense that they are not committed to what they are doing; they are neither present nor conscious.

My take is that regardless of whether your situation is ideal in your eyes, it is not acceptable to give yourself half-heartedly. If you are a marketer who has to do sales because that is the only job available, do not do it half-heartedly. Give that task a 100 percent of your dedication without holding back. In doing so you will find that you expand your knowledge of the subject matter and the industry many times over.

You will also find that it broadens your experiences while giving you an edge at your next interview. The ability to excel and shine in your current circumstance becomes a selling point in itself.

Finally, I want to reiterate something that I always tell my employees. Ignorance is never an excuse, not even in a court of law. It is important that you read widely, stay abreast of current affairs and be informed of new trends. While I may excuse an interview candidate for failure to know the specifics in my industry, I would find it impossible to hire someone who does not have a bird’s eye view understanding of what we do.

Last but not least, believe in yourself enough to be your own champion. Do not underestimate your own capability. All you need to do is to begin the tasks at hand and you will find that have most of the resources within your disposal.

And while we are at it, make yourself useful – vote.

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