14 Jan 2019 – What’s new – Part II
I started this conversation last week and as I mentioned to you, too many thoughts are banging about my mind for me to be sensible. Perhaps as they become clearer, I will write about them.
Two things are clear to me today.
First, in 2019, I want to be inspired anew. I want to indulge myself to be inspired by powerful and not-so-powerful stories of interesting and not-so-interesting people. Inspiration is an interesting thing. If you are looking out for it, you tend to see it in the most interesting of places – in a billboard that speaks to you a certain way, in a mudguard of a motor bike or Lorry that has some colourful saying on it, in the khangas that my people adorn or in a podcast.
One of the most powerful stories I have heard in the past couple weeks has been the story of Steve Harvey, the TV personality. He tells the story of his life on Oprah Winfrey’s podcast series “MasterClass”. At one point, he says that in school, the teacher asked them to write on a piece of paper what they wanted to be when they grow up and hand it to her. Upon reading the papers, she called him out front and said, “What did you write on your paper?” He thought he must have done really well since he was the only one that was called up to the front.
“I want to be on TV,” he said.
“Why would you write something like that on your paper?” she asked crossly. “Has any one in your family ever been on TV? Any one in this neighbourhood? Anyone you know?”
She decided to tell his parents that Steve was being a ‘smart alec’ and when he got home, he got told off by his mum for being a ‘smart alec’.
“Wait till your father hears about this.”
When his dad came home, his mum duly reported him and Steve was called out from his room. “What did you write on your paper?” his dad asked sternly.
“I want to be on TV,” Steve Harvey said.
“Well, what’s wrong with that?” his dad asked, sending him back to his room. Later his dad came to his room and gave him a powerful piece of advice.
“Take a piece of paper and write whatever it is that that teacher wants to see. But this paper here, that says you want to be on TV, is your paper. put it on your drawer and every morning when you get up in the morning, I want you to read your paper. Every evening before you sleep, read your paper.”
Today, Steve Harvey is on TV 7 days a week. Wherever he goes on a show, he sends that teacher a new TV so that she can see him.
The second thing is this: in 2019, I want to be the means for inspiration. I have for the past few years been a consistent mentor in my companies and organisations. I take on young people just starting out in life and I start that journey with them just like David Makali, Paul Kukubo, Bitange Ndemo, Jane Delorie, Mugo Kibati, Duncan Onyango and many others walked with me. It’s not just professional mentorship. It’s life mentorship.
David taught me how to write. Paul and Bitange taught me how to lead. Jane taught me how to think critically. Duncan taught me diplomacy and negotiation and how to have fun. Mugo, well I think Mugo himself doesn’t know this, but he taught me what a happy home looks like.
There was a time, years ago, I was a frequent visitor to Mugo’s house. One day, I sauntered into their house as I usually did and I was going upstairs to their family living room where we had many laughs and I could hear Mugo and his wife having a fantastic intellectual debate about some current affairs or something.
I couldn’t bring myself to interrupt them so I sat there on the steps and eavesdropped on their debate. I was in awe. I had never before seen a couple debate issues – be on opposite sides of it and not fight! It blew my mind. Eventually, I slipped out of their house and went home to my little SQ, my mind blown.
I want to have that kind of impact on someone so I have mentored several other people to varying levels of success. It is not easy being my mentee. I rather make their lives difficult. They wake up early. They learn how to detail a car. They learn how to write, how to speak and eventually – if they last – how to lead.
I want to do more of this in 2019. You see, when I do and a mentee succeeds, it is such an amazing feeling. But I want to reach out to many others so I am exploring new ways and platforms to do it. In the same way Steve inspired me without ever knowing me, I want to reach out and touch someone. We must pay forward, what we receive.