Leadership Not A One Day Event!

To Finish Strong, Start Small

Growing up, my family knew more lean times than days of plenty. Sometimes there would be so little to go around that I would go without lunch at school. Now, let me clarify that there are people who have been in more dire situations than I was.

Leadership Not A One Day Event!

But back then I would watch my classmates munching away at hot dogs, sandwiches and cake while I consumed copious amounts of air-burgers. This was tough to deal with, both mentally and emotionally.

I did not want to bother my poor mother. She cared (and still cares) very much about all her children. Voicing my thoughts about the food would only spike her blood pressure off the chart. So instead of bothering her, I chose a very interesting method to block out the torment I was going through: books became my solace.

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When Forgiveness Begets Leadership

medium_11230538153The year I turned seven, my father, a government employee, was relocated to another town.

Myself, my mother and my siblings couldn’t move with him and stayed back home. I thought it was because we were already settled into our own simple house and in local schools. As kids, we weren’t prepared for this major upheaval in our family. My hero had been torn away from me.

The next thirty years were spent hating, regretting; living in fear instead of to my full potential. I couldn’t stand the thought of ending up the disappointment I perceived my father to be. But that was exactly where I saw myself heading.

I had dreams, aspirations and a bubbling heart, but somewhere along the way it had become a struggle to even think of waking up each day, let alone getting out of bed.

For many years, I harbored a longing to serve people in a significant way, yet I was doing nothing to fulfill that desire. I was too paralyzed by my fear of inadequacy.

Then I chose forgiveness… [TweetMe]

Read the full article on The Gift of Writing.

Question: Are you struggling to find your full potential as a leader, father or mother? I hope my story will inspire you to take the critical steps to be the leader you were meant to be. Down But Not Out is available at your favorite online bookstore, or a bookshop near you.
 photo credit: symphony of love via photopin cc

Mothers are Leader Number 1

Happy Mother's Day

What does your mother mean to you?

This morning, I thought of a special type of leader. They go about their day with diligence and sometimes unnoticed. They lead from the heart, are uncompromising and loving.

Mothers are leaders beyond belief [TweetMe]. They don’t just bring us into the world, they are there when we scraped our knees, calmed us when ‘monsters’ attacked us at night, and saved the day when our stomachs threatened to ‘kill’ us. Mothers are PRESENT as they are a GIFT.

Today, I want to honor two special mothers in my life. Her Greatness Mum (my mother) and Her Highness Harriette (my best friend and the mother to our children). You are great leaders that evoke emotions and memories in us that are out of this world [TweetMe].

From our mothers, we have come to appreciate many lessons to last us a long time to come. And as someone once said, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. So here goes…

Marmalade – Delectable, carefully prepared, and enjoyable. You care

Oatmeal – Filled with wholesome goodness. A healthy body, mind and home…

Tortilla – Our tastebuds do a crazy dance. We’re in colourful warmth

Honey – Your sweetness is unmatched. We treasure your love for us…

Eggs – A comfort for all times, good or bad. We love your magical presence

Ribs – Sticky and finger-licking good! You’re consistent even when we yo-yo…

Take the time to thank your mother. As you do so, I urge you to ponder on the following. What will it take for you to show more care, be wholesome in your approach, warm when engaging others, love more, be present for your people, and finally, consistent in your leadership.

To all mothers out there, we love you more than anything else in the whole wide world… Happy Mother’s Day! [TweetMe]

[photo credit: Carolyn_Sewell via photopin cc]

Take Your Stand!

medium_11329609296On 19th September 2005, I jumped on a train that was to take me through an amazing journey. I was provided with the opportunity to work at building a brand and to lead a cause. I’d been married to my awesome wife for just a year and a half. And our first child was on the way. Actually, she was born just four days into this new journey.

This was the first time I had gotten a job after an extensive interview. All other positions I had held before transitioned into each other. I was hired because someone had interacted with me and loved my ability. This job, however, was different. I went through a rigorous interview. When I started work, I dug into it with gusto! It combined two of my passions. What a blessing to do work that you love!

As I disembark from that train today, I will treasure the experiences I went through. However, the sights sounds found beyond the railway tracks beckon to me. I experienced mind-shift some time back. From now henceforth, I will engage my mind, body and soul on inspiring courage in people to discover their potential, their destiny.

It all started when I discovered that leadership is a verb, I prayed that God would give me the courage to follow my dreams. Jeff Goins couldn’t have put it in a better way than this; “The experience of living a dream is more about what happens before you quit than what comes after.” I realized that to dream, I could not help but take leadership of the following choices: Learn, Love and Labor.

“Faith is courage; it is creative while despair is always destructive.”
~David S. Muzzey

Learn: Time came when I had to lean the way of my values [TweetMe]. Although it has been a chapter in my life filled with great lessons, personal growth and awesome moments, it has also been punctuated with long paragraphs of challenges, disappointments and pain. However, these strengthened my resolve, fortified my resilience and built my character. “The one who sweats more in practice bleeds less in war.” ~Spartan Warriors

Love: I made some great friends that I will treasure for life. I learned from my mistakes as much as from my achievements [TweetMe]. As Muhammad Ali said, “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion’.” I am happy to emerge a better person hardened in battle but working towards excellence.

Labor: Pushing hard is inevitable as I will always face dream-killers [TweetMe]. These are fears and people who don’t want to see me grow. Here are my thoughts to you from a man I greatly admired. This is a man who inspired me to innovate even in the face of resistance. I hope these words will to spur you on… “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way you do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found that yet, keep looking, and don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” ~Steve Jobs.

Are you living your dream or is someone else living their dream through you?

 [photo credit: thor_mark via photopin cc]

A Leader’s Legacy

Anna“With great sadness in my heart I must tell you that…” was the opening of an email message I received last evening informing me of the closing of another life. I was shocked, confused and all that my quivering lips could utter was a pained “No!” It was a legacy refined, one that began in life and shall forever be immortalized.

I still remember these words that I wrote to Anna back in December 2011. “You are what I call the Swedish Iron Lady. Your attention to detail is unrivaled! I always knew that you would spot any full stop I omitted in my work. You provided an opportunity for me to prove my worth. You mentored me, trained me, and above all believed that I could become a better communication specialist. In you, a platform existed from which I could launch myself into the future. Thank you Anna for giving me the opportunity.”

She had a beautiful smile that let me know all things would work out even in the most bleak of situations. She was gentle as she was tough is her expectations of me. Resilience was her hallmark and she would not stop until she was sure that I was close to my potential. Her inspiration allowed me to bridge the gap and reach out to that potential.

As I went through all these emotions, it dawned on me what a great leader she was to me. To date, every work I do has her imprint on it. I can’t stand bad writing. My temples pulsate every time I receive a poorly punctuated email message. I think structure any time I hear ‘content’.

Anna leaves behind a few lessons for all of us aspiring to be better leaders.

Smile often: It communicates warmth and the humanity in you [TweetMe]. It is amazing the effect a smile has on someone else. It breaks down barriers and helps unlock the magical door into their hearts. A smile shows a healthy dose of optimism that all will be well, regardless.

“We become what we think about most of the time, and that’s the strangest secret.” ~Earl Nightingale.

Gentle is okay: Leaders do not have to lead by fear [TweetMe]. Temper your firmness with love. You are leading people, not robots. In your toughness, your followers need to remember that you have their best interests at heart. It helps to build trust between you and your followers. That will always win the day.

“The glue that holds all relationships together – including the relationship between; the leader and the led is trust, and trust is based on integrity.” ~ Brian Tracy

Inspiration is possible: I don’t need to be a great orator to inspire others towards their potential [TweetMe]. All I need to do is to figure out their potential and partner with them to realize their innate ability. Once we are both on the same page, difficult situations become learning opportunities.

“A man can be as great as he wants to be. If you believe in yourself and have the courage, the determination, the dedication, the competitive drive and if you are willing to sacrifice the little things in life and pay for the price the things that are worthwhile, it can be done.” ~ Vince Lombardi.

Seize the moment: The last time Anna was in Kenya, she invited us to join her and her daughter on a holiday. It was an impromptu proposition. My silly excuse was that we could not afford the trip. I have learned a heavy lesson, and I will now invest more in meaningful relationships. That is what legacies are made of [TweetMe].

Anna, you lead, cared and built. You are gone in body but your legacy lives on in many of us. Your legacy is built not on what you are, but who you are, and the hearts you touched.

Are you reaching out to people’s hearts?

 photo credit: Paul Mundy

Never Failed? Hardly Lived!

medium_1698172760There are many times that I have grumbled about how tough an upbringing I had. There were periods when I would consume copious amounts of air-burgers at school. The most trying moments were not the hunger pangs, but watching some of my classmates dig into their samosas and other Indian delights. As the delicious smells wafted over and were entrapped in my nostrils, I vowed that one day I would gift my taste buds with similar delights.

Around the same time, I vividly remember one English writing assignment when I was 11 years old. Coincidentally, the assignment came in after I had read an adventure novel. Boy didn’t I enjoy that assignment. I created my own world of make-belief and turned in a masterpiece. When my English teacher handed my assignment back to me, it had a big zero in crimson red. I was shocked! His verdict was that I must have copied my work from some existing text. I was broken.

What prompted my recollection of this event? It was a comment that Jeffrey Heinichen left on Initium Novum (A New Beginning): “Not only are you Authentic, you are an incredibly good writer and I have much to learn from you,” he wrote. How I would love to trace my former English teacher now. Not only can I write, but now I am an author and run a blog to boot!

Lucille Ball was one of the most influential and successful actresses of her time. Yet she had been previously dismissed from New York City’s John Murray Anderson-Robert Milton Dramatic School apparently for lack of talent. She did not give up and tried modeling when she was hired as a showroom model. It was during this time that she was discovered for adverts and film.

In 1961, Decca Studios turned down the Beatles as guitar music was thought to be on the way out. This is after they had churned out fifteen tracks in a few hours on the eve of ’61! The Beatles went on to become one of the most arguably successful artists of all time.

Who was fired from a newspaper because he lacked imagination and had no original ideas? The legendary Walt Disney was involved in a number of start-ups and jobs before a borrowed camera helped him launch his real passion, animation. Walt Disney now has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, not to mention a global empire under his name.

What can leaders learn from these events?

Fail forwards: Do not allow failure to stunt your growth [TweetMe]. Embrace that failure and allow it to become your treasure-trove of lessons. Your growth plan must incorporate time to reflect and learn from the past.

“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got up again.” ~Nelson Mandela.

Overcome fear: Get others involved in your growth [TweetMe]. Surround yourself with people who inspire you to greatness, are candid enough to let you know when you are on the wrong path (with love), and give back to community. I wouldn’t have added quality to my book if I had not reached out, became vulnerable to others who in turn hold me accountable. People appreciate you when you involve them.

“We must have courage to bet on our ideas, to take the calculated risk, and to act.” ~M. Maltz

Be accountable: Deliver what you said you would do [TweetMe]. Another way of being accountable with your followers is to mentor them in their own growth. Todd Nielsen’s Three Ways to Polish a Diamond Employee In The Rough is a godd place to start being accountable to those that follow you.

“If you hang out with chickens, you’re going to cluck and if you hang out with eagles, you’re going to fly.” ~Steve Maraboli

Do you have any fears that limit your ability to lead? I would love to hear from you.

photo credit: Kathleen Tyler Conklin via photopin cc