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Stop Telling Yourself You are Too Young to Build Something

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When in second year, I got possessed with a crazy idea: that I could work at grassroots level to bring about change. To accentuate that idea, I thought of building something – a leadership motivational organization. 

This way, I would interact with young people in high schools and colleges and inspire them and help unlock their basic human resources. And cause them to believe in themselves. And overcome the often downtrodding limiting beliefs.

Have always believed what is as obvious to me is as obvious to everybody else. If I can drive an organization, anyone can. When I was translating the thought of forming the organization into a material thing, I began first, personally then by building trust and engagements.

I identified two people – first a gentleman. We beavered away at creating the vision statement, mission, excellent objectives and relevant core values. We created several names for the organization which did not inspire us all together until we settled for African Transformational Group (ATG). I had initially proposed OneStepBeyond as the name but gave it up to have the suggestion of my partner count.

When we felt overwhelmed with the thinking, we sourced for a third party, this time a lady. We wanted to make it serious so we sent out a call for application on school’s facebook page. But we eventually got her through referral.

She being a student of English and Literauture, we were elated her proficiency would give the organization an edge. We quickly gave ourselves tittles to get recognition for being awesome. I was the Founder – yes the founder of a piece of paper with a company name on it, the lad was the CEO and the lady the Director of Programs – very big tittles indeed.

Then we begun well with enough gusto. Approached a couple of professors to play oversight with the notion they would become our patrons. But, majority were both disinterested and busy. They had their time wholly earmarked for polishing their magnum opus – researches that are not only bizarre but also fairly impenetrable to the layman. Things like ‘The propulsion parameters of weaverbird’s poop,’ ‘ Which can jump higher: the dog flea or the cat flea?’ or ‘Impact of wet underwear on thermoregulatory responses and thermal comfort in the cold.’

So, in the issue of the patron, we decided to let go and did not seem to have the willpower to take it a step beyond. We depended on ourselves henceforward.

After several days writing literature and developing excellent organizational rubric, the grit of my two partners begun to wane, their strength demonstrated at the outset disappeared into nothingness. When we started out, we settled on an agreement that we would adhere strictly to the time of meetings which only became a fairy tale.

When I set out to understand why my partners gave up, I found they thought their 20s don’t count. That they are tender and delicate for corporate intricacies.

This is a dominan’t characteristic of the millenials – people from the generation born in the 1980s to mid 1990s. We just don’t believe we are old enough to build something up. That our decisions can’t count.

I find this totally compromising to the advantages the 21st century has put us all in. We are right at the cutting edge of technology and modern conveniences. We even read from our phones. We are constantly exposed to social media.

The key to greatness as young folks lies in the ability to confront our uneasiness and sometimes the all-consuming feeling that we are inadequate. We are not bound to start perfectly but if we remain long enough on course, we might get adapted to the often limiting sharp elbows or the occasional blind-side hits.

Plus if you’re someone who has always wanted to follow your dreams but never gained any traction, here is an idea: the people you bring in matters a lot. It is not their proficiency that counts but the often ignored soft skills like commitment, drive, grit and passion that really count. In other words, the ability to practice the subtle art of going one step beyond.

When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers – Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Note: Don’t ask what I’ve built. It’s an account of my wound and scars of a failled mission and how we can all avoid it.

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Be Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

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When our view of the world as a comfortable place, or as a certain type of place, has been shattered, we are forced to restart our perspective on things.  We suddenly have the opportunity to look out to the periphery and see things with a fresh set of beginner’s eyes again, which is extremely beneficial to our personal and professional growth.

One of the greatest growth lessons I was introduced to in 2011, while on a leadership exchange programme in the States was this: Be comfortable being uncomfortable. 

It’s a mind-blowing phrase. And one of the ideas neglected too often by serious people: we spend too much time acquiring technical skills, but too less practising the one virtue that will make those skills effective in the world.

Recently, my American mom – my host mom – in one of her occassional mentorship emails, reminded me to remember and practice the power of  this wonderful idea (I shared with her my fascination with it immediately I was introduced). 

I want to copy here below part of her email which I think will provide a greater insight:

So,  don’t ever get too discouraged by the hardness of it all. Or, by the often expressed negativity of others that may surround you (we are ALL dealing with this in today’s world- those voices of a small minority seem to drown the voices of so many doing good too often, and we can’t let those voices dominate!) 

No one ever said it would be easy.  

Remember the bold statement:  “Get comfortable being uncomfortable”  

I must confess I think of that saying several times a day as so many things I too am doing have made me feel very uncomfortable.  

And yet I have forged ahead as I know bigger and more important things are at stake, than me being worried about myself, or feeling uncomfortable, or unpopular.

But, it is those kids/people who stick with it even when it gets really really hard, that ultimately change not only themselves.  But positively impact the lives of their loved ones, their future, and ultimately the world around them!  (Like Martin Luther King, Ghandi, … and other great leaders from our past).

Practically, no one wants to relish the thought of feeling uncomfortable when opportunities exist for giving up. Yet, majority of achievers have done so under the hardest of circumstances.

The hardness of it all is a blessing in disguise. It comes to help us open up to unimaginable possibilities, being vulnerable to unexpected changes, being compassionate with ourselves when times are tough, giving ourselves some extra love and kindness no matter what happens, and being grateful for the opportunity to experience it all.

When our view of the world as a comfortable place, or as a certain type of place, has been shattered, we are forced to restart our perspective on things.  We suddenly have the opportunity to look out to the periphery and see things with a fresh set of beginner’s eyes again, which is extremely beneficial to our personal and professional growth.

Personally, most of the things I try to do often gets uncomfortable. While writing this blog always seem to come natural to me, sometimes stories don’t come at all. But I don’t fail to show up. I develop mental toughness, I celebrate the situation and make fun out of it. I go one step beyond. That hardship becomes my mental resistance training.

The underlying secret is to completely embrace reality and the broad range of experiences we encounter on the journey of life, taking the good with the bad. This includes all of our emotions, all of our ups and downs, all of our blissful moments and painful ones, and the entirety of everything in between. Life is not just rainbows and butterflies. It’s intricate, complicated, and remarkable.

Remember these words: No one ever said it would be easy.

City Dwellers who Bother locals with town Languages

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The last article I sent revolved around the holy grails of nairobians and their yuppie culture. I’m back with another one taking a skewed look into the annoying habit of city dwellers bothering the locals with Kiswahili and English when they visit home.

I’ve always insisted that those who claim to have been exposed and infused with city mannerisms to speak with me in our dholuo so long as we are in the village. 
Last month I was on elections upcountry and a certain teacher’s training college boy decided to engage me in English amidst locals who barely understood us. 

The situation got so bad I stopped him and asked that I would appreciate if he could use mother tongue so as not to put people in an awkward social situation.

Whenever I go home, I always notice how different I am from the rest of the pack. My brilliance stands out, courtesy of socialization I get from libraries and media and people. I come to see how superficial and futile are most people’s thoughts, how narrow their ideas, how mean their sentiments, how perverse their opinions, and how much of error there is in most of them. 

Yet, I don’t want to assert my brilliance by speaking in languages they don’t understand. I want to remain in the village, act in the village, do whatsoever is needful, and yet remain transcendental, aloof, detached, a lotus flower in the pond.

It speaks to a certain lack of culture, in fact, to launch into a language which you know for a fact the people around you don’t understand, especially at a public forum.

City dwellers be very careful when you visit home not to put people surrounded by goats, cows and chickens into an unnecessary challenging spot. 

My biggest beef with you is that you never want to speak our mother tongue. There are some stupid folks raised in towns who think that not knowing mother tongue is the embodiment of civilisation, the pinnacle of coolness and ultimate marker of intelligence. But their heads are emptier than a divorced single father’s kitchen cabinet.

I love my language, I love the way my people are. I love the way we look, the way we act, the deeply descriptive expressions that come from speaking vernacular – I love it all.

It’s a good thing, I think, when you can speak English – and Kiswahili, but it turns negative when you insist on speaking it everywhere. It shows you are not interested in communication. You are interested in manifesting pride.

Tale of Nairobi Kids and Their Yuppie Culture

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Every high school (at least as they come across to me) had enough bunch of brethren from Nairobi – whether an inner city kid or suburbanite. They nourished and maintained a yuppie culture – an urbanized affluent lifestyle. But beneath the veneer of affluence and style was an emerging cult of entitlement that became pervasive and entrenched in our schools.

Aha! Wondrous nairobians. You talk of a new hit song and they are rapping towards the dormitory. You mention your favourite footballer and there they are, giving the history and all the literature of Man U. 

They had cocoa, and blue band, and detol. Four vests, 3 pairs of socks, deodorant and a couple of pants branded Maywhether (have you seen them).

Nairobians don’t just become your friend. You must demonstrate shared values. You must be able to regurgitate all rap songs, prove you can mimic rastafarans or talk in italics. The average nairobian kid makes an open disavowal to those who live simply like their ancestors once did. Nairobi kids want to be musicians and deejays yet, no one is putting in what goes into that. They want to be global talents through word of mouth. Where are your songs?

You must also be conversant with world superstars – their relationships, love scandals, type of cars they drive, amount they weigh, number of tattoo and, whether or not they are installed in illuminati. How difficult it is to be a nairobian!

Difficult because, for one, everyone around you think you are crazy. For another, you have to assert your will singly through this yuppie culture no matter what.

Moreover, Nairobi kids don’t just walk like you – throwing your legs wherever whenever. To them, walking is something you have to be particular about – it is a vehicle for self-expression. 

They walk with trousers down there, as if they had another set of buttocks! They talk too like niggas. If rural kids were fastidious about life and style, and religiously looked for a certificate of occupation to this class of culture, they would not get them.

But they did not escape the wrath of commoners. Nairobians were lambasted as excessively consumptive in their pursuit of a more dominant ideological and cultural paradigm in our schools without much regard for those from upcountry.

In as much as they tried to operate unencumbered by restrictive school regulations, their yuppie heyday was short lived. By the time a nairobian will be done connecting all the aspects of their culture, an exam certificate would have returned a grade D downstairs and a rural kid would have passed, scoring an A – even in Kiswahili they don’t know how to speak.

Practising the Subtle Art of Minding the Gap

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We ignore the red flags but, when strange, unusual occurrences show up, we pull and adduce metaphysical evidence to explain those very strange things

Like many people, I fall prey to this time-tested method of treating pain/illnesses: ignoring it untill it goes away.

Last month, I went home for elections after a particular bad flare-up of body rashes – almost everywhere, occasioned by a terrible fungal infection.

I ignored the warning signs thinking it would end up soon, only to notice an upsurge. Only then I decided to see a doctor for medical check up. Which meant, I would be put under drugs for a couple of days – even a month, just so, you know.

But majority of the rashes found their way onto outrightly visible spots like my neck. Drying up, they left awfully looking whitish-black spots, which made me a kind of museum for curious onlookers! 

I hate terrible comments some people were just making, with brutal honesty enough to instigate self-rejection. “You stopped washing your body.” Comments that made me feel as though I was less mindful of my hygiene and health.

But there is one awesome idea the whole of this experience was reaffirming – the ability to notice and bridge the gap in any kind of situation or occurence before hell brakes lose. 

Were the few rounded body marks I noticed from the outset not enough red flags to make me take action?

It opens up a discussion into one general, funny tendency of folks to be so remiss at things. Someone doesn’t bother to smear cow dung on the floor of his hut for years and when jiggers come calling, he turns around and claims he has been bewitched by a jealous neighbour.

Another knows pretty well that his lineage is coloured by a kumbafu gene. But he doesn’t bother to do genetic engineering by eloping with a primary school teacher’s daughter. When he ends up with dunderheads for children, he whips around and claims the granny across the ridge bewitched him.

We ignore the red flags but, when strange, unusual occurrences show up, we pull and adduce metaphysical evidence to explain those very strange things. 

There is a natural law in the physical realm called the law of cause and effect. In this arrangement, nothing happens out of chance, but all is a result of a law which cannot err. 

This law says that all achievement, wealth, happiness, prosperity and success are the direct and indirect effects or results of specific causes or actions (From The 21 Absolutely Unbreakable Laws of Money).

I learn that we should develop the habit to meet ’causes’ by a dedicated daily action. Accurate and timely diagnosis of anything is half the cure.

So, let’s mind the gap. And happy birthday to me!😉

Writer Boniface Sagini: A sweeper can write, a banker can write – Anyone

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OneStepBeyond want to be at the forefront for solution to the problems of the youth. My one consuming desire is to put youth on the path to becoming global talents. To become people of greater influence and wield an expanded influence.

Boniface Sagini is on the path of my mission. He is a writer and an Engineering student. Here is our lively interview:

Your debuted book, Thrills and Chills -Trudging Through life, is inarguably a great book written by a young man, making you one of the best writing mavens in town. How does this status make you feel? Pride? Conquest? Exhilaration?

It doesn’t feel great as you probably make it sound. 
Truth is, I feel gratified when I appear on magazines or TV or when people send me decorative reviews on my book but I haven’t achieved the status of what you call, ‘one of the best writing mavens in town.’ 

I’m just a young writer  trying.  I’m not a sensation. Many people who have an idea that I’m a writer have not quite accepted me. Only my readers believe I’m a great writer.

You are studying Civil Engineering in the Technical University of Kenya but speak so much about writing inspirational materials. Already, you are doing a second book on things encroaching upon youths. What is the connection between the two faculties?

People suppose only folks doing Journalism or Language/Literature write, which is wrong. But the truth is: Some of them are not necessarily good or passionate at writing despite having the edge of having studied about writing.
Also, a human being is capable of multiple competencies.

Joyce Meyer is a preacher and a writer. Kevin Hart is a comedian and a writer. Barack Obama is a lawyer, politician and writer. Prof E J Gordon was an architect and a writer. I study Civil engineering and I’m a writer. 

A sweeper can write. A Banker can write. 

An engineer can write.

People get over yourselves,  everyone can write.

What two decisions in your teen do you regret most?

Beating up a class 7  pupil when I was in class 8.

Asking a girl to dance with me when I in fact didn’t know how to dance.

What do you think about your government?

Inflation is high.

Young people are battling with issues such as self-rejection and personality concerns like how to make their stomachs look smaller when they sit down. As an ace about the study of life, make a comment.

I think we need to accept and love ourselves the way we are. That’s when we can mature. 

Majority of campus students score great grades, can build good dams but can neither communicate nor write fluently and coherently in English? Why this? How can it be remedied?

I notice that too. Some of them scored straight As in English but their English is broken right now. And Kiswahili.
I think a little reading can help heal.

According to you, is life fair?

Short answer: No.

Long answer: Nooooooo!

I watched this on Victoria’s Lounge. One girl grows up without a father. Life changes. She gets married. She gets happy but it does not last. They get involved in a grisly accident. She gets injured. Her husband dies. She gets diagnosed with cancer. Later on fire razes down her house with everything she has.
Life is unsparing. 

I’ve had our readers asking how they can know they have talents? How really? 

I guess you’ve got to try doing things.Take a stub at singing or chess or writing or anything and listen to what people think you are good at. 

But for me it was pain that facilitated my writing to manifest.

Whom do you admire the most and why?

I admire many people but mostly Dr. Vincent Ogutu. He is a DVC at Strathmore university. He is brainy. He is an orator. He is God-fearing.  And downright Humble. He is also very inspiring. And he is my mentor.

OneStepBeyond has given you chance to set your last question then answer. On your marks, set, ready, go…

Haha. This is convenient.
Q. Where can we read more about Thrills and Chills? 
A. Well, there are so many avenues.
You can read the praise for the book and more: 
Thrills and Chills: Trudging Through Life.
You can download a brochure:

 https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9oqZLukixW_TDl0ZnZwMFR6SE0/view?usp=drivesdk

Like and visit  Thrills and Chills Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/trudgingthroughlife/
Or read on Amazon Kindle:

Check it also on Goodreads:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33198842-thrills-and-chills
Or call me 0714313962
……………………………………………………………………………………

OneStepBeyond is a leadership motivational blog published by Moses Auma.

Ruguru Kimani, a Parenting Coach, speaks with OneStepBeyond

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Meet Ruguru Kimani, a 22 year old, turning 23 next month – happy early birthday! A parenting coach and blogger. She loves to describes herself as half-human and half-amazing. The first born in a family of six. She is a fourth year medical student at Maseno and would love to specialize in paediatrics – the branch of medicine that deals with the treatment of children. She says she doesn’t have a child yet. OneStepBeyond interviewed with her online.

We have noted your enthusiasm on coaching about parenting yet, you don’t have a kid. Defend yourself.

I am the first born of 6 children and I have participated in raising my siblings. That has given me experience in child care. I am also a medical student and paediatrics has been one of my best units so far. I am using my knowledge gained from school to educate parents.

In summary, what does positive parenting entail?

Positive parenting entails bringing up children as you learn and teach them new values in life. It also gives the society a well rounded team player.

Life has become a rat race, defined by the helter-skelter way we go about our businesses, sometimes leaving kids in the care of house helps or day care centres. What’s your position on this?

In my personal opinion, it would be best if a parent was in a position to raise their children themselves. It is however not possible as they have to work. Here is where day care centers and house girls come in. I would prefer a day care center as a child is able to interact with other children and also there is close to zero risk of mistreatment.

How can irresponsible parents affect the development of their kids?

Children born in a family with irresponsible parents have the characteristics of their parents inevitably trickled down to their own life. 

Some parents like comparing their kids with others. What kind of emotional impact will it have on a child’s psyche?
Comparison of a child to others affects their own self-esteem. These are the children that grow up believing that other children are better than themselves and will always take second place in the society. They also do not stand up for themselves as they believe that other people are better than they are.

How can parents help develop confidence in their kids?
Here is one of my amazing pieces on improving confidence in a child http://bit.ly/2vaen8G

Should we study about parenting or is it something we naturally find ourselves excelling at?

Parenting is something that comes up naturally, but I believe that it being an important aspect in life, it is good to put in some research and find out more. We do research in business, housing, why not also look into ways of bringing up our children?

What are you most proud of in your life?

This one got me thinking so hard. I think it’s the ability to understand that every single achievement I have had is by the grace of God. Never taking the glory but knowing that everything happens through God’s will.

From Ruguru’s gallery

Tell us about your blog, exciting parenting.

This is a blog where I write amazing how-to-do posts on ways of bringing up children. I also touch a bit on paediatric health cases. I am also looking into sharing tiny snippets of my life, of which I am yet to set a clear line.

How can a campus student be the red apple in a basket of greens?

Campus offers a variety of opportunities which if seized could shape one’s life. By setting my priorities right, it has helped me come all the way and rise above all odds.

What according to you is the biggest challenge in parenting? And, how should we face it?

According to me, I think that disciplining children is one of the greatest challenge. Every parent should take time to learn their children and create an incentive for good behavior for them.