Leadership & Development

What Would Happen if Every African Youth was Under a Mentor?

I’m not mimicking to suggest a white superiority or a ‘feel good’ promotion but United States of America is known for its mentoring movement and a young person having what he/she calls a ‘personal mentor’ is not a new idea.

Millions of adults, mostly over 50 years are not afraid to directly dedicate time, talent and experience to improving the lives of young people.

As a matter of fact, Watson Institute in Boulder, Colorado, for example, has developed in collaboration with Lynn University, the newest model of higher education in the world. In their highly personalized, award-winning methodology, they have developed a bachelor program in Social Entrepreneurship, with emphasis laid on community and mentorship, shifting away from a fierce culture of stand-and-dictate notes human beings, test-taking and rote memorization and reproducing.

Each student is paired with two mentors relevant to their passions and challenges. Such arrangements is what powers America and the same is true to other Western countries.

In Africa, Kenya for example, youth mentorship is not only an unpopular thing but one of the most undervalued and unappreciated tenet of life.

But it should not be so.

Kenya is a blessed country with tons of trailblazers – a professional class of folks who have shattered glass ceilings in business and social circles and, who have as souvenirs, stories of corporate success, excesses and influence. If you happen to follow them on digital media, they express a bubble of their expertise either teaching emotional intelligence or warning bosses to watch out half-baked graduates seeking intern positions.

What would happen if these class of people, who rubbishes youth as ‘spoilt kids’ chose to assign themselves two mentees at any given one moment of their lives? To work with us to show us that anything is possible? To help us thrive and increase odds of success in life?

Of course cases of spoilt and difficult youth as well as half-baked graduates would reduce. According to a 2017 audit report by Commission for University Education, which unearthed so much rot in public universities, Kenyan graduates are the most useless people on earth’s lithosphere and employers don’t want to give us a second look. But instead of laughing at our nakedness, we can be shown how to dress up through mentorship!

The power that be in mentorship is hardly new. Historic icons we know like Socretes, Plato and Freud owed their crafts to the magnanimity of mentors. mentorship is the thing that makes all the difference in human development anywhere in the world. When the successful old leads the way, the youth are better placed to deal with the inevitable challenges of finding an exciting, useful, healthful place in a culture that continues to despise and marginalize them. They also acquire the kind of social capital and guidance that will help them thrive.

We become people through other people and it is not possible to rise to a level of success, excess and influence in isolation. If we work this way, we can not only forge formidable intergenerational relationships to transform our future but the country could also benefit from a national intergenerational model for matching younger and older participants.

But as youth we have a role to play to close the mentoring gap. We must be willing to learn continuously and to leverage the insights of people who have a genuine interest in our growth and success. As for me, I’m up for grabs by any willing relatable role model who wants to make a continental difference.

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Leadership & Development

The Proven Way Young People can Become Experts at Whatever they Do

Indecision

To reveal, been mired in indecision over the most appropriate title for this article. To draw you in – which is an important aspect of modern writing, I wrote what you’ve seen up there as a hack to make tons visit and read! Haaa! Now, reboot your mind to think along this title: Why Giftedness is not Inborn. I swear by the bones of my forebears I will never put you into a trap.

Personal Story

Nine years ago, having spent my entire teens in the village, I stumbled upon a desire to be able to communicate fluently in English. As teens staying in the village, we had no knowledge of the official language of our country even though it was presumed to be the vehicle of communication between the government and us. This means that for a majority of us, language was a barrier. A huge barrier to self-development.

How could I rise to speak moderately persuasive English?

Here is the thing…

I picked a habit. I was smart enough to realize that anything that generates enduring value requires effort, focus and discomfort and that I needed to do something pretty uncommon. I began to read tiny severed pieces of newspaper I picked along the unpaved roads. Along the way, I felt an urge to say the words in the papers just the way they were expressed whenever I was speaking. I was feeling the words right within my system but I still could not bring myself around to speak them verbatim except through a life-long of purposeful and dedicated attempt to do so.

I can not overemphasize how hugely important a skill it has been for me and how not so difficult it is to master it if you are so determined. With many years of intense practice, my narrative changed. I started to become better in speech and writing. I was yet to volunteer more than a hundred articles to a local magazine for one year and even start a leadership motivational blog, OneStepBeyond, which is now gaining mainstream recognition for being educative and inspirational.

Valuable lesson

All good things require effort. That which is worth having will cost part of your physical being, your intellectual power and your soul power. Let us ever keep in mind that life is largely what we make it – David O. McKay.

My story has taught me one inescapable truth: I can not achieve anything outrageously extraordinary without putting in extra-ordinary effort. I’m speaking to you as much as I’m speaking to myself. Giftedness is a stubborn thing which is never inborn. Giftedness is a process. It is something we create painstakingly over time. We are going to need an uncommon level of grit and massive amount of faith even when we feel like giving up.

In an article exploring why genius takes time and extraordinary effort, Thomas Oppong writes “With considerable, specific, and sustained efforts over time, you can do most things you struggle with. You can only turn into the expert you want to become by deliberate, purposeful practice. Deliberate practice can do miracles to your mind. Genius requires extraordinary efforts Geniuses, past and present are normally identified by perseverance”

If you want to be good at something – and I know you do – then we can try this. To succeed, a person must do something strategic and productive to initiate the change required to achieve success. I’m not even the first person to suggest success requires extraordinary effort.

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OneStepBeyond

Plain Truth Why Youth are an affront to their own Success.

Last Friday, I took a step of faith. I sent an email to the Standard Newspaper. It was a well articulated opinion article in form of MS Word document together with a photo bearing my face. I wrote something I considered immensely valuable to reach the ears of the masses. If you are a constant reader of the newspapers, you note that majority of those who write in the opinion column (op-ed) are adults. 

When I sent this document to the opinion editor, I was consumed with the thought that my efforts could count being a young person notwithstanding. I can’t tell whether or not they will publish my work but, I can tell one thing for sure: as youth, our opinions can count, we are old enough to do anything. This is the all-consuming belief that instigated my actions to the paper, a step which could spearhead my foray into the national discussions, I believed.

My dream has always been to become an opinion writer. I’ve spent my life studying the work of current industry players and can count them by name from the Star Newspaper through to Daily Nation. From Macharia Gaitho to Rasna Warah, from Alexandria Chagema to XN Iraki. 

But I’ve never been struck by the reality that I don’t need to wait for something to happen to start contribution. I don’t need to wait to be big enough either. All that the papers seek is content and sincerity and the authenticity of the person writing it and living it – that will keep changing the world to make it better and, I believe with hard work, I can more than achieve this.

Not old enough

A couple of days ago, a young campus student requested me not to say what she described as ‘hard English’ as she is only a second year. From our discussion, she meant that she will be good in English by the time she finishes campus. But I doubt if she will put in the uncommon level of readership to achieve an uncommon level of mastery.

Are we going to jump into success people? Is mere waiting for age to catch up with us going to equip us with those skills and competency? What are we really waiting for? A future we can’t conceive of and have carefully avoided investigating? You’re bound to feel uncertain, unprepared, and unqualified. But let me assure you of this: what you have right now is enough. We can start before we feel ready. Despite a lack of capacity and experience, we’ve got to start things anyway. Lets give up our belief in the future and think about present.

Law of Cause and Effect

The law of cause and effect espouses the value of doing things rather than wishing for things to happen. This  law says that all achievement, wealth, happiness, prosperity and success are the direct and indirect effects or results of specific causes or actions. What this means is that, if  we can be clear about the effect or result we want, we can probably achieve it.

Emancipation of ourselves as youth demands that we do more than avant-garde functional activities of young people. Let’s suddenly become acutely aware of what’s going on and enter the present moment more powerfully than ever before.

Diversity & Temperance

​The Open Danger of Tribal Superiority Claim and Exaltation

I went to a local high school made up of students nearly all from one ethnic community. My memory may fail me but, if I have to count accurately the number of students who came from a different tribe from ours during that four-year period, then they were four. As such, chances of experiencing the beauty of ethnic diversity were very slim. How boring was my little world without God’s art of diversity?

Moving to college, I got into a world that represented the whole of face of Kenya. There is something extremely peculiar in gathering together from all parts of the country – we bring together a diversity of interests, learnings, motivations, social and educational backgrounds. Though, I must admit my initial days were tempest-tossed, I got smacked hard on the face by a culture shock. I began to teach myself how to coexist with people who spoke a different language from mine, people who appreciated certain foods I considered cringe-worthy and, similarly, people who frowned upon foods I considered my lifeblood, like omena.

Now in my final year and, after mixing with folks across the divide, I can say on authority that ethnic diversity is a real, great and important part of human experience. It is the commercial growth, which guarantees a more pleasantly passionate, ethical and spiritual life. It is an advantage that is crucial for nationalism. What I’ve learnt from a variety of people is not something I could learn from the management and economic books I read within the precincts of class. I have been taught how to greet people and say basic alien words. I have also been taught other cultures and how it promotes their identity and direction. You don’t appreciate your culture until you move to a more robust and diverse place like college. I’ve appreciated cultural diversity and grown beyond negative ethnicity, which is rampant in Kenya.

Yet, there is something utterly wrong going on in the society of the youth. Our social media conversations fan a false attitude of cultural superiority over others. Some ethnic groups claim to be superior and either demean, segregate, and oppress others. Their overt assertions and reiterations of tribal superiority, distinctiveness, and difference betrays fundamental insecurities about just how long our spirit of cohesion and integration could be maintained.

On a facebook page called Group Kenya, there is a competition over which tribe has the most beautiful girls, more learned, more wealthy or more civilised people. Any misfortune that hits our headlines will automatically be discussed unappeasably along tribal lines, mostly to make the other tribe look woebegone. For example, when the identity of the woman who recently stole a two-week old child at Kenyatta National Hospital was finally revealed, people were quick to associate that offence with some tribes.

If tribal identity made some people more fortunate than others, then all people from one tribe would be beautiful, blessed, learned and lucky while those from a neighbouring tribe would be entirely the opposite, which is not only untrue but also wrong. The simple idea is that all of us are equal in our diversity.

Issues of tribalism should now not be tolerated among ascendant generations. As upstanding citizens, we are expected to serve as an exemplar of our country’s founding ideals and spirit of tolerance when confronted by licentious and frivolous allures of ethnic polarization and bad politics. We need to uphold our hereditary loyalty of the institutions and founding values of our country.

On our social media platforms, we need to behave in a self-controlled, respectable, temperate and thoughtful manner. We need to envision ourselves not as averters of rampant utilitarianism but, rather, as liberally educated and self-confident inheritors of national and international power.

Finally, let every human being reading this remember that to him/her is entrusted some small share of the fair fame of his/her country. Its not every man who can contribute to a victory in a rugby or football match, but every man can bear his part in winning for his country a greater triumph, the triumph of temperance. 

Temperance is numbered high among the cardinal virtues of life. The person who yields to the excitement of brawling in public, and the allurement of vicious society shows that they have not only a diseased moral nature, but a defective understanding.


Life and Optimism

7 Plain Truths I’ve learnt in life: Number 6 will make you despise yourself.

This article is pragmatical, not philosophical. It is a practical manual of things I’ve learnt in life until now. It is not a treaties upon theories. Here are the discoveries:

1. People are not what they say but what they do. Human beings tend to be incongruent – their actions and words don’t agree. People will say things they think we want to hear or that they believe are expected of them. However, they might not truly do the words they speak. The simple reason I find is that humans are complex, and the choices they make are based on the situation. What people believe they will do is not actually what they will do. My resolution therefore is to place emphasis on people’s actions rather than on words and not to expect so much.

2. Nobody cares how hard you work. So many people wear their hard work like a badge of honor, myself included. But reality is that people will likely never measure the hard work you put in, appreciate your struggles to make a difference, or recognize your determination to break glass ceiling. For example, I know even my best friends don’t read my blog (they don’t even know I have mentioned them here!). They have no idea I’m a young writer refining my craft in the best way I can, the anticlimatic unimpressed look in their eyes crushes my soul – how can they not see what I do? But the secret is, persist on your craft until you have become a standout success. Only then they will look back in amazement and pay immense tribute to the processes and procedures that made you a standout success. Remember Mahatma Gandhi words “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

3. Thoughts are things and things are thoughts. The most powerful thing I find on earth is thoughts. All life, success, indignity, underdevelopment e.t.c spring from thoughts. Thoughts are things and powerful things at that. You create your entire world by the way you think. As a man thinketh so is he (I’m repeating sayings I’ve gleaned from books on thoughts). If I can conceive a success portrait in my thoughts then I can achieve it. Same way, if I can conceive defeat in my thoughts, then I’m already defeated with a mathematical certainty. Things are created twice, mental creation precedes physical creation. What does that mean to me? That I can have all the wealth, happiness, abundance, victory long before really physically possessing of them!

4. You attract in your life whatever you choose to pay attention to. Simple, and it flows with the discovery number three. I want to pay attention to the affirmatives in any kind of situation that be.

5. You only hate what you don’t have, even more you hate what you know you cannot have. “I dislike suites, I don’t even look smart in them.” “Why would I drink an expensive coffee in Java, when I can fix a cheap one in my room.” My friend, it is because you can’t afford and you know it like the back of your hands. Period!

6. Makeup truly makes people up. They call them beauty products. If the government would ban women from using makeup, a lot of kids will not recognise their own mothers!  As the name suggest, they make an ugly person look better. I respect ladies/women (my actions have proven this so many times) but, I have learnt that a single lady can exist twice – with and without make up. Those are completely different organisms. What is the probability that I meet the original person? 😂😂😂

7. Self-directed learning is more important than formal education. Learning based on interest and need is easier and understanding is much deeper than a compulsory standardized education. Untill this point in my life, I know formal education is overrated. I can’t agree more with Jim Rohn who once said ” Formal education will make you a living; self education will make you a fortune. Do I mean you disregard formal education? No.

So, what advice can I ever give from what life has taught me? Be the authentic you – believe in yourself ( you are a very powerful thing!). Obey psychology, if they tell you thoughts are things, believe it, if they tell you you attract in your life what you choose to pay dominant attention to, believe it and act upon it constructively. 

Invest in self-education as though you were tipped for an exam, improve on your gumption and ingenuity. Understand what you hate. And of course don’t fall in love (for those falling) with the make-up version of a girl but the otherwise – obey the law of originals.

HAPPY NEW MONTH,

Moses Auma Speaks,

OneStepBeyond

​Here is the Celebrity Arms Race that has hit the World of the Youth

Our human society has been invaded by a community of untrammeled youth who wants to be famous just like that. Two in every five young people surrounding me wants to be Kim Kardashian or Álvaro Morata. There is undeniably a celebrity arms race. But it worries that folks want to be known for nothing. There is no any substantial alignment for this human want at all.

Even more appalling is how the want for the stardom is initiated. It starts with the wearing of, at wrong environments, shiny pieces of suites bought from Gikomba market. Reinforced with third-rate ties acquired at Muindi Bingu street. 

My boys probably think it communicates influence to dress this way, but it only communicates poor taste and the necessity of a personal stylist. These pieces of suit and ties are some of the things that need to be burnt and buried immediately. They communicate sartorial atrocity. Anybody spotted dressed in this manner should be cordoned off and declared a public nuisance.

The pretentious climb to fame is not all rosy. The shiny suites and mismatching ties must be propped up with dark sunglasses or its equivalent, worn at unreasonably odd hours of the weather. To culminate their efforts, one acquires a big tittle like Hon. or Prof. 

With a distinguished name under their belt, they create one facebook page and invite all of us to be fanatics but, that is not enough. They broadcast a WhatsApp link called FRIENDS OF Hon. David McJunior. Unfortunately, all you get is a two poorly written reviews on the political news they don’t understand themselves. Now they think they have made it.

I can agree these are noble, ambitious efforts, which should stand appreciation. But ambitious for what? Just why is our modern-day culture so obsessed with fame motive? An increasing number of youth are falling by the allure to seem great, but only in show and not in substance. Nobody wants to be famous for a particular talent or putting any work, they just want to be famous so they can feel better accepted, which is wrong.

Fame is very good as it can bring you inestimable opportunities for going one step beyond. As a writer, I would feel great to be recognized. But I understand fame isn’t just a crap shoot. It happens because of some very important factors.  I’m not to sensitize people pretentiously. I’ve got to put up a great show of writing talent. I have to up my creativity. I’ve got to produce then philosophise later.  I should aspire to achieve the celebrity status through a great achievement.

In the same way, you should be identified for some great purpose, some extraordinary project. When you fake your way into fame, you may start to believe your own lie, which can lead to disastrous outcomes.

It is expensive to trick your way into influence without doing anything remarkable. How much will you spend in buying things that push this appeal among your friends, for to want fame is to display status. There is temptations to hurt your friends with new designer clothes, designer perfume, designer bags. Can youth understand at once that financial independence is more important than status display. I’ve been a victim but I learn that I only need a few necessary stuff, especially in school.

Furthermore you ignore your personal responsibilities and put more realistic goals on the back burner. It is a waste of time since you have to assert your desire by walking around to be seen. 

You will never be famous and that is O.K! We have to avoid the temptation of fame motive and instead do the quiet brick and mortar business that leads to true success. This is not a fringe idea.

Celebrity arms race
OneStepBeyond

​Who Else Wants to Know the Hidden Power of Parents in Child’s Education?

Long before I set foot into kindergarten, I knew how to write days of the week, months of the year and count numbers up to a thousand. I also knew how to write most of the basic words like table, carpenter and church, and read Tom and Mary books. All thanks to my father.

If you would want to meet the most enthusiastic parent, who respects education and its ideals, then it is my father. He gave us a foothold in the world of education from the very foundations of it. He created a consistent supplementary homeschooling, featuring sit in sessions of mandatory dictations and writing.

I grew up in Nandi Hills and we were under very strict rules. My father set up a 6 PM curfew. Everybody was to be around the table from this time reading, as we waited for him to join. Though we detested the curfews and the stringent rules, now we can understand it was a reflection of his concern for our safety and long term well being. And which helped us to experience structure.

My father has always wanted us to achieve what he did not achieve himself. Instead of preaching water while drinking wine, he stepped up to do something about it. With time, we became interested in learning because he was interested, and that interest rubbed off. 

In a society where parents do not bother to attend school meetings, discuss exam results with their kids, check their books, teach them; a society where kids stuff report cards under chairs or wash them in pockets, where nobody bothers to monitor and remind kids to revise at night and on holidays, my dad proved otherwise. 

He attended all school meetings, signed whatever was to be signed, photocopied whatever was to be photocopied, filled what was to be filled, commented where it was necessary, reprimanded where it was due, checked our books, questioned blank pages, led dictations – he is the one who taught me days of the week and months of the year even before I begun kindergarten.

A contemporaneous document reviewed and signed by my father

As I gracefully navigate my semi-adult life, there are lessons exemplified by my dad, and which the progressive generation can learn. 
Your child’s education, is not something you would leave up to fate. Its not something to entrust entirely in the hands of school teachers, majority of whom are not motivated enough to teach with zeal.  

Is this generation going to do what my dad did?

Life has advanced so far, and become so complex, that even the most ordinary parents require a great deal of wealth to lead a family to a direction that even approaches completeness. Meaning, parents will dedicate most of their time to jobs in order to achieve that objective.

Again, there is temptation by ‘modern’ parents to support in the conflating of purpose and meaning of education with glamour, entertainment and fashion, will there be a place for real parental coaching like my father did?

It seems obvious to say but parents play a huge role in their child’s education. Thy are a child’s first and most important teacher, they are important educational resources. Their support is crucial factor to really get the best out of them. Only with their participation can wonderful results be achieved.