No one can predict the future, but plenty of people are out there talking about what the future could be – with a changing technological, legal and cultural environment. Our glitchy human behavior may make it harder for us to take actions that benefit our future selves.
But when you can imagine concrete details of a possible future, it’s easier to close the future gap and put yourself into that future and it will become less of a stranger.
Like many students, I’ve fallen prey to a cardinal paradox – poisoning the present by agonizing over a future hardship that might never materialize. The greatest fear of many students is how they will begin life after their last university paper. See, we are wrapped up in things that have not yet happened. This makes us excellent problem solvers, but appalling worriers at the same time.
So, in this article, we want to ruin our short time alive by setting expectations of how we think everything should be after our university.
University comes with a lot of free things: free flowing water, free electricity, inexpensive accommodation, free WiFi and the fastest internet connections, free meeting rooms, free playing grounds, free gym services, free books in the library, free consulting from professors who always love getting involved in student run startups, free comrades – there are so many ways you can use your comrades for free, of course for mutual benefit, whether it is being shown how to use an application system in the computer, or holding your legs as you do sit-ups – virtually free everything you would pay dearly for outside campus.
Finishing your last paper means you are kissing the world of freebies goodbye. And you begin to live independently. The minute you threw that tasseled cap in the air, your student loans are no longer mythical numbers you’ve ignored for four years, Monday – Friday, 8-5 is a real thing, the year becomes a whole 12 months not two semesters and a break.
First thing pay attention to the present, ensure you have lived a full life so that you will not whine about those things you did not do in college. Fifty years ago, philosopher Alain Watts wrote in The Wisdom of Insecurity,
“It is in vain that we can predict and control the course of events in the future, unless we know how to live in the present. It is in vain that doctors prolong life if we spend the extra time being anxious to live still longer.”
Too often our minds are set on getting somewhere else. Each beautiful day comes to an end with hundreds of unnoticed moments behind us – we didn’t notice them because they were insignificant to us. And over time our entire lives become a massive pile of unnoticed and insignificant moments on our way to more important things. Then the important things get rushed through too… to get to the next one, and the next, until our time is up and we’re left questioning where it all went. But it doesn’t have to be this way anymore. This moment is your life, and you can make the best of it. The future hasn’t arrived. The only thing that’s real is what’s happening right now.
Choose your environment wisely. The environment is more powerful than your internal resolve. As a human-being, you always take on the form of the environments you continually place yourself. Consequently, the best use of your choices is consciously designing environments that facilitate your going one step beyond. Don’t spend all your time with idiots and then wonder why it’s hard to meet someone great to provide you opportunities. Go where the people you want to be like are.
If you move home, have a deadline how long you are going to stay there. It is comfortable yes but the distance between comfortable and complacent is surprisingly short.
Keep learning. Just because your formal education might have ended doesn’t mean you should stop learning. You have got to keep old skills sharp and continue learning new ones.
As for me, I will be willing to do any job in my field that provides an opportunity for moving ahead. I’m a big fan of starting small, trying different things to see which works and which doesn’t. And iterating based on feedback.
I have an automatic system that sends articles to over 5000 readers as immediately as they are dispatched.
And my consistent dissemination, when I have just begun, has elicited a bother to a paltry section who thinks I clutter their inboxes with unsolicited stuff.
While I have a wonderful team of young people who are dedicated to read, apply and teach whatever I have to post, regardless of my nondescript social milieu in citizen journalism, it will be worthy to recount my not-so-good experience with one pesky reader who recently left a comment with some elements of snide remarks ( I ‘trashed’ the comment as we have the prerogative to review each of them before releasing to the public eye).
Much to my chagrin, he said that, I am boasting with writing, that I should not show people that I can write. That I should keep it within myself, lest God sees it and take it away from me. By and large, his prepositions are not central to the ethical and conventional estimations of chest-thumping – you can attest.
I am quite willing to contend with criticism in my life. But destructive criticism has got a sly habit of rendering the victim to a default position, a kind of patronizing well-meaning pity.
And this leads me to addressing something, just briefly, because I did not plan to write this week. And I will draw from the Bible, just once. You have heard the parable of a lamp. A lit lamp should be placed on the lamp stand and not under the bed. So, show the world what you are doing. Let people know the difference you are making. Talking about what you are doing adds a certain layer of public accountability and you begin to set certain expectations in your mind. “If I don’t do it, they will think of me as a quitter”
Some people harbor a penchant for shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around them. This is wrong. You are a child of God and your playing small does not serve the world. You were made to make manifest the glory of God that is within you. Arise and shine for your light has come. Happy Sabbath.
#Writing Is A Labour Of Love ☺
It is known in certain quarters that I make use of this phrase: Go One Step Beyond. It sounds witty. And beautiful.
But there is a hidden power behind this four-words-phrase – it embodies a call to action; to take whatever courses we are advancing to the next level.
Human beings tend to shift towards complacency. Look, we all experience a life comparable to mountain climbing. Those who set to climb mountains have to endure a series of summits before reaching the peak.
Climbing just a couple of summits do not guarantee your arrival to the peak.
So in life, you don’t sit back thinking you have arrived, completely at the top of your game. You’ve got to re-invent yourself, create new different ways of doing things. This is called going one step beyond your comfort zone.
Take this personal illustration I have: I am a writer, currently contributing articles with magazine Reel – the best Kenyan campus news site. Any time I want to do a write up for the same, I am tempted to think that I can draw from my lifelong experience.
I can’t. I have to improve on the content, style, graceful narration, plot development, sentence structure, paragraphing, unity of words and truth-telling. I have to become more creative, more intelligent, innovative and more inspiring. I have to train myself.
My readers are not blind and does not want insipid, poorly done crap. Interestingly, in this age of information cluttering, so that folks don’t know what to read and what not to – whether to focus on Trump, NASA or who won the jackpot and how, readers won’t give your stuff attention until they have skimmed through every angle and ascertained it is worth their time. By then, the world would have moved. So I have to cut my space as that authoritative, consistent good writer. This is for another day.
I keep a self-educational program in which I read, with a writer’s eyes lots of ‘ These portable worlds’ – books and articles and take notes, then revise. What is the point of all this? To become an engaged, skeptical, learned reader who does not just own books physically, but mentally.
This takes more time than most people are willing to invest, but if you want to be different, you have to learn how to act differently.
And it often gets my friends telling me that I am naturally creative. No, mine is acquired! I commit the capacity to go one step beyond, through application of vision, discipline and passion – which rules the world.
Reading and being able to use what you’ve read are completely different things. Without purpose and intention, the knowledge gained and ideas sparked easily slip away, we can have awkward retention.
These three attributes, as we have partly seen, will help you go one step beyond: Vision, discipline and passion.
On vision, American and internationally respected leadership authority, family expert, teacher and organizational consultant, in his book The 8th Habbit- from effectiveness to greatness (which is one my best) Stephen R. Covey writes: Vision is the beginning of the process of reinventing oneself or of an organization reinventing itself.
He writes then quotes from William James “Most of us dont envision or realise our own potential” “Most people live in a very restricted circle of their potential being, we all have reservoirs of energy and genius to draw upon of which we do not dream” ” each of us has immeasurable power and capacity to reinvent ourselves”
Here is Covey on discipline: it is the executing, the making it happen, the sacrifice entailed in doing whatever it takes to realise that vision.
And on passion, Covey writes: Passion comes from the heart and is manifest as optimism, excitement, emotional connection, determination. It fires unrelenting drive.
President Obama summed the whole idea of going one step beyond in his address at Kasarani stadium when he visited Kenya:
I always say that what makes America exceptional is not the fact that we’re perfect, it’s the fact that we struggle to improve. We’re self-critical. We work to live up to our highest values and ideals, knowing that we’re not always going to achieve them perfectly, but we keep on trying to perfect our union.
And what’s true for America is also true for Kenya. You can’t be complacent and accept the world just as it is. You have to imagine what the world might be and then push and work toward that future. Progress requires that you honestly confront the dark corners of our own past – These are supremely powerful words for any youth out there!
If you study the lives of successful people – celebrities, billionaires, erudite educationists, scientists among others, those who set things rolling and inspires positive media coverage, you will find a pattern. They took one step beyond their current state of affairs.
It makes intuitive sense: if we stop making attempts to be better at anything we do, how many exciting, serendipitous things are going to happen to us? Not many.
Thanks for reading, lets go one step beyond.
#Writing Is A Labour Of Love ☺