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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.

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The Curse of ‘Honourable’ University Courses

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In Kenyan, majority of campus students are in courses they didn’t ask for, but were pushed to – or they pushed themselves, courses which are sucking to the core and annoyingly boring. 

I emerged the primary performer at the university entrance tests in our school, four years ago. Happening of which afforded me a comfortable place among the paltry 3.3% who achieved the government’s cut off mark in our school.

Yet, the teachers were disappointed at my inability to rock straight As as they forecasted. What irked me, however, was the riffraff commentary on the courses I would not do with a B+.

Then there was a session of hilarious comments about my fate, which remains just the tip of the iceberg in our academic ocean, the giant is still underground and I know where. 

One teacher noted that with my grade, the best course I could qualify for was woodworks or bachelor of science in hides and skin. Pretty much showing how some courses are already decidedly weired, with no one wanting to give them a second thought.

In the foregoing, we can appreciate that what our adult environment and stakeholders wanted us to pursue was things like medicine, Engineering, law, Bcom, Computer Science among other ‘honourable’ courses.

In these courses, we find that the perceived stability, status, safety and salary  remains the idols that stakeholders worship. If you choose to take a course that is considered ‘soft,’ you spend your lifetime with a voice that whispers that you are a failure.

The argument against the ‘weired’ courses is steeped on misleading information about career choices in so fas as solving real-world problems is concerned, creating the illusion of consensus and reducing a complex topic to a simple, open-and-shut case. 

In Kenyan, majority of campus students are in courses they didn’t ask for, but were pushed to – or they pushed themselves, courses which are sucking to the core and annoyingly boring. 

Take the case of Erick* who is MBChB student at Egerton. Doesn’t like medicine and wants nothing to do with it. He got pushed into this yet, his passion lied in the field of mathematics. He was the best mathematics student in Kenya during their year. He shared with me his frustrations and wants to start pure mathematics at the university of Nairobi upon completion. Getting good grades requires motivation, and it’s far easier to stay motivated about something that interests you. 

And when it comes to motivation, the vocational courses you have been pushed to or you have pushed yourself due to the perceived superiority can be more misleading than it is helpful. 
Erick’s case is just one of the examples of the woes of our own making; our fanatical inclination towards ‘honourable’ courses.

America remains one the nation that proves that there is no such thing as honourable and dishonourable course. Here, all courses count as long as an individual has passion, grit, drive and determination to turn whatever course one choses into a robust career path.

She boasts of having the highest number of psychologists in the world. They have done some of the world’s amazing work on issues of social import. Their professors have published some of the most powerful books we use and helped shape the various theories and ideas that we blindly consume like ‘ How to make her orgasm.’

Let Psychology alone. They have excelled and prospered out of the courses we put in the back burner. Imagine being an erudite professor of Hindu Religion, and expert in Baking Technology Management, a scholar in Theatre Practice and Puppetry or an ace in Yacht Operations. We have different educational environments but I do think we need to borrow a leaf from how they approach education and careers.

Now, with these sophisticated courses, giving some slick bragging rights and promising a higher return, we have had students flood all in and there is no longer job market. I stand in defence of the strange degree, as perhaps weird can be wonderful, too. In an increasingly competitive jobs market, perhaps studying something a little, well, unusual might help your CV shine.

It is a Pity we are being Brought up Corrupt this side of Sahara

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Having studied the history of the most corrupt leaders of our time, those robber barons who have ruthlessly built their fortunes while breaking the laws and ethics of human society, it is a pity to have the incoming generation fashioned in the same logical path.

There is a parlance from my lakeside which says: kama itiye ema ichieme which losely translates to; you ‘eat’ where you work. I got introduced to this word when still very young and innocent, about eleven years from ago. From the word go, it denotes corruption and all the attendant unprofessional deals with which it is joined at the torso. 

Clearly, this quote postulates that manipulation and creation of false transactions in the company to get quick riches is justifiable so long as it is where you work. Yet, I see it as something that happens when greed and entitlement thinking overtake good judgment, ethics, and values. 

We live at a time when graft and unprofessional deals dominate the public and private discourse. If you have been interested about our political and business news, you realise there is something precisely and mathematically chilling about our nationalism – the intergenerational corruption. 

Let us take stock of the recent corruption scandals in the land and how our leaders are pitifully growing us corrupt into adulthood: the 800M NYS saga, the 50M Chicken gate IEBC scandal, Eurobond saga, GDC 60Billion failed oil drill well, the Afya House scandal, the Public Accounts Committee saga among others. But you have heard non of the leaders arrested, haven’t you?

Having studied the history of the most corrupt leaders of our time, those robber barons who have ruthlessly built their fortunes while breaking the laws and ethics of human society, it is a pity to have the incoming generation fashioned in the same logical path.

Our existing leaders are the culprits of this malformation who have taught us that the only way out of hardship is through shady deals. So, an ambitious youth, struggling for success has no other recourse unless baptised in the holy waters of corruption.

Corruption has been going on for a long time, and it is too majestic and massive a movement to stop, especially now that it’s being passed on to the next generation.

Even more saddening, the lords who teach us to grow corrupt send their children away with embezzled money to be educated in the ways of lawful society, yet, they would come and grow up in the same fiercely mismanaged part of the globe.

In small ways, I’m sort of a political model in our school because of my past active involvement in the same. Those who want to vie in the upcoming elections have started coming to me for guidance. But majority want to associate with me with hope that they could bribe me to help them secure nomination tickets from the regional associations we have. The general idea is; you have to have someone up there to stir up things a bit your way. 

As if that is not enough, I have been purturbed by friends who say that they would be employed only briefly before they can plunder resources and start their own companies. It is not immoral in their minds, let alone illegal.

Once social change begins, it can not be reversed. This is the problem of our own making

From the foregoing, it’s very difficult to arrive at a sudden recovery to this national smell not so little. Do we train the younger generation on the devastating, intergenerational effects of corruption on health, education, security and on all socio-economic aspects of life or take the deans back to Development 101 class?
I havn’t been tested but if I will, I would not want to be an unwitting writer of my own country’s stagnation. 

When Politics Get Personal, Detachment Becomes your Peace

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All too often, when we in Africa – in Kenya so to speak- are battling extreme hunger, war, corrupt politicians and disputed elections and look at the parts of the world that are settled and concerned with lifestyle issues like the cost of plastic surgery, divorcing celebrities and the benefits of forest bathing (Japan), we tend to think that the world is very different. 

For the past one month, I havn’t published at OneStepBeyond. Though, I have been extremely passionate about the blog – bustling with energy to write. 

I’ve always liked to give my heart, my soul, my mind and energy completely into it. I take the leap and I go all in like there is no middle spot.
Interestingly, I always don’t want to be too much attached to something, especially writing. The fact that I have not taken writing as a full contact sport has saved me from mental fatigue and burnout – the epidemic of the 21st century.
Studies have found that most of the brightest people with immense energy and passion go through this phase of extreme exhaustion which might last for long – hours or weeks or months.
As such, psychologists recommends that we occasionaly detach ourselves from the things that really matter to us to a certain extent. For example, detachment from material goals, from relationships, from our experiences, work, thoughts etc.
My detachment from the blog, however, has nothing to do with curing for mental fatigue and burn out; I just don’t want anything to own me. Rather, I want to own something. It is extremely hopeful to take a step back and still find yourself.
Essentially, these roughly few days have been a period of meditation about those things that happen around me – in my continent; in my country specifically. 
All too often, when we in Africa – in Kenya so to speak- are battling extreme hunger, war, corrupt politicians and disputed elections and look at the parts of the world that are settled and concerned with lifestyle issues like the cost of plastic surgery, divorcing celebrities and the benefits of forest bathing (Japan), we tend to think that the world is very different. 
Yes? No? 

I think no. Singling out politics as the most dominating activity of our recent past, the just conluded political campaigns and elections have tangled intimate relationships unlike any before. Facebook and WhatsApp groups have lost their objectives and turned into political battlegrounds with opposing groups violently pursuading each other to switch sides. For those days, I have been thinking of myself how oddly pleasant social media seemed. You would think your friends were running for office!

Personally, I have been at odds with nearly everyone of my friends who took their political bile online. In the culmination of the elections, there was provocative celebrations meted out on losers and insultive and cynical complains against winners. For the past one month, we have been lost into what matters to us most – politics – subtly ignoring other aspects that make for the tenets of life.
But those stories that make other parts of the globe look different are really the ones that calm our lives of volatile arguments with loved ones and friends. 

Sometimes, we need to take a break to savour the benefits of a  moment’s deep breath, know the recommended hours of sleep by the American Sleep Foundation, learn how to spot if your dog is depressed and what to do about it or find out: how does a giraffe sleep?

Beware, What You Post Online might Reveal Your Stupid Underbelly! This is How

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I don’t have qualms with the comic posts you make just about anything you cherish. Often times we get overtaken by events, new places, new people and feel the urge to surprise our friends and followers with our experiences, for example – hey there, enjoying myself with cuzo in Kawangware, hey, I’m now eating chicken wings bought by bae at Merica hotel, in a bus travelling to Rodi Kopany. 

The type of posts we make might signal a narcisistic society desperate for symbols to idolise. But it is in the middle of that idolism that we  find ourselves posting information inconsistent with our beliefs to get likes and adoration. We not only regret why we even thought of hitting that ‘post’ button, but also realise we have had a fair display of our stupid underbelly. By this time, the whole world would have noted it and probably began to conjure up images of who the hell we are. Well, while we console ourselves it is not important after all what people will be thinking of us – which I agree is a superb behavioral palliative to image destruction, posting just about anything is a terrible habit which only destroys our personal, hard-built brands.
The probability that you post a stupid thing is independent of any other characteristic you have. Economist Cipolla posits “Stupidity is a variable that remains constant across all populations. Every category one can imagine—gender, race, nationality, education level, income—possesses a fixed percentage of stupid people. There are stupid college professors. There are stupid people at Davos and at the UN General Assembly. There are stupid people in every nation on earth. How numerous are the stupid amongst us?” Thats why I’m sure we all poses a fixed percentage of gusto to post stupid content, and I’m helping you to be aware of that so you can avoid it. 

Many scholars have researched and written widely about thoughts, and they tell us thoughts are the most powerful human resources we have. Napoleon Hill, for example wrote that thoughts are things, and powerful things at that. The book I currently read, As a Man Thinketh, tends to propagate the same theoritical pedagogy – mind is the master-weaver, both of the inner garment of character and the outer garment of circumstance. Even the good book says as a man thinks so is he. What and how we think is exactly what we show the world. So, if you show the world stupidity, then it goes without saying that your thought process is steeped in reductive mediocrity and idiocy. And people begin to delineate a stupid you. And cut you down to sizes. And put you in your rightful place.Don’t post party photos showing you inebriated or a hand placed where it shouldn’t be. Don’t post what chicken you are plucking or cow you’re milking. Or what you had for breakfast. Don’t you post  arguments and rants, you may come across as an overly negative person, not the kind people will want in their lives. Eliminate profanity from your online and offline vocabulary. Stop shairing belligerantly offensive messages. And pictures of dead people even if they were your relation. It is just needless to show people how unreserved you are. And consider it a bold move to block anyone from your digital life who posts utter mediocrity.
Show me what you post and I will tell you who you are.

The Problem of Wanting People to Like us

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One common behavioral pattern I have noticed about human beings is that everyone possesses a natural yearning for greatness and power, what author Dale Carnegy summarily calls a feeling of self importance. What irks, however, is our unreasonable want for validation and elussive affirmation from peers and friends. We live for the applause, constantly chasing other people’s approval. So, it begs the question, do we really exist if we have not been liked or favourited? This is a hot debate and will help people grappling with identity crisis answer one fundamental life question, who am I?

OneStepBeyond recently did an unpublished survey with ten people, five ladies five men. All confessed that anytime they post a picture or update an experience on facebook, they constantly log in to monitor how the likes and comments are streaming up. Some send friend requests to millions of foreigners to increase the possibility of getting many likes to help them in image management. Others tag along celebrities. This indicates the height at which our self-worth and self-esteem has been colonised by the digital system. And it goes without saying that we don’t know who we are yet.

The digital age has brought with itself one big problem, folks will not believe in themselves until a community of social media friends have affirmed, either through ‘liking,’ ‘favoriting,’ or ‘linking to,’ that their pursuits are worthy and their efforts are admirable. People are desperate for attention and are bussy building their self-esteem with bricks made of external recognition. We are literally out brandishing ourselves so brilliantly to make people pat us on the shoulders and cheer us up. That’s why I hate to post my pictures on facebook, it is designed to suck maximum self-centred content out of me [ I’m not discouraging positive postings].

What is true is that the number of likes and the cool comments we get are not accurate description of who we are. We end up with a fazzled personality and a self-esteem dangling out of control over a precipice. We really don’t need to feel good because someone like us, we need to feel good because we like ourselves. If practically everybody we meet likes us, it means that we are possibly tying ourselves up in knots trying to offer up an inauthentic picture of ourselves in order to get along with others.

Author Evan Selinger had me sold with his existential description of the damnation the desire for other people’s approval can provide” For without a healthy dose of self-determination and intrinsic motivation, self-development gets stymied and tasks rich with possibilities lose their potential for meaning”
Nevertheles, philosophers agree that yes we should depend on others for honest feedback that prevents personal growth from getting derailed by ignorance and rationalization. And I suggest the best way to get validated is not us desperately seeking the validation. We should create value and chase success which will automatically draw people to us.

Take an example, in my life and at OneStepBeyond, I’ve conditioned myself not to anticipate any validation and praise from friends or readers. While it is really great to derive satisfaction from peers acknowledging that I produce quality work, it will only block me from achieving what I was meant for. I understand that praise from fans isn’t necessary to motivate the development of a virtuous character: to cultivate expertise, to commit to work requiring meticulous detail, and to embrace a heightened sense of responsibility.  I’ve also stopped encouraging and cajoling people to read my blog. Because, what people want to read is value, if my blog is as valuable and authoritative, then I will automatically get folks around reading and subscribing. It’s not for me to attract people to my blog, but it is for the value I create therein to make people develop a pulsating sense of desire to associate with me and to read OneStepBeyond.

These principles not only apply to my life and blog, they are universal. If you try them out, you get the same results. So, why really would we want people to like us, to be on our side, to cheer us, to believe us. We have to do positive things that confer on us the likes.

The invisible people blend in the background of our lives and only become noticeable when things go south.

In summary, we should not live our lives chasing for other people’s approvals. It’s a shallow way to live as it drains our time and energy by pleasing others and recurring feelings of insecurity and emptiness. The invisible people blend in the background of our lives and only become noticeable when things go south.
Any rebuttal is welcome.

The Power of Building a Strong Personal Brand

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Cocacola and Safaricom are two words that pretty much resonate with many people including kids, perhaps because of the strong brands they have struggled to build over the years. Cocacola itself began in 1886 and I bet they would sell everything but not the trademark – because building a brand is not as slopy as anyone with a middling view would think!

Branding has long been relegated to companies but as individuals, we do have brands as well. Your personal brand is how people see you, how they’d describe you. It is simply the set of characteristics and values that describe who you are and guide your choices in life. Your personal brand is what makes you, you. It is that je ne sais quoi that people know you for. A robust brand is preferrable to one that is uninteresting and unpolished. 

I recently went for an internship interview with KCB Kenya and was asked to say how people describe me ‘out there.’ What a phenomenal question? I told them this:  “Majority of people I come into contact with say I look older than atually I’m, because the level of self-actualisation and maturity portrayed by me is not something you would expect in 21 year olds, I tend to carry all my dealings professionally and I don’t reasonably justify activities and behaviors that are frankly mediocre.”

Building a signature brand might sound elusive to young people but it is really an important ingredient for your personal growth. The image you take on reflects the person you really want to become, it relflects on your beliefs, values and dominant thoughts. And it is not all about faking who you are – all show and no substance, it involves genuinely representing to the world the real, best you. Building your brand on your true strengths allows you to discover exactly what makes you fascinating which will help you to navigate your road to positive recognition.

Social Media

The mode and capacity in which you represent yourself on social media can make or break your image. Are you the guy who imports sordid pictures from Kilimani women’s facebook page and distribute ad naseum to WhatsApp groups you come across? Well, you may delude yourself to be that creative and funny but it just dents on your image. You create an impression to the rest of the world that your mind reasonably justifies activities and behaviours that are frankly mediocre and low quality. Building a strong brand will require you to monitor on an ongoing basis how you appear and come accross online and to improve upon whenever and wherever possible.

Infuse your personality, values, passions and beliefs to your everyday behaviours. People should know you and identify you with a specific area of understanding, behaviour or expertise, which will make you the go-to person in your industry. Branding will also help you to build authority and following. Building a recognizable personal brand creates a vision for your future and also opens professional opportunities. 

The mode and capacity in which you represent yourself on social media can make or break your image.

As you struggle to sharpen your personal brand, folks will begin to see that you are important and interesting and they will begin to invite you to be a part of their stories.

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Meanwhile, I’m thankful that you continue to read OneStepBeyond. This blog is nothing without my audience who keeps me going and inspired.