Ordinary people seek entertainment. Extraordinary people seek education and learning. – Benjamin Hardy .This will be our syllabus.
Being aware of our beginnings is an important leadership lesson. My story begins as a class eight graduate. I spontaneously developed a habit I could not understand its full meaning until later: I begun to voraciously read and study tiny, severed pieces of newspaper I picked along the road. What other people used to wrap mandazi and cigarettes turned out to be my reading materials! It became my individual means of becoming literate.
I considered them immensely valuable in terms of appraising my understanding. They treated me to short blasts of unbiased factual reporting and debate and a fair bit of opinion. They reported real-life events that were of actual importance and emotional value to me, and this aroused my curiosity. I became aware of important and relevant topics that were being discussed in the society.
I occasionally met new words and got enthralled by how journalists, politicians, analysts, experts and commentators weaved words together, which prompted me to record and wonder about those phrases that caught my eyes and stirred my imagination. These group of writers provided a wide range of various text types and language styles – which is one of the most important features of newspaper-based activities. They engaged me in interesting and enjoyable activities, which further encouraged me to find the true power of reading books and real print media resources.
Reading these pieces of literature helped me escape the constrictions of living in a fiercely disconnected environment. For a rural kid like me, they took me on a trip to brilliant minds and places and exposed me to what was hidden beneath life. They became my only chance to experience life beyond own neighborhood and culture, letting me meet and begin thinking about other people, other perspectives, other lives. It helped my brain to advance quick enough to not have my dreams smashed into submission by society and imploded by reality?
I took on the task, in the most primitive form I could afford, to gain knowledge and insight for the sake of my own benefit. There was no curriculum holding me accountable to self-education but the initiative I took to read these tiny pieces of newspaper was something I considered a gift to my future. Investors say that anytime you invest you are putting either time or money into something else to achieve something greater. And here I was, investing knowledge into my brain to deliver for me commercial values. Is there credence in that? An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.
The formal education I received in school gave me the tools I needed to become a life-long learner, but it is continued learning that gave me the tools to become a life-long doer. In a very great way, self-education helped me to stop accepting who I already was and to begin living in a way that embodied who I wanted to become. I fashioned my life to strive for some of the things that reflected the person I wanted to become.
It was beautiful to realize I could improve and advance in life through the pursuit of mental excellence no matter where I currently stood. What I demanded of myself was the development of faith and the willpower to pursue what I thought would enhance the quality of my life. My general understanding was this: I could not afford money and things that came with it but faith and the willpower to pursue your dominant desires and dreams is a function of choice. I had inherent ability to make just the right choices that could catapult me to those dreams and desires – the choice to self-education and learning.
Every single question I had about life was answered in those tiny pieces, and they helped me open up my mind, my thoughts and my world through the help of those who came before me. The simple truth is that we all need to learn from those who have gone before us. We don’t have enough inherent knowledge to reach the top. I may have been every bit pitiable, even poor. But I didn’t want poverty and low social milieu be a justification for making excuses and being lazy, this is a habit of system apologists – those who are losing it all. When people are losing, they clutch on every straw. I could lie to myself but I could not lie to my goals and future and dreams. I could either take action to pursue them or let them die and accept who I was. So, against the tolls of poverty and want, I understood that I, as an individual, deserved reparations and therefore initiated my own destiny through reading newspapers.
By creating a system that allowed me to read a small amount every day, I was reading a staggering number of ‘real books!’ It was a small ritual that resulted into exponential gains.
On the contrary, I learnt one thing that is retrogressively shocking: how rural populace run their lives on distorted information. They select, organize and interpret information they get from radio in such a way as to support their attitudes, beliefs circumstances, emotions and feelings. They spin-radio facts to fit preconceived beliefs to reduce dissonance. Once an individual begins to propagate – in his own way – information he gets from the radio, he become an authority and a model citizen journalist. The information categories that were most distorted were those relating to government and policies, politics, religion and employment.
Folks were (and still are) fanatical about their tribal kingpins. What these people say is final without much interrogation or critical analysis. As young, innocent people, we believed whatever our adult environment discussed. Their points of view were final and an actual representation of what was on the ground. They once told me that Kibaki, former president, killed his son for advising him to leave power for Raila in 2007. Looking back, I lived in a world that was fairly competitive, we faced the same existential and practical challenges and only proper and adequate information could keep one ahead of the pack.
The distortion of information was not going to empower a young soul that wanted to amount to much and needed real knowledge and information for solving practical problems being faced, unless one devised own system of seeking firsthand information.
Majority of children in my village lacked basic literacy skills even after eight years of primary education due to limited information services. Which not only restrained us from exercising legal and moral rights but also limited the opportunity to productively participate in socioeconomic development.
Information we got seemed to only revolve around the holy grail of color and numeric yet, literature does much more than basic facts or social rules we got in school and home. It could have been amazing if we got the opportunity to see materials that reflected the world around us – and the broader world too – featuring different races, cultures, genders, sexual orientations, religions, abilities, classes, ages, and so on, and also exploring political, moral, physical, and emotional issues.
If you went to town, kids our age spoke good English, wrote better essays and we always felt inferior whenever they came back upcountry for Christmas.
My reading culture got more intense in college. Whenever I return home for vacation, I notice how different I am from the rest of the population. This is due to socialization I’ve received from the many materials Ive read in the library. I come to see how superficial and futile are most peoples thoughts, how narrow their ideas, how mean their sentiments, how perverse their opinions, and how much of error there is in most of them. However, I don’t want anyone to notice my brilliance, lest they say I’m proud. I remain in the village, act in the village, do whatsoever is needful, and yet remain transcendental, aloof, detached, a lotus flower in the pond.
Entertainment and distraction
Entertainment and distraction is the enemy of creation and learning. They will keep you in mediocrity. – Benjamin Hardy
I stand in opposition to systems that tend to devalue self-education and its ideals but glorify entertainment and distraction.
Its always easier to enjoy watching Wilbroda on TV or movie compared to reading a book. Most people cling to instant gratification, because it feels good in the short run. However, the opportunity cost is huge. When you spend an hour on mindless TV watching, you could have read a book which will potentially increase your life by a great percentage. In other words, you sacrifice that amount of self-development to watch pointless cat videos.
Ordinary people seek entertainment. Extraordinary people seek education and learning. -Benjamin Hardy
The path to self-education is very unpopular. Odds are, once you begin to invest in your brain, you will find it is a lonely road and pretty much less competitive. You have no need to rush to the library to reserve new arrivals in the display section, you will get them even two weeks later! But you must rush at the centers that serve English Premier League to get space!
I push for self-education and personal development. I have in fact developed a compassion for those who fall by the wayside. I try to intervene individually partly because I have become a writer, but mostly because of the leadership and motivation I have received from books, which make me my brother’s keeper.
The power that be in Self-education
Whatever may be said in praise of entertainment and distraction, the fact remains that it is not possible to rise to a life of meaning and contribution without learning and self-education. The power that be in learning and self-education transcends limitations and captivity. Books are for reading. They are meant to be sources of knowledge not relics to be preserved.
I read constantly. But I’m only a recent self-reader. I’ve only been here for a short period. I don’t suffer any delusion of grandeur. I’m not at the center of it. I have just begun. Its the most important thing you can ever do with your time, because its an opportunity to tap into the collected knowledge of the entirety of human history — while sitting on the couch, lying on your bed, traveling in a matatu, cooking in the kitchen. Through reading, you understand things within the society and then you knowledgeably speak out.
When you are knowledgeable and you speak out, people pay attention to you, you begin to meaningfully contribute to change. A person who does not read is an empty vessel that is vulnerable to manipulation, they run their entire lives on rumors. In almost every discipline, reading is one of the few keys to advancement. It allows you to expand your mind, stand on the shoulders of giants, and be mentored by the greatest people in history. Success and reading go hand in hand. Never let school, entertainment or distraction interfere with your education.
Actively educate yourself about topics which can bring you to your greatest height and put all your heart into it.
Why is it that so many successful people, billionaires, CEOs emphasize on self-education. Why is it that Bill Gates, with his amount of wealth, reads 500 pages every day, yet he should be busking in the beach somewhere in Bali sipping some mojito, dip into a breakfast of grilled coelacanth drizzled with ambrosia and lightly coated with flakes of gold? There must be something behind these covers, lets find it.
Your level of success will rarely exceed your level of personal development, because success is something you attract by the person you become. -Hal Elrod