Archive for December, 2006

Better Life Always

Sunday, December 31st, 2006

I woke up this morning with an intense desire to close out the year right. What does it mean to close out right? In many ways, I think the year is closed out right when it has been carefully reviewed and new strategies have been set for the New Year. Through my past couple of posts, I have reviewed relevant bits and pieces of 2006. Through my posts for the month of January I will be outlined relevant strategies for 2007, not only for myself and my company, but also for you and what you do. One thing I encourage you to do as you move forward: commit to living and experiencing a better life in 2007. The Better Life Company will be with you all through 2007, bringing you information and ideas that will empower you for a better life. Your feedback, ideas and insights will also go a long way in ensuring that we provide you with cutting-edge information and products. Share your comments on the BLOG and stay with us. The best is yet to come! – Better Life Always!  

Quantum Insights from 2006

Saturday, December 30th, 2006

As most of you who have known me for a couple of years know, every beginning of year, I develop a vision for the year and send out a message to my friends as per what my insight into the New Year is. My inner circle can remember that at the beginning of the year, I said that 2006 was MY YEAR OF QUANTUM LEAPS. We have had quatum leaps in many facets of our lives and have gleaned lots of insights that can enable us have a better life in 2007. Here are some of the most powerful insights gleaned from life in 2006.

Quantum Insight # 1.

When things get weird, stop doing things as you have always been doing them. Raise the standard. Start living and working like a champion. Recognize that it is only the mentality you embrace that will either make you or break you. Go the extra mile. Pay the costly price. Persevere. Stretch yourself. Do the undoable. Break the boundaries of limitation. Don’t cower like a chick in the rain. Soar above mediocrity. For destiny’s sake, come out of your shell and live the abnormal life! Don’t settle for the normal and mediocre. Get out of control and awaken the giant within. Do the things that you can’t do!

Quantum Insight # 2.

Depart from your assumptions about work. Work is not conquered by working hard but by working smart. Work is not labor but laughter. Thomas Edison, respected inventor and holder of patents to over one thousand inventions is well known to have said, “I never had a day’s work all my life. It was all fun!” That’s abnormal living! This guy lived OFF THE WALL! His work attitude could not even be read by the charts. That’s the kind of approach we need towards work. When you learn to love work, you have solved 50% of the problems of life. The other 50% are solved when you actually work.

Quantum Insight # 3.

This is a huge piece of advice. When things get weird, turn pro. What distinguishes a pro from an amatuer? A pro never plays, he performs. An amatuer plays and has no concept of what it means to perform for his team. In 2006 I saw so many people playing at work. Very few know what it means to perform. You have to learn to perform. When the axe falls, it takes out the players and leaves those who perform. Those who play entertain but those who perform produce results. Get the difference? Don’t just play for your team, perform for it! What does this mean for you in 2007? Are you an entertainer or a producer? Turn pro. The key is to perfect the art of consistent diligence at working at your task.

Quantum Insight # 4.

When things get weird, decide to create your own ripple effect. Disturb the waters. I don’t mean that you rebel against what’s happening. Such a move will destroy you! You’ve got to be wise. You can’t afford to be foolish in 2007, let alone any other year. In 2006 we swam in rough waters and it was hectic trying to hold onto the raft. In 2007 we are swimming with sharks and you’ve got to come out alive. You’ve got to first have a more powerful boat and get rid of the raft. I’m talking about developing structures. You can’t fire a missile from a canoe! If you tried it would topple over and the sharks will come for you. You’ve got to elevate your thinking. What do you mean then by saying that you should create your own ripple effect? I’m glad you asked! When things get weird, you’ve got to engage them. You don’t shirk away from them. GO FOR THE JUGULAR! Strangle all profit from the seasons of change. Milk the cow dry! (A lesson I learnt from my dad when I started milking cows after high school). Find your cow in 2007 and milk it dry! Your cow is the niche that will carve out a place for you in the human experience and land you a page in the book of Global History many years from today.

Quantum Insight # 5.

Start singing as you go through the weird times. Sounds funny, eh! I can imagine you guys bursting out in laughter thinking I’ve gone nuts. Ha! Ha! Ha! Well, I’m nuts! (Ever read Southwest Airlines’ Crazy recipe for business and personal success?) Honestly, when things get weird, START SINGING! You see, singing lifts up your spirits and there’s no telling what a man or woman in high spirits can do. I’d rather have one person who’s in high spirits, even unreasonably excited, rather than twenty who are discouraged, beat up, ready to give up any moment and simply good-for-nothings. So, gang, let’s sing in 2007!

Doh-Reh-Mih-Fah-Soh-Lah-Tih-Doh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Doh-Tih-Lah-Soh-Fah-Mih-Reh-Doh!!!!!!!!!!

A Review of 2006

Friday, December 29th, 2006

This has been an extraordinary year! The one resounding theme for me throughout the entire year was the importance of family. It’s been a year of establishment, growth, expansion, blossoming and revitalization for my family.

The month of January opened with the most wonderful blessing of all for my family. My wife and I welcomed our son, Herman J. Najoli Jnr. into our world. What a joy that was! It’s been a lot of fun to see him develop so fast and begin to show a vibrant personality. Nothing brightens life more than seeing him enjoy his life. Oh the beauty of his smile and laughter! 

 Herman and Jnr in the Home Office

A few weeks later it was a joy to welcome my mom to the United States – all the way from Kenya, Africa. his has been an awesome visit for mom and she continues to enjoy it. She has had a marvelous time bonding with my wife and our son. What a joy it’s been to show her so many different things that she wasn’t exposed to in Africa! We’ve been able to travel a lot and it’s been priceless investing this time in family.

During the year I was able to publish two books, Battling for Your Prophetic Destiny: Ten Golden Gleanings from a father to his son and Quest for Light. What an experience this was! As I continue to work on signature titles that will be the main texts for my teaching and speaking, I am inspired by what my debut titles have done for me. It’s a huge beginning.

Then in December we started the Better Life Company, the Home of Life Empowerment. This was a dream come true. Even though the beginnings are humble, the promise of the future is significantly powerful. The first month for the company has simply been a period of strategy formulation and vision casting. As we step into 2007, execution will be vital. The first phase of execution involves a relocation from Omaha, NE to Cincinnati, OH. This will be detailed in the next blog as part of the vision for 2007.

Forget resolutions … plan ahead!

Thursday, December 28th, 2006

It’s that time of the year again when people make new resolutions. I was reading an advertisement from Vic Johnson for his GOALS 2007 program in which he says that most resolutions are usually broken by the end of January. Vic has a powerful tool that he is selling in which he promotes the idea of making goals. I would like to suggest a different focus that I believe should also deliver tremendous results in 2007. How about learning to PLAN AHEAD. I have never made any new year resolutions since 1999 when I learnt about the need to PLAN AHEAD from the works of John Maxwell. Here are some thoughts on what has kepy me on track with my personal goals over the past seven years:

Pre-determine a course of action

This essentially means having a vision for your life. Visualizing that which you intend to attain is the first step towards being successful in pursuing it. You need to have a concise end for which you can measure your progress against. Develop a vision which will be your pre-determined course of action.

Layout your goals

Once you have pre-determined a course of action, the next step is to break it down into specific goals that can be realized. To empower your vision you need to write it down and define it clearly. Laying out your goals enables you to harness the power of visualization.

Adjust your priorities

You will need to make some changes in the new year if you hope to make it a different year from the past. This will mean being open to adjusting your priorities. Priorities are the pathway to success. Making adjustments is the key to reaching your goals.

Notify key people

We all have circles of support around us. In order to accomplish your goals you need to find those people who affirm your positive goals and share your goals with them. These people will encourage you, motivate you and keep you on the path towards success.

Allow time for your plans

Many times when we set goals we expect them to be realized within a certain time frame. While it is essential to set deadlines, we should never get married to the deadlines. Timelines should motivate us to work smartly towards our goals. If your goals are not attained within the timelines you set, don’t quit. Set new timelines and stay motivated.  

Head into action

Action is the first step towards achievement. A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Head into action. Inch by inch it’s a cinch. Action must start now! The greatest enemy of success is procrastination. In order to achieve your dreams you must be action-oriented.

Expect problems

Every endeavor that has ever been worth pursuing has always had it’s problems and challenges. Problems are a sign that you are on the right track. The absence of problems is very likely a sign that something is wrong. Problems should never cause you to lose sight of your ultimate goals. They should be a call towards being more creative.

Always point to your successes

It is easy to lose motivation when failure sets in. The key to staying focused is in pointing to your already realized successes. Your track record of past successes is the springboard for your future achievements. When failure threatens your progress, embrace the confidence that comes from your record of past achievements.

Daily review your planning

Planning is a dynamic process. Plans should be reviewed on a daily basis to ensure that you are on the right track. Change happens (please see my earlier post below, shift happens) and you must be open to changing your plans daily. Flexibility is the key to success. You must be able to revisit your plans every day. Nothing ever dominates life unless it happens daily. It is the daily habit of reviewing your plans that will determine whether you realize them or not.

 

For 2007, make a quality decision that you will not make any resolutions, but you will PLAN AHEAD. I’m rooting for you!

Shift Happens … Flux is fun!

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006

Over this holiday period I’ve been musing over my plans for the year 2007. A few years ago (actually seven years ago) I made a commitment to certain personal objectives. I came up with fifty dimensions of intent which I penned in a book that I wrote for myself and titled, “My Life Vision”. One of my intentions (please review the article on Serendipity and Synchronicity from December 23) is to embrace a state of constant shift and flux in my life as I pursue my destiny.

The word shift means to change; for example to shift gears in an automobile from one ratio to another. It can also mean to move; for example to transfer from one place, position, direction, etc. Flux, on the other hand, means continuous change, passage or movement. It may also mean a constant flow. Life is in constant flow and we must learn to change in order to attain the better life. Embracing change and being open to movement is a sign of great maturity and understanding of the processes of life. In order to attain true significance, our attitude should be: “shift happens … flux is fun“. As we enter into 2007, my primary objective is to embrace great changes and allow the flow of life to lead me towards a higher dimension of my destiny.   

Organizations thrive or flounder in seasons of flux. Leaders must therefore be masters at navigating shifting winds. Organizations themselves also need to shift leaders and people around every so often (… insanity is doing the same thing – or having the same people doing the same things – all the time yet expecting different results). Flux is fun! Shift happens!

Shift and Flux in 2007

My personal plans for 2007, right from the get-go is for a lot of shifting and flux in my life. This will start with my move from Omaha, Nebraska to Cincinnati, Ohio. The primary purpose of the move is to begin focusing my attention on the creation of the Better Life Company (www.betterlifecompany.com). I expect a lot of shift and flux as I step out into this new arena. The journey is only beginning and the best is yet to come! 

Draft … YOU!!!

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

Presidential politics have always been interesting. I think the thrill comes from the many dynamics of watching the race – personalities, philosophies, partnerships, passions, perspectives, promises, peculiarities, prejudices and people are all developed, exposed, shaped and redefined in so many different ways. As we prepare for a new year, some are preparing for a race for the White House that will be a very unique one. So many interesting dynamics come into the 2008 race for the White House – we have an African American that is rumored to be among the leading contenders, we have a woman in the mix, religion might be a huge factor since there’s a Mormon said to be weighing his possibilities and so many other factors.

The other day I received an email from my sister encouraging me to visit a website that’s been created to facilitate, promote and encourage senator Barrack Obama to run (www.draftobama.org). I like Senator Obama – not just because his heritage is from my birth country of Kenya – but because he is a sound leader. As a compelling public figure in America, I think he brings a lot of hope to many in the country. He is very thoughtful and has America at the center of his heart. While it is great to sign that petition and ‘draft’ Obama, there’s another draft that I’d like you to consider. How about Draft YOU!! I want you to consider drafting yourself into the greatest race of all time – the race to fulfill your potential and live your very best life! 

As we enter into a new year, I want you to start paying more attention to making yourself the very best person you can be – 2007 is about being better! At the Better Life Company, we will focus on developing materials and products that will empower YOU with knowledge, skills, wisdom and resources that will enlighten, encourage, equip, embolden and enable YOU to embody the better life. We encourage you to focus on your own personal growth and development. Discover your true potential and unleash your maximum capabilities! Find what you were born to do and give it your very best shot.      

Celebrating the life

Monday, December 25th, 2006

This is a peaceful and joyous family day. I wasn’t planning to add anything today. May it be a marvelous and undisturbed day for you and your family. Merry Christmas! 

On the Eve of Christmas!

Sunday, December 24th, 2006

It’s almost 11 pm CST as I sit down at my desk to type a few thoughts for today. A few hours ago I drove all over town looking for an open grocery store where I could buy baby food for Herman Jnr. None of the stores in my neighborhood were open. Even Wal-Mart, the biggest of them all, was closed – and it was only 7 pm! What a joy to know that many businesses had set aside time for people to go and enjoy a quality evening with their families!

On the eve of Christmas, I want to wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May tomorrow be a special day for you as you refocus and invest a wonderful day in engaging your family and loved ones. Let us remember the disadvantaged and support them towards experiencing the blessings of Christmas. Even as you celebrate Christmas, may 2007 be a marvelous year for you. I wish you wisdom and insight as you set new goals for the year and re-energize yourself towards fulfilling your great dreams and hopes. May your ambitions and aspirations be realized as you embrace the newness of a new year with all it has to offer. Merry Christmas! 

Serendipity and Synchronicity

Saturday, December 23rd, 2006

Dr. Mark J. Chironna has a little booklet titled, Tripping Over Your Treasures, that I have been reading today. He starts off by explaining the meaning of the word serendipity, saying that dreams are arrived at quite accidentally yet when one is being intentional. It may seem like a contradiction but I find this to be extremely true. When I was planning on my coming to the United States in 2001, I was very intentional about the whole process but my actual leaving of Kenya came accidentally! I also find that there is one more thing that contributes to teh realization of dreams: synchronicity. Synchronicity is the coincidence of events that seem to be meaningfully related. I met my wife because of synchronicity. We had both signed up for the same elective course in college. Who would have thought that an elective course in school would bring two people together! 

The word serendipity was created by Sir Horace Walpole in 1754 after having read a Persian fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip. In this tale, three sons of a King were always on their way somewhere only to bump into things accidentally on purpose that helped them along the way to their next stop.  As I was thinking about this, I started seeing that in my own life I have ‘bumped’ into people and things who helped me along the way. I would never have learnt about the Honor Academy in Texas had I not volunteered to go with some American missionaries to a remote village in Northern Kenya. In Texas, I met a friend who introduced me to the family that helped me move to Colorado. While in Colorado and later in Massachussets I pursued a great friendship with a classmate at Regent University. This led to our marriage in 2004. While watching an NBC Today show in 2005, we learnt about Boystown and decided to move to Nebraska. After working in Nebraska for a while I decided to pursue the dream of establishing an organization that I have carried with me for a couple of years. That’s a lot of serendipity! 

The American College Dictionary defines serendipity as the faculty of making desirable but unsought-for discoveries by accident. Synchronicity on the other hand is meaningful coincidences that cannot be explained by cause and effect. Both of these words invite us to experiencing deeper lives full of meaning and richness. Let the old pass and welcome into the new. The best is yet to come! May 2007 be full of synchronicity and serendipity for you!  

The KUDOS formula

Thursday, December 21st, 2006

About one week ago I received an email from a senior administrator at my current workplace. The email was a forward from another supervisor in a different department who was passing along a positive report regarding my work performance. I was tickled by the email largely because of the use of the word Kudos. Kudos is a rarely used english word that simply means giving compliments to another. Maybe the rare use of the word signifies the need for more kudos in workplaces. In an effort to contribute towards this, I would like to suggest a KUDOS formula for leaders and supervisors in organizations.

Here’s the KUDOS formula:

K – Keep your focus on finding acts worthy of encouragement in your people.

U – Underscore the vital necessity of a climate and culture of encouragement.

D – Discover the 101% principle (Find the 1 thing someone is good at and give 100% encouragement in this area.

O – Outline your expectations, knowing that people soar higher once encouraged.

S – Seek to encourage with a desire for the other person’s benefit, not your own.

Five Key Results of the KUDOS formula:

1. Increased productivity in service and results.

2. Generates motivation and keeps momentum going.

3. Cultivates energy for input of effort and hard work.

4. Maintains synergy as the power of teamwork is enhanced.

5. Leverages the final outcome of a desired target or objective.

What leaders should follow

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

This afternoon I found myself stuck in traffic really close to a bakery in my neighborhood. I wasn’t thinking of anything specific and allowed myself the pleasure of having my eyes roam about the neighborhood. Within a short time I learnt what had caused the traffic to build up. A bunch of people were standing in front of the bakery getting free bread for the holiday season. I could hear from the noise that they were excited. The smell of baked bread filled the area. I could easily see a crowd in the area right in front of the bakery and my gut feeling was that the bread was being given for free. Right at that moment I decided to be creative and use my time in traffic in developing some thoughts on leadership, based on what I was seeing in front of me. I was able to come up with the following four things that leaders should follow:

1. Follow your ear (I heard the noise)

Learn to act on what you hear your followers whisper. If you can act on the whispers, you won’t have to react to the screams later on. Sensitize your ear to the imperceptible cries of your people. Your ear should be able to vibrate with what is resounding from the lives of your followers. A leader should always have his ear on the ground but not all the time because if you are always bent on the ground and listening you can’t be able to see ahead. There must be a balance. The leaders ear must ring with the voices of the people. 
 
2. Follow your nose (Oh the smell of bread!)

Strive to perfect your ability to smell what is coming. I learnt this from watching leopards hunt back home in the plains of Kenya. Their main advantage is that they can smell their prey from very far. Let us endeavor to smell the future before it arrives. The better your leadership smell buds, the more accurate you will be in anticipating inevitable happenings. The leadership nose is able to determine what is good and what is bad. We like what smells good isn’t it? Leaders should be able to sense the flavor before serving their followers. That’s the key to winning their hearts. (That’s how moms win their husband’s and children’s hearts – cook tasty food). 
 
3. Follow your eyes (I saw the crowd)

This is where many leaders lose it. They leap before they look. In more adverse situations, they think before they look. I would like to change a very popular saying. They say “Look before you leap” but I say, “Look before you think and then think before you leap.” As a leader, you must be able to first analyse a situation, synthesise it and then pounce on it. Because leaders possess the big picture and see the whole view before their followers, they can easily be enticed by what looks appealing. Leaders should be able to see, then use their minds and determine the right course of action.

4. Follow your gut (I sensed they were getting free bread)

Intution is a leader’s best friend. This is something that many leaders have yet to fully grasp. You can’t teach anyone how to listen to the gut. It’s something that is cultivated personally. Just a little wisdom to help you as you do this: THE GUT SIGNAL is like red lights flashing within you. Leaders should be able to sense things so that they are not caught unawares.

Ear, nose, eyes and gut – the anatomy of leadership!

Of Masters and Architects

Saturday, December 16th, 2006

It’s a common quote: we are the masters of our own destiny and the architects of our own fortune. But the real situation is that very few people are actualizing the truth of that statement. What makes some people masters of greatness and architects of achievement while others languish in the obscurity of mediocrity? My thinking is that the main thing that separates between those who soar and those who flop in life is vision. It has been said that where there is no vision, people perish. Vision is the primary ingredient of success, the seed of greatness and the foundation of accomplishment.

The Mastery of Vision

Superb winners always show a mastery of their vision way before their competence at a task is demonstrated.  As a young teen in the late ’80s I used to enjoy watching heaveyweight boxing fights. Those were the days of men like Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, George Foreman and Lennox Lewis. What enabled me to understand each fighter’s vision for a match-up was the press conferences right before a fight. I liked it even more when it was between the heavyweight champion and a contender. The boxers would vividly describe what they would do in the ring and then it was up to them to go out and show that they could back-up their words with action in the ring.

Winners in life have a mastery of vision that is undisputable. Mastery is defined as the command, grasp or control of a subject. We love sports because we can readily see mastery demonstrated before us. Look at a bike rider like Lance Armstrong. I’ve enjoyed watching him compete in the Tour-de-France year after year and I missed him in last year’s race following his retirement. Lance was a master at teaching us the art of vision. He would train seriously in the off-season and then come out every July in-front of the world’s cameras and show that he had what it takes to win a grueling 21-day race.  

The Architecture of Vision

Architecture is simply the structure of anything. In construction circles, it is the act or process of building. The architecture of vision is therefore the act of giving structure to that which has been intangible – your vision of the future. Going back to our opening quote, we are the architects of our own fortune. Fortune is a child of vision. When it is said that where there is no vision people perish, what that really means is that where people lack hope in the future, there are no fortunes for them to reach for.

Let us briefly look at the work of an architect. An architect takes a user’s vision and brings it to life. He plans and designs that which had been conceived in the mind. Many architects are great visionaries.

One of my favorite visionary architects is R. Buckminster Fuller, the creator of the Geodesic Dome. His concepts were revolutionary. The dymaxion car (contracted from DYnamic MAXimum tensION), for instance. Fuller had a superb ability to dream big and develop audacious goals. 

Success and significance in life are directly proportional to how well we act on vision. Acting on vision requires strategy. Developing goals and objectives that bring the vision into clearer focus is essential. Having a team of people who will buy into the vision is key. It’s all about mastery and architecture. May your vision come to pass!    

Mark Cuban says I’m intoxicated

Friday, December 15th, 2006

In my morning reading today, I selected Dallas Mavericks owner and billionare Mark Cuban’s blog. In his entry for December 11th, he makes some interesting comments regarding starting a business and the spirit of entrepreneurship. He says, “There are few things more exciting than starting a business and getting things rolling. The fear, the adrenalin, the excitement, the hope that every entrepreneur feels, are all intoxicating. In fact, very often they are TOO intoxicating. Very often, along with some success comes the feeling of invincibility. I have been in situations where I have told myself that Im smart, I know what Im doing, that I will figure things out as I go, so its OK to take on this new opportunity.” (Emphasis mine).

I couldn’t agree more with this thought leader’s statement. Being at the point where I’m just starting my own organization, Better Life Company, I’m feeling exhilarated. It’s deja vu for me. When I was in college at the University of Nairobi, I started the Center of Knowledge as part of the SHEBA partnership (Stephen Herman Eternal Brotherhood Association). The Center of Knowledge was a resource unit that provided lots of personal growth materials to students at my college campus. Stephen was and still is a very close friend who worked with me in equipping so many young people back home in Kenya. Both organizations lost traction when I left Kenya and came to the United States but I can’t forget the feeling of invincibility I felt as I walked around the campus and toured the country speaking at high schools. 

Mark Cuban’s article is very insightful. He talks about the ‘fear’ of starting a new business. Last night I was speaking to my wife about the fear of the unknown and the uncertainty of the future. I shared with her that one of the books that greatly influenced my thinking when I started the Center of Knowledge was “Feel the fear and do it anyway” by Susan Jeffers, PhD. This book helped me conquer so many fears in my life as I attempted to create at that time what was a huge undertaking for a college student. This morning as my wife and I were chatting about the same topic, she shared with me her hopes and dreams for the family business and how she was ready to take the leap into the future. I shared with her how I believed that our successes through the transitions of life are determined by what happens inside of us. Think of the process of metamorphosis. When I was a kid growing up in Nairobi, Kenya, we had lots of ladybugs in our part of the country. I used to enjoy watching the process of change that happened as they metamorphosised into adult insects. At the larval stage, few people can tell that it will ever turn into anything that can fly.  Soon it transforms itself into a pupa and makes a cocoon around itself. The final stage of maturity comes when changes happen INSIDE the cocoon. The larva BREAKS OUT of the cocoon and becomes a beautiful ladybug. 

Nothing excites me more than embracing positive changes. Every single change I have embraced over the past seven years has completely revolutionized my life. I moved from Africa, to Texas, to Colorado, to Massachussets, to Tennessee, to Omaha and now I’m getting ready to move to Cincinnati, Ohio, which will be the US location for the offices of the Better Life Company. While this might seem like too much change, it’s been a journey towards the ultimate. I thrive on change! I’m intoxicated! Opportunity has knocked on my front door and I won’t be caught raking leaves in the back yard. I’m ready! All systems are tuned up and ready to fire. As Robert Schuller said, “You can’t fire a missile from a canoe!” If Mark Cuban will define my spirit as intoxication, I’ll accept his definition based on the context.

In Search of Eagles

Thursday, December 14th, 2006

I’m inspired by the stories of innovators like Andrew Carnegie. Andy surrounded himself with big thinking resourceful people. How he got them is a secret that is open to all of us. Mr. Carnegie went on to become the greatest philanthropist of his generation because he knew how to get the right people and empower them for broad-based action. In following in the footsteps of giants of achievement, Better Life Company is in search of eagles. Eagles in this sense represent leaders of the highest calibre. The tricky thing about eagles is that they don’t flock; you have to find them one at a time. Most organizations end up with turkeys instead of eagles because they are position conscious and take whoever shows up. Eagles don’t show up. You have to go and look for them. Here are six marks of an eagle:

1. Eagles are catalysts of experiences – Eagles make things happen based on their skills and abilities. They walk the road less traveled, defying models in order to blaze new trails.

2. Eagles possess great vision and execution – Eagles don’t perch on a tree and wait for manna to fall from heaven. They go out and look for opportunities. They are not risk averse.

3. Eagles are change agents – Eagles influences others in positive ways. They are 360° influencers. Their influence is not restricted by attributes like age or profession.

4. Eagles are multipliers of value – Growing organizations have people who bring added value to the company but great organizations have people who multiply value. The average organization has people who subtract value while the mediocre organization has people who divide value.

5. Eagles empower eagles to lead – Birds of a feather flock together because only they have an uncanny ability to bring out the best in each other. Eagles don’t hang out with hawks.

6. Eagles are sources of creativity – Eagles hunt for ideas that result in quantum growth for the organization. Because of this, an organization with eagles will always be a leader of the pack.

Better Life Company will be a nest for eagles. Eagles choose the kind of culture they want to be in with intense dedication. Let the eagles gather because the feast is about to begin!

Ten Trade-Offs Worth Making

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

WIWAK (When I Was A Kid) my dad once surprised our family when he came back from work and declared that we were leaving the lakeside town where I was born (Kisumu) and moving to the capital city of Kenya (Nairobi). Nairobi was and still is a well appreciated city but I loved Kisumu. Going to Lake Victoria was always fun – the boat rides, hippo point, fishing, playing around the water shore and so much more. My dad’s thinking at that time was that he had to give up in order to go up. Jim Collins refers to this as moving from Good to Great. Successful people understand that life is a journey. Any journey has intersections and those who win are the ones who make good trade-offs at the intersections of life. Bob Buford once said, “None of us know when we will die, but all of us, if we wish, can select our own epitaph”. We select our own epitaph based on the kind of life we live. Are you pursuing a better life? If not, here are ten trade-offs worth making that can qualitatively improve your life and a question after each to prompt your decision-making.

1. Affirmation for accomplishment – Are you going to be one of the boys and get the affirmation of mediocrity or will you step out of the herd and blaze a trail of accomplishment?

2. Financial gain for future potential – Will you be enticed by the promises of wealth or will you live for a life of significance based on your true capacity?

3. Immediate pleasure for personal growth – Are you tempted by the life of ease and play now, or are you motivated by the desire for living your best life possible?

4. Security for significance – Do you want to live a comfortable life of comfort and convenience or will you soar towards a better life in which you make an even greater difference?

5. Acceptance for excellence – Are you going to settle for the acceptance of your peers and friends or will you aim for the excellence that comes from the pursuit of your dreams?

6. Addition for multiplication – Are you satisfied with adding value to your community or will you go for the more rewarding joy of multiplying value to the world?

7. Many things for one thing – Will you be a jack of all trades and master of none or will you stand out from the pack and be a master of one thing?

8. Quantity for quality – Are you going to fill up your life with things and events or will you go for the right things and events?

9. Stability for success – Is your prime desire to have a stable life or are you willing to tap into the success of knowing and realizing your true passion?

10. Work for family – Are you laboring at your work at the expense of your family or are you creating a legacy for those whom you love?

Only through the wise use of trade-offs can we truly reach our potential.

 

Are you developing people?

Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

Over the past couple of days my eleven month old son has been making rapid progress in his development. It’s been fun watching him hit milestone after milestone some even ahead of the projected times on most of the websites and in most books I’ve read. The greatest milestone to me has been seeing him start to walk because my wife and I know that once he does, our whole world will change completely. Well, a few minutes ago I was seated in my home office watching him crawl around. All of a sudden, he stood up and walked a whooping nineteen baby steps from the office door to my desk. You should have seen me at the end of that walk, cheering, clapping and praising him in all sorts of ways. His excitement was completely out-of-control! He knew that he had accomplished a huge feat. What a moment it was for us!

In thinking about this moment, a flash of insight crossed my mind and I realized that I had been using great leadership principles in my interaction with him. These are crucial keys that can really go a long way in empowering the people you lead. There are four key steps that a leader can use in developing the people around her.    

1. Stimulate Development

Leaders are like gardeners. A gardener takes a seed, plants it in good soil, nurtures the young plant with water and/or fertilizer and takes care of it into its maturity. The first requirement in stimulating development in people is being able to discern what their gifts and talents are. A person’s gifts and talents are the seed of his or her potential. Employees or followers need to be placed in environments where they will be most effective based on their talents. Personnel departments and leaders should specialize in being able to equip people with resources that build on their strengths. Only then can you begin to motivate development in people.  

2. Motivate Development

Good leaders find ways to motivate development in others. I have found that the easiest way to do this is by painting a picture of the future for your people. People want to be associated with success and when they see that you are headed towards greatness they will jump aboard. Lasting motivation comes when the people you lead buy into your leadership.

One thing that many leaders miss is that people must first buy into the leader before they can buy into the leader’s vision for the future. My son naturally buys into me since I’m his dad. As I motivate his development, he rejoices in my excitement and works even harder because of that special connection between us. Find what can connect you and your people and that will be the glue for your continued motivation of them.  

3. Encourage Development

When I was in college I read a quote that I have come to really love and appreciate a lot. I can’t remember who gave us the quote (…might have been Socrates or Plato … or one of those profoundly wise sages of the 16th Century). The quote was, “Encouragement is the oxygen of the heart”. In terms of people development I’d say encouragement is the fuel of continued growth. Leaders encourage people by offering them incentives that induce a commitment to the growth process. Now, a pay check provides limited inducement for true growth. People need to see a bigger cause than just putting bread on the table. Are you encouraging your people? Every time I encourage my son I see a magnified effort in him at giving extra effort in that particular behavior. You’ve got to encourage people! 

4. Celebrate Development

My son burst out in excitement the minute he saw me celebrate his nineteen steps. Every time I celebrate his performance he responds so enthiusiastically. It is that enthusiasm that is vital to his continued practice of the same behaviors. Practice makes permanent (not perfect). The more he will practice higher level skills, the more he will be able to permanently use those skills properly. People need leaders that will celebrate good performance more often than they criticize or give feedback about shallow performance. Celebration means fun. When people are having fun, nothing hurts. Are you having fun with your people?  

CLAW Your Way Up

Saturday, December 9th, 2006

I love the game of golf. It gets me thinking and provides me with instant feedback and instant opportunities for self-correction. My vision is always great right before I tee off but somehow the execution never seems to be aligned to that which I had envisioned. I therefore have a lot of respect for a player like Tiger Woods, who has a way of making the game look like a Great Opportunity to Look Foolish (G.O.L.F) for many. What terrific rounds of golf he always plays! I always gasp in amazement as Tiger claws his way up the leaderboard! We also need CLAWs if we are to climb up the leaderboard of life. How does one avoid the cut and claw his way up the leaderboard of life? Here’s the key:

Create a powerful picture of your destiny – You have to see yourself as a champion. Tiger wins because he knows he is the best. Greatness comes to those who anticipate it because the world will stand aside and lets pass the man who knows where he is going. Winners start of with a powerful picture of their destiny.  

Leverage your potential by playing to win – Some people play not to lose. That is the prime recipe for failure. You have to play to win, not play to avoid losing. Mentality is the key to winning, perspective is the hand that turns the key. Play to win!

Adjust your swing using proven technique – Tiger makes constant adjustments. The key to winning in life is making adjustments. Change is not your enemy – change is your greatest friend. If you get stuck in one mode of doing things teh same way you’ve always done them, you will go insane. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again yet expecting different results.

Widen your vision by developing a BHAG – You need a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG). The quality of your vision depends on the magnitude of your BHAG. Think beyond your daily sustenance. Have a goal that will continously pull you into the future. A goal is simply a dream given substance, direction and timing (read my previous blogs).

My friend, you can CLAW your way up the leaderboard of life. Apply these techniques and I will see you over the top!!!!

Shopping Mania

Friday, December 8th, 2006

I’ve never been one to rant about shopping but this year I’ve had to. Normally I wake up before my wife. On thanksgiving night she asked me to wake her up at 4:30 am so I set my opportunity clock (not alarm clock) for 4:25 am. What woke me up at around 4:20 am was not my clock but a kiss from my wife – fully dressed! – as she bid me good bye. Now, I don’t know how long she had slept because she had spent most of the night browsing on different stores’ websites and pawing through newspaper inserts to find where the special deals were. Now three days prior to black Friday she had gone to a couple of stores to map out exactly how she would do her shopping. At Target she knew that it was exactly 28 steps from the front door to the electronics department, 18 steps from electronics to baby clothes, 16 steps back to jewelry and so forth.

Well, a few days prior to the shopping season we decided to sit at the dinner table and have a candid discussion about our finances. Due to the Christmas shopping, I expected that our savings account would go into cardiac arrest. I did not want to end up with a situation that would require performing CPR on our checking account. My thinking was that if we bought into the shopping mania spreading across the country, we were the ones who would have cardiac arrests and need CPR because both our savings and checking accounts would be headed six feet under. To make matters worse, my wife has this Credit Card that she really loves – sometimes I wonder why she married me! My concern was that this holiday shopping would jeopardize our family’s short-term stability and even threaten it’s long-term survival! Hopefully I’ll be consoled when I finally get to open the gift boxes. I’m sure the joy of receiving the gifts will provide me with a landing pad come next year when we open those bank statements. But again, the truth is that my wife is a better money manager than I am. For me the first step in money management would be brain-surgery; for her the first step would be to keep it away from her husband.

Personally I’ve given up on Black Friday shopping. Last time I tried, I was living in Springfield, MA. I had gone shopping at Circuit City and waited in line for 1 hour, was elbowed in the cheek, kicked in the shin, pulled and pushed in all directions, punched in the stomach, yelled at and almost made to feel inhuman by the zeal of the other shoppers. It’s a jungle out there at this time of the year and the law is survival for the fittest. You have to out-run, out-manouver and out-smart everybody else if you are going to get what you want. What will keep us sane, safe and sure about the future is being wise about how we spend our finances. Let’s make it more about family and less about spending.

Plotting Your Destiny

Thursday, December 7th, 2006

It is increasingly becoming evident that this is not the age working your way up some corporate or company ladder as has been the traditional norm. There’s been a huge shift in the average worker’s thinking as we are seeing people change jobs many times, resort to working from home and even start their own small businesses. This is an age of empowerment and those with a desire to live above the level of mediocrity are seeking ways and means in which they can live more meaningful lives. The key to this is to plot your own destiny.

In my book, Battling for Your Prophetic Desiny, I have written at length about  specific strategies that can be utilized in plotting one’s destiny. This whole week I have been ruminating on this idea and a few thoughts came to my mind that would be very empowering in the realization of personal destiny. These thoughts form the acronym DESTINY:

Determine your true passions

You have to find out exactly what makes you tick. Many people stop pursuing their true passions when they get a job. A job is your pre-occupation while your true passions are your true occupation. What gets you excited?

Embrace your assignment

Your true passions will reveal to you your assignment. Your assignment is that which you are meant to accomplish with your life that few others will be able to do as well as you could. Every human being has the capability of expertise. What are your talents? What do you enjoy doing most? That could be your assignment.

Start right NOW!

Life is lived in the now. Most people’s undoing is that they live either in the past or in the future and experience very little of the now. The company that you’ve always dreamt of starting, start it right now! That song that you always wanted to compose, write it right now! That incident that’s been lingering in your mind for months, let it go right now!

Transform your thinking

Your thinking sets the pace for your doing. You can’t experience greatness if you continue to think in the same manner that you have always thought. Don’t allow yourself to get stuck in the rut of bad or poor thinking. Elevate your thinking by associating with good thinkers.

Identify your strengths

Winners play to their strengths. if you are going to be massively successful in life you have to start that journey of identifying your strengths. As you do this you will definitely uncover some opportunities for improvement in many areas of your life. Strengthen your areas that need improvement and you are well on your way to a great destiny.

Notify key personnel

You need a circle of support around you that will motivate, support and keep you accountable. Share your dreams with them. They may be the key to your ability to move to the next level. Find trusted people who will become your inner circle of confidence. Never under-estimate the power of your close associates.

Yoke with thought leaders

A keener look to the right of this blog will show you that I have links to some thought leaders that I value and regard highly. Someone once said that who you become five years from today is determined by the books you read and the company you keep. Yoke yourself with thought leaders.

 

Why a Gazette?

Tuesday, December 5th, 2006

I grew up reading a gazette every morning – nowadays I run into many people who call it a newspaper. In Swahili we used to say “Gazeti”. It made my morning every day when dad would give me two shillings so that I could run to the local ‘kiosk’ and buy the Daily Nation (they weren’t delivered at our door-step as they are today). Growing up in Kenya, we got our news and information from the gazette. You see, there was only one TV station and it didn’t start broadcasting till 4:00 pm on weekdays and 12 Noon on Saturdays. Those were the ’70’s and ’80’s in Kenya. We didn’t have the internet as it is in the developed world. Today in Kenya, there are a couple of TV stations all broadcasting 24 hours a day and hundreds of internet cyber-cafes where wayfarers can make quick stops and get instant connection to the news from all over the world.

My naming of this blog, Better Life Online Gazette, is a symbolic attempt at swinging back into my past so that I can simultaneously use that insight to kick forward into the future. Think of a child on a swing. The more he leans all the way back, the easier it will be for him to swing higher. Through this BLOG I’m hoping to uncover a rich depth of information that could easily be forgotten in my past and develop it into concrete insight that can lift people to a higher plane of existence. This blog will be a magnet – a cynosural meeting point – where past practices will interact with future possibilities in order to unleash present potential.

The Better Life Online Gazette will be a tool of growth and development. A huge chunk of my understanding of the world as a young boy was derived from my daily reading of the Kenyan gazette. My paradigm of life now is that I need to give to the world in appreciation of what I have received from it. My daily musings in the BLOG will hopefully be a marvelous catalyst for growth and development in many other people’s lives.