Archive for April, 2007

How to define yourself

Sunday, April 29th, 2007

The quality of our lives is directly proportional to how we define ourselves. Most people tend to define themselves based on their past. It is impossible to attain our full potential if we define ourselves based on past experiences in our lives. Past experiences should never ever be a reference for who we currently are. Past experiences depict what happened in our lives, not who we are.

A proper definition of self should be based on one’s personal potential. Your vision of who you can become and what you can do with your life is the foundation of living the better life every day. What is it that you were born to do? Who do you see yourself becoming? That is the definition of who you are. You must define yourself in a positive way, talking about the good that you were designed to accomplish.

Big Things Evolve From Small Things

Saturday, April 28th, 2007

We all want to have an impact in our lives. Human beings are created with a desire for productivity that leads to big achievements and acquisitions. One thing that we always forget is that the big things always come from little things. If we want to attain that big pay check, it will take doing many small things right. The other day I had an online conversation with a friend from Australia and she reminded me that “Inch by inch, it’s a cinch”. There is a Swahili saying that goes, “Kidogo kidogo hujaza kibaba”. The basic meaning of the saying is that little by little, we are able to attain the big thing that we seek. Allow little things to lead you towards big things today. Apply yourself and you will surely attain that which you seek.

Results through Inspired Action

Friday, April 27th, 2007

For those of you who are regular readers of this blog, you already know that I’ve been an advocate of massive action. Action sets apart the talkers from the doers. I’d like to take it to a new level by introducing the idea of inspired action. Inspired action is inspired by action that is birthed with a definite purpose. Inspired action compels us to work with passion and diligence. It produces a focus and consistency that allows us to move in a clear-cut direction with vision and motivation. The results of such kind of action are indisputable because they come from a deeper part of ourselves. May all your actions today be inspired by purpose.

What you do daily

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

I have come to learn that what you do daily determines who you become permanently. That is why I blog daily since December 1, 2006. By bringing myself to a point of daily focus of my thoughts on concepts that are allowing me to grow and share my life, I am creating room for even more good to come into my life so that I can share it with others. It’s been said that whatever you focus on expands. By focusing my thoughts every day through the blogging process, I am able to expand my understanding of the very same concepts. What a beauty!

The IDEA Matrix

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

Yesterday I started writing about the IDEA matrix. We are looking at how concepts can be turned into reality. Here is an IDEA matrix that can be used to do this. The processes outlined below interact at so many levels and the lines are not clear-cut between them. It is possible to go from the I stage to the E stage, then back to the D stage then the A stage and vice-versa. That’s the beauty of nurturing ideas. Here we go:

Invest, invent and innovate

No idea can become reality unless you invest time and resources to it. Ideas grow in fertile ground. For your idea to expand you need to create an environment in which it can flourish and blossom. This could be an environment where you brainstorm with others on the idea or where you can study on the idea. Investing time and resources to the idea is key to being able to invent the idea. To invent is simply to create or produce something. Invention leads to innovation – the introduction of changes or new things in society. The idea has to become a dominant force in your life through the investing of time and resources towards it.

Discover, document and define

Once the idea has been invented, it provides you with the opportunity to discover and really define what the idea’s purpose is. When concept becomes reality, we begin to discover the full potential of our dreams. This should be carefully documented because it is the key to innovation. As long as the idea remains concept, we cannot be able to discover it’s full potential nor to clearly define it. When Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, he couldn’t define it as we know it today at first. He knew that he had a device for transmitting speech. In his application filed on February 18, 2006, he mentioned “major improvements in telegraphy”. It wasn’t until much later that his invention was defined clearly. Through the many processes of this idea matrix, his concept has continued to be improved in so many ways. 

Experiment, experience and evaluate

Ideas need to be experimented on a lot of times at the early stages. Ideas need to be implemented so that we can build on them. If ideas forever remain concepts, we cannot be able to fully experience them. We need to have tangible evidence of the ideas so that we can evaluate them and improve on them. It is the process of constant and continuous evaluation and reevaluation that results in winning ideas. It is through the process of experimentation and evaluation that we really learn about our ideas. When we become students of our ideas, we set in process a mechanism that allows us to actualize the ideas.

Actualize, advance and advertize

Once the ideas have been experimented on and evaluated, they allow us to go to the next level of actualizing them. By this time we have tangible goods and services that can be advanced to others. The key to the idea reaching it’s full potential is in your ability to advertize it. Advertizing is simply bringing your idea to the masses so that others can experience it’s power and purpose. Your idea could be the solution to so much hurt and difficulty that others have experienced. So, work on those ideas. Use the idea matrix to bring them to the forefront of your world. 

Becoming an incubator of productivity

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

A couple of days ago I wrote about ideas, creativity and innovation. I used an illustration of eggs in which I said that ideas are as delicate as eggs. Well, just like eggs need to be hatched into chicks, ideas need to be brought to life. They need to be made tangible. I briefly mentioned the brooding process that a mother hen goes through in order to transform the eggs into living, breathing chicks. Ideas need to be transformed from concept to reality through a brooding and development process. Tomorrow I will be sharing an IDEA matrix for transforming concepts into reality.

First Class Leadership

Monday, April 23rd, 2007

I am starting a new blog which will focus on leadership. It will be hosted on blogger at www.firstclassleadership.blogspot.com. This however, will continue to be my main blog. Any ideas on leadership will be greatly appreciated.

On Doing Homework

Sunday, April 22nd, 2007

Every day life offers us myriads of opportunities to make a difference and have an impact on other people’s lives. These opportunities come largely through the interactions we have with those people. Our success in these situations depends largely on how we are prepared to engage and interact during those moments. The key to this is doing our homework.

When I was a kid my parent’s favorite words were, “Herman, have you done your homework?”. Even when I had completed my work from school, I knew that the day wouldn’t end without me hearing those words from them. I may not have liked the words that much then but I’m extremely grateful because those words served to shape a lot of good in me.

I think our success in life hinges pretty much on those words. So, have you done your homework? Before you go to meet that prospect, have you done your homework? Before you go for the interview, have you done your homework? Before you buy that new appliance or gadget, have you done your homework? Homework is cool. A healthy dose of daily homework results in a life of purpose and direction. Do your homework.

Motivation for Winning

Saturday, April 21st, 2007

The NBA playoffs started this week. This is the only time I really kick off my shoes and watch TV. There’s a lot that can be learnt from just watching these players go for it in a playoff game. I don’t really watch much of the regular season games – and I tend to miss some games during the playoffs but I never miss the finals. One thing I’ve observed is that these players do change their approach to the game during the playoffs. They give their very best on the court for one reason – there’s a championship on the other end and their season is on the line. They know that if they are knocked out it’s an early bye to basketball till next season. Our motivation for winning in life comes from the knowledge that we only get one shot. Life is too short for us to play games. We need to make every day the best of our lives by putting forth our best effort. That’s the key to winning in life.

Collective Intelligence and Connectivity

Friday, April 20th, 2007

It’s been said a lot of times that teamwork makes the dream work. One thing that we fail to put an emphasis on in any team-building events or talk is the power of collective intelligence and the impact of the connections that arise out of the teaming-up process. When a person works alone, she is limited to her personal ideas. But when she brings other people around her, she is rewarded with the collective intelligence that comes from the group. In addition to this, relationships are built that become extremely valuable in time. The power of working with others is that you learn from their knowledge and share ideas with them. That kind of symbiotic relationship makes all the difference in terms of impact. Learning to connect with others may be the greatest reward one could give herself. 

The Sweetness of Risk

Thursday, April 19th, 2007

Great achievements have always required some form of risk-taking. Most people don’t achieve those great things because they are risk-averse. In order to experience the fulness of all that life has for us we must possess a healthy attitude toward risk. People fear risk-taking because of a fear of failure (or loss). But risk is sweet. Carefully calculated risk can mean all the difference when you are trying to achieve/accomplish something. Embrace the sweetness of risk today and you may just surprise yourself!

Train your butterflies to fly in formation

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

Public speaking is tough. Almost everyone experiences anxiety when asked to speak in public. Public speaking is even more challenging for speakers who have to do it in foreign languages. As a Kenyan developing a speaking profession in the US, I know full well the challenges that immigrants face in speaking in a second or even third language. I grew up speaking Luhya and Swahili and only started working on my English at age 14. My passion for speaking in public started when I was a student at the University of Nairobi in Kenya. I had spoken to many students in my country before I came to the US. My speaking was chiefly in my second language, Swahili. After coming to the US, I have had to work hard at speaking in my third language, English. One of the things that I have experienced as a speaker in both cultures is the anxiety that comes with the task of speaking. All communicators face anxiety, even the most seasoned communicators. This phenomenon has been referred to as “having butterflies in the stomach”.

I have come to love these “butterflies in the stomach”. I never know when they will start flying but I’m always thrilled about them. They are scary yet they symbolize opportunity – the opportunity to go beyond my personal limitations and do something worth remembering. This becomes particularly important when speaking in public. I want to be so used up after each speech so that they will literally carry me off the stage. I think a speaker is a performer. Like an athlete, he or she needs to be spent at the end of the performance. But that’s a completely different topic. Let me give you five strategies for training your butterflies to fly in formation.

1. Select exciting topics

This is very basic and fundamental to speaking. Your topic has to appeal to the audience’s interests and senses. A good speaker can make any topic exciting but a boring topic cannot make a good speaker exciting. Careful choice of speaking topic is therefore essential to moving your audience.

2. Build your knowledge

Once you have chosen your topic, you need to study widely and deeply. A knowledgeable speaker who has done his or her research well is usually more interesting than one who hasn’t. Building your knowledge also includes learning about your audience. What are their interests? Where are they in life? What are they trying to accomplish?

3. Develop some visual aids

Visual aids help in enabling you to come across as a professional and utilizing all the senses of your audience. You can use items like charts, graphs. powerpoint presentations, overhead projectors, models and many other different objects. The use of visual aids also encourages you to gesture and gesturing enables you to maintain composure.

4. Master your message

You master your message by practicing it. Practice makes permanent. The more you practice, the more permanent the skill of speaking will become to you. As you master your message you become comfortable with speaking. Your expectations arise and your butterflies begin to fly at your command.

5. Love your audience

Expect your audience to like you. Go in with a belief that they will be attentive and will respond positively to you. Smile. Be confident. Visualize yourself being successful. Be at ease with talking to your audience. Audiences are not your enemies, they are friends. Enjoy getting to know your audience as you speak to them.

Generate Enthusiasm

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007

Ralph Waldo Emerson, that great essayist and poet whose been quoted so many times, once said, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm”. Enthusiasm is the bedrock of passion and the key to maximizing one’s personal potential. Henry David Thoreau said that the mass of men live lives of quiet desperation. In other words, they do not have a passion for anything. They have nothing to stand for, so they fall for anything that comes their way. How then, can we break through and find something worth standing for?

The key is in having a desire to make a difference. Making a difference could mean changing the way things are or simply contributing to a social condition or situation. Desire is the ignition key, so to speak, of passion. You cannot pursue something unless you really have a desire for it. We generate enthusiasm by having positive desires that will contribute towards a better life and society. Let’s work on generating greater enthusiasm.

Timeless Fundamentals of Unquestionable Significance

Monday, April 16th, 2007

Is there any such thing as unquestionable significance? What’s the true definition of significance? How can it be attained? We live in a society in which success has largely been defined by the money that a person makes, the kind of car he drives, the house she lives in, the places she goes to for vaction, the kind of clothes she wears and so many other materialistic values. How does significance in life differ from that?

The epitome of true success in life is being able to live a life of significance. Significance is found in contributing towards causes that make the world a better place for fellow human beings. Zig Ziglar is famous for saying that “You can achieve anything you want in this world if you will help enough other people get what they want”. Life really begins when we live outside ourselves and share our lives with others.

Here are what I call the “Timeless Fundamentals of Unqestionable Significance.” These are simple fundamentals that will empower you on yoru quest for significane:

1. Be a people-builder, not an ego-builder

The majority of human beings are focused on building their egos. To attain a significant life you must be a people-builder. people builders don’t do things because of what they get out of it. They contribute to enriching other people’s lives because they love people.

2. Embrace a bigger vision than self-pursuits

A person’s significance can be measured by the size of his or her vision. Does your vision include other people? If so, in what way? Is it about empowering and equipping others? Self-pursuits may gain us a few toys in life but they never bring true significane in life.

3. Seek opportunities to contribute

Life is shaped in our moments of contribution. People can be divided into two groups: those who contribute and those who consume. Contributors find increased value in life by pursuing a lifestyle of adding value to others. They are difference makers.   

4. Enlarge your concept of family

Most of us have a healthy understanding of our families and our place in those families. Significance demands that we think beyond our nuclear families to our place in the human family. By thinking in such manner, we are able to develop connections that enable us to significantly help others. 

5. Discover the power of giving

Giving comes in many forms. One can give of their time through volunteering, one can give money by making donations to difference making organizations and one can also give of their property to ensure that others live a better life. Through giving, we are able to change other people’s lives, and in so doing, we change ourselves! 

 

Joy through Collaboration

Sunday, April 15th, 2007

Some time last week I was invited to participate in a weekly taping of a program geared towards highlighting the international presence in my city. While I have really enjoyed being able to inspire people to think globally on a one on one basis, this is huge because I can now do that at a different level altogether. What I will be doing is purely voluntary, and that’s why I’m filled with tremendous joy. Collaboration brings multiplied results. Nothing is more rewarding than teaming up with others for a common cause that benefits society.

Learning to thrive amidst chaos

Saturday, April 14th, 2007

A few weeks ago I wrote a post on Murphy’s Law and how to handle it. I got a couple of comments from a friend later on saying that the strategies I had outlined had been very insightful for him. He detailed how he had been invited to a speaker’s meeting which he did not want to miss. He stated that he did everything to ensure that Murphy’s law would not derail him and had tremendous success. The good thing about having a strategy against Murphy is that a good strategy enables us to thrive even when everything falls apart. In other words, we maintain our productivity despite the chaos that Murphy tends to bring into our lives. Learning to thrive in times of chaos is therefore, in essence, having order and a sense of organization in life.     

How to Nurture Your Ideas

Friday, April 13th, 2007

I’ve been thinking “ideas” over the past two days. I once read a quote that I’ve enjoyed requoting over the years. I don’t know who gave us the quote (might have been some wise wag like Socrates, or something) but here it is: “A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a quip and worried to death by a frown on the right man’s brow.”

Ideas are seeds of potential and promise. Careful nurturing of ideas leads to breakthroughs and success. Poor nurturing results in a failure of not knowing what might have been. I grew up on a farm in the Western region of Kenya. We had lots of chicken and one of my favorite tasks was collecting eggs after they had been laid. Eggs for me have always symbolized ideas – you drop them and they are gone. It’s very hard to salvage a dropped egg. I’ve seen some people scoop it up and still use it but by that time it’s already a mess that not worth saving.

Well after the eggs had been laid, I would go around and collect them into a nice padded bucket. Some of the eggs would go to the market right away and others would be carefully selected and put aside so that the hen can brood on them at the opportune moment. There are some eggs that are usually ready to go to the market soon after they are generated. These eggs don’t last long in the market. After a short while they get cooked and eaten. But there are those eggs which are brooded on by the mother hen. These eggs usually hatch into beautiful chicks which become the hope of the future of poultry population.

Now, think about your ideas. Are you sending them to the market too early or brooding on them? Do you want to add value or to multiply value? Which one is more preferable to you: making profits or reaching pure potential? Learn to nurture your ideas and your “brooded on” idea will become the seed of pure potential. 

Seeds of Pure Potential

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

This week I’m thinking “ideas”. I’m in the process of shaping some of the ideas that I’ve generated over the past couple of months. Ideas are sources of vision in life. Ideas need to be nurtured and protected because there is no telling how much can be accomplished by one idea. We all have these seeds of pure potential within us. Someone once told me that we all get about four significant ideas per year which, if acted upon, can positively transform our lives. What ideas are you currently carrying within you? Those ideas are seeds and symbols of pure potential that must be pursued. I’ll post more about this tomorrow.

Migrating from Outdated to Innovative

Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

The other day I went to visit a speaking club in the heart of my city. It’s a nice part of town and I knew I was in for a great time since this is a marvelous organization. As I walked towards the building from my car, I whistled happily in anticipation of an excellent meeting. However, as I walked towards the stairway, I was taken aback to find that this nice building had a very old model of elevator. It seemed to me that this was part of a design but the fact that the new building was coupled with an old kind of elevator was startling.

It is from this experience that I’m writing about migrating from the old to the new. Since time immemorial, mankind’s progress has always been on the basis of putting behind that which is outdated in favor of new methods of doing things. There are times when the old and the new will interact. That’s understandable. But there must be a deliberate effort to embrace the new and move forward. Let me encourage you to embrace the new today. Unless you are in the antiques business it makes little sense to stick with the old.

Speaking to Change Lives

Tuesday, April 10th, 2007

Speaking is a rewarding experience. Nothing is more satisfying for a speaker than giving a talk and then being told afterwards by a listener that his or her words had changed their life. The highest purpose of a speaker is to have such an impact in a listener’s mind. While speaking to entertain and speaking to inform are worthwhile careers for some, speaking to change lives is the ultimate mark of a difference maker. Whether it’s out in the community or inside an organization, difference makers change lives by empowering people through their speech.

Yesterday I was rewarded by an email from a friend who thanked me for speaking to her a few years ago. She went on to detail how her life had been changed and some of the commitments she had made that had transformed many aspects of her life. This was such a beautiful email that I printed it out and stored it carefully in my collection of mementos. It is a rewarding experience to know that even though we may not consciously know the difference we are making when we speak to people, the universe is allowing changes to take place that are making this a better world. What a joy! Speak to change lives today!