Archive for the ‘Herman’s Thoughts’ Category

Creativity: How do you “C”?

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

Creativity comes when we can ‘C’ things differently. Notice that the difference between creative and reactive is in where you place the ‘c’. In being creative you ‘c’ first and then develop a game plan. In being reactive you ‘c’ in the midst of the situation. How do you ‘c’ (see)? Do you use foresight or hindsight? C first! 

To dive or not?

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

In exactly one week I will be presenting for my comprehensive exams. Over the past few years I have been in a graduate program that has, besides other things, kept me from developing this blog consistently. I feel almost like a sky-diver just about to jump out of a plane, not knowing what to expect once he leaves that which he can see, touch, feel and smell. He looks down at the sheer expanse of sky below him and knows that the flight will be exhilerating but he shudders at the idea that anything could happen that could potentially alter his entire life. What does he do? Should he jump out of the plane and experience the infinite limitless or should he stay in the plane and forever live in the finite limited? What should he do? You ask, “Is he scared?” You bet he is!! You quip, “But he’s conquered almost similar challenges before!” Yes, he has but no one ever stepped into the same river twice. Every new attempt at the impossible (even the possible that is seemingly impossible) is a whole new endeavor that calls for a rising of new human spirit. You wonder, “What is he going to do now?” The answer to that lies within the individual because every one of us is a sky diver whether we know it or not. What separates the true divers from those who never do it is GANAS. GANAS means desire. Live life as a meaningful specific so that you do not settle as a wandering generality.

On Crossing Bridges

Saturday, November 7th, 2009

Some wise sage once said, “We are told never to cross a bridge until we come to it, but this world is owned by men who have ‘crossed bridges’ in their imagination far ahead of the crowd.” I’m thinking of leaders like Martin Luther King Jnr, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. These men crossed bridges way ahead of the societies and times they lived in. Life demands of us to be prepared for our time when it comes. But the truth is that in order to be prepared we must be able to cross bridges before we get to them. Crossing bridges before we get to them means having a healthy imagination full of ideas on how we can solve the challenges of today and avoid the obstacles of tomorrow.

I’m at a point right now where I’m beginning to develop that capacity to block out time in my day where I can get into my creative space and do nothing but cross bridges in my imagination. Any thinker should be able to do this. That’s the key to leadership – being able to see farther than everyone else and then communicating the dynamics to those around you. I think that we can all develop that capacity to cross bridges before we come to them. Putting in that extra effort in the beginning will save us from lots of trouble and heart-ache in the latter part of our various missions in life. 

Make a Mark by Practicing Honesty

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

It’s been said that honesty is the best policy. When I was a kid my dad used to tell me that the most important thing in life is this: “say what you’ll do, and do what you say“. Society is rife with people who say one thing yet do another, particularly in the political world as evidenced by this campaign season. We see so many politicians making promises but few of them will keep those promises.

Honesty means backing up your words with solid action; it means telling the truth even when it’s not expedient for you. It means being a man or woman of your word – standing by your word! It means having solid character and integrity. It means being credible. It means not creating expectations you can’t fulfill. Honesty means making a mark that cannot be erased.

An April Fool’s Day Poem

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

Great wit have they who succeed at pranking others,
They not only plan it with hindsight, foresight and insight;
But also with great vision and a sense of mission.

They jealously guard the prank and keep it a secret,
Knowing that the prank’s end is to liven up a life,
And the means to the end is the joke on the subject.

In being playful and malicious, the average pranker is mean,
By being practical and meaningful, the good pranker is caring, 
For being purposeful and masterful, the great pranker is wise.

Therefore prank away ye April Fools Day zealots,
Let your antics inspire happiness to the mundane,
May this day provide lots of glee to those who fall for the pranks. 

A poem by Herman J. Najoli. May not be reprinted or used in any manner whatsoever without express permission from the poet.

Managing Conflict

Monday, March 24th, 2008

One of the most crucial competencies for management is conflict resolution. There are five approaches that can be utilized in the management of conflict:

1. Accomodating – This is where one group places emphasis on the needs of the other group while minimizing it’s own concerns. In essence, one group allows the other to win – a win-lose situation. While it may seem as if the group is giving in, it might be a beneficial approach when the other group has a huge stake in the matter at hand.

2. Dominating – This is when one group focuses completely on it’s own cares and concerns and closes the door to the other group. The dominating group “forces” it’s power and resolutions on the other group. This again is a win-lose situation.The group with the higher balance of power wins over the other group.

3. Avoiding – It’s unfortunate that this happens but there are times when one group may avoid another. This may not be the best strategy but it sometimes helps to cool the situation so that the time may be used to gather additional information.

4. Compromising – When two groups compromise, none of them emerges as a winner. There must be some giving up of value in order for compromising to be effective. Compromise can lead to more conflict later because teh groups might still harbour a feeling that their needs were never met.

5. Collaboration – When groups collaborate, both of them come out of the conflict situation as winners. Collaboration is solution-centered thinking. By working together to solve the conflict the two groups demonstrate immense respect for each other.

Mind Management

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

The key to success is the quality of one’s thinking. One of the main obstacles to success therefore is the state of one’s mind. In order to achieve the full potential of one’s capabilities the mind must be guarded and consistently refreshed with insight that allows it to flourish. We’ve all heard of the saying, “Garbage in, garbage out”. That’s true. We need to feed our minds with the good, the powerful and the great. I encourage you to commit to feeding your mind with good stuff on a daily basis. Find books that inspire and read them. Stock your car with motivational tapes that you can listen to while driving. Manage your mind. It is the key to your accomplishments.

Intentional Accidents: Serendipity and Synchronicity in Life

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

Dr. Mark J. Chironna has a little booklet titled, Tripping Over Your Treasures, that I have always enjoyed reading. 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 the 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. 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 2008 be full of synchronicity and serendipity for you!  

Your Tempo is Key to Your Success

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

A couple of years ago I used to listen to lots of different motivational audio-recordings. I haven’t done so for quite a while now but one of my favorite recordings was a tape that discussed the idea of momentum and it’s impact on our lives. I want to look at momentum today as the tempo that you live your life by. Your tempo in life determines your success and effectiveness. Tempo governs passion, passion generates motivation. If you want to increase your chances of success, increase the tempo of your life.

Flood Your Mind With Good Ideas

Friday, November 9th, 2007

The key to success in life is the quality of our ideas. The more ideas you have, the more chances you have of producing some quality ideas. Ideas come to us from various sources. There are a variety of things one can do to fill the mind with good ideas. Most people find their ideas through reading. Make reading a daily habit. Read books that will inspire you to think big and to think more. Ideas can also come from colleagues. Engage with people who are making a difference and you will learn a lot from them. Mentors can also help with spurring your thinking to a higher level. Flood your mind with good ideas and you will set yourself up for success.

Waiting Can be Rewarding

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

One of the main reasons why people fail to be, do and have all they could be, do and have is impatience. Many of us want to see the results of our efforts immediately and we fail to patiently wait for the results to develop. We end up throwing in the towel and getting started on something new, only to end up repeating the cycle again and again. Waiting can be challenging but it can also be rewarding.

If we will make a mark we must approach life with the mentality of farmers. Farmers sow the seed and then wait patiently for the seed to germinate and grow into a big plant. It is a law of life. We have to learn to patiently wait as our dreams develop. But waiting does not mean not acting. Farmers continually tend to their crop as they wait for the yield to come in. We need to be in a state of constant action as we wait patiently. Waiting can be rewarding.

Choose Associations Wisely: Bad Company Will Hinder You From Making A Mark

Sunday, November 4th, 2007

Two days ago I posted some insights on what my mom taught me regarding sustaining and increasing a good reputation with the people around you. Early this morning she called me to chat and I informed her that I had put together that article. She was excited to hear about it and challenged me to put together a post on something that my dad had taught me. So, here it is:

When I was a kid my dad taught me that one of the most important things in life was to choose one’s associations wisely. Dad repeatedly said that bad company corrupts good character. He invested a lot of time in teaching me how to choose my associations wisely. I have endeavored to apply many of the lessons dad taught me regarding associations and have also picked up many good ideas from study and from mentors. Today I’d like to look at fourteen unique associations we can have in life. The first seven fall into the category of ‘bad company’ while the bottom seven are excellent associations which will help you make a solid mark.


1. Miserable Associates – These are people who rob you of hope. They pollute the environment around you by covering it with misery. They thrive on the idea that misery loves company. If you are going to make a mark you must not give them the pleasure of your company.

2. Bitter Associates – These are drainers of motivation. They are always complaining and bitter about everything. They have a tendency to play victim when they run into difficult situations. They are negative about almost anything and will derail you by their negative attitude. 

3. Lazy Associates- These are enemies of the work ethic. They interfere with you every now and then and hinder you from focusing with what’s essential. Apathy is their motto and their number one craving is ‘taking things easy’. They dislike work and will beg you to be one of them.

4. Clinging Associates – These are zappers of energy. They sap vitality out of your life and practically stifle your passion. They are like pests draining you of the very essence of what makes you tick. They tick you off by denying you the pleasure of pursuing that which makes you come alive. 

5. Small-Minded Associates – These are destroyers of vision. They think small and have no goals beyond thinking small. Their low quality of thinking doesn’t enable them to produce anything that would be of significant value to you. They enjoy hanging around you but do not bring anything to the table. 

6. Discouraging Associates – These are raiders of the dream. They will always tell you that you can’t make it, urging you to give up and throw in the towel. They will drag you down by pouring water on your ideas and planting fear in your mind. They are pessimists who discourage all your initiatives.

7. Camouflaged Associates – These are the most sly of all. Problem is unless you are very sensitive you can’t identify them. Camouflaged associates are all those people who will seem to be supportive but in the long-run are not really adding value to you. You have to master the art of uncovering their concealed intentions.


1. Encouraging Associates – These are superb individuals, having the golden word that you need at the right moment. They have a sincere desire to see you succeed and will do anything they can to encourage you along the way. They are very optimistic and delight in being encouragers.

2. Resourceful Associates – These are people who will share with you ideas, tools and strategies that will enable you become more effective at what you are doing. Resourceful associates can be counted on to help you grow. They build your potential by equipping you with what you need.

3. Mentoring Associates – These are people who will help you to grow and develop into all you can be. They will share with you constructive feedback that will enable you to sharpen your skills and talents. They are like guides who will walk with you step-by-step all the way to your destiny.

4. Trustworthy Associates – These are people whom you can trust with the details of your life. Most often these are usually very close friends and relatives. They will stand with you as you pursue your plans and will help you face the challenges of life. They are usually very credible and honest individuals.

5. Trailblazing Associates – These are people who are leading in areas in which you are interested in developing yourself. Connect with them and learn from them. They will help you learn from their mistakes. Their example alone is usually enough to inspire you to stay focused.

6. Visionary Associates – These are dream-builders. They cause the vision within you to come alive. They usually bring lots of ideas to the table and will put in a lot of effort in making those ideas work. They are goal-oriented and driven. They bring a lot of life to challenging situations. 

7. Empowering Associates – These are the ultimate type. They equip you with what you need in order to do what you need to. They will do everything to ensure that you have all you need as you work towards your goals. They will share knowledge, ideas, resources, tools and anything else that will keep you focused.

Bad corrupts good character. Choose your associates wisely because they can determine what kind of mark you make.

Make a Mark by Giving the Benefit of Doubt

Thursday, November 1st, 2007

Human beings are prone to the habit of giving each other a hard time, particularly when we find out that someone has committed a mistake. We all make mistakes. Personally, I believe that it would be impossible to count all the mistakes that I have ever made in life. They are just too many! What I have come to realize, though, is that I would not be where I am to day had some people not given me the benefit of doubt along the way. What do I mean by this?

Giving the benefit of doubt simply means believing something good of someone rather than something bad when you have the possibility of believing either of the two.  I remember many times in my childhood when my parents would give me the benefit of doubt after my sisters or brothers accused me of one thing or another. There were many times when my teachers gave me the benefit of doubt when I came to school with incomplete work or got into skirmishes with other students. These simple acts of belief contributed a lot in enabling me to prove that there was a lot of good in me.

Having that foundation of people believing good things about me has helped me to continually believe the best in others. There are times when I have been cut-off by other drivers on the road and I’ve silently told myself, “He or she must be in a hurry to get to work” or “Maybe they have a sick person at the hospital they are rushing to see”. This kind of thinking keeps me from going negative about the situation or incident.

The truth is that we cannot change other people. Giving the benefit of doubt is therefore our surest way of staying in a positive frame of mind as regards other people’s behaviors or actions. Giving the benefit of doubt communicates to the other person that we may not know what they are going through but we are willing to understand the situation. This keeps us from being stressed by people’s behaviors. Make a mark today by giving the benefit of doubt. 

Wisdom: Making a Mark by Applying our Knowledge and Information

Sunday, October 21st, 2007

The past two decades have seen an explosion in the knowledge and information of the world. This has largely been due to the increased access to the Internet by people from all walks of life. Nowadays you can become knowledgeable about any subject by simply logging onto the Internet and accessing various websites. You can easily acquire information about almost anything you want on the Internet. I have easily found information on the internet on how to conduct various repairs around my house, how to maintain my truck and so much more. 

Our world, therefore, is full of information and knowledge. However, the truth is that very few people are making a mark based on this explosion of knowledge and information. It takes more than just knowledge and information to make a mark. Yes, knowledge is power, information is power but you must be able to apply the knowledge and make good use of the information in order to experience the full potential of both. The application of knowledge and the use of information is what I refer to as wisdom. It takes wisdom to make a mark.   

People who make a mark in society are wise. They apply their knowledge and wisdom in order to make a difference in society. This enables them to build a reservoir of experiences that propel them forward in realizing their full potential. You too can make a mark by applying your knowledge and information in an effective manner. Choose to live wisely and you will experience true power in life.  

Be A No-Limit Thinker

Saturday, October 20th, 2007

When I was growing up I remember being told by some of my teachers that the sky was the limit in terms of my potential and what I could do with my life. Being a young kid, this statement always got me excited. I took reveled in hearing these words because it made me feel like nothing could stop me. I believe that I put a lot more effort in my studies because of this statement. Looking back through my life, I’ve always pushed myself to go to the next level, knowing that I could be more than what I was at that particular time.

As I have grown older though, I’ve come to realize that the sky should not be the limit. Our potential is limitless. The analogy of the sky being the limit helped me for a certain season of my life but I’m finding that in order for me to accomplish the full measure of all I could be, do and have, I have to see my potential as unlimited. One may say that this is just semantics but I think there’s a lot more than just how words are said here. It’s all about thinking. By embracing a no-limits approach to thinking we can create new opportunities for ourselves that will enable us to make a significant mark with our lives.

Life does get tough and challenging at times but I’ve always believed that there are no limits, no lids and no boundaries to all we can be, do and have. Yes, there will always be obstacles to surmount in life but your mental approach will determine if you soar past them or not. The quality of your thinking sets the pace for your accomplishments and personal potential. Think ‘no-limits’ and you will achieve more than you ever thought possible. Be a no-limit thinker!

Make Your Driving Time A Learning Time

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

I came across some startling information yesterday night. According to the American Automobile Association, the average automobile driver drives 12,000 to 25,000 miles each year. This means that we spend between 500 to 1000 hours each year in our cars. That is a staggering 12 1/2 to 25 forty-hour weeks!

Wow! And what do must of us do when we are behind the wheel? Either we are mindlessly listening to music that is not helping us develop our minds or we are yelling and cursing at other drivers and the driving schools they went to. Think with me for a minute of how much learning you could amass behind the wheel of your car. On average we log in the equivalent of two full university semesters behind the wheels of our cars each year!

Choose to stock your car with audio books and learning CDs of material that will enable you to learn while driving. Some of us even have DVD players in our cars! Look for good training material that you can watch instead of listening to music that will not help you in the long run, or watching movies that you will quickly forget about. Driving time can be learning time.  It even helps your driving attitude. The only caution you may have to exercise is with watching a DVD while driving. I normally let my DVDs play in the background as I focus on my driving. Make your driving time a learning time.   

The Power of Belief

Monday, October 15th, 2007

The other day I had a chance to watch a fantastic presentation of The Alps in 3D at the Omnimax theatre of my local museum. It was absolutely majestic, depicting the timeless beauty of the mountains and the story of a climber who climbed the North Face of the Eiger after the same mountains had taken the life of his father 40 years earlier, and over 50 other men over the course of time.

One thing that was very consistent in the story from start to finish was that he had to believe in himself. The North Face of the Eiger is considered to be one of the most treacherous climbs in all of Europe, with a 6,000-foot vertical wall dangerously exposed with jagged limestone and the constant threat of falling boulders, avalanches and unpredictable weather patterns. He had to believe that he could conquer it and not become a victim of it. This took a lot of mental training and preparation.

One of the most basic determinants of whether one will make a mark or not is whether he or she believes in themselves. Believing in oneself is perhaps one of the qualities that is easily overlooked and taken for granted, even though it is essential to making a mark. You must absolutely believe in yourself if you are going to achieve the success that you desire. You have to believe in yourself if you are going to set the record that you want to. You have to believe in yourself if you are going to hit the targets that you are aiming for. Believing in oneself is the first step towards making a mark.

Choices: The Key to Making A Mark

Monday, October 8th, 2007

It is a common assumption that every human being wants to make a mark. But the truth is that there are very few human beings who are really making a difference with their lives. Some experts have said that less than 3% of human beings are living a goal-oriented life that is making a difference for their communities. Why is this so? I think it boils down to our choices. Our life choices really determine whether we live a life that makes a mark or we live a purposeless existence. The few who make a mark choose to live lives that will make a difference. Our choices set the course of our life.

Many of us complain that it’s tough to make a choice to do something that will make a difference. This is not true. Just as we have made choices to live the lives that we are currently living, we can make choices to live a different kind of life. Any day we wish, we can change our choices. Any day we wish, we can pursue a radically different way of life. Any day we wish, we can stop living for ourselves and start making a difference. Any day we wish, we can redefine who we are and alter the direction of our life. We can do it immediately, or next week, or next month, or next year.

Many of us choose to do nothing. We prefer to live in the quiet shelter of our personal problems rather than be a solution to someone else’s problem. That is why Henry David Thoreau said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Rather than make a choice to do something about our lives, we settle into accepting what life gives us. We pretend not to see the many opportunities that present themselves before us for making a mark. When the idea of making a choice that will get us out of our comfort zone is presented to us, we choose to stay where we are.

Few of us will choose to make a mark with our lives. We cannot continue to loath life as it is yet not deal with what makes it as it is. As Shakespeare uniquely observed, ‘The fault is not in the stars, but in ourselves.’ Our past choices created our current circumstances. We can make better choices today that will guarantee us a better tomorrow. Choose to make better choices that will make a mark. Choose to contribute to the good that is happening around you. Choose to make a difference today!


Sunday, October 7th, 2007

Early this morning my wife and I had a slight misunderstanding as we were going out. Her car was parked in the garage, which we normally get to through the basement. My truck was parked outside in the drive-way. My wife had expected me to be taking her car because she had seen me go to the basement earlier. However, I found that her seats were all covered with books and magazines. So, I came back upstairs, took our son and headed out through the kitchen door to the driveway, where my truck was parked.

My mistake was that I did not tell her that I was going to take the truck since I assumed that she knew the seats in her car were covered with books and magazines. Well, long story short, she was not very happy when she finally came outside because she had had to go down the stairs, out through our backyard and finally all the way round the house to the driveway. She expressed her displeasure and I knew that I had to apologize. I’d like to share the process that I used. Hopefully, this will be a tool that you can use too when you need to apologize to someone. My process is an acronym of the word APOLOGIZE.


Acknowledge the offense – The first step in apologizing is acknowledging that you did something wrong. Many of us fail to do this because of pride or shame. Acknowledging the offense simply means taking responsibility for your actions. It takes a lot of courage, maturity and humility to acknowledge that you were on the wrong.

Purpose to focus on your actions – It is so tempting during a misunderstanding to want to point out the other person’s role. You have to focus on your actions because you have or had no control over the other person’s actions. Do not be tempted to point out the other person’s errors, mistakes or flaws. 

Outline what you did wrong – Clearly explain what you did wrong. You have to be direct and honest. Outlining your actions is best done face-to-face. We live in a technologically savvy world and it is so easy to want to send a quick email or make a phone call. However making an apology is best done face-to-face.

Listen for feedback and criticism – Be open to feedback or criticism from the other person. This is not a time to defend yourself. I have always looked at feedback as feed-forward – information designed to make me a better person tomorrow. Listening for feedback proves that you are willing to make changes.

Offer your sincere apologies – Clearly state that you are sorry for the offense. Being sincere means that you have to avoid using the word ‘but’. Many people apologize like this: “I’m sorry, but ..” Saying ‘but’ really means that you are not sorry. Again, this also means that you are not focusing on your own actions.

Genuinely express remorse – This is really the first step in repairing the damage done. You have to ask for forgiveness. The benefit of this is that it demonstrates to the offended party that you want the relationship to go back to normal. Expressing remorse is essential for the relationship to begin afresh. 

Identify how you can make amends – This depends on the nature of the offense. Think about what caused the misunderstanding or offense and then figure out what you can do next time so that it does not happen again. You have to really uncover what the underlying problem is and make sure that you never repeat this mistake again.

Zero-in on a resolution – A true apology requires a resolution of the problem. Do something specific that remedies the situation and allows trust to be restored in the relationship. Look the offended person in the eye and assure them that you will do everything necessary to avoid this problem in future.

Endeavor to repair damages done– Finally, there are many things you can do to build-up and enhance the relationship. This might be as simple as a kiss, a note, flowers or a letter to the person you had offended. This communicates to the recipient that you have put everything behind you and the issue should be brought up again. 

Becoming the best you, you could ever be

Saturday, October 6th, 2007

It goes without question that the most important relationship in every human being’s life is the one a person has with himself (or herself). Whether we like it or not, we will live with our ‘selves’ until the day we die. We can choose whoever else we want in our lives but we cannot deselect our ‘selves’ from our own lives. It therefore makes sense that we must do our very best in how we nurture the relationship with ‘self’.

In all my interactions with society and other people, I always tell myself that at the end of the day I need to be able to look at myself in the mirror and say that I like me. Many times we spend too much time on other people that we fail to work on ourselves so that we can improve who we are. The ultimate measure of a man is not what he did to help change society; it is what he did to change himself so that he can be a better person.

You can become the best you, you could ever be. The key is to commit to a life of growth and self-development. You must embrace a lifestyle of continuous self-growth and personal development. Read books that are going to make you a better person, evaluate and examine your life daily so that you can make tomorrow a better day, associate with people who will challenge you to grow, expose yourself to material that will enhance your development. You can become the best you, you could ever be!