Archive for the ‘What’s Herman Reading’ Category

Elements of Prudence – Excerpts from Quest for Light

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

In Quest for Light, I have explored various ways in which we can gain knowledge that makes us more vibrant lin life. In this post I will outline some of the main thoughts in Chapter 1 of the book:

We live in a day in which we are are being faced with crucial decisions which need prudence – decisions on careers, education, partners etc. Every single individual has affairs to manage which require prudence e.g. families, businesses, personal lives, etc. Prudence is the ability to discern the most suitable or profitable course of action, it is the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason; it is sagacity or shrewdness in the management of affairs. There are six key elements that bring about prudence. Let us look at each of these:

(a) KNOWLEDGE

Knowledge is a person’s range of information. It is the enlightenment that one possesses. It is the opposite of ignorance (lack of knowledge). Someone once said, “What you don’t know may be killing you”. Knowledge is power. It is the key to effectiveness. Knowledge is the sum of what one knows. Your exploits in life are dependent on what you know. Knowledge is intelligence -practical understanding.

(b) UNDERSTANDING

To understand is to perceive the significance or explanation or cause or nature of. Understanding is a product of knowledge. You cannot understand what you do not know. It is the power of apprehension (grasping mentally; to seize something). It is the interpretation of what you know. The prudent man understands his ways. He knows the significance of the decisions he makes. He can explain the impulses determining his character and action.

(c) CAUTION

Caution is prudence. It is the avoidance of acting without consideration. It is looking before you leap. A prudent man seeks proof before believing what he is told. He makes a keen inquiry before proceeding with any course of action. Caution is terribly lacking in society. We must be cautious in making every decision. Haste makes waste. If you rush, you will crash. All that glitters is not gold. Take time to inspect it. Appearances are deceptive. Think first, then speak afterwards. Nothing is more often opened by mistake than the mouth.

(d) TEACHABILITY

A prudent man is apt to learn. He can be taught. Sadly, this is a quality that lacks in many individuals. Everyone feels that they have the right to do what they are doing- that theirs is the correct opinion. None is willing to admit that he or she is on the wrong and thus receive correction. Everyone feels that they have the right to do what is right in their own eyes, in the name of freedom.

(e) WISDOM 

Wisdom is a product of experience, knowledge and understanding. It is the possession of experience and knowledge together with the power of applying them critically and practically. Wisdom has the element of common sense in it. To be wise is to be sagacious (gifted with discernment). It is to be acute minded, shrewd and exceptionally intelligent. Wisdom is dependent on the individual. It was Michele de Montaigne who said that “We can be knowledgeable with other men’s knowledge, but we cannot be wise with other men’s wisdom”.

(f) FORESIGHT/DISCERNMENT

Foresight is the ability to foresee into the future. It speaks of discernment. To discern is to perceive clearly with the mind or senses. It is the ability to make out something by thought, gazing, listening etc. To be discerning is to have quick or true insight. Foresight is a child of insight. Insight is the ability to penetrate into the future with the understanding. The essence of prudence is foresight. Foresight enables you to make quality decisions that will not lead to undesired consequences. It gives you circumspection – the wisdom to take everything into account.

Let us embrace a more prudent lifestyle. Applying these six elements of prudence is the key to attaining a life that demonstrates prudence.

The Heart Aroused

Friday, May 4th, 2007

I’m currently reading a very illuminating book titled “The Heart Aroused” by David Whyte. In this book, David goes to great poetic lengths to outline how corporate America needs to regain and preserve it’s soul. It is a book that I would recommend even for those who may not be working in corporate America (like me) but want to live a life that is grounded in enlightenment. Over the next two days I will be posting some of my thought here as I read the book.

Pathways to the Real World

Friday, March 16th, 2007

Over the past two days I have read two books that surprisingly had exactly the same message. When I checked them out of the library I never quite knew that they would both say the same thing. One is Life’s a Journey – Not a Sprint by Jennifer Lewis-Hall and the other is Ten Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Went Out into the Real World by Maria Shriver. Both of these ladies were journalists and TV personalities. Both of them attained substantial  recognition as they graced the national airways on major television channels. Both authors offer tremendous insight into life, career, family and the balance between juggling all the roles that life requires of us. Their message is a simply one: we are all powerful human beings and can create for ourselves a life of true significance. True fulfillment is not found in doing but in being. I would greatly recommend both books.  

Humility and Credibility

Sunday, February 4th, 2007

I am currently reading a book that was written over 25 years ago: In Search of Excellence, by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman Jr. Tom and Robert share some findings from a psychological study that really made me think. In the study, a random sample of male adults were asked to rank themselves on “the ability to get along with others”. All the subjects put themselves in the top half of the population. Sixty per cent rated themselves in the top 10 percent of the population, and a full 25 percent ever so humbly thought they were in the top 1 percent of the population.

In a parallel finding, 70 percent rated themselves in the top quartile in leadership; only 2 percent felt they were below average as leaders. At least 60 percent said they were in the top quartile of athletic ability; only 6 percent said they were below average.

The truth is that we all think we are tops. Thinking of ourselves as winners is awesome. It shapes our perspective. However, it is also important to have an honest view of ourselves. That is the key to credibility. Being humble should not mean that we see ourselves as less of who we really are. Be humble and people will see you as very credible.

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!  

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.