BEING THE BEST YOU CAN BE

Last week I happened to visit an old friend of mine in one of the Kampala City suburbs. He lives in an old house built in the late sixties . I was terribly fascinated by both the house and the compound. It is a four bed-roomed house surrounded by a large garden of local shrubs, flowers, palm trees , coconut trees and extremely tall indigenous trees, over forty years old and making me look like a dwarf.
Inside the house, I felt as if I had stepped into one of the old Safari Clubs in Kenya.
Most outstanding was the classic tray ceiling design in the sitting room and the kitchen. The white lights hanging from the centre gave them character and style.It gave me the feeling of wanting to reach out and touch it.
The solid, dark wood floor was of herringbone parquet design. It looked beautiful and was worth every penny.
The solid oak doors with their polished brass handles gave the house a more antique and traditional look. The soft curtains hanging from wooden curtain boxes above the large windows, gave it an airy feel. The cool blue walls created a relaxing atmosphere. In the kitchen , everything had a place on the white-washed shelves and the sleek wooden cupboards. The attention to the smallest details in the ceiling, floor and wardrobes made the biggest difference. The large windows in the master bedroom gave it a spacious and airy feel.
All in all , it was a simple home with a more antique and traditional finish. For the five decades it had been in use, the owner had taken such great care to maintain it that it looked as good as new.
My friend who has always loved beautiful things had also made a good job in furnishing and decorating the house. The leather chairs, the Persian carpets and rugs , wall mirrors blended in with the shinning ceiling and floor.

 

I could see the owner’s personality in what she created with the help of a remarkable architect. I understand the owner is now approaching eighty but from what I could see , I could safely say that she is a meticulous person who loves beautiful things, who does not hold anything back to create a thing of timeless beauty. Together with the architect, they had allowed their imagination run wild to create this house which looked as good as new and was giving the tenant and even me a mere visitor incredible joy to be in it!
Suddenly , I remembered some four years ago, listening to a radio interview of the Chief Executive Officer of the giant Korean Electronics company: Samsung. By then Samsung was at its peak; producing top quality digital appliances. When the CEO was asked how his company kept producing such quality and beautiful products, his reply was deceptively simple and yet complicated. He said that he was deeply involved in the designing of most of the products and whenever his team and him were designing any item, he imagined his beloved wife and children using it. He wants his wife and children to have the best so he focuses on creating the best out of the love he feels for them. Wow! What an authentic principle.
He creates with a message within and this increases the joy of the person using the item.
When asked about how he recruited his team he said that he is led by the principle that great teams/people make and drive great organisations. No wonder Samsung a company that was started in 1938 remains one of the leading electronics companies in the world. It only follows Apple in selling the biggest number of Smart phones in the world.
This CEO reminds all of us that whatever we choose to do; we should do it for love, in love, with love and out of love. When you are feeling good, you focus on your creative power and you end up creating masterpieces. They say that a thing of beauty is a joy forever.
This does not stop at designing items or structures but it should be stretched to cover anything we do at work or at home. If we all did things or performed our work whole heartedly then each one of us would be leaving the duty station better than he/she found it and thus creating a better world. Whenever you do the best you can , it lines you up to do even much better second time round. The best is always ahead not behind.
In the sporting world this is why they say that even if you lost to the other team ,as long as you know deep in your heart of hearts that you gave it your best, you live comfortably with the defeat and it fires you to do much better next time.
Arnold Palmer (1929-2016) one of the best American professional golfers, advised all us to be confident about what we do. He said, “ It is easier to do your best at what you truly enjoy. If you want to do well, enjoy your work.’’
Another professional golfer from South Africa, Gary Player said, “ The harder you work, the luckier you get.’’
Standing in that house of timeless beauty , I could see the smiling faces of the architect and the owner as he handed over that house. He must have stepped back, examined his handiwork and sighed, “ Wow! This is it.’’
Let each one of us strive to do the best we can wherever we are with what we have: creating , writing, singing,dancing, teaching, nurturing, from the heart.
You have one life so offer it your best. At the end of of it , you will be incredibly happy that you gave it your whole. In the same way, you would have made many other people happy by what you created or did.

 

GRADUATION MONTH-3rd week

Students continue to graduate from the eleven or so universities in my country during this month of March.  I graduated forty years ago and by then, there was one university: Makerere University.Currently there are six public universities.

Forty years today, I took the Hippocratic Oath to serve and save lives, to protect and promote the health of the people. Since then I have travelled far saving and serving half the years in my motherland and the other half serving in my second home, Botswana. Apart from family and friends, no one else could be as happy and proud as my teachers and mentors. They always strived to turn us into the best and never missed an opportunity to remind us that they were training us to serve confidently anywhere in the world. Recently I visited two of these selfless men full of wisdom and foresight and found them still going strong like the legendary Johnnie Walker. They may not be among the richest men around but they are among the most fulfilled and content. They responded to the call of service to others completely and wholeheartedly. I am the richer for having learned the practice of medicine at their feet.

Had I listened to my teacher of English and Literature at that prestigious girls’ school, I would be elsewhere by now. She badly wanted me to be in her Advanced Level class. What saved me was that from the age of eight years I had wanted to take care of people and make a difference in their lives and in the community I would live in. Once I make up my mind, I do what is in my power to complete it successfully. By that time, I did not have any role models to look up to and yet I yearned to become a doctor. I responded to this call with excitement, joy and energy. On the first day in the medical school, I found myself with six other peers, staring at a cadaver on a table. We were to spend the whole year dissecting it. The initial shock wore off and by the end of the week we were too immersed in the dissection to be bothered by the formalin fumes irritating our eyes. When the lecturers spelt it out clearly  to us that every little thing we did mattered in our future career and that every small step we took be it a simple weekly test was progress, I just rolled up my sleeves and delivered. The final year was a period of anarchy and uncertainty in our country but still we persevered to graduate on the 18th March! One morning after graduation when I came across a group of women forming a ring around one of their own – like female elephants, desperately calling out for help by a heath worker, I just put my bag down and delivered the baby by the road side. Thankfully, HIV/AIDS was not yet part of our world.

The challenges continue up to today and demand that I become more innovative and creative than before. I know for sure that if I continue to work with passion, I cannot lose myself.

I have grown and matured and learned that I cannot do everything or be everything to all people so I have to choose where to help other than burn out. I can give my share of caring to the community by becoming a member of a team.

I could not have reached this far without God’s guidance and the love and support of family, friends and colleagues. We are given to each other to be there for each other. What I do has ripple effects in their lives and vice versa.

Practicing Medicine all these years has rewarded me in many ways apart from seeing someone who was brought in the hospital in a wheelchair, walk out unsupported days later.

It gifted me with confidence from the student days. I developed the confidence to know who really I am, knowing my strengths, weaknesses and limitations. They say: Confidence is real power. It demanded me to be disciplined and organized, to be compassionate and generous. I have been a voracious reader since childhood but the practice fans this fire and allows me to remain up to date and relevant in a rapidly changing world of the digital era.

As for the challenges especially when practicing in poor country like ours, there are truck loads of them. They demand for patience, understanding as well as innovation and creativity. Lives have to be saved with the little resources available to you.
Looking back, I cannot imagine myself doing anything else. I am so grateful that I followed my bliss- still doing something I chose myself donkey years ago. Whenever the going got tough, the yearning in my heart would sail me through. On fulfilling this yearning in my heart, I have become my true self-whole and connected. This has enabled me to engage in my work fully and the world around me. The job has become satisfying and rewarding and I am using it as a platform to reach out to the disadvantaged in my community. I become more content with my life daily as I do my work and live my life for others as well. I am taking my responsibility of leaving the world a better place than I found it seriously.

Now that I have been there and done that, I can advise the newly graduated to be strong and determined to choose the career they want for themselves and then do it wholeheartedly. No joy can compare with living life while doing what you love and enjoy. It ceases to be work and becomes fun.

Live a life that inspires the young ones to want what you have, for themselves

Max Lucado reminds you of your uniqueness: You are the only you God made. God made you and broke the mold.

Shannon . L . Alder says :One of the greatest regrets in life is being what others would want you to be, rather than being you.

Step into the real world with our blessings. Listen and learn and communicate gently and effectively.

GRADUATION MONTH-2nd Week

All work and no play make Jack a dull boy so says an old adage. I can also add that all play and no work make Jack as poor as a church mouse. It goes without saying that somewhere between these two is what each one of us needs to live a successful life.

At the end one’s life, one wants to congratulate herself/himself for having achieved one’s dreams, goals and vision. Success may mean something different to every person but essentially means doing your best by applying your heart, mind and soul into what you are doing. Success is arguably said to be 99% attitude and 10% aptitude.

The newly graduated, consider yourselves standing with the right foot on second rung and left foot on the first rung of a strong, stable step ladder leaning against a solid wall. The rungs can be adjusted by you to the height you need to reach. You start to build a life and a career for yourself by first identifying where you are now and then determine where you want to go and how to get there. So take time to know and understand this place with absolute clarity.

Difficult as it is, I would still encourage you all from the onset to work towards creating a balance between work and life. Balance depends on the individual and one size does not fit all:what I may call balance may be overwhelming to you. The work-life balance can only be reached if one is flexible to adjust work hours to life’s needs including family and recreation. First you have to define your priorities in life at that moment in time and then arrange your work to accommodate these important life’s demands.You will feel energized at work, feel in control of your life and have more time and freedom to do what is most important to you.

Without creating the balance appropriate for you, you will feel overwhelmed other than energized while at work . Monday will become your worst day of the week while each Friday afternoon you will be among those most grateful and crying out, “ Thank God it’s Friday.’’

Once you have defined what is most important in your life at that moment in time, you strive to focus on them. In today’s world where many demands are made on each one of us, being focused on the most important to you, stops what is considered ‘urgent’ from drowning out what is most important. After all, what you focus on grows. Distractions and interruptions steal your time and energy. The balance you create should work for you: leaving you with time to spend with those you love, to keep healthy and energized, doing things you love.

One has always to remember that some vital things like lost time, lost opportunities and lost integrity are not recoverable and should be treated with the respect they deserve.

Some years back, Bryan Dyson by then the CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises, talked about this Work and Life Balance. As he climbed to the top of the enterprise, he had observed with clarity that at any one time in life, each one of us is juggling five balls in the air. These include work, family, health, friends and spirit. He was of the view that of these five balls only work is the rubber ball. If dropped, it will bounce back unlike the other four glass balls. If any one of the four glass balls is dropped it could be shattered or badly damaged. Family bonds once damaged are incredibly difficult to rebuild.This was Bryan Dyson’s way of emphasizing what is most important in life to each one of us.

Life is essentially about relationships: between you and God, between you and your family and friends and other people.It is family which gives us the roots of stability and security and the wings to fly whenever we want to go.Good relationships protect and sustain us throughout our lives.One common regret at the end of one’s life is :‘I wish I had spent more time with my family.’

Your health is often referred to as your wealth since you have to be healthy to engage in life fully.  You should be managing both your health and time as soon as you join the work force. You cannot afford to sacrifice your health- mind, body and spirit to achieve your goals. It always catches up with you and you will regret it for the rest of your life.

As you start on your journey to where you want to go in life, I would advise you never to lose sight of what is most important to you, not to define yourself by what you do- losing the job may be crushing to you. Develop other identities in your personal life-like mother or father, church volunteer, Rotarian, they cushion you against other loses.

As you begin to trust yourself and others, you will learn from them and develop the discipline to transform yourself into whom you want to be.  Life’s experiences are the toughest school you will ever have to go through. You learn lesson by lesson and become a better person. The wisest among us learn from other people’s mistakes. You will develop some key habits and routines to keep your life balanced.  I am advising you go out there and use what you know to get where you want to be. You will get the courage to make the difficult decisions that have to be made. Life will continue to throw challenges at you. Do not run away from them, instead confront them and grow. Over time, you will become more confident as you make decisions and create solutions to the challenges. As I told you earlier on : your value in society is attached to the solutions you create to the problems around you.

Whenever you see any opportunity to improve yourself, take it and make the most of it. The few of you who are empowered enough to employ themselves straight away; it may be tough going but it will be the most liberating thing you will ever do for yourself. You will have the time and freedom to do what you want to do, when you want to. If you do this with passion, you will enjoy it, you will change the world around you and you will have the unique contribution to make toward making your world better and for those you employ. The moment you lose the passion, you will feel out of control and overwhelmed.

Through the challenges you face, you will learn that things change when you change your attitude and thinking  and that money and fame are great bonuses in life. A little comprise is necessary : you do not have to see all that your eyes see or hear all that your ears hear. As long as you never compromise on what is essentially you- values and principles, you will be fine. You will have to learn to be practical and pragmatic and to use Information Technology wisely.

You will also learn that sometimes the only way you can get yourself out of a tight corner is to use your sense of humour. You laugh at yourself and when people laugh at you, you laugh with them. You’ll be surprised to see how a simple smile can change everything.

To all the fresh graduates this is my message to you: Anything remains possible for the ‘dare devils’, the dynamic and strong amongst you.

The Chinese say “Do not fear going forward slowly, fear only to stand still.’’ This is a simple reminder that nothing ever stands still. Do not stand still, move into action. Each small step you take,brings you closer to where you want to be.

One last quote by Brian Tracy: In a time of rapid change, standing still is the most dangerous course of action.’’

Wishing you all the best as you step out into the new and unfamiliar. Almost all the achievers you see around you, started off like you.

Thank you for taking time to read this post and if it helps you to move forward confidently along your journey, kindly let me know by leaving a comment here.

GRADUATION MONTH

Last week and this week, many young women and men are graduating from universities here in Uganda.It has fiercely reminded me of my graduation donkey years ago. I sweated it out writing the theories for the first week and then did the clinicals for the last week.Five days later, I was reading my name on the faculty notice board, among those who had satisfied the requirements for the award of the degree.Closing my eyes now, I can see, I can hear, I can feel and even smell all that I went through that day. It is as if it happened yesterday!

The following day, I reported for duty at my first station. A week later, I had to take off two days from work to graduate and celebrate the great achievement. Since then I have never stopped working.

Almost all of us were absorbed in the job market. But then those were different times: there was one national university as compared to more than 11 of them of today. Today, Uganda is aspiring to become a middle income level country by 2020.

On Graduation day, the winners are the new graduates, the lecturers and the parents.

The parents have done all that is within their power to give their children the key tools they require to succeed in the world. They want them to be independent and functional as they apply the knowledge and wisdom that they have acquired.

The lecturers have taught, explained, demonstrated and inspired these young people to go out to be more and do more for themselves and for the communities they live in.

The graduates have reached a big milestone in their lives; armed with the knowledge wisdom and special aptitude, they have to build a career and a life for themselves.

They are full of expectations, ambitions and fascinating ideas like any other graduate in today’s global village.

This day signals the beginning of the actual work in the real world.-taking full responsibility for your life and living your own life.

I can compare it to earning the Driving License wherever you are. After getting it, you are able to legally drive in that particular country. However, you become a good, competent driver by driving on the road and learning patiently to accommodate other drivers while they also accommodate themselves to you as a driver.

The graduates can now spread their wings and soar like eagles. When the celebrations are over, they will wake up to the shocking reality that they are among the 40,000 who will be graduating this year to compete for the 8,000 jobs in the job market! They will also be reminded of the fact that Uganda has the world’s largest percentage-78%, of young people under 30 years of age according to the 2012 State of Uganda Population Report by UN Population Fund. And that Uganda’s youth unemployment is the highest in Africa as high as 83%.

Time will not stand still so they will have to move on holding on to their dreams , visions and hearts’ desires and focus on the only two things they can control in the equation of  their success: their attitude and their thoughts. Their thoughts shape their lives and their attitude determines how far they can go. A positive attitude and positive thoughts will make or break them. These two influence the choices they will have to make in life which themselves build the big picture- their lives. Your thoughts and attitude inspire your actions. You cannot create anything better than the consciousness that inspires your actions.

Their positive thoughts and attitudes will open them up to become flexible and confident to try new things or pick themselves up when they fail. They will not give up on their dreams, for once they do that; they will be lost in this sea of graduates. They will learn to compromise a bit as long as their cores values- principles and beliefs are not eroded.

They will have to start humbly and gradually grow from the experiences and challenges they face while building their lives and careers. To be noticed in this sea of graduates, you have to keep increasing or improving your skills and knowledge and the best thing to do or the game changer, is to look for opportunities of employing yourself. Our country is facing many problems like deforestation, long spells of drought, and the winners are the graduates who will create appropriate solutions to such problems like coming up with efficient, cheaper, renewable forms of energy to replace the wood fuels. In this Digital era, exploiting the Information and Communications Technology to improve people’s daily lives can create job opportunities. Your value is attached to the solutions you create around you.

Definitely, the new graduates will need helping hands to lift them up so they should get into Networking with like-minded people fast and train themselves to listen with their hearts and ears.

I am now a senior citizen and can share what I have learned over the years in the hope that it will inspire these graduates to use their power and potential to turn their highest dreams and aspirations to reality.

  1. I remain the Master of my fate and my life is a product of the all the choices I have made. I may choose to be fearful and live in hell here on earth or be courageous enough to follow my dreams and live in paradise here on earth.
  2. I am human : I have some limitations so I will succeed at some and fail at some things; what matters is for me to learn a lesson from my failures and use it to improve my future.
  3. It is never too late to change directions- when l feel empty and life feels sterile I should allow a new voice to emerge within me. It will keep me on the right life course for me.
  4. Not to waste any gift or talent in life- I should harness them all for my own good and for the good of others. I should also find the potential in the people I influence and encourage them to use their gifts to the maximum. Every day, I should count my blessings and be thankful- it lines me up for more blessings.
  5. Not to become too rigid and locked into old ways- I should continue dreaming big, learning, having fun and having a zest for life. Life is bigger than my job or career.

For those who have been able to find a decent job with decent pay;be grateful and give it your whole.Nothing feels better than doing what you love- it is not work anymore but fun. But still do not get so comfortable that you stop growing; you need to regularly scale higher mountains. Remember there are no ‘lifetime’ jobs any more.

As the greatest icon of our time, Nelson Mandela, observed: When you reach the peak, you find that there are many other peaks to climb.

For those who are still looking, have the courage to keep looking and the humility to take the road less travelled. As they say: The hunt is never over until both your heart and your belly are full.

Charles Darwin the English Biologist and Naturalist said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent that survive. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.’’

The fresh graduates, I wish you the best as you carve your own path in today’s world.