What is my life that it should count for anything? What is the count of my life if it amounts to nothing?
Training should start early in life. Learning comes later.
READING AS A LIFESTYLE
Library Day Address at JUJA Preparatory & Senior School 27th July 2013
When did you get an education? My guess is that it was in primary school. Prior to this, nursery school gave you the tools you will use to acquire knowledge for the rest of your life. After the seventh grade, your knowledge grows in depth as you study various subjects. By the time you reach high school, you come to a fork in the road and are told that Arts and Science are the two branches of knowledge. In college you will be introduced to theories of knowledge and you will suddenly realize how broad this thing called knowledge really is. If you turn out to be a professional, you will apply some specific knowledge many times over to earn you an income. If you get to be an entrepreneur, you will use knowledge to create wealth. Knowledge is therefore a critical foundation to your current education but also your future success.
However, the most transformative education you received was between grade one and grade seven. In those seven years, you were introduced to new knowledge that transformed your worldview. Every one of those seven years changed your life. Every bit of knowledge you acquired in those years makes a mark on your future. What I do today, can be traced back to Miss Kinuthias grade five English class.
Back then, in primary school, I was a poor reader. My parents brought us up well and took us to the best schools, but I could never read as well as my brothers. They could read books in an evening that would take me a month to complete. By the time I reached secondary school, they told me I could only become a scientist because all I could read were numbers and formulas. I was given to the half brain of science and studied Physics in college.
It took me nearly forty years to find out that I had more than half a brain and that the only reason I could not read well was that I had only one eye. Reading frustrated me so I hated it. I wish someone had discovered this physical defect sooner; I may have made a better reader and read more books. Today my favorite subjects are leadership, history and some theology. My library is full of literature books. We learn several important principles from these transformative years of education;
1. The principle of READING
Reading is the path to knowledge without knowledge, education is useless. If you can't read, you can't access knowledge. Unless this sickness is treated early, you will become a half brain, which means you will not develop your full potential and only by the grace of God will you pass exams. However, reading is more than sounding off letters and numbers on a page. Reading is thinking, reading is creating, reading is travelling, reading is growing, reading is much more activity the you can ever imagine. Reading requires a huge amount of concentration and fully engages your conscious self. Reading is not staring at a page, it is being transformed by the information on the page. Reading without transformation is no more than sightseeing. The first principle of reading as a lifestyle is therefore – reading. However, there are other things that reading will do for you;
2. Principle of NEW
The fact that the reader is introduced to new knowledge stretches your mind and pushes the limits of your imagination to embrace a new ideas and thought process. The new, is always challenging even if it is not exciting. It always elicits a reaction. Your reaction to something new is your experience. The fact that it is a guided experience makes it manageable. You can control the power and pace of the experience. The fact that the experience is new, makes you a new person. Every person coming out of a library is a new person. New learning makes you a new person. The easiest way to teach something is not to parrot it over and over or cram figures and formulae. The easiest way to teach something is to introduce something new. Introducing a person to something new automatically commits that thing to memory. Hence the power of exposure is a key to true education. Unfortunately, only high cost schools emphasize exposure while not so privileged schools, believe that rote learning expands the mind. The amazing thing about books is that every page you turn is new! If you read books, you grow through every page of the books you read.
3. The principle of GROWTH
In primary school, the fact that you were only promoted to the next class proves, that you had a good grasp of new knowledge that accompanied your physical growth. Your mental growth accompanied your physical growth. The new knowledge became part of you. You cannot compare a grade three pupil with a grade five student. Even if their size is the same, what they know is different. What you learn changes you. That change is equal to growth. As you read you grow in power, potential and purpose. Reading grows your capacity to do something new, even if you never do it.
Those who get used to reading have less challenge changing, transforming and accepting new ideas. However, if you stop reading your body continues to grow without your mind. In the matatu culture, physical growth has far outstripped mental development. To develop a good reading culture, read good books, read some of the classics as well as science fiction read books that fill your mind with ideas and your heart with courage. Be careful what you read, there is dirty, addictive material available everywhere that can fill your mind with base and sinful thoughts. My best choice for a growing mind are biographies of heroes true life stories of great men and women. This reading uplifts your spirit and prepares you for life like no textbook can ever do. By reading the greatest, you set yourself up to be the best.
4. The principle of VALUES
Internalized knowledge creates a personal value system that powers you for life. The earliest value system is therefore the most important and most influential in a person's life. A persons values are much affected by what they learned from their parents, but the most powerful value system is what you learn in school. However, the opportunity to create a personal value systems is limited. By age 12 these values are already set, by age 18 it may be too late. If you don't learn to read in school, you are in for a hard life. The Bible says, "train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it". Teach a child to read and you will have secured him for life. learn to read early and you will solve problems. If you do not learn to read, you will be a problem.
5. The principle of APPLIED
In primary school, no concept was passed over without testing, exercise and use. When you read a book you were tested on comprehension, imagination and understanding. You learned to interpret and apply what you read. Many of the challenges we have in society today are because people and leaders do not have any comprehension, imagination or understanding of what is going on around them. In other words we do not know what to do because we do not know how to read. If you pass through this critical stage of life without developing a reading culture you will have great difficulty living life, leave alone becoming successful. Today we live in the information age. Woe to you if you do not know how to read.
6. The principle of WRITE
We have talked much about reading but I want to leave you with a challenge, reading is not enough. A true reader, must also write. I am not the best person to write books. The best I ever got in my whole school career was a C- minus in English, but my grade 5 English teacher made sure that even if I was not good at English, at least I could write a composition. That is what I do for a living. Getting a good grade in school is very important, but in life it is the skill that is most important. Now is the time to develop your writing skills to serve you well in life.
A wise man said, "We become what we read". However, what we read is often foreign and makes us foreign. It is good to know what is foreign, but we must not lose the knowledge that is stored in the libraries of our languages, culture and local experience. We cannot be a nation if there is nothing we can truly call our own. Therefore my final charge to you is not only to read, but to write.
My generation has not been very good at this and for that I must apologize, but at the same time I must urge you to write stories, your experiences, compile local history, anthology, poetry, geography and medicine and fill libraries with the knowledge of Africa for this and the next generation. Compile Africa's wisdom and store up this knowledge for yours, and many generations to come.
Allan Bukusi is the author of How To Lead Corporate Transformation, How to prosper in employment, Big Seven and other books.
John loved to talk about China and America and told everyone that one day he would go to those lands. He always had something new to tell his friends and a new game to play each day. John always did well in school and his mother was very proud of him, and so were all the neighbors. John's father had died in hospital when he was very young. Poor John silently wished he could have heard at least one word from his father before he died.
When John's mother went to the hospital the day after John's father died, the nurse gave her a little book and told her that John's father had said she must give it to John as soon as he learned to read. She kept the book safely in a drawer and gave it to john on his sixth birthday. John was now almost twelve years old. Nevertheless, his mother wondered why John was always reading books and never had much time for television. John's father had only given him one book, why did he have to read so many? John kept his dads book at his bedside and never let anyone touch it.
One day, when John was out playing with his friends, his mother decided to find out what the book was all about. She thought it held a secret that might help her understand John's behavior. She crept into his room and picked up the book and quickly turned the pages. She read almost half the book, but came across nothing special, clever, interesting or amazing. Just as she was about to put the book down and go back to her cooking, an old crusty yellow piece of paper fell to the floor. She picked it up and was about to throw it away when she looked at the handwriting more closely. She was so shocked by what she read that she slowly sat down and began to cry. She knew that handwriting. She loved the writer very much, but it was not Johns hand writing. The hurriedly written words on the faded piece of hospital paper read – Dear John, read this book and every other book you can find. Love Dad.
The transformational team player drives a specific agenda in concert with other team members to bring about corporate transformation. The other team members rely on him or her to do their part perfectly and in sync with everyone else. The transformational team player will do well as a lone ranger, but will excel as a team player with others who share the same vision and passion for change because they will continually encourage each other like waves in the ocean. And multiply their productivity like the addition of pistons to an engine. The player does not need extraordinary gifts, abilities interest and talents. However, the player makes extraordinary effort to use his or her gifts abilities, interests and talents for the good of the team.
Passion is more than desire, it is a tangible urge to change improve, develop and create things anew. Developing this sense requires a high degree of focus and personal discipline. The player must be sold out heart and soul to the goal, to the extent that he or she is willing to volunteer their personal, private and public initiative to realize it. The person may be paid to pursue their passion, but the point is they volunteer their action and initiative to the cause and commit to it. Many people work jobs but do not volunteer their services to get the job done. A person without passion will tire, burn out and abandon the team in its hour of need.
One would consider that purpose should be more important than passion. But purpose without passion is punishment. However, purpose with passion is a power that moves mountains. Purpose directs passion. A person's passion is not useful until it is attached to purpose. Though the player may be searching for a cause or purpose to attach their passion, the player must submit to and believe in the purpose of the team to give the best result.
The player should have or urgently develop leadership skills. Being part of a transformational team will require initiative over and over again. The player will need to lead specific effort to create specific value for the team. The player may not have the technical expertise to achieve the desired result but must be able to mobilize the skill required to produce the desired value. It is not good for the team member to be able to explain why it can't be done, as a leader the players job is to work out how to get it done.
Warren Buffets' three hiring conditions for his staff are intelligence, energy and integrity. He says, all are important, but the first two without the last one could kill you. Professionals are known as problem solvers and quality guarantees. They are brought in when the going gets tough and solutions are required fast. However, the profession is not as crucial as the discipline to solve problems. Professionals in every subject are similar in their disciplined approach to challenges. Players face major challenges and barriers to get to goal, their success, in part, will be due to the discipline they have to focus on the job and systematically get it done. The professionals' virtue is that they are reliable.
Though many teams rely on their players' commitment during the season, the transformational team player must make that commitment before the season starts. The player must have commitment because the very object and the goal of the undertaking is not guaranteed and is often seen as impossible in the first place. It makes no sense to recruit a person who has no commitment when you know there are major challenges ahead. Commitment is needed when physical strength fails and feelings run dry.
There is teamwork – work done by a team and there is a team worker - a person who does the work of a team. Transformational team players are called upon to do more than the work of an individual player. The player must not only have the capacity for work, but must be able to produce the value of a whole team.
Players need creativity to resolve challenges and think in paradigms rather than absolutes. Creativity advances where competence is limited. Creativity creates new value, while competence enhances performance.
Transformational team players work with people. They respect the contribution of everyone to the success of the whole. They do not have to be friends with everyone on the team, but they do uphold each other's dignity from the sweeper to the leader they are all one team working to make it work.
The transformational team player will not be shaken by success or defeat. Their character is moved by purpose, cause and the good of all. When values are personalized, they become character. Character is the soldier in the armor and the man in the uniform. Character is the soul of the music. With character team members do not have to look back to check If the other players are pulling their weight. They know it, they feel it and depend on it.
10. WALK AWAY
The transformational team player has the remarkable quality to walk away from it all once the job is done. We see this quality in Mandela and Washington. Both walked away from the power, glory and popularity and turned to other pursuits. The peace of the transformational team player is that the job is done.
Allan Bukusi is the author of How To Lead Corporate Transformation
We often try to prove that we are focused by collecting a large amount of detail on a thing that really should be obvious. Focus is lost when detail derails the process and the complex clouds the object. When that happens, not only do we lose the goal, but everyone's commitment to the process. To get it right and win the people, outline the process, state the goal and keep it simple.
Everyone agrees that the government is an organization, but many may not quite agree with you when you point out that, organization is government. We face the same challenge when we think about business and culture. Everyone agrees that every business has a culture, but not many will agree that culture is business. However, business is culture. Anything you do in a business is affected, influenced and driven by the culture. It is futile to set up a business and expected culture to follow. The role of a leader is to set up the culture and the business will follow.
Author of How to lead corporate transformation.
True success is to rest. Few enjoy the success that is the envy of all men. Success is to realize your dreams. To cease from labor and to see the fruit of your work. Blessed indeed is he who enters this rest and does not strive till the end without a hope of success. For without this success on earth, there can be no rest in death.
There is a rest of which people do not know. A rest from labors; that is not death. Few people enjoy this rest. God gives it to his best, and those that pass the test. I want that rest, but I also know it is by grace and not by work alone.
The difference between managers and leaders is problems. Managers solve problems, leaders prevent them.
Man has never really left the Stone Age. Men still live and work in caves. It is just that we do not dig the caves out of the rock like we did in the old days. These days we make them out of concrete. They still have cold dull grey walls that need to be painted just like in the old days. Nevertheless, despite central heating the caves still serve just the same as they did in the old days.
The world's most powerful transformational agency is clearly religion.