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Monday, December 30, 2013

Friday, December 27, 2013

WHAT IS FAMILY STRATEGY?



The approach a family takes to explore and exploit its gifting, create wealth, influence society, transform the world and leave a legacy.

Twenty years ago all we knew was family planning. No one in those days every talked about family strategy. We understood family planning to be about the number of children a couple chose to have. As young married couples, we vaguely understood that we would have to work out what to do with our careers as well as how to manage the (little) money we earned. Nobody thought a spouse was a “business partner” that would have been offensive.      

However, we now know that creating wealth, achieving financial freedom, realizing fulfilling careers and enjoying work-life balance is not impossible but very practical and achievable within a marriage. We now know that the social duty of a family is not just to ensure the children survive, but to use its intellectual and economic potential to thrive, achieve a better quality of life for the family and secure fortunes for the next generation. Nevertheless, to do this you must understand strategy, Family Strategy.  Family Strategy equips you to assess your position, realize the value of your resources, look into the future and draw up a road map to your dreams. Family Strategy empowers you realize your family’s full potential.

Many young (and older) couples struggle with paying the rent, budgeting for family expenses, bringing up children, finding employment and job loss and lack of savings. Such couples work hard to make ends meet while trying to maintain a healthy marriage relationship and stay in the rat race. Many of us are so bogged down with day-to-day living; we never quite get to see the big picture. We know there has got to be a way to live a better life, but nobody seems to know how. Family Strategy provides eight empowering principles to transformed family life;
1.      Define your Family
This action helps you clarify your liability and clearly determine your responsibilities before you can  run the business of family effectively.
2.      Family Strategy
Understanding the key concept and object of family strategy is important for you to develop big picture thinking for your family success.
3.      Strategic Thinking
Developing strategic thinking skills to help you create a path to your family’s dreams.
4.      Family Aspirations
Every family has powerful aspirations. By not acknowledging them we kill the family dream.
5.      Strategic Goal Setting
Goal setting is a good thing, but only strategic goal setting will change your family fortunes.
6.      The FamilyTimeLine©
Helps you paint a picture of your family future that shows you why Family Strategy is critical for family success.
7.      Financial Strategy
Many of us struggle with "financial management", but understanding where and how to put your money to proper use is more important than having a lot of money or earning a bigger salary.
8.      Action Planning
Without a clear action plan for your family; everything is theory. In other words, nothing will every change! 
 
For enquiries email allanbukusi@gmail.com
 
 

THE TALE OF TWO FISHERMEN

 

There were once two fishermen who lived by the sea. Fishermen always live by the see because it is easy to take care of their nets and ships and get to the sea. These two fishermen were great friends and did everything together on the sea. They worked together when mending their nets and set out at night to catch fish together in their boats. They even helped each other to repair their boats when they were broken. They helped each other take care of everything they owned. They were such good friends that their wives and children were good friends too.

But one day they caught a big fish in the net. When they came to the shore, each of them wanted to take it home. They sat in silence for a long time. Then they began arguing. Then they began shouting. Soon they were fighting. The other fishermen came and watched.  Then the market people came and watched. Soon the whole village came to watch. Everyone was so shocked to see the two friends fighting that they too began shouting.  

At last an old woman asked them why they were fighting. When they told here about the big fish she thought for a moment and then said, "It seems to me that there are many big fish out in the sea, but only this one, as far as I can see, has caused such a melee".  When she finished speaking the crowd went silent. First the villagers went home. Then the market people went back to sell their goods. Then the fishermen went back to their nets. Finally the two friends stood there and were so ashamed that they threw the fish back into the sea.

Allan Bukusi

 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Resolving Peace & Conflict Issues in Africa


PEACE AND CONFLICT IN AFRICA

One report shows that out of 41 major conflict zones in the world 15 (36%) are found in Africa. There are major conflict zones in 28 African countries where people lose life. On average one out of every two countries in Africa is dealing with some form of local conflict and flashpoints. However, nearly all these conflicts are triggered within ethnic or cultural contexts. It may not be possible to eliminate conflict altogether for the very reason that no society can be totally free of conflict because people will always have differences of opinion and some degree of competition for resources or positions of advantage. It would be more reasonable to assume that conflict in a society is anticipated and can be contained. The cushion model, shared here, puts forward that the very roots of conflict in Africa are the very means by which it can be contained. Culture may in reality actually serves to contain human conflict. When culture fails then conflict erupts.

SIX BLANKETS

Peace and conflict in society are cushioned by six blankets. These blankets flex and reflex according to the ebb and flow of conflict in society without breaching the public peace. Dr. Deus defines conflict as “a discomforting difference”. These differences may be minor or they may be major. However, if they are contained they will not be a threat to the general public’s peace. Only when all of these cushioning blankets are breached that conflict becomes overt, out of control and socially destructive. The object of this theory is to use all the six blankets to ensure conflict does not get out of control.

1.      Culture

The first blanket of conflict is the culture of a group, community, organization or nation. Culture is a set of accepted social norms that ensure that a society survives and thrives, but also regulates social intercourse. In ethnic communities, these customs and traditions ensure life is predictable and provides for the organization, management and resolution of differences and grievances. In other words culture imposes order on chaos and conflict. Culture is therefore a crucial blanket that cushions society from conflict and maintains a peace. But this is not only true for ethnic communities; it is just as important in wider society such as urban setting where communities share resources. There must be an urban culture that ensures conflict is minimized. Successful organizations take measures to ensure their organization cultures facilitate business peacefully and minimize conflict to ensure success. Nations need to create cultures that regulate social behavior to minimize conflict. These cultures will not be regulated by laws and edits as much as by national values, integration, acceptance and national pride that inspire ownership and patriotism.

2.      Perspectives

If the cultural blanket is weak and nations fail to blend cultures so that the cultural blanket is like a mix of “oil and water” or a mix of “iron and clay”, then the blanket will be breached by conflict as people begin to view and interpret issues from personal rather than national perspectives. Perspectives have no regulatory framework, they merely depend on the way “I believe things to be”. Perspectives are easily accentuated and often punctuated by, group, community and ethnic divisions. Of course this is a recipe for social upheaval.

3.      Positions

Once perspectives are formed, people begin to take positions. When these positions become entrenched, it is easy to find political forces to marshal support for a cause. What began as failure to regulate social interactions begins to fester like a sore pimple and accumulate pus like a painful blister. At this point it should be clear that something is wrong in society and that measures need to be taken to restore harmony within the breached national culture and harmony in social intercourse.     



4.      Resources

Once positions begin to emerge over an issue, the next phase of conflict follows quickly as groups look for resources to fund, solidify and entrench their positions in preparation for the obvious next phase of a power struggle for dominance and control. Social cohesion, of course, has become weaker as each successive blanket is breached and conflict accelerates and is brought to the surface.

5.      Power

At this stage in the conflict the issues that were at the root of the conflict no longer matter, the central issue at this point of the conflict is to take “power”. The power struggle is the most dangerous stage in the escalation of conflict because reasonable issues are set aside while adversaries are converted into “enemies”. The object of this stage of the conflict is to gain the advantage and take control at all costs. Society pays a high price for this level of conflict that often far outweighs the desired benefits of the protagonists. At this stage, patients suffer when medical staff go on strike, civil wars cost lives while women and children suffer for what they know not. Even if the initial demands may have been reasonable the resultant destruction are not justifiable. However, it is at this point that society itself begins to call for resolution of the breach in the six blankets so that life can go back to normal, but if politics lacks the maturity to return social harmony, it will only light a vicious flame.

6.      Politics

Politics is a critical blanket in the peace and conflict cushion because people listen and respond to political leaders who voice the concerns of the people. However, politics on its own is unlikely to gather enough steam to get public attention unless it is backed by power. Hence the ease with which politicians attach themselves to armed struggles to legitimize and enforce their objectives. While armed factions and disenfranchised groups will legitimize themselves by identifying with a political faction as a representation of the people. It at this point that conflict explodes into the public domain and consumes all achievements, development and constructive engagement. Public conflict sucks in friend and foe alike and in like measure. Unfortunately it is only at this point that political solutions are sought to limit public conflict while no effort is made to repair the breach in the other six levels of the Peace & Conflict cushion. It is no surprise that such solutions are only temporary and never long term.

KEY LESSONS

There are many lessons we can learn from this cushion theory of Peace & Conflict, but perhaps the most important is that the eruption of major social conflict is never an overnight affair, but rather the result of a breach of an assumed social Peace & Conflict governance protocol. Peace can only exist alongside managed conflict. Laws, policy and institutional frameworks that favor inclusion, harmony and the formation of norms that enhance and protect local, cultural and community interests and ownership of national goals at the social and community level are important governance processes that secure long-term peace. This model provides us with a peace & conflict barometer that can be used to measure conflict levels, and create strategies to weather and manage conflict. The cushion model also provides nations, governments, organizations and communities with a framework to build and establish institutional framework to de-escalate and control conflict before it becomes too costly for society and establish long-term peace.

©Allan Bukusi, December 2013      

 

   

Saturday, December 21, 2013

This is THE most important life skill...

The most important life skill you must develop in life is to face adversity, rise above failure and recover from tragedy. These three have one thing in common. You have no control over them. However, life is made up of challenges you cannot avoid, fears you do not decide, and tragedies you may not make. Nevertheless success is not in the situation, but in your response to them. By engaging a challenge is your victory. By courage and overcoming fear can you rise above failure. And by hope and faith you can move on from tragedy. You may have no choice of the matter, but the choice you make decides the matter.

 Allan Bukusi

Monday, December 16, 2013

What kind of power are you?

THE POWER OPTION

There is a notion that power is limited. This theory says that if you have more power in a situation then I have less. Power in this sense is limited. This notions forces people to argue and win positions (and possessions) and take advantage over others. If this is your belief of power then everything to you is a fight. I know you can think of a number of people around you who believe everything has to be a fight. The most I can say about such people is that they are very uncomfortable to be around.

The other option you have is to think of power as a lighted candle. What a candle gives away in terms of lighting other candles does not diminish its flame. But lighting other candles does increase its influence and yet does not take away their heat or new light. People who use this power option do not have to have more power, but revel in the joy of sharing power. No this kind of power is not democracy. It does not come by taking power. It comes by giving it away. This is the power of leadership. Leaders know that power is not limited. It is in all of us and that we can work together better if we all know that we have it and can use it to light our world. The least I can say about such people is that they are very comfortable to be around.

But there is another power that is a very depressing affair. It is the people who do not know they have power. These powerless people love to play the victim. While those who believe power is limited love to fight, these people love to hurt, whine and complain. They are the kind of people you don't want to be around. They are spiteful, blameful and just awful company. The world revolves around them, against them and they are powerless to do anything for themselves. They suck sympathy from a candle like oxygen from a room. All they can think of is doom.

Allan Bukusi

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Ethnicity sets the perfect stage for great leadership to emerge

I was at a party recently where people of all races had gathered to enjoy the season when one person sitting in a group suddenly called out to his tribesman in his personal dialect above the din of the group conversation.  They launched into a discussion of some matter that none of us could understand nor contribute to. The discussion in the room gradually quieted down to near silence as these two, who appeared to be enjoying themselves, completed their discussion then turned to their neighbors with no sign or sense of remorse. This overt display of "us and them" may not have been intended to communicate apartheid, but it did.

I wondered why I was so offended when the two were not even talking to me or near me. I wondered why a cold sweat and dry feeling of contempt attacked me. I wondered if anyone else felt the way I did or if they had simply run out of things to talk about. After all, it was a small thing. I tried not to feel excluded from the dialogue but I was.  For a minute, I was not part of that community. This little displaced display of disunity in community sent distressing signals. All of a sudden, people moved away from the area and found other things to do. That outburst, intended or not, had put a damper on the proceedings in the room. Ethnicity had won again or had it?

Ethnicity can create unity, but not common unity or community. While ethnicity can build unity, only leadership can build community. Leadership reaches out to the common elements of unity in a group, knowing full well, that disunity is easy to achieve. Ethnicity thus provides a perfect platform to display leadership in public. Next time you are in the community, you will have a chance to show disunity or lead common unity.

Allan Bukusi  

Evil is a cruel taskmaster

Evil makes you angry, a rebel and a victim in order to make you happy. It kills your conscience and makes you to do things that you would not do willingly. It is antisocial, greedy and makes you jealous and not content. It has no long-term benefit or sustainable return. Someone must continue to suffer as the price of your happiness. This is a sore burden to place on a soul whose life is limited. However, it often takes a long time for people to realize that evil is a cruel taskmaster.

Allan Bukusi

Friday, December 13, 2013

Be ruthless with your time

Be careful with your money. Be generous with your talents. But be ruthless with your time; it is the only non-renewable resource you have.

Allan Bukusi

 

small and big thinking is not enough

Small thinking is me, big thinking is we, great thinking is others.

We spend much of our time as children thinking about ourselves. As adults, we spend most of our time thinking about us. Very few leaders any time thinking about others, yet others is the key to our own success.

Allan Bukusi

 

Monday, December 9, 2013

What is mentoring?

...to enlist wise counsel.

The other day someone asked me to mentor them. I was a little surprised that someone should ask me to be a mentor. After all what did I know that someone else should ask me to be a mentor? And anyway, I need mentoring myself! I may have felt honored but deep down I knew I was inadequate and technically incompetent to carry out the request. After all, I consider myself a professional – I only do what I know. However, since the person persisted that I be it, I decided there must be some science to the process.

I have been a teacher, trainer, lecturer, facilitator, coach, leader, entrepreneur, author and consultant. In all those roles, I have always made it clear that there is a significant difference between all of them. On occasion, I have said that mentorship involves some if not all of those roles but is also separate from all of them – even though I had never defined mentorship on its own.

After reading a few books and evaluating my thoughts on the subject, I settled on defining mentoring as "enlisting wise counsel" or "enlisting the counsel of the wise". This differs from the other roles I have been comfortable with in one significant regard. Mentoring is NOT driven or even determined by the mentor. Mentoring is engineered by the "mentee". Mentoring cannot be imposed.  The mentor is really a secondary part of the mentoring equation. The difference between a student and a mentee is that a student may not choose the teacher, but the mentee always has the privilege to choose a mentor. This leaves a mentor somewhat flawed, awed and confused, because the mentor has literally no power of control in the relationship. A mentee says "tell me what I need to know, but I will decide if I will act on it or not". The mentor is powerless to enforce or coerce. I think this is why people don't like being a mentor. It may be prestigious, but it is a totally powerless position. You can take no glory from it. You are on the sidelines and can be ditched at any time.

The mentoring process is not only the mentees initiative, but it is also ascribes wisdom on the mentor. This causes the feeling of inadequacy and trauma because by the time the mentee asks to be mentored, they have already taken the proposed mentor through a pre-selection and evaluation process of which the mentor is totally ignorant. This can be very unsettling. The mentee decides what is "wise" or who is wise. How do you describe, determine or define who is "wise". Wisdom has no technical or professional competence. It is more of a personal quality. A mentee may choose to draw wisdom from a clerk rather than the senior engineer.  

Mentees generally select people with more experience to mentor them. They choose someone who has more exposure to a thing. However, not every experienced person is chosen to be a mentor. The mentor must show cause why they should be personally chosen to mentor. The only difference between two experienced people is what they have become as a result of that experience – that's character. 

The third qualification for a mentor I find is understanding – NOT knowledge. Mentees generally have a lot of knowledge, indeed it takes one to have significant knowledge before it dawns on you to seek out a mentor. A mentor is supposed to help you sort out issues and interpret difficult situations. If mentees lacked knowledge, they would easily enlist a teacher. Amazingly ,the one thing all mentees seek out is someone who will listen.

So where do you find people who have experience, character, understanding and can listen? That is the six million dollar question because no one I know goes to school to study and excel in these things and neither do they set out in careers to achieve these things. These qualities are things you pick up as you go through your career. Some people acquire the first but not all four. In other words, a mentor is who you are, not what you aim to become or qualify to be. If someone choses you as a mentor it is a great honor, and very flattering, but you really have very little choice in the matter. All you can do is agree or respectfully decline as it is not possible to give adequate reasons (for yourself) to be or not to be a mentor.

Allan Bukusi

 

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