Friday, 6 February 2015

Taking Stock

No matter what one does, regardless of failure or success, the experience is a form of success in itself – Jack MA

Winning spirit
It is February already! How time flies. Just the other day, we were busy with the festivities – a time of celebration, merry-making and letting lose. Then came the new year, and with it, a time for most of us to pick up from where we left before the holiday madness. For some, it was the perfect opportunity to start anew, whether it is in our personal relationships, in our careers  or even in our enterprises.

Yes, it has just been over a month into the New Year. What a roller-coaster it has been. For starters, if you are a fan of Kenyan Rugby Sevens, it is an exciting time. Today, at the Wellington Sevens, we emerged top of our pool and cruised through to the cup quarter finals. This is despite the recent poor form that characterised the beginning of this season -  testament to a  resilient spirit that is truly Kenyan. 

Borrowing a leaf from the resurgent Shujaas, and in the winning spirit of the New Year, I figured that now would be a perfect opportunity to start writing again. I haven’t written in a year. Yes, it has been that long!  There are a number of reasons for not writing, but this is a story I will save for another day. For now though, I am just excited to be writing again. How better to start off my writing than to share with you some of the interesting things - maybe obvious to some -  that I have been involved in the last couple of days. There are also a few other things that have been on mind lately and I thought I might share as well.

Growing ba**s
There is this phrase that I heard the other day. It goes something like this: ‘A man becomes a man, among men.’ Maybe it sounds a little corny but I will get to the context of this particular phrase in a bit. A few months ago when I started dating my girlfriend, she told me about an exclusive program for men, that she wanted me to attend. 

Now, if you are a in a relationship, you would know that the female is a peculiar being, no pun intended. Sometimes, even when you know that you will not do something - and against your better judgement - they will somehow get you (the male) to acquiesce  to it.  Much later, you are left to deal with either a broken promise or better yet, to follow through on a promise that you had no intention of keeping, in the first place.

To cut a long story short, that is how I ended up signing up for Man Enough, last week. That, Ladies and gentlemen, is how, at a time when I would otherwise be warmly tucked in, in bed, I ended up seating through a classroom full of men, on a cold Saturday morning. That, you guessed right, is how I first heard that phrase that, ‘a  man becomes a man, among men.’

So for the next few weeks - and I say this with a light touch -  I will be becoming a man. If the first session that we had last week is anything to go by, this is something I am excited to be a part of. They say that if a man stops learning, he dies a little. I am all for living. I therefore look forward to learning and hopefully share some of the insights I gather, with you. 

Winged bird
As a matter of principle, I like to know what I am talking about. I also prefer to write about things I have experienced first-hand or things that I know something about. These are the things that you can weigh in on, in a discussion. The sort of things that you give  your input on, without winging it or even worse - coming through as an absolute moron. So let’s talk about money. 

What do I know about money?! Turns out, a lot. First, that we generally don’t like to talk about it. Secondly, that the basic underlying principle of wealth creation, (read making money) is fiscal prudence; spend less than you earn, save as much as you can, invest as much as you can… Yadda, Yadda, Yadda… 

More importantly, I will tell you what you probably know already and something I have had to learn time and time again; that the almighty mullah is a winged bird! So knowing what I know now and having sometimes found myself on the wrong side of fiscal prudence, I have made a conscious decision to do things a little differently. 

For starters, I intend to lose my credit card in the next six months. Though it has come in handy sometimes, acquiring a credit card and accumulating credit card debt has been the one thing I regret the most. I have learnt my lesson and I hope that in a year’s time, I will be able to document and share my experience a little more candidly.

On reading
This January, I had reason to celebrate. After a one-year hiatus, I rediscovered a long-lost hobby.  While I would not advocate for it, and while it was not planned for, losing both the my  smartphone and television have turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I may take some flak for it, but I can confidently say that based on my own experience, the TV and the smart phone (by extension social media) are two of the most destructive time-killers of modern times. I will indulge you on this, some other day.

Keeping with my new found hobby, I finally read and finished Anna Quindlen’s Black & Blue. As incredulous as it may sound, it has taken me close to four years to read. The only reason I picked it was because of a little line on the cover that read ‘Oprah’sBook Club.’ If you can get past the first few chapters, it is a good read, one that that has been described as a harrowing portrait of a woman and a marriage capturing the profound intricacies of love, rage, passion and violence. 
For the second time, I read The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. Written by internationally acclaimed bestselling Author and leadership guru Robin Sharma, it has interesting and witty anecdotes on life management and personal growth.  This is the kind of book that you read for inspiration. Certainly a book that I would recommend to anyone. 

Currently, I am reading Nigel Hamilton’s Bill Clinton: Mastering the Presidency. The biographer chronicles the story of the 42 president’s time in office. His story, referred  to as the greatest re-invention of an American President, in modern times, takes you through the series of mistakes Clinton made as President, before re-inventing himself to be one of the most popular presidents in modern times. 

Going Hard
Whenever I tell anyone that I go to the gym, I almost always tend to get the same response. It is always a variation of the same thing. Sometimes, someone will say: ‘What do you do in the gym?’ At other times, they will ask, ‘Why would you go to the gym? Truth be told, taking into account my lean frame, this might be considered a logical question. Nonetheless, considering the sedentary life that most of us lead and the vitambis that we wear as a badge of honour, I find this question to be a little silly.

I first started hitting the gym four years ago. At the time, I was preparing to run the Standard Chartered NairobiMarathon, an annual event that goes towards supporting Seeing is Believing, a foundation aimed at preventing avoidable blindness amongst children. After the marathon, having familiarised myself with the gym equipment, I kept on going to the gym, albeit with more focus on weight training.

Other than keeping fit, I wanted to bulk up a little, something that I was able to achieve over time. At my peak, with little change in my diet, I had gained over fifteen pounds. Depending on my frequency to the gym, workload and eating habits, my weight would fluctuate a couple of pounds. I was nonetheless been able to maintain a sensible routine until I took my new employment. Partly due to the workload, I lost a little weight and it took almost a year to recover. In December, I took a long-break and just resumed this week

Its day three in the gym and for the last three days, I have been pushing myself hard. For that, I feel like a wreck. My arms are paining, my chest is killing me and for the last two days, sometime at mid-morning, I felt that my energy reserves had been severely depleted. Truth be told, in my quest to build muscle, I feel that I may have bitten a lot more than I can chew. 

Frankly speaking, the only thing that is keeping me going, at the gym, is vanity -  the image of my bulkier self. I realise that there is a lot that I have not done right, when it comes to my physical regime. In my quest for continuous improvement, as  is the case with all spheres of my life, I am now only in competition with myself – going hard or going home! My prayer  is to be a better person today than I was yesterday.  

To this end, I will always strive to learn from my experience and to celebrate the wins as well as the near-wins; to read one more book, create one more opportunity, lift one more weight, save one more shilling, visit one more place. All these I will endeavour to do while all the while savouring the beauty of life and dedicating my time to what is truly meaningful: Faith to God, Love to Family and Loyalty to Friends.   

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