Pure Madness

My thoughts on the "behind the scenes" of life. You will find inspiration here. Share it generously


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All We Do Is Win.. No Matter What

Q: How do footballers stay cool during a game? 
A
They stand near the fans!

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If there is a time when a country (and the rest of the world) is united, it has got to be during the World Cup. If any advertising firm with “ill intentions” (the true meaning of the words) decides to put some subliminal messages during matches, they would have the whole world hypnotized!

As the world is united, even in supporting different teams, relationships on the other hand are not sharing the same fate. Even though the World Cup has been around for over 80 years, it still does a great amount of damage on relationships. Some women however, still don’t see the big deal in men running after one ball and millions around the world going crazy about it. That’s besides the point. It takes a while for us to understand soap operas as well. I, have never gotten beyond the name.

That said, there is a lot we can learn from the World Cup that is not necessarily soccer related. First, as men “our charity” needs to begin at home. Our sons play soccer every day after school and over the weekends but how many of us fathers and brothers go out to play with them?

What an amazing avenue this could be to hangout with our kids, teach them certain life skills, talk to them about issues they could be facing or just be there with them in their world and ‘in the now’. These could be moments that mean much more than “our teams” winning in Brazil. We don’t even have to wait four years to enjoy a good meaningful game. Good games are going on daily in our own homes, our own backyards. Yet we walk away from these moments to go cheer other teams while our own teams (our children) have never heard us go crazy for them.

Can you imagine what it would mean for your child to see you jumping and screaming like a mad man (funny) from the terraces because he/she scored or because someone fouled them? What a huge statement that would make to them. You were there, you cheered, you affirmed, you encouraged and most of all, you took the time. If we really love this game, shouldn’t we love it in and out of season? Home and away?

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The good thing about soccer fans is that they don’t need introductions; they have a common goal, even when they are not supporting the same team. Names have no place here; buddy will do just fine. You will have a beer or two on my tab. I will value your opinion and analysis of the game and for as long as the game is on, there is nowhere else I would rather be.

As a country we could use some unity. The recent dialogues about national dialogue have started rekindling dialogues that we really don’t want to dialogue about. (That’s a lot of dialogue)We need to find our common goal as a country. Whatever these dialogues are meant to achieve I do know one thing, we all want a safe neighbourhood so that when I come home with the little I gathered, I don’t have to worry about someone snatching it or killing me for it. Why cant we all be on the same page? We are like a team that has been given the opponents coach to train us!

Doesn’t it bother you that as a country we are always in a campaign mode? Less than a year after elections we are already talking about re-election. Mr Politician, we haven’t seen you do anything else apart from your homecoming and now you are asking for more time in office? I have never walked up to my employer to talk to them about renewing my contract immediately I was hired. It’s my employers prerogative based on many factors including my performance. It should be the same for you Mr. (and Mrs.) Politician.

Maybe our party manifestos should comprise of one item that the entire nation will throw its weight behind. An action point that will be on billboards across the country and in every office preferably next to the president’s photo. This will not be what the President and the government will do, but what the entire nation will focus on. Maybe this will help us evolve from this idea of power sharing nonsense that keeps coming up to cripple the nation.

A national focus (and NOT dialogue) could probably “open the eyes” of the opposition to see the great power they possess in making sure the government is playing its part to fulfil its promises to the citizens. A national focus could also help the citizens discover their part and responsibility in Nation Building. We don’t have to always wait for the politicians to do everything for us; we can “own” some things and put our effort into it! Unity; One goal.

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Finally, the entire world is always curious to know the composition of the different teams that will represented  in the World Cup. What a huge responsibility this is to the coaches because their decision will determine the performance of the team. What if we too put the same seriousness and urgency when voting for those who will represent us as our leaders in whatever capacity? What if all public office appointments were made on such a serious premise as the composition of the World Cup teams?

I imagine that a coach (and “the forces” he works with) will often select their teams based on performance, track record, fitness, experience, attitude among other qualities. Wow. Dream with me and imagine what the five years in between our elections would be like if we had our “dream team” in public office. Imagine how great it would be if after five years, our leaders came back with trophies of what they have achieved for the country. Better yet, imagine how great it would be if “one of the players” (Politicians) was sent packing for”biting” what they were not supposed to (read corruption).

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Wouldn’t you be screaming next to me on the terraces and doing the Kenyan (Mexican) wave as we cheer our team? Wouldn’t it be great if we believed in our team so much that we cried like small children when our teams don’t win? What if our expectations from Public officers was so high that every child’s greatest dream was to be selected to be part of their country’s dream team?

Fellow country men (not the drink..burp…) and women does this sound like madness to you? Tell you what, it is!  But to a greater extent, it’s done every four years around the world. We too can do it. We can definitely put together a team that “carries” this  possibility. Truth is, you and I are already part of a dream team. We bear the responsibility of not only  putting together a dream team every 5 years, but  also the possibility of being the dream team EVERY DAY as we build the nation in seemingly small ways.

We could win. Dream on!


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Just The Two Of Us

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According to my birth certificate, I was born in Kitale General Hospital in Trans Nzoia.  Who cares? Am glad you asked.  Honestly, no one cares. Not even me. Allow me to explain why I brought it up in the first place.

See, like many of you, I am tired – dead beat! (If you right click on the word tired it will show you other synomyms that might help drive the point home). We can’t keep coming back to this conversation year in year out. We have got to deal with this issue once and for all.

Last week the social media was awash (right click) with hate speech and incitement and abuse and fliers and photos and opinions and speculations and arggghhh… enough things to make you explode! (After using the word explode, I now have security agents listening in as well)

Sadly, as we always do when something bad happens and we feel helpless, we played the tribe card. What a shame.  I read a heartbreaking account of how someone spent the night on the toilet floor on the Daily Nation Online, but when I got to the comments people were talking more about tribe than the trauma that person and many others will have to live with! Suddenly, we had become one! (And with one I mean individuals).

If our young generation commonly referred to as the “xaxa” generation (ages between 16 -25 years) are so bitter and bold to talk so loosely on social media about another tribe, where is our hope as a country? I thought my generation was so radical in denouncing our father’s tribalism that we even came up with names like “Neema Imani”. Hadn’t we outrun this hatred? How is it then that our younger brothers and sisters have already “been affected” and have taken the war to unfathomable levels on Social media?

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Here is some truth you may not want to hear (it’s a bit foolish for me to engage in this conversation but it’s necessary). You and I have failed our country. More than anyone else, you and I should take responsibility for where we are.  First of all let’s get this idea that if a president is from your tribe, everything is working for you. You are a fool if that’s how you think.  We have had two kikuyu presidents right? Well do you know that in the last 11 years I have bought milk and bread at the same cost as everyone else? No special price because the president is from my tribe!

I went through school like everyone else. I don’t have an honorary degree from state house. I have to go through campus like everyone else – and pay. There is no bursary or fund for the president’s tribe. I stayed without work for a couple of years and just like other Kenyans, I too worry about my security. I too want a safe environment to invest my future in. I get a cold like everyone else and when I go to the hospital, the doctor doesn’t give me priority because of my tribe. I get in line.

I wish they asked for my ID when I go to the supermarket or board a matatu but guess what, that old fifty shillings you got as change came from me. When a driver speeds I fear for my life just like you do. My landlord doesn’t care about who is in state house, if its end month he understands one language – rent! I don’t have benefits at work because of my tribe. If I don’t perform as per my contract, I will lose my job regardless of my tribe.

None of the presidents know my name we have never met we may never do. My fate is the same as yours and same as that kid being born in most remote part of this country. So guess what my friend, you are you worried about your country? So am I. If this country burns to the ground, (FYI that will be you and I who will do it) there is no secret tunnel that leads to State House and a door that has a password in my tribe. Nope. If we burn this country to the ground for whatever insane reason, you and I will share the same fate, brother.

So if you think that the president is doing something wrong, most likely so do I!  If you think that the president is making bad decisions and that more focus needs to be put on making sure that citizens are safe, well, that makes two of us.  You voted for the president so that he can work for you and so did I. Do you feel like some things are not going as they should? Guess what so do I!

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Is the point home? No? When your child is sick and you rush him/her to hospital do you sit and wait for a doctor from your tribe to come and treat your child? Don’t you just want anyone who can help your child? I am so sure that if I took today’s newspaper and looked through the obituaries there must be some people from the president’s tribe who have passed on and there is nothing he can or will do about it. The family will mourn like any other.

Lets a talk about retaliatory groups or whatever your tribe calls them now that they seem to be “our tribes” salvation. When these groups sit and plan to revenge “our blood” will that bring back my loss?  When you cause pain to innocent people because of their tribe in the name of fighting back for your community, how are you helping me get back what I have lost? Who appointed you to be my tribes’ watch guard or spokesperson? What qualifications do you have to occupy that role? So a politician somewhere gathered a group of people and commissioned them to work for us? A politician?

Come on Kenyans! None of us before birth was given an application form to fill and tick which tribe they want to belong to. But now that we are here, can we make what we have work for us? I did not choose to be born in Trans Nzoia but that’s where I was born. If you wake up one day and evict me where do you expect me to go?  Where would you go?

I am so tired. I am tired of politicians or anyone else including “clan heads “using us as dogs; fetch this bite that sit, down boy, bad boy… Surely by now we ought to know better. Let me tell you what your regular leader and politician wont. You are a side show in his theatrics. While you were busy fighting this and that community, your President, his Deputy, The CS, The Judiciary and your local Mps did not deliver on their promises – unless of course incitement and hate speech was part of their manifesto.

My point is this; we are all affected by the same things. High cost of living, unemployment, insecurity, poor education and health service and many other things. Chasing you away from my area won’t make my MP deliver on his promises. If we don’t have schools in our area, burning down your house won’t make us educated.

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 As long as God has given you and I today, we have a responsibility to ourselves, our children and most of all to our country.  Don’t fall for the lie that this country belongs to the president or the Governors or the MPs. It belongs to you and I. When they are gone and often it’s pretty soon, their kids will be in international schools and their businesses will be thriving. You and I on the other hand, will still be here. Our children will still have to go to public schools, public hospitals and public toilets. So before that public servants leaves office we better make sure that everything public is at its best condition.

It’s not about tribe; it should never be about tribe. It should be about a better country for you and me. No matter where you are and no matter which community you come from.  You should be getting the best services. If we are not, someone is not doing their work, and that person should account. Do you know what you want? That’s where we all need to begin these conversations.


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Don’t Fall Any Further, Father

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I had a good father. Actually, I have very fond memories of him. Unfortunately, they are just two. One of them he came with a left handed Land Cruiser, and the other with truck. I remember these two times because they made an impression and gave me the chance to brag about my absent father to my ever present friends.

When I was growing up, family was the heart of everything. Respect was not negotiable. Our small community (neighbors) was made up of my mum’s colleagues. Everyone else in that community saw and interacted with their fathers daily while my dad came once in a while. (If I can remember well, a long while)

Luckily, my community knew I had a father. The only problem, they had only seen him once. So as kids, when we started talking about our fathers and the super powers they possessed, you can imagine how left out I used to feel. I however learnt to compensate. I refused to have a simple dad working far away from home and so I made up one that came late in the night and left very early in the morning.

Since none of my friends families had a car, I maximized on that weakness. Most of them had seen truck that my father came with that was so huge that he had to park it at the police station (Also because that was what the Red Cross protocol dictated). I remember my dad once carried us with that truck to Kitale. I have never felt more powerful. I have no idea how my mother agreed to that arrangement. They must have fought all night or my dad kidnapped us and since there were no mobile phones then, there was nothing she could do. The truck (I think it was either a Volvo or a Mercedes) was so high that I had to be lifted to get the steps. Maybe the fact that I was small also made the truck seem bigger but hey, I still reserve bragging rights.

Since that trip, none of my friends would rob me of the chance to connect any conversation with that day. Whatever we talked about, if my friends said something about their fathers that I did not have a comeback, I would turn the story back to that day and they needed a comeback and often they did not have. That’s how pathological liars are bred.

I don’t know what I would have without those two memories. They took me through my childhood but sadly they were not sufficient for my teenage. My teenage was filled with a deeper pain because my father had passed on, and I had squeezed the juice out of the truck story. Now, I needed answers not tales. Honestly if it were up to me, no child would have to grow up without a father. I would rather there was “father for hire” services to walk with kids through their teenage years. It is very lonely. Most of us will never admit it but our world is much heavier, much colder and much darker growing up without a father figure.

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Speaking of father figures, recently over 3000 women in Kajiado came together to ask the government to allow them to undergo Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Yes I said 3000. When I saw that story, I was shocked, my heart raced and I had mixed feelings. To date, I still don’t know what to make of that event. I have a few concerns about the “meeting”.

First, most of the women who spoke and addressed the crowd were all elderly women. I couldn’t help but wonder if they had already “undergone the procedure” and if they had, why did they want it to be legalized? Why did we not see or hear the voices of young girls who had not “had the procedure”? I felt played.

 I thought the Anti-FGM bill that was passed in September 2011 was supposed to protect these communities and especially the women. But here were 3000 women saying they wanted the practice, voluntarily to the point that the County Commissioner (the government) had to consult the elders before addressing the women. The story is the same in Baringo County where even the elite still undergo “the procedure”. Friends, I think we urgently need that national dialogue with members of these communities. There must be something we are missing. Otherwise, we risk having the practice being done in secrecy and hence increasing the risks of death and other infections. I say we dialogue! Soon.

This brings me to my last concern; As the Kajiado women spoke, the men watched from a distance. One of them who was later interviewed about “the meeting” and he said in part …”It is their choice (women). It’s what they want…” At this point I felt like I had swallowed my heart. My stomach churned. I will tell you why. The fact that the men were watching from a distance in my view, was the loudest statement they made. Whatever their opinion on the matter was, the sidelines are never the right places to make a statement. Sidelines are for cowards. The unsure, doubtful and the fearful.

If this was an issue for women, aren’t they are your women? Stand with them, don’t watch from a distance as though you are herding. That was the wrong stand. Secondly, we never heard what the men want. We only heard what the women wanted. Who knows if the men dragged them there and that’s why they were watching from a distance?

 What impact would the men’s voice add to the situation? It doesn’t matter. We would have known what they think. We would have known if they were willing to marry a woman who has not undergone “the procedure”? We would have known if they support “the meeting “or not. We needed to hear their voice! FGM is not just another cultural practice.

Whatever decision these women made that day, it will affect generations to come. Silence on the sidelines was a weak statement I dare say. This is not about whether to perform the procedure or not. (We will talk about that as well) but about the man’s voice and his authority in this delicate situation. Had the 3000 men; fathers, brothers and husbands to these women said something, the government and the entire nation would have listened and we would possibly have an obvious way forward.

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But these men are not alone. As men our voice has been growing weaker and weaker. The only place that this voice seems to be loudest is in politics. But even there, our voice is rarely about real issues. We don’t talk as heads of families and communities. We talk as individuals. We only represent our interests.

What will happen ten years from now? What will become of us fathers, brothers, husbands uncles, and nephews – Men. What are we saying by not saying anything? What are we saying by not speaking up for the right causes?

 

What a great responsibility we have. Our voice in the family and in the community is critical. How can we dare keep quiet? It’s Fathers Day, no need to fall any further.

Here is a link to the FGM Act 2011:

http://www.law.georgetown.edu/rossrights/chapters/documents/ProhibitionofFemaleGenitalMutilationAct2011.pdf

 And a Video coverage of one of “the meetings”

http://mtaani.com/videochannel/32721/dpp-warns-maasai-women-against-supporting-fgm/


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National Dialogue. Why Not?

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When we were much much younger, in a bid to understand our female counterparts, (as insane as that sounds) we used to have couples come and talk to us about relationships. During these forums, I remember always thinking to myself, how hard can it get? I mean that’s why people talk right? I was wrong. So wrong.

Apparently, those days when WhatsApp was still a greeting (what’s up), ladies talked in codes. I hope that has changed nowadays. So anyway, according to our mentor couples, when ladies said something, it was very different from what they meant.

The one that I still don’t understand (to date) was that when a lady asks if you are hungry, what she was really saying was that she was hungry. Of course if you ask a guy if he is hungry it’s a yes or no answer. But for the lady if you said no, and went on with what you were doing (which is what most average guys do after giving a complete answer) she got mad! And that became a dome (uhm an issue).

So let me get this right. You are hungry and you want something to eat but instead of getting yourself something to eat, you ask your boyfriend if he is hungry and then get annoyed that he isn’t and that he doesn’t “understand” you. Let’s not even go into the “Are you Ok?” or better yet, the “We need to talk” kind of conversations. We (men) know there is always more than meets the eye when get to such times.

There is hope men. I kid you not. Find it here (while stocks last):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezVib_giTFo

I was reminded of these conversations last week when the political atmosphere exploded with talks of National Dialogue. Quite honestly it felt as if it was the “are you hungry” type of conversation. I thought when people said we need to talk they meant exactly that; we need to talk.

Now that our leaders seem to be in a talking mood (note: it’s talking not doing) maybe we should. Let’s have the national dialogue.

Let’s first talk about the manifesto that each of these leaders came with during the elections. Let’s talk about what has been done so far apart from their salaries which were not part of the manifestos. Let’s have a national dialogue on why we are still talking about elections a year after we had them.

Let’s have a national dialogue. Let’s talk about the insecurity in the country. Let’s talk about Mandera, Wajir, Tana River, Baringo, Mombasa, Nairobi and the entire country. It’s the government’s responsibility to provide security for its citizens but it’s our work to equip them with information. So now we think that each community needs a vigilante group to “protect” them. Soon it will be you standing before the same vigilante to plead for your life or the life of a loved one. We need to talk.

Let’s have a national dialogue. Let’s talk about accountability. Every one of us who is employed has targets. We all do our best to make sure we meet these targets lest we lose our jobs. Why then do we allow our employees (Public servants) to go around doing what they want without meeting their targets?  Please let’s talk.

Let’s have a national dialogue. Let’s talk about the rate of unemployment among the youth. While at it, let’s talk about alcohol abuse among kids as young as in high schools. We need to talk about it because the way young people “appreciate” alcohol these days, we might not have a work force in the next 20 years. Let’s also talk about redefining employment. Let’s talk to our young people about what a job means. Let’s talk to them about shambas and dukas and mjengos. Let’s talk.

Let’s have a national dialogue. Let’s talk about role models. Let’s talk about positive influence. Forget bleaching and body adjustments let’s talk about giving back to community. Let’s talk about you going back to your school and telling those kids that they too will make it. Let’s take back some of the powers we have delegated to political and religious leaders to be influencers of society and let’s start doing it ourselves.

Let’s have a national dialogue. Let’s talk about priorities. Let’s talk about why police officers, doctors and teachers still earn peanuts while they carry the greatest responsibilities in the country. You want your child to grow up in a secure environment? Then let’s talk about equipping our security forces with the best equipment and resource. Let’s also talk about making their salaries so competitive that corruption offers will be a joke.

Let’s talk about hospitals. Let’s talk about having the best equipment in each of the counties. Let talk about making our public health centers “hospitable”. Let’s talk about employing enough medical personnel and while at it, let’s pay them so well that side hustles and private clinics will close down. Let’s talk about making our public hospitals a place you want to get sick in and not sick of.

Let’s have a national dialogue. Let talk about our education system that is causing fatigue and exhaustion on our children and making them “zombies” who know too much but can’t do anything with what they know. Let’s talk about making the education system more relevant to the market let’s talk about skill development. Let’s also talk about building schools. Surely in this day and age no child should be learning under a tree.

Would you want your child to be taught by a teacher who is distracted, thinking about how he/she will make their ends meet? Then let’s ensure they remain focused. Let’s talk about employing more teachers and paying them really well. Lets offer them incentives that their kids can learn free of charge in the schools they teach. If you know you are teaching one of your kids you will do it to the best of your ability. The result, every child receives the best.

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So Mr. President, as you can see, there is a lot to talk about. Go ahead initiate the national dialogue and let everyone get involved. Weather its tea or lunch; the most important thing is not the talking it’s WHAT we talk about! It’s a National Dialogue because we all need to talk. So when we sit at our tables tonight, we all need to individually have a national dialogue. Not debate. Dialogue.

Let the conversations begin. Lets talk.


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#WhileYouWereAway

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I remember when mobile phones were not as common as they are today. As a matter of fact, back then even movies (the only place some of us tracked technology) never had mobile phones. Those days, homes had one phone, a landline.

Today, my nephews know their way around my smart phone than I do. They activate and find certain features that I didn’t even know existed on my phone! For us, the best trick we ever managed to develop was to tap the landline (audience applause).  Other than that, the next best trick was to call 999 and hang up as soon as the call was answered. (Yes. Hard to believe but back then, 999 worked perfectly).

Tapping a landline wasn’t as easy as it sounds. It took precision and accuracy. At times it meant joining two naked wires with a foil paper or coin to cause a short circuit. (This was the most advanced tapping technique) The other way was less complicated and involved literally tapping the phone as you counted the taps. Ten taps represented zero and so forth.  (I may be a mad man but am sure the president reads this blog so that’s as much as I am willing to reveal about tapping).

On normal occasions when we weren’t tapping the phone, the correct procedure was to only answer the phone when your parents were not around. We were required to find out who was calling, why they were calling and any message they had for my parents. To assist us achieve our objective we had the “while you were away notes”.

So recently when the “Baba While You Were Away” hash tag was trending for a couple of days, it brought back good memories and made me think about a few things that often happen “while we are away”. No need to insist, I am willing to share my thoughts with you.

Let’s start at the top. Not the very top, a little lower. Are you there? Ok. Let’s begin.

 Mr. Politician, (read Governor, Senator, MP and County Representative) you forgot (rather fast) why you currently occupy the office that you do. We, the Mwananchi voted for you. We employed you. Unlike an award ceremony, we actually voted for you to work for us. But you must have misunderstood us because all we hear about you is your many travels and increased perks. Have you done anything from all the promises that you made? Well, while you were away, we decided not to vote for you next time. You can enjoy the hotels for now.

Dad, everybody talks about how successful you are. But your kids never thought they would have to compete with your job for your attention. You say all that you do is for them but they would rather have a father than Santa to bring them gifts every month. So while you were away, your son, seeking your affirmation from alternative sources, was recently readmitted into rehab. This is the third time. Thanks for settling the bill though.

Mum, your kids really love you. If only you had more time to spend with them. There is nothing wrong with serving in church and being in a few women groups but when it becomes an everyday thing, something else suffers. So while you were away mum, your daughter begun her periods. She was not ready at all. Nobody ever talked to her about the changes she was going through. Last week, she was so ashamed when the boys laughed at her. She doesn’t talk as much anymore, her concentration in class dropped and sometimes she even goes to the toilet to cry. Next time you go to church mum please pray for her. Pray for parents who have misplaced priorities too.

Boss, wow the company has really grown. We have so many orders that we have to outsource some of our work to meet deadlines. The last two years have been really good. Heard you bought another house and another car! So while you were away playing golf on Friday (great sport by the way), your associate, (the one who has been brought all these clients) opened his own company. Good for him? Yes. Especially since he not only took all your clients (make that his) but your staff too.

Unlike you, your associate took time to know his team. He helped some pay fees for their kids when they couldn’t, visited your secretary a single mother, in hospital when she was delivering and even bought the subordinate staff shopping vouchers to take home over the holidays. So when they heard he was leaving, everyone jumped ships. The office keys are under the door mat. You can add them to your other collection.

Now lets talk about You, yes you.

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Remember the dreams you had a while ago? You wanted to change the world. You were full of passion. You were on track and doing so well even though you faced enormous challenges. You took risks; you believed in yourself so much that not even the negative things that your friends said would stop you. Initially everything seemed to go well. But now the low season is here and you are ready to close shop.

You refused to be comfortable like everyone else. You pushed yourself. You inspired others to do the same. Soon you got a promotion and then another and another. Now you are the envy of many, your colleagues have started alienating themselves and you have started feeling bad about your success.

You were known to be a person of your word. You stood for what you believed. You never compromised. It was either the right way or nothing else. Now you are done with campus and you need a job, badly. Your parents are depending on you to support your siblings. You recently got your dream job but it came with one condition; one night.

So while you were away, giving up on your dreams, blending in to please your colleagues and compromising your standards and values, you forgot your own value. You started betraying yourself, selling yourself short, putting limitations on yourself, seconded guessing every decision and pleasing other people at the expense of being true to yourself.

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While you away living other people’s dreams, fighting other people’s battles and having sleepless nights about other people’s issues, your own dreams wait to be validated and your battles to be activated.  

While you were away. YOU waited for YOUR own great return and so did the rest of the world. It’s time to #BringBackYourself