The Careers I Will Pursue
In his book, Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell says that we only succeed at something we have practised for 10,000 hours. As to how Gladwell came up with that figure is something I am yet to understand. Perhaps he was trying to imitate Jesus.
You see, the apostle Peter once asked Jesus how many times we should forgive our brothers. He replied "seventy times seven times" which equals four hundred and ninety times. I think Jesus came up with that big number because he knew if we started counting the sins our brothers committed against us, we would get bored of counting by the time we reached like the 35th sin and just decide to forgive as many times as possible. Or maybe Jesus was smart enough to know that by the time we forgave our brothers for like the 52nd time, they would have already turned into good men.
Coming back to Malcom Gladwell's 10,000-hour rule of success, I tend to believe him even though I am yet to understand how he came up with that number. Ask anyone who has genuinely succeeded in any career and he will confide in you that he did spend a considerable amount of time honing his skills. You can't start playing football at age 21 and expect to play in a FIFA World Cup. That's next to impossibility as Chinua Achebe would put it. All successful footballers start playing the game earlier on in their childhood years.
Actually, in addition to the two reasons I pointed out in my previous story in this blog, Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hour-rule is another reason I gave up politics because I have never had any experience in politics ever since I was a boy. Not even when I was in school.
After reflecting on my life so far, I have figured out the areas I have spent quite some time of my life working on them. They are music, farming, public-speaking and writing. Let me tell you briefly about how I came to hone my skills in those areas.
As of music, I first started playing the piano when I was nine under the tutelage of a brilliant and dedicated seminarian named Br. Peter Assenga. Then I continued honing my skills on the piano at Starehe Boys' Centre where I developed the confidence to play the instrument in front of an audience. I still do play the piano.
As of farming, I grew up in a family in which I was expected to take part in such chores as weeding, planting and harvesting beans, maize and vegetables as well as grazing, feeding and milking cows. Now that I have fallen in love with nature, I am looking forward to doing some farming when I own a piece of land, God willing.
As of public-speaking, I first gave a speech when I was ten - not to a real audience but to columns of desk in an empty classroom. I enjoyed the experience nonetheless. Then I had the luck of speaking to a real audience at Starehe Boys' Centre where I gave speeches right from when I was in Form 1 to when I was in my final year in college at the school. I haven't had many opportunities to hone my public-speaking skills since I left Starehe but I am still looking forward to becoming a renowned charismatic and eloquent speaker.
As of writing, I first began penning articles for my father when I was eight. But it's only until in recent years that I have taken up writing seriously as a tool for developing mental clarity. This blog is a sufficient proof of that effort. I have come to love writing for the joy it gives me when I post in this blog a story I think is great and someone out there appreciates it.
Bill Clinton wrote in his autobiography that choosing a career is like choosing a wife from ten girlfriends; even if you choose the most beautiful and the most intelligent, there is always the pain of losing the other nine. For me, writing is all those other nine girlfriends rolled into one.
Yes, those are the talents I have developed over the years. I am therefore firmly convinced that God intended me for the tranquil pursuit of a career in music, farming, public-speaking and writing by availing for me opportunities to develop those talents and by making them my supreme delight.
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Why I Gave Up Politics
As the 2007 Kenya's General Elections were nearing and getting riveting, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine at JKUAT when I remarked, "This politics of Kenya are very tribal." The friend agreed, then he sagely added, "And very local."
It must have been around then that I set a dream of becoming president of our nation someday. And I nurtured that dream for the next ten years with a goal of becoming a different kind of politician that Kenya has never had before: a charismatic and eloquent leader with a nationwide appeal.
In an effort to bring that dream to fruition, I found myself reading biographies of my role models in politics (most of them Americans) as well as listened to their speeches on Youtube. I particularly came to love Bill Clinton's 1993 inaugural address and Barack Obama's 2004 U.S. Democratic National Convention keynote speech. Those two speeches are in a word, inspiring.
Some time last year, it dawned on me that the observations my friend and I made in 2007 about Kenya's politics - that they are tribal and local - were right and spot-on. Unlike America, Kenya is not a mature democracy. Still, it has a long way to go given its current state of affairs characterized by tribal-based voting and rigging of elections. Bill Clinton actually confirms that in his autobiography by saying that many democracies in the world don't have the kind of effective institutions and legions of dedicated public servants that Americans take for granted.
The immaturity of our nation's politics as well as the high levels of disorder and corruption that are often too much in evidence in our governmental affairs and bearing in mind that I am a good-natured young man are what led me to eventually give up my ambition to become president of Kenya someday. Expecting me to thrive as a politician in Kenya is both cruel and unrealistic.
I sincerely don't know why I stuck for over ten years to that dream of getting into politics. Maybe it's because I have always been inspired by the school song of Starehe Boys' Centre, my Alma Mater, in which we pledged to serve diligently when our time in government reached.
Or maybe it's because politicians here in Kenya seem to attract all the attention. You see, newspapers' front-page headlines are almost always about politics. And when you eavesdrop on people talking idly in pubs and cafes, their talks are usually about politics, if not football.
Coming to think of it though, we don't have to be politicians to impact lives and leave a lasting legacy. History is replete with heroes who have made pivotal contributions in other fields of endeavour besides politics. Like William Shakespeare in literature; Albert Einstein in Physics; Alexander Fleming in Medicine; George F. Handel in music; Charles Lindberg in aviation; Henry Ford in entrepreneurship; Isaac Newton in Mathematics. I could go on and on to list more examples but I beg to stop there in the interest of time.
Of course the point I am trying to make clear is that I don't have to get into politics to impact lives and leave a legacy. So I am at peace with my decision to give up a career in politics.
But just because I gave up politics doesn't mean I have become disinterested in the affairs of my Motherland. I am always wishing for peace and stability to prevail in Kenya so that I don't get displaced from my beloved home-town of Kiserian as a result of tribal violence or civil war. And I have vowed that should I ever note an upcoming Kenyan politician in the mould of Bill Clinton or Barack Obama, I will endorse and support his election, morally and financially.
You may be asking - now that I gave up politics, which career am I pursuing or planning to venture into? Well, I will tell you about that in my next story, God willing. So stay tuned to this lovely blog of mine.