Daring to be Different
I doubt whether there is any cow that enviously stares at lizards and wishes it also had the ability to crawl on walls. I doubt whether there is any eagle that enviously stares at cows and wishes it also had the ability to produce delicious white milk. And I doubt whether there is any fish that enviously stares at eagles and wishes it had the ability to fly high in the clouds.
I doubt whether there is any lion that enviously stares at fishes and wishes it also had the ability to swim in water. I doubt whether there is any bee that enviously stares at lions and wishes it also had the ability to roar and conquer the jungle. And I doubt whether there is any butterfly that enviously stares at bees and wishes it also had the ability to produce sweet honey.
Why am I doubting all that? Because I believe each of the animals I have mentioned is content with the abilities God gave it. And it was wise of God to bestow each animal with different abilities so that they could provide us with a variety of products and services. What some animals lack in beauty, they make up for in usefulness. Or think about it this way: where would we get honey from if all animals were like eagles? And where would we get milk from if all animals were like fishes?
We humans are also unique from one another and are gifted with different abilities by God. Some people are good at maths, others at singing, others at drawing - and so on and so forth. And it was wise of God to endow us with different abilities so that we could serve one another effectively.
That we all have unique fingerprints is sufficient proof that God intended us to be different from one another. Therefore, our mission in life ought to be cultivating that uniqueness by identifying our talents and then developing them to their fullest potential. By doing so, we will find lasting happiness that will save us from feeling envious of what others are achieving.
When I talk of God intending us to be different from one another, I am reminded of a rendezvous I had sometime in 2011 with two lady-friends of mine called Ruth and Susan. I told them during the rendezvous of how I admired great leaders like Bill Clinton, Thomas Jefferson and John F. Kennedy. And I must have talked much about those heroes of mine because I recall Ruth interrupting me to say there was so much of the likes of Thomas Jefferson in me and so little of me in me.
A few weeks later after that rendezvous with Ruth and Susan, I also happened to meet a friend of mine called Paul Byatta who was then an undergraduate student at Harvard College. Like Ruth, Byatta brought to my attention that I was talking too much about great leaders like Thomas Jefferson and revealing too little about me.
It has been long since I had thoughtful conversations with such insightful friends of mine as Ruth and Byatta. But I want to believe that there is now more of me in me because I have been working hard to develop my own voice. Or to put it in other words, I have been daring to be different.
My dear reader, I also beseech you to also dare to be different. Cultivate that rare thing you possess. Try not to suppress what seems different in yourself. As I have already said, we are all unique. Geneticists say that the odds of our parents having another child like us are one in 102,000,000,000.
If you make a commitment of daring to be different by cultivating that rare thing you possess, you will make mistakes and face opposition from those who equate newness with wrongness. You may also be occasionally plagued by guilt of being different.
Let me encourage you to not wallow in guilt over the mistakes you will make as you attempt to be different. And when you face opposition from those who equate newness with wrongness, soldier on. Remember if you are flattened by an opponent, you can get up again; but if you are flattened by conformity, you stay down for good.
Again my dear reader, I beseech you to dare to be different. Be a lot less them and a lot more you. You are unique, so why blend in when you were created to stand out? Let's take comfort from this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: "To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." Adieu!
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story of mine on daring to be different, you might also enjoy another one I wrote sometimes back on "Treating Life as a Gift". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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Charging People For Our Services
A few years ago as I was taking a walk in my hometown of Kiserian, I passed by a crowd of people milling around a man who was towering above the rest because he was walking using two poles attached to each of his legs. The man was wearing a long pair of trousers that covered the poles, and he had shoes on the ends of the two poles touching the ground. So a small child would have been forgiven for thinking the man had very long legs.
I stopped for a few minutes to also watch the "tall" man who was frightening some people when he went near them to solicit money. And being the mischievous young man that I sometimes am, I approached the man and said to him in Swahili, "You are so tall; can you see tomorrow?"
"Yes!" the man replied, "There will be rains next week." (It was rain season that time here in Kenya; the man was acting clever by telling me there would be rains the following week.)
After replying to my question, the man begged me for some money while walking towards me with his long legs. I have to admit that I felt scared as he came towards me. And the fear I felt led me to disappear into a nearby building without giving him the money he was begging from me.
When I remembered that man today, I have realized he was very wise to ask for money from the people who had gathered to watch him. He was simply charging for his services of entertaining them. I have also realized that I haven't been as good as him in charging people for my services despite all the knowledge I have gained from books.
Yes, I haven't been such a streetwise young man over the last thirteen years since I turned eighteen. There are so many times I have offered free services as if I don't need money. I would have loved to tell you about them all but to keep this story shorter than a novel, let me tell you of only three instances. Only three.
Early in 2006 when I was in Starehe Institute, I joined a network-marketing company called GNLD. Several weeks after joining the company, I managed to convince someone to buy the company's expensive products. One afternoon, I accompanied him to the bank to deposit money for the products and then took him to GNLD warehouse. But imagine despite all those efforts, I didn't make even a single coin from the sale. Instead of selling the products at the recommended retail price and pocketing some profit, I sold them at exactly the same amount the company was charging. How foolish I was!
Then in 2011, I landed an opportunity to teach Geography at a small school in Nairobi called Mathematics Institute of Kenya. But I took up the job without agreeing with the head of the school on how much she would be paying me for my services. I taught for several weeks and left the school without asking for a stipend - another proof that I have not been a streetwise young man.
And then that same year in 2011, a lady I met at All Saints' Cathedral in Nairobi wanted me to teach her and her grandchildren how to play the piano. When she inquired from me how much I would charge her for the services, I told her that she only needed to pay for my fare to her home. Imagine that - teaching the lady and her grandchildren while charging her only for fare to her home! Isn't that foolish for real? It's like I never needed money.
The truth is, we all need money during our sojourn in this grand and beautiful planet that is the Earth. Money to pay for our needs and to enable us lead a decent life. I just like the way Wallace D. Wattles put it in his book The Science of Getting Rich. He wrote:
Whatever may be said in praise of poverty, the fact remains it is not possible to live a really complete or successful life unless one is rich.So as for me, I have resolved to be charging people for my services appropriately, just like I saw the "tall" man in Kiserian do. I will always be careful not to repeat my past weaknesses of offering free services as if I don't need money. That's all I am saying.
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