Book Review: "The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player"
A True Story
on May 24, 2020
When I was in Starehe Institute in 2006, I was drafted into a network marketing company called GNLD by my senior brother Bob Njinju. I only did business with the company for about three months and then gave up. But my time in GNLD wasn't a waste because I learnt a few valuable lessons that have served me well in life.
Like there was a lady named Rosetta Njeru who used to advise us to read John C. Maxwell's books if we wanted to prosper in our GNLD business. I never had a chance to lay my hands on John C. Maxwell's books in those days but Rosetta's advice had such an impression on me that later on in 2007 when I was applying to Stanford University for undergraduate admission, I included John C. Maxwell in a list of my favourite authors even though I had never read any of his books.
It wasn't until years later in 2015 that I got hold of a John C. Maxwell book after Bob Njinju lent it to me. And the book turned out to be such a bore to me that I didn't finish it. I just read the first twenty pages or so of the book, shelved it and then returned it to Bob a few years later in 2017.
Some time in 2018, Bob Njinju - who has soldiered on with his GNLD business - forgot at home another John C. Maxwell book titled The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player. I shelved the book on a cupboard in my room, probably with the intention of giving it back to Bob. And I must say I was reluctant to read it after having been bored by the other John C. Maxwell book I have told you I tried to read in 2015.
Late last week, I picked up The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player and began to read it. And wow! It turned out to be such a delightful read that I could hardly put it down. I finished it in less than a week and gave it a 5-star rating on Goodreads.com, a social networking site for book lovers.
What captivated me most in the book are the stories John C. Maxwell tells in an effort to drive his points home. I wish I could re-narrate most of the stories here but to keep this blog-post shorter than a novel, allow me to tell you of one. Only one.
Well, John C. Maxwell narrates in the last chapter of the book of a time in 2001 when he travelled from the United States to England with some of his friends. As part of their itinerary in England, they had planned to be pictured on the same street where the Beatles - the famous music band - had been photographed last century. But when they went to the street eager to be pictured, they found it closed.
John C. Maxwell and his friends cajoled the workers guarding the street to kindly allow them to fulfil their desire to be pictured on it. At first, the workers refused to let them on the street. But never ones to give up easily, John C. Maxwell and his friends explained to the workers how far they had travelled from and why they desired to be photographed on the street. After being persuaded more, the workers relented and allowed John C. Maxwell and his friends to go to the same spot on the street where the Beatles had been pictured. Moral of the story: never, never, never give up on your mission.
The other lessons I learnt from the rest of the stories in the delightful book are:
- to commit to continuous self-improvement
- to communicate clearly
- to like people
- to pay attention to details
- to get along with people well
- to be teachable
- to be creative
- to aim for excellence
- to be enthusiastic
- to learn to say "no"
- to learn from mistakes
- and to give genuine compliments
I so thoroughly enjoyed John C. Maxwell's The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player that I am now yearning to read more books by the same author. And I am regretting why I returned to Bob NJinju the other John C. Maxwell book that I found to be a bore in 2015. Now that I have matured intellectually, I probably would understand it better and appreciate its message more at this time. That's all I am saying.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on a book review of The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player, you might also enjoy another one I wrote two years ago on "Benefits of Working in a Team". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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Death of a Professor & a Mentor
A True Story
on May 20, 2020
I bought my first touch-screen phone in December 2014. Besides transferring contacts, the other activity I remember doing on that day I bought the touch-screen phone was joining Whatsapp. And wa! As soon as I joined Whatsapp, people started adding to groups. Within a year, I had been added to about eight groups by my siblings, relatives, workmates, church colleagues and high school friends.
Some time in 2016, it dawned on me that being in many Whatsapp groups was taxing my phone resources because of the images and videos I had to keep downloading. So I boldly left all the groups. Some friends were mad at me for leaving their groups. Like when I left a Whatsapp group for my high school class, my friend Theophilus Kamwaro was hot on my heels; he kept adding me to the group while telling me it is unwise to isolate myself from people. But I stuck to my guns and stayed away from all Whatsapp groups - something I don't regret because with less Whatsapp notifications, I now have more time for my favourite pastime: reading books!
There is however one Whatsapp group I left in 2016 but later rejoined - and that is of my siblings. We call ourselves "The Great Maina Brothers". I rejoined the group for I thought it wise to stay in touch with the siblings I grew up with here in Kiserian. And the good thing about them is that they are very encouraging and supportive.
Yesterday at night, just before I was about to retire to bed, I saw on my touch-screen phone a notification that indicated I had nine new messages on Whatsapp. Since 2016 when I left virtually all the Whatsapp groups I had been added to, I have rarely had more than five new messages on Whatsapp. So when I saw I had nine of them to read yesternight, I sensed something was up. And my instincts were right because when I got into Whatsapp, I learnt from my siblings that a mentor of ours named Fr. Charles Nyamiti had passed on.
Fr. Nyamiti was an erudite professor of theology who also had a keen passion for classical music. When I first got to know him in the late '90s, he was a lecturer at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) in Nairobi. My siblings and I used to regularly visit him at his magnificent residence in CUEA. And what I find remarkable about Fr. Nyamiti was the way he showed interest in our lives, young though we were.
The purpose of us visiting Fr. Nyamiti was to gain an appreciation of classical music. We listened at his residence to the music of such great composers as Bach, Handel and Mozart. And during the visits, I noted Fr. Nyamiti had a portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven in his study. That tells how passionate he was about classical music.
On one such visit, I vividly remember my immediate elder brother Paddy becoming so moved by the music we were listening that he remarked the trees in a nearby field were swaying rhythmically with the music. By the way, among my siblings, Paddy was considered the most promising musician by the seminarian who introduced us to Fr. Nyamiti.
Although we visited Fr. Nyamiti purposely to gain an appreciation of classical music, for me, the best parts of the visits were the sumptuous dishes we feasted at his residence. We would have ten o'clock tea, lunch and four o'clock refreshments. Imagine I would go for several helpings during those feasting sessions till I had had a bellyful of food. I was such a gluttonous little devil!
Apart from having us eat and listen to classical music, Fr. Nyamiti also regaled us with stories about how he grew up in rural Tanzania and how he mesmerized audiences in Europe with his piano-playing skills. He had a bit of advice for us too. I particularly recall one evening when he advised us to stay away from drugs.
Sometime in 2004 when I was a Form 3 student at Starehe Boys' Centre, I approached Fr. Nyamiti and requested him to tutor me in music. He agreed. On several Saturday afternoons, I would leave Starehe to be with Fr. Nyamiti. What I recall learning from him at that time was how to recognize and avoid parallel fifths and octaves in music harmony. If you don't know what parallel fifths and octaves are, don't worry - your ignorance won't cause you a respiratory disease!
One Sunday morning in 2016, I visited Fr. Nyamiti at the Apostles of Jesus Major Seminary in Nairobi where he was stationed. We had tea together that morning and he appeared pleased to see me. As we had tea, he inquired how my siblings were doing. I informed him that they were all well and that three of them were married. And when he commented that my siblings and I are brilliant guys, all I said was a simple "thank you" and kept quiet.
To sum the story up, Fr. Nyamiti was a great professor who inspired my siblings and I to be better people. I will strive to emulate his passion for music as well as his willingness to reach out to youngsters and mentor them. Fare thee well, Fr. Charles Nyamiti!
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on the death of a professor and a mentor, you might also enjoy another one I wrote two years ago on "The Day I Visited My Mentors". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.