Competing Only With Myself - Reflections of a Young Man™

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Competing Only With Myself

To be honest, there were times I found it hard to stop envying others in this increasingly competitive world. I wondered how it came that some age-mates who were less brighter than me in school had achieved success that eluded me like getting engaged, meeting famous people, owning cars and flying abroad. That envy became too much that I had to go in exile from Facebook where my friends were showcasing their success.

Of late though, I have successfully managed to discipline myself to compare and compete only with the person I was yesterday. And what kind of a person was I yesterday?

Broadly speaking, I can classify my past life in three phases. The first phase covers my first twenty years in which I used to live an ordinary life of waking up early everyday mostly to attend school. My only limitations in that phase were confusion and poor social skills that people saw in me. Imagine I would get attracted to girls but never summon enough courage to talk to them!

I remember one Sunday afternoon in 2006 during a church youth group meeting when I was reading an international news magazine thinking I was impressing others only to overhear a youth group member named Cyrus remark to another, "There are people in this world who read a lot but can't socialize and get along well with others." Cyrus didn't mention my name but I instantly knew I was the target of his criticism. That's how socially undeveloped I was in my first life phase.

The second phase of my life began some time in 2008 after I was rejected by all the elite American colleges I applied to: Harvard, Yale, Stanford and MIT. Those rejections destabilized my life and made me realize that life was not only about books but also confidence and freedom.

Regarding my third phase in life, I have began it now. From this point onwards, I will strive to project a victorious attitude. I will strive to radiate a hopeful, expectant and cheerful countenance even in the face of failure, criticism, disappointment or discouragement. Hopefully by so doing, I will be able to attract the success I desire.

In summary, I led an ordinary life in the first phase of my life. Then came the rejections from American Colleges that transited me to the second phase characterized by constant struggle with life. And now, I am transiting to a third phase of extraordinary life. As you can see, I am comparing and competing only with the person I was yesterday. So help me God.


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The Value of Wisdom

H. Jackson Brown Jr., in his charming Life's Little Instructions Book, advises us to pray not only for things but also for wisdom and courage. I wrote about courage in a story accessible by clicking here but I will dwell on wisdom today.

Wisdom is valuable - more valuable that gold. It prolongs life as well as attracts wealth and honor. If we seek only knowledge and ignore wisdom, we will end up being like a cancerous organ that enlarges beyond the normal size in that we will waste time, energy and money on unnecessary expenses, activities and projects.

That's why God was so impressed with Solomon for asking wisdom. And because of wisdom, Solomon grew to be a man of great wealth, fame and power. He is still considered one of the wealthiest people in the crowded canvas of human history.

And where can we find wisdom? Well, I used to think it was a preserve of the white people, the elderly, the religious, the seemingly wealthy people and the academically intelligent. But from my own observations, I have recently discovered that it is randomly distributed to some people in all the cultures of the world.

So wisdom can be found in the meetings of elders, in the plays of children, in the proverbs of sages, in the sayings of bushmen as well as in the reflections of a young man.


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Thuita's 2nd Law of Human Nature®

This is me at 18 looking as handsome as a Hollywood movie star when I was at STTI where I first learnt how to use a computer. More on that in the story below.

Truth be told, I first learnt how to use a computer in 2006 at Starehe Technical Training Institute (STTI) shortly after I turned 18. It was at that institute where I not only got to know how to switch on a computer but also mastered how to navigate through the Windows Operating System, how to browse the internet and how to type at a reasonably fast speed. I became increasingly fascinated with how computers work that I delved deeper by learning web design and computer programming. It was such a great learning experience - the kind that makes a difference in one's life.

When I began applying to top American universities while still at STTI, I was impressed with how the universities had used computer technology to market their institutions as well as improve their application process. So impressed was me on the impact of computers in easing life that I began persuading the Starehe administration to adopt them to improve the image and management of the school.

Those who listened to me were dragooned by my ideas but strangely, no one took action. And when I persisted with championing my ideas, some fellow classmates started calling me "Systems Analyst" which annoyed me not because I disliked the title but because they were making fun of me.

When I recently reflected on those persuasion experiences at STTI, I have formulated what I call the Thuita's 2nd Law of Human Nature® which states as follows:
"People love change but they hate it when they themselves have to change." [1]
This law probably explains why politicians in my country come up with very compelling campaign manifestos which they hardly implement when elected to power. Like President Mwai Kibaki was elected with a landslide in the '02 General Elections, uprooting a regime that had ruled for 40 years. People were optimistic after the elections that Kenya would change for the better. Even my apolitical brother Gatonga remarked during Kibaki's inauguration day that Kenya would soon overtake South Africa as Africa's most developed nation.

But alas! President Kibaki underwent hell when he tried to implement his manifesto. He faced rebellion from those who had helped him ascend to power. The nation suffered the worst violence in its history under his watch. It took him eight years to change the country's constitution which he had promised to change in the first 100 days of his administration. See?

[1] Here are the first law and third law. These laws have been copyrighted with the Kenya Copyright Board. All rights reserved worldwide. DO NOT QUOTE THEM WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM THE AUTHOR.


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