Rising Above Negativity
A True Story
on Sep 2, 2021
I have come to love writing. There is an emotional high I feel whenever I craft a story that I think is interesting. I especially love it when I consult my dictionary or thesaurus and find the word, idiom or phrasal verb that aptly expresses what I have in mind; I do love writing for shizzle. Writing is to me what soccer was to Ronaldinho: fun, engaging and deeply fulfilling.
What makes writing even more fun to me is when I share my stories with the world and readers comment on how they have been touched by what I have written. Some readers have told me they find my stories captivating; others have remarked to me that I have a talent for writing. Recently, I received a feedback message from a reader abroad who described the stories in this blog as unique and interesting. Such is the kind of feedback that make writing a deeply fulfilling hobby for me.
However, not all people with whom I have shared my stories have been positive and encouraging. Some, I am ashamed to say, have sent me negative feedback that has depressed me. And what I find ironic is that the negative feedback has come from "educated" people who I naturally expected to find something meaningful in what I write.
Like on one memorable evening in December 2015, I wrote a story about how I struggled with my social life when I was growing up. Having liked the way the story came out, I joyfully shared it with my circle of friends via email in the firm belief that I was entertaining and enlightening them. I can still remember how elated I felt after emailing the story to those friends.
Guess what! One of the "friends", a former Social Ethics teacher at Starehe Boys' Centre where I had my high school as well as college education, took the joy out of me when she emailed back to me, commanding me to stop bothering her. She instructed me to find someone else to confide in, not her.
That "friend" had completely misunderstood me. I had shared my story with her, not to unburden my problems on her but to entertain and enlighten her. And there she was, commanding me to desist emailing her. She so depressed me with her caustic reply that I was beside myself with gloom for a day or two.
Then on another memorable evening in January 2020, I penned a story titled "Abuse of Power" in which I narrated how some of my schoolmates at Starehe Institute were expelled from school over trivial matters. I thoroughly enjoyed penning the story, and after I shared it in a Facebook group of Starehe old boys, I could hardly wait to hear what the old boys had to say.
But alas! A character I don't know named Smith Mwangi, who was in the Facebook group of Starehe old boys, spoilt my fun by posting a scathing comment designed to hurt me. He curtly called me an underachiever, then went on to tell me that I was stuck in my past and that I had nothing to show for the 'A's I scored in my final high school exams.
That character Smith Mwangi so depressed me with his scathing comment that I was unable to carry on with life for a number of hours. Imagine I didn't even take a shower on the morning of that day I read his comment. His comment was a real downer for me. Fortunately, some other old boys lifted my moods when they came to my defence.
Well, I still love sharing my writings with the world. And if there is anything I have learnt from that hobby, it is that there are so many insensitive and insulting people out there. I am therefore careful these days when selecting those with whom I share my stories. Also, I have learnt to protect my enthusiasm from the negativity of others.
My reader, this world is full of negative people for shizzle. I am sure you encounter them as you go about your daily life. My advice to you is to not let anyone's ignorance, hate, drama or negativity stop you from being the best person you can be. Be yourself, pursue your dreams passionately while keeping away from small-minded people who try to belittle your ambitions. Adieu!
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on rising above negativity, you might also enjoy another one I wrote about three years ago on "Handling Criticism". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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Wisdom From Steve Jobs
A True Story
on Aug 28, 2021
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life," thus advised Steve Jobs in his famous 2005 commencement speech at Stanford University. He had been invited to that commencement ceremony to be conferred an honorary doctorate by Stanford for the pivotal contributions he had made in the field of personal computing.
Born in America in 1955 to a mother who was not ready to raise a child, Steve Jobs was adopted by a couple who promised his biological mother that they would educate him up to college. True to their promise, the couple saw to it that Steve Jobs attended college; he was accepted at Reed College in 1972.
But you know what? After only one semester, Steve Jobs dropped out of Reed College since he didn't see the value of his college education. And after he dropped out, he started hanging around the college while pursuing his hobbies and personal interests. He, for instance, took lessons in calligraphy by dropping in on classes at Reed. As to how the Reed College administration allowed him into the classes without him being part of the college, I don't know.
Thanks to his pursuit of what interested him, Steve Jobs, together with two of his friends, founded in 1976 a computer-making company they named Apple Inc. They began the company's operations in a garage. And despite the company's humble beginnings, it grew in size within a few years - making Steve Jobs a dollar-millionaire while still in his 30s.
Steve Jobs told Stanford graduates in 2005 that the calligraphy skills he acquired at Reed College came in handy when he was developing Apple computers. So dropping out of the college turned out to be one of the best decisions he ever made.
As Steve Jobs worked on growing Apple Inc., office politics came into play which in 1985 led him to be sacked from Apple Inc. - the company he had founded. Getting sacked from Apple Inc. was a frustrating experience for him. But as he told Stanford graduates in 2005, it is the best thing that ever happened to him because it transitioned him into one of the most creative periods of his life.
After being sacked from Apple Inc., Steve Jobs founded another company he called NeXT. Using the skills and experiences he had gained while working for Apple Inc., he nurtured NeXT into such a successful company that it was eventually bought by Apple Inc. in 1996, making Steve Jobs return to the company he founded in 1976. He was made CEO of Apple Inc. in 1997.
As the CEO of Apple Inc., Steve Jobs steered the company into one of the most respected and most profitable firms in the world. It was under his visionary leadership that the company created such game-changing gadgets as iPod, iPad and iPhone. And the products of Apple Inc. came to be known for their quality and durability.
Steve Jobs told Stanford graduates in 2005 that he was lucky to have found something he loved to do at an early age. He advised the graduates to also find their passion. This is what he advised them:
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle... Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice... And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.Besides his love for what he did, what also contributed to Steve Jobs' success as an entrepreneur was his motto: "Stay hungry. Stay foolish." When I first came across that motto of his, I didn't understand what it meant. I must have thought it had something to do with going without food and being stupid. But alas! On googling up its meaning, I learnt that to stay hungry and to stay foolish means to keep improving ourselves and to keep on aiming high even after attaining our goals.
Another factor that contributed to Steve Jobs' success was his thinking that he would die one day. That sense of mortality infused him with a desire to make the most of each day. He would often ask himself in the morning, "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever his answer was "no" for several days in a row, he knew he had to change.
Sure enough, Steve Jobs did eventually die. He passed away on October 5th, 2011 after battling pancreatic cancer for a number of years. And when he died, the whole world mourned his death - a testament to the impact he had made in the field of personal computing. He left a legacy of ambition, innovation and challenging the status quo that has continued to guide Apple Inc. employees.
I don't know about you but for me, the story of Steve Jobs has inspired me to keep on working on my talents in music and writing. It has also given me hope that all things will eventually work out for my good as the Bible says in the book of Romans. Hopefully, I will one day look back on my life, just as Steve Jobs did in 2005, and realize that both the good and the bad things in my life contributed to my success.
By the way, Steve Jobs was a Buddhist who found meaning and direction in life from the Buddhism religion of the Far East. That's why, even though I am deeply Christian, I have never looked down on people of other creeds - be they Hindus, Muslims or atheists. For me, I consider my Christian faith a personal issue that I have never wished to impose on others. Adieu!
UPDATE: I added subtitles to show the lyrics of the hymn "Help Me God" that I produced about six years ago. Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the hymn and have a listen. I am sure you'll love it.