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Be The Best You Can Be

January 21, 2018

I am really tempted to write about the recent verbal “attack” on Africa by a certain leader but I won’t. I’ll just keep my thoughts to myself for now but I cannot resist saying this one thing: without a sh*thole, every one of us would be lying on a hospital bed having waste from our bodies being removed through various pipes connected to our bodies – and paying very heavily for that service.  A sh*thole is a very vital part of our bodies, one that should be treated and handled with care. It is funny he referred to Africa as a sh*thole, yet they wouldn’t be what they are today without Africa! They used African slaves (still do in modern day slavery) to do their jobs for them and make them rich. They use resources from Africa to increase their wealth and sustain their status quo in the world. They even use Africa as their lab to test their latest medicines and vaccines. Yet Africa is a sh*thole. Just goes to prove my point that indeed a sh*thole is a very vital part of the body!

Anyway, moving on.

The 3rd week of the 1st month of 2018 has just ended, and today we are starting the 4th week. Have you evaluated your performance for the last 3 weeks? Let’s assume you were still on leave the 1st week and only got back to work or to your nation building activities from the 2nd week of 2018, how would you rate your productivity so far? What can you say you have managed to do different from last year same time? What bad habits have you rooted out of your system so far?

Speaking of system, the other day I was trying to backup my phone but I kept getting this message that I didn’t have enough space on the device. So I decided to go through my phone to see what was taking up so much space because I know I have enough capacity on that phone. It has 128GB and for a phone, that’s a lot. So I went to settings to check what was eating up my storage and found the culprit; Photos! Out of 120GB that had been used up, the photos App had taken 48 GB just by itself! That’s basically a third of the capacity on my phone! What a greedy App. But then I realized why this was the case. You see, during the festive season there were so many forwards forwarded to me, some from people I haven’t communicated with in years, some from people I don’t even know and to date I’m still wondering how they got my number, and of course from friends and family.  The thing about forwards is that you might receive the same thing from ten different people and if you don’t have the time to go through your phone, you’ll find your capacity has been eaten up by irrelevant videos such as those of pigs taking a bath.

Anyway, so after I found out who the culprit of eating up my space was, I took almost 45 minutes going through my entire photo library deleting stuff I didn’t need. I even discovered I had photos of people I had cut ties with but they were still in my phone, so I cleaned all that up too.  Then I decided to go through the apps on my phone and discovered some I haven’t used since they were installed, which led me to ask myself why I had downloaded them in the first place. By the end of that exercise, I had freed up an additional 40GB! Having gone through that experience, I’ve now decided to be doing this every week to ensure I don’t have an accumulation of unnecessary videos and pictures that just take up space in my phone but add no value to my life in any way. I also went ahead and did the same for my emails; I got rid of all the unnecessary emails from all my inboxes, unsubscribed from all the mailing lists I no longer have interest in and only retained what is relevant to me for this year.

Right there I had the most amazing epiphany!

This year, though it is fast becoming old, can be likened to my phone. It can also be likened to a machine that has just been formatted, everything that was in it completely erased, then you start installing all the relevant software afresh. By doing this, you not only eliminate unwanted clutter, but you also ensure you only install what is absolutely necessary to ensure you don’t overload your machine and it starts giving you the same drama it did before you formatted it.

At the beginning of the year I did say that the only way we are going to make good of this year is by making changes to the way we do things this year. With the analogy of the formatted machine in mind, can you say so far you have successfully managed to do away with all the bad software (read bad habits) you had in 2017 and installed some great new ones? Have you started spending your time better than you did last year? Are you eating the right things and avoiding all the junk you used to eat last year? Have you started a new course to add a new skill to yourself? Have you stopped spending your entire night watching series on TV or online instead of spending that time listening to or watching motivational messages? How about your work ethics, has it changed? Do you still think you are doing your boss a favor by appearing to work every day? Speaking of work ethics, I think I need to explore this area a bit because I am personally sick and tired of people working like they are doing others a favor.  And since today I am in venting mode, let me just vent my disappointment at the absence of great customer service in many organizations.

Yesterday I was looking for a Macbook Pro on behalf of someone who had asked me to do that for him since he knows I’m a MAC user. So I called one of the shops in Dar that has supplied me with Apple products in the past, expecting to receive service that matches the high end product they sell. Shock on me! First of all the person who answered my call sounded like she was nursing a major hangover. Secondly, she had no idea what I was asking her. From their website, I could see they have both Macbooks and Macbook Pros and when I asked her what the difference in specifications was, she mumbled some unintelligible words and went silent. I later on realized that during the time she went quiet, she was looking for someone else to assist me without having the courtesy to warn me what she was doing. Then the person who came on the line was equally disappointing, plus I had to start my story all over again. Then the guy insulted my intelligence by assuming I was a novice in the Mac environment, until I asked him one question that left him embarrassed. If I didn’t know the owner of this shop personally, I would never ever go back there again for anything.

Unfortunately I know I am not the only one who has gone through such treatment from employees who feel they are doing customers and employers a favor by being at the office on a Saturday morning.  If you are such an employee, why then would you be surprised if you work years on end and never get a salary increment or recognition of any kind? If this is your attitude towards work, why would anyone think of promoting you? If anything you should count yourself lucky that you still have that job in the first place, especially with that stinking attitude!

Many people have this twisted idea that they go to work to benefit their bosses. I pity such people because they never realize how wrong they are. If you want to know how wrong you are, just look at what happens when a colleague dies. Does the company shut down because he’s dead? Does the department stop existing because that person died? Assuming it was the receptionist who died, does the company close the doors to the outside world because there is nobody to receive calls and walk-in guests who come in? NO! Instead, even before the dust settles on the grave, the company will be looking for someone to replace the deceased person. Nobody is indispensable, so let nobody lie to you that you are doing the company a favor by being at work.

How about you choose to approach your work differently by seeing it as a opportunity to realize your dreams? How about you start seeing your organization as a partner in your journey to achieving your goals? People who behave like they are doing the company a favor are normally goalless, frustrated people who use their jobs as a strategy to self-medicate against the frustrations they are going through in life. They use that as a platform to unleash their frustrations to their co-workers and innocent clients who come to the organization. In this day and age where jobs are so scarce and competition to satisfy customers is beyond cut-throat, how can one have such a twisted mentality? Come on people, this is 2018. Something needs to change.

My favorite book in the world has a quote that says this, “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won't be honest with greater responsibilities”. If you cannot be faithful in your position as a receptionist in the small business you are working for, what makes you think you will be faithful as a receptionist in a conglomerate? If you cannot be faithful as a driver, what makes you think you will be faithful as a fleet manager? It is the little things you do every day that determine how well you will perform as you advance in your career, and that is if you advance at all!  Like I keep saying, it is what you do today that will determine how your tomorrows will be. It is also what you don’t do today that will determine what you will not have in all your tomorrows. Little changes can make a massive difference in your life. And these changes have to start in your character.

One way of bringing change in your life is through books. For the #52BooksIn52Weeks2018 Book Reading Challenge, The Power of Character In Leadership by the late Myles Munroe is my recommended book for this coming week. I also recommend The Leader Who Had No Title by Robin Sharma. I don’t believe it is a coincidence that these two books happen to be this week’s read, yet they talk about character. If you are reading this article today, trust me it is not a coincidence; there is something the universe is trying to tell you about your leadership either of yourself or others around you. Get the books and your views about leadership will never be the same again.

I believe we are all leaders wherever we are. Leadership is not about positions, but it is about responsibilities. The first responsibility you have as a leader is to lead yourself in ways that will produce rich results in your life. And by rich results I don’t mean in monetary terms; I mean in every other aspect of your life i.e. a rich social life, a rich spiritual life, a rich professional life, a rich emotional life, a rich family life, etc. How then can you lead yourself into such riches if you have no character? How then can you be a leader in any other platform when you cannot even lead the one person you spend all your time with, YOU? I urge everyone of you to get a copy of these books and read them. I am sure they will challenge you in ways you never imagined before.

Last week the world celebrated Martin Luther King Jnr. In his honor, I think it is befitting to end this week’s article by sharing one of the most thought provoking quotes I have ever read from him regarding being faithful in whatever one does. He said, "Be the best in whatever you do. If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven played music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper.

Question to you today; are you being the best in whatever you do? Do a self-evaluation and decide for yourself.

 

Be Inspired. Be Ignited. Be Influenced. Become the best version of yourself you can ever be.

 

PS: This article was originally published in Tanzania's Guardian On Sunday on the 21st of January, 2018, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words".

 

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