Humility: A lesson in Service & Growth

Yesterday, I was so thrilled to meet my peers that we served together as the Executive at Kenyatta University Student’s Council. Then, I had the honor of being the President of the Student Council. As President of the Student union, we led 72,000 students, controlled a vote of Ksh. 43 million, I sat in the University Senate, was allowed into the University Council and was part of every decision made at the University. This period of my life gave me lessons, it stretched me, but it also set me up for one of the greatest challenges I have had to face. Let me share it with you.

My two Jobs after the University were essentially as a personal assistant. My first title was that of an Associate Partner at Public Policy consultancy firm. But whereas my boss entrusted me with delivery and management of company initiatives, he also expected me to ensure his water bills are paid, and in many cases, insisted I go to do it myself.

My second Job was as an Executive Assistant to a Managing Director. Here, the job ranges from executive support to his office, to carrying his briefcase and even ensuring he is safely checked into a hotel room. Now, the transition from being a boss, to these roles were not easy. In all honesty, many a times I felt that my duties slighted me.

When I took over my second Job, what I consider one of my greatest strengths was tested to the core. I realized, my boss would tear apart every draft, be it a letter or a memo I presented to him. And I could draft one document close to 4 times before it was accepted. These things were not easy. But one thing that shocked me with all my bosses, they had inexplicable faith in me. So, it was honestly confusing.
That was when I learnt a few things.

The greatest lessons in life come from the most humbling of experiences. If I remained a “boss’ I’d never know what drafting a policy paper really meant. I would never pay attention to the nuances of writing a brief or a letter that triggers real action.

I learnt I was young, but I was sitting on certain tables. I did not have experience to warrant my sitting with a cabinet secretary or a President. But God has his intentions why He thinks I should. And my ticket to that table, is carrying my boss’ briefcase. And writing the minutes. And doing the follow-up.

With time, I’ve earned the confidence of my own assignment. But what is amazing is how effortlessly it matters to me now that I ensure there is water on the table, or that the driver has eaten. In all honesty, I care more that my boss has his notepad and pen ready, before I sit down to take on my duties.
No one deserves to lead unless they can be led. So maybe, just maybe, your real path to real greatness lies in the path you see as muddied and unworthy of your feet.

 

DON’T DOUBT: YOU DESERVE A PLACE AT THE TABLE!

There will always be a tiny voice in your head, questioning. As you sit down to make a job application, whether you really deserve to get it. At work, when an internal opportunity is advertised, whether you really should apply too, or let it go to the other person.

Many times, in life, I have found myself in places where on many measures, I’m the least. The least educated, the youngest, the least experienced, the least affluent. And these voices easily become loud, so you are tempted to sit and just listen, until when someone will say, but Felix, you haven’t said anything.

You choose to dim your shine, because you believe anyway, everyone else here is better. You choose to kick yourself out of a race because so and so always run better. You refuse to take up a leadership role, because so has always led us.

Hear me today, yes, you may be inexperienced, but you have a voice. Speak and be corrected, you learn better. Take your sit at the table and add your voice to the chat. The Lord who brought you to that sit, has a better understanding of who you are than yourself. Seek to be better, but don’t question your worth.
Speak life and confidence into your heart, and silence the voices that seek to uproot your feet from the path of progress.
Today, believe in yourself, you will see the magic that comes with that.

A Whisper to the Young

1. It takes time to Make anything in Life: So learn to fight beyond a day, beyond a month, beyond a year. Whenever you believe in something, keep being at it. Rethink where you must, change what you must, but dont give up at the first instance of strife. Granted, whichever second or third or fourth venture you set out to do, you’ll still need patience.

2. Life is more about how you relate with people than anything else: Fight to be the most competent, work the best you can, offer your heart out, study to the best level you can BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, create relationships with people. Respect those ahead and behind you. You may imagine you know so much, the truth however, is that with every sunshine, there are lessons. And many have seen way more that the brilliance of your moment.

3. Prepare yourself to Sit at the Table. Corridors don’t like strangers. So learn your way to take your place at the table and belong. Don’t ever doubt your ability when opportunity happens. Nothing ever happens by an accident. Remember, when you appear like you don’t belong, you could as well be on your way out.

4. Pay attention to Small things: Rarely are people toppled from grace by great incompetence or great transgression. It is the small things. Say hi to your tea girl. Edit an email a third time. pay attention. Say no to small pride. Do small roles to perfection.

5. God: He actually works miracles. Try Him!

Blessed Thursday