Sometimes to solve a problem…

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it works to listen to somebody else’s story.

I learned that today. So for some time now, I’ve been struggling to figure out some problem in my life and before I got a chance to think about it on paper, I found myself listening to a friend tell her story. Towards the end, she said, “I can’t believe that I was so excited about it before. Now it’s the source of my misery.”

I replied with something my mother always says, “ukishika kitu na vishindo saa nyengine haina kheiri.” (Roughly translated it means that sometimes clinging to something obsessively is not good).

And it’s funny, because as I was saying it, something just clicked in my mind and I started to draw analogies between her story and my mental conflict, and I realized that it was that exact phrase that I needed to hear in order to figure my problem out.

So next time you’re faced with a problem, instead of spending so much energy talking about it, what if you open up your ears and listen to someone else’s story for a change? Maybe within that story, you will find the key to solving it.

That’s it for today.



Silhouette Moments

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We go through moments in life that appear dark. Nothing is clear and the sadness and uncertainty of it all threatens to stifle us. But what if we choose to believe that this darkness is nothing but a silhouette? A form that appears dark only because it is standing against a source of light? A source of light we don’t really perceive even though it’s ironic because its presence is the sole reason the dark silhouette exists in the first place? What if the light was there and we could see it if only we stopped focusing so much on the darkness and shifted our focus instead to the light that?
What if we internalize the idea that every moment we take a step forward, we are giving time for the light to shift so things would clear up and we could see the moment for what it really is; a lesson in disguise, a test of character or simply, a moment of growth? What if the uncertainty was an opportunity for extended hope, because certainty could catch us at a time when we’re ill-prepared to face it and the result might actually crush us?
So study your troubled moments and hang on to the hope that they might just silhouette moments, that the light is somewhere, behind them….

You Can’t Always Win

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Sometimes in life you need to sit down and accept defeat. I’ve always been a supporter of persistence, grit, whatever you want to call it, putting your eye on the prize and keep moving towards it until you reach there. But to be wise is also to know the optimum conditions at which to throw in the towel, hang the boot and call it quits. Especially when you realize that the price that you are paying for a rerun – the emotional and psychological price – is much higher than the benefit you could gain out of the prize.
And also, don’t forget that in some cases it never really is about the prize as much as it is about the journey. The lessons you might have learnt from the failures could be priceless and applied elsewhere. It’s what Randy Pausch called a “head fake” or “indirect learning in his Last Lecture. When he was talking about how he dreamt of playing in the National Football League, but did not make it, he said,” but I probably got more from that dream and not accomplishing it than I got from any of the ones that I did accomplish. When we send our kids out to play football, we actually don’t want our kids to learn football, we send our kids out to learn much more important things. Teamwork, sportsmanship, perseverance. And these kinds of head fake learning are absolutely important. And you should keep your eye out for them because they’re everywhere.”