The Milk of Human Kindness

The most critical moment in anyone’s career in the service industry is handling irate customers.

You will never be prepared enough for someone or something that rides the highest wave of your emotions, especially when it is not your fault. Even if it was, no one wishes to be yelled at.

But let’s face it, there are people who just live for that moment when they can tear through another’s defenses with no regard to what effect that may have on the person, or if it resolves their complaint or not.

I’ve sat behind that thick glass that should protect a Bank Teller from the most irate customer but there were times I doubted its ability to withstand one man’s punches as he yelled every insult his experiences have ever graced him with at the top of his voice, regardless of who heard him.

I’ve sat through it; straight faced, apologising profusely and praying to every God I have ever believed in to make him accept his fate and walk away. It did not work. I never talk back when yelled at. And I could not cry.

More than six years later, I still have similar encounters and never have I learned how to return the favour, no matter how badly I want to.

There was a more interesting one this week. As she enjoyably yelled all sorts of threats and profanities, I wondered why no organisation has ever thought of the Best Apology Award for its employees. She threatened to drive to the premises and turn everything upside down, and I wondered what was satisfying about that, because all it does is freeze every brain in the room and lengthen the resolution time as people fidget to recollect their nerves.

But at the end of the day, when you resolve such a customer’s issue before you have a meltdown, it doesn’t matter what anyone says about that being your job. Darling, go and buy yourself some fried chicken and celebrate yourself.

That is a skill added, and more so, proof that you have the milk of human kindness. Not everyone does.

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HURT

I’ve learned that some people will hurt you unintentionally.
They will say and/or do things to you that hurt parts of you but it will never be their intention to hurt you. These people will not (never will) go out of their way to purposefully hurt you. They truly care about you and believe that their words or actions won’t hurt you.

I also learned that sometimes you will get hurt, but not recognise in that moment, that you’re being hurt. And so you hold on, hoping to feel better about all of it soon. Or you believe that you can make it go away by lowering your standards to meet the ideal of the one hurting you. You feel inadequate to make them feel bad or you feel like you made them do or say those hurtful things to you.

I’ve also learned that many a times, you will not recognise how hurt you are until you have sunk so deep mentally and emotionally that you’re crippled in some vital and physical aspects of your life.

You are hurting if your social life is wounded and you can’t maintain friends. When you become so resentful and evaluate everything from a negative perspective. When no one can do good in your eyes and there’s always a hidden agenda. When your contribution to the communities you’re a part of keeps diminishing or constantly substandard.

The signs are always there but we are taught to make excuses for those who hurt us. We are taught to live in denial. We are taught that you always have a hand in making someone hurt you. You’re always to blame for the wrong others do to you.

The one who stands up for themselves is seen as rebellious and the rebellious equally don’t share the benefits of standing up for yourself. They often make you feel weak and incapable. You just don’t amount to anything in their presence and the cycle goes on and on.

Confronting these issues is tough and will not come easy. But there comes a time when your spirit gets tired of being wounded, tired of shrinking for the benefit of others, tired of never having a moment to truly celebrate the presence of others.

But no man was created an island and we must somehow survive in this wounded world.

I’ve learned that when you become weary in spirit, and feel like giving up. When you always feel inadequate, underappreciated and incapable, or even unaccomplished, you finally found yourself. Because in that moment, you have a good reason to get up and fight and especially to love yourself more.

Embrace the experience and find the lessons in it, then learn from it all. The fact that you can feel the pain only means you have the strength to turn it around and make it work for you and for those around you.

Those who hurt us only help us to find our own strength, because pain and betrayal are some of the hardest things to overcome. If you are still breathing despite the pain, you are one of the strongest people alive.

Forgive! Pick yourself up! Soldier on!

You Don’t Have to Lose

I’ve been on the losing end of far too many relationships, and for the longest time, I thought they owed me what I deserve. I have since learned that you have to earn it.

The only twist to this story, is that you don’t earn what you deserve by going out of your way to please the other person/party, or reducing yourself to near nothing in trying to keep their attention on yourself or earn favours. I’m sure you’ve come across the saying that “the person who wields power in the relationship is often the one who cares less”.

From experience, I have learned that it isn’t that they care less really; unless they just aren’t into you, but the truth is they have a real identity away from you, while you have built your world around them. You have to be firm in who you are and what you represent, if you want to be accorded what you say you want and deserve.

Be firm in the sense that, away from the other person or party, you have an identity of your own. You have a strong belief system in yourself. You have a vision for yourself and your life. You have clear principles that cut across all aspects of your life consistently. And this person represents what will help you achieve what you’re working towards. That way, they will feel valued and have a reason to come back to you. Who wouldn’t want to add glitters to someone’s life, and be acknowledged for it?

This cuts across all types of relationships. Corporate(work) relationships, intimate relationships, friendships and family. In all these, there is always someone in charge. The other person, you’ll often find, has less to bring to the table. They’ve either been misguided to think that doing extra for the other party will earn you favour from them, or they are just ignorant that they are doing everything wrong.

At home, and for the longest time, I was always at odds with my immediate family, not because they don’t love me and I them, but because ultimately, I had less to offer. In the long run, I always felt disliked by them and that they didn’t really care for me. I didn’t feel like they “heard” me. The validation I so desired from them, and maybe even deserved, just wasn’t coming my way. Well, now I know, they were only being human.

It wasn’t until I took a step back and cut myself off to reflect on me, that I started having honest conversations with some of them and actually feel “heard”. Because of how long it had been going on, I had to completely shut off. They didn’t take it well, at first, and maybe still don’t appreciate it but the healing I am experiencing is far more than I knew I needed.

Away from the pressure of having to prove myself, I’m discovering that the answer has always been in having an identity of my own. When they don’t see what you stand for, they will label you anything they want, knowingly or unknowingly, which will always cause conflict.

In the corporate world, we often behave the same way. After all, CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME, right?? We walk into the workplace like it owes us a living. In actual sense, we ought to earn it through our contribution. What do you bring to the table?

In a corporate training I attended earlier this year, the facilitator made an illustration using a venn diagram. See below;

A = Personal development goals.

B = Organisational development goals.

AnB = where the two meet and exchange value

Your personal development goals have to be clear, therefore, if you are to be deserving of anything from the organisation you work with. They have to see what you bring to the table. Away from the learned skills, what attributes do you possess as a person? What goals do you have for yourself and where does the organisation fit in helping you get closer to achieving them? You have to be firm with this, lest you will be thrown off balance and start acting like the world owes you a life.

I’m now learning that this is even more important if you’re going to lead a life of self employment or freelancing.

When you understand this, you will clearly see where you stand and save both your time and that of the other party or person. I had this realisation with my most recent employer, and it ached my heart to stay where I knew I could no longer contribute adequately. This led to a number of honest conversations with my employer and eventually a mutual agreement that it was time for me to move on. I’m grateful that I found this out in time, because it would have hurt to burn that bridge. Now I am at at peace knowing I have family there, forever. We’ll always celebrate the milestones whose foundation I contributed to. I’m proud.

Now with fellow humans, its the most disheartening of all. Our “expectations” metre is too high that we keep falling and crashing so badly, breeding unnecessary resentment and hatred that would have otherwise been avoided. For some people, being without a romantic relationship is unacceptable. The people around us aren’t any help, they demand a spouse like it’s your sole purpose on earth. None of them ever pauses to assess if you are truly ready for such a long term commitment, in terms of what attributes have been groomed in you which will help you build and nurture a healthy relationship long term.

I’ve learned that when you do not know who you are and where you’re going, it’s often hard to relate with another, because they won’t add value to your life nor you to theirs. What this leads to, is a weariness in your spirit because you feel like you’re giving too much and not getting back what you think you should. Or things are plain not working out between you. Expectations will be unrealistic and you’ll be incapable of commitment.

This is where I call upon all of us to reflect. Single or married, we all need to pause and think about where we are in our relationships. Are you happy? This is a personal responsibility, by the way, no one else can make you happy. And if you’re not, why? Where did you go off track? What did you do? What didn’t you do?

Most often, you’ll find that what you didn’t do is to define who you are and what you stand for and what what you really want. Principles, goals and dreams, gifts and talents, attributes. These then help you be deliberate about who you journey with going forward. If it’s marriage, what kind of person do you need to help you achieve what you’re working towards long term? Do you need an encourager? A social person? A more laid back person to counter your hyped nature? Someone with tighter financial principles since you tend to carelessly spend? Who do you need?

And most importantly, what are their goals and dreams, gifts and talents, principles and attributes? Where do you fit in their life and will help them achieve their own goals?

If we keep approaching relationships for the sole purpose of being married, we’ll have even more broken people than we can help. What’s happening is that everyone is busy chasing what they don’t really know in the name of survival, that they aren’t helping the younger generation (their children) to live purposefully and avoid chasing the wind in the future. The more wind chasers we have, the more our nation fails us.

This has contributed a lot to an increase in mental health cases like depression. It all starts with us, then we can help another.

I’ve since resolved to be clear about who I am and where I am going, in order to attract only the people that will help me go farther on this journey, as opposed to sitting in the corner whining about what’s not manifesting in my life. I want that person in the corner with me to be a genuine friend, who will help me ask the right questions and find answers to them, so that in the end, I have a progressive life. And I, too, will be that friend for them. I’m grateful for my special people, they haven’t let me off the hook, and I am better now, thanks to their support.

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed in the workplace, re-assess. The organisation you’re working for won’t think twice about letting you go if they are the first to see that you aren’t adding value. It’s the worst feeling being fired or asked to resign over performance issues. Do yourself a favour, figure this out asap, and take the next best move forward, before you start taking shortcuts that will ruin your reputation. Sit down and list your personal development goals, review your appointment letter and the company manual to remind yourself of the company’s development goals, where do you sync? That intersection is where your value addition is. Both to the organisation and the organisation to you. Be clear.

If it’s family, yes, they too are a relationship and you can take a break. Clearly state why you will be emotionally unavailable. This may be hard if you are the family provider (dad and mum) but it’s important for them if you are in your best shape. What will it benefit them if you crumble and can’t meet their needs anymore? You have to take care of yourself as much as you take care of them. You need “Me time” everyday to re-assess and re-align yourself to benefit everyone.

Friendships are very critical. We have seen friends who tear each other down when something goes sour between them, huh! Clearly, some things were not clarified in the beginning, otherwise, there would be more understanding and compassion. So yes, dig through this list too. Some people are better off as acquaintances, valuable only when you need each other. Otherwise, steer clear. Better safe than sorry.

Then the jackpot; romantic relationships. Let’s save ourselves the heartaches. It’s disheartening reading posts like “Ladies, men are using us as booty call” or “Women today are corporate prostitutes”. We can do better by ourselves. You don’t need a boyfriend/girlfriend to survive. You can actually be single and fulfilled. And while you look for the one you will share your life with and build a family with, have clarity of the journey ahead. Be deliberate to find that person whose life you can add value to and who will add value to yours. It’s frustrating when year in, year out, nothing is improving in your lives. Then you’ll start blaming your partner for all that’s not working or worse, start looking for it in someone else, at the expense of your own relationship/marriage. Even more, you will feel like you’re doing too much for the relationship and the other person is taking you for granted. You can turn things around if you really want it. Define who you are away from your partner. That’s where your power lies.

When you have an identity of your own, you will know what you can and won’t tolerate in the other person, thereby earning the respect and commitment you deserve.

When you have a clear vision of where you are going, you will ably find the help you need and understand your partner’s shortcomings and how to fill in the gaps, that way saving yourself the frustration of feeling stuck and unsupported by them.
When you understand your personal development goals versus the other person’s, you will not enter an undefined relationship that will waste your time. Many have been left after so many years of dating and they feel betrayed. That says you didn’t pay attention in the first place. You ignored the signs. I’ve been here, and boy, does it suck. We now know better.

I’m still learning. I’m still making mistakes. I’m human and my needs still influence my choices, many times I still fail on this journey. But we push through it all and never give up this self improvement task.

Never stop learning because life never stops teaching.

#BreakingLymyts #Soar

Take Care of Yourself

One of my loving brothers, Lwanga, shared this inspiring message on his Facebook page last Sunday and I just had to share it.

The grey zone he talks about is one of those things I have been struggling with lately and his advice couldn’t be more timely.

Everyday is a new day, with new opportunities but we often give “this moment” less credit and attention than it deserves. We waste a lot of time on needless thoughts and things.

So, while you tell your dear ones or are told by them, to take care of yourself, what does it really mean?

Here is what he says;

Hi!

We often end emails and letters with “take care of yourself!”.

This is a kind and loving wish.

But it can sometimes be difficult to know how to take care of yourself in a smart and practical way.

So this Sunday I’d like to simply share two of the most powerful and useful tips that have helped me to take care of myself in the past few years.

I hope they will help you to make this an autumn of self-kindness.

1. Stay away from the grey zone.

When you get stuck in thinking and worrying about your job when you are at home or your private life when you are at work, then you are stuck in the grey zone.

And as you may have noticed in your own life, it can be a very destructive mental habit.

It robs you of so much energy and creates huge amounts of stress and worry.

It can leave you so unfocused that you cannot do your work well or spend quality time – time when you are mentally 100% present – with the people closest to you.

I have had quite a bit of trouble with this in the past and what works best for me to stay out of this mental zone is to set up very firm limits.

* To take a 10 minute break for every 50 minutes that I work.

* To not work after 7 o’clock in the evenings.

* To keep my weekends work-free and disconnected. It is not easy in the beginning and if you’re like me, you’ll slip during those first weeks.

But after a while it becomes easier and easier to keep these areas and your thoughts about them separate and to keep your attention and energy focused in the right place.

2. Be your own best friend when you stumble.

When you make a mistake, fail or stumble in life then it is so easy to start beating yourself up.

When that happens this autumn, promise yourself to not fall back into this old and destructive habit.

Instead, take care of yourself by asking yourself:

How would my (encouraging) best friend/parent support me and help me in this situation?

Then do those things and talk to yourself like he or she would.

This simple habit can keep you from falling into a pit of despair and it helps you to be more constructive after the first initial pain of a mistake or failure starts to dissipate.

Have a self-kind Sunday and week!

I pray that this works for you and your dear ones as much as it has for me.

A blessed and productive week ahead.

#BreakingLymyts

Your Voice Changes Everything

We all, as children, had a big dream. That one thing that made your heart jump and your imagination run wild, really really wild. There were no limits, only endless possibilities and an even greater oblivion to what requirements there were to achieve that dream. All you knew was that it was what you wanted and it was going to happen when you grow up.

For me, that was being a great speaker. Commanding audiences, always elegantly dressed and going places. The world was at my feet, all I had to do was make my move and all would cheer me on. I saw myself on TV reading news. I saw myself on a big stage hosting a show/MC-ing. I saw myself surrounded by young enthusiastic people imparting wisdom. I was bigger than Oprah Winfrey. I was braver than Nelson Mandela.

Years later, that dream was painfully far from my reach. Not only had I since picked up so many many many don’ts and countless stereotypes, I wasn’t brave enough to dress up to that image. But I had one thing on me: a very active reading habit.

Thanks to my mother, I learned to read early and had one tool that would later work well for me in regards to getting closer to my dream. I didn’t see it over the years as a great tool but it kept my dream alive. I read a lot about people doing what I loved to do and so many other great things. If you know me, then you know that I never run out of good stories. One problem though, my audience was too small to get me to that dream, and I always consulted the wrong people.

In 2015, I was invited to a public speaking course. My first ever. I was in shock that such classes even existed. It was an amazing short course that gave my articulation more muscle with the different tools used in forming/writing a great speech/story. This was thanks to my friend Samuel Bakutana of Inspired Leaders International.

While it was an amazing and eye opening opportunity, one switch remained turned off. My writing improved greatly with the new tools given during the course, but I couldn’t comfortably take to any stage to speak. Something was still missing but I was unaware of it. I just sat on these gifts and did nothing much about it. I took the tools, but didn’t really use them beyond my pen and paper.

I later learned that that was because I didn’t have a clear Why for mastering the art. My voice had been stifled so long, I didn’t see the greatness within me. But I walked away with one thing, a renewed curiosity. A hunger to learn more.

That’s where the World Class Speakers course by Intelligence Performance International found me.

I had picked up so many stories, but was still so scared to tell them. I had better platforms and opportunities to command audiences but didn’t have the courage. I had cheerleaders but was still chained to and by numerous limiting beliefs.

Day One was daring. It wasn’t about taking to the stage, it was about me. Guided by Coach Phill Kambe, we had to dig deeper into our souls, leaving most of us uncomfortably exposed and questioning so much about who we really are and what was possible for us.

The four day course pushed us beyond our assumed limits. We confronted our biggest fears related, not only to public speaking, but life in general and did a number of very insane activities all designed to deliver our breakthroughs. It was a holistic package that helped you review each area of your life.

But what’s a breakthrough without obstacles? My biggest fear came to life during one of the practice presentations. I choked on my own words. Not even a confusing sentence could make it past my throat. All I had prepared flew out the window and I looked on at my audience in shock and fear.

The amazing team of trainers at IP International always had our backs. In moments like this, they quickly reassured you and nudged you on. I felt more encouraged than criticized. They reminded me of the basics and recovery was mine to enjoy.

The most valuable lesson in that moment was that It’s not about you, the speaker, but about your audience.

I discovered that the biggest reason we fear public speaking is because we make it about ourselves. We get sucked into our heads and forget why we took to the stage in the first place.

  • What if they don’t like me?
  • What if I make a mistake?
  • Oh, I am so fat they won’t see past my round waist.
  • Oh my shoes, my hair, my very judgmental “##” is in the audience.
  • Etc

There were no better metaphors to breakthrough this psycho bubble than breaking wooden boards and walking on fire.

Breaking thick wooden boards with our bare hands was Insanity!!!! After a great deal of preparation, I, for one, just focused on what I wanted to break through. I brought it to life in that piece of wood and summoned all the anger for the times I failed in life because of it and shot out with all my strength.

Success!!!!

I was fired up beyond description.

Then came the fire walk.

Pause!!!

This is fire, man. Hot burning coals. Who does this guy think he is????

I looked at our trainer, Phill, like he was out of his mind, and prepared all my reasons why that was impossible for me to do. I had to be exempted, you know.

All the fear came back for me. A bit of regret too about why I signed up. And….. Then I remembered the board and what I crashed with it. My hand was still in perfect shape. What’s the worst that could happen here, right?

You’re prepared. You’re in state.

(Psycho bubble) Oprah Winfrey did it. Yeah? Yes, she did, with Tony Robbins, remember? You watched her and wanted to be like her. Here’s your moment. Deep breath!!

There is no turning back. It is excellence or excellence.

Now, let me tell you about overcoming obstacles. Remember the limitless possibilities you had as a child? Now here, You, my dear, are an unstoppable force. What can fail now you after walking on fire? What is going to burn you where fire didn’t? Huh???

Tell me, what???

What I achieved attending this course equipped me to take any stage and wow the masses. You too can by visiting their website here for more information.

There was more. A special gift from the organizers, because they believe it’s pointless to have all the wealth if you don’t have the life to enjoy it. That’s how I met the phenomenal Coach Jennifer Mwangangi, the most practical Nutritionist I have ever met. It wasn’t just about food, she delved deeper and addressed one’s mental and emotional well-being, led us through a guided meditation and more. You can find out more about Licial Wellness here.

Get equipped through the World Class Speakers training.

Your voice changes everything. Speak up!

heed the call of the peacock!

Posts like this encourage me to read even more. To better tell stories, to learn and to have richer conversations. Now you know my next read. Read along friends…

scare-a-hero

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A FEW WEEKS ago as I arrived at the Pearl of Africa Hotel for the launch of ‘The Call Of The Peacock‘, I noted how gentle and professional the Special Forces Command officials were as they guided us into the celebration room.

They were markedly different from the soldiers I grew up dodging, and from the parking lot to the very entrance to the ballroom I kept thinking of the term ‘Customer Care’ and musing at how it could now be used in reference to some of the toughest soldiers on the Continent.

At the entrance, I burst into a laugh when a plainclothes officer politely asked, “Is Madame not coming?” as he inspected my card.

He knew neither “Madame” nor myself, since the card didn’t bear our actual names. But he was quite polite.

These were small signs of how things have changed in Uganda since the…

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My War Room Encounter

Life does know how to test us and  can easily cripple us till we lose sight of the goal we were aiming for. But while all that seems unfair, no one promised us a smooth journey and for this very reason, we ought to constantly recharge our faith and commitment to our journey. Problem is, many of us have forgotten the source of our faith, and have become so lost, frustrated and think we can fix it ourselves.

Two years ago, I thought I was wholly in charge of my destiny. I had a few things going for me and was in a relationship whose red flags I was so blind to because I thought ‘I got this. I know what’s best for me’. All that came to screeching halt, leaving me for dead and in the worst pain I never thought would happen to someone like me. Emotionally devastated, and physically maimed, I lost everything I prided in. Money, self-esteem, ambition and my motivation to face tomorrow. I told no one about it for a long time. I was a shamed that it happened to me, because I thought I was in control and should have foreseen all of it.

Warroom dvd

A great friend and Life Coach helped me kick start my healing journey and along the way, I stumbled upon the movie WAR ROOM, a Kendrick Brothers film. The story follows a young couple, the Jordans, who had great jobs, a beautiful daughter (Alena Pitts),  a dream house and seemed to have it all. Appearances can be deceiving, however, as husband Tony (T.C. Stallings) flirts with temptation and wife Elizabeth (Priscilla Shirer) becomes increasingly bitter, crumbling under the strain of a failing marriage. Their lives take an unexpected turn for the better when Elizabeth meets her newest client, Miss Clara (Karen Abercrombie), who encourages the couple to find happiness through prayer.

Miss Clara became my spiritual mother from that moment. I remember painfully pulling myself up to a sitting position and screaming out to the Heavens. I prayed and cried. The truth of what I had lost sinking in even deeper but this time followed with a calm wave. I did not know what it was but I felt so relieved. Loved. And in that moment, I chose to forgive. To forgive myself, but especially the one who had betrayed my trust. It had been six months of bitterness, regret and so much mental torture. I was depressed and cared for nothing else.

Karen
Karen Abercrombie’s character in War Room ‘Miss Clara’

Hearing Miss Clara explain how we face our battles with the wrong strategies, watching her use the lukewarm coffee metaphor to illustrate how we have taken our creator, provider and protector for granted was a wake up call. That day, how I face life changed. Along the way, I have constantly fallen back into the old routine and approach to life but the Grace of God never fails. He litters reminders along your path, and always makes sure you aren’t completely lost.

I was raised Catholic, and I am deeply rooted in my faith. My mother is one of the most faithful and committed women I know. I have always admired her relationship with God and wanted to have a piece of it but reality is, it’s a personal relationship and I had to forge my own with God. But many times, I have felt incapable of being that good a daughter to Him. With these doubts in my mind and heart, I went to attend a Christian Women’s gathering in Ntinda yesterday. The special guest, we were told, was one of the leading actresses in War Room, but I didn’t know who.

Funny part is, I had totally forgotten about this meeting. On Saturday I usually sleep in, but my eyes chose to open at 6:00AM. I honestly tried to sleep again but couldn’t. Moments later I pick up my phone and checked my messages. Then a message (about the War Room star) from one Inspired Leader, Connie, calls to me and shoot, I was out of bed and ready to leave my apartment in under 30 minutes. Talk about excitement. But I also realized I did not share the same with other friends, because I had forgotten about it.

The special guest was Karen Abercrombie, the lady who acted as Miss Clara, the spicy 80 year old prayer warrior in the film. It was an emotional experience. While we waited for her to join us, I listened to the testimonies of other women, whom the War Room experience has touched. It was hard maintaining my composure as these faithful women shared some painful experiences and how the power of prayer helped them through. And then our guest took to the stage and swept us off our feet with her own testimony. She shared her life and how the movie role came to be hers to play.

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Karen and I

Patience, unshaken faith and unceasing prayer are the best way I can summarize her life experience thus far. Did I forget dramatic? Oooh she is animated, with a very striking personality, very warm to others and she was blessing everyone she met. Being me, I knew that was my moment to make sense of some experiences and generous she was, helping me look beyond my human incapacity unto Him who sees all, knows all and still loves me unconditionally.

Everyone needs a Miss Clara in their life, because we very easily think we can control every aspect of life yet in truth we can’t handle it all on our own. I bet she didn’t know how many people she would touch worldwide, when she took up the role. But I know she prayed that every woman be reminded of God’s infinite providence through the lessons imparted in the movie.

I am one of those she inspired. Meeting her in person was a privilege and left an impression on my soul.