In the last post, we talked about the discontent/discomfort that visits us when our limiting beliefs are challenged and we start to stir ourselves, discovering strengths and abilities that we were not even aware we had or had long taken for granted; awakening dreams and desires buried deep within us. We likened this discomfort to a lion on the loose. How do we deal with this lion on the loose? We do so by answering three questions; Why? What? How?
The first thing we need to do is to identify what is calling us. All around us are needs, challenges or problems that need to be attended to. More often than not, the need you are wired to meet will be tugging at your heart – that need is your opportunity to fulfil your dream, the outlet for your talent. Aristotle, the Greek philosopher and scientist put it this way; ‘where your talents and the needs of the world meet, there lies your vocation.’ Identifying your vocation answers the question ‘why?’
Next thing is to determine our goal. I like the way Barbara Sher puts it in her book Wishcraft –‘a goal is simply a dream with a deadline.’ What specifically are you going to do and when are you going to do it? How will you know when you have achieved it? It is important to ensure that the goal you set for yourself is achievable and realistic. For example, having never ran a marathon before, I would be setting myself up for failure if I set a goal to run a full marathon in a month’s time.
So we know exactly why we want to do what we want to do, but how do we go about it? I have heard it said that failing to plan is planning to fail. A plan is the roadmap that helps us navigate the way to get where we need to go. It details how to move from where we are to where we want to be. In the heat of the moment and excitement, it is all too easy to move in haste and fly right into the frying pan in the name of pursuing our dreams. Quitting a job that you don’t like to pursue that career in acting that you have always dreamed about is a great thing to do if you have figured out how you, and your dependents if you have any, are going to manage financially once you quit that job. Pouring all your life savings into a new restaurant because you have a passion and ability to cook great meals is a wonderful step to take if you understand that it takes more than great culinary skills to run a restaurant. Will you go straight to your goal or are there sub-goals you need to achieve to pave way for the main goal? This is where brainstorming with trusted people and flowcharting come in handy. King Solomon said, ‘it is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way .’ Therefore, let’s not forget to do our homework.
Do not be surprised when those close to you try to talk you out of your plans – this is called ‘friendly fire’. There will be those eager to remind you that you cannot do it or that you do not have what it takes; you may be given statistics of people who have tried what you want to do and failed. Take it graciously and be comforted to know that you are in good company; David faced ‘friendly fire’ from his brothers on his way to slaying Goliath. It was the same phenomenon that saw Joseph sold off to Egypt by his very own brothers.
Distinguished Toastmaster Michael Notaro, International Toastmasters President in 2012 advised that the toastmasters’ journey requires a G.P.S (Goal, Plan and Support) to navigate successfully . I concur and add that a G.P.S. is indispensable on the quest to setting our lions free. If you are ready to challenge the status quo, identify your ‘why’, get yourself a G.P.S. and head on forward.

Yours truly,




Adult SimbaHungry Lion

I must have been about 10 years old when I learnt a very profound lesson from my grandmother. My siblings and I went upcountry to spend our school holiday there. Two days into our stay, my grandmother pointed to the farm and showed me an area that I was supposed to cultivate – I thought it was a joke because the area was quite big for a 10 year old. My sister and cousin who were better informed than I knew that the old lady was not joking and they told me what to do; get help from the community, and they went ahead to help me plan.  I learnt that a huge task for one person is a small task for a community.

Back home in Kenya, we have different variations of community activities – chama / kikundi, harambee, etc. In olden days, farming communities in America got together to help each other build or raise their barns, and hence the term barn raising. In the church we have cell groups/ koinonia/fellowship. Community is where real life happens.  Barbara Sher, an American business woman, author and career coach summed it up like this; ‘isolation is a dream killer’– and she went ahead to found success teams to help people achieve their dreams and goals. Success teams are made up of individuals who have dreams or goals they want to achieve, or those who want to learn how to dream, learn  techniques and get equipped with tools to  turn their dreams into goals and generate action plans to work towards their goals. Success teams are phenomenal.

It was in a success team session where we sat around the table and listened as each team member took turns to report on the goal directed actions they had taken in the past week.  It was funny how everyone’s first sentence was ‘I didn’t do much this week…….’ And then they went on to mention the things they had been up to, from planning and creating space in their day to browsing websites for information and talking to others to get more insights into the ideas they were pursuing.  Only later did we all realize that the little steps we had taken added to meaningful action that we would build on to achieve our goals.

It was clear that this particular week had been difficult for most of us. Amidst the responsibilities of running a home, supporting the family and studying, there was this ‘thing’ right in the belly that was screaming and howling for our attention, refusing neither to be shut down nor to be ignored. One of the team members summed  up her  reflection of the week in this way;  ‘This past week I was a bit frustrated and  I got  really upset with the coach for doing this to me……….’  In a nutshell, the coach had introduced this ‘thing’ that had upset her world and now she had to deal with it – there was no turning back.

My team mate’s reflection would later on liberate my mind and spirit. The following morning as I was setting the table for breakfast, I was thinking about the ‘thing’.  It occurred to me that this ‘thing’ is a lion on the loose.  Let me explain; when we embark on a journey of self-discovery, we discover our strengths, weaknesses, talents, potential, dreams and desires.  Often times, great teachers, authors,  professors, entrepreneurs, leaders  and many more   are buried beneath layers  of  limiting beliefs, some  of which are handed to us as we grow up  while some we  pick, sometimes unconsciously, from our environment, our experiences and even from conventional wisdom- yes some conventional wisdom can be limiting.

One very common piece of wisdom we often hear  is to let sleeping lions sleep. We are advised to play it safe and not to venture where we are likely to awaken trouble. I believe this only to the extent that we are talking about ‘bad trouble or stupid trouble’. I will not walk into the Maasai Mara and pose for a photo with a sleeping lion, let alone awaken him. However, I know that each human being carries with them dreams, aspirations and lots of potential to fulfil those dreams and affect the world around them in a positive way.

A success team provides a safe environment where we are taught and encouraged to dream without inhibition and vent out our frustrations without fear of ridicule.  The coach’s job in this process is to challenge limiting beliefs and the limiting aspects of conventional wisdom and the result is that we agitate the lion within us that has been sleeping calmly and he being hungry and eager to be set free will roar until we set him free. We cannot cage him again – he knows his rights.  The most important thing is to be equipped to handle our lion once we awaken him.

How do you handle your lion on the loose?  Look out for part 2 of this post to know how to.

Yours truly








Once upon a time when monkeys could speak and before they perfected the art of jumping and swinging from tree branches,  a monkey fell off a tree  and into a  bunch of thorns. So many were the thorns all over the poor monkey’s body that he needed help plucking them out.

He cried out to a guy passing by to help him pluck out the thorns.

‘Monkey, these thorns are so many I have no idea where to start plucking’ said the guy.

‘Please start by plucking the ones on my butt so that I can at least sit down and we can work on plucking out the rest’ replied monkey.

And so monkey and the guy plucked away until there were no more thorns left on monkey’s  body.

The above story was shared with me by my boss during a planning session.  Each time  I  am faced with  goals or tasks that need prioritizing, this story comes to mind. I must say it helps me to think about what needs to be done first.

I find that it is one thing to know what needs to be done first and a totally different thing to do it.   In his book ‘Eat That Frog’, Brian Tracy advises that  we start with the most challenging task then move on to the less daunting. ‘ If you have to eat two frogs, start with the uglier one’ is his  advice.  I have  struggled  with procrastination  and much as I agree with the   advice in this book, I  am mortified by the sight of ugly frogs and  I often prefer to start with the easy and not necessarily important tasks.

As I interact with the insights from Brian Tracy’s book, I must say that I am developing a taste for ugly frogs, albeit slowly. I sing my alphabet (A is for must do- B is for should do- C is for nice to do- D is for delegate – E is for eliminate………) as I slice and dice my frog into bite size pieces. I munch away, one tiny piece at a time until the whole frog is eaten up.

I know you have frogs of your own to eat so from me it is bon apetit!

Yours truly



Ask a perfectionist and they will tell you just how important it is to have all of one’s ducks in a perfect row. Ask mama duck and she’ll tell   you that no sooner  do you get the last one in place than  the others get  distracted and quack  away , forcing mama duck to start all over again. Life is good when we have all our plans laid out and everything going according to the script, but that’s not what always happens.

A couple of days ago, I had planned my day such that I’d leave the office early to run an errand. I had planned to arrive at the place shortly before closing time which is 4pm but then I had ‘one more thing’ to do before leaving the office because I needed to leave everything perfect for the next morning. I ended up leaving later than I had planned.

As luck would have it, I encountered traffic and 4pm found me a few kilometers away from my rendezvous. It made no sense to proceed, but then what was I going to do with this unplanned free time?  Then I had an idea – it was Thursday and I was only a couple of minutes away from the venue of my toast masters’ club. Why not join them?  You know how they say that when it rains it pours? Yeah, ideas started pouring out right then – I could go for a walk after the I hour long toast master’s meeting! So, I made arrangements to have my kit brought to me and I ran with my ideas – literally.

I had a fabulous time with my fellow toastmasters after a long spell away – I talked about my dream and listened to everyone else’s dreams, and I was even lucky to be picked to share in the table topic. To crown it all, I spent 45 minutes walking and jogging on the track and 4.8kilometers later, I felt like a million bucks!

While missing my appointment was disappointing, it gave me a chance to experience serendipity. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines serendipity as the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for. Serendipity is certainly my word of the month. While it is important to make plans, it is wise to allow room for serendipity and be prepared to embrace unplanned happenings- a moment of epiphany indeed.

A single kiss shared between serendipity and an  epiphany may be just what we need every now and then – it can save the world, one perfectionist at a time.

Yours truly



This weekend a dear friend invited us to an end of year celebration at her home and we had a ball. When people were asked to introduce themselves, they were also asked to mention two things about 2013 – one good and one bad. That’s when it dawned on me  that the year 2013 is  gone. If there is a year that went by fast for me, 2013 is it.

I must say that since I came to Ethiopia, year ends and year  beginnings( and some other events/celebrations) have  been rather subtle, creeping in silently. You see, there is the Gregorian calendar which  is what I have known longest and  then there is the Ethiopian calendar according to which we are now in 2006 and looking forward to celebrating Christmas in 15 days and the new year in about 9 months………….Anyhow, the point is  that  my mind has now made the switch to the end of year season that I have grown up with.

One of the most significant things for me during year end is taking stock of the year  gone by and setting goals for the coming year. As I begin this process, I am reminded of Stephen Covey’s words  that everything is created twice – first comes the mental creation, then the physical one; Stephen Covey brings out the importance of envisioning whatever it is that we want. I must first have a clear picture of my goal; I must have a good idea of what  success  will look like, otherwise how will I know when  I have achieved  my goal?  According to Covey, this is the essence of  beginning with the end in mind and then going ahead to create it. If we don’t do this, then we leave it for others to shape our destination and paths for us based on their own definitions and values.

One quote I have come  to love so much is from KRS 1 in one of his raps – ‘visualize wealth and put yourself in the picture’. The important thing for me is not so much visualizing  wealth, but visualizing whatever I want to achieve, and then putting myself in the picture!

As we step out of 2013 and into 2014, I wish you a lovely and peaceful Christmas and a very fruitful 2014 and beyond.

Yours truly



So you have taken that leap of faith, the leap that you know you should be taking at this time in your life. You are all set, and as you are about to take the plunge, a voice inside you starts to sow seeds of doubt and fear. What if you dive in and then get swept off by the current? What if you find that the waters are too deep for you? And on the voice goes.
Then it is time to practice what Robin S Sharma (in The Monk who sold his Ferrari) calls opposition thinking. Oppose the thought, take it captive and replace it with the truth; the truth that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it in you.
You see, the former kind of persuasion does not come from the one who called you; the one who called you urges you on, and he gives you all you need for the journey. And so my friend this is the day to soldier on step by step, with the good shepherd ahead and goodness and mercy following close by. This is the day that the Lord has made!
Yours truly,