We must be the change we want to see

31Jan 2016
The Guardian Reporter
Guardian On Sunday
We must be the change we want to see

There are times I look at the things that are going on in the world today and I just get tired. Tired because it seems what we are doing now was being done in the 70s and probably 40 years before that. The only difference is that as the years advance, the same thing is done using better technologies and strategies, but essentially it is the same thing.

US President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama was (and still is) a visionary when he said, “if you want to see change, you must be the change you want to see”. This meant that whatever you wanted to see around you, you had to make it happen yourself. For instance, if you do not want to see litter all around the road, then do not be one of the people littering the streets.
Don’t be one of those who throw sweet-wrappings, sugarcane debris, etc from your car as you are eating in traffic! If you don’t want to see corruption in any of the government institutions then do not be one of the ones who bribe the officials in those offices to get service they are paid to offer you. Be the change you want to see.
This goes for every area of our lives. If you are tired of how your living room looks, then try rearranging the furniture. If you are tired of working in a non-fulfilling job, then get something else to do. Speaking of jobs, I read a very interesting article on the net and I decided I just had to share this with you. Don’t know who wrote it but whoever it is was so right about so many things. Read on and let his message provoke your thoughts. Here goes…
A good friend recently returned home after having lived abroad for many years. To the delight of many, he landed a prestigious job with a large multinational company that came with a huge salary and great benefits. Today he lives in a nice suburb home, drives a dream car and takes his kids to international schools. A great success story, right? Actually, I can see some major problems with it.
You see, in my parent’s generation, the rules were work hard in school, get good grades, and then find a safe, stable job in a respectable profession with good benefits. After a successful career, you would then retire and live off your pension on your plot upcountry. There was even a famous anthem ‘SomeniVijana’ by Henry Makobi that encouraged my generation to read hard so they could get a great job one day.
Today, we still believe the route to success is to read hard and get a good job. In addition to a degree, conventional wisdom is to do at least two other professional courses and then look for a well-paying job in a respectable profession. The next step is to keep on adding degrees and professional qualifications because if you fall behind, someone else is waiting to take your job! Finally, you must work like a dog so you can be able to retire happily ever after with your family in that nice mansion in the suburb of your dreams.
Do you see that there’s no difference? If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and hoping for a different result each time is correct – then we are practicing generational insanity!
You see, our school system wasn’t developed for our prosperity. It was originally based on the premise that the brightest and the best would be trained to serve the colonial machine. After independence, this mentality remained, so that rather than being trained to invent solutions that develop our country, we are trained to serve foreign multinationals! Rather than being taught to be employment creators, we are conditioned to fight for the few jobs available!
We are surrounded by people who are struggling in poverty and need simple solutions to help them. Safe, running water, renewable energy supply or food processing techniques could change the lifestyles of countless of our fellow citizens. And yet our MBAs in strategic management are of no value in solving our nation’s real problems! In my friend’s case, the tragedy is that rather than take his parent’s successful business to the next level, his posh job means they’ll probably shut it down or sell it when they retire. Rather than provide employment for many others, we have been brainwashed to provide a comfortable lifestyle for ourselves!
If I was the cabinet secretary of education, I would insist that we teach entrepreneurship right from primary school. We must start celebrating our entrepreneurs. And we must realize that these glorified multinationals were built by people just like us!
I told you this would be thought provoking. I can almost hear the wheels of your mind running. I know because the first time I read this article it had me thinking very critically and the more I thought about it, the more I realized this was so true. Our minds have been conditioned to think that all we can do to succeed is to be someone else’s employee. Of course not all of us can start companies or factories but we need many more people to create opportunities for those who are coming out of school to get attached to. And some of those opportunities do not require you to quit your current job. You can do both.
However, my view of the above article is that we are all being encouraged to think out of the colonial mentality box. We need to stop seeing ourselves as people who are just there to be told what to do, but to start seeing ourselves as people who can come up with great ideas that can take us and others to a completely different level. Again, I am reminded of a young man who was job hunting…..
A Jobless man applied for the position of ‘Office Boy' at Microsoft. The HR manager interviewed him then watched him cleaning the floor as a test. 'You are employed' he said. Give me your e-mail address and I'll send you the application to fill in, as well as date when you may start. The man replied 'But I don't have a computer, neither an email'. 'I'm sorry', said the HR manager. If you don't have an email, that means you do not exist. And who doesn't exist, cannot have the job.'
The man left with no hope at all. He didn't know what to do, with only $10 in his pocket. He then decided to go to the supermarket and buy a 10Kg tomato crate. He then sold the tomatoes in a door to door round. In less than two hours, he succeeded to double his capital. He repeated the operation three times, and returned home with $60. The man realized that he can survive by this way, and started to go every day earlier, and return late. Thus, his money doubled or tripled every day.
Shortly, he bought a cart, then a truck, and then he had his own fleet of delivery vehicles. 5 years later, the man is one of the biggest food retailers in the US He started to plan his family's future, and decided to have a life insurance. He called an insurance broker, and chose a protection plan. When the conversation was concluded the broker asked him his email. The man replied,'I don't have an email.' The broker answered curiously, 'You don't have an email, and yet have succeeded to build an empire. Can you imagine what you could have been if you had an e mail?!!' The man thought for a while and replied, 'Yes, I'd be an office boy at Microsoft!'
I am not saying that you should go close your email account right now and become a tomato seller. No. what I am saying is that when one door closes, there is always another one open for you. Problem is that some of us look at the closed door for far too long not realizing there is another opportunity waiting. There’s always something you can do and if you put your mind to it, you can be a job creator and not just a job consumer.
This week as you go about your daily activities ask yourself this question, am I walking around with a colonial mentality? Is there more I could do with my life than I am doing right now? Well, not having job security is a risk, but like someone said, the greater the risk the greater the reward.
Disclaimer: please do not quit your job based on this article. This is meant to provoke your thoughts and cause you to explore the potential that is inside of you. Be strategic as you make your decisions.
As we go into a new month remember, there are job creators needed.