To FLY or LAND – WHY DO YOU EXIST?

Plane disused2

I was once privileged to work in Northern Kenya, in Turkana County at a town called Lokichoggio. It was my first time to serve in a hardship area in my ten years in banking and finance. The experience had its own challenges alongside merits.

For once, I could interact with flora and fauna I only read about in my Geography classes.  But the presence of the international airport as part of the town’s infrastructure is what fascinated me most.

During our time for rest and recuperation, we would use flights to and from Nairobi. The presence of many planes on the airfield, disused and in bad shape attracted my attention. So when an employee of the facility invited me over to the watchtower for a visit, I obliged.

Once up in the control tower, he showed me how they directed and managed flights in the airport. It gave me a chance to question why so many huge planes were parked on the tarmac on the fringes of the airfield, disused and abandoned. He informed me that most of those planes were left abandoned by their owners after the government banned their use in the country.

The discussion progressed on. I also questioned why, in such a short time, most had rusted and were literally falling apart. He told me that a plane is made to fly. Its life should be spent mostly in the air and not on land. As such, when packed on land, vagaries of weather work on it more than when it is in the skies. Likewise, my friend went on, a plane is safer when it is in the air than on land! And this shocked me to the core…

In Nairobi’s biggest airport, JKIA, the turnaround time for a plane is two hours on the maximum. This means, every two hours, a plane has to be in the air to minimize its wear and tear when aground.

Plane disused

It made me to start thinking: what was I created for? Was I really living the life I was meant to? Am I harnessing the potential in me to the maximum? What was my gifting? How was I using it?

In this world, many of us are like those planes on the ground – living a life they were never created to live, with unexplored potential lying idle in them. Many of us are leading lives to fit into our clichés and gangs. We do things to belong. We do things because we feel that is what society and those around us expect us to, oblivious of the actual reason why we were created in the first place.

Plane disused3

Look around social media for instance: we are literally competing against ourselves on who looks more fly than the other. But then, were we all created to be similar? Life would be very boring if all of us did the same thing, living similar lifestyles!

It is upon us to dig in and have a conversation within ourselves to find out why we exist. Unless we do that, we will be like those planes I have spoken of – wearing off and disused, useless. For we will never find meaning if all we do is sit on the ground when we were made to fly! When you time on earth comes to an end, would you look back and regret that you never lived the life you were supposed to? Would you, for instance, blame doubt and fears as some of the things that stopped you from exploiting your life potential?

So, then, fly – each in his own unique way as we were created or lie down and die disused and wasted. It is your choice. True success only comes when you live your purpose – living as you were intended to. So make the right choice!

***** Ends******

The writer is an acclaimed business author of Passionpreneurship Demystified and Business Networking: How to maximize on your contacts for Business and Professional Growth. Both books are available on Amazon. He is also a Personal Branding and Business Speaker with PBL Africa and a Cytonn Entrepreneurs Hub Mentor. In case you need assistance to give your business or profession a jump-start, he can be reached via the following contacts:

Email:                mokindah@gmail.com

LinkedIn:             https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-okinda-9652b210a

Telegram:             @Mokinda

Telegram Community:      https://t.me/joinchat/EkprBT6zCKCRUmQUaDD9cQ

 

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I CAN IS ALL YOU NEED

maasai2

Sometimes back I visited the Maasai Mara courtesy of an old customer of mine who insisted on giving me a complementary package for the support I gave his business. Since I was then working and living in Turkana, a desert County, I found it appropriate to take time off and so we flew to the Mara with my fiancé then.

Well, on the second day we went for a game drive in the morning and it was awesome seeing the animals in real life. All along, we had gotten used to seeing them on the silver screens and so it was awesomely exhilarating interacting with them one on one.

We passed some plains and onto the river basin of Mara River and I noticed many cows being herded by a small boy. I tried to look for another herder but funny enough, the boy took care of the animals on his own, in the vast game reserve. Maasai Mara is famed for the big five, including predators like lions and cheetahs that hunt and would not spare any herbivore they see around. Actually, a few metres from where the cattle were grazing, a pride of lions were lazing by, maybe enjoying the early rays of sunshine from the horizon.

I asked our guide if the boy is not afraid of the lions and other predators. He said the boy does not.

Ideally, Maasai boys are usually initiated into adulthood after proving their mettle. Before they are listed for initiation, they are sent into the bush and they are required to only come back with evidence of their fighting off a lion or other predator and coming back home with evidence of the conquest. In Kenya, they are required to return home with the head of a lion as trophy.

maasai

Because of this experience, the young morans (boy warriors) grow up with resilience and strong belief that they are capable of achieving any feat. Self-belief is ingrained in them.  They grow up that they can, no matter what. And it is this same spirit they venture with into the wild, with nothing but a spear in hand.

In the same vein, this is what we need in life. Most of the times we shy away from making advances in life because we are too afraid to take risks. Risk prevents us from making the ultimate step into our destinies and moving up. Like the Maasai morans, we need to train our psychologies that even if we are aware of the dangers out there, we still can overcome them. They say our dreams are always on the other side of fear. It is until we learn to conquer fear that we will win.

That interview, that business engagement, that venture you are thinking of undertaking, that girl or boy you fear saying hallo to, that one step you fear taking is the ultimate crossing point into your destiny. Gather up courage and still your heart with the ‘I can’ call and go ahead!

Do it.

***** Ends******

The writer is an acclaimed business author of Passionpreneurship Demystified and Business Networking: How to maximize on your contacts for Business and Professional Growth. Both books are available on Amazon. He is also a Personal Branding and Business Speaker with PBL Africa and a Cytonn Entrepreneurs Hub Mentor. In case you need assistance to give your business or profession a jump-start, he can be reached via the following contacts:

Email:                mokindah@gmail.com

LinkedIn:             https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-okinda-9652b210a

Telegram:             @Mokinda

Telegram Community:      https://t.me/joinchat/EkprBT6zCKCRUmQUaDD9cQ

6 Reasons Why Your Job Promotion is Elusive

Why am i not getting promoted2

 

In my last blog post (check it here: https://mokinda.wordpress.com/2017/08/04/how-to-get-that-promotion-easily-a-personal-testimony/ ), I highlighted how one can get that much desired promotion at their place of work. Today, I would wish to look into some of the reasons as to why most of us stagnate at a job position for years without prospects of ever rising up the corporate ladder.

#1     Not showing your worth to the company

The corporate world has a way of spotting capacity and rewarding potential. As such, people that do not exhibit any form of motivation towards adding value to the company would never be rewarded. As an employee, it is upon you to show how you are worth by employing and exploiting your talent and competencies. It would be worthwhile if you exhibited to your company how much worthy you are by exhibiting your potential and how it can help fill gaps in the company.

Everyone has a passion. It therefore means everyone has the potential of being promoted. Why are you not?

 

#2     Not living the brand

All corporates have a value system they ascribe to. Values are what shape a company’s culture in its interaction with the outside world. Of particular importance is its relationship with its clientele.  If one does not ascribe to the set corporate values, their behaviour would be in-congruent to the desired values and norms within the organization. It therefore behooves all members of an organization to first ascribe to and ultimately live the values of the brand for it to bring it out alive.

Failure to activate these means that one would not exhibit the desired ethos of the organization and as such, not fit into the corporate system of that particular company.

 

#3     Non-performance

It is obvious all enterprises exist with the ultimate purpose of returning value to the shareholders. Indeed, if one is not performing to the expected standard, the firm would have no reason to continue holding onto such a person. It is a fact that them that do not get exited from companies for non-performance are never promoted.

Have you realized that you have been mark timing on a position for long? Most probably the reason is you are just an average performer! Salary raises and promotions are now more than ever based on performance. Your value in a firm is held in high esteem in accordance with your level of performance.

Why am i not getting promoted3

 

 

 

 

 

 

#4     Doing the basic minimum

Everyone in an organisation has a prescribed job description. When you restrict yourself to only performing what is within your job jurisdiction, you limit your chances of your other abilities being noticed by your seniors. I remember when I started my banking career in a local multinational, most of my colleagues would rather deliver on their set job roles and leave for home. Whenever I was asked to perform jobs outside of my roles, I would willingly execute and deliver. With time, I got to learn jobs that fell out of my assigned roles. I never knew my supervisor was noticing and in record time, when chances fell open for promotions, she rooted for my enlisting for interviews. And I got promoted after three years into middle management position. Most of those we joined the industry with are still where we were, over a decade ago!

Strive to go beyond the expected for there is immense power in giving!

 

#5     Lack of enthusiasm

You cannot get what you do not expect. Enthusiasm and interest in an area always works in a way to attract it to you. It is called the Law of Attraction. You need to have a plan for your career growth. If you can tailor your behaviour to your ambitions, it would not be so hard to show enthusiasm or interest in your growth. Your behaviour should show your desire to climb up the ladder.

A person who is enthusiastic will exhibit passion in whatever he puts his mind to do. He would execute his roles and exceed expectations with ease. A passionate employee is one who is a deliverer.

Most probably you are never considered for career growth positions because you are slow, indifferent and grossly unmotivated in behaviour. It is time to change and attract that which you desire – promotion.

Why am i not getting promoted

#6     Poor Relationships with colleagues

This is one of the biggest reasons many are never considered for promotions. In any organization, synergy is important for promotion of efficiency and effectiveness in execution of roles and delivering value to the client. However, when interpersonal relationships amongst employees are not healthy, the delivery of set objectives becomes a challenge.

Employees who fit in are those that get along with others and complement the efforts of each other towards achievement f set organizational objectives.  A person fitting to be in a higher office is one who can relate well with his juniors. It is a characteristic of any leader to fit in well with almost all types of people in an organization.

It is therefore expected, if you really want to be a leader, you have to relate cordially with your colleagues, be a team player and assist in helping others execute their roles. Most probably the reason why you are still stuck in that position is because you have not been one who gets along with others. You cannot support others from a higher position if at all you cannot do that in your present position. Start where you are by working on your social skills.

business woman - growth and success graph

Well, I think I have demystified this area of job promotions and I believe if you practiced these very simple principles I personally applied in my life, you too would get to benefit from these upward vertical movements that we so much desire.

Indeed, there is no glory in stagnating in one position at work for years. It is therefore upon us to rewire our attitudes and start working towards earning these promotions.

Happy working peeps!

 

**** END*********

The writer is an acclaimed business author of Passionpreneurship Demystified and Business Networking: How to maximize on your contacts for Business and Professional Growth. Both books are available on Amazon. He is also a Personal Branding and Business Coach with PBL Africa. In case you need assistance to give your business or profession a jump-start, he can be reached via the following contacts:

Email:                pblogix@gmail.com

LinkedIn:              https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-okinda-9652b210a

Telegram:             @Mokinda

Telegram Community: https://t.me/joinchat/EkprBT6zCKCRUmQUaDD9cQ

Does Past Accomplishments Guarantee Future Success?

vision

The past two months have been a depressing time for me, being a celebrator of local ingenuity in business. Indeed, nothing is as depressing as seeing a business entity, you have literally grown with it since childhood and now, when you are almost in your midlife, you see it gradually go down.

Nakumatt is one instance. I first encountered Nakumatt, then known as Nakuru Mattresses as a small store in Thika in Pilot Estate while still a pupil at Thika’s Kiboko Primary School.  Then, we would sneak from school during lunch hours to go and wander in between the shelves just to awe at the marvelous displays of commodities. It even made Pilot based pupils to puff up their pride since there was no other supermarket nearby that equaled Nakuru Mattresses.

As we aged further, the outfit grew in leaps and bounds to be East Africa’s biggest retail outlet by branch footprint. It opened over sixty outlets in number across virtually all of East Africa’s countries with a workforce of over five thousand employees with most of their branch outlets operating 24 hours daily.

success

Indeed, the conglomerate that grew from a tiny shop in Nakuru with a few sales calls, had gross revenues of almost US D 500 Million. Conservative estimates put their market share five years ago at 20% in Kenya with their Brand Equity Index hitting a high of 55%. With it came many accolades and awards. These include the Price WaterhouseCoopers East Africa Most Respected Service provider for the year 2006 and 2007, Planet Retail ranking as top retailer outside of South Africa for 2008, Planet Retail Award as Second Most Innovative Retailer in the World for 2009, East African Super Brand for 2007 and 2010, recognition by the East African Community as a pioneer East Africa Investor in 2011 and its CEO recognized in the Financial Times Top 50 Emerging Market Business Leaders for 2010.

With all these accolades lining their cabinets, it was expected that the enterprise would be much more stable and vibrant. However, beginning over two or three years ago, cracks started to emerge. Suppliers were paid late, eroding the creditor confidence of the firm. In a flash, stores in the home country and away started closing up as most stores within the domestic market and beyond, further eroding the public confidence that was celebrated before.

But then when did the rain start beating Nakumatt? Many theories have been put through and deliberated. From their strategy to compete their suppliers through their ‘Blue Label’ strategy to their ambitious expansion plans which choked their working capital outlays.

But I beg to differ. I guess the management realized like the iconic Titanic, the firm was too big to sink. And they became lax with time. Internal weaknesses in controls went haywire and losses started building up. Corruption, inefficiency and lack of corporate governance ideals took over. In a way, it is not external factors that brought down this beloved retail giant – internal ones did.

Which brings me to what I needed to communicate – we most of the times take pride in our past achievements to the detriment of forging ahead and firming up our strengths.  Do past milestones surmounted give us a guarantee that our future would be rosy and good? Not at all. The past belongs to where it should be – the past.

Past vs future

This is the main problem most of us have – looking back and taking pride in past achievements and forgetting that we have a life to live ahead. We most of the times blame the external environment – the economic situation, the government, etc. for our own-caused failures.

To avert this, we need to always focus ahead and be mindful of the red flags raised as we trudge along this journey of living. And as I said, ignore what is past. Let it remain where it should be – in the past. Future success is only guaranteed when there are solid plans and commitment to realize the future vision. For whatever achievements you made back then is not significant in the present times. It is history! So do not make the mistake, either as an organization or at the individual level, to glory in past achievements.

 

The writer is an acclaimed business author of Passionpreneurship Demystified and Business Networking: How To maximize on your contacts for Business and Professional Growth. Both books are available on Amazon. He is also a Personal Branding and Business Coach with PBL Africa. In case you need assistance to give your business or profession a jump-start, he can be reached via the following contacts:

Email:                              pblogix@gmail.com

LinkedIn:                         https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-okinda-9652b210a

Telegram:                       @Mokinda

Telegram Community: https://t.me/joinchat/EkprBT6zCKCRUmQUaDD9cQ

Facebook:                       https://www.facebook.com/maikol.okinda

What Is Your Price?

I always wonder how premium brands sell yet they do not advertise neither are they cheaply priced. For instance, how many have seen an ad on television for Ferrari? But Toyota and other Japanese brands are a permanent resident on our screens. And how comes Ferrari turnovers are higher than Toyota Corporations? Or Apple being much more appealing to sell than let us say Nokia phones?

I bumped onto this analogy online as i was browsing, and i copy paste here for illustration purposes:

A friend once went to promote an new soft drink in a rich kids school. The drink was going for 10 bob (promotional offer) while Coca Cola was going for Sh. 40.

He realized very few were buying the soft drink at Sh. 10 and they were all flocking on Coke’s stand.

He quickly changed the pricing from Sh. 10 to Sh. 60 and the tables turned. People started buying the drink even more.

When sending bids, note that rich clients may NEVER even check your bid if you price too low. If a client is looking to pay someone Sh. 20 per 500 words. High chances are that he won’t even check the Sh. 2 – Sh. 10 bids. He’ll consider them desperate.

Therefore, NEVER bid too low for projects in bidding sites. Always check the client’s budget and bid either at their price or slightly lower. I’ve seen that even bidding slightly higher can work wonders. Aim to get to at least Sh. 10 per 500 words as soon as possible.

Are you surprised as i am? Yeah, i am sure you are. We expected that the cheaply priced items and bids would have a higher number of users than the premium priced but then, practically speaking, it is the premium priced ones that outdid the cheaper ones.

The secret herein lies:

People never buy the product for what it is. They buy the motivation behind the product. What touches the human soul of the potential buyer is what moved the producer to produce to manufacture the final product. That is what makes them buy. If it was pricing, we would be seeing the cheap products’ turnovers being much more than the cheaply priced ones. How then does Apple, premium priced as it selling more than Nokia, which is cheaper? The motivation for the manufacture of course!

In the same vein, we always reach a point that desperation make us to just accept what life brings our way. I always get so many inbox messages from people looking for jobs and when i ask them which job they desire to linked to, all they would answer is ‘any job’! And i tell them off that there is no job titled “any job”. You must know what you want and be psyched to go for it. That is what one who has a vision and is principled carries himself. Now worse off, are those who when they go for interviews, they quote a low amount of cash as monthly pay. What the interviewers see is that you are desperate and you have no intrinsic value attached to your skills.

I remember when i got employed, i had a perfect career development plan. That in five years, i should be made manager from being a graduate clerk. And yeah, i exceeded my expectations and was promoted in two years to be assistant manager and two years later, a unit manager. When i landed into my new position, i set a target to work and if am to move, my new employer had to add a specific amount of cash on my monthly pay if successful in convincing me to. I achieved that. And since the game was sweeter by the day, i purposed that my next employer would have to double my pay on poaching me out of there. And yes, when the time came a year later, they did exactly that. And how did i achieve all this? By building a track record and using it to sell to those who needed my skills and services.

Clients pay for quality. If you know you have something worth being paid for, do not undervalue it. Because the price you attach to a product or skills speaks much about the motivation behind the service or commodity you are selling.

So, what is your price? Let it reflect the worth of your WHY.
The writer is an acclaimed business author of Passionpreneurship Demystified and Business Networking: How To maximize on your contacts for Business and Professional Growth. He is also a Personal Branding and Business Coach with PBL Africa. In case you need assistance to give your business or profession a jump-start, he can be reached via the following contacts:
Email:                              pblogix@gmail.com

LinkedIn:                         https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-okinda-9652b210a

Telegram:                       @Mokinda

Telegram Community: https://t.me/joinchat/EkprBT6zCKCRUmQUaDD9cQ

Facebook:                       https://www.facebook.com/maikol.okinda

Monkey See, Monkey Do Syndrome

When i heard of this idiom, i never actually appreciated what it  implied. Actually it holds much water for us who are still growing and finding our footing in life.

So the story goes that a group of pupils organised for a trip to a zoo and on the way, they each bought hats. When they arrived at the zoo, they were amazed at the different animals on display. One stand fascinated them – monkeys upon a tree. And they were so engrossed at enjoying their presence with them that a slight wind came and blew away their hats which the monkeys grabbed. They wore them on their heads just as they saw the kids do!

The kids got mad. They beckoned to the monkeys to go to where they were and the monkeys did exactly that. Whenever they did anything in an attempt to get their hats, the monkeys did the same. They realized there was a way to trick the monkeys, by making them ape them: they took their scarfs and tied them on their heads to look like hats. The monkeys did not copy that since the way they looked was alike to them – as if they wore hats. Then in tandem, they removed the scarfs from their heads and threw them into the air. The foolish monkeys, as was their character, did the same and pulled the hats from their heads and threw them into the air. The hats flew down to the ground and the kids took them back and ran away, laughing in joy.
Funny as the story is, it holds great lessons for us and is a clear mirage of how most of us live. How many of us have a clear vision of what we want in life? It is said almost 92% of people in the world today die before realizing their potential in life. It is therefore not a surprise that the richest place in the world is the graveyard as in it lies ideas that were never fulfilled.

I know of friends who purpose to do stuff but along the way, out of external pressure, they bulge and start aping their fellow men’s ideas. Of particular instance is  a pal whose passion was doing marketing. When a fellow came into town and he held an event, he chose to shift to doing events management. Well, he organised his and it never went down well. He lost a lot of cash and when i met him, he chose to go into environmental consultancy, saying that that was his forte. Well, i just sat back and analysed his adventure at self discovery and i pitied him. I have never heard of him since.

Like the monkeys in our analogy above, many of us never have confidence in what we put our minds to do, and get derailed when challenges come in. We are uniquely created with individual and specific strengths that make us to be who we are. No two people can therefore do the same thing likewise. If i was to write down my speech, and gave it to you to go present at a conference, trust me you would not deliver it as perfectly as i would even without the write up. Because we are totally different. That is the reason why anyone who apes fails in execution.
I always admire Thomas Edison, the great  American inventor. He tried 999 times to invent the light bulb. And every time he failed, he said he learnt one way not to do it. Were he to start letting his eyes wander off his purpose, someone else would have come along and did exactly that and take all the glory, plus the rewards!

They say the grass is always greener across the fence. But then, if you water yours, it would also be green. It is just a matter of effort and skill. Or better still, be greener and more attractive than the one across the fence. So, why cross the fence? Tend to yours!

 It is time we stopped seeing what people do and ape and start living our lives as we were created to, in business and in the workplace. You can only be the best version of yourself and not the other person! If you want to have a fulfilling business or work quality, just choose to be the best you can be of yourself. Because it is your passion that would power your life dream!

The writer is an acclaimed business author of Passionpreneurship Demystified and Business Networking: How To maximize on your contacts for Business and Professional Growth. He is also a Personal Branding and Business Coach with PBL Africa. In case you need assistance to give your business or profession a jump-start, he can be reached via the following contacts:

Email:                             pblogix@gmail.com

LinkedIn:                        https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-okinda-9652b210a

Telegram Community: https://t.me/joinchat/EkprBT6zCKCRUmQUaDD9cQ

Facebook:                       https://www.facebook.com/maikol.okinda

Overcoming ‘The Square Pegs in Round Holes’ Syndrome

​In modern times, it is a common fallacy to insinuate that for one to flourish in business or otherwise, one has to conform to a given set of traits and mannerisms that have been assumed to guarantee success. These stereotypical domains have created two classes of people in any entity  the able and the unable. As a result, many of the people in the world have lived to consign their life to chance in conformity to these stereotypes. But then, does it mean that if one is not ably gifted as per their prescribed mannerism then they cannot make it?
Maybe it is time we review the history of past world changers. Starting with the most famous of all – Honest Abe. Abraham Lincoln was not known to be an achiever of any sort. He failed in his entire life a record thirteen times.  After twelve unsuccessful attempts at love, doing business, politics in various levels, he finally clinched the highest office in the land. The sixteenth President of the United States of America is the most popular of the American Presidents and renown for the execution of the Declaration of the Emancipation, the document that abolished slavery in the United States of America. 

The only billionaire writer of our times, Joanne Kathleen Rowling, famously known as J.K. Rowling, was a depressed pauper by any standards, living on social benefits from the government. Actually, out of her frustrations in life, she chose to do her first Harry Potter novel based on real life characters. She then took the manuscript to twelve established publishers who all declined to publish her book. The thirteenth one accepted, albeit unwillingly. He even pointed out that there was no way should would be able to live on her writings and children books for that matter. Well, the rest is history. She is the owner of the Harry Potter brand that includes multiple books, movies and screenplays. She was declared by Forbes magazine as the worlds first dollar billionaire writer in 2004 with gross earnings exceeding USD 25 Billionaire. She also has numerous international awards to her name.

Michael Jordan is a famed sports personality especially in basketball circles. It is said that when he was starting out, his coach could not see potential in him because he was of a lesser height. Actually, when the time for selection of his schools senior team came, he was left out and his friend, Leroy Smith was picked. He never gave up. He purposed to work more than norm, waking up early to go to the basketball court to practice his dunking even before the other teammates would call for morning practice.  He later perfected his play to the extent that the senior players would come watch him play and admire his style. Consequently, he was enrolled to the senior team from which he grew to be a superstar.  As we speak, it is said that Michael earns much more than all the workers who spend their entire week working at the Nikes factory in Malaysia, yet he has never spent more than eight hours on any day at the factory. How does he do this? Out of his stardom, Nike, the famous apparel company, manufactured a branded attire kit in his name and through his performances, popularized their uptake among his fans. And such, the young boy who could not qualify for the basketball team for deficiency in talent, is a now a Basketball Hall of Famer. Apart from this, he was also Forbes’ 20th most effective celebrity for the year 2010. 

Take the story of Jack Ma for instance, mainland Chinas wealthiest man alive today. Out of his love for the English language, he would cycle for over 45 minutes to Hangzhou Hotel to practice his dictum while translating for Western Tourists. With time, he developed a desire for the language and studied teaching as an occupation. It was during these encounters that he met a foreign girl who could not pronounce his Chinese name well and hence the nickname “Jack Ma” was coined. It is told that he failed in his Primary School exams twice. He again experienced failure in his Middle School exams where he flopped thrice before eventually passing. His desire to pursue English studies made him apply for admission to Hangzhou Normal University. He once again failed in his three attempts before finally being admitted for a Bachelor in English degree. Before graduating, his desire to master the English language made him seek employment as an English teacher.

Jack Ma’s life is punctuated with rejection. He made a record thirty unsuccessful job application attempts.   He thereafter chose to pursue a teaching career path after graduation, working as a teacher at Dianzi University on a monthly pay of US $ 12 a month. When the KFC franchise went to China to set up shop, he and 23 others applied for jobs. The 23 were employed and his application declined. He also applied for a Police Force job. Other three applicants were taken on board. His application was declined, once again. His reason for being left out was he “was no good”. 

After getting frustrated at getting formally employed, he chose to entirely rely on his English language skills to earn a living. He then started a translation service business to serve the Chinese when they needed to interact with foreign companies from the west on business matters. This offered him the chance to visit the USA in 1995 on a government project on the building of highways. At that time, China was heavily communist and Internet penetration was low if not nonexistent.

The story goes that when he landed in Seattle USA, he visited a friend who had this seemingly funny looking box in his study. On inquiry, he was told its called a “computer”. His first action was search “beer” on its search engine. The browser brought up many results and none was from China. On searching “china”, he realized no information came up. 

On return to China, he purposed to introduce the Internet to China. His initial two ventures failed, including one, China Yellow Pages that made him exit due to bureaucracy associated with government agencies at the time since he co-owned it with the government. On launching China Yellow Pages, he received numerous emails from interested people around the world that sought partnerships. Later on, he started Alibaba.  At the moment, Alibaba is one of the biggest electronic commerce networks in the world. It is only second to Walmart, the world’s biggest distribution business entity. Its worth is higher than Facebook, the world’s largest social network. It is on record that the platform processes more goods on a daily basis than eBay and Amazon combined!

All these and many others just drive home the point that one does not need to fit into any system of thoughts to make it in business. They are classic cases of square pegs fitting into round holes. They are people out to solve societys problems in a different way and deliver value due to the ultimate consumer. They choose to overlook their limitations and unfitting geometry in psychology or otherwise, to ensure common problems in society are solved in the best way they know how. What would we talk of Albert Einstein who was written off in his younger days as one who would not amount to anything, but lived to become a genius of repute? How about Walt Disney, who was dismissed as one who lacked creativity, but lived to build an entertainment company with its own brands of films and cartoon characters in addition to a fun themed park?

The secret lies in how they dealt with their lack of conformance to the hole. It all started with appreciating their squareness and need to fit into the hole.  I have had such an experience before, with many wondering how a First Class Biomedical Science and Technology graduate would deem it fit to pursue and excel in a banking and financial services career, and even perform exceptionally well! If we are to study the above personalities, including myself, several common denominating character traits are common.

As pointed out, square pegs are deemed unfit for certain roles in society, business and work related areas included. It therefore means that society has a mindset and behaviour set that if one has, they are assumed to be ones to excel in such areas. However, history has proven otherwise  the world changers are them that are considered misfits, as elucidated above.

How then can a square peg personality fit itself into a round hole, one may ask. The first step is to appreciate the weaknesses they have. The limitations are what makes the external environment fail to appreciate their relevance in society. Michael Jordan, Albert Einstein and the others mentioned above realized that they had limitations and embraced whatever deficiencies they had. I have a firm belief that each and everyone has a drop of greatness in them and if harnessed, it can create long lasting and life changing value to humanity. Allowing the world to shape us would in effect, restrict us from achieving our life dreams. The world is the circular hole. We are the square pegs. It is upon us either to shape up and fit into the round holes or force ourselves to go through the holes and fit! It is all about going out there and kicking ass! And that forms the second step in customizing the square peg that we are  shaping up. Shaping up demands effort and time investment. It demands that we develop shock absorbers for pain for it is no easy task to train yourself to fit or adopt to a new environment or condition.

That is the spirit of achievers. Be it in business or at the work place, leave nothing to chance. Thomas Edison, the famous entrepreneur and inventor, failed more than nine hundred and ninety-nine times in his attempt to invent the light bulb. When he was asked why he never gave up, he responded that every time he failed, he realized he had learnt one more way not to do it! Which brings us to the last thing to do passion. Develop passion around whatever you want to achieve. Steve Jobs, the late Apple CEO, said that one can never do anything well unless they loved it. Passion is a core component of any undertaking. I always say, when currency fails in business transactions, gold becomes the standard for trading. And so is passion to success! For long it has always been believed that for one to succeed, their competencies and abilities were the determining factors. But the new order in the world is all about passion. Choose to start to develop a liking for what you aspire to be in future. develop a desire fruition of your objectives or ultimate dream.

All in all, the world needs people who would challenge the established system of thinking and doing things to help solve its problems. It wants entrepreneurs whose business is to provide solutions. It would be imperative to appreciate that business disruptors are not the ordinary, but the misfits, those considered unworthy but in them they harbor potential unexplored. These are the square pegs that need to fit into the round holes! The world is not waiting for your business idea to cheer you on. It waits to see if you will deliver on your promise. It is upon you to go out there and prove them wrong, by being the square peg that fits in the round hole.

The writer is an acclaimed business author of Passionpreneurship Demystified and Business Networking: How To maximize on your contacts for Business and Professional Growth. He is also a Personal Branding and Business Coach with PBL Africa. In case you need assistance to give your business or professional a jump-start, he can be reached via the following contacts:

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