The Star (Nairobi)

31 December 2012

Kenya: Lessons From 2012

column

I'm not big on new year resolutions, however I am good at taking the best and worst from a year gone by and seeing what can be learnt, done away with or even restructured.

2012 for me holds the lessons we need to take into the first half of 2013. We have an election looming and if the theatrics of the past two months are anything to go by - we need more than prayers to help us through our forthcoming elections.

I am not speaking about the political front alone, I think the first quarter of 2013 will determine how the rest of 2013 goes. So forget creating ambitious plans for the whole year - let's deal with January, February and March first shall we?

I was watching CNN in the wee hours of Sunday morning and saw a few lessons from 2012 that resonated with me and I decided to compile a list of my own.

Maybe a few of mine will work for you in the coming year and maybe you can create your own list as well. For starters let's all agree that we are smarter today than 365 days ago.

You know more than you did at the end of 2011. That one I got from CNN and I totally agree. If you're not smarter even from a life standpoint then you're in big trouble.

Go hide in a cave and don't come out until you can say you are definitely smarter today than you were at the end of 2011.

My lessons from 2012 include life, culture, health and even a little laughter. Here goes: You don't have to travel to see the world, sometimes the world comes to you.

In 2012 I learnt some Korean - no, not "Gangnam Style," I was able to model a Korean traditional costume that cost a small fortune and began to wonder why I haven't made strides to experience other cultures from right here in Nairobi - it's possible. Lesson - embrace new ideas and cultures, don't wait to travel to do so.

I'm one of those women who bought "Fifty Shades of Grey," what a complete waste of money. I got as far as page 45 of the first book and almost wept.

What was everyone so excited about? It's rubbish! Lesson - just because everyone says it's great doesn't mean it must work for you.

Meeting the mothers and children at Therapies For Kids was a turning point in my life. To be able to get out of my usual space and make new friends, different friends, hang out with these special needs children and their warrior mothers simply made me glow on the inside.

Lesson - Make friends with people you wouldn't normally make friends with, it is the best way to grow. What most people who wish for a bigger life and larger profile will never appreciate is that it really isn't all that and actually it robs you of "real" moments and real people.

In complete opposite to the lesson above, I also learnt that as your network and profile expands, keep your oldest friends closer.

No matter what happens to you this year, no matter who you meet and what sort of money and accolades you get, keep your true and oldest friends close. They loved you before the titles and awards, they will keep your feet planted firmly on the ground.

As the circus of journalists moving between media houses unfolded in the last few months, I had a chance to have coffee with four different people who simply didn't know what to make of the demands or the offers thrown at them.

Lesson - find your true north and stick to it. People will judge and people will talk. Ignore them and focus on doing an excellent job.

The idea is not to prove them wrong, that takes too much energy and it's a waste, the mission is to prove yourself right and remember - success is the best revenge..

The past year has been busy with work, events, conferences, school and of course home. I have been forced to lay down the law, define how I work and also ensure I am not wearing my self so thin that I can barely do anything well. Lesson - Work will always be there. Take care of yourself or you are of no use to anyone, even yourself. Pray, plan, exercise, get enough sleep and take your vitamins.

When I received the news of my board appointment to KTDC, I was as always cautiously thrilled. If you know me well, you know I cut everything open, probe and also start thinking of what the decision holds for the future.

When I asked Mohammed Nyaoga to look at the gazette notice and he came back with a legal opinion that showed the anomaly in the appointment - I had no trouble turning the appointment down until the legal item was resolved.

There are those who asked me why I cared considering not many people knew. Well - I knew and that's all that mattered. Lesson - if it doesn't feel right, don't do it no matter what the popular thinking may be.

If Google is to be believed, Kenya and Africa is about to explode into the world of social media in a big way in the coming years.

As you venture out into cyberspace be aware that about 10 per cent of those in the mix are Cyber Trolls. Like all bullies, trolls are sad and bitter - being able to hide and attack is all they have.

They have a misguided idea that your life is perfect. They target everyone from Beyonce to Michelle Obama for the same reason - their life sucks.

Oxford University's Kevin Dutton who has studied trolls for a while says many of them habour psychopathic traits that verge on mental disorder.

Like other bullies, trolls also need to get a rise, that's why "don't feed the trolls" is a rule of thumb for all of us. I conclude by borrowing these words from Sunny Bindra, "make 2013 the year when you make better choices.

Stop passing the responsibility. It's your country, and we have to make it a better one in our lifetimes. Beginning with 2013".

I hope you will take the best of 2012 into the new year with you and forge ahead into a better day. God speed to you in the coming year.

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