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Archive for the ‘Creating’ Category

Purpose, Vision and Persistence: How your passion can enable you to smash through barriers

Posted by Herman Najoli on October 4, 2010

We all experience moments in life when obstacles seem to crowd our goals and aspirations. Whether you are a leader of an organization, an employee in a department, a small-business owner, a student, the President or even just a regular guy, we have all experienced many barriers to our goals. I’ve seen so many people with great dreams that would add tremendous value to society but every time they try to plug into their dreams, they get knocked down by societal barriers.

Regardless of your situation or status in life, you to know that you can smash any barriers that hinder your life goals and your organization’s direction. I know this full well because my life has been about smashing barriers. I come from a community that is not well regarded in terms of access to higher positions in my country – Kenya. I was denied the opportunity to come to the United States four times before I finally got the Visa. I came to this country with a big dream and only $140 in my pocket. Imagine all the barriers I have had to surmount in order to get to where I am now. When I told people that I wanted to speak for a living, a lot of them said, “You are barking up the wrong tree, son. You’ve got a heavy African accent, no money, no contacts, ….how do you ever expect to do this?” Well, I didn’t have to know the “how” since I had a solid “why”. My passion has been one – to help people – and that is why barriers are getting smashed as I begin to slice the frontiers of developing people and empowering them to live a better life. Here are some ideas:

Three Core Hammers for Smashing Through Barriers

1. Generate a Solid Idea of Your Life Purpose

Purpose is the key to understanding the “why” of life. When you know what your purpose is, you will not lose heart in the face of obstacles and barriers. Understanding purpose enables you to stay committed and motivated towards pursuing your goals. Purpose produces passion and that is essential in overcoming challenges. Leaders in organizations need to have a clear picture of what the organization’s purpose is.

2. Develop an Enduring Vision

Lots of people have vision but very few stick to it when barriers come their way. If you will smash through barriers, you need to have an enduring vision. The United States as a country has come through many generations of challenges because of an enduring vision that was cast by the founding fathers. I succeeded in finally being able to come to the United States because I had an enduring vision.

3. When Knocked Down, Get Back Up – Be Persistent!

I like reading biographies. One of the stories I have enjoyed so much was that of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln had a steady stream of barriers throughout his life and he smashed through all of them. Look at this:

In 1816 his family was forced out of their home. He had to work to support them. In 1818 his mother died. In 1831 he failed in business. In 1832 he ran for state legislature and lost. In 1832 he lost his job and wanted to go to law school but couldn’t get in.In 1833 he borrowed money from a friend to begin a business and by the end of the next year he was bankrupt. He spent the next 17 years of his life paying off this debt. In 1834 he ran for state legislature again and won. In 1835 he was engaged to be married. His sweetheart died and his heart was broken. In 1836 he had a total nervous breakdown and was in bed for six months. In 1838 he sought to become speaker of the state legislature but was defeated. In 1840 he sought to become elector but was defeated. In 1843 he ran for congress and lost. In 1846 he ran for congress again. This time he won, went to Washington and did a good job.In 1848 he ran for reelection to congress and lost. In 1849 he sought the job of land officer in his home state and was rejected. In 1854 he ran for Senate of the United States but lost. In 1856 he sought the Vice-Presidential nomination at his party’s convention and got less that 100 votes. In 1858 he ran for US Senate again – again, he lost. In 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States!

My! That’s a long list of barriers for just one single guy! But you know what? He had purpose, vision and persistence. You can do it too! Let’s smash through barriers!

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Posted in Creating, Engaging, Fulfillment, Interacting, Leadership, Organization, Participating, Wisdom | 1 Comment »

Three Keys to Living An Epic Life

Posted by Herman Najoli on August 18, 2010

There are many different traits that are essential for a better life but when it comes to truly winning in life, there are three crucial traits that one must embody. These are knowledge, passion and humor. Let’s take a quick look at each of these: 

Knowledge

Knowledge is the key quality that enables a man or woman to realize his or her true personal potential. Knowledge sets one apart since it enables you to demonstrate higher capacities and capabilities. The difference between one’s current state and a future desired state is normally bridged by the quality of one’s knowledge. Knowledge lifts you up from the pit to the pinnacle of your desires. 

Passion

Passion separates between the committed and the non-committed. Passion is the one essential quality that enables the realization of dreams and desires. Passion births zealous commitment in an individual and enables him or her to stay focused on the quest for a better life. All revolutions throughout the history of mankind have always been brought about by passion individuals.

Humor

Humor is an essential trait because it provides us with the motivation to continue striving through situations that may not fully be desirable. Having a sense of humor about life is essential. Fun, excitement, enjoyment, laughter and happiness are key pieces in teh puzzle of life. Life offers us many unique experiences and challenges. Humor enables us to ride these unique experiences and challenges without losing motivation.  

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Engaging, Participating, Interacting and Creating at the Global Level

Posted by Herman Najoli on July 30, 2010

Nothing demonstrates the beauty of humanity more than a coming together of people of all races and backgrounds. I’ve always enjoyed mingling with people from other countries and cultures. That is why I chose to volunteer with an organization that is doing a lot to build cross-cultural understanding in my city. If we are going to make a positive impact in this Century we will need to understand our place in the global community of humanity. Every human being, regardless of social status, needs to have a dream of at least visiting another country and culture at one time or another in his or her life. Having a global perspective really changes how you see your own community.

It’s true that kids dream of visiting other countries and touring around the world but somehow that dream dies before they even get into their teenage years. What kills the dream? Is it the comfort of being in their own safe and secure neighborhoods? Whenever I visit schools to speak with kids, I always encourage them to hold onto that dream. Such an opportunity is an eye-opener and should never ever be passed up. I’ve been to a few countries and each experience was amazing in it’s own way. In today’s world it is unthinkable to live and operate without an understanding of the world around us.

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Elevate your life; give maximum value

Posted by Herman Najoli on June 7, 2010

We have been told many times in the past that “If you build it, they will come”. This line was popularized by a movie, Field of Dreams, I believe. While this was a great line for many years, it proves to be insufficient for today’s world. Today’s world demands that whatever you build must provide value. Value is measured by the contribution that your idea brings to the table. The line that works in our world today, as opposed to the world of Field of Dreams, is this: “If you build it and it provides value, they will come.”

Let’s talk about value then: the value that you and I bring to the table. I know and feel that, as conscientious individuals, you and I absolutely love what we do. Just like you, I wake up every morning and I want to give my absolute best in whatever I do throughout the day. Some people will say that most people don’t have a passion for what they do. They do just enough to keep from getting fired because they are being paid just enough to keep from quitting. I hope that’s not your situation because I want you to embrace the idea of providing maximum value on a daily basis. When you embrace such an attitude, your life gains immense purpose and power. Elevate your life, give maximum value on a daily basis. 

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Enthusiasm: The Bedrock of Passion; The Key to Potential

Posted by Herman Najoli on March 5, 2010

Ralph Waldo Emerson, that great essayist and poet whose been quoted so many times, once said, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm”. Enthusiasm is the bedrock of passion and the key to maximizing one’s personal potential. Henry David Thoreau said that the mass of men live lives of quiet desperation. In other words, they do not have a passion for anything. They have nothing to stand for, so they fall for anything that comes their way. How then, can we break through and find something worth standing for?

The key is in having a desire to make a difference. Making a difference could mean changing the way things are or simply contributing to a social condition or situation. Desire is the ignition key, so to speak, of passion. You cannot pursue something unless you really have a desire for it. We generate enthusiasm by having positive desires that will contribute towards a better life and society. Let’s work on generating greater enthusiasm.

Posted in Creating, Engaging, Fulfillment, Interacting, Leadership, Organization, Participating, Wisdom | 2 Comments »

Creating Strategically

Posted by Herman Najoli on January 12, 2010

We can learn a lot from architecture. Some of the most beautiful creations of mankind have been done through architecture. Architecture is simply the structure of anything. In construction circles, it is the act or process of building.

In the flow of life, the architecture of vision is the act of giving structure to that which has been intangible – your vision of the future – and you need a strategy to do that. Going back to our opening quote, we are the architects of our own fortune. Fortune is a child of vision. When it is said that where there is no vision people perish, what that really means is that where people lack hope in the future, there are no fortunes for them to reach for. Vision should birth strategy and strategy, my friends, is the key to your fortune.

Let us briefly look at the work of an architect. An architect takes a user’s vision and brings it to life. He plans and designs that which had been conceived in the mind. Many architects are great visionaries and strategists.

One of my favorite visionary architects is R. Buckminster Fuller, the creator of the Geodesic Dome. His concepts were revolutionary. The dymaxion car (contracted from DYnamic MAXimum tensION), for instance. Fuller had a superb ability to dream big and develop audacious goals. 

Living an epic life is directly proportional to how well we act on vision – strategy. Developing goals and objectives that bring the vision into clearer focus is essential.

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On Eagles, Geese, Turkeys, Crows, Vultures, and Hawks

Posted by Herman Najoli on September 8, 2009

Eagles have always been representative of high calibre leaders. They don’t flock like geese but rather fly solo. While this may rob them of the ability to draft from each other, it provides them with some crucial advantages that are essential for vision development, maintenance, and casting. Here are two: 

One, an eagle and a turkey react very differently to the threat of a storm. A turkey runs under the barn, hoping the storm won’t come near. The eagle, on the other hand, leaves the security of its nest and spreads its wings to ride the air currents of the approaching storm, knowing they will carry it higher than it could soar on its own.

Two, when an eagle is attacked by a pack of crows it doesn’t fight back. All it does is simply fly higher and higher, knowing that pretty soon the crows won’t be able to fly any higher. The eagle plays smart rather than lose its sensibility in the mindless games of small-thinking crows.

What additional insights can high calibre leaders gain from eagle-like thinking? Here are six marks:

1. Eagles are catalysts of experiences – Eagles make things happen based on their skills and abilities. They walk the road less traveled, defying models in order to blaze new trails. They make epic experiences happen.

2. Eagles possess great vision and execution – Eagles don’t perch on a tree and wait for the cows to come home. They go out and look for opportunities. They are not risk averse. They know when to unleash their cards.

3. Eagles are change agents – Eagles influences others in positive ways. They are 360° influencers. Their influence is not restricted by any categories or attributes. They confound the simple while dazzling the enlightened.

4. Eagles are multipliers of value – Eagles multiply the value of what they touch. Geese add value, turkeys subtract value, while crows divide value. Some groups are infested with vultures who prey on value!

5. Eagles empower eagles – Eagles don’t hang out with hawks. Hawks are pretenders. They are self-conceited, wait for the vultures to leave the carcass before they swarm in to make an even greater mess.

6. Eagles are sources of creativity – Eagles hunt for ideas that result in quantum transformation. They bring about the revolutionary advances that cement their status as high calibre leaders. Let the eagles fly!

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Dance: The Rhythm of an Epic Life

Posted by Herman Najoli on August 11, 2009

There is a Kenyan saying that “He who spends time adorning himself knows he is going to a dance”. This saying came to mind a few weeks ago as I watched my wife spend almost thirty minutes in front of the mirror. When I jokingly told her that she was spending too much time using cosmetics on an already stunning and gorgeous face, she responded, “Stop it charming … I’m not spending time here, I’m investing time”. Immediately when she said that I thought about the Kenyan saying above. Through this simple interaction, the stunner had just contributed towards refreshing my mind with brilliant insight.

Let’s explore the saying. For the purpose of clarifying the idea of what I’m sharing here (and staying on the same track with my wife’s thinking), let me say it this way, “She who invests time in preparing herself knows that there is something special in her future”. The stunner invested a significant amount of time in preparing herself that morning because she was expectating to meet a client later in the day.

Preparation is the key to securing your future. Are you adorning yourself? You should be, because there’s a dance awaiting you. The dance is the future that you were destined to live. One of the most beautiful things in life is a man or woman who is ready when his or her time comes. You may not be in the ‘dance’ of your life right now, but you can prepare because the truth is that every human being gets the opportunity to experience their dance. The problem is that very few are ever ready when the moment comes.

Start adorning yourself. Invest in personal growth. Read books that will prepare you for the future. Develop yourself into the kind of person who will shine on the dance floor when destiny finally says, “Here’s your chance”. Get ready! The quality of dance you expect in your future determines the amount of adorning you will do today. Raise your expectations. You shouldn’t be expecting to go to some mediocre dance. Your goal should be to dance in the most sophisticated dances reserved for the ones who have invested heavily in themselves.

One very important closing thought: Life was never meant to be a battle. Life is supposed to be a dance. Larry D’Anges said, “If you don’t learn to dance with life, life will pass you by and get another partner“. And I say this: “If you don’t learn how to dance today, you won’t shine on the dance floor tomorrow“.

Posted in Creating, Fulfillment, Organization, Wisdom | 2 Comments »

How do you “c”?: Creativity versus Reactivity

Posted by Herman Najoli on April 11, 2009

In order to be in the flow of engaging, participating, interacting and creating, we need to be able to see things differently. Many people see society and their abilities in the light of limitations instead of abundance. The bulk of society is seated down, observing everything and critizing what is happening. Difference makers are usually standing up and doing something by creating newness in society.  

In our every day dealings, do we spend too much time on the horizontal that we fail to see our potential in the vertical? Is life all about what’s happening around us? Think about this. In a meeting, when you are horizontal you are sitting down but when you are vertical you are standing up. By getting vertical we can gain a bird’s eye view so that we have a bigger picture of what’s possible.

In the vertical we have an opportunity to be creative while in the horizontal we are always reactive. Creativity comes when we can ’C’ things differently. Notice that the difference between creative and reactive is in where you place the ‘c’. In being creative you ‘c’ first and then develop a game plan. In being reactive you ‘c’ in the midst of the situation. How do you ’c’ (see)? Are you seated and criticizing or are you standing up and doing something about it? Are you creative or reactive? C first!

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Change as Foundational to Creativity and Key to Leadership

Posted by Herman Najoli on March 23, 2009

Let us look at the flow of life, with the river as our metaphoric guide. First thing you must realize is that you can’t step into the same river twice. The water at any point of the river is always changing – that’s the key to freshness! If we will stay fresh in the flow of our lives we must understand that change is contant. Change is foundational to creativity because you can’t bring in the new without getting rid of the old. Change is the key to leadership because a leader sees what others haven’t seen and helps them to see it for themselves.

People need to understand that change is part of life. Success in living an epic life requires a certain degree of openness to change. Most people struggle with handling change because it causes the 3 D’s – discomfort, disruption and dislocation. A crucial part of the process of handling change will involve helping people handle the dis’s and get pluses out them. Let us explore how we can do that:

Discomfort – Change requires difficult adjustments by people. Adjustments can cause stress and bring tension to groups. In some cases change has been known to lead to depression in some people and a mutiny from others. Uncertainty about the results of the change can bring fatigue and frustration. The key to avoiding all this is to ensure that people know in advance what to expect and how to deal with it. The discomfort of change can be prevented by preparing people adequately for the coming changes.

Disruption – When significant changes are made, some people experience personal pain at the loss of familiar things to which they had become very attached. This can be a source of great trauma. Leaders can help people by allowing them to verbalize their sense of loss and grief, and then gently pointing them to the benefits of the change and the bright new future ahead of them.

Dislocation – Any change, whether it involves new strategies, new programs, new equipment, new work procedures, new facilities, new management practices or new leaders, disrupts an existing order and leads to discontinuity. In a time of change, leaders should frequently explain what is happening and keep their people informed. People will be more optimistic if they know the change is progressing successfully. Leaders should frequently communicate what steps have been initiated, what changes have been completed and what resulting improvements have occurred.

Handling these three dis’s appropriately will be the key to avoiding the dreaded dis of change – disaster! In order for us to live epic lives – lives free of disaster – we must embrace change. Change is essential for creativity to flourish, change is necessary for leadership to prosper. In the next post we will discuss how we “see” in the quest for creativity.

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