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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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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.  

Posted in Creating, Engaging, Interacting, Participating | 4 Comments »

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. 

Posted in Creating, Engaging, Interacting, Participating | 1 Comment »

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 »

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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Participating by Dreaming Big

Posted by Herman Najoli on May 4, 2009

Many times we stall in contributing to society because we “have no dream”. Is that really possible? Are there people who “have no dream”? I don’t think so. Think deeply. What’s your dream? What’s that one thing you absolutely believe you were born to do? What keeps you up at night and keeps you dreaming during the day? What’s your greatest desire in terms of accomplishments?

Each of us have been created with a desire for greatness. There is no human being who does not have the capability to dream big dreams. Greatness does not necessarily mean being rich and famous. Greatness is simply understanding what you were born to do and doing it to your utmost potential. All human beings have the potential to dream great dreams and achieve them. T.E. Lawrence, in Seven Pillars of Wisdom, said, “All men dream but not equally. Those who dream by night, in the dusty recesses of their mind, wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.” Don’t let your dreams become nightmares. Dream big. Your dream is key to you participating in the flow of life.

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Are You Living An Epic Life?

Posted by Herman Najoli on March 9, 2009

The epitome of true success in life is being able to live a life of significance. I call this an epic life. Significance is found in contributing towards causes that make the world a better place for fellow human beings. Zig Ziglar is famous for saying that “You can achieve anything you want in this world if you will help enough other people get what they want”. An epic life really begins when we live outside ourselves and share our lives with others.

Here are five fundamental keys to living an epic life. These are simple fundamentals that will empower you on your quest for significance:

1. Be a people-builder, not an ego-builder

The majority of human beings are focused on building their egos. To attain a significant life you must be a people-builder. people builders don’t do things because of what they get out of it. They contribute to enriching other people’s lives because they love people.

2. Embrace a bigger vision than self-pursuits

A person’s significance can be measured by the size of his or her vision. Does your vision include other people? If so, in what way? Is it about empowering and equipping others? Self-pursuits may gain us a few toys in life but they never bring true significance in life.

3. Seek opportunities to contribute

Life is shaped in our moments of contribution. People can be divided into two groups: those who contribute and those who consume. Contributors find increased value in life by pursuing a lifestyle of adding value to others. They are difference makers.   

4. Enlarge your concept of family

Most of us have a healthy understanding of our families and our place in those families. Significance demands that we think beyond our nuclear families to our place in the human family. By thinking in such manner, we are able to develop connections that enable us to significantly help others. 

5. Discover the power of giving

Giving comes in many forms. One can give of their time through volunteering, one can give money by making donations to difference making organizations and one can also give of their property to ensure that others live a better life. Through giving, we are able to change other people’s lives, and in so doing, we change ourselves!

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

Transitioning from Next Level Thinking to a Living a Life of Legacy

Posted by Herman Najoli on March 1, 2009

People today are consumed with the idea of going to the next level in their lives, be it in their relationships, careers, finances or other area of life. While this is great because it motivates them, I find it to be an idea that can limit our true potential. My paradigm is that we need to be consumed with the idea of the kind of legacy we will leave behind at the end of the seasons of our lives.

Thinking about your legacy every day, rather than thinking about the next level only, makes you a better leader. I also believe that thinking about a legacy makes you other-people centered while thinking about going to the next level tends to make one self-centered.

How do you transition from thinking about the next level to thinking about developing a legacy?

1. Be more focused on other people rather yourself

The idea of being a ‘people person’ has been around for a long time. Dale Carnegie’s 1936 masterpiece, ‘How to Win Friends and influence People’, has helped so many people over the years to develop a people-centered perspective that has enabled them to leave great legacies. I would highly suggest a reading of the book. 

2. Ask how you can help rather than what others can do for you.

President John F. Kennedy immediately became a world figure with his acceptance speech in which he said, ” And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you -ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.” In order to leave a legacy you must ascend in thought to where you are asking what you can do for others rather than what they can do for you. 

3. Be a giver more than a receiver

Nothing shapes a legacy more than the spirit of giving. When you give of yourself to others you become a part of the solution. It’s solution-centered thinking that sets the pace for the kind of legacy a person will leave behind. Again, when one is thinking of going to the next level, the pre-dominant question is “What can I get (or receive) that will take me to the next level?” When one is thinking of leaving a legacy, the pre-dominant question is “What can I give that will help others?” Be more of a giver and your legacy will be unshakable because the truth is that what we give is ours forever!

4. Be a leader more than a follower

Leaders impact and influence other people greatly. The great thing about being a leader is that you are able to take other people to the next level as you develop a legacy. What a beauty! Leaders pass along the best in themselves to other people. I’m always pleased when I hear from people I led in high school and at the university. They always say things like, “Herman, that idea was awesome. It took our group to a whole new level.” While those short-term moves were great for whichever group I led, the best thing is that a legacy was developed because even today they still talk about what we did.

Are you living for the next level or developing a legacy for and with your people? Start shaping your legacy today. 

Posted in Creating, Engaging, Fulfillment, Interacting, Leadership, Organization, Participating, Wisdom | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

Designed and Engineered for Success

Posted by Herman Najoli on January 18, 2009

We all want to achieve success. Human beings are designed and born for success. Success, however, is not automatic. There are certain key things that we have to do consistently in order to really attain that which brings significance to our lives. Here are six key things that I believe will usher in success to anyone who applies them.

1. Set big goals and dreams and go after them – Every worthwhile pursuit in life begins with a dream. Dreams are the substance of life. Once you have a dream, you need to create step by step goals that will allow you to get that which you desire. Goals must be pursued diligently. Diligence is the guidepost to fulfillment in life.

2. Learn from every problem or obstacle you face – Problems, challenges, obstacles and crisis are great teaching schools. When problems arise, take notes and study them. Learn from your mistakes and that will enable you to not repeat them. True success comes through challenges and trials. The road to success is littered with problems and obstacles that were conquered by winners.

3. Learn the key skills you require for success – Skills separate the winners from the losers, the successful from the successful. One of the things that has helped me a lot over the years is studying the lives of successful people. They have all been people who amassed great skill at doing what takes them over the top. Learn the necessary skills and you will definitely make it to the top.

4. Get the support and cooperation of others – No man is an island. The day of the lone-ranger is over. Teamwork makes the dream work. If you will truly reach your potential, you must embrace the power of teaming up with others. The support of people around you is crucial. Develop an inner circle of people who will support you. Find mentors and learn from them. Create networks with successful people and add value to them.

5. Focus on priorities and concentrate on key tasks – Priorities are the pathways to success. Your priorities in life determine the quality of your results. Goals should be prioritized. High impact goals should befirst on your goals list. Clear set-up of priorities enables you to develop a powerful focus that directs your pursuit of your goals. The objectives that bring you the most reward in life should be the center of focus.

6. Develop persistence and unshakable self-confidence – Persistence and self-confidence go hand-in-hand. We all encounter obstacles in life but it is those who persists through the obstacles who will attain their full potential. Self-confidence sets you apart. Most people sabotage themselves by second-guessing their abilities and strengths. Don’t let doubt, uncertainty and societal barriers stop you. Success is yours for the taking.

Go for it!

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