Personal Effectiveness - Reflections of a Young Man™

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Personal Effectiveness

I have extracted this photo-quote from Ngagementworks.com with permission from Nick Fewings, the website owner. Copyright © all rights reserved worldwide.


The great American president Abe Lincoln was once asked, "What would you do if you were given eight hours to cut a tree?" After thinking for a moment, Lincoln replied, "I would spend the first four hours sharpening the axe."

Of course Lincoln's point was that before embarking on a goal, it is important to plan and prepare. Because as the old adage goes, "Failing to plan is planning to fail."

On reflecting about that Lincoln's reply, I thought to myself, "Perhaps all our days would be happier and brighter if we spent some time developing our minds. How about sparing an hour everyday to sing, pray, read, write, meditate or listen to inspirational stuff? Maybe Robin Sharma was right when he quipped that starting the day off well is a powerful strategy for self-renewal and personal effectiveness."

Following that revelation, I have resolved to continue setting aside an hour or so everyday to develop my mind as well as vitalize and energize my spirit for a productive day ahead. So help me God.

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If you've been enlightened by this short story of mine on personal effectiveness, you might also get enlightened by another story I wrote on personal excellence. Just click on that link in blue to jump straight into the story.

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Exposing the Goliath



I suppose everyone has faced that problem my friend Ngishili Njuguna described as "the Goliath" in his now defunct blog. He called it "the Goliath" because it seemingly defies all efforts to overcome it. If only I could overcome this problem, so we think, then life would be great!

Ngishili borrowed the term "Goliath" from the giant in the Bible who was killed by David as narrated in the Book of 1st Samuel. I just like the way Ngishili described the story of Goliath:
"Goliath was a legendary warrior of mighty proportions and extraordinary fighting techniques. Some considered him a giant. In the powerful command of Goliath, the Philistine army was the most devastating to any opposing force that stood against it. So much was the confidence that Goliath projected that the whole Israelite army became as meek as lambs in his presence. Goliath would stand in front of the Philistine army and dare any Israelite warrior to challenge him to a fight.

It was in the midst of one of those taunting episodes that a young shepherd boy named David arrived at the battlefield to check on his brothers that were drafted in the army. He heard about Goliath's reputation, and was appalled at his spite and vitriol, and what it was doing to his brothers and their comrades in the army. It was then that he volunteered to challenge Goliath on behalf of the Israelite army.

David's dare to Goliath was ridiculous to the point of being laughable. Here was a naive boy with nil battleground experience, and whose only credential were his apparent foolhardiness against a giant of a career warrior with years of experience and arrogance born out of numerous spectacular successes. David's body could not even hold the weight of the battle armour!

And so it was with those insurmountable odds that David's triumph over Goliath has been exalted again and again over the ages by his admirers. For it only took a primitive sling to catapult the rock that hit Goliath right in the middle of the forehead, killing him instantly. In that instant, the battle was won.

I always picture what it would have been like in that battleground on that day. When the Philistines realized that their hero was dead, they all took off with the whole Israelite army in triumphant pursuit. What is most interesting to note is that the defeat of a single Goliath caused, on the one hand, every single warrior of the Philistine army to flee, and on the other hand, every single warrior of the Israelite army to be rejuvenated with strength and courage.

There is a similarity of this story and that of the problem I call 'the Goliath'. When we face 'the Goliath', it always feels like it is the one problem that has put obstacles on all the paths of opportunity in our lives.

I guess we have all been in a place where we feel that if we could only be able to figure out this one problem, then everything would work out because when we face 'the Goliath', it is as if the world comes to a halt and the pain that the problem causes is the only thing we can feel. It is usually so intense that we are helpless even when we know what needs to be done to overcome 'the Goliath'. This helplessness causes distress, shame and even hopelessness. In the face of 'the Goliath', we feel paralysed and all our good faculties seem frozen in more or less the same way that the Israelite army and every single warrior in it were. "
There you have it: the story of Goliath as Ngishili described it. O, how I am endeavoring to acquire that kind of colourful description!

As for me anyway, I have faced several Goliaths in my life so far. Like during my high school years at Starehe Boys' Centre and well into the university, my Goliath was confusion. People used to comment of how confused I looked - something that bitterly bothered me and diminished my self-esteem.

Later on in 2008 after I was diagnosed with schizophrenia after I went bonkers at JKUAT where I was pursuing a degree in Electronics & Computer Engineering, my Goliath mutated into a lack of enthusiasm in life. Since then, and as late as this week, I have struggled with recurring periods of apathy during which I struggle to get out of bed in the morning. And when I wake up, I end up feeling lonely, frustrated and sometimes guilty over some of the things I have done or words I have uttered. To make matters worse, I lose interest in my hobbies. It's a terrible Goliath, I tell you: one that is preventing me from experiencing the abundant life that Jesus came into the world to bestow on us.

I am striving to overcome this Goliath: as in, those recurring periods of apathy that reduce me to a useless blob of protoplasm. And I can't help that with your prayers, I shall overcome. So help me God.

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Prayer Requests

Second from right on the front row is me squatting after an evangelism graduation ceremony (circa August 2008) at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi, the welcoming church I joined after I left Starehe Boys' Centre.


During one of the evangelism classes I took in 2008, a gentleman named Jared Ogutu advised us to keep a list of prayer requests to track how God fulfils our needs. Although I liked Jared's advice, I have only implemented it twice. That was in 2012 and again in 2015.

I still have those lists I wrote in 2012 and 2015 stashed somewhere. While going through the list I wrote in 2012, I discovered God only answered two prayers requests: acquiring a piano keyboard and landing a part-time piano teaching job. And while going through the list I wrote in 2015, I discovered that I had changed some of the goals I wanted God to help me accomplish. Like I no longer desire to be a newspaper columnist; I just want to be writing entertaining, enlightening and inspiring stories in this lovely website of mine.

Now, I have decided to come up with a new list of prayer requests which reads as follows:
  1. Develop courage to say "no" without feeling guilty about it
  2. Gain wisdom on how to spend my time, words, money and energy wisely
  3. Reduce my weight so that I can reclaim my youthful looks
  4. Rise early in the morning everyday to pray, write, read, sing, walk, meditate or play the piano
  5. Renew my emotions of happiness daily by writing an inspiring story
  6. Win a lucrative advertising contract in this website
  7. Meet my soul-mate who shall be declared my wife in a colourful wedding
  8. Produce inspirational songs
  9. Become an eloquent speaker both in public speaking as well as one-to-one conversations
  10. Get an opportunity to travel overseas
  11. Crack clean and witty jokes everyday
  12. Become rich enough to build a magnificent home which I shall stuff with modern accessories as well as with rare and beautiful treasures
  13. Learn how to drive and own a brand new Toyota prado
  14. Experience sacred, substantial, never-fading bliss and inner-peace
Yes, I will be going through the above list once in a while to witness the work of God in my life. I challenge you to also come up with your own list of prayer requests. And let us remember the timeless words of King David in Psalm 37:6, "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." Over to you!

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If you've enjoyed this story of mine on my list of prayer requests, you might also enjoy another story I wrote about an inspiring prayer worthy of memorization and another story I wrote about my favourite Bible verse. Just click those links in blue to jump straight into the stories.

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