Fulfilling Our Dreams - Reflections of a Young Man™

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Fulfilling Our Dreams

When I was in my first year in 2007 at JKUAT where I was pursuing a degree Electronics & Computer Engineering, I used to love spending my weekends at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi. I became so hooked to the church because of its modern facilities and friendly congregation.

It was in one of those church attendances that I decided to buy from the cathedral's book-stand a book titled Think Big by Ben Carson - the retired paediatrician who became an overnight success in 1987 for leading a 70-member team in separating Siamese twins co-joined in the head. He is currently serving in the Donald Trump administration as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

I was touched by the Ben Carson story as he narrated it in his endearing book. Like how he rose from the bottom of his class in academics to the top which led to his acceptance at the prestigious Yale College. His book was more than well-written; it was inspiring.

Unfortunately, someone stole the book from me at that time when I screwed up at JKUAT. Actually, I never got to know when it was stolen from me because I lost interest in books after I was forcefully admitted to hospital at the university in late 2008. I only realized later on in this decade when I regained my mojo that it was missing in my collection of books.

But I am glad that I still remember some lessons I gleaned from that Ben Carson's book. Like that every piece of knowledge is important, be it Calculus, Chemistry or even Helminthology (study of worms). So if your child ever decides to drop out of a degree course in Finance to study Helminthology, don't discourage him from his decision; he could end up discovering something that will revolutionize treatment of cancer.

Perhaps most important, I learnt from Ben Carson that the keys to fulfilling our dreams are identifying our talents and developing them. So sometimes in 2015, I took time to list my talents and dreams which are as follows:

Talents Dreams
ReadingBuild a resplendent home
WritingHave great friends
Public-speakingGet engaged to a winsome lady
Web designDrive a classy car
Computer-programmingTravel overseas
WalkingBecome famous
Piano-playingHave inner peace
SingingDo a job that I love
SocializingHave a successful political career
Encouraging peopleStart a business
Gardening & cookingHandle challenges rejoicingly
TeachingHave a colourful wedding
Working with numbers Help the less fortunate

After reviewing that list yesterday, I was impressed with myself for the effort I have put in honing my talents since I listed them about two years ago. I can't help but believe I shall soon fulfil some of my dreams. And I beseech you to join me in this journey of fulfilling our dreams.

Identify your talents. Take time to develop them everyday. Persevere when things seem not to be unfolding according to your plans. And remember that what you want to do with ease, you must first learn to do with diligence. Over to you!


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Defying the Odds

My life has been melodramatic so far for I have ended up defying odds stack against me. I have magically managed to endure biting criticism and prove my critics wrong in their prediction.

It all began in my primary school years when I was derided as dull and dumb for performing averagely in my continuous assessment tests (CATs). Like when I was in Standard Six, one of my brothers remarked to another, "I wonder how Thuita will pass his KCPE exams."

The remark seemed for quite some time to be prophetically true because I never scored past the 396 mark in my Standard Eight CATs. My scores mostly ranged in the 370s which were not that mediocre but again, they weren't good enough to get into such prestigious high schools as Starehe Boys' Centre where I applied for admission.

But alas! I made a quantum leap in my KCPE exams by scoring a surprising 421 mark which made me narrowly get into Starehe. It was indeed a narrow escape. If you know of any primary school kids in Standard Eight, let them read this story so that they can have some contents to write about in a composition on narrow escape.

Jokes aside, when I enrolled at Starehe - I ended up being among the last in my class at the end of our first term in Form 1 which shouldn't have been shocking because I was competing with the brightest boys in the country. But back then, I felt embarrassed to be position 32 out of 35 in the then mercurial stream of 1F Class of '02. I had never sank that low in academic rankings since I began schooling in kindergarten.

To surmount the setback, I read like a demon after we broke for holidays in that first term in Form 1; like by memorizing the first twenty elements in Chemistry beginning with hydrogen. But my efforts seemed not to bear any sweet fruits because I only managed to improve marginally in subsequent terms in our First-form year.

News must have spread through the grapevine in Starehe that I wasn't fairing well in class because a house-mate named James remarked to me towards the end of the year, "I hear you are always among the last in 1F with the likes of John Njiruh."

But again alas! I bubbled up the academics water of my class as our high school years rolled on; so much that I managed to score an A in the mighty KCSE exams. And I had the distinguished honour of getting listed in the newspapers as among the top 50 students in Nairobi Province - a remarkable achievement considering that the province had the best high schools in Kenya with the possible exception of Central Province in that era of provincial administration.

As a side observation, I noted that James (the one who had uttered a discouraging remark about me appearing among the last in my class in Form 1) did not manage to score an A in KCSE. And John Njiruh, with whom I was labelled as academic dwarfs, is now a top-notch writer who was once employed by a leading daily as a business journalist.

And how did I manage to overcome those odds stack against me? By believing in myself and in my capacity to perform great deeds. Like I sat for both KCPE and KCSE exams with the aim of topping the country. So I encourage you to also have faith in yourself. It is one of the most important virtues you need to succeed in this increasingly competitive world.


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Dealing with Disagreements

When I mentioned the other day of the great father-to-son pieces of advice that I love, I forgot to include the 1560 instructions written by H. Jackson Brown Jr. who later converted them into a book titled Life's Little Instructions Book. Jackson originally wrote the instructions for his college-bound son. I think he decided to convert them into a book after figuring out he could make money by sharing them with the world. Or maybe he just strived to make an impact in the world by guiding young men on the way to honourable lives.

If Jackson Brown's motive for publishing the instructions in a book was to guide young men, then he succeeded with me because I was personally inspired by most of his life instructions when I read his book in late 2015. So much was I inspired by them that I penned the instructions that touched me in my quotations book and typed them into my Facebook wall in a series of ten posts. But I later deleted them from the wall because I didn't want to get into trouble for reproducing almost a whole book without permission from the publisher.

However, I don't regret the effort I put in typing the instructions because it helped me drill them into every fibre of my being. And I am proud to report that I have managed to heed most of those precious pieces of advice on leading a distinguished life. But there are several of those instructions that I have had trouble following due to forgetfulness or lack of will. Let me dwell on one of them today on disagreements with loved ones.

A loved one enraged me the other week for a reason I don't want to mention here. In my temper, I yelled at him and went ahead to fume over some of his past shortcomings. After I had cooled down and apologized for my burst of anger, I remembered an instruction in H. Jackson Brown's book about disagreements but I couldn't recall what it exactly advised. So I went back to my notes and after a short time of perusing, I found the instruction which states: "In disagreements with loved ones, deal with the current situation. Don't bring up the past."

Oh, how poor my memory had been at remembering that instruction! And how foolish I had become for bringing up the past in a minor dispute! But I am now sure I will never again forget the instruction. So I have vowed not to bring up the past if I ever get to disagree with a loved one. I will deal only with the problem engendering our disagreement. So help me God.


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