Monthly Archives: January 2012

Embrace Discomfort

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Sometime last year my friend was driving us to a place close enough to the CBD. See we live in a country where traffic in the central business district is a complete nightmare so drivers avoid it like most people avoid pumpkin in a meal. For those of you who are confused right about now, pumpkin must have bribed its way into becoming a pet name if you ask me or other pumpkin averse people. So as he was driving us we passed some gorgeous houses on Dennis Pritt Road and State House Road and these houses are the stuff of dreams. Then he said the most interesting thing: he said he likes to drive around the “better” neighborhoods because it makes him uncomfortable with his current status quo. I found that very interesting and yet it made sense.

Discomfort is not something anyone enjoys (I mean its discomfort). It doesn’t get any more enjoyable than that but yet there is a point to it. I dare say we should embrace discomfort. Look around you at most of the successful people you know or have heard of. What do they have in common? They all grew up in discomfort and that is putting it mildly for some. They had to contend with less than the prescribed three meals a day. They did not have the best clothes. They may have had to walk long distances to school and luxuries that some of us consider so basic were just fantasies for them. Discomfort has a way of reinforcing our desire to change the status quo and it does more than that it causes us take action. Just think if you were wearing an ill-fitting pair of shoes and it was the only pair of shoes you owned, would you not want to work harder so you can afford another pair of shoes that fit better?

A few weeks ago I read an article and it made me uncomfortable. It was about rich Kenyans under 40. There are people on that list who are 27 years old. I am going to be 27 in the not too distant future (God willing) and after reading the article and pondering I need a miracle. But that is beside the point; what can we do to reduce our discomfort about things? Well, one of the things I have learnt over the years is that hard work is a huge factor in getting to the place you want to go. Besides working hard you need to work smart. Working smart is the best option because sadly because some hard jobs don’t get people pay that is anything to write home about. Instead people would rather toss the letter in the dust bin rather than send it home. To get out of discomfort you might have to get your hands dirty (and I don’t mean soiling your hands with shady business). Quite a number of people on that list started in agri-business. Allow me to digress a little. For the longest time my dad has decried the decline of agriculture in the rural areas. The young people in rural areas have been made to believe farming is a dirty job (literally) and they would have better luck coming to the big city. As a result farmers have a difficult time finding farm hands.  Yet what I find amazing, is that there is an emerging wave of graduate farmers who are taking it upon themselves to feed the nation.  I have to confess all the times my dad mentions Jembe and I in the same sentence I chuckle but I kid you not I’m so proud of graduate farmers everywhere I will soon join them: watch this space.  Another thing I learnt is you need guts. I went to a meeting last weekend and guts was defined as Getting Used To Sneers. You might choose to do something that people will not think too highly of and that is too put it mildly. We have innumerable stories of people who did very unglamorous work in the beginning but years later became the subject of envy. Whatever you are doing don’t let anyone despise you. The truth is you need to start somewhere. It was said at the meeting if you get used to sneers you will get used to success. It still spells G.U.T.S.

I have gravitated a lot towards enterprise and money but it does not stop there. I don’t care what people say there is more to life than money and quantifiable success. Are you uncomfortable with your relationships with family or friends or significant others? It’s ok. What are you going to do about it? The natural response by us mortal ones is to complain about the other person not doing this or that, not understanding where I’m coming from etc. This is selfish! Yeah I said it. Please don’t think I’m writing from some lofty horse. I am guilty of being selfish too. When it comes to our relationships, time for self-reflection is an underrated necessity. When you self-reflect you will see that you have been selfish in one way or other unless you don’t have a pulse. Feel the discomfort of your selfishness and work on it. Once I read a quote that I will paraphrase that said “everyone thinks of changing the world but no one thinks of changing themselves”. I know it has been said so many times it’s a cliché (people please find another line but) “change begins with you”. Think about it one it only took one person to decide eating meat was bad and now 1% of the French population is vegetarian. <Random fact of the day> The French love their meat so much that a vegetarian association had to lobby the government to get a more diverse meal plan for their schools. Would you like other people to be kinder, be kind that’s one kinder person in the world; a couple billion to go but still minus one mean person.

I think we are still in the season of making resolutions and one that makes the top ten lists is “I want to go to church more often”. Mi thinks people make this resolution because they are uncomfortable about their spirituality. I challenge anyone who has made this resolution to do one better. Resolve to know God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). Going to church is great but knowing God even better. I was watching a spy series and the male agent never liked to read the manuals of electric machines because he preferred to figure it out on his own. The result was the percolator caused the coffee beans to come out in an explosion. Don’t be that guy. God gave us a manual called the bible. You don’t have to figure stuff out all on your own. I find that when you read the manual you might even discover how to use the extra features on the machine. Who knows what else you percolator can do.

I finish with asking you to watch the movie Rio. Blue was a blue macaw (go figure) that was found by an American girl after he was smuggled from a forest in Rio de Janeiro. Being found was great because he got to live a cushy life in a house in America. His cushy life contributed to his not learning how to fly. The story went on and he went to Rio because it was thrust upon him to save his species by joining with a female macaw, something he did not want to do. A lot of times they were in danger and mostly because he couldn’t fly and he kept bringing the female macaw down. To cut a long story short, Blue had to save his female macaw friend from the hands of the smugglers and since she had hurt her wing he had to carry her and fly. The moral of the story is when we are too comfortable we don’t invest in skills (among other things) which we really need. However life throws discomfort in our way so that we can use our wings and fly.