Excuses! – I Dont Want to Know

For the past 6 months, I have been doing a leadership course that focuses on raising transformational leaders that will be able to go out in the market place to positively influence the different spheres of society in which they work. The training was organised in a way that you attend a 2 days workshop once a month and then have assignments to work on during the month.

The starting workshops within the course were the most depressing and they truly aroused a certain level of anger within me. The course content covered areas discussing Africa’s historical problems and doing a post-mortem of how we had gotten into such a state. We looked at the role of leadership or its absence, the greed, selfishness and personality egos. By the 2nd set of workshops, we went beyond the blaming of the political leadership for Africa’s problems and discovered that all of us were partly responsible for the mess on the continent. The rest of the workshops focussed on equipping us with the required skills to do something in making our continent a better place.

Through the equipping process, I got to know that to be transformational in the community required that one first masters themselves. I got to know what some of my limiting beliefs were, understood my personality with its strength and weaknesses, and also got to correct some of the doctrinal errors in my faith. Through reflective thinking, I have gotten to deal with many of the past personal and business mistakes of my life and allowed myself to heal and let go of all the things that were not working and focus on what will work.

The most challenging workshop, i.e. The History Makers Training (HMT), was the last one, a 3 days and 3 nights camp out of town at the Ankrah Foundation hill in Mukono just above the Christian University. I checked into my hotel room on Thursday evening, confirmed the comfort of my bed unknown to me that I was not going to need the appropriate services of that bed.

Right after dinner, we got into the conference room and it was at that point that I got to know that i had forgotten to come along with my laptop. Everything about the training rotates around the assignments you do online. At the same time I got reminded that we are trained to be NO-Excuse leaders and not having a laptop was no excuse not to submit my assignments. Being too late to travel back home, I called home and arranged for it to be delivered in the morning. The dilemma at that time was how I would get through with my assignments of the first night. A good Samaritan loaned me their Tablet and i managed to manoeuvre myself with it to work on my assignments. We somehow all ended up staying in the conference room working all night to get our assignments done. I managed to finish at about 7am then started struggling to get it submitted online. With the deadline at 8am, I was successful in submitting at 8:05am. I thought my effort would be appreciated since the assessors knew my predicament. I hit a low point when my work was rejected meaning I got no grading because of late submission.

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A little self-talk helped me recover my composure, got my attention back into the happenings in the class. Life Lesson: This act made me think about many areas of my life that could have gone wrong because of my failure to be intentional and disciplined. I was well aware that I would be attending this workshop a month before, why did I not prepare for it? “How could I go to dig without my hoe?”, I remembered the many people that owe me money that I have always be lax with, listening to all their excuses only to end up losing in the end? I remembered the many flimsy excuses from subordinates that I always entertained trying to be very considerate eventually affecting productivity? This act that I thought was uncalled for by the assessors ended up being one of the sources of my greatest learning.

Learning, discussions and assignments continued through the day until Friday 5pm when I excused myself to try and catch a one hour nap. Dinner was expected at 6:30pm so I was supposed to be back by that time. I set my alarm and got into the nap. I am not sure if the alarm worked or not but by the time I got up, it was after 7pm. The very hungry me was too late to catch supper so I had to survive on an empty stomach through the night. Life Lesson: however justified you may feel you are, opportunities will not wait for you.

We get into the 2nd night continuing with Lectures, discussions, learning movie and assignments. We worked on the assignments again through the night struggling with power blackouts in the night. We had to keep moving between halls based on what section of the facility had power. By 8am, the deadline time, I had managed to submit 5 of them but failed to finish 2 others. I was penalized for not fully submitting. Life Lesson: we are not interested in knowing that you worked hard through the night. We also don’t want to know that this is your 2nd sleepless night in a row. What we want is the finished assignment completed and submitted….period.

Saturday program continued without any big eventful occurrences. This time I did not get a free hour to nap as I was busy with the day’s assignments that had to be submitted by 6pm. But even if I had, I was not going to risk missing dinner again or even submit myself to penalties of coming late for the evening session which was meant to start at 7pm.

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Saturday night program after the lectures had us watching a movie about Gandhi. Quite an inspirational story but my body was tired. Yet I had to do everything to keep awake or else I would not be able to work on the assignment in relation to the movie. I stood inside the hall, took a cup of coffee but my eyes were still in a shutdown mode. I got more creative when I decided to walk out of the hall into the cold outside and then watched the movie through the window. This now looked very funny when I saw a photo of myself from one crafty character who decided to photograph me in my predicament. After the movie, I knew I would not be able to sit through the night productively. This time I opted to go for a one hour nap. But to ensure that I am able to wake up, I had to set my phone alarm, the reading tab alarm and my laptop one to maximum volume and the noise they together generated at 2am did not disappoint. We worked through the night again and by 8 am had been successful in submitting all the assignments for the night. Life Lesson: When you know what let you down before, take more precaution so that you don’t get let down again.

I am truly amazed at what the body can be stretched to do. Never in a lifetime did I ever think that I could work through the night up to morning without sleep.  I never thought that I could continue working for up to 84 hours with less than 3 hrs of sleep. Life Lesson: Of course it has made me reflect since I usually do my average 8hrs of sleep every day. Could it be that I am spending too many hours in sleep? Could I shorten my sleep pattern and utilize some of this recovered time to do more?

The HMT journey has been a life altering experience, an opportunity to challenge and stretch myself beyond anything i thought possible. Taking this journey was taking a stand for transforming my life. The HMT program itself felt unreasonable and challenging by Friday mid-morning, but by Sunday evening, I saw that it had been one of the most incredibly rewarding experiences I could have chosen to take on at this time in my life.

HMT has forced me to rethink many of the concepts I had picked up from my career background. I am getting to break down many limiting walls around me, including the way I relate and communicate with people. I have been able to rethink through what my values in life are, to understand them better and make them relevant in directing the way I live life.

The process has caused me to take an honest inventory of my inner self. My relationship with my friends, my family, and most importantly, with myself are undergoing an incredibly positive transformational experience that will last a lifetime.

I wanted to grow, be challenged, and discover what was holding me back – to reach ever higher. The HMT camp has been an experiential learning process, a laboratory for self-reflection, in which my entire being was engaged in the work of discovery. I have discovered what my true passion is through the workshop and training. I have gained true clarity on the direction and vision of my life. It is an event that I consider life altering in the most powerful way on my leadership and transformational journey. I do highly recommend the full course for those who are eager to offer meaningful leadership in our nation.

Baptism by Fire

Baptism by Fire is derived from the words of John the Baptist recorded in Matthew 3:11. John assured us that the one coming after him would baptise us with water and fire. The fire component of the baptism might be taken as a reference to the fiery trial of faith through suffering which purifies the faithful into being transformed so as to appropriately carry out their life’s assignment. It is any experience that tests one’s courage and strength in pursuit of their destiny. In the military, Baptism by Fire (BBF) is in reference to a soldiers first time in battle. It is that exposure the new soldiers face on the frontline that is meant to drive the timidness out of them and build a level of resilience. Someone who has just begun a new job has a baptism of fire, having to cope with the very many severe difficulties and obstacles as they learn and gain their grounding. The ability to endure through the fire, picking up all the required learning along the way and doing the required adjustments to fit in makes one more competent for the assignments ahead. Paraphrasing Romans 5:3-6 “Suffering builds character, character breeds faith, and in the end, faith will not disappoint”

Nelson Mandela at Robben Island prison

This experience either transforms you for the better or it consumes you to oblivion. Many of the transformational people in the world have had their share of the BBF. Nelson Mandela had to spend 27 years in prison before he became a president. Before serving his prison term, he was a paranoid character, bitter and with a vengeance personality. He was working on launching a Guerrilla war against the sponsors of apartheid. The BBF that he went through transformed him into a person of humility and conciliatory. He entered prison as a violent revolutionary and emerged as a nonviolent peacemaker and reconciler. It turned him into a realist aware of the difficulty of healing the racial wounds in his country.

Moses in the bible was raised and trained in the palace of pharaoh. He became knowledgeable and skilled in all the wisdom of Egypt. Yet when God wanted to use him in the exodus story, He gave him a BBF by first relocating him into the desert. The 40 years he spent in the desert as a shepherd helped him acquire a level of humility that he never would have developed living in the corridors of power as a son to pharaoh’s daughter. By the time he came back to Egypt for his lifetime assignment, he was a very different and transformed person ready to appropriately take charge of the exodus.

M7 with NRA combatants

His Excellency Yoweri Museveni and his team had to endure their 5 years in the tall grasses as fugitives, fighting and risking precious lives to eventually get the “jackpot“. Despite their many mistakes along the way, the learnings and character traits they developed during this time have contributed to a level of transformation and security that this country has had in the last 33 years. Colonel Kizza Besigye has so far gone through his BBF for the last 20years. His activities as he endures the fire have in effect helped to check on government excesses. It’s possible that had he not been in the equation, the current leadership’s corruptness could have been worse. I can relate it to the principle in which the bible says that God brought the Philistines from Crete ahead of the Jews from Egypt, settled them into Canaan so as to check on the possible excesses of the Jews and as a weapon against the Jews in their rebellion to Him.

Besigye during one of his incarcerations

Bobi Wine and the people power movement have now entered into the political arena. Obviously, there is a price to pay if ever they are to contribute and lead this nation. Whatever he is going through is part of the price one pays based on their desire to get the nation transformed at that higher level. How he manoeuvres himself successfully through the storms becomes the deciding factor as to whether he has what it takes to lead this nation. In his own words, Bobi Wine has stated that he does not believe in Board Room politics. He prefers appealing directly to the masses out there in the market place and of course this is where the fire is hottest. But also keep in mind that if the BBF is God inspired, He can keep you long enough in the “Baptismal Tank” until you acquire the character traits that He deems necessary for you to develop to be able to handle the leadership assignment He has for you. But this does not rule out the risk of one drowning in the same fire. The country is aware of politicians who have attempted to gain the same mandate but have not been in position to sustain themselves through the fire. They show up, raise excitement during build-up to elections and disappear off the political platform thereafter. Then we have even those playing on boardroom politics hoping to capture the same mandate without any BBF.

Bobi Wine during the Arua fracas

Like as earlier stated, this BBF can either transform you for the better or it can consume you to oblivion. We are called by God to be of value to the world. To make our contribution during the years of life that He has given us. He prepares us for those assignments and in many cases exposes us to this BBF so that we can become competent in executing our assignments and be of value. Times of testing at times are allowed by God for specific purposes. I submit that this BBF is inevitable if one is to ever be of value in this world. This baptism will come in very different ways based on the calling or industry one is in, or based on one’s background etc. The alternative is to stay safe, deeper into your comfort zone and pass through life with little transformational impact and at the end of time, your creator will be waiting for you with “open arms” as you explain how tough the world was resulting into you burying your talent without making use of it.