THE SKILL OF SELF-CONFIDENCE
By Vanessa Kimoro
This past week, I shared on my podcast (An African Millennial) ‘How to build Self-Confidence.’ Confidence, I believe is the accelerator to any phenomenal impact. What does it really take to be confident? There are some people who seem to be born confident. They walk into a room and take it over with little fear. Then there are those who feel they still need to grow in it. Many have to overcome fear and themselves to be able to commit to any bold and courageous action.
Growing up, I was generally a confident child. Not shy of the stage. I thank God for that, and I also believe the environment around me allowed to me explore, learn and try. Parents or guardians have a great role in this because they are the first point of validation. A word of encouragement from them as child contributes way more to our success than we think. On the other hand, what happens when one does not experience that? What happens when life gives you challenges that make you question your work, value and capability?
My mantra used to be ‘Fake it until you make it’. It served a purpose for some time, and even worked. However, when life threw amazing challenges that made me question my value and capacity, like my health recovery, that mantra became fleeting. Why? Because you cannot fake it through healing. With time I have come to learn that confidence is a muscle. Children are not born confident, but they are encouraged to be. Like when a baby takes his or her first steps, there is so much joy, excitement and encouragement that motivates them to try a little more. I believe this is applicable to adults too. Confidence grows by constantly testing waters, even if it takes a number of mistakes to get it right.
I believe true confidence comes with clarity of your identity, values and purpose. In my journey of growing true confidence, I realized the first step was to find something I am truly interested in. Doing something away from my core work, with the intention to fulfill part of my purpose. That is how my podcast came about.
Secondly, is to actually do it. The more I shared in one episode after the other, the easier it became. The less afraid I was to share a message that would be personal, but hopefully relevant and impactful to someone out there. Next was to repeat. It did not start out perfect, but as it grew, I grew as well. I have had to learn skills like audio production, video editing and graphic design that were totally unrelated to my core work. I can say, that when my identity, intention and purpose aligned with my ability to try, I started to grow into true confidence.
True confidence begins with one’s ability to try, even with the risk of failure or embarrassment. The best gift you will get is a lesson to carry with you that makes you an even better person. Also, surround yourself with people who challenge the best out of you and love to see you grow. I hope where you are, you are able to keep pressing on and grow your confidence.
WE ARE OUR BROTHER’S KEEPER
By Vanessa Kimoro
If there is one thing that we can take away from this COVID-19 challenge facing the world, is the fact that we need each other. When our President, His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta hosted Brenda and Brian, the recovered COVID-19 patients yesterday via video call, I was inspired by their leadership, integrity and honesty. Brenda who had been classified as patient no.1, explained that when she started to notice an unusual cough after coming back into the country, she took herself to Mbagathi hospital, where the medical team attended to her immediately. When asked why, she confidently articulated that she did not want to infect other Kenyans in case she had contracted the virus as she knew of the contagiousness of the disease and hence wanted to protect her loved ones and other Kenyans at large. That there is phenomenal.
Brenda’s sense of care and commitment to others is an example of the sense of neighborliness we should all aspire to. In the last couple of weeks, we have had supermarkets overcrowded out of fear and over-shopping due to fears of looming shut downs. However, we need to remember that in a time like this, if we deny our neighbors an opportunity to have access to sanitizers, masks, hand washes…etc., we too, even with all the protection will still be subject to vulnerability. This situation is unique in the sense that it requires communal effort from everyone to care for their families and neighbors enough to commit to social distancing and hygiene.
We have had cases of some who travelled from hotspot areas with negligible self-quarantine and did not report, but someone took the responsibility of doing it on their behalf. This experience has made everyone so aware of their surroundings, that it has inadvertently brought us together to look at the bigger picture of ‘us’, when the narrative for some time has been ‘me’.
If anything, this experience has not only changed the way we operate on a day to day, but has reminded us that we are human. Life has a way of bringing perspective, and as human beings we often think we are in control. We are highly blessed to make innovations that change the world, but some principles are consistent. Fundamentals like ‘People matter’ do not change. Industries we thought could not be touched are now at a halt. The narrative where profit supersedes people will change, because all of it is not possible if people cannot come together.
Additionally, I believe this season of increased Tiktok activity, live chats and podcast listening has brought a new appreciation of simple pleasures like taking a walk, going to the supermarket with anticipation of options, a great meal with friends and sneezing in public in peace.
We need each other to be committed to the cause and it has taken COVID-19 to remind us of what truly matters as residents of this planet. Let’s be our brother’s/sister’s keeper, because together we win.
Personal note: A great appreciation to doctors, nurses, health workers and essential service providers who are on the front line of this battle. You are a blessing to us all.
WITH LEADERSHIP COMES LEGACY
By Vanessa Kimoro
This past weekend we lost one of the greatest basketball players of all time, Kobe Bryant. The loss experienced globally can only express the impact he had on many from all walks of life. Well known for his ambition and success, he emphasized the principal of out-working others and discipline so as to be the greatest. His journey continues to inspire others to be better and do better. Scrolling through his interviews and conversations showed his clear intention of life and the impact he wanted to create, something we can all learn to do. Living intentionally with focus on impact in the work we pursue, how we embrace our families and treat others around us from all facets of life, I believe, is the point to life.
The outpouring reaction in the world has jolted the conversation on legacy. We can see from Kobe’s life, his legacy was far-reaching, given not only his talent, but the leadership he displayed. Leadership comes with responsibility. It comes with service to others. It comes with sacrifice. We cannot deny that true leaders exemplify humility as well. They need not command authority, but inspire it. Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela inspired revolutions and change with much sacrifice, humility and wisdom; putting others before them. Oprah Winfrey herself is creating legacy through the lives being changed in her school and content on her platforms.
I dare ask you, how do you practice your leadership in your day to day life as a professional, parent, daughter, son, sibling, spouse, partner and friend? I believe everyone has a gift and a purpose that can mould, inspire and benefit others. Leadership is not only the position, but what we do with it. In life, we do experience people who use those opportunities selfishly, but I dare say, which side of history would you rather be?
I believe that if we all lived more intentionally and purposefully, the world would surely be a better place. As the week progresses, may we ask ourselves how we show up as leaders in our homes, workplaces, churches, mosques and social circles, because even your today is part of your legacy.
EMBRACING FAILURE AS A PATH TO SUCCESS
By Vanessa Kimoro
This past Saturday I hosted a leadership workshop and it was interesting to see the that one of the most popular sessions was embracing failure and rejection. As the facilitator I could feel the energy of the room instantly shift to assume vulnerability and openness, helping the participants delve deeper into owning their journey to become better leaders.
I asked how many people in the room had faced failure. First hand up was mine and the whole room was filled with raised hands. I can conclude from that group of people that none of us are immune to facing failure in life. If you haven’t, lucky you. As the conversation progressed, one person shared their story of failure in university when he had always had a history of being smart through his school years. Next, a lady opened up about being retrenched and how that led to her fashion business today. I think we do not share enough real stories to show that success in life is continuously overcoming and reinventing.
In a lecture I gave a few months back, the professor chipped into the session and shared that for one to be in business, they need to be comfortable with failure, which is contrary to what we are taught in school. The traditional learning progression is sold as linear, when life in its essence is not.
I would say that failure is a temporary and necessary situation that actually prepares us for the next levels we need to reach, whist reminding us of weaknesses that we may need to work on. We need to get in the habit of embracing failure and learning from it because diamonds are only made from extreme pressure and heat.
I have learnt that when you face failure, the first step is acceptance. Many get stuck in the situation because they refuse to admit where things went wrong. Next would be to honestly evaluate what worked and what did not. Thereafter, one needs the willingness to change. Without the will, life will happen to us, rather than us happening in life. Then the journey of persistence starts that is eventually is crowned with success. As Arianna Huffington (Founder, The Huffington Post) said “Failure is not the opposite of success. It is part of success.”
May you have a purposeful week and inspire those around you to take more risks, make mistakes and make history while at it.
4 HELPFUL MANTRAS GOING INTO 2020
By Vanessa Kimoro
Many of us are in the season of making resolutions for the coming year. It is an exciting time, giving a renewed sense of optimism. However, I have come to realize, given my own mistakes, that it is tricky for a resolution to stick if it does not become part of your belief and value system. So this year I shall summarize four helpful mantras that have contributed to my happiness and fulfillment, whilst radically transforming my work culture and productivity.
The first mantra that stands out for me is ‘Less is more.’ The level of quality of life and work that comes from focusing on one thing at a time is phenomenal. One of my mentors, a seasoned and successful entrepreneur mentioned to me that you need to find that one thing that works well for you, master it, become really good at it and the money starts to work for you. Then you can diversify into many other ventures.
Secondly, I live for the 5 AM Club. If you have not read the 5AM Club by Robin Sharma, I highly recommend it. I have been on it for about four months now and the wisdom from it has not only helped me centre my focus, but centre myself by developing my mindset, soul set, heart set and health set as mentioned in the book. Also, your level of productivity literally doubles. It shall be challenging at the start, but like Robin Sharma says ‘All change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous in the end.’
Next is my discovery of the power of words. What we tell ourselves reflects the state of our lives and sense of fulfillment. Powerful positive words not only give a sense of contentment, but allow you to grow your self-belief. Who you evolve into becomes somewhat of a magical process.
Lastly, the key for balancing this year is prioritizing. For me, my relationship with God, family and friends come first, then all my ventures. Work is essential to living, otherwise one is an idle vessel, but I have come to realize, at the end of it all, we are here to give. Give love, share experiences and hold each other during challenging times. So as we excel in our careers and businesses, let us not forget the true meaning of life.