I have often confessed that my future is public service. The downside of such a life is that it’s almost a given that wherever you go you will meet someone you know (or more like someone who knows you). Not that there is anything wrong with that but I don’t mind showing up somewhere and just being in the crowd without standing out. It gets even more awkward when the people you meet call you by name and you have no clue who they are or where you met them. Clearly, I’m not cut out to be a celeb hehe.

Being a fly on the wall has its benefits. The light is not on you and you enjoy the sweet freedom to do as you wish and even get away with it sometimes. I got a taste of that last weekend when I joined a new group of hikers on the Naro Moru route to Mt Kenya. I plan to do at least six hikes between now and mid-June because I’m preparing to summit Mt Kilimanjaro. My current hiking gang is on a break and I didn’t want to lose momentum. So a pal suggested I try out these guys called Tipwa. I called the number, a friendly lady’s voice picked and we had a good chat. With that, I paid and showed up at 4.30 am at Lavington mall as that was the pickup point. Yes, 4 am. That’s when folks with a condition for climbing hills get up hehe. All for the love of the outdoors.

There was another motivation for joining this group apart from summiting another hill. I love meeting new people and that showed up strongly in my strengthsfinder assessment. One of my top five strengths is WOO (not woi…) – winning others over. I derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection with another person. Another of my top strength is developer. This means I enjoy helping others succeed. I invest in others and attempt to grow their talent. Quite in line with my personal mission statement.

That assessment was pretty accurate in figuring me out. Folks, try it out if you haven’t. You will be pleasantly surprised. To be self-aware is a good thing. With that kind of wiring, I thrive in new environments with new people so this hike was my ideal environment. But there is a downside to the assessment. It also shows parts of us that are not pretty, referred to as basements in this case. The positive attributes are referred to as balconies. An overused strength is a weakness so moving from one side to the other can happen easily.

The basement of my strength as a developer is that I waste time on low potential people, I am a spectator and I am also not an individual contributor. Hapo I disagree kiasi. The basement for my WOO strength is that I am fake and shallow. That’s the point I figured there must have been a virus in my assessment because I disagreed again, strongly. Thankfully Clifton came to my defence by clarifying that the assessment measures talent, not strengths. The ultimate goal is to build a true strength and talent is just one of the ingredients in this formula. What are your strengths folks? maybe your talents could give you a clue.

The majority of my strengths tend to lean on my extroverted nature. That means I will speak a lot and attract attention easily. Over the last few years, I have been trying to lie low intentionally. Be at a place where I speak less and listen more. It’s a skill that has been difficult to excel in. I even pray about it before attending an event. When I succeed in maintaining shalap and hearing others, I come out of that interaction feeling very proud of myself. I get to learn people more and as a result benefit from their wisdom.

That was my plan for the hike last Saturday. That I would be the fly in the bus and in the bush as we hiked. It helped that I didn’t know the people so I just watched them chatting with one another and having a good time. I felt a bit left out but that was fine. I enjoyed being incognito. Of course, after a few hours of climbing, I would throw in a remark here and there lest I’m labelled a snob. I intentionally tried not to start a conversation and to keep my contributions as short as possible when required to chip in.

I managed to have a quiet day in a group. I even enjoyed the hike more. Nature somehow prefers to be experienced in silence. I experienced a rare and private satisfaction of feeling like I know some people more than they know me. Sounds spooky but I’d like to cultivate that ability more. I think that’s what they talk about in emotional intelligence. Kusoma barua ikiwa ndani ya bahasha.

Silence is beneficial. That’s how we order our internal world and the external world starts thriving too. Folks, could there be times you missed an opportunity because you spoke too much? I’m now admiring introverts and desire a dose of their ability to just be quiet and observe. I’m convinced our blindspots aka basements would reduce if we embraced silence more. Of course, I do not wish to change who I am but cultivating habits that don’t come naturally makes us wiser and we avoid exposing ourselves unnecessarily. I like the mystery that comes with that too. Work on those basements folks. They will slowly turn into balconies.



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4 thoughts on “Basement View.”

  1. Mike Eldon says:

    Some of the best ideas come from the basement

  2. Mitchelle says:



  3. Joseph Kahuko says:

    Thank you Lucas. Which strength finder assessment is this? I would like to try it – always an opportunity to grow, even in the 2nd half of our lives… 🙂

  4. Angie says:

    Hey Lucas, the flip side is when I the introvert wished I talked & networked more. But luckily I have family and friends who have sometimes done that for me!

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