As a late bloomer in technology I recently opened my first account of Audible and Zoom and it feels like I have discovered oil in my back yard. Allow me to enjoy my raha ndogo guys. I have known of kindle and audible as a medium of reading books, but I never took much interest. Since taking up the habit of consciously reading books about five years ago, I have enjoyed the smell of paper as I turn the pages to get wiser on someone else’s account. I’m also one of those people who read with a highlighter in hand to mark lines that stand out for me and scribble my thoughts on the side of the pages. Now you guys know borrowing a book from me may not be a good idea.

Unfortunately, I’m investing in more books than my speed of reading can keep up with. I have felt that I need to read faster. Almost daily I leave my house with a book hoping to cover a few pages in the day. Unfortunately, I get back home in the evening without having touched it. My bed side table is also growing in height thanks to the books I’m buying. With the current stay at home advisory I hope the height of my bed side table will start going down as I have more time to read now.

I’m now keenly aware that books carry a lot of wisdom and even though I’m a late entrant in book reading I have come to see the value of reading. I was chatting with a pal recently whose an avid reader.  I was telling her that I need to catch up on my reading. she asked me if I listen to my books on audible. I told her that I’ve not tried it yet. I think the resistance I have about listening to books instead of reading is the highlighting I like doing. “What happens when I listen to something I’d like to come back to and read again?” I questioned. I liked the suggestion that followed. That I can still buy the hard copy and pay for it on Audible too. The downside is that it will be like buying two copies of the same book, but I’m told Audible also has Bonga points that I can use to buy more books on their platform. And the book is cheaper on audible than in a bookshop, so the overall savings are minimal.

I decided to try it with a book I have heard for a while now but one that I haven’t gone too far in reading. The Second Curve by Charles Handy was suggested to me by my Halftime Dad Mike Eldon. For about three few weeks now I have listened to the book on Audible after downloading it for a free trial period. I must admit it’s a much better spend of time (especially in the car) listening to a good book than the FM stations with their many stories that add little value.

Charles Handy in Chapter 6 of his book talks about the dilemmas of growth. He asks if bigger is always better. That got me thinking about my search for significance in the second half of my life. Growing in a capitalist society our default setting has always been the bigger the better. I was no exception when I started my tent business in 2000. I worked hard and was rewarded accordingly. Until 2014 when fish (s***) hit the fan and my desire shifted from building big businesses to just using my skills and talents to contribute to a big cause.

After my business flew into severe turbulence between 2014 and 2018, I was forced to downsize to stay afloat. This was a lifesaving move for my enterprise and myself too to some extent. In fact, it was a prophetic move considering the current corona crisis. I’d be royally stressed if I still had huge overhead costs of a huge workforce and expensive office space. I’m feeling the benefits of downsizing now though I’m praying we arrive at our new (and better) normal sooner rather than later. I now admire small giants (thriving small and medium size businesses) much more than humongous enterprises.

On a personal level, I have traded bigger for different. I’m learning new skills and re-inventing myself in readiness for an exciting future of public service. I want to engage only in stuff that requires my skills, experience and talents. At the risk of sounding selfish, I don’t want to be responsible for people as I was in my earlier life where I ensured everyone’s needs were met. Going forward I’d to engage with people from a point of helping them tap into their greatness but not being responsible for it. I hope you can see the difference.

Part of this thinking is driven by fatigue from years of running my business and ensuring everyone is sorted. Sometimes that investment yielded dismal (negative at times) returns of investment. One advantage of being driven by our own skills and giftings is that there’s hardly competition because none of us has a living clone to compete with. Abundance becomes a reality. Collaboration becomes the new competition and our uniqueness becomes our competitive edge.

I love this new different approach and I’m determined to cultivate it more as I move into the future. I’m also finding (after a lot of mental training) that scarcity mentality and cutthroat competition are patterns of the past. Folks may we shelve growing big for bigness sake and instead choose to grow differently. This will lead to a unique you that the world has been longing for.

Handy advises that, “It can be more satisfying, and often more profitable, to grow different rather than bigger. This is the premise behind the Second Curve, that different is more fruitful than more of the same.”  Growth should always be the means to a greater purpose rather than an end in itself.

That is the second (next) curve that I seek for myself. To be different and not necessarily bigger. And I hope you will choose a similar curve good people. Be different and step into your zone.

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7 thoughts on “Different vs Bigger”

  1. Wangari Mwangi says:

    “Folks may we shelve growing big for bigness sake and instead choose to grow differently. This will lead to a unique you that the world has been longing for.”
    As always, much gratitude for an exhorting piece. Do you realize that you recommend( maybe not so directly) a book Everytime. I’d like to hear a list of your most recommended reads though. You have much valuable insight.

    • Thanks Wangari for your readership as always. Interesting observation about the books. I have never realised that. Let me look into your ask and see if i can compile that.
      Though i quote from many sources compared to the not so many books i have read.

  2. Mike Eldon says:

    First – relax, most people’s libraries are full of books they haven’t read, never mind fully. You’re normal. Also in reducing the bedside pile right now. My recent reductions to the pile have included Obama’s Dreams from my Father and Trump’s The Art of the Deal. What a contrast, eh? Then there was Yuval Harari’s Sapiens, and now The Narrow Corridor – two must reads.
    So glad you’ve got into my friend Charles Handy’s The Second Curve. He’s written several other great books.

    • Thanks for the reminder that i’m normal Mike. Sometimes it doesn’t feel that way. Narrow corridor….
      i like that title.
      As for all the writing you’ve done over the years, do you get the inspiration from the books you read ? where else ?

  3. Flo says:

    Well said Lucas! And welcome to the world of Audible and audiobook s. I have immensely enjoyed Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis. It has freat lessons for both children and adults and is narrated so well.
    Half time brings great things,
    learning never ends. enjoy!

  4. Kamuru says:

    Good different is good. Mama told me .

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