My bro used to have a dog that was larger than life, literally. His name was Jimmy. My brother brought him to Kenya from the US as a puppy. We grew up with dogs so I wasn’t surprised that my bro would take the trouble to fly with a dog halfway across the world. I’m sure the paperwork involved was major. We bragged that now even animals in our family have passports and frequent flier miles. Nani kama sisi…
I remember the day Jimmy was brought home. He was a cute, black puppy with a patch of white on his neck. He was playful but had a very calming look, and we all fell in love with him. Jimmy was a pure bred Great Dane, but all we knew at the time was that he was an exotic breed of a dog. Little did I know that he would grow to be the size of a calf. He grew to over 90 kilos and reached my waist in height yet I consider myself tall. When standing on his hind feet, he was way over six feet tall.
My bro (who is a regular at the gym), was the only one who could take Jimmy for a walk because of how powerful he was. Whenever I tried to walk Jimmy, it was more like Jimmy walking me. We would go where Jimmy wanted not where I wanted, so I gave up that exercise. Guys in traffic would slow down just to gaze at this giant of a dog that hardly barked. Being an animal, Jimmy was unaware of the attention he was attracting and how big and powerful he was. He probably had the same self-view as those mixed breeds we grew up with in the estate called Tusker or Simba. Those dogs had more lives than cats at nine. They would eat and digest plastic, get run over by a car, limp for a few days and get on with life.
Jimmy died a few years ago. But an incident that took place this week reminded me of him and how people have a view of us that we are blind to ourselves. Remember the love letter I received last week from baby shark’s school accountant? I decided to go see her. It was half-term so I figured it’s a good time to go and negotiate when she’s relaxed. I knew her from her previous job where I used to supply tents for their events. That familiarity helped and she was happy to see me. We had a good chat and came up with a plan acceptable to both of us on how to settle the fees without disrupting my kids’ learning. In fact, we spoke on other issues that she wanted my assistance on. I left there feeling confident that my baby sharks will get a good education no matter what the future holds.
I wondered what made that chat so positive. I’m sure there are parents who have come to discuss fees in the same office and it didn’t go as well. Maybe I was good to her even when I didn’t need her as much when supplying her previous employer. I would be patient in waiting for my payments and hardly would I complain. I think that was the investment I’m reaping now. Moral of the story folks. Make friends before you need them. Be good to folks you meet. You never know when you will need them in future.
Another realisation from this experience was, at 40, we have been around some time and this has led to some impact in people’s lives. We just hope that the impact is positive. We know people who others find difficult to access. Guys we went to school with are now running the show in society. I’ve been called by guys asking me to connect them to someone important and it’s such a big deal to them. Yet to me, the settings never changed from, I was in school with this chap to now he or she is the holder of this high office.
We have all heard the quote ‘In life it’s who you know.’ Never has this truth come more alive to me now that I am on the fourth floor. I may not have all the resources to sort my issues out, yet I’m finding that the person helping me is not a stranger. These scenarios are becoming more frequent. When we know people in key positions we get better deals and life seems a bit more kind to us. I’ve experienced this when renting office space, at the bank when in need of a facility, and now at my kids’ school with the finance boss. The most recent was yesterday at Kenya Revenue Authority offices where I met my bro’s pal. I now know how angels look like based on the way Charles sorted me. I can now confirm God doesn’t take lunch breaks .
What do we call the use of our 40 years on this earth to negotiate and get favours that may be out of reach for others? I call it network currency. I will now use my networks earned over the years to make life better for me, my clan and others. I just need to get comfortable doing it and shake that guilty feeling because I have earned it.
Folks you have worked hard at building the best life you knew how and in the process, you have invested in people along the way as they have in you whether consciously or unconciously. Many people want to help us yet we languish in stress and anxiety trying to figure everything out by ourselves. An old mzee pal once told me while playing a round of golf, “Lucas, life is a series of doors. So always make sure you know who has the key to the doors you want opened for you. If you don’t know who has the key to a particular door then know someone who knows the key holder.”
I dare say that many keys are being held by guys at 40. We may even be holding keys to some doors that we can open for ourselves and others, yet we are unaware of that fact. Use the currency in your hand folks, and make life easier for yourselves and others. And soon you’ll find real currency flowing your way too.
You’ve earned it.