Lucas Marang'a

A man at 40

Social Capital.

Are there times in life when you strongly desire to meet a particular individual? Then when you share that desire with someone else, they casually offer to hook you up. They get on their phone, call that person (even if it’s after work hours), introduce you and give you the phone to say what you’ve been longing to tell them. Just like that. That is what I call having (and using) social capital.

I’m convinced that at the age of 40 we should have accumulated substantial social capital to call in a few favors. By now we should know some people with the keys to the doors we want opened for us or others. Sometimes (mostly unaware) we too have the keys to open doors for others. Let’s be on the look out to return the favor when the opportunity presents itself. My mother tongue has a saying which loosely translated means when we do good to others, we are doing good to ourselves.

Recently I received a message on WhatsApp from NTSA (National Transport and Safety Authority) that I need to apply for the Smart driving license by July this year. I decided to be a rare Kenyan and apply way before the deadline. Before the length of the queues start looking like 2022 has come early. I went on to apply online and booked a time slot to go and get my photo and fingerprints taken. My slot was from 2.42pm – 2.45pm at the NTSA offices in Upperhill.

I ubered there and arrived at 2.20pm. As I approached the entrance of the building, I saw two long queues snaking their way through the parking lot. I silently empathized with those poor Kenyans who looked like they had been standing at the same spot the whole day. My empathy evaporated the moment I showed my printed application to a security guard and he directed me to join one of the long lines. I showed him my appointment time and he laughed telling me that that counts for nothing. That once I book the day to come in, I should show up first thing in the morning.

I joined the back of the stationery queue to absorb my shock as I figure out my next move. While thinking about how to get this done in the shortest time possible It started raining. It was a good visual of when it rains it pours. I started wondering who I know that can help me in this situation. My golfing pal Mark came to mind. We have a common acquaintance who is a mkubwa there, so I called Mark to get me his number.

Mark directed me to yet another contact he has there. I called him and he advised me to come early the following morning. I was there before 8am the following day, met Mark’s hook up who directed me on where to go. I was done with my application in twenty minutes. On my way out I met with my new helper and thanked him.  He advised me to come after a week to pick my new DL instead of the following day as I had been advised. It was going to be a waste of time if I came on the following day because It was not going to be ready.

As I started walking out of NTSA premises a familiar looking lady walked towards me and greeted me. I couldn’t recall where we had met. She reminded me who she was, and I immediately remembered that she used to issue me with LPOs for work we were doing at her previous employer’s company. I told her my story as to why I was there, and she offered to check when my driver’s license will be ready for me to pick up.

Suddenly, I had more help than I had asked for. I started feeling spoilt by all this good will and attention. I believe these folks were willing to help me because I had been courteous to them in the past. That’s what I call social capital ROI (return on investment). We accumulate social capital as we move on in life. Many times, we are unaware of it because it’s the sum total of small, daily and seemingly insignificant actions that build our social capital. We need to be careful that we are not accumulating negative social capital because the ROI will be detrimental in the long run.

I recently read somewhere that we now even have social quotient (SQ). I only knew about intelligent quotient (IQ) and emotional quotient (EQ). Social quotient is the measure of your ability to build a network of friends and maintain it over a long period of time. The message went on to say that people who have higher EQ and SQ tend to go farther in life than those with high IQ but low EQ and SQ.

As a parent it is paramount that I start helping my kids develop their SQ because most schools focus on improving IQ while EQ and SQ are played down. One’s EQ reflects their character and SQ their charisma. I was tickled when I read that a man of high IQ can end up being employed by a man of high EQ and SQ even though he has an average IQ. What a reality. Maybe that explains why I’ve always felt terribly average as I went through school. Then today when I meet some of my classmates from back in the day who were always at the top of their class, they do not seem to be at the top of their lives as they were in class. Reality on the ground is different.

My fellow travelers on the fourth floor, may we be more aware of the social capital we carry and use it to propel us towards our purpose. When used correctly it can make a huge difference in the quality of life we seek.

Why don’t we call today Social capital day, just because we can? So Happy Social Capital day folks.

Friday, February 7, 2020 | Just @40 Things, Leadership

5 thoughts on “Social Capital.”

  1. MG says:

    Coach Lucas 🙂 Yes, as I promised you on a different forum that this is my new name for you. It reminds me of how in the 70s, 80s and to a lesser extent the 90s, anyone who was called “Mwalimu” was given such serious hesh; doors were opened, chairs were offered and favours were granted. Anyway, I digress.

    I was telling my friend just this morning that in my 40s I have to adjust to the fact that my professional work has shifted, albeit subtly from IQ to SQ. I now also have to shift my thinking to acknowledging that SQ work (which never feels like real work, and you can imagine that I was socialised to think that IQ was the end all be all of my professional life) is valid and is important and is real work. Thank you for this timely post.

  2. Mike Eldon says:

    Great you have focused n this Lucas. Amazing how few people still do!

  3. Wangari Mwangi says:

    As always, many thanks.
    And we ain’t all on the fourth floor, but we sure do appreciate the advice. Doesn’t have to learn these most importantly tips in life.

  4. Jackline Mburu says:

    I read it loud to myself at the car wash. I felt as though you were talking to me and I’m listening. I’m in my 20’s and with the wisdom nuggets I trust I’ll have a great 40’s.

  5. Kanuru says:

    “Be good to the people on your
    Way up the ladder
    Cause you’ ll need them on your way down” Lucky Dube.

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