This week I was tempted to write about the keynote address we got at our virtual graduation last Friday. It was short, deep and sweet. Many speakers are under the illusion that the longer their speeches the better they are. Yet that just dilutes their content and bores their listeners. I learnt the importance of short speeches when I was golf captain at Limuru Country Club back in 2012. Golfers have zero tolerance for long speeches. The only courtesy they give is on the golf course while playing and to ladies in the queue for dinner. After a round of golf in the evening all they crave is a good meal, drink and a party.
A long speech is not welcome however generous the sponsor is. I would often advice my sponsors to keep their speech short during the prize giving ceremony in the evening. Some would oblige and we would reward them with our full attention. The ones who would go on and on, disregarding the disinterested mood of their audience would be left talking to themselves as folks started chatting each other. Some members would even get up and go serve dinner as the sponsors continued talking to themselves. I’d be left there feeling sorry for them. So next week I might dive into the gems from that short speech from my first virtual graduation.
Covid19 has made most of us surrender at so many levels. We have surrendered control and realized we are not on top of things as we think we are. We have surrendered to asking for help because we are vulnerable. Many of us are financially vulnerable because our sources of income have been adversely affected. Some have totally dried up thanks to corona virus. We are relationally vulnerable because all the key relationships we have successfully avoided to work on are now eyeballing us for a reaction.
Lockdown has forced us to consider (and hopefully address) the state of our key relationships. We have to decide to either fight for them or fly from them. We are vulnerable health wise because we are told to social distance and avoid movement lest we come into contact with the virus. We are terrified at the thought of falling sick. I hear even hospitals are closing and that makes us more afraid.
We are also socially vulnerable because we are not to meet with our family and friends. This one has been the hardest for me second to financial vulnerability. That’s because I am an extrovert and I get energized when I meet and engage with people. Now that has been curtailed. Zoom has helped kidogo though. Why lie it’s a hard life for us social animals.
I believe many of us are uncomfortable and fearful because of the disease but also the feelings of helplessness it has brought with it. We naturally want to control stuff and now there’s very little within our control. Our three feet of influence is now reduced to just a few centimeters in comparison.
I must admit though that I am impressed with how I have handled this pandemic so far. I do not recall a time I worked on myself as much as I have during this season. I feel like a car at the garage undergoing major repairs. For the last five years I have been on a journey in search of significance. Trying to get clear on what I should spend the rest of my life doing. A huge part of that journey has involved intense battles with anxiety, fear and restlessness. This was driven by the shock to the system from being the go- to- guy in life 1 (0 – 40 years old) to the clueless guy in Life 2(40 and above) who doesn’t even recognize himself, leave alone what he wants.
Over the years I have been forced to cohabit with surrender. I realized painfully that there’s very little I can control in this life especially in this transition season. And that’s where significance comes in. All I desire is to transition well into a life of significance, passion and fun (add travel he he). We all crave for success because it makes us feel good, important and hopefully self-reliant. But many have paid a heavy price for success especially when we sought it by all means possible.
Success is like a guzzler. The more we acquire the more we desire. But for many once they have reached the top of their game their companion may be the money and success but also loneliness and some form of emptiness. I believe the reason for this is because we were created to help. To leave our world better than we found it. I’m convinced we should strive to lift ourselves up as much as possible and hence enjoy the fruits of that labor. But as we rise let’s ensure we lift others up in the process. Now that results in a life of enduring significance with success as the cherry on the cake.
Unlike the material version of success that this world acknowledges, success in improving people’s lives is like a solar powered engine. It just recharges by itself. The more the sunshine we bring in peoples lives the more we get charged to do better. I prefer this to the guzzler that will leave me high and dry when all is said and done.
But there is a catch to becoming successful the significant way. We have to let go and move somewhat blindly as we are led by our hunches and gut towards our true north. To me that hunch is Sir God. Surrender is a requirement for graduating into a life of significance and purpose. That has been my experience. When I admit I don’t know that’s when I start knowing. Covid19 has been a catalyst for many of us to get to the point of surrender. As difficult as it is to be in that mode, it might easily be the place where we get life defining instructions for moving forward. Once this pandemic is over the folks who will be most prepared for the new world order may easily be the ones who surrendered the most.
As strange as this sounds I’m thankful to corona for this particular realization. Enjoy the surrender19 (not Covid 19) season folks.