Last Sato I was probably one of the luckiest chaps in town. I was a panelist at an amazing leadership summit for women in leadership dubbed Activate Summit 2023. This was the fourth Activate summit curated by Maryanne Mwaura. I was lucky and proud for two reasons. First was being the only guy in the room with all these serious mamas. I did feel pampered and spoilt kidogo. One lady even said I was the only bean in their githeri that day hehe.

The second reason was that we coaches ask our clients, to draw a picture of success. Activate is a product of Maryanne’s halftime and now what her second half has become. She’s using her skills, experience, and position at work and society to help other women in corporate Kenya and beyond find significance in and beyond their jobs. And that was the theme of the summit – From Success to Significance to Sovereignty. A successful second half of life is always nice to watch. It is like doing life in 3D with the surround sound on full volume. The impact is beautifully loud.

I pray she continues inspiring many women to activate and maximize their feminine genius. That was one of the sessions by the way. I learned that to help the women (and girls) in my life maximize their feminine genius, I need to be present in their lives both physically and emotionally. Every speaker was a fountain of wisdom and I left with an overdose of insights. Women, good women make us see life in color. Without them, it would just be in black and white. Plain and boring.

I was in the morning panel and glad I was. If I was in the afternoon the ladies lined up would probably have ingizad me baridi with their wisdom and boychild here would have been in serious trouble battling self-doubt. After setting the stage and vibes for the day with halftime conversations, a young lady asked my co-panelist how she could overcome the challenges of difficult superiors at work. This was after she had shared how she got over tormentors in her successful career. As the two ladies conversed my co-panellist mentioned how mentorship too was a catalyst in her career.

A light bulb came on at that point, as bright as those solar LED floodlights on my street. I discovered that mentor and tormentor are two words with opposite meanings but can form one word. A mentor can be a tormentor just by adding the letters TOR at the beginning. A mentor is someone who has walked down the path we are about to embark on. They have foresight from experience that we don’t so we learn from them to avoid making the mistakes they made. We need them and have them to enable us to accelerate our goals. Good mentors seem rare to find though. If you have one hang onto them but also aim at being a mentor to someone else. We lift ourselves by lifting others.

Tormentors on the other hand are just that. They harass you and are often seen as nightmares in human form. Sadly we hear more horror stories of tormentors than uplifting narratives about mentors. Maybe it’s because good mentoring is deep and impactful and it’s the results that make the noise. Whereas torment is just kelele mingi that leaves discouragement and vexation to the spirit in its wake.

Back to my light bulb moment. Can a tormentor also be a mentor? Are there times we have had people who have been a thorn in our flesh and we longed for them to exit our lives? Then after enduring them for some time, we get to a much better place, look back and discover they were a catalyst to our growth. Maybe success requires a tormentor or two for it to happen. Oftentimes we learn much more from life’s difficult moments ( and people)  than from the good times. That said we should still celebrate and enjoy the good times.

Folks, do you have a tormentor currently terrorizing your otherwise simple life? Maybe a mind shift is required to see them as a blessing in disguise hard as it may be. Perhaps we should go slow on people, situations, and the roles they play in our lives before we pass judgment. Of course we do need the wisdom to distinguish between the toxic influence that needs to be deleted immediately and character development that comes wrapped in the form of sumbua people.

So once we have been mentored by both good mentors and tormentors let’s pay attention in class so that the tormentors don’t overstay their welcome. But also some self-reflection here would do us good. In our 40s many of us have mentored someone whether deliberately or not. I wonder if there is a younger Kenyan who has crossed my path and classified me as a tormentor. I sure do hope not and if I have, that it’s been worth the torment for them and they are in a better place because we met. Sometimes our worst nightmares can turn into our biggest blessings.

Folks, it’s easier to consider ourselves as mentors. But maybe we should ask ourselves if we are or have been a tormentor to someone. That takes some courage to explore because we might find that we have caused some people sleepless nights. If that’s the case, may that challenge us to be the best mentor we can be to that person. It makes for a good apology especially if we leave them better than we found them.

After all, achieving some dreams requires some torment. So why not be the one dishing it out to unlock someone’s greatness?  Only this time punch with velvet gloves because of self-awareness.

Share this post:

4 thoughts on “TORmentor.”

  1. Well-said Lucas, with a mind shift towards tormenting moments, one can become more better than bitter!

  2. David says:

    Agreed Lucas. Looking back in my life-career, growing up, etc. there have been tough moments where I felt tormented but yes the torment provided me with opportunities to reflect, recalibrate and to move into the areas of my calling, destiny that I would never have reached. Mentor in Tormentor indeed!

  3. Mike Eldon says:

    Did you see my last Business Daily article, on a woman director being asked to get a cup of tea by a male fellow director?

  4. MG says:

    So true indeed. My tormentors have made me who I am today. They gave me the stubborn resolution that I wasn’t going to give them the satisfaction of watching me fail. In the beginning of it, my ego was screaming that I wouldn’t let them watch me fail.

    Now when I pray, I thank God for them and ask Him to bless them abundantly because were it not for them, my character would never have been forged and ud not be who I am today. They made me dig deep into my reservoirs. And today, I truly thank God for them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *