Lucas Marang'a

A man at 40

Who Are You ?

Last Saturday was our annual Captain’s prize golf tournament at Limuru Country Club. KK as we fondly refer to him has managed to run golf at Limuru this year at a time when sponsorships are hard to come by. Sponsors (mostly corporates) are spending their few coins on key priority areas currently because the economy is reeling under heavy debt thanks to our Government. Suppliers are owed billions by our broke serikali so golf sponsorships which are feel good initiatives are first to be deleted from the marketing budget of any company. I am one of those guys who are owed by the Government for services rendered more than three years ago. Deep down I hold onto the hope that I will be paid one day. Maybe the BBI (Building Bridges Initiative) bridge will finally enable me to reach my cash. Or I’m I just day and night dreaming here?

KK has done well under the circumstances and so we were delighted to patronize his event and give him a befitting send off. Like good Limuru tradition we enjoyed the signature mbuzi choma that our club is popular for and danced late into the night. You’d think those Limuru goats lick Aromat in place of the salt dairy animals are given for nutrients because their nyama is like no other.

It’s funny how you can pick a lesson at whatever time and place in life. You just need to listen and see with your inner ears and eyes as you interact with people. After the formal evening program was over, we were now at the part they say guests can leave at their own pleasure. There was too much pleasure in the song and banter for guests to leave behind. A pal of mine (name withheld) who’s a top don in corporate Kenya joined me for a catchup drink at the counter. We’ve been trying to meet for some time, but our calendars couldn’t synchronize. Well more his calendar than mine. Sometimes I feel like I Just appear busy to feel important as my article alluded to last week.

We got chatting and discussed a few things we’ve been planning for an upcoming event next year. Soon after, one of the ladies who helped with the event organizing showed up to say hello. As I introduced my pal, she said she knows him and accused him swiftly of not picking her calls or replying her texts. He’s a wise man so he conceded haraka and apologized. He went on to explain how in his position so many people look for him all the time. Emails, calls and texts come to him faster than he can respond. Soon we’ll be sending him smoke signals for him to take notice.

Then he said something that earned him many bonga points from me. He told us that he has learnt to constantly differentiate between who he is and what he is. I somehow understood what he was referring to based on my experience as immediate past chairman of Kenya Golf Union. But I wanted to hear more so I asked him to elaborate.

The nature of his job requires him to meet with the high and mighty and he went on to mention a few of the folks he’s meeting in the following week. Guys that some of us see only on TV. He cracked us up when he said that his driver asked him to allow him to do his job. That’s because my pal drives himself everywhere rendering his driver idle. Maybe the driver looks like the boss sometimes because he’s carried by the real boss in the boss’s car. He got a double puncture one recent night on his way home and struggled to change the tires in the rain, yet he has security and road assistance cover at his disposal. I think that’s a sign for him to use the perks as they wont last forever. Please do bro.

He told us that he gets all this invites and privileges because he occupies the corner office of the big organization he heads. I found that so admirable. Having that clarity of mind amid the temptation to drown in all the praise and attention requires strong mental muscles. How does he resist being swallowed whole by the trappings of power? I questioned. His response earned him another drink right there.  Because I know who I am, was his response. He is aware that most of the folks looking for him is purely because of his job and what he can do for them. Not for who he is. We have often heard that it’s lonely at the top but if we can differentiate who we are from what we are then that may be the antidote for the loneliness at the top. This is because those who know us the most and love us the most will still be with us as we rise to the top. It is advisable that we allow them to rise with us because they will remain truthful to us when we need it the most. Many leaders are surrounded by sycophants at the top who tell them what they want to hear.

My pal is among the very few leaders I have met who haven’t changed much despite their position. Look at how some of our politicians are grasping at straws to remain relevant after their terms in office are long gone. I once heard of a former top government official who after leaving office went to Safaricom to complain that there’s a problem with his phone. While in office it would ring all the time and his inbox was flooded with unread messages and emails. Then suddenly, his phone stopped ringing the moment he lost his job. It’s like him and his phone had been fired at the same time. They were both mteja.

Sadly, he thought who he was and what he was was one and the same thing. He got a rude awakening when Safaricom informed him that his phone was fine and even fully charged. It’s just that no one was calling him anymore. The masses had moved on without notice to the new occupant of that high office.

We’ve heard that the higher the rise the harder the fall. Knowing who we are as we rise makes for a good fluffy cushion to land on after the proverbial red carpet in that big office is pulled from under our feet.

Folks, as Mufasa in the Lion King Movie says to his son Simba, ‘’Remember Who You Are’’. And if I may add, at all times.

Friday, November 29, 2019 | Leadership, Reflections

3 thoughts on “Who Are You ?”

  1. MG says:

    This is deep. As an eye rolling teenager (of course not to my mother’s face, she’d have beaten the attitude out of me), my mum always told us to ask myself “who am I.” In my silly teenage mind, I thought that that was the most banal question ever, but looking back, it was Philosophy 101.

  2. George Muya Nuthu says:

    Thanks for reminding me not to confuse who I am and what I am.

  3. TBagz says:

    We don’t know who we are because we are afraid of asking “Who am I?” I have to be willing to remove the shades, look at me in the mirror, have a conversation and be comfortable with my self looking back at me.

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