Monthly Archives: September 2015

Treat Yourself To A Retreat

Over the weekend, I joined the Lantern Meet of Poets for a  retreat at the Fathers House in Migadde to review the operations of the organization. While there, I saw how important it is to give yourself a moment to stop,reflect and plan.

As human beings, we drown ourselves in the work to which we get enslaved as we try to find answers to management and operation issues. We live our work more than life.

However not every one gets such a chance but if one does, then I think it should be welcome and very much embraced.

Employers should consider taking off their employees to such places to review and get grounded in understanding and improving their company policies.

From my experience, I found the retreat a comfortable place to vent, rant and rage about things that the members might be shouldering about the company yet a very spacious place too for the members to learn and identify deeper with their organization.

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Latifah and I and the retreat

Photo by Bagenda Remy

It is wrong to assume that every thing is moving on well with everyone. You will be surprised by how many team members don’t know the organization history or that would not wish to identify with it.

As an organization, your team should find a binding reason to identify with the organization beyond the pay cheque. These details can easily be missed if you don’t create such a bond.

As entrepreneurs and self established employers, it is an engaging moment to meet with the people whom you entrust your work with to not only engage in work but also play. Work without play makes John a dull boy. Besides, as a team you need to have a bonding time as individuals than work colleagues.

It is only at such times that you get to engage with your seniors in shorts without minding the hustle and bustle of pretentious comfort in suits and neckties.

Don’t give up on renewing your strength. It comes with rewards. If I were to do yet another thing to improve on teamwork, it would definitely be a retreat.

Kangye

An IDD of thoughts

Patience can be such a painful thing to endure more so at a time when everything seems to be awaiting your response.

A time comes when reading motivational|inspirational material no longer makes sense.

And that time comes with a lot of reflection, thought and conclusions. It comes with a myriad of questions that have no answers. Have you ever stood in a field that fire has burnt down. It all looks plain without hope of ever growing green until the rains touch down.

I have been there. I am there. Soon I won’t be
there.

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It may take me time, but I won't be here

It may take me a while but surely, it will rain. The grass shall grow and like flowers, I will blossom. Answers shall I have to all these questions.

I look forward to my turn. It’s coming soon. Let me keep pressing on and working harder.

Till then, I remain me.

Kangye

Embrace Failure

By Mathew Syed

If we wish to fulfil our potential as individuals and organisations, we must redefine failure. At the level of the brain, the individual, the organisation and the system, failure is a means – sometimes the only means – of learning, progressing and becoming more creative. This is a hallmark of science, where errors point to how theories can be reformed; of sport, where practice could be defined as the willingness to clock up well-calibrated mistakes; of aviation, where every accident is harnessed as a means of driving system safety.

Errors have many different meanings, and call for different types of response depending on context, but in all of their guises they represent invaluable aids with the potential to help us learn. Can so much turn on the basis of a reinterpretation of error? Can a new approach to success emerge by flipping the way we think about failure?

When we see failure in a new light, success becomes a new and exhilarating concept. Competence is no longer a static phenomenon, something reserved for great people and organisations on the basis of fixed superiority. Rather, it is seen as dynamic in nature: something that grows as we strive to push back the frontiers of our knowledge.

We are motivated not to boast about what we currently know, and to get defensive when people point to gaps in our knowledge. Rather, we look in wonder at the infinite space beyond the boundaries of what we currently understand, and dare to step into that unbounded terrain, discovering new problems as we find new solutions, as great scientists do. As the philosopher Karl Popper put it:

It is part of the greatness and beauty of science that we can learn through our own critical investigations that the world is utterly different from what we ever imagined – until our imagination was fired by the refutation of our earlier theories.
Many progressive institutions have attempted to inspire precisely this kind of redefinition of failure. James Dyson spends much of his life working to reform educational culture. He wants students to be equipped with a new way of thinking about the world. He rails against the prevailing conception of education as about exam perfection, about avoiding mistakes. He worries that this leads to intellectual stagnation. The Dyson Foundation works, above all, to de-stigmatise failure. He wants youngsters to experiment, to try new things, to take risks.

Innovative head teachers are engaged in precisely the same terrain. Heather Hanbury, the former headmistress of Wimbledon High School in south-west London, for example, created an annual event for her students called ‘failure week’. She was aware that her students were performing well in exams, but she also realised that many were struggling with non-academic challenges, and not reaching their creative potential, particularly outside the classroom. For one week she created workshops and assemblies where failure was celebrated. She asked parents and tutors and other role models to talk about how they had failed, and what they had learned. She showed YouTube clips of famous people practising: i.e. learning from their own mistakes. She told students about the journeys taken by the likes of David Beckham and James Dyson so they could have a more authentic understanding of how success really happens.

Hanbury has said:

You’re not born with fear of failure, it’s not an instinct, it’s something that grows and develops in you as you get older. Very young children have no fear of failure at all. They have great fun trying new things and learning very fast. Our focus here is on failing well, on being good at failure. What I mean by this is taking the risk and then learning from it if it doesn’t work. There’s no point in failing and then dealing with it by pretending it didn’t happen, or blaming someone else. That would be a wasted opportunity to learn more about yourself and perhaps to identify gaps in your skills, experiences or qualifications. Once you’ve identified the learning you can then take action to make a difference.
Other organisations have undertaken similar projects of redefinition. W. Leigh Thompson, the chief scientific officer at pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, initiated ‘failure parties’ in the 1990s to celebrate excellent scientific work that nevertheless resulted in failure. It was about de-stigmatising failure and liberating staff from the twin dangers of blame and cognitive dissonance.

But can these kinds of interventions have real effects? Do they really change behaviour and boost performance and adaptation? Consider an experiment involving a group of schoolchildren who had shown difficulty in dealing with failure. In that respect they were like many of us. Half of these students were then given a course where they experienced consistent success. The questions posed during these sessions were easy and the students were delighted to ace them. They began to develop intellectual self-confidence, as you would expect.

The second group were not given successes, but training in how to reinterpret their failures. They were sometimes given problems that they couldn’t solve, but they were also taught to think that they could improve if they expended effort. The failures were positioned not as indications of their lack of intelligence, but as opportunities to improve their reasoning and understanding.

At the end of these training courses, the two groups were tested on a difficult problem. Those who had experienced consistent success were as demoralised by failing to solve this problem as they had been before the training. They were so sensitive to failure that their performance declined and it took many days for them to recover. Some were even more afraid of challenges and didn’t want to take risks.

The group that had been taught to reinterpret failure were quite different. They significantly improved in their ability to deal with the challenging task. Many actually demonstrated superior performance after failure and when they went back to class began asking their teachers for more challenging work. Far from ducking out of situations where they might fail, they embraced them.

This hints at one of the great paradoxes about school and life. Often it is those who are the most successful who are also the most vulnerable. They have won so many plaudits, been praised so lavishly for their flawless performances, that they haven’t learned to deal with the setbacks that confront us all. This has been found to be particularly true of young girls. Female students who go through primary school getting consistently high grades, and who appear to their teachers as highly capable, are often the most devastated by failure.

In one famous experiment a group of schoolgirls were measured for their IQ and then given a task that began with a really challenging section. You might have expected the girls with the higher IQs to perform better on the test. In fact, the results were the other way around. The high IQ girls, who had always succeeded in life, were so flustered by the initial struggle that they became ‘helpless’. They hardly bothered with the later problems on the test. The relationship between IQ and outcome was actually negative.

And this is why ‘failure week’ at Wimbledon High School was such an enlightened idea. Heather Hanbury was trying to give her high-achieving students a lesson that would help them not merely at school or university but in later life. She was taking them outside their comfort zone and helping them to develop the psychological tools that are so vital in the real world. ‘Our pupils are hugely successful in their exams, but they can overreact when things go wrong,’ she said. ‘We want them to be courageous. It sounds paradoxical, but we dare them to fail.’

Columnist for The Times and bestselling author of Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice, Matthew Syed argues that the key to success is a positive attitude to failure. Order Black Box Thinking on Amazon now.

Kangye

Notepad_9/17/2015 12:41

The Lion Roars No More

See how life and its wretchedness munch on us
The ulcer of longing and bonding
Widening at the cost of the flesh of time
Feeding on the treasure of memories closed intact
Is this the time to cry ?
To sob and give up on those we love

Or do we
For the sake of not bleeding pretend that we don’t feel the pain
But hold back the information
Close, draw as we clean and treat these words
like non existent

Not the bullet
Not a head-on
Not the enemy of man
But one within self

Behold
The lion is fallen,
The towering roar of this
land is silent
Not to scavenge
Nor tear down prey for a meal
But sleep without rise
The lion roared to the throne
But the roar is no more

Kangye

Called To Greatness- The Review

When I first heard of this book, all I thought of was that this was another self help to add to the shelf. In fact, I missed the official launch held at Kati Kati on the 1st September 2015.

I usually take off time to follow the trends on the Uganda literary scene. And that includes which book is the talk of town.

On 5th September 2015, I attended the Transformers Conference 2015 organised by Worship Harvest Ministries in Naalya where the author of this book, Moses Mukisa, happens to be lead pastor.

I still maintain that that well organised conference, by selling tickets at UGX 30,000 was only a booking fee and so extremely undercharged. Why?

Every conference convener was given a copy of this book, Called To Greatness. And this, to me, summed up my UGX 30,000 payment before the event began.

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Cover page of Mukisa's book

The price at which I buy a book determines my expectation on reading it. And here I was with a literary ‘free book’. What did I have to expect?
Motivation stuff, I thought.
How wrong I was!

Before I read a book, I find a reason to familiarize with the text and I found one in this as well. I know the editor. (Buy a copy, you will find the editor’s name in the acknowledgment.)

Called To Greatness is not the usual christian book that grooms you for heaven without emphasising your work on earth. The author invests a great wealth of time explaining and juxtaposing the story of David in the book of Samuel (in the Bible) to the contemporary life.

“The story of your life is being written every day, it only depends on who has the pen,” Moses Mukisa

You cannot avoid the leadership call Moses Mukisa burdens himself with in the book. He talks of family, partnerships, entrepreneurship, and your role in societal transformation.

“Someone else had better qualifications, more connections, better appearance, greater charisma, a higher IQ, fairer features, name it and yet the call to lead fell on you,” Moses Mukisa.

The book ends with an appeal to all the pursuers of greatness  not to live for today or tomorrow (which we do a lot in our lives) but to struggle for true greatness that surpasses the days on earth.

This book is an improved version of Ugandan literature which is usually produced in a rush. It is one book that every Ugandan identifies with, given the examples used.

The language is very inclusive and illustrative but you may need not to read it at one go if you’re to fully dig out the wealth in it.

However, the authorial intrusion on opinion is one to watch out for in the entire text.

This is a book all the 2016 leaders should buy along with their voters to step up their call to responsibility in the pursuit of their greatness.

The book is sale in bookshops at UGX 30,000.

Buy it. Read it. Be Great.

Kangye

Love and Life at Worship Harvest KatiKati

It was such a long conversation that only one thing could end it; a service
at Worship Harvest KatiKati.

It all began with the question I asked Persis Babirye, that Friday evening, of what people look out for in church.

In her reply, she summed it up this way,

“In my church, it’s about love, care, worship, prayer and good people”.

I wanted to see these good people and how they do what they do.

At church, I had a coincidental arrival with a friend, Kayihura who is a member of the church who was delighted to see me come to “his” church. Past the gate to the Katikati was Esther. She hugged me. She too was surprised to see me at “her” church.And at the entrance to the hall, it was a transition from the 9 o’clock service which Justine had attended to the 11 O’clock.

Justine screamed out my name, running to me with a tighter embrace. Third hug in less than five minutes.

One thing struck me; everyone was talking to someone at least. And my dress code was not a disappointment. The day before, Saturday 5th September 2015, had been the Transformers Conference organised by the same church at the Naalya branch. There, my dress code mismatched that of the hosts.

The congregants at Worship Harvest drape those cool t-shirts and jeans just like their pastors.This, I think, is what Jeremy Byemanzi meant when he said, “Church begins on Monday and Sunday is Service.The worship was on point with the help of a live band. I missed the moment of prayer lost in the worship.

Beatrice Byemanzi was the day’s preacher. She shared the story of her life in the sermon drawing from Moses Mukisa’s book Called To Greatness.

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Beatrice Byamanzi,
Pastor Worship Harvest, Katikati

Growing up an orphaned girl,  she never thought God would lift her to such high levels as being a pastor at this church.

“Apply wisdom to everything that you do, a soft togue can break the hardest bone,” Beatrice Byemanzi

I found myself drowned in her story as I reflected on mine. And many others did, not with the silence that was looming so loud in the congregation.

At the end of the service, we’re treated to a soft drink break which I was told is the culture of the church. It reminded me of that family that eats together and prays together that always stays together.

These guys bond. I lost count of how many hugs I received on that day.
Worship Harvest is their church. They always refer to it as “my”| “our” church.

KatiKati is one of the branches of the Worship Harvest Ministries headquartered at Naalya by Moses Mukisa. They have other branches in Gayaza, Entebbe and Jinja.

They are in the process of raising funds to build their own church; a cause to which they are committed.

I can disagree with Persis no more. There is a warmth of love and life in this church. I will have to definitely come again even when not invited.

(Photo credit, Martha)

Kangye