SKILLS & EXPERIENCE vs PASSION & ETHUSIASM
I have some errands to run
That’s no problem, you must be there
I will be in Mombasa
That’s no problem, you must be there
That was a man I considered an elder brother, a longtime friend, a friend I considered my mentor, a man who had shaped me as an individual, a man who triggered and fueled my leadership thirst. He wanted me to be at his home the coming weekend day, he didn’t not want to listen to what I might be doing, all he wanted was me to be there. In a week’s time, he was launching his political bid, and a small team was converging in his local home to strategize on how he will go about it
For years we the people of our local constituency complained of poor leadership, but he decided to take the problem as his own and do something about it, and the only best way was to be the leader people yearned for. When he announced to me that he was going for the position in the next general elections, I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. He taught me that if you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it
Some weeks back I had been diagnosed with a bad malaria, and I wasn’t of the idea of much travel, I was in Nairobi, and going to his place meant taking a bus to some 150+ Kms away, a not so good idea in my state of health, but this was a man I could not just say no to, he had done a lot in my life, and I would go miles (see the pan there) to be there for him. Plus I was doing a dissertation on political science, and mingling with this kind of characters was one way of getting it right
I managed to convince a friend to accompany me to the place, and come the day, we hired a car for the journey, a not soo new Toyota. It smelt of a lodging more than it smelt of a car, it smelt of those lodging soaps (all men know the smell of that soap), the driver must be a man of the night, I thought as I started the engine
Dennis, the friend who accompanied me is a maniac, a tall crazy dude who loved life and the fun, big bodied women and whisky, he called it the greatest combination, whisky and bodied women, I call it a quagmire of combination. The man is somewhat too tall for his build; were he a few inches shorter he would be all the more handsome for it. It was as if he stopped growing only to be stretched on one of those medieval racks a half-foot more. His face is mostly obscured by a red scraggly beard that clung to his skin. Somehow he isn’t lanky though, there’s bulk on him too; muscles beneath the tight tees he wore. I wonder how many jokes and comments about his stature he gets daily, jibes about “the air being thin up there.”
I preferred this guy when going for road trips sort of, he knew cars and their problems like the back of his palms, he could tell you what the problem was through the phone while miles away, all you had to do was describe the symptoms, thank God this day we didn’t have any problems with the car
When we arrived at the old village market, I remembered an old hotel we used to eat a very spicy nyamachoma and chapatis, decided to check it. KIKUMINI was its name, the market, I didn’t expect to find this hotel running, and even so, I didn’t expect to find the same kind of standards with the food. The hotel set on the middle of two old blocks of unfinished flats, both were built and abandoned after the first floor. The owners seemed to have bought the old dilapidated mabati houses that sat there before, and embarked on setting up a flat with two or three floors, unfortunately the old philosophy of ‘build and abandon’ that seemed to engulf the whole market caught up with them, leaving most of the buildings derelict.
At the entrance was an old ragged chair. It was mahogany with cherubs chiseled into the sides. On the top was a Brown cushion which was worn and tatty, it wasn’t really brown, but it had turned to Brown against its wish, Brown was the colour of poverty. This hotel that was once a beacon of its age now resembles something that has been through a war. Nothing so dramatic has befallen it, just more years that can be counted without feeling the loosening of the mind. Inside it was one huge cavernous room, with a makeshift wooden counter at far end. The set-up had not changed all those years, and the furniture seemed to be the same ones I ate on some twenty years ago.
The top of our table was gouged wood and the legs dented metal with chipped red paint. We chose a table next to the door, the table was built of strong wood, with one side leaning, its legs were not balanced, I noticed the legs were not looking the same, one seemed to have been removed from another table and attached to its current owner, a sign of how the owner had tried all means for the business to survive over the years. Long ago this floor must have been a polished marble, even now there are patches that show through the encroaching mud and leaf detritus.
The waiter came from the back of the room, pink in the face, her blonde bangs pasted to her forehead with either steam or sweat. She looked like a woman who had given up on life. Her once white uniform was stained and her hair greasy. Her eyes had a strange sunken look and were threaded with scarlet so densely that they appeared pink. Her cheeks glowed under broken veins; her actions were slow, clumsy. She served us nyamachoma, matumbo (loins) soup and chapatis as ordered.
The chapatis were huge and surprisingly soft to the touch, a standard that had remained in this hotel down the years. They were so big that you get tempted to call your entire clan to share with them, if Jesus was teaching around today, he would not need to ‘multiply’ the bread with availability of this chapatis, one was enough to feed a thousand men, but served with matumbo, not fish. Talking of which, what happened to the fish heads during that feast of bread and fish, did this people eat all of the heads, and were there Luo’s around then? Just asking for my neighbor
If I was an advisor to a politician, this chapatis would have given me a great idea, we would start a ‘schools feeding program’ , funded by CDF, , we would just hire this chef to go around every school cooking 5 chapatis each, that would feed an entire population and surrounding community, food for thought ( Great pan there). With this kind of chapati, you would be so full that you won’t be in a position to stomach mediocrity, stupidity and political ignorance
The rich aroma of the nyamchom wafted down and beckoned you .You could not resist the delightful sensations that whipped up inside your memory at the mere thought of delving your teeth deep and fast into the pulpy texture of the beef
This hotel belonged to a man called wambua. In our tribe Wambua meant one born during rainy season. The guy had maintained the standards of the hotel the same, years down the line. Years back while I was still a young boy in primary school; many attributed the huge soft chapatis and the mouthwatering nyamchom to the then chief chef, who was labeled the undisputed champion of the kitchen. It was said the guy could make over hundred chapatis within an hour, and yet maintain the same size and texture, his name was Kimondiu.
One day, Kimondiu woke up and decided to resign, or leave, or whatever it is they call ‘leaving’ here. He left for greener pastures, someone snatched him from this business he had made a name for more than Ten years then, someone promised him heaven and earth, a harm and leg for him to be a supervisor in aa new opened hotel, someone stole him from where he made his daily bread or rather chapatis for years
Kimondiu left with his apron, and passion on his back, but what he didn’t know he couldn’t leave with, was the hotel philosophy. It remained undeterred. The standard size and texture of the chapatis remained the same; the sweet aroma of the nyamchom was sustained, as hard as it was. The owner of this hotel had built a philosophy that was transferred from this chief chef to others. He foresaw the future, he knew one day Kimondiu won’t be there, and by training other young vibrant chefs on the same standards, he had prepared for the future, life after ‘king of the Kitchen’
Many businesses fall for failure to prepare after the future. Many people have built their business around them, they are the Administration managers and they are the Accountants, they are procurement officers and the IT professionals, everything goes through them, they have not anticipated of a situation where someone else will take over from them
In business, you need to build replacement, you need to build and package a mentor in whom you can place the weight of your roles and responsibilities when time comes. Business need not die with your leaving. Companies need not die with your resignation, your legacy should not walk with you through the door, your legacy should not follow you to uncertainty. You should mould your skills, believes and philosophies onto others, who will take your work further, without much of a strain, that’s how a legacy is build, that’s how its left behind
When you have a business, as much as much of its success is attributed to certain employees, do not let them leave with the philosophy. Put young guys with the same passion under them, let them learn the undisputed skills, let them get the secrets that makes this other employees’ job tick
When Kimondiu left, he joined a new venture, which I understand though is a huge and modern hotel itself, it lacks the size and texture, and sweet aroma enjoyed in Wambua’s hotel. Kimondiu has never, with his skills, great skills he worn on his sleeves and experience, rekindled the kind of passion he cooked with at Wambua’s. It was gone, evaporated into thin air, as a local guy would put it, just like that
Most of us leave for greener pastures, with a lot of fresh promises and wet expectations on the other side, but we leave the passion and enthusiasm behind. The passion that was our goals, the enthusiasm brought about by our old colleagues, we forget this two, fuel our skills and experience for the required kind of package in any profession. Without passion, any new expectations will go down the drain, without enthusiasm, not even the experience we have built over the years will help rekindle the fire within
Before you choose to leave, choose to stay.