Swimming against the tide!

During a mother and daughter session, my teenage daughter opened up and told me some   of the challenges she was experiencing at school with her friends. This was a promotional term where they all needed to focus by working triply hard but her friends were not serious always talking in class even during lessons. When she attempted to talk to them to desist from the habit, they ganged up against her.

Often the people around us can drag us down. And that’s particularly true when you are trying to do good, and they are not. When you are trying to be pure, and they are not. When you are trying to honour God, and they are not.

It can feel as though everybody is heading in the opposite direction to you. So you start questioning yourself. Am I going crazy here? Why is this so hard? Is there something wrong with me?

But God did not call you to be like everybody else. He’s called you to be different; to be pure and holy, to live your life for Him, to sacrifice your life for others. In a world that is growing more self-absorbed by the minute, it’s like swimming against the tide.

Going with the flow actually takes no energy at all. Even dead a salmon can be carried a long way by the current. But if we have been made alive in Christ that cannot be our reaction.

Our call as Christians is to grow in Christ-likeness, in holiness, and in the fruit of the Spirit. All of that takes effort and energy and commitment. We are not just battling against our own sinful nature, and that’s a hard enough struggle. In our day we are also battling against the current of our culture which seeks to drag us away from Jesus.

Making progress is hard, but giving up for a moment means we will have further to swim later on. But as we feed on Christ through his Word, as we rest in Christ in prayer, as we stand next to one another in fellowship and witness and service, we will gradually swim upstream and grow more and more in the likeness of Jesus.  And that’s where we truly belong.

Don’t underestimate domestic chores……

Fellow parents the long holiday is up on us and what are we doing to keep the young people busy? This is a good time to empower our children with basic survival skills. I have seen a zillion flyers with all sorts of holiday programs and I applaud them for their initiatives. However, we as parents are blessed with these children and yes schedules are tight but let us make time and teach our children personal hygiene, cleaning after themselves and their environment; cooking and being self-reliant.

Some weeks back I attended a series of business networking events and what stood out for me was two accomplished business ladies, These ladies have credible academic accomplishments and successful careers but they are also business owners with thriving enterprises with skills learnt at home helping their mothers with cooking. One of the ladies attested to the fact, give her food to taste and ask her to prepare the same meal and true to her word she will. She runs a catering firm and provided cookery lessons among other things. The other lady is now retired from her accounting career and owns a bakery that has taken the bakery business to another level. There is also gentleman I know who also started his photography business as a hobby. So parents this holiday as the children recharge for the next year, let be intentional in empowering them with life ‘s basic skills and if some of our children have expressed interest in some hobbies let us support and grow them in those areas.

We can never tell when life will throw our children the least we can do is to prepare and groom them for life’s journey.

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Is your glass half full or half empty?

I performed an easy psychological test on my children and friends to determine their world view of whether the glass is half full or half empty. At the end of the exercise they asked why I did the test. Especially the children were amazed that a simple test like that can determine whether one is Optimist or Pessimist.

Optimists tend to focus on the good – there is still water available to drink while the pessimists see negative as water missing from what would be a full glass. Optimists tend to look on the bright side always hopeful and looking for good even in bad situations. Pessimists on the other hand tend to be more negative with some of them claiming to be realists as they usually search for and find the “black cloud” behind every silver lining. Optimists are not happy all the time neither are pessimist unhappy all the time. Irrespective of our inclinations we all experience the different emotions. We all face obstacles. However, how we respond to those obstacles can make all the difference in the world.

Optimist tend to see obstacles as opportunities and as result expect good things to happen. They will then take the steps and actions that will lead to positive results. Pessimists on the other hand are frustrated by obstacles. When they expect negative results they often fail to do the type of things that could have minimized or prevented the negative results.

Scientists who have studied optimism have found that those who see the glass as half-full tend to be happier, healthier, and even wealthier. But this may be attributed to being deliberate and maintaining a positive attitude on the part of the individual. Probabaly yes or no!

Some researchers also believe that our genes might play a critical role in determining whether individauls focus on the positive or the negative.

Even if we are genetically predisposed to look at the negative side of things, we can be more optimistic with some practice. Every negative situation presents the opportunity to view it in a different light. With a little effort, it’s possible to choose to take life’s lemons and make lemonade!

Why Organizational structure?

During my first 100 days at a new post, I was congratulated for having created an organizational chart for this firm that had been in existence for about fifteen years. Although some members did not appreciate the effort stating the firm was thriving and a profitable entity.

All businesses, whether you realize it or not, have an organizational structure.

Yours might have formed and evolved organically, but it’s important to be deliberate and thoughtful about your organizational structure – particularly as headcounts increase and the company grows increasingly complex.

An organizational structure is: an explanation of workflow and responsibilities; a day-to-day guide governing employee tasks, interactions and reporting and a quick means for employees to understand where they need to go for help or answers for specific issues.

A well-designed organizational structure should be an integral part of your strategic planning. If this is done well, it can have significant impacts on company operations and the customer experience.

No matter where your business is in terms of size, growth or level of establishment, you should either; Create an organizational structure for the first time. and periodically rethink and optimize your existing organizational structure.

Mum, am bored!

Mum am bored…. Is a phrase I get to hear often.

So as a parent what are you expected to do about your child or children’s boredom. Initially when I would hear that statement my antennas would fly up to the sky thinking of the financial implication of attending to this boredom which in most cases implied; geting out of the house with two destinations in mind either the cinema or the swimming pool. In long term this became a source of stress and I had to explore and research on some other ways of attending to my kids’ boredom. So I did some research, which is tried and tested.

Children today are over stimulated and that as parents we should look at the kids’ boredom as a positive thing rather than a negative one. Boredom is essential for kids because it leads to increased creativity and helps our children grow in important ways. When a child is bored they are learning that they need to create their own fun and entertainment. They need to explore their world. They need to learn new things on their own. When a child is forced to come up with their own ways to entertain themselves, it gives them the opportunity to look inside and think about their own interests and passions. Sometimes children will say they are bored simply because they seek or need parental engagement. It’s important to remember that a child saying they are bored does not really mean they have run out of things to do but that what they see in front of them is not stimulating or interesting and hope that you as an adult may come up with interesting ways of keeping them occupied. Cuddling for a few moments with your child may be enough to reset their busy minds and recharge their batteries.

Some ideas that may address the boredom, let the kids help out with house chores washing, cooking, washing the car with mum or dad. Only that these days the parents themselves are not willing to get dirty with the children yet this is very good bonding time. You can also involve the kids in physical activites like playing dodge ball, riding bikes and playing hide and seek.

Boredom is good, give your children a chance to be creative!

So what did you learn today?

This has been my opening line when I pick up my now 8 year old daughter since she started school. I am pretty sure that am not alone most parents ask this questions to their children after school. Many of us have the misconception that learning is something restricted to a classroom. But when you think of all the important lessons we’ve learned in life, chances are most of them are learned outside the classroom.

The world of education may be seen as divided into two different catergories; formal and informal. Formal education is pretty much everything that happens inside of classrooms and organizations with structured curriculum and assessment, while informal education is everything else.

While there is no doubt that access to formal education around the world should be considered a basic human privilege, not enough emphasis is put on informal education.

Let’s go back to the question posed at the beginning. There is an old saying that “you learn something new every day.” So what did you learn today? Give some thought to this question. It may change the course of your life. We are constantly learning new things. The limits of the human mind is endless. Just think of how much an individual learns before school going age. We learn how to talk, walk, take care of our personal hygiene, conduct social interactions, and so much more. All these things happen in informal settings. In fact, the vast majority of learning happens informally. This is also true for workplace learning.

The challenge of informal learning, is that it requires the learners to engage in self-regulation. There are no papers that need to be written or exams to study for. There is only the learner’s curiosity and desire to learn new things. Curiosity is what drives us forward as a species. The simple question of “why?” might be the most important one in history. This question has been the driving force behind infinite achievements and discoveries.

Let’s not underestimate informal learning but be intentional not to miss the learning attained in our informal spaces.

“Exist Loudly”

These are words I heard recently at a funeral of a close friend as she was eulogized, it was apparent she had existed loudly. From then on these words have been at the back of mind especially now as my journey at Harvest Institute (HI) draws to an end.

So what is the meaning of exist? To exist is to be present or to have being in a specified place or under certain conditions, or to be found.To me, existing loudly can mean so many things not literally being loud but what is your impact as a person who has existed on earth? What is your purpose and have you lived it out? What is your legacy? What have you initiated? I like the fact that HI has given me the space to take back my pen. I should use it to express, communicate and extend my influence. My daily actions should be living proof that I indeed am living out my life loudly and boldly.

Boldness can be standing up for your beliefs and speaking out. Boldness can also be having the courage to go before Abba, Father in heaven in prayer. You have heard of audacious prayers, when your world is crashing down. The wonderful thing about the words “exist loudly” is that you can make them your own and conquer whatever it is that is in your way.

This includes being meek. Meekness means quietness, gentleness, humility, submissiveness and fearfulness which is contrary to some perceptions that construe it as negative and weak. However, Matthew 5:5 says “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.” Those who are gentle, are so much stronger than you know.

2 Corinthians 3:12, the Bible states,” Since we have such hope, we are bold.” Your hope is so much bolder than anything else in this world. Just by believing in something you are braver than you realize.

Your silence is bold. Your praying is bold. Your shouting and crying and hard work is bold. But, boldness only rings true when you are working towards good. Goodness overcomes everything else and if you work to achieve that goodness by living a life worth living; you are bold.

Reader, have you ever considered living your life loudly? This could mean living your life fully and powerfully or better still live your life to the fullest. Live your life knowing you really have got the power. As you live loudly don’t hold back and do not be scared of what is next or what others think. Do not be afraid of who you are. Own who you are and do it loudly.

Burst loudly in life. Let people know you exist. Live without fear, carefree and happy!

We do not exist for ourselves alone, and it is only when we are fully convinced of this fact that we begin to love ourselves properly and thus also love others. Thomas Merton

Creating a positive work place culture!

There is a buzz in the market place advocating for positive work culture as the only option to increased engagement of the workforce.

So, what is culture? Culture is a way of life of a group of people laying out their behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and are passed along by communication and imitation from one generation to the next. Culture is symbolic communication.

More specially, Work culture is a combination of qualities in an organization and its employees that arise from what is generally regarded as appropriate ways to think and act. The “work culture” of an organization is a product of its history, traditions, values, and vision. “

Creating a positive work culture is one of the most important things you can do when you establish your business entity, enterprise or brand. No one likes working for an establishment that they feel is toxic or stagnant in terms of the work environment.

A Positive work culture is one which is full of trust and creates a warm atmosphere for everyone to grow. A positive culture is NOT entirely dependent on employers alone; employees also have a stake in creating a positive work culture where your team mates want to work as well and grow.

What are some of the ways of encouraging a positive environment in your workspace?

Happiness is a habit that needs to be modeled. Happiness that is based on gratitude. As a manager or business leader, your demeanor and attitude in the office has an impact on your employees. When you demonstrate happiness you are training your employees to follow suit. Get in the habit of being grateful and showing gratitude for what you have.  It can be a small thing – I am thankful for this cup of coffee, for the good weather. When you make an effort to find things to be grateful for, you are training your brain to be on the watch for more of what is good in your world. By making gratitude a habit, you will set the example for others and create a positive work environment. Focus on the positive when interacting with your employees.  Point out their accomplishments and abilities.  Remind them that they are a positive force within your company and that they have much to offer. This is a powerful motivation tool and it will help to create a “can-do” attitude in your workforce.

People need to have a sense of purpose at work. Their happiness is directly connected to knowing that they make a difference.  It’s not enough for a manager to distribute tasks. Take the time to explain why the individual task is important to the company as a whole. This will give your employees a sense of purpose and belonging that will motivate them to strive for more. Engaged employees are efficient, enthusiastic and are willing to do what it takes to help your organization succeed. Creating a sense of purpose for your employees is an investment in developing a positive workplace.

Work does sometimes get monotonous and overwhelming with some team members feeling frustrated and unappreciated. As a business leader you are influential, your opinion matters, especially to your employees. Make it a goal to compliment people. Recognizing even small accomplishments and praising your team members in meetings or in an email can make a big impact. It does not have to be a big gesture.

Turning bad experiences into positive events. For example, if you have a situation where a customer is irate, this can bring down the morale and damage the positivity within your company. Instead of letting this negative experience fester, turn it into something that can be viewed as productive and positive by making it a learning experience. The team can devise scenarios similar and agree on best approach to handle scenarios. As a leader you need to be willing to look at the bad things that tend to pop up during work and learn to make them positive and educational.

With our busy work schedules, sometimes all we want to do is close ourselves off from the rest of the world, focus on our computer and just get it done. But often the best thing to do when we are in that mode is to take a break. Although it can seem counter-productive, taking a break can be rejuvenating. The key here is to seek a bit of social interaction. Encourage your employees to take breaks and provide them with an area in the office to chill out and talk to one another. Taking breaks is important to both mood and concentration. Helping your employees relax and connect with each other during the day is a great way to help them stay motivated and productive.  Everyone needs a break from the daily grind. Encouraging your employees to take breaks can increase producitivity, improve mental acuity and even relieve pain.

Cultivate a healthy environment at work for all employees to help lower stress. Encouraging your employees to focus on self-care, such as going for a walk outside during the day, is a great way to keep morale up. Provide them with information on how to reduce stress, the importance of getting enough sleep and eating healthy. Being proactive as a leader shows you care about your workforce and that you are there to help.  Connecting with your employees and encouraging them to connect with each other during hard times will help lift morale and keep your business moving in a positive direction.

As a leader you need to create an environment where communication is always happening. If people are able to reach each other at a moment’s notice, it reduces the risk or a miscommunication or toxicity in the workplace. Consider holding weekly physical meetings, creating internal chat programs like office what’s up groups. You will find that it’s much easier to keep things running smoothly when you can contact other employees or your employer as soon as an issue arises.

By creating a positive workplace you will retain top performing employees and increase your business success.

Birthday Celebrations

Today, together with family and friends we celebrated my daughter’s birthday and this got me thinking why we really celebrate this day(s) that comes by once a year;

A birthday is a time when a person acknowledges the anniversary of his or her birth. Often, birthdays are celebrated with a gift, party, or some other special act. There are reasons birthdays should be celebrated.

Yours and my birth was the beginning of our life. God created us for a purpose in this world. Every time we have a birthday, it is an indication that we still have work to do for the Kingdom of God. Our birthdays are a sign that we have another chance to fulfill our unique mission. So a birthday is a momentous occasion, to be celebrated just as a nation commemorates its birth or as an organization celebrates its founding. A birthday is much more than an occasion to receive gifts. A birthday is a chance to remember the day that a major event occurred, to celebrate and give thanks and to reflect upon how well we are still alive to celebrate the day we were born.

A birthday is a time to celebrate birth itself. It is an expression of thanks to God for being born and still being alive. It is also an occasion to rethink your life. It is a great time to reflect on the past, evaluate your present and make plans for your future. It is a time when your past intersects with your present and future.

A Birthday is a Chance for a Refresher. A birthday is not only a time to think about your birth, but also a time to think about your rebirth. To recall a birth is to recall a new beginning. No matter how things went yesterday, or last year, you always have the capacity to try again. Your birthday is a refresher, a chance for regeneration; not just materially, but spiritually.

To reach another year is an achievement to have lived another year. You have another year’s worth of blessings to thank God for. Think of how much of God’s air you have consumed during the year. Think of how many nights God allowed you to lie down and sleep and how many mornings He has awakened you with brand new mercies.

Lamentations 3: 22 – 23 says, Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassion never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

When you celebrate your birthday, it is an acknowledgement of your existence on planet earth. Irrespective of the family you were destined to be born, you are here to live your life to its fullest. Celebrating your birthday is a way to thank God that He allowed you to be born and to see another’s birthday.

Birthday celebrations are great ways for your family and friends to bond with you, if they choose. Usually people make a special effort to be nice to you on your birthday. Birthday presents are good, but a wish that comes from the heart is worth all the presents in this world from those who love you. It truly is the thought that counts.

Why should I attend church on Sunday?

While Sunday has become a day of worship for most Christians, the Bible doesn’t command us to worship on Sunday. In fact, throughout history, Jews have worshiped on Saturday. The Old Testament taught Israel to remember the Sabbath day and to keep it holy, and so they set aside Saturday as the Sabbath for rest and remembering God’s work. God’s commandment to set aside of day for worship and rest (a “Sabbath”) still stands, but the day isn’t important.

Christians have chosen Sunday as a special day to go to church and worship God as a group. Sunday is a chance to honor the Lord and have a weekly reminder that we serve a risen Savior.

You mustn’t forget, though that we should worship God every day of the week! Exodus 20:8, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy”.

“Let us not give up meeting together. Some are in the habit of doing this. Instead, let us cheer each other up with words of hope. Let us do it all the more as you see the day coming when Christ will return” Hebrews 10:25 says, “not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”