Read

Someone has aptly said that leaders are readers, and the reverse is true. Another unnamed person abused us by saying that if you want to hide something from an African, put it in a book! We must change that narrative by becoming readers.

If you think about it, the thing that has set you apart from those you started with (in the village) is reading. While they were cutting sugarcane, or doing some other menial jobs to make a quick buck, you were in class, reading. Some of them are still where they were many years ago, while you’ve made progress. Secondly, the thing that distinguishes you and sets you apart from others is what you have read. Lawyers read law, architects studied architecture, accountants accounting, etc; and most of this study experience was reading. So, the sign on your office door is largely determined by what you’ve read.

When you read, you are literally spending that time with the author of that book, hearing their thoughts, gleaning their wisdom, gaining their perspective on different aspects of life. While it would be very hard for you to get an appointment with them, and possibly too expensive to travel to where they are physically, you can cut through all of that by going to the bookstore and getting their book.

My friends and I try and read/listen to two books a month on average, in spite of our crazy schedules. To be an SFFG coach and trainer, you must read seven books on finance and business every year that you’re coaching. It’s reported that Bill Gates reads about a book a week.

So it’s time to hit the bookstore if you don’t want to start moving in reverse. Get yourself a Kindle, so you can easily buy books electronically off Amazon. There’s Audible as well, that enables you to buy audio books. Most audio books are about eight hours long. That’s only four days of morning and evening traffic! On an ethical note, avoid the free PDFs that are being forwarded on WhatsApp. You won’t value what you don’t invest in, and what you don’t value won’t build you. Also, return that borrowed book after reading.

As my friend Sam Kisa says, you can survive on charm for exactly three minutes. After that you’d better have something to say. READ!

Keep going. Keep growing. Keep leading.

M

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Excuses!!!

My uncle, Jack Guina is the one who inspired me to become an architect. He ran a practice called Apex Planners on Main Street in Jinja town. I was always fascinated by those drawings and how they came about, the drawing boards, T squares and other gadgets.

He once told me a powerful story to illustrate the danger of excuses, however good. Imagine that a client contracts you to design a project in Kisoro. Kisoro is farrrrr from Kampala, but back then it was even “farther” because of the terrible roads! So he charters a plane for one day for you to go and analyze the site to help with the design. As soon as you land at the airstrip, it starts to rain. It rains all morning, afternoon and into the evening. Given the conditions and the fact that the plane was chartered for one day, you board and return to Kampala, without the site analysis getting done. At the time this story was told, there were no mobile phones! The next day, you go to the client’s office to break the news that no work was done because it was raining!

I learnt from that story that however good, valid and genuine your excuse is, the fact remains that the task didn’t get accomplished. Unaccomplished tasks to which resources have been allocated are expensive. If you keep giving excuses, you become expensive to the team or organization. Soon, you might be too expensive to keep around.

John Maxwell aptly puts it that you’ll either have reasons or results, not both. Yet when it comes to excuses, we all have them. In fact, every time we are put on the spot about unaccomplished tasks under our care, our creativity goes through the roof as we weave together that almost tear jerking story that explains why the task didn’t get done to the specified quality within the specified time. In the end, THE TASK REMAINS UNDONE!

Take traffic for example. You don’t need a prophetic grace to know that you’re going to encounter traffic in Kampala! It’s a bit like the village people saying they were delayed by the trees. They’re everywhere! So, bad traffic, inclement weather, the kids not sleeping well, last moment requests from your boss, delays by your team, “I’m still expecting some ka money”, “the network is off”, “my uncle from the village is visiting”, and other such Ugandan proverbs may make excellent excuses, but they keep you, your team and your organization moving in reverse.

Again, you’ll either have reasons or results, but not both!

Keep going. Keep growing. Keep leading.

M

Plant Seeds

planting seeds

If you purpose to live the life of a sower, you’ll never run out of a harvest. John Maxwell says that we should measure success by the seeds we’ve sown, not the harvest we’ve got. I’ve found this to be the most predictably fulfilling way to live and lead.

In our SFFG Masterminds, one of the assignments of week one is that you must give away money EVERYDAY for seven days, and that excludes money given in church and tips! For many of the participants, it’s usually a shock to the system because they joined the Mastermind to learn how to MAKE money, not how to give it away. It’s always nice to see the excitement levels go up even as the week progresses, as people learn to live as sowers. The testimonies from that first week are always mind blowing.

Even though money is the lowest capital, it teaches us principles about other areas of life. So in advocating for planting seeds, I’m not advocating for you to give away your money. There are harder things to give than money. A friend who has lost a loved one doesn’t need your money. They need you to be present, with your mouth shut!

What I’m advocating is for us to turn away from this idea that success or progress is hinged upon us getting stuff from others. We will never make the world better by taking things away from others, whether that be money, time, favors, relationships, name it. On the other hand, we will radically change our world when we live a giving life; when we commit to planting seeds. That can be time, money, presence, connections, wisdom, knowledge, etc.

So, instead of making demands and throwing tantrums like a two year old, maybe it’s time for you to start planting seeds. Send that message. Write that thank you card. Send that money to the people in the village. Visit your friend. Open the door for someone behind you. Send those flowers. Help with the homework. Wash the dishes. Make the cup of coffee. Pick the trash. Pay the bill for the table next. Fuel the car behind at the petrol station. Buy groceries for the neighbors. Celebrate someone publicly on Social Media. Stop at the junction and let others join the road. Spend Sunday afternoon with the parents. Affirm the children. Buy the Birthday cake. Recommend a book. Introduce someone to an important connection. Buy Yaka for a friend. Tip the waitress. Overpay the cab driver. Buy lunch for office colleagues. Appreciate others’ efforts to be smartly dressed. Thank your church leader :). Join the choir. Teach a class. Visit an orphanage. Go for the LC meeting. PLANT SEEDS.

One of the remarkable things I’ve learnt is to ask my inner circle of friends and leaders two questions:
1. How may I pray for you today?
2. What can I do for you this week?
The answers to these two questions are always a great place to start in planting seeds in regard to those closest to you.

How about you?
How are you going to plant seeds this week?

Keep going. Keep growing. Keep leading.

M

Mind Your Business

There is an interesting thing that’s happening in our city lately. People are minding about other people’s issues more than theirs; their businesses, ministries, organizations, marriages, name it.

Because we don’t live in isolation, what happens to my neighbors may affect me, and so I need to check in and see if we’re all ok. That’s however different from dedicating lots of time, emotions, intellect and ink, talking and arguing about this one’s shop, that one’s club, the other one’s home, so and so’s shoe, etc.

Minding someone else’s business will not grow yours!

Paul, a first century apostle writes to the church in Thessalonica and urges them to; increase more and more, aspire to lead a quiet life, mind their own business, work with their own hands, that they may lack nothing and be a great example to everyone else.

The big idea here is NOT that we shouldn’t care about other people’s matters, but rather, we shouldn’t dwell long on it until we’ve forgotten our own lane. He urges us to mind our business. That literally means being mind-full of your business.

So, it’s time to mind your business. Get to appointments on time. Drive in the correct lane. Use a helmet. Fasten your seatbelt. Buy the (right) girl flowers. Pick up the litter. Take care of your customers. Charge your phone. Get a title for that land. Leave a tip. Cut the grass. Get rid of the stagnant water. Send the parents something. Help the kids with homework. Apologize. Stop your boda guy at the red lights. Go home early. Eat greens. Drink water. Laugh often. MIND. YOUR. BUSINESS!

Keep going. Keep growing. Keep leading.

M

Start Early, Stick With It

lofty-inspiration-snail-clipart-with-snail-clipart

Did you know that if you had a monthly income of 3,000,000 UGX, and started saving and investing only 600,000 UGX (20%) a month consistently, and figured out how to create a 25% annual return on investment (there are ways, and I could show you how), your net worth would be about 23 billion in thirty years, with a potential passive monthly income of over 300 Million a month? Even with lower ROIs like 15%, the compounding is amazing.

The reason I like to research and teach about finances is that money is a window that gives us a glimpse into disciplines that affect other (higher) areas of life. The biggest advantage it has is that it’s very measurable and can be very visible. It’s for example harder to quantify discipline in loving one’s wife or taking care of one’s body. We only usually notice we aren’t doing well when the results are negative.

From the example above, you’d only be at 240 Million in Year ten and 2.4 Billion in year twenty. In other words, the growth compounds with time. So the best thing you can do is start early and stick with it if you want to see the results in the long run. This same principle applies to everything else in life. If you want your “marriage to compound”, start early and stick with it, practicing certain disciplines consistently. Start that business now, and stick with it and let it compound. Start that organization now and stick with it. Start exercising now (I feel like a hypocrite) and stick with it. Start writing now and stick with it. The best friendships are not the new ones! Whatever it is, start early and stick with it.

The challenge is that many of us have a low boredom threshold. So we are always starting something new every few months or years. You’ll never see the full impact of your vision if you don’t stick with it over time. And, I don’t mean refusing to adjust the sails even when it’s clear the wind direction has changed. I mean simple stickability until the thing compounds. It’s what Jim Collins calls the “flywheel effect” in his book, Good to Great.

The danger of postponement is that the compounding value in the first year is a very tiny fraction of the compounding value in the tenth year, which is a small fraction of the compounding value in the thirtieth year. For example in the case I made above, the growth from year one to two is only nine million shillings, whereas the growth from year 29-30 is over four billion. So, your nine million at the start is 4 billion thirty years later, and yet you are at the start, so all you see is potential growth of nine million, which seems like a small return on your efforts. That’s what it feels like in business, marriage, health, leadership, character, ministry, etc. Given our penchant for quick returns and microwaved success, we never start, because we are looking for a faster lane!

If only you could have a glimpse of the 30th year in the same direction of obedience! So, friend, start early and stick with it. Happy Monday!

Keep Going. Keep Growing. Keep Leading.

M

Passion!

f1 carI heard a well known leader say that every leader is responsible for their own passion bucket. Of all the things the people around you can help with, passion is excluded.

You must be the most passionate about your own vision. If you find other people being more passionate and committed to the thing that was initially entrusted to you, something wrong might be happening. It’s perhaps time to go out and refill your passion bucket.

How does one do this?

  1. Get into environments that challenge you, in the field of your interest. Bill Johnson said that, “wise men still travel.” When the church I lead was still very small, I once visited a church (building) who stage was almost the size of our auditorium at the time! That did something to me.
  2. Get around people who have gone ahead of you and achieved bigger things. Get mentors and coaches. John Maxwell says that if you are consistently top of the class, you are in the wrong class. Get out of the chicken coop and start hanging with the eagles. The John Maxwell Team, NewThing Network and other spaces I’m a part of constantly make me aware that there is more.
  3. Read. Read. Read. All my close friends read on average two books a month. I wrote Straight Forward Financial Growth last year, a whole new world of financial literacy coaching opened up to me. I’ve already read about seven books on personal finance and business this year. I use audible for audio books which are quicker than reading. That way I mix reading and listening. Make use of that traffic jam.
  4. Do something that you really enjoy, that has nothing to do with your mission. I don’t know how this works, but it helps you stay in touch with your soul. I love and follow Formula 1. Nothing significantly improves in my work when lewis Hamilton wins, but hey… Find your hobby or soul detox system. All work without play…

How about you? How have you managed to fill your passion bucket?

Keep going. Keep growing. Keep leading.

M

Lead With Friends

IMG_4350One of the greatest blessings of my life has been to lead with my friends. For some, we’ve known each other for twenty years or thereabouts, and led together for more than ten years. We know each others strengths and weaknesses, and there is not much room for pretense of getting on some high horse. We may not be the most gifted leaders individually, but our friendship has made up for a lot of what is missing.

There is a terrible leadership quote by Cecily von Zeigesar that, “You can’t make people love you, but you can make them fear you.” I totally disagree with this mode of leadership. Unfortunately many leaders have fallen for this trap, and depend mostly on fear to get the work done. This is because we want quick results, and are unwilling to cultivate long term friendships, which yield results in the long run. In his book Leadership Gold, John Maxwell aptly stated that, “If it’s lonely at the top, then you’re doing something wrong.” Leadership was never meant to be a lonely venture, where we are burdened with the vision all by ourselves, and “no one else understands”. The solution? Lead with friends.

We’ve been blessed to know and lead with some of the most incredible people. I’m tempted to name some of them here, but then, that creates the risk of leaving some out. They know themselves. Our friends know that they can come to our home anytime and be at home there. They can fix themselves whatever they want and can even spend the night. We have guest rooms for them. The same applies to their kids, family and close friends. In fact, I have adopted the parents of some of our friends who still have them as our own. I treat them the same way I’d treat mine if they were still alive. A mum to one of my friends has this particular “gift” of putting me in my place every time she calls on the phone. Anvuma n’okunvuma, all in jest and good banter.

One of the inspiring stories of leaders who are friends is that of Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton from Bethel Church in Redding CA. They have covenanted to lead together for life! That’s not something I’d urge you to rashly gent into, but it inspires me. In fact at some point when Kris’ businesses went bust, they moved in and the two families lived in Bill’s house for a season! Now that’s some closeness!

You may be reading this and saying, “eh maama, that’th tho thweet!” Make no mistake. We’ve had our fights, both small and big. Because of our closeness, we have capacity to intensely frustrate each other. These friendships have been forged through difficulties, hardships, disagreements, disappointments, etc. It’s just that we are always willing to get back, repent and work on it. At some point, my family lived on the same apartment block with another couple, and we never visited each other for over a year! That’s how bad our relationship was. And yet now, they are some of the closest people to Ary and I. Our friendship with those guys brings us so much joy.

So, go gather your team and start working on your friendships. it will pay off big time in the long run. it doesn’t have to be lonely at the top.

Keep going. Keep growing. Keep leading.

M