Never Give Up

I love writing. I write for a living. And I want to think that I’m living the best life ever. My friends think that because I do what I love, it is easy and effortless. But I must admit, there are very few things that I’ve done in my life that are as hard as writing. Actually, the only thing I’ve ever done that’s harder than writing is A level mathematics.

Writing involves sitting in a desk for long hours, and coming up with words. Sometimes the words come easily. But most times, I have to force them to come. Sometimes I stare at the screen for hours, willing myself to come up with the words, and nothing comes.

Many times, I’ve been tempted to give up.

It would be easier to be like everyone else, go out and get a real job. I could do what I studied at campus, and hopefully earn a good living from it.

But I have made up my mind that I won’t give up on my dream.

Nothing that is worthwhile comes easy. Nothing with a huge payoff comes without hard work and discipline. I know this might sound like your primary school motto, but it’s the fact. Hard work pays.

I still remember the day I opened my inbox to find photos from my publisher. They were photos of the first copy of Rise of the Robot. The joy that filled my heart is indescribable. Suddenly, the sleepless nights I’d had, the agonizing hours in front of my computer writing that book, they were all forgotten. The pain of those hours working on the book were nothing compared to the joy of seeing it in print.

I’m currently working on another book project. It’s the biggest book project I’ve ever worked on. And sometimes it is very scary. But every time I feel like giving up, I imagine the sight of my name on a printed cover with that book’s title. I think about my friends and family reading it and telling me how it made them feel. I think about the money that will be made from it. I think about success. And that keeps me going.

What are you enduring? Is it sleepless nights reading for a test? Is it a hard-to-please boss who might be your ticket to a promotion? Whatever it is, don’t give up. Nothing good comes easy. One day, when the results of your hard work start coming in, you will realise that all the hardship was worth it.

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Be Resilient

I still remember the first time I saw those words. I was about to do my S4 exams. It was visitation Sunday and my mum had come with a bunch of success cards from relatives. I don’t remember any of those cards or what was in them. But I still remember the card from my uncle. There was nothing special about it, but on the inside, written in his bad handwriting, were those two words: “Be Resilient.”

At that time, I never understood the meaning of the word “Resilient,” but it never left my mind. So, I went and checked it out in the dictionary.

According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, Resilience means, “the ability of people or things to feel better quickly after something unpleasant such as shock, injury, etc.”

I didn’t know how important those words would be in future. It’s only after much experience with unpleasant events like losing a job or a loved one, that I have come to appreciate that success card. These days, every time something bad happens, I tell myself, “Paul, be resilient.”

Resilience means picking yourself up and looking for another job after you have been fired. Resilience means going back to class the next day and studying harder after you have gotten a bad test score. It also means going back to university to do a retake in that paper you failed so that you can graduate.

Looking elsewhere for potential girlfriends after the girl you have been eyeing for some time friend-zones you also takes resilience. Sometimes even waking up and getting out of bed on a cold, rainy morning takes resilience.

You have resilience built up on the inside of you. It is like a muscle. The more you exercise it, the stronger it gets. So, don’t let circumstances kick you around. Stop being reactive to every negative situation that comes your way.

You have the power in you to be proactive, to take charge of your life, and to steer it wherever you want it to go. All of us face hardships and setbacks. Even the richest man in Uganda lost his bank. Stuff happens. The only way to get ahead of it all is to be resilient.

What situation are you facing today that requires you to be resilient?

How to Increase Your Internal Pressure in Order to Deal with Life

Do you remember learning about the properties of air in primary school? I don’t remember how many properties there were. I can only remember three. Air has weight. Air occupies space. Air exerts pressure. There was this experiment in a science textbook to prove that air exerts pressure. Heat was applied to a metallic can. Then it was tightly lidded and put away from the heat to cool down. As the can cooled down, it started crumpling and folding in on itself.

The air in the can expanded when it was heated. On closing the can and reducing the temperature of the air within, the pressure on the outside of the can became greater than the pressure within.

Our lives are more or less like that metallic can. Whenever the pressure on the outside becomes greater than the pressure on the inside, we crumple and fall apart like a house of cards.

Now, whether we want it or not, there will always be pressure on the outside. The pressures will include being broke, losing a loved one, failing a paper, screwing up a work project, or even being dumped by your girlfriend. While we can control some pressures, most of them are beyond our control. For example, you can’t control being fired from your job because a major donor pulled out their funds which were financing your organisation.

So, what can you do about these life pressures? If you increase the pressure on the inside of you, you won’t be crumpled by the pressure on the outside. Developing mental, physical and spiritual stamina is how you increase your internal pressure.

Developing mental stamina involves pushing your mind to its limits, forcing it to think and do beyond what you are comfortable with. It also involves engaging in mentally stimulating activities like reading, playing an instrument or even painting. Did you know that Albert Einstein played the violin and the piano and Winston Churchill painted?

Developing physical stamina involves keeping physically fit through exercise and a good diet. If you don’t take the best care of your body, it will one day fall apart when more external pressure is exerted on it. If you want to know if your internal physical pressure is higher than your external physical pressure, try climbing the stairs to your office instead of taking the lift. Do you arrive at your office breathless? Then you need to increase your internal physical pressure.

In my opinion, the hardest internal pressure to master is the spiritual one. Your soul will get bombarded with lots of stress and emotional distress at least once in your lifetime. Your spiritual disciplines or lack thereof, irrespective of your denominational inclinations, will determine whether you weather life’s storms, or fall apart.

What are you going to do today to increase your internal pressure?

What is the Worst that Could Happen?

Making decisions is hard. I’m not talking about simple things like whether to wear a red or blue shirt, or whether to eat a rolex or cake. I’m talking about harder, meaningful decisions, like whether to date that hot girl in your class, whether to apply for a job for which you don’t have the required experience, whether to go on a long road trip alone, or whether to finally leave your parents’ house.

Whenever I’ve had to make such daunting decisions, I’ve always asked myself, “Paul, what’s the worst that could happen?” Asking myself that question makes the decision-making process easier, especially when I know that the upside of making that decision is greater than the downside.

For example, four years ago, I decided to resign from an abusive workplace. It was hard to do until I asked myself that I asked myself that question. And after some contemplation, I realised that the worst that could happen would be going broke and hungry. I knew that if I got broke and hungry, I could go back to my parents’ home and crash there for a few months until I got back to my feet.

So I quit my job . And as predicted, the worst actually did happen. But it was a worst case scenario that I could deal with. If, for example, the worst case scenario to leaving my abusive workplace would be starvation to the point of death, I wouldn’t have gone ahead with that decision.

So, if you are faced with a hard decision, ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?”

Afterwards, ask, “Can I live with this worst case scenario?” If you can live with it, then go ahead and make the decision. Chances are, you won’t get to your worst case scenario. You will succeed. And you and will be glad that you made that decision.

When I made the decision to pursue writing fulltime, I asked myself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” I could fail to find a place to publish my work. I could go broke. And no, this time I didn’t have the option of going back to my parents’ house because you cannot keep going back to your parents’ house every time you fail. However, this time, I decided that if I failed at writing, I would go back to my hotel management diploma and use it to get a job in a hotel. That was a worst case scenario I could deal with.

So far, I haven’t gone broke. My income has kept going higher and higher, and now I have the freedom to choose who to work with and who not to work with. I can afford to turn down a project if it is not fun enough because I have enough work to last me a long time. My decision to become a writer turned out better than I expected.

You see, that’s the thing about hard decisions. You never know if they will turn out well or not. As long as you carry out some research to make sure you are making the best decision according to the information you have, go ahead and make that decision.

Life is full of decisions. You can’t run away from them. So you better start making decisions, and hoping that you are making the right ones.

Obviously, you will make some dumb decisions. Even the greatest of men do. Sometimes, there is just no way to know if the decision you are making is dumb until you make it and see the results. You also can’t say that you won’t decide because that’s also a decision in itself: you have chosen not to decide.

So, what decisions do you have to make today? What’s the worst that could happen if you take these decisions?

How to Position Yourself Online for Success

Last year I got a call from a sister of a friend. I had been recommended to her for a project she wanted to do for her client. She wanted to know if I would be available. I said yes and she set up a meeting with me and her client. When I got to the client’s office, I was surprised when she said, “I Googled you up and I liked what I saw. Now, tell me more about yourself.”

Before I had told her about myself, she already had an idea of who I am. And she got that idea from my online identity.

It’s been said that the first impression is a lasting impression. In today’s world, the first impression might not be the first time you physically meet someone. That first impression might be from your online identity.

I have always been careful about what I post on social media and what appears when someone Googles my name. I know that people judge me from what they read from me. I’m almost sure that if my online identity didn’t line up with my abilities as a writer and editor, I wouldn’t have walked away from that client meeting with a cheque.

These days, many employers do background checks online for prospective candidates. They want to see what kind of person they are going to hire, and they use what you post online as a measure of who you are.

So, how can you ensure that your online identity is helping you succeed?

First, ask yourself, what do you want to be known for? Personally, I want to be known as a great writer and editor. I have other skills and abilities, but when you Google my name, you will find the Paul that I want you to find. If you don’t want to be known as a drunkard, don’t post photos of you wasted with a bottle of booze at a house party.

Second, clean up your online image. Is your Facebook name Pauline Flirtatious, or something that sounds like a bad joke from a 15-year-old? Do you show too much skin in your profile picture? You never know who is watching. So make a few adjustments if you want to be taken seriously.

Third, mind what you post. If you want to be known as a serious law student, post about something you learnt in class today and how you can apply it in your daily life. I know life can sometimes get hard. But social media isn’t the best place to rant and rave about how unfair life is. You’ll be taken for a whiner. Be positive in what you post. Everyone is attracted to positivity and repelled by negativity. Which brings us to our last point.

Lastly, get some real-life friends. Get offline and go hand out with some friends. If you have to bitch about that guy who dumped you, do it with your girlfriends, not on Twitter. You never know who might read it.

Do you have any other ideas on how to position yourself online for success? Please share them in the comments section. We’d love to hear from you.