What would you do if you were 100% sure you would succeed? What would you attempt if there was no chance of failure?
My leadership journey as come along way. I have so many memorable moments of my leadership journey. Some are very nasty and painful while others are the building blocks of who I am today.
Running Away From Failure
I had been a monitor (Assistant prefect) in class five. This was the biggest responsibility of the time. It was not too difficult for me because it was never about me being the final decision maker. That only lasted a year. A reshuffle necessitated by the increasing population put me at the helm of class Six South. Being a very small boy then, I tried my best to exercise authority, and an ‘everything-is-okay’ demeanor. I was one of the toughest moments of my teenage years. Leading people trying all their best to be truant was not a joke. While another lot tried to bully me based on my size.
I felt I was not achieving the best in the capacity of being a prefect. There was so much I was not doing just to keep the class in order. At the time I saw that as a hindrance to achieving my academic success. At the end of that year I handed a resignation letter to our class teacher. My main reason was that I needed to be more focused in my education. A decision that would haunt me for the next two years. My performance that year would become the best I ever did. Until KCPE came and turned things around. I would be castigated for failing to stand strong in the midst of the storm. My teachers would make me feel sorry for letting go. Today I look at the situation differently. They saw the potential in me and never wanted it to waste away.
I would later join high school, though I was from a bush school; a forest school to be precise, I had my head held high.
My naivety, size and the unbroken voice would make me a centre of attraction. I was always the small boy who talks like a girl. I was tasked to usher the dormitory into dreamland through prayers almost every evening. All this was so that they could hear my voice.
This gave me some level of confidence in dealing with other students. At the end of the year during the dormitory elections, the form fours pushed me to vie for the deputy dorm captain. Although this post was reserved for the form two students, one Mwangi Muriithi had defied the odds and won the seat the previous year. I boldly accepted to be in the ballot. I believed in challenging the norms. I tried my luck but failed in my first elective post attempt.
I would try out the following year and lose again. This time to a friend, one we shared a cubicle. Jephthah was his name. A name I had never encountered before high school. Only to realize it was Biblical. He lived to the expectation of his name. He lived sacrificially.
The following year, the quest to lead the dormitory had not dwindled yet. This time it was the Dorm Captain’s position. Jephthah had agreed to seek a higher position to allow me to take up the dormitory leadership. All was well until a visitor came and camped in our dormitory for a campaign. You know those lawyer who play around with interpretation of law for their advantage. Nate was one. While I was comfortable, he played his cards very well especially with the form ones. I lost. I was sincerely devastated.
The following year during the elections, Mr. Njoroge the dorm master, cracked a joke that sunk me too deep.
“If there was a position in this dorm for those who are leaving, Wahome would still vie. I am not sure he would win, but his name would not miss.”
For a long time I considered these words as the definition of my leadership journey. Always trying but nothing fruitful would ever come out of it.
I would later shy away from putting myself up for leadership.
In my last year of campus, in the heat of the campaign period I watched the boldness exuded by contestants and I was really amazed. One day to the close of the nomination papers submission something changed. It was around 10AM in the morning. We had just come from our first lecture and were basking in the sun waiting for the next lecture. I reflected back on Mr. Njoroge’s word. I realized he was speaking on my ability to face the ballot even when history and odds are against me.
In that moment I declared my intentions to vie to my friends we were with. One of the best things about these gentlemen is that they promised and gave me their support there and then. They never doubted.
These men; Annaclete Kimtai, Amb Jack Abisae, Ian Odhiambo and George Kinyanjui Smallz walked through with foolscap to get me 500 signatures as per the nomination requirements
The journey was not easy. Unlike any other candidate, I had to walk into the vice-chancellor’s office to get an approval to vie. I intuitively intruded him as he was on lunch break. In less than 5 minutes my letter was being drafted by his personal assistant. The confidence to approach him eased my application process.
The next one and a half weeks would be tough tight and hostile. By putting yourself out there, you must develop a thick skin to shield your heart and mind from blowing up. Having not done any groundwork before unlike my competitors, the task ahead was huge. My campaign team made the load lighter.
Learning From Failure
On a Thursday evening at around 7:10 PM, I was declared the winner. I barely slept that night, like all the nights before. This time because of the joy of overcoming my failures.
I would become an Academic Secretary School of Business for a year. A position that exposed me to the world of leadership.
I am who I am today because of those failures, and choosing to stand again. Today, through failure I have learnt to try out the opportunities that come my way. Even without the assurance of success, the lessons are all worth the try.