Lessons from prison

Last week I was in prison! No I wasn’t sentenced and I am not writing from prison. I was there for work. To talk with them about sobriety and how they can use peer education effectively to reduce the use of alcohol and drugs in the prison setting. The information I’d got was that we’d be talking to prison officers. Turned out it was a mix of inmates and officers and the sessions were to be held inside the prison walls.

My heart started to pound as we walked into the prison, accompanied by two unarmed officers. This was my first time to visit a prison let alone a maximum facility – where inmates serve a minimum of about 6 years to life sentences. Continue reading

Do you say it enough?

What’s the magic word? What do you say? These are common questions we ask kids as we teach them the two important words. Technically one of them is actually a two-word phrase: thank you and please. I’d say many of us adults often need the reminder to use the magic words.

Pass the salt, give me that book, put that away…we’re too frequently giving orders. I remember a former boss once said words that stuck with me “Don’t expect a pat on the back for doing your job. 100% is what is expected from you. When you underachieve be sure you’ll get the punishment due. If you get 130% or more is when you are deserving of reward.” Not the best way to inspire your employees. We may not say the same thing in words but we demonstrate it almost daily. How, you ask? Read on.  Continue reading

Did I just say that?

Me and my big mouth! Ever found yourself wanting to take words back that you said in haste or anger? Or saying to someone “I didn’t mean to say that.” If you’re like me then you probably wish this at least once every two days (or more frequently).

A few years ago after church service I ran into a guy I used to interact with while he was in high school. I was a peer educator with a youth organization and every week we went to high school clubs and interacted with the students, teaching them various life skills. So anyway, this guy walks up to me and after saying hi and the usual niceties he tells me about a day (easily 8years earlier) when I visited their school. I was trying to get the students to be quiet and harshly made some remarks aimed at him. He told me that he found them really hurtful. I mean eight years later! Continue reading

Tomorrow never comes

I’ll call her tomorrow, I’ll study tomorrow, I’ll finish the proposal tomorrow, not snooze tomorrow, set up the meeting next week, start working out next month. And then tomorrow becomes …. You guessed it, tomorrow. Which never really comes. I loved reading sayings and proverbs in school – usually in preparation for creative writing. If you were in the 8-4-4 system you must remember how it was important to write compositions and we got more points for using similes, analogies and weaving in some sayings (in Kiswahili we’d write “Wahenga walinena”). I digress. One proverb that still rings in my head is that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Intentions even when they’re grand are just that: intentions. Intentions don’t get things done, actions do. Continue reading

Surely not me, I am not good enough

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All of us struggle with feelings of self-doubt, especially when we are about to launch into new territory like start a business, get a new job that’s “bigger” than any we’ve had before, pursue a new opportunity. That’s pretty normal because breaking out of the norm is scary. In a good way usually. But when doubt keeps us from embracing these new opportunities then that’s dangerous. Continue reading