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Change Ahead ...

October 25, 2014

For the last one week I've been learning a major lesson in adapting to change. I have to admit that at no point in my life had I ever imagined that simple things such as which side of the road one should drive on would ever be a problem for me. Until I stepped out of my usual sphere of operation (read comfort zone) and travelled to the Horn of Africa. Well, let's just say everything about this place is a complete contrast to what I'm used to. For instance, I am used to working from morning to (late) evening with just an hour's break for lunch at some point. Well, I had to tune my mind to not work between 12 noon - 4pm (give or take 30 minutes) because even if I did, I'd probably be alone in the office anyway since everyone else would be at home sleeping after a sumptuous meal.

Then came the major shocker that the weekend starts on Thursday at 1pm and runs through till Friday. Then Saturday is a slow day and Sunday is technically Monday. That right there needed more than just some tweaking of my brain in order to adapt to the new "weekend". The thing is, even if you decided to go to the office you kinda get scared because all the roads are deserted, all shops are closed and it's like everyone was shipped off to some place and they forgot to take you with them. But then from 5pm onwards, they all come back and suddenly there's life again.

Have I mentioned the language issue yet? Oh my goodness! Now that has been a serious challenge. English is literally foreign in this land, and as for Kiswahili, that might as well have been my mother tongue. The one language I would have been able to speak fluently is French but I haven't spoken a word in French since I left college almost twenty years ago. In my mind, it never occurred to me that I'd ever need the language anyway since I was just learning it because it was part of my curriculum. How I wish I had taken that language more seriously!

So, how have I managed to survive this far? On the issue of traffic regulations, let's just say my right foot is almost getting a blister because every time I'm in a car I keep stepping on imaginary breaks because I think the driver is driving on the wrong side. As for the siesta, well, I'm still struggling with that because normally/naturally I don't sleep during the day unless I'm on some serious medication. But if I was to permanently live here I'm sure I'd find myself siesta-ing thanks to the incredible heat in this place. As for language, besides learning a new version of "sign-language", I'm walking around with an interpreter and when he is not there, I use google translator. I never thought I'd ever use that app but I'm telling you I've used it more in the last one week than I've used the dictionary since the year begun.

As I was thinking of what to write this week, I kept thinking of my situation wondering what lessons would benefit you my readers, then it hit me; Change or rather adapting to change would be ideal for this week. Not sure who but someone did say that the one thing that is constant in life is CHANGE. It can happen any time, anywhere and to anyone.

For instance, if you are 40plus years old, you will agree with me that you are not as physically apt as you were 20 years ago. There are things you could easily do then that are a struggle now, such as staying up all night whether it's clubbing or praying. Besides, if you are a man, that six-pack you used to show off whenever the opportunity arose has turned into a one-pack that you are even ashamed of looking at yourself. Ladies, back then you had this beautiful figure; nice waistline that enhanced your God-given behind, not forgetting a nicely placed dashboard that brought a lot of attention to you. Sadly though, 5 babies later even you have a problem telling where your waist ends and your abdomen and bust begin. This kinda reminds me of seeing the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean all in one place. You need to have someone who is well knowledgeable to show you where which water body starts and which direction it flows to. It's an amazing yet scary view to see but unless you are shown, you would think it's one water body.

Change always happens and unless we adapt and flow with it, we are likely to suffer major consequences. Unfortunately many of us view change as an obstacle instead of seeing it as an opportunity. If for instance your organization has decided to implement a computerized system, instead of fighting it, why not see that as an opportunity for you to learn the new system and become the best there is in the company and even probably the country? If you have been given a transfer from your department to another you've never even worked in, why not see that as an opportunity to learn something new and increase your experience? Just because you are being moved away from your comfort zone does not mean the world is coming to an end. If you have the right attitude, that could mean the beginning of the world to you!

Friends it is very easy to adapt to change but this can only happen if you have the right attitude. Don't be the kind of person who is so negative that before he or she says yes to something new they will have said no one hundred times. Learn to be adaptive, to be accommodating and flexible without necessarily compromising your values and principles. Sometimes change is what we need in order to realize our full potential. It is what we need in order to step up to another level of achievement. It is what we need in order to think out of the box, and better still, change is what we need in order to think like there is no box. If I had not come to this place, I'd never have had any reason to revive my French, and now, I realize I retained quite a huge chunk of it. I've purposed that even though I'm not going to be using it back home, I will work on polishing it because I don't know when I might be required to use it again.

That change you've been fighting for a while now might be the one breakthrough you've been waiting for. Embrace it and see the difference it will bring into your life. Change your attitude and acquire a more positive approach to life instead of grumbling and complaining all the time. Look at change as an agent of opportunity and not as an obstacle and you will enjoy greater and new things happening to your life.

In conclusion I'll leave you with the words of Harold Wilson who had this to say about change, "he who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is in the grave".

Be one to embrace (positive) change today and always.

PS: Article originally published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 19th October, 2014, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words"




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