Monday, June 25, 2007

Are you a critical thinker?

Critical Thinking can be summarized in 3 steps. The first is thinking logically and devoid of emotion (for fairness). The second is horizontal thinking, or so to speak, thinking across all related genres of the issue one is dealing with (bigger picture) and the third is using common sense. The 3rd one is the easiest yet the hardest but to be fair, if you get the first two parts right, the 3rd one usually falls into place.

In everyday life, your experiences will always be better in the hands of a critical thinker. Many have fallen for bogus carrot dangled with no real value added as a reason to follow a perceived leader. Often when it’s too late they will learn they have failed themselves. To get here, they must first learn critical thinking. Strangely and sadly, some people go through life without ever achieving this. Critical thinking is not for the lazy. It means you analyze everything you see and hear, understand it fully, research it when necessary and seek to see what else it affects or what else affected it and then come to a conclusion that fits all truths you have uncovered; with the knowledge that caveats exist within the items you have identified as unclear or unresolved. It means you must be engaged mentally at all times. As such, lazy people don’t like to practice it.

There is a simple litmus test for whether you are giving opinions based on critical thinking or not. The process is to imagine yourself as a member of the opposing team, and with all the knowledge you have about the situation, determine if you would then have arrived at a different conclusion as that person. The best way to analyze this is quietly and alone. People in crowds tend to stick to the utter rubbish they uttered to begin with because they are too proud to concede they were wrong. It’s a human instinct, but one that greatly hinders progress. It holds us back from accepting we have learnt something new and are now making a better informed decision. Resist it whenever you can. The litmus test results are as follows. If you find that you would have changed your stand and proposed actions were you on the other side, you have failed as a critical thinker. Your emotions rule your thinking and that’s always a one sided view, disastrous for development and quite frankly is a weakness. The good news is now you know, and once you’re aware of this, you can always take an extra second to analyze your position and re-evaluate before you speak out loud.

Critical thinking is necessary for all leaders. The problems encountered by workers in the African workforce are as a result of lack of critical thinking. To be fair, they are a result of a general lack of management techniques awareness, but anyone with critical thinking could rise above that at any moment because sound judgment would rule the day. How many of you have been fired or yelled at because your boss was wrong and you tried to correct them calmly? Or perhaps because you expressed that you weren’t being treated fairly? That’s what I’m talking about. Your boss makes an incorrect decision based on their emotions (usually inflated ego) and dismisses perhaps one of their best talents. If your boss’s boss was any smarter, your boss ought to be fired and you rehired!

That lack of leadership prowess extends to the House members, cabinet and the office of the president personnel as well. And this is well known and accepted. What everyone misses is how terribly it lacks within the press and worse the general population. The masses are suffering the worst from a lack of knowledge or a lack of will in exercising critical thinking. The latter perhaps in most of Africa, because I’m aware the curriculum insists on years of literature which promote this type of thinking. Summarized and missing key points, critical thinking is cause and effect. Extended with “and keep your unproven sentiments out of this”, it almost gets it all. There is a huge gap in all of Africa and development. That gap is management and leadership training. At the very least, the basics must be taught. Strategic thinking would be a good start.

Don’t despair. This problem is global. You ought to listen to some arguments you get justifying certain things including invading other countries. Fortunately, your world is a better place when you can think critically for yourself at all times. You know what is true and can identify the errors of the bickerers. Whether you say anything out loud or not, you are above the influence. And that’s all that matters!

Now think about your choices, as a manager at work and/or within the political leaders/views you support. With critical thinking induced, what would you do differently?

Monday, June 18, 2007

You Kenyans have it good

I was browsing for news as always and caught the interesting note about migration to Europe. Nothing could have prepared me for what I watched via the www. It's a short production, a photojournalist recording some still moments as some young man leaves home to attempt to cross to Europe. The link to watch this is here. Watch the entire journey.

Which made me realize Kenyans just have it easy. People fret about going to the embassy to get visas but that's about it. I'm sure the demographics of this country have played a role in how they attempt to get to Europe but hey, life is tough. Sometimes you just need to see something like this to get you all back to grateful.

And if any politician wanted motivation to work at improving their country, (KP directed me to a post about the Zambian copper export tax here); they need to watch this so that they can see why they need to improve situations so that people never have to go through this in search of a better life!

And bankelele mentioned some $500,000 dollar properties. OK, seriosuly, even if its showing off, let's get smart about it. Is there any land in Kenya worth that much yet? Because the properties that cost that amount of money here are justified by the land they're on. They haven't yet designed a house worth that much. But watch the fickle Kenyans, who need to be noticed, buy these properties, no other thought needed. "It implies status I gotta be part of that" (isn't that the Kenyan mantra?) But as the economy improves (assuming after elections this trend continues), people get smarter about money and spending it and the masses get less fickleminded; how do you not lose after having invested in property whose only base was status; actually supposed status? Smart people wouldn't invest in those amounts of anything in Kenya unless it was a business with 99% chances of making very good returns!

Have a smart, grateful day, won't you :)

Friday, June 15, 2007


First the budget. Might I say I was impressed. As I mention whenever I mention economics, I'm a firm believer in Keynesian economics. So a huge deficit means growth will be stirred. And I know it will. I love when the government spends. Rise Kenya, rise!

Of course there are those who think that the budget was politicized. What? more cops? Loans for women? and the youth as well? And what was that? More teachers? at a higher rate? tsk, tsk, could we be more political? Are you kidding me? What exactly should have been the government's points of concentration given that CDFs are creating new schools, free primary school education has meant more pupils in classes, an obvious gender deficit exists in terms of women owning businesses and crime has become a definite issue? Where should the government have injected cash flow into so as not to be political? Is it rocket science? Ala!

And Kalonzo Musyoka knows the government wants to assassinate he and/or his colleague Odinga. He says all this in a public rally, open chest, no bullet proof vest, anyone allowed into this crowd of people, no security checks, no cover nothing. Spoken like a true idiot. If you're that sure someone is after you, shouldn't you kinda protect your coveted behind? Overrating your importance perhaps?

Anyway, I was at a Dillards store and I met a lady who hails from South Africa. Out of nowhere she told me she doesn't drive. I inquired why. She then proceeded to tell me of how she had a traumatic experience once. A friend of hers had an accident while she was in the car. She was 5 months into America and her friend just about a year old. English isn't their first language and they weren't fluent in it then. Anyway, they encountered a racist mf who told them they were terrorists who wanted to kill Americans etc etc. He was demanding that they be deported, forget the fact that they are residents. Anyway, that has stayed with her for 9 years. It's not hard to understand when I recall how strange and unfriendly some people could be here when I was 5 months old. Anyway, I told her to get over it because what she was in was a situation where she had let a white stupid fool hold her back for 9 years. Told her to go to the dmv, pick a driving book and start her studying today. She smiled and said she would. I hope she does. Talk about a harrowing experience! You just never know what you're going to hear.

The other day when I had gone to visit my good friend S in Columbus, I had to sit at a bench while waiting for her to come pick me up. There was an old lady sitting next to me. She said hi. I said hi back. Then she said she'd been waiting for her husband for an hour. By then I depicted she was worried. I asked if she had called. She said no. She didn't have a phone. Then she added that he was never late. I offered her my phone and I asked what number she needed to call. Then I punched the numbers in and passed the phone to her. I waited for her conversation to begin with baited breath. See at her very advanced age, a husband who has never been late, is over an hour late... the outcome of this call might not be so cool. I'm praying silently because I seriously don't want to have to comfort her. Hello, she says. You were supposed to be here an hour ago... Phew!!! Thanks goodness. Yes. Old age has hit home. The dude thought she was coming back Sunday. It was Friday. But he was alive and well. OK. Now I can exhale.

Paris Hilton, in jail, out of jail, in medical ward... One question. What the heck is a Paris Hilton and how does it affect daily life?

The Sopranos? What a cool ending. Intelligent, annoying, dissatisfying... job well done. Bada bing, bada bang! Out with a bang!

In other news, summer school sucks!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Decamping to Obama

I've been chit chattering about how Obama isn't ready and how I think he should be a running mate for Mrs. Clinton until he has had more experience and then he will be ready. I have always stated I think he'd make a good president. I just haven't been sure that he is ready. And very importantly, I have thought that the mess that is Iraq and America in Iraq right now would do nothing to credit him, a black man, whom I believe as a president would have everyone watching for the mistakes he will make, forget all the good he would do.

I registered as a receiver of Barack's campaign info a while back. They've been sending this information to me about a dinner for 5. Donate and get dinner for 5. Today, the e-mail had a link. An invite to the dinner from Barrack himself. Well! Mr. Obama tells us how he will meet with four people plus himself, will fly you at no cost to you and pay for the dinner. Theirs is a grass root kind of campaign and this way, he gets to hear every one's opinion. Donate any amount. Link is here.

After watching this video, I would like to reconsider my position. Granted, my position has been influenced very significantly by this documentary It's not that it's new information but it's very detailed. The whole other side. Where even I am not interested in any democrat, forget my aversion to republicans (shaming God always). I am interested in what Barack is doing. Eliminating the Washington lobbyist. All of them. They do nothing but promote the damn pharmaceutical companies, Oil companies and any other influential organization with no regard to human life. You ought to know how mad I am about GE making its way to Kenya. It's one of the 5 evil companies, in there with Halliburton and others. They never do anyone any good. They just act like they are. Those damn GE people better not mess with Kenya! Which they will I'm sure. Let's watch for the rot they're about to start.

Back from wandering and digressing, I'm now convinced that the only thing that is an obstacle to Barrack is people like me. Those who want to shelter him from America. Obviously, the man knows how to use the Internet to market himself and knows how to get to people through this medium. Who am I to assume he doesn't know other things? That he can't handle the heat that is Iraq and shine through it. Obama has proven time and time again that he votes with his head not his alliance when it comes to the war. He gives the reasons why, almost always very well thought out and why then am I claiming he isn't ready? I think with that short video, Barrack just totally made the campaign of his life to me and many others. It was all I needed. Back off Mrs. Clinton. Running mate for Barrack Obama instead! I've decamped. Obama for President 2008!


I'm still with Kibaki in Kenya. No one has given me any reason to oust a man who obviously can influence prosperity back into Kenya. Go Baks! Kibaki tosha, 2007!

Officially as well.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Happy Madaraka Day

Dear Kenyans,

It is with mixed emotions that I, through this blog, address you all on this very Madaraka day, 2007. Madaraka means freedom and freedom spells joy, possibilities and planning. But freedom comes with that other thing called responsibility. Madaraka is all these things and more, wrapped together with the aim to keep ALL Kenyans happy.

Today we remember Dedan Kimathi and crew, Kenyatta, Waruingi, endless list of knowns and unknowns whose blood we thrive on in Kenya. As the economy boosts to 6.1% growth, we must remember that we owe that possibility to these people. They lived, were tortured and some died so that we had the possibility that is the vision 2030 and more.

So I write with the awareness that the headlines are about Mungiki and a country that cannot agree on how to handle this menace. Let's all get to the responsible part. Where every Kenyan has the right to freedom of movement and business opportunities free from harassment from any and all. And that the court systems and the police crackdowns are butting heads over this issue. This is not amazing nor surprising. The menace that is Mungiki in its fervor right now is a new concept. Gang violence aided by weaponry such as guns is a new concept to Kenya. And as much as Kenyans sing about how Ali should do what, and Michuki shouldn't do what or whatever it is they say, truth be told, no one quite knows what to do. The obvious truth is that something must be done. And whatever must be done is going to require changes to old laws, new gun laws created, new gang laws and new right of questioning and hold times accorded to police for suspected gangs and terror groups. Instead of pointing fingers and issuing blame, let's collectively meet at a conference table, admit to new, ugly beginnings and seek a solution so that all deserving citizens may live and continue to prosper in peace. To be fair to Ali's team, his people, his employees are dying in this effort to end this menace. Imagine them watching these charges, on the implied purporters of this madness, be dropped. They need a lifeline. Something to believe in. New crime, new casualties, new end results all call for new laws.

It is unfortunate that like every garden, every batch of planted seeds has to deal with the menace that are weeds. Kenya as a growing or freshly planted nation is no different. But every weed, has its weed killer. All we need is to sit back, analyze what weeds we really have and then find solutions. The Mungiki, Mt. Elgon clashes and incessant tribalistic bashing by our very own elected officials are just some of the weeds to which we need solutions.

All is not lost. The economy is doing better. People are much more hopeful now than they used to be and I believe that many do see a light at the end of the tunnel now. Education is more affordable than it ever was and investment possibilities have been made a reality to majority of Kenyans via loans and stock markets. While Kenyans struggle with the difficult issues, they must not forget to look and see the things that are going well. Keep a balanced perspective. It's my opinion that less speculation and more interest in facts rather than emotional biases will lead Kenya to find solutions to its issues faster and more effectively.

So as Madaraka day comes and as it goes, let's dwell on hope. And earmark ourselves as individuals to be conduits for the real Madaraka to be passed on to every individual. By being better citizens in productive ways, actions, speech and intentions.

Happy Madaraka day na Mungu aibariki Kenya!