Set out with focus and passion, and achievement will follow

Monday October 29 2012


I was privileged recently to attend a farewell party of arguably one of the most accomplished corporate leaders in this country, a man with a number of unparalleled accomplishments.

Speaker after speaker shared their experience with the man whose tour of duty we were celebrating. It was praise upon praise, from junior to senior colleagues alike.

You got the impression that here was one person who had got it right, the first time, and all the time in his long and rich career. Nothing untoward, whatsoever, seemed to have ever happened throughout his many years of service.

The man of the day, however, put everything into perspective, waking us up to reality. Amid the great achievements in his career path, many fires had been lit and doused quite often. The fires had their owners, a lot that is typecast, everywhere.

The underlying factor is that such persons have no interest in the welfare of the organisation. All their focus is on self-interest, at whatever cost.

There will be people who are hell-bent on creating chaos because they thrive in such circumstances. Their activities are, however, more than made up for by a dedicated workforce composed of people with focus and a sense of purpose.

Like the makers of the fires, people in this bracket are also typecast. They plunge into the task at hand with everything at their disposal.

Ironically, they do not immediately think of receiving accolades and other rewards. For them, the best reward is achieving the set objective.

However, while they may not set out with accolades and financial rewards in mind, they always end up getting both. The ironies of achievement are such that those who set out with focus on the work objective and passion for the goal are the ones who eventually get rewarded.

Conversely, the person who is focused on the pay cheque and other perquisites ends up with little to show for this. Here we were, celebrating a man who had got to the apex and achieved so much, not because he always wanted to get there, but because he wanted to give the task at hand the best that he could.

Many a time we go into a job with the intention of holding on to it forever and getting out of it as much as we can for ourselves. Often, we end up being hounded out most unceremoniously because our focus is misplaced.

I have a friend who often talks about good starters who are poor finishers. They start off well. They make great achievements and enjoy accolades.

Unfortunately, they get intoxicated with their achievements, accolades, and power. They mistake themselves for the organisation. When they leave, nobody remembers the great things that they did. What is remembered, instead, is the manner in which they left.

It helps to know what you have come to do and to plan for it and do it with dedication. Know, also, when it is time to leave. When you do leave, do so with decorum and dignity. Strive to leave behind a great legacy of accomplishment. That way, you are bound to go away a happy and satisfied person.

Mr Muturi is the executive director, Kenya Institute of Management.