I had a powerful meeting last week with a group of friends that re-energised me. It was really interesting how we got to that point. It had only been a few months since Paul’s return to Kenya at the time we bumped in to each other in the Nairobi central business district. It was a pleasant surprise. Paul later told me that it had been a bad day; he was on his way to grab a drink when we met.
I don’t recall where I was from, but I recall that was a time I was trying to find myself. Life was beginning to make sense and I was easing out of depression and rebuilding my self confidence.
Last Wednesday morning we sat together with his lovely wife and my new fabulous friend Portia, and another phenomenal friend, Amunga, and talked about the possibility of working together on a project. That is great, but what I found more mind blowing was the thirst for personal growth that everyone exuded.
Portia is a published photographer; Amunga is a Commonwealth award winning photographer. They didn’t flaunt it; they didn’t even want to bring it up. Paul and I had to toot their horns of accomplishment for them. I found their humility beautiful. Amunga said something powerful. He said, “It does feel nice to be acknowledged after years of all the work, but I don’t want it to define me.”
Both photographers look at, what Paul and I see as, phenomenal photography – as work in progress. They see how much more work they need to put in to their craft. It reminds me of my best friend, Mwikali, a talented chocolate maker and chocolatier, who constantly pushes herself harder to produce better chocolate.
A day later, after that conversation, I began to audit my friendships; I started to ask myself what genuine value several friends added to my life. I understand that there are different types of friends some are great for a good laugh; others are great accountability partners and so on. But I felt the need to seek those who inspire me not only to be a better person; but to be a better writer. There were some ‘no’s – who needless to say – some emails, calls and messages may no longer be responded to.
Last year I started watching annual commencement speeches on YouTube. I finally watched the famous Steve Jobs commencement speech at Stanford. But it wasn’t until last Wednesday’s breakfast meeting that “stay hungry, stay foolish” really resonated with me. That was what my friends were doing; no number of accolades would hinder their personal pursuits of discovery and excellence.
I left that meeting driven to push myself harder in my pursuit as a writer. Even though I haven’t achieved much, I know as long as I pace myself and stay consistent as my friends have, and I keep surrounding myself with other “hungry” souls, there is nothing I won’t achieve.