The greatest artists, entrepreneurs, and scientists take the misfortune in stride, turning obstacles on their end and using them as an opportunity to improve their craft. They embrace mistakes and capitalize on them, ensuring they never happen again. And that’s the real difference in top performers — they stumble, but they rarely repeat mistakes.

They just have a remarkable ability to bounce back (Alex Hughes, 2019).

I am informed that informed that procrastination is that bad “habit of unnecessarily delaying an important task, usually by focusing on less urgent, more enjoyable, and easier activities instead. It is different from laziness, which is the unwillingness to act.”

My good friend and mentor, Professor Gilbert Kokwaro, the Director, Institute of Healthcare Management, Strathmore University often laments on the many missed opportunities that seem to plague most of us, but more so the youth he comes across. According to Kokwaro, “every day presents an opportunity. If it is not taken on that day, then it becomes a missed opportunity”.

The are many of us who are unable to recover or `bounce back’ once we are faced with a personal calamity that is emotionally draining. It may be death of partner, relative or close friend or loss of an investment. I recently stumbled on a first class thought paper titled “The Reality of Failing to Rise to the Occasion” by Alex J. Hughes. He argues that often our failure to recover from calamities is because we do not know how to reach for help. This is more so for men than women. Women have many more opportunities for seeking help. Hughes advices:

Take calculated risks.
There will be times that you surprise yourself. But there will also be times you fail to rise to the occasion. In those moments, what matters is your resilience and resourcefulness.”

Lack of motivation is only a symptom and not the cause, which is far deeper routed, sinister, and damaging to cause total seizure of the central processing zone, human mental faculty. Let me narrate a friend’s real-life experience.

My friend recently sunk into the miasma of mediocrity, characterized by the lack of rising to the occasion when potential opportunities arise. Not that he cannot see and understand the potential of that opportunity, but he became sluggish in responding. He was not always like this. This malaise seems to have struck him more recently, the day his work contract was abruptly terminated on the grounds that he was a `non-performer.’

This happens when his board membership tenure at leading healthcare giving facility had come to an end a month earlier, and role as a trustee in a fund agency had also expired,
My friend is the breadwinner for the family, paying school fees for a child in primary school, and has other pressing financial obligations. He had been servicing a development loan from a SACCO, has an ailing elderly father and mother-in-law. His world was slowly coming to a halt.

What to do?

He explored all available options. Should he relocate back to his rural home?
As an immediate remedial measure, he applied for a car logbook loan facility from one of the many shylock firms who, as you know, demand for their pounds of flesh. He sinks deeper into debt.

He rapidly descended into the valley of helplessness and despair. For the next two years he paints a miserable pitiful sight. He seems to atrophy or decay as he loses his positive traits. He stops going to church, abandons any form of socialization with family and friends, spending long hours watching various YouTube channels. The list of peculiar YouTube subjects he explores is endless.

What does he do with all this knowledge? Simply nothing.

Help comes calling when a few of his close friends, who are aware of his project management and research experience step in to ensure his mind is ring-fenced on positive activities.
Firstly, the Church reaches out tasking him to chair their strategic planning committee; secondly, he is placed at the oversight board of an active health research institution; thirdly, he is provided with select contracted research work; fourthly, he is competitively engaged as a manager for an Africa-wide a research project; fifthly, he actively takes up close hands on mentorship of his son who is sitting for the recently concluded Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examination; and sixthly and probably the most important, he gets constant loving and caring support from his wife.

These six inputs are just what the doctor ordered, for they successfully contribute to lifting him into a higher orbit-level of activity. He is back, regaining his vigor, humor, and social interaction. One significant outcome is developing appetite for matters spiritual, actively resumes attending church etc. He is a man with a mission and passion for life. He has successfully bounced back.
How long will this last. I don’t know. What I know he has been hit hard before, but has successfully rebounded, will remain active until he gets knocked by another shocker. That is life for the living.

And that is a very true story with a happy ending. There is a critical need to build in us resilience capacity and the power to bounce back.

First Published as an Opinion in the Daily Nation Wednesday, 30th January, 2024,

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