Being an avid user and contributor on the social media streets or space, I have seen a gazillion other people like me. Each one of us has their stories to tell in their own special way. And ultimately, that’s what makes these platforms all the more interesting. It’s what makes you go back every so often, scroll up and down your timeline, to see what other people are up to, or what they are saying about the things going on in their lives and the lives of those around them. We are all on the same planet, living one and the same life, but experiencing it in different ways. We’re living in different places, doing different things, at different times and in different stages of our lives. And that’s exactly what makes each one of us unique, being you and having your own personal experience.
I came to realize that how you live your life boils down to perspective – how do you choose to see life at this moment in time? Because at times that’s what determines the direction you take, your perspective on life’s happenings and your attitude towards what’s going on with you and around you. It’s not so much about your family, your money, your job, your car, your house, your property – all that could be gone in a huff. And then what? I mean look at Job in the bible, I think I need to re-read his story, because that’s exactly what happened to him. He was stripped down to absolutely nothing but his faith and belief that despite what was happening, God still had his back. He held onto that knowledge, and it’s what kept him going.
How do you build yourself from the ground up? How do you see yourself when you have none of those material things that have defined who you are to-date? When you just have nothing else to rely on but yourself? Would you despise yourself and see that your world has come to an end? Or would you think of the ways that you can put your thoughts, your abilities and any other available resources together and rebuild yourself – which is pretty much what you will always have at your disposal? I think it’s through these kinds of situations that God shows himself in us, and ascertains that he has still has our back – that you just need to believe in him and more so, yourself.
You see, when we talk about culture, I beg to differ that a culture is the organization or institution. A culture is its people. It’s a culmination of people’s attitudes and people’s perspectives on life. A place has a great culture because it has people who share the same perspective on life and they aim to display it in how they live it, through their attitude and actions. There could be governing values posted on your walls in the office or on your website that are supposed to guide how you conduct the business, but I can guarantee you that barely has an impact. All these institutions that we see running so well, and doing extraordinary things, have people in them. It’s these people that make these institutions what they are. These people choose to look at life from a perspective in which their input in the organization, regardless of how small it is, is a major contributing factor to the value the product or service brings to the lives of others, and they do it wholeheartedly.
The other day, I took an Uber with this driver, a young fresh guy, eloquent too. Depending on the reading of my social meter, at times I try to create a rapport with my allocated drivers. If they are social like I am, we kick stories about life in general. If not, I grab a book, catch up with social media or just stare in nothingness and let my mind wander.
So, let’s call him David. When I got into the cab, I settled down, and we had our introductions and pleasantries. And as we move along, he quips, “If Uber stopped working today, I don’t know how we would operate, because this app has changed the lives of so many people, me included.” And I’m like why? And he says how he had just dropped a client next to my house, and as he was just passing by, I popped up and now he has another client, just like that. He doesn’t have to go to park at a ‘Shimo’, which is how the traditional taxi drivers refer to their designated parking stations. And I ask him whether he was a taxi driver before Uber. He says, “No, I was a matatu driver. I used to drive those fancy Matatu’s that ply the Westlands and Githurai route.” Whoa! He even asked if I knew him. Unfortunately I get into matatu’s with one objective, to get to my destination safely and with my belongings intact. He’s a lanky guy, cleaned up and well clad. He looks quite respectable I must say.
Then as we talk, he tells me his story as a matatu driver. And how for a long time he wanted to get out of it, but didn’t know what to get into up until Uber came into the picture. He says, “You know as a matatu driver, you’re not respected. It’s not a profession that you can proudly stand out there and say people respect. People look down on us.” The he says, “But I also had many clients who liked me because of how I drove them during the hectic rush hours. The way I was able to use shortcuts to help them get to their destination faster, and escape traffic. Even when there are 10 matatu’s lined up and some people see me, they’d board my matatu. That felt nice, and I felt that they understood my work, they respected me.” And I empathized with him, because we have created a persona for the matatu drivers as these rogue, uneducated persons who just want to make our life on the road as miserable as possible. Not remembering that they’re just a simple people like you and me.
He continues to tell me that since he had realized that respect thing was generally lacking, and also the non-progressive nature of his colleagues in the business with the ‘make money today – squander it today – because it well make some more tomorrow’ attitude, he looked for ways he would get out of it. So when Uber came, it was great opportunity and he said why not? So he researched about it, and followed the due process to get on board. And here he is today. He says he feels his work is now more respectable, that he can identify with his profession as a driver without feeling looked down upon. His car is a normal car, and he carries clients who give him the same respect he does them. That now he’s able to plan himself because the set up offers him better security and stability. And he’s also able to build a loyal clientele for the Uber brand by offering great service.
At this point we were reaching my destination, and I felt like I’d had one of the most purpose driven conversations with someone who needed it – and also just when I needed to hear something inspiring too. I even forgot to rate him, and now I feel bad about it, because he deserved 5 stars and a compliment comment. So is that the organization or is it the person?
I think it’s the person, and the organization knew how to pluck the best driver from a garden filled with many drivers – drivers with different perspectives on life, but they found one whose perspective resonated with that of the brand. And I know there are many more people like that out there and in different organization, Uber is just one of them and they’re doing a fantastic job – and I know for a fact, they will be here for a long time.
His journey is a true testament to me that it’s really about perspective. Don’t look down on someone because of the direction that life leads them. I know we’re always tempted to, I sometimes am, but the person who has a job that may seem most meaningless to you in terms of social ranking, could technically be the person making your institution to be the place another person want to be there working with you. You might not see it, but it’s the little things that add up to make the bigger picture. It’s as simple as the driver who tries to maneuver his way around so that he can beat the traffic and get you to your destination safely and on time; or the receptionist who smiles at the entrance as the customer walks in and is their first point of contact; or the representative behind the screen engaging with clients by responding to their chats, emails and receiving calls; or the cleaner who keeps your office spic and span; or the lively professionals attending client meetings, cutting deals and showing enthusiasm about what they do.
Everyone is trying to do life the best way they can. For some, it’s a smoother ride, for others, they have to fight their way to get to that point where they feel like they’re valued in society. But what matters is that someone took that initiative to build themselves from the ground up, rather than despise themselves and do nothing. That alone is commendable – and it all boils down to your perspective.
As we begin this new week, may this be a kick start to a fantastic week for you. And may your plans come together, so that at the end of the week, we celebrate some achievements. Be blessed!
Singing off ~~~ *Kawi*