What drives you? (Part 1)

Caltex once had a worldwide advertising campaign with the tag line “What drives you”. It really resonated with me at the time as I was beginning to identify my main motivation for the things that I love doing. I believe there are a lot of people who feel stuck in jobs they hate simply because of the money. It is all too common to hear people talk about how they hate their job or their boss but they have to hang around since “it pays the rent”. Someone once said that the ultimate in poverty is spending the most productive years of your life doing what you hate so that you can then retire and finally do what you like. By that time, you are too old, too exhausted to do it well or to even enjoy it. Seems to be such an obvious thing but so easy to miss. I am convinced that unless what you do for a living is something you would do without any salary then you are yet to find what drives you. Take a moment now and ask yourself, do you enjoy what you do for a living enough to want to do it with no pay at all? Many employed people I know seem to have what is known as a side-hustle. A job or business that they do in addition to their “job, job”. Sometimes what you do on the side can be an indication of what drives you. All of us have something we can engage in and later say “wow, is that the time? I had no idea so much time had passed”. That something, could be a hint about what drives you.

A word I have avoided so far is passion. Passion is what drives any venture. A driving, compelling emotion, enthusiasm, abundant desire, strong motivation. I think you get the point. I don’t want to define it too passionately (!). Passion can be positive or negative, good or evil, constructive or destructive, but it will always be strong and unrelenting. I think just judging from the sheer energy that passion requires, one cannot be passionate about too many things. You may end up doing so many things and appear to have many passions but I think for most people, all the things they do can be grouped together into at most three. As you look into all those activities you will be able to identify similarities in the goals aimed at.

You know the Greeks didn’t write obituaries. They only asked one question after a man died: “Did he have passion?”
-quoted from the movie “Serendipity”

“You never achieve success unless you like what you are doing.”
— Dale Carnegie

“Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.”
– Christian Friedrich Hebbel

“Tell me what your passion is, and I’ll tell you who you are.”
-John Little Prince

So what am I passionate about? What drives me? There are three things I know beyond a doubt that I am extremely passionate (can there be passion that is not extreme?) about.

My first computer was the Sinclair ZX Spectrum around 1983.

Image: www.geek.com (click to see full size)

It was about the size of an iPad. But that is where the similarities end. You had to hook it up to a TV using a co-axial cable, then to a tape recorder. The TV would then become the monitor and you would save stuff (programs) onto a cassette tape. I cannot tell you how many nights I stayed up playing around with this gadget. My greatest achievement was to do a program that would play the full Kenya National Anthem using the BEEP command. Heaven I tell you!

I started spending a lot of my time at a shop on Moi Avenue called SJ Moore. They are the shop that later became Micro City and moved to Westlands. I would stay there sometimes the whole day just ogling the gadgets that they had in stock ranging from a printer, so that you could print your program in case the cassette tape got chewed while you were saving your word, to the unbelievably more powerful (64KB RAM!) Commodore 64. I would assist customers as to what is the best accessory to buy. I remember once being thrown out of the shop by the owner as it looked like I had employed myself there as a customer service rep! I will never forget the words the Asian owner asked me one day “Young man, you think this is home?” Now as I think about it, I was a bit obsessed as I used to stand outside the shop sometimes through lunch time waiting for them to re-open after lunch. Up till today, about 30 years later, my fascination with computers, programming, gadgets like phones, has not reduced at all. In fact I think it has worsened. A lot of the fights I have with my wife even today come when this obsession sometimes get out of hand. For example, she says I spend too much time on my iPhone or Blackberry and gets upset when I refer to my laptop sometimes as my first wife! (surely, who would have a problem with that?)

Cars and Motorcycles

I was a non-resident for the majority of my studies at the University of Nairobi. I used to operate by bicycle to and from class. We used to live at Kariokor Flats. I have always had a healthy disrespect and fear for public transport. My life as a student cyclist was not without its many mishaps. But the near misses were far worse! I remember once cycling near City Hall behind a small pickup truck that suddenly braked and I couldn’t stop quickly enough. I hit it and was catapulted to the back of the pickup and had to quickly bang the sides so that the driver could stop! I got off, picked up my bike and what was left of my pride and continued my journey.

My first job was with the American Embassy and that is when I bought my first motorcycle. It was a blue Honda 185XL. The six minute (sometimes as long as nine minutes!) ride from my house in Ngummo, to my office at Bruce House and back was easily the highlight of my day. Sometimes when I was feeling low, all it took was a fast ride up Valley Rd and by the time I reached the roundabout at the top of the hill, I was, well, quite uplifted!

Image: www.bikez.com

I also love cars. In fact my two dream jobs are 1) Testing computer games for thrill and addiction, and 2) Test-driving new cars and bikes on long distance trips.

I am beginning to see this passion for cars in my two sons James and Victor. Whenever I am on the road with them they are always on the lookout for what they call “noma” cars. Victor can identify a BMW from so far you will not believe it. They even have names for models of cars. So when you drive with them and you hear them say “Shrek, Ben, Bill, Donkey” don’t look out for movie characters. They mean Toyota Premio (new shape), Toyota IST, Toyota Vitz and Toyota Probox! James who is becoming a very gifted artist has drawn more cars in his 10 years of life than many of us ever will.

So those are two things that I am passionate about. I would spend, and indeed I have, many many hours playing around with computers, bikes and cars over and over. Fixing them, programming them, testing them just staring at them. If you had an Audi Q7 you wanted driven from Mombasa I would do it for you at no cost. You wouldn’t have to pay me a single cent. Of course you may have to call the cops to get it back from me!

What is your passion? What is the one thing (or two or three) that you cannot stop thinking about. What would you do for no pay at all? Just before doing this last bit of this post, I took a break and watched Capital Talk on K24. Jeff was interviewing Benard Otieno, the career sports newscaster. It was fascinating to see Benard’s passion for what he does. He really does eat, sleep, drink sports. I could also see so much about Jeff’s passion for pulling out good stuff by asking good questions. One was talking about his passion, the other’s passion was getting this stuff out. When you are living out your passion, it seems so effortless. Amazing!

Next week, I will reveal to you my third passion, that is if you haven’t figured it out by now. I believe this is the biggest of them all. In fact I believe that these first two passions serve this third one. It is so big that it deserves a post on its own. It is even the main reason for this blog. Until then, stay tuned.

PS: I have noticed that some of you have subscribed by pressing the orange button at the top of this page. This is a good idea as it ensures that you do not miss a single post since you will receive it by email hot off the press. I encourage as many of you as read this to do so.

PS2(!). You may have seen the post on Friday with the link to the funny speech. I am thinking of having a Friday multimedia post in addition to the Monday post. Here I will leave a link to music, movies and other things that are not my original work but has nonetheless brought a smile to my face in a thought provoking manner.

Till next week

Tuendelee kuongea


37 responses to “What drives you? (Part 1)

  1. The first time I heard the term ‘noma car’ was from my 6 year old daughter, she wanted to know when Daddy will also buy a noma car…I guess I have to see if I can make enough money from my passion and get that noma car as the car I drive now is not good enough for her!

  2. Wow! This is a really funny article. I giggled like a retard through out…plus I now know so much about you, although am yet to learn how to be passionately bored.

  3. My passion is on development in technology and i thank God for you. Atleast you are there to bring more and more ideas on technology and also unleashing more stuff on the latter. About the Audi Q7, you’ve really tickled me, i promise to be the first chic to unleash it and send you to pick it from the port. Hope thats sawaz……. CONGRATS!!
    Tuendelee kuongea!

  4. Quite frankly I am also a sucker for technology too. I love gadgets, even though I can’t afford most of them (iPad, iPhone, etc) YET (!). Phones, comps, pretty much anything with a button fascinate me. I wanted to be “scientist” when I grew up but this passion was quickly replaced by a passion for Money as soon as I watched season one of the apprentice (Donald Trump’s). Now I know you’re probably like “please! A passion for money?” But trust me when I say it is there and it is real. If I could do something for free it would be allocating capital.

    I played Mafia Wars on facebook for a while because of the part where you put your (virtual) money in various ventures and watch it grow. I participated in the NSE investment challenge in campo where you’re given a virtual account with Kshs 500,000 to invest in the Bourse and I have already registered for this year’s game even though I know I’m not eligible to get the prize (Kshs 50,000 worth of shares in any company you want) if, no, when I win. Reason being I’ve already graduated.

    It’s so real I built my personal mission statement toward it. The statement goes like “to uplift peoples’ lives by searching for (researching) and sharing with them the knowledge and wisdom of creating and maintaining their wealth, for God’s glory”. Long? Yes. But it encompasses the reason God put me here. Speaking of Whom, I bet that your third passion, your BIGGEST passion, is serving God. I’m I right?

    – Edwin

    • Wow, a personal mission statement? That’s deep. Is my passion serving God? Shouldn’t we all have that passion? Be patient Edwin, it is coming. Monday si mbali!

  5. …now if only i can get my wife to read this….at least i have not called my BB my wife….may have implied it but never did voice it!!!

  6. great blog.I hate people who keep saying they are tired of what they are doing yet they keep doing it and when you ask what drives you?They say salary at the end of the month or they dont have a choice but to keep doing what they do.It is the high time we stay at the steering wheel and take control of our destiny.Drive towards our purpose and passion.Find what we love doing and take control.Thanks winnie for the link to this blog.

  7. You’re a gadget man:-) I’m passionate about lots of things. Top 2? I’m nuts about books. I own more books than I own clothes & shoes combined. And i love writing, even when it’s hard…

  8. i like this article, got me thinking about what am passionate about. and just in time. i wonder though whether passion for things can become excess and where does one draw the line between passion and greed.

  9. Danzo, I have a friend who has a yellow Nissan March he needs driven up from Mombasa, shall I give him your number or ask him to drop it in a G4S box and send with the overnight truck? 🙂

    Good piece! Keep at it.

  10. totally feel you guys passion is key.

    its what will be written on your epitaph- its what you will be remembered for once you are gone!!!!!!

  11. My passion lies in forms of expression…writing, music, art…can never seem to settle for one…why should I when I can have them all?

    *tuendelee kuongea* (you should totally trademark this)


  12. Pingback: What drives you? (Part 2)

  13. Good article boss & clearly we share a passion in cars. Can one have a primary passion & secondary passion? If so, my primary passion is social justice while the secondary is cars. I have been trying to stop changing cars but it hasnt happened.

  14. It’s a great blog! This world would be a better place if people would JUST have the courage to pursue their passion than go to work, simply because “wira nii wira” (a job is a job)! Keep up the good work you are doing…..it may just give you the motivation to write the book – one day!!! MJ

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