If I could go back in time…

Lake Pokegama Sunset
Photo Credit: Malvern Madondo

P.S. “If I could go back in time…” is an article I initially wrote on LinkedIn and if you want to read the original post, click here.

Recently, I was part of a group of 50 students selected nationwide to participate in a weeklong program geared towards helping Black and Latinx Computer Science and Engineering students navigate their way and thrive in the technoverse (yeah I made that up – think technology and universe combined). Throughout the entire week, I had the opportunity to meet with various leaders in the tech industry, from recruiters to developers, engineers, managers, photographers, and insert-illustrious-profession-here…

Most of the people I interacted with seemed well-established in their careers and quite frankly, I got the impression that they had everything figured out, maybe almost everything. Being one currently on the college rollercoaster where grades fluctuate like stock exchange rates and where success is anything but permanent, I was curious to find out what these folks wish they had done earlier in their lives, years back as college students. For obvious reasons, I will not mention their names lest you start snooping around for what is not necessary and let your curiosity overshadow the three most important lessons I gained from these conversations:

  1. On time management: Knowing how college is, it wasn’t surprising to find out that a good number of the folks I talked to actually struggled with time management as college students. Some wish they had known how to slow down and go with the tide. One individual I talked to said if they could go back to their college years, they would learn to not get overwhelmed with mounds of work, especially unncessary work. Knowing your priorities is not enough if you don’t know how to act on those priorities. I learned that it is important to not try to crawl, walk, and run at the same time. Bite what you can chew! Time management means knowing what to do, when to do it and get it done, how to do it efficiently, where to do it, with who, etc. It’s not just about setting a timer for 30 minutes of undistracted studying and resume after every 5 minutes of bliss and fun.
  2. On learning: If you are expecting to find nuggets of wisdom on how to learn, I advice you to stop reading at the end of this sentence. Now that you are not expecting to be told how to learn, I will continue sharing what I learned, not tips on how you, dear reader, can learn. One engineer I talked to emphasized that learning is not as important as having the ability to learn. A circus lion can learn to do tricks, but can never ask questions or challenge its teacher. Having an ability to learn means having the temerity to not only ask questions, but to admit to not knowing. One professional said they’d rather have someone on their team who is motivated to learn than have one who is reluctant to learn.
  3. On being uncomfortable: There’s this quote that I came across that pretty much summarizes all that I learned about daring to venture out of the norm and stepping into the storm, “There is no comfort in the growth zone and there is no growth in the comfort zone.” Most of the people I talked to attributed their current and past successes to pushing themselves and having friends and mentors who pushed them to do more than average. They didn’t find it fun walking the extra mile or even introducing themselves to strangers without feeling being judged. Because they did that, and oftentimes gained nothing but experience, they prospered. In the end, experience is what matters most.

So there, the ball is now in your court and I hope you will take something out of this and step out of your comfort zone, even if it means sharing this post (haha self-advertising), and grow your potential and abilities! If you have any thoughts and ideas on what you wish you’d done or what you would like to do if given a second or third chance, please share below or DM!

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Of Deserts and Flowers

When it rains in the Death Valley or in the Atacama desert, two of the driest places on earth, life blossoms. When the conditions are right, miracles happen in these ‘dead’ places and flowers bloom and butterflies cut across the azure sky as if they are in a drunken stupor — crystal evidence that some of these places we consider dead are not as ‘dead’ as they seem. They are just dormant, waiting for the right conditions to come  about in order to awaken from the deep slumber of infertility.

seed_germinating
Image Source:// Hummert International

In my high school agriculture class many years ago, we were taught that plants are capable of growing and developing as long as the right conditions are made available to them. We all know through simple observation that this is true. We are part of this organic system where our growth and development is assured when the conditions are right and we are prepared to grow and let nature take its course. In Zimbabwe and other parts of the world, many who have flourished in their lives did so when the conditions that stimulate growth and expansion were made available to them. There are those who hailed from poverty-stricken regions but, inspired by the works and accomplishments of others, worked their way up to the top and some who did well when others availed opportunities for them.

There’s a saying that goes and I quote, ‘Opportunity dances with those who are already on the dance floor’ – the ones who are already in the mood and groove of things and not those who are sitting on the bench. The weather might not be perfect, the conditions might not be right, the music might be too low to dance to, but in all, one should always hold on to the potential to grow, for indeed one day the conditions will be right and all one has to do is grow.