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THE HIMURA CHRONICLES: Passion is Bullshit

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You often hear advice from successful people that you should “follow your passion”. That sounds perfectly reasonable the first time you hear it. Passion will presumably give you high energy, high resistance to rejection, and high determination. Passionate people are more persuasive, too. These are all good things, right?

Here is the counterargument. When one of my friends was a commercial loan officer for a large bank in Nairobi, he taught me that you should never make a loan to someone who is following his passion. For example, you don’t want to give money to a photography enthusiast who is starting a photography business to pursue his passion for all things photography. That guy is a bad bet, passion and all. He’s in business for the wrong reason.

My friend’s boss, who has been a commercial lender for over thirty years, said the best loan customer is one who has no passion whatsoever, just a desire to work hard at something that looks good on a spreadsheet. May be the loan customer wants to start a dry cleaning business or invest in a fast food franchise – boring stuff. That’s the person you bet on. You want the grinder, not the guy who loves his job.

Business Mogul Jay Abraham through his writing and seminars always says that one of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make is falling in love with their own product or service. A business person should fall in love with their client.

So who’s right? Is passion a useful tool for success, or is it just something that makes you irrational?

As a flashback, I never went to school because I was passionate. I went there because my mother took me there, and as I grew older I was expected to stay in school and complete my education. My passion at that time was playing with water, dogs, cats, bike riding and reading colorful books. Only once I was older did I look back and see the paramount importance of school. (And also, now I dislike cats.)

My hypothesis is that passionate people are more likely to take big risks in the pursuit of unlikely goals, and so you would expect to see more failures and more huge successes among the passionate. Passionate people who fail don’t get a chance to offer their advice to the rest of us. But successful passionate people are writing books and answering interview questions every day. Naturally those successful people want you to believe that success is a product of their awesomeness, but they also want to retain some humility. You can’t be humble and say “I succeeded because I am far smarter than the average person.” But you can say your passion was a key to your success, because everyone can be passionate about something or other. Passion sounds more accessible. If you’re dumb, there’s not much you can do about it, but passion is something we think anyone can generate in the right circumstances. Passion feels very democratic. It’s the people talent, available to all.

It’s also mostly bullshit.

It’s easy to be passionate about things that are working out, and that distorts our impression of the importance of passion. I’ve been involved in several business ventures over the course of my short life, and each one made me excited at the start. You might even call it passion. The ones that didn’t work out – and that would be most of them – slowly drained my passion as they failed. The few that worked became more exciting as they succeeded.

In hindsight, it looks as if the projects I was most passionate about were also the ones that worked. But objectively, my passion level moved with my success. Success caused passion more than passion caused success.

Passion can also be a simple marker for talent. We humans tend to enjoy doing things we are good at, while not enjoying things we suck at. We’re also fairly good at predicting what we might be good at before we try. I was passionate about table tennis the first day I picked up a bat (or whatever it is you call that thing you hit the balls with – look, I said balls) and I’ve played all my life. Same with basketball. Same with books. I fell in love with books and words the first time a story was read to me as a toddler. There’s a tale my mum likes to tell about when I was a baby and she would read to me: I would cram the sentences that she would read, connect them to the pictures on the page, then ‘read’ to my father when he would come home. Of course I wasn’t really reading. But I knew in an instant that these were things I wanted in my life, and that desire has only grown stronger as the years pass. I felt I could be good at these things, unlike the millions of things that I suck at. So sometimes passion is simply a by-product of knowing you will be good at something.

If you ask a billionaire the secret of his success, he might say it is passion, because that sounds like a sexy answer that is suitably humble. But after a few drinks he’d say his success was a combination of desire, luck, hard work, determination, brains, and appetite for risk.

So forget about passion when you’re planning your path to success. Perhaps in future I will describe some methods for boosting personal energy that have worked for me. Perhaps not. I don’t even know what I’m going to be doing in the next few hours, therefore don’t rely on my promises concerning the future. Most of the promises I make in my writing I have absolutely no intention of keeping. Yes I’m just being honest. Or not. But I digress.

You already know that when your energy is right you perform better at everything you do, including school, work, sports, theatre, love, and even your personal life. Energy is good. Passion is bullshit.

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THE HIMURA CHRONICLES: I Am A Sinner (Who’s Probably Gonna Sin Again)

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I’m lookin’ to be the god MC
You look at my hat and see thorns there
I look at the game and see porn there
I’m fuckin’ this industry hard
I’m back at this money, teabagging your honey
You thought I was fresh out the yard
Don’t cry to me dummy, you’re lightweight
They tell me you nice and I’m like, wait
Go get me a knife, you’re looking like steak
And when the stakes are high, I stay down for days
And when the water inside, you’re probably pool shaped
We thirsty nigga, never alert me, nigga
I got a P89 in a suitcase
I knew you heard me, nigga, this is the a burpee, nigga
Lyrical exercise
Right now, homie, I’m in the extra vibe
Pipe down, it occurred when you heard that I got these words
To the upper echelon, that’s excellent

 

Up in the clouds, me and my spouse
Rumors on the ground gettin’ too loud
Please turn them shits down, can’t hear myself think
Turbulence, shit, almost spilled my drink
In the whitest with a mink
Gunnin’ through that bitch like it’s my house
All up in the hall like a mall
Told you motherfuckers, all I do is ball
No, I don’t ‘member you, I don’t intend to empty my memory bank
It’s a million dollars in it, baby, Hilary Swank
Next to Hilary smellin’ like dank
Presidential pardon, name one nigga out there harder than him
I’ll wait, I’ve been in my weight like 20 years straight
I’ve been on my vibe like 20 years straight
Don’t fuck up my high, don’t fuck up my high
Nights like this, I could fuck up a pie
Still keep straight and still be straight
Fall back, bitch, I got a lot on my plate
Don’t waste my breath
I don’t know how many moons a nigga got left
Back to this joint, smokin’ this shit like I’m tryna’ prove a point
I’m the highest, the highest title, numero uno
Kill my vibe, thats your motherfuckin’ funeral

But you ain’t you and me, turn eulogy to urinals
Niggas pissed off
I’m in this lil’ diss shit, I’m pushin’ my fort
Leader of the new school
On my toes like a ballerina
Who knew I’d be black swan
World in my palms
Ironically, I am the Globetrotters’ best
Cause I didn’t drop the ball
Told niggas when I was 16 that I’d write a 16
To put a nigga right on the big screen
In the paddy wagon with 16
Should have been in the pen
But now my pen write with morphine
I heal niggas, touch down with more fiends
I kill niggas, audio crack
Khakis to meal ticket
Cardio lap, was running for dear life
Now I’m running the map bitch I’m here nigga
Picture little old me giving a fuck
For what a fuck nigga gotta say
Nigga you’ll never be Jay, never be Nas
Never be Snoop nor Dre
You ain’t get killed in Vegas
Or hit a Suburban
Puffy Daddy wasn’t your favorite
So many washed up with detergent
But I don’t dry tears, I just aim at them on purpose
Like bluck
14 like bluck
Empty out another magazine like bluck
Hit a young nigga like bluck
I kill ’em all when they try to kill my flock
I am the bad, the good God
The last the hood got
The last that would try to pass a good job
If Shyne’s a black Beatle
Then I need a 10 second drum solo
See you at Woodstock (Or Njoro)

Yeeeeeeah


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Diaper Mentality: Shit Needs To Change – Kenyan Society is a Model of Stupidity (A.k.a a Love/hate Letter to My Country)

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Dear Country of Mine,

One day I will write about this place. But not today. That’s a shout out to one Binyavanga Wainaina, for reasons I will explain later.

Well, here we are again. We are an educated society. We are hardworking. We are religious. We have embraced capitalism wholeheartedly. We value family and friendship. So why is the rain beating us? Shit needs to change. When you are on the wrong path, correct yourself, adjust and get back on track. You hear me Mavuno? I have beef with the following people, institutions and ideas. Mad beef. Shit needs to change. I wanted to name this article Africa kills her Sun. But most wouldn’t understand the reference. And I’m more concerned with Kenya. This article is dedicated to Wangari Maathai, Tom Mboya, Dedan Kimathi and Ken Saro Wiwa. And Nelson Mandela. It has taken me time to accept the departure of these people. As cold hearted as I may be, I’m still a sensitive soul, like Dante’s baby, a nascent being laughing and crying from the hands of God.

1. Parliament. This includes the National Assembly and the Senate. Do you fuckers really believe that our most pressing concern as a country is whether Governors use the term ‘Your Excellency’ or fly flags on their cars? Do you think we care about who between the two houses is superior? We make a step forward you baboons take us back three. Listen to this carefully. Even a wet behind the ears law student will tell you that court orders are not suggestions. They must be complied with. The court is the only institution tasked with interpretation of the constitution. And if you clowns disobey the Judiciary, then there is no need for the rest of us to comply. That is a recipe for anarchy. IG Kimaiyo, fuck you very much and call you Mary for saying you cannot carry out a court ordered arrest warrant for one Mutea Iringo cause it will embarass him. Dear President, why does this this buffoon still have a job? Or are you expecting more lightbulbs to explode at the airport? Shit needs to change.

2. Homosexuality. Firstly, mad props to Binya for coming out. Many of us have always known he was gay. He comes from my hometown, and I’m proud of that. That nigga has balls of titanium. My friends will be shocked that I’m saying this, cause they think I’m a conservative God loving gun hugging homophobic patriot. Yes I believe in the right to bear arms, as a guarantee to my security and a facilitator of my right to self determination. But I digress. It is foolish for us to believe that we can legislate and enforce laws to do with what consenting adults do in private. If someone wants to be gay or is gay, that is their business, not mine. We all have dear friends who are gay or lesbian, let’s not pretend. Now. On the other hand. Ever since I cleared high school, over a decade ago, we’ve always known who the gay guys and lesbians are. We’ve known which are the gay clubs, and where the gay parties are. We’ve never had a problem with that. What I have a problem with is this in your face homosexuality. For example, if I like to spank women, tie them up and bathe them with baby oil and lubricant while placing butterfly kisses all over their body, I won’t bring this lifestyle choice to the public domain. Realise which society you live in. Homosexuality is illegal in this country as per the penal code, but our government has never had a policy of prosecuting gays. But now, you want to demonstrate and have the right to marry under the law? My honest advice is: Be pragmatic. If you push this, you will galvanise the gay haters, the conservatives, the hypocrites, and the unrelenting religious. And not everyone who is against homos is homophobic. Remember phobia denotes fear. Also, when an idea seems to be getting pushed by the West, we tend to reject it. Honestly. Fucking honestly. What business of Obama’s is it who is fucking who in Uganda? What business of Netherlands and Denmark is it? A democratically elected president, through a democratically elected parliament signs into law a bill that is not only endorsed but celebrated by almost the entire country. Si you brought us democracy? And then when it is practised you withdraw aid? Aid is you and your nyanye. What kind of clusterfuckery is this? Okay, how about you place sanctions on Saudia? They stone adulterers to death, chop off thieves limbs in public, are xenophobic and racist, and don’t allow women to drive. Yet Prince Charles still goes there to dance. You selfish racist pompous self-righteous hypocritical two faced sadist motherfuckers you.

3. The Government/Civil service. Firstly, allow me to declare my allegiance. It is to President Uhuru Kenyatta. My President. Much to the chagrin of my family and friends who are ODM die hards. Apart from GodPapa Daniel Arap Moi, Uhuru is the best we have ever had. And the First Lady is fantastic. That goes without saying. But we grow tired of the endless promises issued by Jubilee which are not being carried out. We are tired of the corruption and haughtiness of one of the most inefficient civil services in history. We are tired of our leaders ignoring the rule of law. We are tired of this level of unemployment. We are exasperated with tribalism. And then when you’re (yes I wrote you’re instead of your intentionally to piss off one Karofio Seijuro Mureithi) speechwriter Eric Ng’eno ( who is a fantastic and erudite gentleman by the way) tells the truth, he is castigated by a boot licking door knob like Manoah Esipisu. Since when was it a crime to tell the truth and be on the right side of history? Especially when promising intellectuals like my lecturers Senators Kindiki and Murkomen have morphed into such ass kissing sycophants. What the shit? Anyway. Onto the next one.

4. Kenyan women. That is self-explanatory. And I mean most of them, not all of them. I don’t generalise like that ratchet called Ciku Muiruiri. Or Caroline Mutoko. Yeah I said it. Just so you know, Caroline, I respect a lot of what you have done and achieved. Yeah I said it. And Cess Mutungi is an excellent lady, me will always have your back. Keep making us happy, and keep reminding us the truth, even when it hurts.

5. The youth. Especially the generation behind me. You idiots think that the world owes you something. Well it doesn’t. How about you first learn how to spell properly? How about you learn the value of hard work and punctuality? How about you learn how to hold a conversation? How about you learn that selfies and twerking are not a career? Education is important? The universe doesn’t revolve around you? How about you learn that the number of likes on your Facebook or Instagram picture doesn’t mean shit in the real world? How about you realise that what is in your head is more valuable than what is on your behind or in between your thighs? How did you move in one generation, from being people who issue witty barbs to being people who revel in witless barbarism? How about you pause to think that, Lupita is celebrated and paid worldwide while Vera Sidika and Huddah Dumb Ass Monroe are treated like expensive prostitutes? Shit needs to change.

6. Finally. Beef in hip hop. Here I’m referring to my nigga Khaligraph Jones and Octopizzo. Listen and listen well. Us niggas were alive when Pac and Big died due to their beef. We were alive when Nas and Jay-Z popped Ether and Got Yourself A Gun. We were around during the beef for G-Unit, The Game, Eminem, and kina Ja-Rule. And niggas died. Now, if you guys are serious, stop your pussy social media wars and take it to the streets. Lets see someone ending up at a police station, or hospital, or morgue, and then we will take you seriously. Even the beef kati of Prezzo and Jaguar was far more witty and humorous. Oh, and by the way I stumbled across a tv program where Octopizzo was freestyling, and either he was as high as fuck or my grandmother can freestyle better than him. Yeah I said it. Shit needs to change.

Shit needs to change. Have a fantastic day.

Yours Truly,

Philip ‘Battousai’ Walubengo.


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THE HIMURA CHRONICLES: Don’t Be An Asshole (Or Ratchet, or Bitch, or Bitch Nigga)

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One of the best ways to pollute the energy in a group situation is by being a total asshole. Yuo might succeed in getting people fully energized, but it won’t be in a productive way. If you think of your bad behaviour as a lifestyle choice, as in ‘being yourself’ or ‘just being honest’, you might be ignoring the cost to your personal energy and to your reputation. When you piss off the people around you, there is bound to be some blowback and wasted effort cleaning up the mess you made. It can all be quite distracting and draining. Trust me on this one; I know.

I’ve noticed that an alarming number of people have adopted the asshole lifestyle and decided it works well enough to stay on that path. While the word ‘asshole’ usually makes you think of males, in this context I mean it to be gender inclusive. The same applies to the term ratchet. Bitch and bitch nigga are self explanatory, but all these terms refer to the same set of behaviour.

There’s no single agreed definition of what it means to be an asshole. It might include selfishness, arrogance, mean-spiritedness, being a gossip, a hater, backstabber, not helping your friends when they’re down, or any number of other character flaws. You know asshole behaviour when you see it. And if you’re normal, you’ve probably been one for at least a few minutes of your life.

I would define an asshole as anyone who chooses to make the lives of others less pleasant for reasons that are not productive or necessary.

Asshole behaviours:

1. Changing the subject to him/herself

2. Dominating conversation

3. Bragging

4. Cheating, lying

5. Disagreeing with any suggestion, no matter how trivial

6. Using honesty as a justification for cruelty

7. Withholding simple favours out of some warped sense of social justice

8. Abandoning the rules of civil behaviour, such as saying hello, making eye contact, not interrupting people when they’re speaking, and observing phone etiquette.

9. Engaging in unnecessary acts of violence

10. Talking shit about friends or loved ones, especially about spouses.

I assume asshole behaviour exists because it feels good when you do it. In that sense it’s like an addiction. The long term effect of being an asshole can’t be ood for the person immersed in the lifestyle, but it must feel good in the short term.

That’s a bad trade off. You self-interest is best served by being a reasonable person whenever you can muster it.

 

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THE HIMURA CHRONICLES: Writing Tease and The Six Filters for Truth

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Was my eventual success primarily a result of talent, luck, hard work, or an accidental just-right balance of each? All I know for sure is that I pursued a conscious strategy of managing my opportunities in a way that would make it easier for luck to find me. Did my strategy make a difference, or is luck just luck, and everything else is just rationalization? Honestly I don’t know. That’s why I suggest you compare my story with the story of other people who have found success, or have lived or live interesting lives, and see if you notice any patterns. That’s the pattern I’ve always used since I discovered my, well, intelligence.

If you pick up some ideas in my writing and go on to great success, you won’t know exactly what made the difference. But you might think you do, and that reason will probably have something to do with your many levels of awesomeness. That’s how human brains work. But hey, maybe in your case it’s true. In my case, I prefer to embrace my ignorance and leave it an open question.

I really don’t write to give advice. I’ve never liked being given advice anyway, especially when it is unsolicited. Too many people in our society seem to always believe that they have a better idea than you of how you should live your life. Of course a large part of that belief is pure unfiltered assholery, but most among them never realize it. And if you’ve ever taken advice from an artist (yes that’s what I like to call myself), there’s a good chance it didn’t end well. For starters, it’s hard to know when an artist is being serious or when he or she is constructing an elaborate joke. I’ve crafted pranks that spanned months, even years, many a time when no one was in on the joke except me. Some of those pranks are still a work in progress. I have posed as other people online and even in person. I have infiltrated high-level government, business and civil society meetings just to get material for my writing, but most of the time just to see if I could get away with it.

On top of that, I’m getting paid to write, and we all know that money distorts truth like a hippo in a thong. And let’s not forget that I’m a stranger to most of you. It’s never a good idea to trust strangers.

By any objective measure, I might be one of the least credible people on Earth, I’m not too proud to admit that given a choice between saying what’s true and saying what’s funny, I’ll take the path with the greatest entertainment value.

I’m also not an expert at anything, including my own job. I’m a poor judge of character. I don’t like speaking to most people. I write like an inebriated monkey and my writing style falls somewhere between baffling scribbling and downright plagiarism. Yes I believe originality is over rated, a belief apparently not shared by my university professors judging from the grades they gave me in school. It’s an ongoing mystery to me why I keep getting paid.

To make matters worse, there are inherent problems with the whole idea of one person giving advice to another in written form. One size doesn’t fit all. I’d be surprised if there’s anything in my writing that makes sense for all people all the time.

Anyway to finish up, here we go:

Tease:

  1. Goals are for losers.
  2. Your mind isn’t magic. It is a moist computer that you can program.
  3. The most important metric to track is your personal energy.
  4. Every skill you acquire doubles your odds of success.
  5. Happiness is health plus freedom.
  6. Luck can be managed, sort of.
  7. Conquer shyness by being a huge phony (in a good way).
  8. Fitness is the lever that moves the world.
  9. Simplicity transforms ordinary into amazing.

Before you decide whether anything I say in my writing is useful, you need a system for sorting truth from rubbish. Most people think they have perfectly good bullshit detectors. But if that were the case, trial juries (and in our case, panels/benches of judges) would always be unanimous. Ahem ahem. We would all have the same religious beliefs. Realistically, most people have poor filters for sorting truth from fiction, and there’s no objective way to know if you’re particularly good at it or not. Consider the people who routinely disagree with you. See how confident they look while being dead wrong? That’s exactly how you look to them.

When it comes to any big or complicated question, humility is the only sensible point of view. Still, we mortals need to navigate the world as if we understand it. The alternative – acting randomly – would be absurd. To minimize the feeling of absurdity in your life, I recommend using a specific system for sorting the truth from fiction. The system will be useful for reading this book, and it could be even more important in your life. The system recognizes that there are at least six common ways to sort truth from fiction, and interestingly, each one is a complete train wreck.

The Six Filters for Truth

  1. Personal experience (Human perceptions are iffy)
  2. Experience of people you know (Even more unreliable)
  3. Experts (They work for money, not truth.)
  4. Scientific studies (Correlation is not causation)
  5. Common sense (A good way to be mistaken with complete confidence)
  6. Pattern recognition (Patterns, coincidence and personal bias look alike)

In our messy flawed lives, the nearest we can get to truth is consistency. Consistency is the bedrock of scientific method. Scientists creep up on the truth by performing controlled experiments and attempting to observe consistent results. In your everyday nonscientist life you do the same thing, but it’s not as impressive, nor as reliable. For example, if every time you drink milk (like yours truly right here), one hour later you fart so hard that it inflates your socks, you can reasonably assume milk makes you gassy. It’s not science, but it’s still an entirely useful pattern. Consistency is the best marker of truth that we have, imperfect though it may be.

When seeking truth, your best bet is too look for confirmation on at least two of the dimensions I listed. For example, if a study indicates that eating nothing but French fries and cake is an excellent way to lose weight, but your friend who tries the diet just keeps getting fatter, you have two dimensions out of agreement. (Three if you count common sense). That’s a lack of consistency.

Once you have your bullshit filter working, think about how you begin the process of tackling any new and complicated problem. There’s one step you will always do first if it’s available to you: You’ll ask a smart friend how he or she tackled the same problem. A smart friend can save you loads of time and effort. Many of you have a smart friend or two already, and you are lucky to have them. But my observation is that a startling percentage of the adult population literally has no smart friends to help them in their quest for success and happiness. Basically what I’m saying is that most of you are surrounded by fools and idiots.

I hereby deputise myself to be your smart(ish) friend in the form of my writing. If you already have some smart friends that’s great, you can’t have too many. What I bring to the party is a willingness to discuss a wide range of topics of importance that your in person friends might consider awkward dinner or drink conversation.

I’m not an expert in any of the topics I discuss. But I am a professional simplifier. I also like to believe that I am as entertaining as hell. Strip away everything from a situation until all that is left is the absurd yet true core.

Also allow me to stipulate that if you think I’m full of crap on any particular idea or another, there’s a healthy chance that you are right. But being 100% correct is not my goal. I’m interested in new and old ways of finding truth, success, and happiness, while entertaining myself and you along the way.

Yup yup. Cheers, and I sincerely hope you enjoy the writing on my blogs The Battousai,  Walubengo’s Den, and my book The Himura Chronicles, and share them with your friends, loved ones and enemies alike.

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