I have worked for several companies, some of which were fortune 500 companies. However, my favorite job was the one that paid me the lowest, the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, at Kroger. This to me proves that more money is not equivalent to job happiness. Why was Kroger my favorite place to work when the other companies paid me a lot more money? Kroger offered me the following:
Every day at work seemed like I was playing my favorite video games, FIFA or Madden. It was effortless. Nothing seemed forced. I knew my job and was motivated to do it right. Even when certain things didn’t go as planned, I knew it wasn’t because I sucked at it.
To hear customers genuinely appreciate me for doing my job made my days extra short at work. Direct customer interactions made my work feel like I was contributing positively to my community. Therefore, face to face human interactions made my job fun!
At Kroger, my schedule was never the same every week. I closed some days and I opened some other days. Taking time off work was not something I feared because I knew that I wouldn’t find the work I left waiting for me upon my return to work.
Transparent communication from top-down made my work so much easier. I knew what I was expected to do every day. Leadership asked for my feedback on what was working and not working well, and they acted upon my suggestions. I felt valued and respected. I could relate to my leadership team because they were hands-on type of leaders. Whatever I was doing, I knew they could do it too.
They picked a diverse group of employees. It was fun learning about the Middle Eastern, American, and European cultures. Employees usually spent time together outside of work, which strengthened our relationships at work.
In summary, I would say, never choose a job for money alone. Look at the culture of the organization first. Progress, flexibility, happiness, peace of mind and loving what you do are more important than money.
Imagine waking up in handcuffs, on a ship going somewhere you don’t know. You have a loving wife and four kids. You have no idea where they are at this point. Upon arriving at this unknown destination, your name is changed. You had a culture, tribe, and traditions but they all have been stripped away from you at this point. You are forced to forget your origin and accept this new reality. You try to question what’s going on. Instead of giving you answers, you are beaten and disrespected in front of other people. You are forced to work days and nights without pay. You are not allowed to call in sick or take days off work. You feel like you are dreaming, but it’s your new reality. You are confused! You are a slave from Africa, in America.
Despite this confusion, you decide to accept your new situation. You marry a new wife, who is also a slave and have two kids with her. Your wife is raped several times a week by your boss, and sometimes you are forced to watch. If you fight, you know very well that your two kids would end up being without a father, for you would be murdered in front of your family. You have witnessed this happen to other slave families. You wake up one morning to discover that your wife and children have been sold to three different slave masters who are located in different areas of this world, and their names have been changed. There are no cellphones, vehicles or any way to locate your family. More confusion for you.
This went on throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. People were captured, kidnapped, and sold from Africa. They were taken to the American colonies and forced into free labor. Slaves played a major role in building America. In the 19th century, the Emancipation Proclamation was passed to free all slaves. However, most people would agree with me that slavery still exists in different forms in America. Just the other day, Brandon Bernard, a black man, was executed by the federal government after spending over half of his life on death row. Bernard was one of five young men convicted in Texas of killing Stacie and Todd Bagley in 1999. Bernard was only 18 years old and did not pull the trigger. He lived his prison life in regret and remorse over what happened in 1999. The family of the deceased had forgiven Bernard, lots of people including celebrities and politicians had fought until the end to halt the execution but to no avail. On the same day Mr. Bernard was executed using lethal injection, the Arkansas Supreme Court overturned the death sentence of a Cleveland County white man convicted of murdering of a pregnant 22-year-old woman. There are several examples like this in America.
Look at the graph of the 2010 incarceration rates by race/ethnicity above and tell me if you don’t see disparities. Black men and women appear to be targeted by law enforcement and jailed at more than triple the rate of white men and women. Nearly half of all people serving effective life sentences are Black. To make matters worse, blacks only make about 13% of the entire American population. How can 13% of people make up over 40% of the population in prison? Do they commit more crime than other races? Why don’t we see more black people in decision making positions, whether in corporations or government institutions? Why do black people who decide to speak up against injustices get blackballed or murdered? — Remember Colin Kaepernick and Martin Luther King? As a black man or woman, speak up at work and see how long you will last at that company. In your free time, go to court and observe convictions and sentences as they are given by the judges, who are disproportionately white. You will become a justice reforms advocate only after a few observations. Check out fortune 500 companies and see how many presidents or CEOs are black. Check out the resumes of both black and white applicants and see who gets hired.
However, it’s comforting to know that most Americans, black and white have come together in the fight to defeat systemic racism, incarceration disparities, and many other forms of inequalities in America. We are seeing companies promote blacks into decision making positions, more white people speaking up against racism, protesting against several killings of black people by police, and most recently, we elected Joe Biden as the next president of the USA, who has chosen Kamala Harris, a black woman as his vice president. Joe Biden stands for unity and equality. He has made mistakes in his life just like the rest of us have. He has grown from those mistakes and today, he chooses kindness over evil, and unity over division. As a father to black children, my hope is that my kids will be treated equally, and given equal opportunities as they grow up. They will not be judged by the color of their skin but by their character, they will be allowed to make mistakes and be forgiven, they will not be pulled over, incarcerated or worse, killed because of the color of their skin. They will not be afraid to walk or jog in their own neighborhoods, they will be free to speak their minds without being labelled as angry black men and women. I hope my kids will be FREE AFRICAN AMERICANS.
Before You Complain, think about Chadwick Boseman and Nelson Mandela! A few weeks ago, I woke up with a heavy heart after Chadwick’s passing. I thought about his perseverance through making meaningful movies in between surgeries and chemotherapies. Not only did he star in one of my favorite movies, Black Panther, but he served his community, giving back to those in need, volunteering his time at hospitals and helping kids who were suffering from cancer. He accomplished all these things without announcing to the world that he was suffering from a serious disease, colon cancer. He did not even tell the kids he was helping that he himself was also suffering from cancer. I have witnessed friends and family who have suffered from cancer. Cancer is a horrible disease, it takes over your body, energy, and immune system. It invades key organs like the intestines, lungs, brain, liver, and kidneys and interferes with body functions that are necessary to live normally.
This super hero-Chadwick lived as though everything was okay. I call him a super hero because it’s hard to comprehend how much strength it must have taken for Chadwick to do his most physically demanding projects, such as hospital visits, volunteering, or superhero stunts in Black Panther, while undergoing cancer treatments. He ignored his pain and pushed to be the best version of himself-to empty his tank on earth.
His suffering in silence got me thinking, “Why would he not want to share with the world that he was suffering?” Maybe he didn’t want us to feel sorry for him, or he didn’t want to lose his career because of stigma. Maybe he realized that some people had bigger problems than his own. Maybe he took Lou Holtz quote seriously- “Never tell your problems to anyone…20% don’t care and the other 80% are glad you have them.” Whatever reasons he used to justify his decision; he was a brave man. From this man, I have learned to squeeze everything I have out to the world before I leave this earth. Although he died young at 43 years old, Chadwick gave us everything he had. In my eyes, he lived longer than a 100-year-old person who never took risks or didn’t step out of their comfort zone in life. I will remember Chadwick by watching movies he made while fighting cancer, such as Da 5 Bloods, 21 Bridges, Infinity War & Endgame, Black Panther and Marshall. Through these movies, we can see his hard work, perseverance, and fighting spirit.
Now when we look at Nelson Mandela, we see a man who only wanted equality for all humans in South Africa. At the time, South Africa was colonized by Great Britain, and it was undergoing massive racial discrimination against non-Whites, the Apartheid.
He protested nonviolently against the South African government and its racist policies, and he was greatly punished for it. He was imprisoned for 27 years with hard labor in an African prison. While in prison, he was mistreated, tortured, beaten, taunted, and worked for free. Despite the punishment he was given by the whites for his attempt to do the right thing, Nelson Mandela never complained or reciprocated that punishment when he finally became the first democratically elected black president in South Africa in 1994. In fact, he forgave all the people who threw him in prison. He believed in unity, and sympathy, not in division and violence. When I think about true leadership, I think about Nelson Mandela. He lived his life to bring peace to the world. To leave the world a better place than he found it. That is something I believe we should all aspire to do today. What legacy are you leaving behind? What will people remember about you when you leave?
PS: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”-Plato
I was in 5th grade when my big brother Brian was sent to the United States on a full scholarship to earn an engineering degree at the University of Arizona. We know what they say about visualization, – “It is almost impossible to become what you don’t see.” I was lucky enough to have my big brother to look up to, and visualize what I could possibly become. He always told me that I had potential to do better than he did, and I wanted to prove to myself that he was right. He showed me that blueprint for success was education. I stayed up late at night studying material that was way beyond my grade level. I came to realize that no matter where I was, with an education, I could be somewhere else the next day.
Prior to my brother’s move to America, I watched my parents struggle to make ends meet. I was born and raised in Zambia, in a small town called Kankoyo-Mufulira. My Father was working as an underground miner for Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM). His job was tough and money was tight. Kankoyo was blighted by generations of poverty, not knowing where our next meal could be coming from. My parents had 16 children, and I was the youngest. For us to manage to eat, my mother had to think of ways to make money too. She sold fish, vegetables, fruits and other kinds of food at the local market for profit. My older siblings were in the streets trying to help bring bread to the rest of the family at home. Our house was small; some of us had to sleep in the kitchen and on the concrete floor. All of us in my family were bright and intelligent, but resources were limited. I’m talking about kids walking to schools, 7 to 10 miles away.
While attending school in Arizona, my brother sent us money, and he finally purchased a bigger house for my parents in Zambia. He sent us pictures of the American sky scrapers, highways, restaurants, and his new found lifestyle. He also sent the book titled Think Big by Dr. Ben Carson. I immediately took an interest in America. I wanted to be successful, and USA was the place to make that happen for me. I read “Think Big,” and wanted to become a Neurosurgeon. I worked hard in both academics and sports. After high school graduation, my brother invited me to the USA so that I could fulfill my dream-to live an American dream.
I have used my tough life in Kankoyo-Mufulira as fuel to propel myself forward in America. I believe in dedication to tasks, outworking others, giving my very best in everything I do. According to my brother, that spirit is what helped him navigate his way through America, securing leadership opportunities in fortune 500 companies. However, no one prepared me for the challenges such as systemic racism, police brutality, and isolation (I will talk more about challenges in my future blogs). Getting immigration paperwork was extremely hard. Education for international students was twice as expensive and came without financial assistance from government. One thing that helped me during that process was reminding myself of where I came from. I had sacrificed so much to be where I was. I was not going to disappoint my mother by returning to Zambia empty handed. I was willing to sacrifice my present pleasure for my future benefits. I worked three jobs while attending school. Life is about choices, and I chose not to go to medical school at the time because I was paying for my education. I quickly earned my bachelor’s degree in accounting while working for a fortune 50 company. I had the education, hardworking spirit, and dedication to the job. Despite corporate politics, I navigated my way through and joined their leadership team. I eventually earned my master’s degree as well. I’m writing this not to brag but to motivate my followers. Among other things, I was able to build my mother her dream house before she died, she actually designed it. I bought my dream car, Range Rover, a couple of houses, invested my money, and financially helped my family and friends back home. I have been able to mentor a lot of people, and lead by example. I’m a good example of what’s possible for anyone willing to sacrifice their current enjoyment for future benefits. I have also been able to fulfil my dream of making life for my kids much easier than it was for me growing up. I believe in setting specific goals, and going after them. As far as I know, we only have one life. Why not go out with a bang?
“If there was no purpose for us, we wouldn’t be here.”-David Mushimba.
Why do I exist? I’m sure I’m not the first one to ask myself that one question. I was raised a faithful Jehovah’s Witness who believed that we were the only true worshipers of God. In order for the world to be saved during Armageddon, I had to preach to as many people as possible so that they could join us into the new system of things, the paradise! That belief has changed now, as I believe that God is for everyone, not just for one religion.
One day, I was in the field ministry-door to door preaching in a posh neighborhood. As I walked up a hill approaching a 3-level house with a 6-car garage, I couldn’t help but admire the way those people were living. They looked like money wasn’t one of their problems. Garages were filled with expensive vehicles, motorcycles, and boats. I rang the bell once and a strong-angry voice followed, “What do you want?” “I’m a Jehovah’s Witness; I thought I could share a word or two from the bible with you,” I responded. A few seconds later, the door opened and a grown man in the doorway was holding a glass of brown liquid that smelt like whiskey, and was crying.
“My life sucks, I’m unhappy and I don’t know why I exist,” he started. “I have done everything I could to become successful but I am still empty.” His name was Dr. Jones. He had reached his professional success. An educated man, great income, big house, nice cars, good health- but he still longed for happiness and purpose in life. “I am an atheist, he revealed to me. But maybe your God could have some answers.”
Although I knew a lot about God and the bible, I actually didn’t take time to figure out why I existed. I thought getting an education, getting married, having kids, a good job, and owning material things would make me happy. However, after acquiring all these things, I still questioned myself if there was more to life. We have all seen successful people like Robin Williams, Anthony Bourdain and others take their lives because financial success didn’t make them completely happy. We have also seen people living in extreme poverty but are happier than those living in luxury. What’s the secret to happiness? After a long research into happiness, I found out that it is specific to each individual. In my case, cultivating a deeper friendship with God, constantly talking to him, asking him for help, thanking him for anything good, and associating myself with people who respect him helped me find meaning in life. The guidance in the bible also helped me stay out of trouble. I enjoy setting goals and accomplishing them. It excites me to do community service or assist someone in need. I enjoy standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. I love a big house, nice cars, sports, etc. Each person is different, but whatever higher power you believe in, try to work on strengthening your relationship with him or her. Answering the following questions honestly also helped me find happiness and purpose. I believe they will do the same for you: (1) Who am I? Hint-You can find out who you are by answering the question-(2) What do I genuinely like to do? Get a pen and paper, write down all the things that excites you. Who you are is embedded in the things you enjoy doing, things that excite you. Do more of those things to stay in that happy zone. (3) What changes do I need to make to be happy? This question not only identifies areas that need your attention in order for you to be happy, but also looks at what you need to change in order for you to be the person you want to be. For example, playing video games may make you happy. However, if you play video games all day, every day, you may want to check if that’s what you want your identity to be. Therefore, that question can help you decide to shorten the time you play video games so that you can dedicate more time to what you really want to be identified as. (4) Why am I here? We all know that a builder builds a house for the purpose of someone living in it. A car manufacturer makes a car for someone to drive it. There’s a purpose for things we make. Therefore, answering that question will help you realize why you are here, why you were created. You may need to dig deeper, but you will find out because if there was no purpose for us, we wouldn’t be here.
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith discussed their marriage openly in front of cameras the other day on Jada’s Red Table Talk. The episode was viewed by over 15 million people on Facebook in a single day. As expected with everything that goes viral on the internet, a lot of people have been talking about it. Some have questioned their own relationships; some have applauded Jada’s endeavor to find her own personal happiness. Some have criticized her for dating a man way younger that she is and who was supposed to be her son’s friend. A man who sought mentorship and guidance from her. Some have criticized her for casually justifying her actions and not following the bible and rules set by society to never step outside your marriage. Others have felt sorry for Will Smith. The picture of Will looking emotional during the segment has been all over the internet, the memes, etc. People have questioned why Will Smith is still married to Jada, why he tolerated that-especially when he looked Jada in the eyes and said he can love her through anything.
I intentionally wanted to show this photo because the caption talks about that a man cannot be loved unless there’s a condition to provide something. While the statement is true for a man, it is also true for a woman. Why would we look for a partner if we didn’t have a condition to be met? I believe that consciously or unconsciously, we are searching for something that a partner can fulfil, hence, having a condition. So, I don’t believe in such a thing as unconditional relationship or marriage. Dealing with another human being is not an easy thing. It requires certain level of understanding, forgiveness, kindness, and love for one another if you plan to last a lifetime. We are imperfect beings. Our natural inclination is to fulfil our own selfishness desires. What I noticed about the Smith family is that they understand each other. They tend to each other’s needs unselfishly, which is great. They are kind to each other. Will Smith may look like a victim of a bad relationship on camera but we all do not know what goes on in their household. The fact that they are able to move past infidelity is a great thing for this family because God knows that could be a deal breaker for a majority of relationships. One thing we all should remind ourselves of is that we get married to be together for a lifetime. Therefore, if this family can move past this and be happy together, we should be happy for them. Marriage is a complex relationship that even people married for over 50 years do not fully understand. My father, who was married to my mother for 52 years before she passed away still tells me that he didn’t fully comprehend marriage. If you can bear with your partner’s mistakes, why leave the great life you have created together for the unknown?
If you are a single woman, pray for a man like Will Smith.
If you are a single man, pray for the ability to understand your partner and help her through life within what you can tolerate.