All of us are somebody’s Kenyan
There is a scene in the movie, “Identify Thief”, starring Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman, in which Melissa McCarthy’s character tries to run away, and Jason Bateman gently jogs the few yards to catch up with her. She stops right away, and collpases her hands onto her knees to recover. Breathless, her face conveys total disgust with her pursuer as spits out at him, “what are you, a f*%king Kenyan?”
ALL of us are somebody’s Kenyan.
I’ve found two ways to get over this hump. The first is the hardest — fake it til you make it. It’s easier said than done. Such advice is as useful as someone telling you not be be afraid of spiders. “Doh! I feel so FOOLISH! Why didn’t I think of just not being afraid of spiders sooner!”
It doesn’t help that I suffer from imposter syndrome. I always think I need to know more, or have more experience before I have accumulated credibility to satisfy some lofty idea of what is ‘enough.’ It’s curious because in other ways I have realized that good things don’t happen by waiting until we’re ready to act, instead we become ready by acting. However, when a topic is important to me, when there is a reputational element, I don’t feel I can take the risk.
The second approach is to change the circles in which you mix. I have spent over a decade managing change. I consume books, articles, and blog posts, and join communities with like-minded people who also manage change. I do this because I want to learn, I want to be better, and I enjoy the process of growth. I also pray for a little osmotic knowledge transfer. But it means I have also surrounded myself with people with even more experience and knowledge than me. I need to spend time with people who haven’t spent 10 years managing change, or five. Maybe they haven’t even realized they need to manage change at all. These are the people for whom I might be Kenyan.
A friend of mine had such an experience. She used to work in a finance department surrounded by people with amazing spreadsheet skills. Her own skills weren’t bad, but they weren’t brilliant. She left that job and went to a much smaller company where her new colleagues thought she was coding in Excel. She was their Kenyan.
Everyone reading that has spent at least five minutes more than someone else — me — doing something, whether it be calming a crying infant, baking cookies, managing a project, sewing on a button, assembling a piece of IKEA furniture without having any screws left over, living in Savannah, walking up Solsbury Hill, watching E.T.,…
You are already an expert. You are my Kenyan. Share your knowledge. There is always someone who can learn from you.
Originally published at https://curiousoasis.com on April 6, 2021.