Rosette Mutesi – Assessments

As A Man Thinketh
Assessment by Mutesi Rosette


1. What Ideas were personally most important to you in this book? Do not simply list the ideas, but explain or discuss why they were important to you, using personal examples.

“Dreams are seedlings of realities”. This statement is very important for me and seems to summarize the whole gist of the book. It links the reality of what our life is to what we wanted or worked to make it. I would very much want to link the idea in the book to Paulo Freires approach to adult education specifically to the fact that people must “read their reality and write their history”. This is important for me because I think it’s easier to move forward into the future when you know what it is you wish to arrive at.

One time during my Training for Transformation classes, we did a visioning exercise that is still very vivid in my mind. Closing my eyes “ I imagine my 85th birth day party, how do I look like, who is around to celebrate with me, how am I feeling and what would my speech sound like, what would my family members, community members etc say to me……” and the list can go on and on. It was interesting when I opened my eyes and compared the picture I had seen of me 56 years from today, it was apparent if I go on as I am, I wouldn’t be able to live to be a happy, strong, still walking ( of course with a support of a walking stick) old woman. I need to improve my eating habits and eat healthy, I need to exercise more, walk more, laugh more. There are so many things that need to change if I seriously want to live to 85. I actually have a choice to make. I love the picture of me I saw and I would want to be there to congratulate my self and tell the story. I have to work very hard today.

In my work with people and communities, I see people make decisions and change their lives. The community savings groups that start with a few coins every week or month grow into powerful community credit schemes. I know that they best way to change our reality and future is to start doing something now. It’s the small deliberate actions that we individually do for a better future that enables us change our reality. This is why I have a passion for community organizing because I believe that “another world is possible” and I see it being recreated every day.

2. Can you relate the ideas or concepts in this book to your personal circumstances in life such as your relationships, your beliefs, your goals, your values, etc?

One of the key principles of the appreciative inquiry approach is that “the way we see the world is fateful. Because I didn’t take good care of my teeth and I have had to visit the dentist countless times this past two years. Despite all the visits, I just dread it every time. It never gets better instead it gets worse. The fact that my next visit is a few days a way impact on my mood, enthusiasm and happiness.

On the other hand, I always look forward to the happy times like when I take my leave. I plan my holiday with care to the final detail even three months in advance and live every day in between looking forward to that time with hope and anticipation.

Reading this book made me reflect on how my personal thoughts and psychosocial state impacts on how I feel, how I act and how I relate with family, friends and colleagues at the workplace. Over the years I have become aware and in touch with my feelings and actions. I almost shout out to myself “Rosette stop it” when I realize am acting irrationally. This helps shake me up again. Some times I look on with amusement when I realize some one is having a bad day and trying to share the bad day with others along the way. I can see this because I do it a lot my self and I believe the first step to being more in control with emotions and thought is self awareness. This way you can catch yourself at it countless times.

Although I don’t entirely agree with James Allen that “man is the master of thought, the molder of character and the maker and shaper of conditions, environment and destiny”, it is partly true and I can speak for my self. But again we are social beings and what society, friends or family say and think about us mean a lot and greatly influence how some one shapes and molds their life. If a young child is told that you are dull, ugly and hopeless, it would make her/him grow up believing these negative naming especially if they are repeated a number of times having a direct impact on self esteem and self motivation to make things happen. This young girl or boy could develop into adult hood and parent hood with these beliefs and then project them to his/ her children, colleagues or partner. I think we as individual need to play a core role in naming who we are. I need to identify me as an individual of great wit, ability and potential because only then will I start to believe in my self and “ rising up to conquer and achieve” what I want in life instead of allowing other people and circumstances to name and influence how I think of me hence remaining weak, abject and vulnerable.

I believe that feelings are real and need to be respected. I read about this technique that works for me: every time am feeling nervous before a meeting or a presentation, I ask my self if I feel this way as a result of lack of adequate preparation, hostile environment or a past experience. The key to control and influence personal thought is in keeping in touch and being aware and present to your thoughts, feelings and environment. Indeed circumstances do not make the man; it reveals him to himself.

When reading this book, I started to reflect more critically about this thought factor as it strongly comes out. Some people I know are very positive about life. No matter what life brings on to them, they will not let the sparkle of being alive go away. I wonder how they manage it but they are always cheerful, jolly and fun to be around no matter what the circumstances. On the other hand, there are people I know who are always unhappy about this or that and groaning about the unfairness of life, society and work. Is it that life has been unfair to some people and fairer to others? Do we respond to life’s challenges and glories differently as individuals and can this change? Is it meant to change – I continue to wonder even after reading this book.

3. What are the most important new ideas or concepts you learned from this book? Please Explain.

Although I consider my self a very spiritual person, I had never thought that “spiritual achievements are the consummation of holy aspirations”. Now I believe that “In the core of my soul reclines the commanding mater. She does but sleep; wake her up. Self control is strength. Right thought is mastery. Calmness is power. I now say unto my heart “Peace. Be still”. This is a very powerful statement and has a whole new meaning to me. I know the spirit lives in me but I didn’t know she “sleeps”. I need to keep her awake all the time because I need her wise counsel in this life journey. Possibly it’s the lack of opportunity to be still and open to listening to her spiritual guidance and teachings. I need to be at “peace, still” more often to listen to my spirit.

4. Has this book challenged or changed your thinking in any way? If so, explain how?

As above

5. Are there ideas in the book that you totally disagree with? If so, why?

I sincerely appreciate James Allen’s concept of the “Thought Factor” and I think it is very important and significantly contributes to who we are. However I don’t agree that “thought” entirely determines who we are and what our actions are. We are social beings and need to look and consider not only individual but family, community and collective thought and action.

First and fore most “suffering is not always the effect of wrong thought in some direction. Suffering is not an indication that the individual is out of harmony with himself, with the law of his being”. The definition of suffering is subjective and depends on circumstances and different realities. It may change from community to community, family to family or country to country. Wars are a key cause of immense suffering to innocent people who didn’t even contribute to starting the war. Communities in war ton areas have the power and energy to be productive and provide their own food, but the external environment and the fact that they don’t have the necessary security and support to be productive. As a result they live in fear and waiting on humanitarian aid. So whose thoughts are causing this suffering” the community???? I don’t think so.

A few years ago, I and some members of my family became victims of a car robbery a few meters from our home. The emotional and physical suffering this incident put us through was nothing of as a result of our thoughts and actions. I think in this incident we can use our thoughts and actions to uplift and heal ourselves after this incident. Poverty and wars are a reality in many parts of the developing world. The causes of poverty and war are some times beyond the borders. With globalization, we are continuously seeing the replacement of traditional values with foreign cultures. With globalization, people need more money to buy food, pay for medication and school fees. Globalization has contributed to the break down of the traditional society and social support systems. Crime has not only increased in the town centers but also in the communities. To be able to counter these forces and make our history, we need much more than just thought I think.

I also don’t entirely believe that “dreamers are the saviors of the world”. In life I have come across many visionary people who are very good at dreaming and visioning but not equally as good in putting these visions into real actions. In fact many visionaries say they need very good “doers” to start realizing this dream. The ability of a dreamer to save the world I think lies in their ability to share this dream and allowing others to share, reflect, reshape and collectively gather around it. Other wise there are also many dreamers who have very good dreams but they remain individual dreams. I don’t see how an individual dream can save the world.

6. What did you find most helpful and least helpful in this book?

I found the book interesting and simple to read. The English was simple and understandable. I enjoyed reading it. The only obstacle for me was the use of “He”. I strongly believe that women and men are different, have different needs and must be named separately. Society opportunities and challenges impact on us differently and I can go on and on. As a woman and a community organizer, personal and collective identify and naming is very important to me.

7. In 50 words or less, please describe the main idea the whole book is trying to convey.

This book is about the power with in and how we use this power to control who we are. It’s about having a “dream” and working to achieve this dream, about being open to the teachings of the spirit to live a fulfilling and purposeful life.

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read?                                     7
B. How helpful were the contents?                                   9
C. How easy was it to understand?                                    9
D. Would you recommend it to others?                              8
E. What is the overall rating you would give it?                    8

Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Assessment by Mutesi Rosette (Uganda)


1. What Ideas were personally most important to you in this book? Do not simply list the ideas, but explain or discuss why they were important to you, using personal examples

“I just want to know”. For me, this is a very important idea. It brings to mind the question, how do we learn? This book awakened some child hood memories of school and the scope of learning and teaching, the rules, the do and don’ts, tests and how class positions define who excels and who is considered a clever/ bright student. As I write this, am thinking if Jonathan was a student today in many of the schools I know, he would have been expelled for indiscipline and uncontrollable behaviors. This is also common in many homes where the environment is very controlled as the children grow up. Every time a child is told “don’t do this” or “don’t touch that”, the child will always look for an opportunity to find out why the many “don’ts”. This process of self discovery, sometimes its easy, sometimes its painful. This is the process of growth. This book brings out a key learning for me and that is “learning is following ones heart”.

 Indeed life is the best school and offers many opportunities to learn. Only if we would be open to learning. Interestingly for me, many of the life and survival skills that I have known, I learnt through life as much in the formal school setting. My biggest question remains why aren’t we trained to go through life like it’s a school, encouraging us (especially as children) to be open and express what we think and feel without waiting on to a “teacher” to show us what “we need to learn” or is “good for us to learn”. This posses a great opportunity for society to widen the scope of learning.


2. Can you relate the ideas or concepts in this book to your personal circumstances in life such as your relationships, your beliefs, your goals, your values, etc?   Please use personal examples in your explanation.

 “The gull seas furthest who flies highest”. This made me reflect on a wise saying I read about that “your attitude determines your altitude”. This is so true because I have learnt that my attitude and out look to life has a great impact on how I act and how I feel. I remember while growing up, I detested French at school because my parents pushed me to the French class saying it would be good for me in future. Every time I walked into the French class, I told my self that I must fail the subject just to get back at my parents. Just like I wished, I didn’t pass it as well as I did other subjects. Today, 15 years on, I have a huge hunger to study French again and I plan to enroll into a French teaching school at the earliest opportunity and this time I will be paying my fees.

What’s funny is that I don’t look back at my behavior in school and feel embarrassed. I look back at me with a big smile of satisfaction. I followed my heart and dared do what many other children wouldn’t dream of doing. I feel its these small struggles that happen within me all the time that enabled me to start reflecting at an early age on what other people / society wanted me to do vis a vis what I felt inside. This has enabled me to always be in touch with what I feel and what my gut feeling is saying to me no matter what every one else is saying.. As a result I have been able to carve out my life and take responsibility for what happens. I am actually very proud of me.

I want to relate the saying that “the gull seas furthest who flies highest” to what I see happening in every day life. Being open to life and learning opens new doors and possibilities to achieve more and greater heights. Am amazed at the number of very intelligent (sometimes very educated) people I meet who are very humble saying “I don’t know”. Yet on the other hand, there are many other people I know who would never say “I don’t know”. One key principle of appreciative inquiry is that “change begins the moment you ask the question”. We can only learn if we are open to asking and saying “I just don’t know”.

I feel that the key to seeing furthest is to always believe that you can learn from any situation and person in life. Willing ness and ability to learn is also about attitude. Surely people with a positive attitude have more hope and willingness to leap into tomorrow while people with a negative attitude are more closed and opposed to learning because tomorrow doesn’t present any opportunities for a better life. I know that when I am angry, furious and desperate about a situation or person, it impacts on how I act, the words I say and the way I react at home, at work and like my family always say during those times “ I have a lot of negative energy to share”. When am feeling happy and positive, I know that my face is brighter and am more welcoming and easy to approach. My aim in life is to learn to be positive and always have the right attitude because this determines how far I can see and go and God knows I aim very far and high. I am also very honest with my self that its not easy ( at least it has not been easy so far) but its worth it and am willing to continue to try.

Linked to this is the power of vision. For people like me who work to see a poverty free society, we are in the practice of doing strategic planning and a vision is very important in this whole process as it defines what objectives, strategies and activities will be followed to achieve the vision. It enables us “to see farthest”. Until recently, I had never thought about the importance of having a personal vision. Although in many traditional societies it is considered selfish to think of “me”, I have learnt the importance of being clear about ones purpose and goals in life and how these tie in with my organisations and society goals and vision. I want to be a happy and spiritual earthling. To be this therefore, I must define what makes me happy, how I can develop and nourish my spirit to continuously guide and talk to me and how to make and preserve mother earth in the small way that I can. I don’t think that this is selfish in any way. It’s just being clear on what I want to do in life and how this influences my relationship with family, society and nature for the better of all humanity.


3. What are the most important new ideas or concepts you learned from this book? Please Explain.

Linked to the willingness to learn as I described above, I was fascinated by the sincerity of Henry Calvin when he said “we are not ready”. Indeed I see this in even in community work. Even when working with a group of farmers, its not easy to understand why some adapt faster than others. In a class of students, some students lag behind. At a work place, some people are just always laid back. After reading this story, I realised that hey, we are different and sometimes we are just not ready and need some more time.

Personally I can also recall that on a number of occasions, I was just not ready even to let go of very difficult emotions and feelings yet these held continued to hold me back. Some times when I am so held up in self pity and anger, the way ahead seems so unclear and I just feel I need more time and need to be patient with me. But the beautiful thing is that every time I emerge out of my depressing situation, I emerge a stronger individual. Over the years, I have therefore become more accustomed to being aware of what I am feeling and being able to help my self stand up and walk again no matter what the circumstances. I guess life is very interesting and full of contradictions. Sometimes I feel like am on top of the world and yet there are other times when I just cannot understand what is happening around me. I guess the key is self awareness and having a positive attitude to move on no matter.

 4. Has this book challenged or changed your thinking in any way? If so, explain how?

 I feel very much challenged by the need to stand up against the many dos and don’ts in my culture. On a recent visit to my village, my uncle was so excited to see us ( me, my two brothers and my mum) and as is the custom in our culture when we are excited, he decided to give my brothers a cow each but not me ( actually the idea to visit him was originally mine). The reason he didn’t want to give me a cow was not because he doesn’t love me or value me (I know he adores me). His reason was that no one gives a girl a cow in our culture except on her wedding day. After a spirited struggle backed by my mother, he eventually gave me a cow. Of course cows are very important in my culture but this is not the point am trying to make. My concern is these many socially constructed beliefs and attitude that we especially as young women must stand up against. Today in the world, there is a lot happening that must be challenged. Some times its easy (like with my uncles case) but other times we may easily find our selves isolated and at the other end of the fence. But if that’s the price that needs to be paid for change to happen, then let us each start and continue to break small barriers and build small bridges till we can finally connect them and build a bridge to cross to the other end of the river, our reality. This is the only way that a free and just society can be achieved.

 5. Are there ideas in the book that you totally disagree with? If so, why?

I would not say that I totally disagree with any of the ideas however, I think the whole story doesn’t put into consideration the impact and influence of external factors that are a reality in the world today. Globalization for instance is a reality and greatly impacts on the learning models in the developing countries. It’s a bit harder in life today to be isolated as an individual. Its even harder as countries isolate others, religions and the list is endless.

I also feel that Jonathan was a little bit too self centered and cared primarily about following his mind and heart to achieve his dream. However in reality, we are social beings and usually have to put into consideration the impact on our family and friends. This is especially true for women who in reality have to give up their carriers and opportunities to learning just to be there and look after their families. So I wouldn’t say I disagree with any of the ideas, I just don’t take them whole some and out of context.

 6. What did you find most helpful and least helpful in this book?

Reading this book was very easy for me because it was in simple English and short. I could easily apply it to real life situations so I was not reading it in the abstract. The use of the seagulls was also very interesting as I continued to tell my self “can a seagull really say this, are they this clever?” and I just felt very challenged and inspired by the wisdom and wit of the gulls. The next time I see them flying by, I will surely look twice.

 7. In 50 words or less, please describe the main idea the whole book is trying to convey.

This book is about self directed learning and following ones hearts and desires to “know” and using that knowledge to live a fuller life. The book is also about reaching out to communities and others with the new learning’s and the challenges and opportunities this poses.

 Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

 A. How interesting was it to read?                          8
B. How helpful were the contents?                          8
C. How easy was it to understand?                          9
D. Would you recommend it to others?                  7
E. What is the overall rating you would give it?    8

Giant Steps
Assessment by Rosette Mutesi (Italy)

 1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

 In this book, the author, in a very easy to read format explains 365 ideas to help us explore and achieve personal greatness. That personal greatness can be achieved by undertaking day to day conscious decision and actions to become better human beings and become effective leaders.

 2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.

 A. Each one of us is endowed with innate resources that enable us to achieve all we ever dreamed of and more; even making no decision at all is a decision in its own way.

 This seriously got me reflecting on my ability to make decisions. As a leader, I found it always hard to make decision in regards to staff – human resources. I don’t mind spending days and weeks talking about programs, strategies to achieve project goals and visions. On the other hand I always dreaded the discussions about staffing, human resources and conflict resolution. But the author challenges us to become effective decision makers and hence effective leaders.

 B. For most people, their fear of loss is much greater than their desire for gain. Most individuals would work much harder to hang onto what they have than take the necessary risk to shoot for their dreams.

 Again this is something that challenged me as I read the book. In fact it got me thinking about some friends from college who were always known risk takers and are currently successful business women and men. I personally would not consider myself a risk taker and from what the author is saying, taking risks can be the bridge to achieving what I have always wanted, however On the other hand, I have also known friends who could gamble their last coin in the hope of winning the jackpot. I guess the key is taking strategic risk and the need to think through before you act. I personally need to address my “risk phobia.”

 C. There’s a huge difference between achieving to be happy and happily achieving. Remember that the direction you’re headed in is more important than temporary results.

 This got me reflecting on my role as a mother of two young children and it can sometimes be very stressful and hard work with the on and off flues, fever episodes and the sleepless nights. Sometimes one feels very consumed and tired that it’s hard to find the time and spirit to be “happy” yet parenthood is an amazing gift that must be enjoyed no matter what.

 D. But you don’t need an excuse to allow yourself to feel good. You can just decide to feel to feel good right now simply because you are alive. You don’t have to wait for anything or anyone.

 Reading this made me reflect on what it means to feel good and when was the last time I felt good and why. Honestly I need to do so much work on myself as I tend to take life too seriously and many times forget to take it easy. It got me thinking about all the people (family and friends) whom I admire because of their positivity, energy and enthusiasm for life despite the situations they are experiencing. I need to learn to enjoy life, live today as yesterday is gone and tomorrow is not yet here, to smile more and feel good even when I feel like crying, to see a better world even when the tvs and newspapers are filled with all the chaos and unforgivable crimes against humanity that happen each day .

 E. Health and fitness are not the same.. Many people think that fitness implies health, but the two don’t necessarily go hand in hand. If you achieve health at the expense of health you may not live long enough to enjoy your spectacular physique.

 I think sometimes the focus is more on looking good rather than being healthy which is a more long term goal. Since I had my two angels, I have been promising to lose weight with little success and motivation anyway. However, reading this book gave me the much needed push because I and I only have the power to set my goals and achieve them. I have made a commitment that I owe it to myself and my family to do everything in my power to be healthy so I am going to take small manageable steps to being fit and healthy again.

 F. The answers we receive depend upon the questions we are willing to ask.

 I remembered one of my college professors always challenged us to ask questions and ask the right questions. She in fact taught us to always ask “what is the thing, that’s the thing behind the thing?” so as to get to the root cause of the problem while undertaking transformative training in the community. I believe it is a skill to know how to ask the right questions in any situation. It is not easy and it takes a lot of practice. Personally I think I have gotten better at asking questions and listening to the answers but I still need to do a lot of work and practice to perfect it.

 G. The reason it’s often difficult to change a pattern (emotional or behavioral) is that it is literally “wired” into you.

 The importance of this to me relates to what I read recently in a book that to “learn new knowledge, we must first unlearn the thing we have been taught all our lives. This to me relates to constantly asking questions and recognizing that our potential is limit less.


3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

 For me, the overlapping idea in this book is that I can undertake small but concrete steps on a day by day basis to influence and achieve the destiny I desire. That to be in control of my life as a leader, I need to constantly review my goals and progress towards achieving holistic wellbeing.


4. Quotes: Are there brief quotes from the book which really got your attention? If so, please list and comment on them.

 This book is so rich in powerful quotations that it is hard to pick out those that got my attention most. In addition to the quotes already highlighted in the section above, I now listed below some of the quotes that stood out for me.

 “Words have the power to start wars or create peace.”

 “We must adopt the concept of continuous improvement as a daily principle rather than as a goal to be pursued only occasionally.”

 “To create a new pattern of thinking, feeling or behaving, you must first interrupt the old pattern.”

 “Questions set off a processional effect that has an impact beyond our imagining. Questioning our limitations is what tears down the walls.”


 5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

 First and fore most I would like to clearly state that I don’t disagree with any of the ideas in this book per se. However writing this assessment got me thinking about the things that are happening in the world today and wondering about how and where the balance between personal dreams, aspirations and hopes converge to build or feed into communal or universal dreams, aspirations. Is it possible that if we all clearly stated our goals and dreams, it would contribute to a better world for all? Is it not possible that sometimes in any group of people, team or even family, the personal goals, dreams or aspirations of each individual may be different from those of the others and hence contradictory could contradict as opposed to complement each other? How can I, or we find and strike the balance to make a better world that I would want to live in at peace with my neighbors? Is this possible? It is just a thought I had.

 Another quote or idea that I would wish to comment on is, “One of the miracles of being human is that we can decide what causes us pain and pleasure; each of us has this power of choice.” This got me reflecting about all the situations and people in the world who are suffering misery and poverty as a result of decisions by others. Much as I agree with this statement, I also feel it may not be applicable to all situations and circumstances.


 6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

 Yes and some of the exercises were very eye opening and interesting to do. However I only worked out the exercises as I read the book and feel that it is probably best to create a journal out of them for future reference. This I will do since I kept all pencil notes of the exercises I attempted to do. On a whole, I found the exercises very helpful.


 7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.

 No, nothing further to comment on.


 Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read?                             9
B. How helpful were the contents?                            9
C. How easy was it to understand?                           10
D. Would you recommend it to others?                   10
E. What is the overall rating you would give it?      9

The New Dynamics of Winning
Assessment by Mutesi Rosette Gahakwa (Uganda)


1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

 I am thankful that after 18 months of reading, studying and research for academic purposes, I have successfully accomplished that phase in my life and I can return to the real world of work and life. It has not been easy and frankly speaking, very often I felt like I couldn’t take any more but I hung in there, found the energy to write that next assignment, read that chapter and everything else and now, it’s all over and not only did I win, I also feel like a winner. Therein lies the main idea that the author of this book is trying to convey.

 In my view, the author shows that every human being has what it takes to succeed and become what we wish to become but we must be prepared to work hard, be committed, remain focused, design the right strategy and continue to aim for the main goal. By using case studies and examples of people who have gone down in the books of history as “winners”, the author points out that hard work, commitment and persistence play an important role in `winning`. Everyone has what it takes to be a winner and to achieve what you set your mind on.


 2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.’’

 The most important conversations are those that you have with yourself

 I have always been an inner processor of events that happen around me and for a very long time I always thought this explains why I get stressed and wished that I was different. No matter how hard I try, it is not easy for me to talk about things or what am going through unless I have internally digested it and feel ready to talk. I actually admired my brother so much because no matter how bad the situation is, he always manages to smile and pick the pieces and move on with life even in cases where I needed two days to recover. The reason why this idea is very important to me is because it resonates so much and so well with my experience, who I am and who I have become. About four years ago during the Training for Transformation course, I learnt about strategic life management, personality types and how it is ok “to be who I am, to love who I am”. I have learnt to believe in me, spend quality time with me and listen to the ‘little voice`. By learning how to meditate, reflect and evaluate myself, I have grown so accustomed to spending time with me and I actually enjoy it. This works for me in trying to make sense of life’s challenges and successes, finding solutions and inspiration to go on.


 “Life is not a treasure hunt .. life its self is the treasure”

 This idea is probably one of those that will remain with me for the rest of my life. My friend and mentor Ntombi always talks about ‘being’ while Leocadia talks about ‘living the moment, not yesterday, not tomorrow’. This idea is an invocation for us to learn to live today instead of the constant worries about yesterday or what will happen tomorrow.

 It is funny how at school, we are encouraged to study hard for a brighter future (and end up going through school without learning) and then we start working and we are always looking to making more money and move from Job to job in the hope of finding that ‘treasure’. I personally feel this will change how I look at life and I want to live more, enjoy the small things in life, look at the many pleasures that life presents and learn to slow down in this world of madness. This is something I need to learn to do and I am committed to trying harder. I believe I can do this because ‘I am a winner’.


 You are an inner winner first’ 

My fascination with this idea is informed by my experience of working with communities and local leaders. I have seen people in the community who are perceived to have nothing yet they are so happy and comfortable with where they are in life. On the other hand, I have heard conversations with people who seem to have it all (if there is anything like this anyway) yet they are the most unhappy and have so many complaints about life. Isn’t it amazing how competition drives our society today? The mentality of organizing ‘winners’ in hierarchical order in school and in society does not recognize the inner winner in each one of us.


 You are enrolled in an informal school called life’

 As said above, this idea is also very important because I have learnt that every day, every life experience presents an opportunity for me to learn something. It just amazes me how much I have learnt about society, work and myself through the most unexpected events and times.

 One of the first ideas I picked from the first IIGL book I read says that we need to learn continuously, but to do that we need to unlearn the things we have learned all our lives and relearn new things. To use my brother’s words ‘some people in this world behave like they have arrived… know it all … the joke is on them’. What I have learnt since I joined IIGL and Training for Transformation (TFT) is to be open to new ideas and challenge my own beliefs and views because ‘life is the best teacher’.

 The other idea that speaks profoundly to me is the fact that I need to learn to set manageable goals. This is not only a challenge in my personal life, it’s the same with my professional life where I have found that I tend to plan ambitiously and when I can’t accomplish what I set out to do, I get discouraged and disappointed in myself and my abilities. Even as a student last year, I found that I sent targets to have submitted my essays that were impossible for me to beat.


 When your eyes are open, you see the world that lies outside yourself’

  I once conducted a gender awareness workshop for a community group (15 women, 12 men). I got the women to work in groups of 5 to recreate their world without men and like ways for the men to work in groups and act out what their world with no women would look like. I have never learnt so much about gender issues like I did during that session. We all had a good laugh seeing how the women were forced to perform the `masculine prescribed roles in society` like leading the prayers at the local church and chairing meeting while the men couldn’t find the food, their clothes and so much more. What this session did was open our eyes to see the world differently. What I believe is that change can only happen, when we are able to see things differently, view “our world with different lenses”. In recent years I learnt to see myself differently, see the world and the things that happen to and around me with different eyes. Learning to forgive myself when I make a mistake or even look for the positive in every negative situation has taught me to appreciate life, relax and enjoy living better.

 The idea and section of self talk is also very powerful for me. I have learnt that in life, there is so much negative talk about everything and everyone that it is so hard to feel good about who you are. Particularly for me who is a `perfectionists` and easily get disappointed when things don’t go as planned, I easily resign into depression and self pity. Like I explained above, it is not easy to tell myself that ‘Rosette, all is well’, ‘relax’ or like my family usually says, ‘things could be worse`. This is a process I have started and I am committed to because I need to encourage and motivate myself more rather than drown in self pity that doesn’t lead me anywhere except deeper down the route of stress and depression.

 Chapter 9 about the quality of leadership was very relevant to my experience. A few days ago, I was having a discussion with some friends about the ideal leader. One of us had been sharing her experience about her boss who really feels ‘the boss’ and leads by ‘bossing every one, checking up on the computer to make sure you are doing work and not chatting away or reading the news paper……………’ In her opinion, her boss was just that but not a leader. I agreed with her because I would dread to have such a superior. I would just be lost for words and space that I would never be effective. In my view, a leader should inspire instead of instill fear, should guide and lead from afar, a leader should listen more than they speak and a leader should recognize and uplift potential in every one in the team. In my view, a good leader should be able to make people feel good about themselves and energized to come to work the next day instead of cultivating fear, insecurity and feelings of inadequacy. Indeed Waitley says, “leadership isn’t based on theory or technique. It depends on your ability to subordinate your own ego for the good of the team”. 


3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

 What I learn in these books are life skills that keep with me and I need to translate into my everyday life at work, at home and in the community. I feel that most of the things I learn in these books touch the core of who I have become.

 Private and professional life presents new challenges every day. Sometime, there is very little light at the end of the tunnel making the easy options such as giving up very attractive. I feel that this knowledge gives me hope and determination to go on, live life to the full and cope with what comes my way.

 I consider myself a leader, but the challenge is how to be an inspirational, motivational leader. Waitley explains that “good leadership motivates others to their highest levels by offering opportunities, not obligations”and challenges leaders to be good followers.

 On a practical level, I think this book is packed with tips and ideas such as how to set manageable goals and beautiful ideas like waking up to music to help change the mood of the day. I really had a laugh at myself because I relay on my alarm to wake me every morning. The idea of substituting it with music for example just seemed so unimaginable and I just couldn’t get to do it. Although I have not tried it yet, I understand the psychology because I really dread the alarm yet I feel so hooked that I dare not go to bed expecting to wake on time any other way.

 For me its these simple life skills and ideas that challenge my beliefs and actions that make my IIGL studies very powerful and special.

 4. Quotes: Are there brief quotes from the book which really got your attention? If so, please list and comment on them.  

 In addition to those already explained above:

 “A real leader appreciates the differences among individuals, and finds value in those differences that enhance all our lives”. This resonates with my experience and expectation of a good leader. I remember one of my assignments last year was to write about the best leader I have ever experienced, how they behaved, what they did and what skills they had. I have worked mostly with small community organizations and although I do not know if there is anything like a good leader. In my view or the perfect leadership style, I do believe that there are people who are real leaders. By appreciating and valuing the abilities of each individual on the team, a real leader is a better to promote a safe and secure environment for all, where everyone feels wanted and valued that they can freely give their opinions and views on all aspects of the work and teams endeavors. It’s for this reason that I believe in flat organizations as opposed to the hierarchical structures where power and authority is bestowed upon those high up the ladder. I once proposed rotational leadership in the organization I worked in to give everyone the opportunity to experience the thrill and challenges of being at the top. Although this poses sustainability challenges, I think it should be

 “It is not who you are that holds you back, it is what you think you are not”. This is quite a challenge because often times, we are unsure about our abilities and potentials and think so low of our selves. But again, how can we escape this if everything we have been told from an early age is “girls don’t do that” or “you can’t manage that, may be if you were like so and so`s son/ daughter that’s the one who is clever”. Especially in the struggle for gender equality, it is very true that women must be particularly encouraged to view themselves differently so as to release and utilize their full potential. Likewise, parents need to view their children differently and encourage them to fully exploit their potential and not be held back by the social limitations for instance “no decent girl speaks on public radio”.


 5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

 I state the following ideas not because I do not understand them or disagree but because I have a different view and experience to what the author presents.

 “If you try to sit in two chairs, you will fall between them. In life, you must choose one chair”. This quote is particularly fascinating. Are we not always trying to find that ‘right chair’ and does it exist any way?? I wonder. I honestly think I have become a jack of all trades that I may not comfortably sit in one chair and still recognize myself. As I read, grow and learn new skills and knowledge, I tend to rush to try them out practically which makes me marvel at all the opportunities and possibilities that exist. So instead of falling between the two chairs, I find that trying to sit in many chairs exposes me to new possibilities, opportunities and skills, some of which I may not have been aware of.

 “Don’t compare yourself to others”- I think that this is unrealistic considering that our society is based on inequality, some people have so much while others don’t have anything, the people in power misusing it, and even in the school setting where there are winners and losers. For some one committed to community advocacy, I feel that it is necessary to make comparisons at all levels to effect change. For instance it tells a lot why you would find a model farmer surrounded by neighbors who have nothing in their fields. And that’s why many community groups are based on self help and self support groups to promote knowledge and skills sharing and sustainability in the long run.

 “Losers let it happen, winners make it happen”.This is another of those ideas I am not comfortable with. is there really someone who can be defined as a loser??? Or a winner???? I wonder because these terms are relative and can change from time to time. Also they can change with the circumstances where for instance the best business person is the worst parent or teacher. I believe that in different times, under different circumstances we each experience being either a loser or a winner and as such there are no permanent winners or losers in society


 6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

 The last chapter contains simple exercises for personal training to learn the process of winning. I actually enjoyed this section (even laughed at myself when some days i forgot or was just too tired to evaluate how I have achieved in the goals I set out to do. I found this section very informative and practical in a sense and I will try to incorporate some of the ideas into the workshops on strategic life management for community workers and teams I work with.


 7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.

 Covered above


 Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.


A. How interesting was it to read?                            9
B. How helpful were the contents?                           8
C. How easy was it to understand?                           10
D. Would you recommend it to others?                    9
E. What is the overall rating you would give it?      9

Psycho- Cybernetics 2000
Assessment by Mutesi Rosette

 1. What Ideas were personally most important to you in this book? Do not simply list the ideas, but explain or discuss why they were important to you, using personal examples.

This book is probably the most enriching book I have read in a long time. “Life is a moving vehicle with no brakes…. If you spend too much time looking in the rearview mirror, you’ll hit a tree………. That’s why your front window is bigger than your rearview window”. This was one of the many Ah – ha moments I experienced while reading this book.

I became aware and shocked by the amount of time and energy I spend looking, reflecting and thinking about the past occurrences and events that have mainly not been very memorable. Yet on the other hand, it’s so hard to hold on to the feeling of achievement, success and joy. Reading this book helped me overcome the agony I had been living in following a bad incident in my past.

About two years ago, I, my brother and sisters were robbed at gun point as we traveled back home about 9.00 pm one evening. Although each of the three robbers had a pistol, they didn’t physically harm any of us and at that moment we didn’t really feel our lives had been in danger. The incident lasted about 15 minutes and the robbers vanished into the night with our car, my hand bag and all our purchases of the day. The days that followed involved us making numerous statements to the police and repeatedly tell our story to shocked and scared colleagues, relatives and friends. In the process of telling and retelling the incident, we started to imagine what worse would have happened, why didn’t we take another route, why us of all the motorists that night, did they follow us or did we unfortunately happen to be at the wrong place and the right time???? The list is endless. I now think it’s this imagination and replaying of the incident that continued to affect me. I couldn’t sleep for two straight hours and as a result I become stressed and weak during the day.

When reading this book and CANCELING these thoughts and images of distress, I recognized and acknowledged my role in traumatizing my self. Gradually I started to cancel when ever these thoughts came to me and I realized that this practice has worked wonders for me. Indeed, I am going to be canceling a lot of my personal fears, attitudes and beliefs for a long time to come.

Reading this book prompted me to reflect on the role of self talk in self motivation, appreciation and more importantly self love and appreciation especially for women in my work experience. I have seen and worked with women who have internalized that they are inferior, not as clever as men, not supposed to be assertive and defensive even in an abusive relationship. In fact there is a local saying that says “the head of the family is never wrong”. Therefore many of the women in that culture grow up to believe that you are not supposed to be a head of the family and secondly, no matter what the family head does, says, and no matter how this impacts on you, you are always wrong and “HE” is always right. Indeed “your ears hear your voice giving the order”. I think for change to happen in the lives of the women and marginalized, we need to realise that we each have a personal obligation to live, make choices and be accountable to the choices that we make. We as women need to claim our space or we shall for ever live in borrowed space.

I also found the idea of “consistent messages” very fascinating. I usually watch the TV show “super nanny” who helps parents with very “difficult children” teach them manners, respect for self, siblings and parents and discipline. Every time I watch this show am thinking to my self, what is happening to children these days?. The abusive words and insults usually targeted at their mothers is unbearable.

Yet the super nanny is able to bring sanity into the home within a few days training. The key to her message is “consistent message”. Its amazing how even parents sometimes give a warning message to reprimand a child and immediately give another message of adoration and love. The children then use the adoration messages to their advantage and start believing “mum never means it when she says she will spank me”. One of the key messages of super nanny is the need to give a message and mean it and then the child will realize this is serious. Its amazing to see the amount of change that happens as soon as the parents become emphatic and consistent in their messages and expectations from the children.

By using the same strategy, we all can find inner power, control and balance between the left and right brains. Funny when I was reading this chapter, I called up my brother John and asked if he ever feels there is an internal discussion within himself?. He said yes and I asked if he thought it was a discussion between the left and right brain or is it a discussion between the spiritual and physical self?. His immediate response was “it happens often and I personally feel it’s the right and left brain discussion”. Because am a very spiritual person, I always believed it was a dialogue between the spiritual and the physical me. What am saying is that some kind of dialogue happens in each of our lives although we each interpret these dialogues differently depending on our beliefs, traditions and values.

But no matter when and where these discussions happen to us, it is important that we pay attention and take apart because these internal dialogues can make or break us.. I want to sum up to by saying that how so true that “nobody makes you unless you let them. The only person who stops you …the only person who ever truly ‘makes you’ do anything is yourself”. Despite the life challenges of every day life, I now know that no matter how “grim today gets, I have it in my power to create a different tomorrow”……… wow so powerful.


 2. Can you relate the ideas or concepts in this book to your personal circumstances in life such as your relationships, your beliefs, your goals, your values, etc?

One of the community groups I work with operates near the Mountain Rwenzori National park boundaries in Kasese District, Uganda. In July every year, this group organizes community elders to go up the mountain and offer sacrifice and consult the gods about the challenges of drought, climatic change, decreasing rains, new pests and diseases, HIV/AIDS, war and any other issues that are challenging the community. This practice is actually a continuation of what was practiced by our forefathers (nothing is new) but also a realization that there are “powers that be” and maybe humanity need to go back to nature and natural way of finding solutions to community and then global challenges and concerns. That’s what this association believes and promotes.

Recently at a public exhibition, this group was being tasked by show goers to explain who the other gods are yet Christianity teaches only one true God and if their practices are not in any way a promotion of witch craft and idolatry. It was interesting for me to watch this discussion between two different sets of people with different beliefs and values, each thinking they are right and the other is wrong and missing the point.

I was watching all this just a few days after reading chapter 10 and I was asking my self surely what does it mean to be human today? What do we as humanity need to do to be human today, is it possible????? Sommers is indeed saying that it begins with “me” and “you”. I entirely agree with her that spirituality is broader than religion but how do we start appreciating this fact yet the education systems, family, Sunday schools and all the children reading books have socialized us to believe there is only one God who punishes sinners, happy are the poor and so many beliefs, how for instance should I react amidst this exchange?. Although Sommers definition that “spirituality is the way we experience ourselves in relation with everything outside us” and as such it ties in directly with self image and we need to cultivate our individual spirituality as this is the key to appreciating our “value as human beings” speaks to me, I still wonder how this can become a reality of millions of people who cant read or write.

I feel that personal spirituality greatly influences how one relates with self and with others. My awareness about my spirituality and God changed during the TFT course in 2004. We were asked to reflect on our earliest images of God and where we acquired them. For many of us, God was an old white man with a long beard, sitting very far up in the sky. Also for many of us this image was acquired at Sunday school. When we were asked to describe what we feel God was to us, words such as comforter, listener, provider, patient, loving and caring. Then I started to ask myself how come we have been made to believe that God can only be male, and if these descriptors were exclusively masculine or is it possible that they can also apply to a feminine being?. It is at this point that I realised may be I need to “learn, re- learn and un learn” some of the things I have believed all my childhood and redefine, who and how I experience God and the spirit in my every day life.

This realization has completely changed me and strengthened my relationship with my self and with the world because the spirit talks to me so often and through people I meet, mother nature and through my feelings and circumstances of life. I think this has greatly improved my sense of self and purpose in life and that’s why I feel that spirituality and self imagine are greatly interlinked.


 3. What are the most important new ideas or concepts you learned from this book? Please Explain.

I have learnt a number of lessons from this book and I will try to elaborate on a number of them here on.

Probably the most important new learning for me was the concept of self gratitude and reward. Although am familiar with the concept of staff awards, community awards or even global awards if you like, I have never looked back and said to my self “you have done well and you have earned something”. Yet I work so hard and often surpass my expected targets at work, in the community and at home but I never reward my self. Although I receive rewards from friends, family and colleagues, “me rewarding me”, is not usual.

I just realized that when am finished writing that report that took me 15 sleepless nights, when I have finally submitted that proposal that cost me all my energy and laughter, when I have finally finished reading that book that took me for ever, then its life as usual……….. The next proposal, the next report to write, the next book to read and so on. But from now on… no more. If any one is going to reward me the best, it will have to be me. I need to identify what are the rewards I have always wanted but never got and give them to my self. In fact, I have a report to write and as soon as am finished with it, am off to the safari park for 2 days, sleeping in a tent, lying on my back and watching the moonlight deep into the dark. I actually feel good about this already.

Another new idea that I learnt from this book is that “the time to worry about a decision is before you make it not after”. What intrigues me most about this is that for me, the reverse is so true. Actually I am usually worried after I have made the decision, burst out angrily at a friend or colleagues or furiously stormed out of a disagreement because I just can’t take it any more. Although this new idea is challenging, its proof that I still have a lot to learn and grow. I have always had an admiration for people I find never loose their cool even when its expected, people that don’t say a thing when I could have filled a bucket with word. I know it’s both a skill and I am going to work hard to achieve this level of maturity and composure. I think decisions can make or break us but no matter what type of decisions we make, we need to take responsibility for all the decisions we make about our relationships, work, carriers or even personal health.

The concept that the “illiterate of the future are not those who can’t read or write but those who cannot learn, re-learn and unlearn” was also an AH-HA moment for me. Yet it makes perfect sense when I reflect on this saying. I know some of the wise people who haven’t seen the inside of the class room but are anchors of wisdom. On the other hand, I know some very “educated people” whose wisdom is so far out of reality and am always thinking where is the link between education and wisdom?

We in civil society spend so much time each year preparing log frames with clear indicators to measure progress, a practice demanded by many of the donors. The communities we work with don’t identify with all this rhetoric and often are not involved as majority of them don’t read or write. Yet, by just asking the community how they can tell they are making progress, they ably articulate what changes are happening in their lives.

They don’t need to know how to read or write, they are students in the class of life and their experiences are the best teachers. As a trainer and community process facilitator, we use creative training approaches that ensure the communities are active participants in the learning process as opposed to becoming objects of learning as is the case in the class room settings. The realization that we can be potentially among the illiterate of the future could ultimately change the way we work and learn. In fact it’s ok to question all the theories that we are taught in school, at home and at church in this search for answers and knowledge. We (you and me) can become active creators of knowledge instead of consumers as is currently the situation.

I found the topics on team relations, team work and team management very intriguing as well. in the many team building workshops I have been too, I am always amazed at the suggestions and recommendations to improve team relations. Examples include: communicate better, time keeping, respect for teammates and so forth… but all these are subjective and are value based. In fact I could ask, is communicating better referring to using the office intercom and intranet more often, or does it mean using the pigeon holes and notice boards which no one checks? Thanks goodness I have not heard to work in a workplace where we must sign in the arrival book or have a supervisor who prepares a weekly report showing who have defaulted on time during the week. In fact I know a workplace where people come in at 8:00 am to turn on their computers and either start chatting on the internet or playing solitaire.

Despite my dislike for these work place control procedure, I have very recently realized the need for modest internal control systems to provide a framework for those members of the team who need and respect the law and find it hard to operate when there are no laws and polices to govern every thing. I prefer the people centered approach to management instead of the policy center management and that’s why Sommers concept of self managed teams VS self sabotaging teams’ makes a lot of sense to me. I believe that the key to building effective and efficient teams must be through creating awareness on shared values, the different personality types and hence share roles based on what people are more comfortable and passionate about.

 4. Has this book challenged or changed your thinking in any way? If so, explain how?

As above

 5. Are there ideas in the book that you totally disagree with? If so, why?

Although I wouldn’t call it a disagreement with the author, I have two small issues that I found my self”…… aaaaaaaahhhh   … I don’t think so”. The first is around feedback and the role of feed back in personal growth. I personally value feedback, I rarely receive positive feedback. And based on my experience, negative or malicious feedback can undermine personal senses of self. Although I agree that feedback is important, I also would like to highlight that majority of the feedback we receive in day to day life is most negative and hence not progressive.

I also agreed with so much of the things about stress and stress management. I would also however like to highlight that there exist what I would call “shared stress”. I will give an example, I know of a boss who walks into the organization and by the way she responds to how colleagues greet her, every one will have received a hint on what type of day it’s going to be. If she walks into the office in the morning all cheerful and bubbly, then it’s going to be a happy day. But if she walks into the office and walks straight to her office with a frown, then every body braces themselves for a really bad day. This scene is also possible in a home setting with a parent returning home stressed from work and how this plays out at the home setting. I just want to say that personal stress management is an ideal that we all aim to achieve but, we are also communal beings and the concept of shared stress greatly impacts on our own moods and behaviors.

 6. What did you find most helpful and least helpful in this book?

I found it very helpful that this book had work sheets and I could make notes at the end of every chapter. Normally I don’t like to mark inside the books but this time I could do this easily and not feel guilty. These notes were very helpful and came in handy when it was time to write essay and I will surely use them from time to time.

The use of case studies and stories made reading interesting and meaningful. It was easy to relate to most of the stories and the every day life struggles the different people in the book experienced. This made the book interesting to read.

Furthermore, the language used was simple and understandable. This is probably the simplest psychology book I have read. In fact I have always wondered why psychology language is so philosophical and complex yet they are about people and every day life. The language and style of writing is very educative.

 7. In 50 words or less, please describe the main idea the whole book is trying to convey.

This book is about personal life management skills and me and you can use these skills to effectively operate and actualize our potentials in our family, work and world life journeys’. This book is about how we can manage to be human in the world today.


Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.


A.    How interesting was it to read?                            10
B.     How helpful were the contents?                          10
C.     How easy was it to understand?                           9
D.      Would you recommend it to others?                  9
E.     What is the overall rating you would give it?     9

Assessment by Mutesi Rosette (Uganda)


1. What Ideas were personally most important to you in this book? Do not simply list the ideas, but explain or discuss why they were important to you, using personal examples.


“It’s a sign of a good book when the book reads you”. Often times I read a book and feel it speaking to me and my experiences although I had never been able to put this reader- book relationship into words. This feeling stayed with me throughout this book.


It is so empowering to know that “I am the most important living person” and also that the secret to success is “there is no secret”. I have never thought of myself as being an important person because the parameters commonly used for measuring “importance” are different than those proposed in this book. In many societies, it is not socially acceptable to think of “you” as “important” unless you have some social, cultural, economic or political power over and the power to. Very rarely is this expression associated with the power within and power with. If someone said to me “you are important”, I would be taken aback and probably ask more questions instead of considering it a positive complement. But here I was sitting alone and this book is saying to me “you are the most important living person”.


This got me thinking of what “important” really means to me, whom I consider important in my family and society. Interestingly, I found that when I started asking myself these questions, the important people in my life and family are those that are always there for and with me through it all as opposed to those I consider important in society which list comprised mainly of politicians and influential figures in the public sphere.


Recently in class, the facilitator placed two marks in the room, the extreme right corner to stand for “I am a powerful person” and the extreme left corner to stand for “I am not a powerful person”. When we were asked to individually place our selves across the room into our most comfortable spots in relation to personal power, I moved as far away from the “powerful” corner and stood very close to the left corner. Listening to the discussion that followed, many of us are uncomfortable with power mostly as a result of experiences of power abuse in society.


One of my colleagues had a different view saying “I would not like to think of myself as powerless because its only when you recognize your self- power that you can actively influence circumstances around you”. This got me thinking about the work of “community empowerment” which is really about advocating community opportunities and voices and for the people to reclaim their spaces in shaping their reality. I must continue to challenge myself and re- learn my perceptions about power because as the authors of Success through a Positive Mental Attitude notes “When our attitude towards ourselves is big, and our attitude towards others is generous and merciful, we attract big and generous portions of success”.


A friend recently told me a story that has stayed with her since the day she read about it. It will probably stay in my memory for a very long time. It is a true story about an author who continues to inspire many. As a little boy, he was considered dull at school as he always bottom of his class. He tells of how he didn’t like to study and found school boring. No one expected him to speak much sense to the extent that his opinion didn’t matter except to his mother who continued to challenge and motivate him and his siblings. He tells of how his mother, an illiterate cleaner always encouraged her children to read one book a week on a subject of their interest and prepare for a family reflection and sharing during the weekend where she listened and critiqued their learning’s and continued to challenge them to study hard. As a result, this young man read extensively about topics that were interesting to him, cars, sports, flowers, then rocks and soil- just anything except school materials.


Then one day during class, the teacher asked a question about rocks and soil types but none of the “clever” pupil’s in the class volunteered an answer. As he had read this subject for his family sharing, he knew what the answer and when he spoke out, the teacher and other pupils were awe struck by how intelligent he sounded about the topic. That changed how everyone viewed him, his own perception of himself and then he realized that he can actually be clever like everyone else… it just takes reading. He started to take more interest in his class work, reading more and finally from the bottom of his class, he emerged top and never looked back. For me this story is the a vivid example of what happens when our mental attitude changes from being negative to positive and how so true that “what the mind of man can conceive, the mind of man can achieve”. This transformation from negative to positive mental attitude is the key is the recognition and appreciation of potential and ability to achieve success after all “the only secret to success is, there is no secret”.




2. Can you relate the ideas or concepts in this book to your personal circumstances in life such as your relationships, your beliefs, your goals, your values, etc?


About four years ago, I joined a women’s training and it changed the way I look and relate with myself, my work, my world. I remember the hardest challenge for most of us at the course was the exercise to draw out our personal visions. Frankly I was speechless about my personal vision yet I can speak of head about the vision, mission and objectives of my organization. Many of us struggled defining and articulating our goals in life. It is from this simple class room exercise that I committed myself to read widely and open myself to learning as much as I can to make myself enlightened and spiritual. I have not looked back and I feel that I understand more about the environment and climatic change, migration and population growth, globalization and the list is endless. I now read more and the choice of books that I read are a great help. Most of the books I have so far read highlight the influence of positive attitude and I am increasingly becoming aware of the changes in my attitude every single day. When I feel positive about life, I feel lighter, happier and more likely to share positive energy with others. My greatest challenge remains how to sustain this positive energy even when there are growing responsibilities and challenges as I get older.


I believe in the concept of self suggestion and motivation and the power this can have to keep us focused to achieve success as the authors suggest. Could it be the parameters used to measure success that are problematic? Success is usually tagged to economic or academic excellence both usually influenced by external factors and environment instead of the personal attributes and inner will, power and drive to achieve success. I remember from my time in primary school, success is measured by how well one passes the exams in relation to the other students in class. What this does to the different students is boost confidence and self esteem of a few at the top while the other half of the class believe they are less intelligent. In my school, the top of the class were called the “cream of the milk” and I bet thinking of oneself as so has huge benefits for those individuals.


The story of the prisoner who turned around his life and circumstances while in the prison cells is so profound and I am still trying to work out how he realistically managed this change. In many of the contexts I have lived or worked in, prisons is a mess and the idea of one going to prison has negative consequences for him/her and the family. I guess this is a challenge to personally look out for opportunities when the easiest option is usually to give up and accept defeat. This requires a lot of energy, personal commitment and positive mental attitude to keep striving and not give up because failure is experienced by those who, when they experience defeat, stop trying to find the something more. Indeed personal attitude determines altitude in life.




3. What are the most important new ideas or concepts you learned from this book? Please Explain.




Already discussed above.




4. Has this book challenged or changed your thinking in any way? If so, explain how?


Although I have already discussed most of the new ideas above, I guess the biggest learning and challenge for me is how to maintain a positive mental thinking and how I can use this to uplift not just my spirit but to keep me focused and energized for life’s journey. Sometimes, life gets very tough and depressing and I feel very powerless and just resign to defeat. Some patches of life are sincerely tough requiring extra energy, stamina and social support to maintain a positive mental attitude.


Sometimes when the future seems cloudy, hazy, uncertain and the easiest and convenient thing for me to do is just resign and hope that things sort themselves out. This often is a painful and depressing wait. When I look back at some of these times, I see pain, anxiety, hopelessness, depression and the list is endless. I need to learn and re-learn how to turn this negativity into positivity. I think self suggestion and self awareness are viable strategies that I need to adopt as I continue to “look around for ways to make my stay in prison as pleasant as possible”. I guess it is not easy but it is possible and I need to try harder every time I start walking the path of negative attitude. The illustrations used in the book are all very challenging as they tell stories of how people managed to turn their circumstances around and stand tall. It even makes me emotional to think how these heroes managed to remain positive in situations that most of us consider negative.


5. Are there ideas in the book that you totally disagree with? If so, why?


Although I couldn’t say that I totally disagree with any of the ideas in this book, I feel a change in mental attitude in its self could have a tremendous impact on any individuals and community ability to change and influence their realities for the better. On the other hand however, I believe that there are broader social cultural and economic influences that impact greatly on how well individuals and communities are able to translate this positive mental attitude into reality tangible benefits to lead more fulfilled lives.




6. What did you find most helpful and least helpful in this book?


What I found least helpful was the predominant use of masculine language and examples. Although I appreciate the context in which the book was written, as a “womanist” I would have loved to read about some successful women role models as well. It would also have been very helpful if the book included illustrations and success cases from other parts of the world. Despite these concerns, this book remains very relevant today. The message is simple, well illustrated and delivered by the authors.




7. In 50 words or less, please describe the main idea the whole book is trying to convey.


This book is about the power of a Positive Mental Attitude as a key motivator and inspiration to recognize and appreciate individual possibilities and opportunities to live more fulfill and rewarding lives. We can only achieve success if we believe that success is possible.




Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.


 A.  How interesting was it to read?                            10
B.   How helpful were the contents?                             9
C.   How easy was it to understand?                           10
D.   Would you recommend it to others?                   10
E.   What is the overall rating you would give it?     10