Al Kags

A new season, lessons of the recent past


It has been a while since I last blogged. While I was away, I have done important things: First, I went back into the private sector from a two-year stint in the civil society and a previous two-year stint in government. These past four years have been ultra-useful to me – I have learnt a great deal about the industries where people work for the good of all.

In these places I have interacted with amazing people who are distinguished in their commitment of socially developing our people and the environment they live in. I have learnt the philosophies that drive them (no, y’all from the private sector: not all people in government are sleeping and reading the newspapers and no, not all civil society chaps just talk). I have in these two years wrestled with my own beliefs and knowledge of the notions of poverty and I hope I shall have the confidence in the near future to write about it.

Inexplicably – at least to me, I found the largest egos and the most politics in these sectors (where politics means underhanded, over-competitive, two-faced practices) – more than in the private sector (at least that my narrow experience allowed)

All in all, I was happy that I learnt the following lessons:

1. To work for your country, you must understand that every decision is loaded with the responsibility of the millions of people that live there.

2. Irreverence is a powerful thing if you are going to change the world. You must have the courage to disregard how things have always been done, what existing processes there have been that slow things down (bureaucracy, within reason) and simply get stuff done.

3. With change comes push-back. Hard skin and slippery maneuvering are art-forms that you want to learn.

4. Trust no one. Expect the best of them to stab you in the back or at the very least ignore you.

5. Even in the “do-good” industry, where people work for the good of all, self interest rules.

6. Regardless of what people say, no one is completely philanthropic (they want fame, money and often, sex)

7. (and this may seem to contradict 6 above, until you consider the two together) Everyone wakes up in the morning with every intention of doing good, making life better, easier, happier… everyone wants to change the world – in their own special, unique way.

And now I am back in business – and you will see some interesting things from me.

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