Young Black Male businessman listening to music

I just turned twenty-five. I have been on earth for a freaking quarter century, can you believe that? It just feels like a few months ago I was the youngest in everything I did and suddenly I’m agemates with Prof. Dumbledore. Now, exactly 7 days to my birthday I was hit by a car while crossing a junction. As life flashed before my eyes two questions stuck in my head “What have you achieved with your life?” and “If you were to die today would you be happy with how you’ve lived your life?”

Well, the truth is I have only achieved 2% of what I set out to do with my life. Nonetheless, I am happy with how I have lived my life, gotten over my fears, exploited my talents and pursued my passions. Before you embark on pursuing your wildest dreams, take to heart the following 10 secrets to succeeding in your passion. I can assure you it’s not going to be easy.

#1 It’s always darkest before dawn

When I wrote my most popular blog Kenya’s Middle-Class Nightmare I was at the lowest point in life. I had cleared campus so no longer under the care of my parents. My young construction company went under after I made an unwise investment. The three graduate trainee programs I had applied to sent back regret emails on the same week wishing me success in my future endeavors. I was dead broke and felt like a loser so you can imagine my joy when I got a call for a potential job as an engineer in a water supply project.

I drove almost 30km to meet the guys running the project. Never before have I had my expectations shattered that much. This fellow wanted me to oversee the completion of a Ksh. 98 Million project for which he would pay me 400 bob a day. I was deeply disappointed so I drove into a national park which was close by. Since the car was 2WD it got stuck. I was all alone in the forest at a place without network coverage so I couldn’t call for help and dangerous wild animals prowling nearby. I had to dig out the tires with my bare hands several times until I crossed the two kilometer stretch of sand severely bruising my hands in the process.

Alone, dejected and disappointed I chucked my laptop and wrote the article pouring out all my heart while seated under a dilapidated shade overlooking elephants grazing. The piece I created when I hit rock bottom changed my life for good giving me opportunities I had never imagined.

Mark Maish kitesurfing in Kenya, Africa

#2 Develop a thick skin

Do you really expect the people who changed your diapers, taught you how to wipe your nose or helped you get over your first break up to actually believe you are meant to be the next Elon Musk? You must be crazier than I thought! Your family, relatives, and friends will be the very first people to discourage you from pursuing your wildest passions. It’s human nature, they love you so much that they wouldn’t want you to choose a risky path only to later fail.

Therefore, you will need to develop a tough skin and sometimes break the hearts of those you love most for what you believe in.

See Also: The Kenyan Quarter-Life Crisis

#3 Be assertive and polish up your people skills

Having worked in a number of companies I was shocked to learn that the people who worked hardest were hardly promoted or well remunerated simply because they were not assertive enough or had poor people skills. This is because as an expert you like doing things quietly and letting the results speak for themselves. Unfortunately, the world rarely rewards such people. You have to learn how to interact and network since people no longer get the opportunities because they are the best rather because they spoke to someone who was offering or were referred to another.

#4 Success and money won’t come in fast like you thought

If going against the grain and pursuing wildest passions was easy everyone else would be doing it. When you started your business or began developing your talent you probably imagined it would take you a year or two for you to become successful that you can afford to go for exotic holidays twice a year and play golf in the afternoons. Sorry to burst your bubble, only 1% gets to achieve so much success in such a short time. The rest of us have to stay on the grind for a couple of more years before it finally pays off.

You will be lonely, put in crazy long hours, money and success won’t come in quickly like you thought but guess what? You will go to bed every night happy and wake up excited about your day because you are doing what you truly love so don’t give up on your passion no matter how tough it gets.

The Meridian Hotel nairobi

#5 Differentiate between good and great opportunities

Opportunities don’t come easy so when one pops up everyone around you pushes you to go after it without a care of whether it will take you closer to your dreams or not so long as the cheque has lots of zeros. I have turned down four job offers in the past 8 months yet they were all offering to pay me 2-5 times what I currently make in a month. I know it sounds crazy considering I didn’t inherit an oil rig. I turned down the jobs because they were taking me to a different direction to my life goals.

As a young person, you will face this dilemma a lot. Should you continue working on your startup where money isn’t coming in fast or take a job like everyone else so you can buy a beautiful car and live on the plush side of the city? Once you figure out what you want in life learn to say no to the good opportunities that derail you from your dream so you can later land great ones.

#6 Live on half your monthly income

You are probably wondering how you can do that when you have lots of bills to pay or you feel you are earning very little cash for you to save anything. The truth is if you can’t save the little you have now, you will never be able to save much when you get more business or a pay increment. Most likely you will bump up your lifestyle move into a bigger house, in a better neighborhood, get a bigger car and shift to pricier joints.

Strive to live on half your monthly income. Save the other half so that should you lose your job you will have enough money to sustain your current lifestyle for at least six months.  Anything above that should be invested in money generating activities. If you are not an entrepreneur, get into partnership with someone who is and become the silent partner.

See Also: How I Made 7 Million in 7 Days

#7 Make yourself a brand

Thank goodness for the internet you no longer have to hire a billboard or pay for TV ads to put your brand out to the public. Take advantage of social media to create an impressive profile of yourself. Being a brand is what sets you apart from thousands of other youth across the world with similar qualifications and determines how much people are willing to pay for your services.

So how do you make yourself a brand? You have to decide whether you want to be a premium brand or a nondescript brand. If you want to be a premium brand strive to leave a lasting impression on everyone you meet. Don’t misconstrue this to mean you buy clothes and jewelry you can hardly afford to impress complete strangers. It is never about the material stuff because people can always tell when you are trying too hard to impress them. Be optimistic, give genuine positive compliments and desire to have a Midas touch in everything you do.

In studio with Frasha, DJ Bigmyk, Denver, Atieno, Nana & Rap Damu
In studio with Frasha, DJ Bigmyk, Denver, Atieno, Nana & Rap Damu

#8 Let go of toxic partner or job

If you interact with most people from the older generation, they will fondly tell you of how they went through lots of pain to land the position they currently hold or pursued their wife for 15 years before she finally said yes. Well, it might have worked then but not today. There is a difference between mettle, patience, and toxicity.  If you are in a toxic relationship where a partner causes you either physical or psychological torture or a job that is affecting your health don’t go about making up excuses for them. I won’t lie to you, letting go something you have sacrificed a lot isn’t easy but when things are not working, you have to pack your things and move on.

#9 Work with all your heart and brain

What sets apart highly successful people from the rest of us is how they do things. Work is almost a spiritual thing for high achievers. When you see successful personalities, athletes, CEOs and entrepreneurs you probably imagine they don’t have to work hard anymore since they are already at the top. In the past one year, I’ve had the good fortune of interacting with the country’s best in different sectors and one trait they all had in common was strong work ethic.

When the rest of us are waking up at 6am to go to work then go back home at 5pm and watch TV they woke up before 5am and work to way past midnight. In addition to putting more of their time to work, I discovered they executed their duties with all their hearts and brains even on projects I felt were unimportant. If you want to succeed in your passion, be strategic on how you spend your 24 hours and work with all your heart and brains.

See Also : 8 Secrets To Becoming A Multi-Millionaire

#10 Hang around people who are better than you

You have probably heard of the saying, you are an average of the 5 people you spend most of your time with. It’s actually true when you associate yourself with complainers and negative people you will also become one. The trick is to hang around people who are better than you especially in the area your passion lies. When you hobnob with people who are smarter, successful or wealthier you will end up like them.

They say it is only a billionaire who can make another billionaire.  So identify people who are better than you then tag along. At first, it will be tough since you will feel like a failure but with time, you will learn from them and become one of them.

Above all remember you have one mouth and two ears so speak less and listen more like the wise man once said, When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new~ Dalai Lama XIV


Written By Mark Maish



Add Yours
  1. 11
    Wambui Muriuki R

    one month and two weeks out of campus and looking for a job,nothing would have spoken life to me than this article.Indeed as I polish up my skills I will write this down.Thank you for speaking life to me.

  2. 12

    hey! always love your writing,vivid and candid. Your gift to humanity through the pen. It will surely take you before Kings as i celebrate n hail your victory then.

  3. 14

    *sigh* I have so much to say about this. A couple of months ago I lost a job that completely drained me and I hated it. then I landed an internship in line with my passiin. it pays peanuts but I love it. i just wish it would pay more but I have come to realize that passion and hardwork bleeds you. all the same, i can completely feel your pain. just like you, i started my blog at the lowest point in my life. it doesn’t pay but it is damn satisfying. about saving, I won’t even ads anything. good read Mark

  4. 22
    Mysson Humane

    Outstanding secrets there Markmaish. It has been a while since I pass by your blog and believe me, this blog post just rekindled my spirit.

    I particularly loved the point on being a tough skin. In most cases, those who care deep about us will try to talk us into staying; as they are afraid that we will have ourselves hurt in the process. What they don’t know is that its actually worth it.

    Awesome read. Thanks.

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