Gabazira's blog

The Effectiveness-Lab

Do you pay ‘rent’ for your success?

They have done it, I will also do the same. Why not?

…about 60% [youth in East Africa] admired those who used get-rich-quick schemes. And more than half believed it didn’t matter how one makes money while 53% said they would do anything to get money. The survey found 37% would take or give a bribe and 35% believed there is nothing wrong with corruption.  An outliner was Rwanda where most said they wouldn’t take or give a bribe and were unambiguous about the fact that corruption was wrong. From the survey results it’s clear that corruption has been normalised in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Bribery is viewed simply as “eating” and isn’t seen as an ethical aberration.

Everything remaining normal – no stealing, unfair advantage, handouts, smear or malice – we have to pay rent to succeed.

Even the rich and mighty, and royalty don’t sleep and expect success to follow them. To the contrary, this select group work the hardest to sustain their wealth and life privileges. And we have seen innumerable examples of ‘riches to rags’, if we may be allowed to flip the ‘rags to riches’ analogy.

It takes a lot of effort to succeed in life and even more elusive, to sustain success. Now, of-course success is relative. Our Nakabugu peasant neighbour’s success may be rated utter failure by us. But equally, what we call success may be of zero value and interest to the peasant neighbour. So, the common thread is that whatever we call success is in the eyes of the beholder and to attain it is a lot of hard work. The latter is an undisputed fact of life. When we invest all those woman/man-hours we get rewarded, and handsomely.

Murky waters when it comes to rating who is successful or not, let alone agreement on what success is

On matters success and its acquisition, in Uganda, we tend to lick the opposite side of the stamp. We like flipped things – so much so that even the rebels amongst us at the Effectiveness lab marvel at Uganda’s knack for flipping the ideal on this subject.

The success roadmap is mostly flipped, and that is what is passed on to the young. We therefore believe that we have a problem in Uganda. Why? For the success hypothesis to work, the ground has to be level for all in the game. You all should be starting from the same base, assured that what gets you ahead of any person on that journey, is genuine human effort. Not illegal manoeuvres, manipulations of the system, stealing, an unfair advantage compared to others you are with on the field.

But when success measurement and apportionment get distorted, some of us accrue what is termed success, but without the accompanying and authentic hard work. Genuine /clean success is a lot of hard work. It takes significant brain bandwidth, resilience, tenacity, focus, zeal for excellence and individual sacrifice to attain genuine success. And at times, a good brain and luck.

If success in your household is to own real estate property in Kampala, and you have acquired that via hard-work, ‘clean’ money and the other ‘success-hygiene’ variables, then there is not a problem. And we want to rank you amongst the authentically-successful. On the other hand – if the assets were acquired with ill-gotten money, accruing unfair advantage, etc; how can we call the latter authentic-success? It can’t be rated authentic since you have benefited from an unfair fillip. It’s success accrued via cheating, and if you get any elation from that, we need to recalibrate our moral campus for this kind of situation.

Whether it’s the peasant at Nakabugu or the rich class, the ‘proper’ pathway to authentic-success is only one and applies to us all irrespective of class. Even royals that are born into class work hard if not harder, to sustain status.

So, how should we deal with this success ‘rent’ mumbo-jumbo?

From where we stand at the Effectiveness lab, you either pay the real rent for authentic-success or some other kind of rent that has no certified listing. And it’s against that background that the lab opines, there are two schools of thought when it comes to bestowing success on human beings

You either have

1. Clean success
2. or qualified success

Clean is that from genuine hard-work and all the other accompanying ‘success-hygiene’ variables. Qualified is when you get success but with an unfair fillip. Such success gets murkier when that fillip is stealing.

It’s not far fetched to write on this blog that the simmering tension, insignificant gap between success types 1 and 2 above, and the normalisation/acceptance of type 2, is what drives and sustains: unmerited success, its acceptance and ultimately, the redefinition of what is morally acceptable, on matters wealth-acquisition. That, it’s okay to acquire wealth via stealing and other corrupt means, is a sign of the times we are in both in Uganda and outside. That such wealth is not looked at with disdain raises even more questions.

As a matter of fact, the above is the gold-standard to getting rich. And, that we have even recalibrated the moral campus to rank such wealth, acceptable and one we aspire to acquire and showcase, is testament to the new normal

The death knell for Uganda

All may look well now because you have built and own apartments, live in comfort as the descent and toiling live in squalor. But the problem is that you have contributed to creating a generation that doesn’t value or want to work, is lazy, and wants quick and confetti wealth.

Is it surprising that the youth in East Africa would rather get rich quick, whatever the means used?

We won’t pay rent for success. We want to get it for free or extremely little effort.

Be warned, the fix is not simple. It’s a generational matter, and we should have started fixing this yesterday. Some of us won’t leave to see the results. Fix or not, do we even want to live to see the catastrophe that awaits the values decay? Maybe you do.

Is the bell tolling for Uganda? God bless mother Uganda!


2 responses to “Do you pay ‘rent’ for your success?”

  1. Good one here Apollo.


    1. MAO – thanks for reading this ….. let us install this in the young. It’s their generation that may just about save mother Uganda!


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About Me

Apollo B. Gabazira is an Ugandan OD. junkie fascinated by matters that render organisations/individuals effective or not. He blogs on effective leadership and management. He is a devoted green-farmer and breeds the Ayrshire cow at Nakabugu, Luuka district, Uganda. Apollo is quite effective at what he chooses to do.


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