“Unexpected Ways” (An 80-second reading on what I am enjoying most about this human experience.)

Early this morning I was seated in the lobby of one of Kampala’s oldest hotels, The Africana.  The Senior Advisor to Uganda’s First Lady had asked to meet me there.  We have been friends for many years, and I happened across one of her properties yesterday, a space that would be perfect for one of our new initiatives.  She was eager to discuss the project, and so we made the early date.

She arrived and we exchanged the usual (and enchanting) Ugandan greetings, including a four-handed handshake, lots of questions about each other’s loved ones, and spots of laughter indicating delight.

Once seated, I asked, “And how is Mama?”  (This is how one inquires about the First Lady.)  I was told that she was fine, visiting another district, “extremely busy.”  No surprises there.

We then got down to business, and we just may have a deal on her property.  She also had some excellent advice for me, including the name of a “big person” (meaning “important” person) whom she was sure would be of help to my kids.  She then called this individual, and gave me a much-too-generous introduction, including a healthy mention that I am “a good friend of Mama’s.”  I smiled.

We promised to meet again tomorrow, and then set off on our busy days.  As I drove away, I reflected on the notion of favor.  In my leadership classes at Harvard, there was much discussion of favor, and of the idea of “luck.”  Many argue that “greatness” is often the product of chance encounters, and lucky sets of circumstances.  I see that, but I also like the idea of purpose and action, believing that they inform a “greatness” that is deeper than one that emerges from happenstance alone.

And then there is destiny and Divine guidance, the most purposeful and intentious (yes, it’s a sort of made-up word, meaning “having intent”) of life’s spiritual ingredients, leading to good things that emerge in unexpected ways.

Favor, purpose, intent, and action.

Today, I am especially grateful that all of these words exist to describe what I am enjoying most about this human experience.

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Nathaniel is CEO of AidChild.org. He holds a Master's Degree in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard University where he was a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship, and winner of the 2010 Harvard HDP Marshal Award. He also holds a PhD in Leadership Studies from the University of San Diego where he was the Dammeyer Fellow in Global Education Leadership, and a Cordes Fellow at Opportunity Collaboration. Nathaniel is author of "We Are Not Mahogany: Three stories about the male African life." Prior to his move to Uganda in 2000, Nathaniel was Deputy Director of the Office of the Governor of Arizona, and Director of Education at Leadership, Inc.

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