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Breaking patterns: My leadership story

Updated: Oct 3, 2022

Words by Kamau Kamau, Metis Communications Lead

“I see something in you.” These are words that I have heard countless times throughout my life across multiple environments and perpetually, I only took them with a grain of salt.

I was born in the Eastlands area of Nairobi and spent my formative years here too. My childhood was full of adventure, thrill and of course, a hint of mischief. One avenue however that has (and still does) had a lasting impact on my life is the school environment. At school is where I made my first friends away from home, where I uncovered my talents, where I gained literacy skills, where I learnt to co-exist with and accommodate people from different backgrounds. Beyond academics, school has been a constant test of my humanity, faith and values. It has chiselled me to become the man I am today and I am grateful for it.

A young Kamau ‘practising‘ his photography skills.

I have always associated school leadership positions with the A-students. It is no surprise then, that I was baffled when called upon to be a class monitor back in primary school even when my grades weren’t the best. I wondered to myself “There are dozens of more students with better grades. So why me?” The answer from my class teacher was quite simple, “I see something in you.” Those words were not enough to convince me, I turned down the position.

Even when I later transferred to another school, by the first year the headmaster himself pulled me aside in the middle of a school assembly to offer me a bell-ringer position. I wondered to myself the same thing I did 4 years earlier, “Why me?” History repeated itself once again and he looked me straight in the eye and told me the exact thing my class 2 teacher told me. “Is this something teachers globally are trained to say?” I wondered while still plotting on how to politely decline the position.

Daily habits may appear seamless but once you take a step back and zoom out, the pattern becomes clear. (Image credit: @visualizevalue on Twitter)

On the frontline of duty: Kamau posing for a photo during a prayer day ceremony as a KCPE candidate.

This pattern repeated itself at least thrice in my high school through to university, escalating to strangers and friends too. My response all this time has always been a resounding “No.” When the opportunity to join Metis came calling earlier in the year, my usual response was at the tip of my tongue. This time, however, I took a step back and wondered. “What has declining leadership positions brought me?” After a quick self-audit, I realized that it has cost me more than it has benefitted. This is when I decided to break the pattern. Try new things, scale new heights and be bold enough to fail and learn from my mistakes.

As Dean Koontz once wrote, “Patterns exist in our seemingly patternless lives, and the most common pattern is the circle.” More often than not we find ourselves smothered in the patterns of imposter’s syndrome, self-doubt, fear and other self-destructive loops. When patterns are broken, new opportunities emerge. You unlock potentials you didn't know existed in you and enter new worlds connecting you to larger than life experiences. This is evident in the education world where innovators and educators are constantly breaking the traditional methods of learning and devising new ones which have proven to be more effective, fun and impactful for learners and teachers alike.

Kamau sensitizing parents and children on how to use the Metis Home Learning Guides in Kayole, Nairobi as part of his role as a Communications Lead.

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