Are you learning to drive or merely enjoying the ride?

  Before I learned how to drive a car, I would admire drivers so much that I would beg to just sit in the


Before I learned how to drive a car, I would admire drivers so much that I would beg to just sit in the co-driver’s seat even in a stationary car! If you have been to Munteme village, you know about Munteme Parish, the center of civilization in the village.

The parish owned two fascinating assets– a special utility vehicle (SUV) and a lorry. Circa 1990s, we always looked forward to riding in the lorry. To earn the ride, we offered free labor to load and offload the lorry with whichever it needed to carry – bricks, timber, or sand. Forget about the lasted technology of automatic off-loading. In those years, everything was manual. But we never complained. Riding on top of the lorry was a great achievement.

It was not long before the interests of a few of the boys changed to wanting to be in the driving seat. However, for most of the boys, they still enjoyed sitting on top of whatever item the truck carried. The few boys quickly expressed interest to learn driving. They asked the driver to teach them, and he did.

Those who learned to drive were clear with what they needed. And the driver always gave them the opportunity. After two months of observing this, I quickly graduated from just enjoying the ride to requesting to be in the driver’s seat. One day I went to this man, the truck driver, and told him “I want to learn how to drive.”  He was a cool guy. Taking life simply and offering opportunities to those who dared to ask.

He said, no worries. He got out of the driver’s seat. Asked me to sit there. He removed the key and parked the car properly in the middle of the village paths. “Hold the steering wheel. Press the breaks and look straight at me on the road. Do not get your eyes off me.” While outside on the road, he asked whether I was seeing him properly. “Tell me what you are seeing. What I am doing now? What about now? And now, what are you seeing?”  He kept asking as he moved closer towards the car. After a few minutes, he came back to the front of the car. “Good news, your height is good. You can drive. I will teach you, but you will have to be reporting here daily by 8 am. Being a holiday period, this was a challenge I accepted with two hands.

And that is how I learned how to drive. By asking.

When you ask, you received it.

Many boys in the village never learned how to drive. They just kept enjoying being driven on top of whatever the truck was carrying. That is what happens when you set your expectations low.

Why recall this story?

Before I became a board member, I used to admire board members. Once in a month or a quarter, my boss, the head of Internal Audit would become so busy for a period of three to five days preparing for board meetings. During that period, everything else seemed not to matter.  Now my boss used to be a tough man. We (my colleagues in the department and I) feared him so much. Who are these people making our boss so worried that he has to prepare for this long, we always wondered? Who would always ask, this report is going to the board? It must be perfect. Have you read through again? Is everything fine? From then on, I admired board members.

Are you learning to drive or merely enjoying the ride? Are you just admiring board members or you are working on becoming one?

You must take the first step. Get the skills you need to become one. Start by reading my book, “How to get on the Board and become a fantastic director.”

Moral of the story: if you want something, and know someone who can give it to you. Just ask. After all, you lose nothing.

Go and ask for that job. Ask out that lady or man you admire. Ask for that sponsorship. Ask for that board appointment. Ask.

Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved.

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