How Forgiving My Father Led to Leadership By Kimunya Mugo

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m_kimunyaGuest post by Kimunya Mugo.

‘Down But Not Out’ is a book I came about as I searched for a way to find healing for my wounded heart. I have been blessed with an awesome family: a loving wife and great kids. Yet, I still felt like I had a big void in my heart that couldn’t be filled by anything that I tried. Finally, I discovered that all along I yearned to be fully appreciated and loved by my Dad.

For most of my life, I had wondered why my father had hardly affirmed me as his son. Why had he chosen to be consistently away from home for extended chunks of time? Why is it that he wasn’t there for me through the different seasons of my life? Was I such a ‘nobody’ that he didn’t care that his son was growing and needed his father, as a mentor and guide? This left me with a deep-seated anger and acrid bitterness at his absence, both which I had held on for thirty years!

The more I came to grips with what was in my heart, the more I got a conviction that I needed to forgive my Dad. Without this, I could not move forward in my quest to become a better husband, father, and leader. m_writing on table

Writing a letter to my Dad

It all began with a two-page letter to my father that I never ended up sending to him. I was writing to tell him that I had forgiven him for not being there for me. For leaving a feeling in me that I was unwanted. Soon, the two pages turned into a chapter, and before long this book was born. It is my hope that before the end of this year, I will meet my father after nearly ten years.

About four years before this book was conceived, my wife and I were privileged to facilitate our first parenting classes. It was clear that most participants were eager to learn, inasmuch as some seemed skeptical as to the class’ benefits. The twelve-week classes are designed to help and equip parents with practical skills, discipline ‘how-to’, guide them on building strong parent-child relationships, and ultimately, empower parents to take full leadership in their homes.

m_washing feetAs I was helping coach these parents on how to become significant leaders at home, I was also learning how much more I needed to work at becoming a better father. My realization was that leadership happens every day, not in one day. I have to work at it every single day!

Serve Others

Around the same time, I began to explore gaps in my quest for leadership. I studied other leaders and scoured hundreds of leadership resources: books, videos, podcasts, websites, and blogs. I started writing a blog to help me internalize the leadership lessons I was learning.

Leadership happens everyday, not in one day. Click To Tweet

The one thing I learned that stayed with me most was the urgent need to serve others. True service is filled with empathy, care, relationships, giving, humility and meekness. Service is the mark of any leader. I have to be vulnerable to others’ correction as well as praise. To be vulnerable, I must have the courage to forgive those who have wronged me. For without forgiveness, I remain held prisoner by my bitterness and anger.

Without forgiveness, I am held prisoner by my bitterness. Click To Tweet

m_the power of forgivenessMy journey to forgive culminated in this book and is my way to share with others. I hope this will be a first step to guide them through past issues that limit their potential to lead. My hope is that my pain and healing will help many to grow and become better leaders at home and beyond.

It starts with intent (a clear vision), fixing broken windows (making difficult decisions), having the courage to change (be responsible), the willingness to be present (out in front), taking stock (know where they are), and finally: paying it forward (service to others).

m_pen and paper 2

Kimunya Mugo is the founding director of Iweza, a communications and branding firm in Kenya. LeadByChoice is Kimunya’s leadership brand about authentic leadership.
Kimunya’s book on Amazon.

Leave a Reply

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Sharon Scibek

    This is a great article on heartfelt insight and self-awareness. The key here is vulnerability and the courage to name it. Thank you, Kimunya, for sharing your vulnerability.

    1. Kimunya Mugo

      Thank you Sharon. It has been a long journey to get here. But I am glad that I got the opportunity to reconcile with my Dad. He passed away in 2015 after a battle with cancer. Bitterness and anger are real and dangerous. They keep us from living a fulfilling life.

  2. Sylvia Lafair

    Dear Kimunya,
    What a wonderful life story. Once we see how what happened in our original organization, the family shows up when we are adults it is vital to take the first fierce step for change. The theme of our company, Creative Energy Options, is “Clear your past to free your future” and in our leadership program, we teach people how to go back and retrieve, revisit and remember our generational past. The way OUT of the past is to Observe, Understand and Transform what has kept us in bondage.
    In my book “Don’t Bring It to Work” there is a model of the map. I hope you can share this along with your heartfelt story to those in your life at work and at home. You are an exemplary model of leadership. Blessings, Sylvia Lafair

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