They don’t call them role models for nothing…

We all have people we look up to. People we admire…and people who indirectly or directly motivate us to be better, work harder and aim for the best. The two people I look up to the most in this world are my parents! They inspire me left right and center! They keep me alive!

But then, there are those people, who are not necessarily related to us, not on the same career path as we are, don’t even know us…but because they are good at what they do, we look up to them; for example, lots of people look up to President Obama these days,,,,for obvious reasons, or Usain Bolt,,,,for obvious reasons as well… i’m sure our very own 2012 Olympics golden boy – Kiprotich – has young people looking up to him now; name any person who’s achieved the “impossible” and you will have a list of “followers” under their name….

Hon. Justice Julia Sebutinde is one of the people who inspire me to keep-keeping-on! I wanna be like her when I’m her age, not necessarily in the law profession…since that is off my path, but good at what I will be doing like she is good at what she does. Just like her, I would like one day, my achievements to speak for me…for people to see the good I have done and be proud of me!

Below is an extract from a speech she made on 19 October 2012, at the dinner held in her honour when she was awarded the Uganda Law Society Outstanding Award for being the first Ugandan Judge at the International Court of Justice at the Hague.

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“I would like to briefly share with you 10 lessons that have helped me succeed in life. It’s been said that Life is about opportunity, choice and timing.”

1. Be Visionary: Have a clear vision of what you want to do with your life: Every successful career begins with a decision of what you want to be or to do with your life, goals that you want to achieve, short-term, mid-term, long-term. It must be your vision, not that of your parents, peers or spouse because ultimately it’s you who will have to bring it to reality. Without a vision for your life you will easily drift through life, resentful and feeling as if you are simply existing and life has short-changed you.

2. Be Resourceful: Make the most of the opportunities and resources that life has given you. In a given position, take time to gather all the skills, knowledge, experience that the position offers. There is no such thing as useless skill or experience. Gathering skills and experience often entails spending several years in the same line of work. Remember that a rolling stone never gathers moss! In my experience I consider a minimum of 3-5 years in the same line of work absolutely necessary. The experience I have gathered in all these positions is the foundation upon which I am now building further my career at the ICJ. Also look for opportunities to improve your qualifications. As you polish your skills and consolidate your experience, keep your eyes open for opportunities for upward mobility.

3. Be Daring: Life is about taking risks, and having the faith and courage to follow your dreams through. Don’t be afraid to take risks…..Think outside the box of looking to be employed by someone all the time!

4. Be Tenacious: You need not be an intellectual genius to succeed in this life. You simply have to work hard and to diligently pursue your dream with unwavering courage, fortitude, steadfastness and tenacity. You see there is a big crowd of enemies waiting to see you fail and sometimes actively working to pull you down. If you are not tenacious you may easily give up. Let no one despise you on account of your age, gender, tribe, race or any other stereotype out there.

5. Be Ambitious: In everything you do strive for excellence! If you want to leave your mark in life you cannot afford to settle for mediocrity. Do not do something simply because “everybody does it” or do it a certain way just because “that’s the way everybody does it.”

6. Be Discerning: It is important in life to focus on those things that matter most. For example in a job, money is not everything. There are other considerations such as job-satisfaction; opportunities for scholarships; exposure and experience. While we all long for well-paying jobs you must accept that you may have to start with humble beginnings and that instead, the skills and experience you acquire from this seemingly poor-paying job are priceless! Money is good and I applaud those of you who have worked hard and earned good wealth. The danger of making money your objective is that after a while, it will surely choke and overtake your dream and vision.

7. Be Resilient: In life ugly things happen. You may meet situations where you suffer racial, gender, tribal, religious or other kinds of prejudices. Believe you me prejudice comes in as many shades as the colors of the rainbow with those who reckon themselves higher up the pecking order, lording it over those they reckon are lower down. Even where a Statute clearly says the members of organization X are equal or where UN Resolution 1325 clearly declares outlaws gender discrimination, insecure human beings will find 101 ways to exalt themselves above those they see as inferior, regardless. Are we to allow these prejudices to stand in our way, of course not! Through sheer resilience, you can face up to such challenges and instead of wallowing in self-pity you can choose to turn those mill-stones into stepping stones to success…Tips as to how to earn respect amongst equals – respect others, honesty, integrity, punctuality, smartness, quality work, preparedness, participation etc.

8. Be Humble: Arrogant people tend to rub everyone the wrong way. On the other hand, there is nothing that impresses me more than people who are high achievers and yet remain humble. Humility simply means learning to keep your success in perspective. Remember you are neither the first nor the last to reach where you are!

9. Self-Critique: For one to grow in one’s career, you must learn periodically to audit your performance. Take stock of your achievements, failures, short-comings etc. with a view to identifying those areas that need improvement. We all tend to stagnate at times. I usually take my birthday or the beginning of a new year or a new job, to take stock of my life and if necessary to realign my bearings. It has helped me to keep growing and not to stagnate.

10. Worship: Honour God and honour your profession by serving your fellow man faithfully. I believe the majority of us here do believe in a power higher than ourselves. If I stood here today and told you that I have achieved all these successes in my own strength, I would be the greatest liar. When you honour God he not only guides your choices but he also blesses and rewards your efforts.

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I hope one day, when i’m older….i’ll be able to write such beautiful speeches and have younger people look up to me the way I look up to her!

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