Be firm on principles


By Patrick Achitabwino:

The identity you create shapes how people perceive you. It should not amaze you that other people always attract the best jobs or best public opinion. The common denominator is that they created a unique identity for themselves and that is what they are identified with.

If you happen to miss out on opportunities or are unable to make significant breakthroughs in life, it is all just because you have a mismatching identify. You have variegated identity colours such that people can hardly position you in the light of what you perceive yourself to be.


We are all born with unique talents, unique personalities and unique abilities to reach greatness. It is only those that create and nourish a specific identity that makes it big. Nelson Mandela is the icon of hope in the politically turbulent Africa. He lived by that ideal. He taught us to forgive.

Mahatma Gandhi created the identity for non-violence and that is what the world remembers him most for. William Kamkwamba created the identity for innovation from rudimentary products and that is what he is famous for as the man who harnessed the wind.

People that stick to one identity line become successful in life. They do not follow the wind of inconsistency branding, they create their own brand and they become a brand that others try to emulate and refer to.


A story is told that on the tragic day of September 11, the date that changed the course of history in the world, there was a First Direct Bank customer in the second tower. When the second plane hit the second tower, some machine fell on top of her. She was losing consciousness but she had her mobile phone. She had the opportunity to make one call and that one call she made to First Direct Bank.

In narrating the story, Rene Carayol explains: “When she called the bank the operator answered and she said: ‘I am in the second building, some machine has fallen on top of me, I am losing consciousness. Can you get my husband and my children on the line’.”

The story goes on to say that the operator told her that one operator would call her husband as another was calling her children. The operator noted that she was losing consciousness and he kept talking to her for a further 45 minutes as the third one of her colleagues was calling the emergency services and in forty five minutes the lady was rescued.

Consider this. First Direct Bank is only in Britain, yet it was New York that was hit. The question is, what made the lady to think of calling a bank first which had nothing to do with emergency services in the USA? The bottom line is simple – the identity that First Direct Bank created gave the woman hope and confidence.

This is the underlying fact behind First Direct Bank. It is fast, brilliant with customers and it is the most expensive bank to bank with in the United Kingdom. It started as the first 24/7 telephone bank and moved into the 24/7 internet bank.

For four years in succession it won the financial services company of the year in the UK. It has the lowest chain of any bank. It is very expensive and no one leaves it. It is not global, it is only available in the UK.

Here is the thing, when banks were moving into automated voice responses on telephone, First Direct Bank refused. The bank said, ‘one of the things we stand for is that when you dial First Direct, you get a human voice within three rings. It is absolutely imperative to what we do.’

It is not amazing, therefore, that the lady in the second tower in New York could only trust calling First Direct Bank. To her, first Direct stood for superior customer service, a readily available human ear and helper. What do you stand for? What identity have you created for yourself that people can only refer you to it? What is your unique attribute that would make others refer other people to you?

If you are a businessperson, find that unique angle that will only be associated with you. If you are a musician create and sustain the style that will amaze people and will be your own. No wonder we still remember Michael Jackson. If you are a student, excel like no other then generations will always remember you.

Napoleon Dzombe stands for philanthropy; Koreia-Mpatsa stands for entrepreneurship and Dr John Chiphangwi stands for medicine; Dr Kamuzu Banda stands for liberation from colonialism; Legson kayira stands for resilience; Mother Theresa and Princes Diana stand for compassion. Find your mark find what you stand for and consistently create your identity.

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