I used to think of Thomas Lukoma as just a guy at work. Smart, nice, helpful. But just a regular guy. Then recently our paths intertwined, and I came to understand that Thomas is anything but ordinary. Over the last few years, he’s found an inspiring personal mission and he’s doing something about it.
The story of how Thomas discovered that mission holds lessons for me and for anyone who wants something more out of work and life.
An example of purposeful discovery
Thomas would be the first to tell you that he's had a lot of interests but wasn’t always clear on where he was heading. He’s busy with a big family, a technology job that he likes and is good at, serving as a deacon at his church, and mentoring young men. He also writes occasionally at komasworld.com on a wide range of topics - “musings on design, technology, and leadership.”
Thomas felt that it could all add up to more, but he wasn’t sure what it was. In a post several years ago, he described how when examining our own lives we typically can’t see the whole story and all the possibilities. As a result, carefully plotting our future path is impossible.
“The only way to combat this bias towards ignorance is to understand upfront that getting the whole picture about the future and how your goals will progress is impossible, so never assume that you have it. Instead, focus on getting a healthy set of perspectives – even some that contradict each other – and then take action with an open mind.”
So Thomas continued trying new things and kept an open mind. He began reading the work of people like Seth Godin and Fred Wilson, experimenting with building Wordpress sites, and working with his sister to support her new business. He continued writing as a way to capture what he learned and also to share it with others. As he was learning, he was beginning to see how he might combine his interests into something meaningful for him.
”I’m discovering my purpose,” he said. “You have to be doing things in order to discover it.”
More Than A Hut
Thomas had another interest in his life: Africa. He grew up in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, and still has connections there. It always bothered him that what most people see of Africa - strife, starving children, and safaris - did not capture all the wonder and promise he knows is there.
His work with his sister showed him that he could use his different skills to help someone trying to do or be something more, to amplify their intentions and extend their reach. His emergent purpose (and new blog tagline) became “Help regular people do great things.” He formed a small business, More Than A Hut, to help anyone build their tribes and, ultimately, to show that there's more to Africa and Africans than we may think.
What Thomas gets by working out loud
In many ways, Thomas was already applying the five elements of working out loud. Yet he admitted a tendency to putting others first and neglecting his own mission. Two things changed that.
First, he generously volunteered to help me improve my site and build my own tribe. He gave my personal blog a complete makeover, created workoutloud.com, and now we’re collaborating on a wider range of things.
Then, our work together brought him into contact with other people working out loud around the world, and it motivated him to join a working out loud circle. That gave him the structure and peer support he needed to develop new habits, enabling him to work more systematically towards his own goals while continuing to help others.
Since then, More Than A Hut has gotten additional referrals and some new business. More importantly, each step Thomas takes builds his learning, connections, and confidence. Each step makes every day more enjoyable while increasing his access to yet more possibilities, bringing him closer to helping himself and other regular people do great things.