Lucas Marang'a

A man at 40

Corporate Halftime.

What we spend our lives doing as we grow older has more interdependence than independence. At least that’s my realization. Nick, one of my halftime buddies confirmed this fact. I’ve seen Nick for some time over the years in church but we never got to talk. He’s this Luopean with an expensive sense of style and dressing, dons a neat, black afro and black, framed spectacles to match. By the time you’re talking to a guy wearing an orange polo and smartwatch to match you know you know people.

Nick began his halftime journey more recently than me and we have become good friends. What I didn’t know much of was his solid background in training and facilitation. His command of the English language is of those kids who went to a group of schools, sio D.E.B (District Education Board) schools.

One hot afternoon last year Nick called and informed me he had just come from seeing a client who was interested in contracting him to facilitate their annual retreat in Naivasha. At the time I thought he was just sharing an exciting opportunity with me until he dropped the mic (shocked me) as millennials say. He had interacted with this firm before and believed they are going through halftime. He then asked if I can not only attend as a guest speaker but co-facilitate the entire retreat with him. At that point, I went blank with alama ya mshangao.

I was scared and excited at the same time. The day came and I set off for Naivasha on a Thursday afternoon. As usual with my radio off, within the speed limit and taking in the scenery hoping for some inspiration to surface. I arrived at Sawela Lodge at about 4 pm and checked in. I liked this hotel. It had spacious rooms and the acacia trees forming a canopy over the well-manicured lawns was relaxing to the brain already. I even found a deer outside my balcony as if it was part of the welcoming committee.

After meeting up with Nick and going through the logistics of the retreat, our client (of 30 staff) arrived. They checked in and we all had dinner together later that evening which served as an ice breaker for me. Nick did a spectacular job that weekend and I shared my insights about halftime. We used the story of the wildebeest migration to capture the journey that our client had been through. Now they were at that critical crossing in terms of working out how to implement their transformation plan. How they did it would determine the future survival of their business or not.

I noticed some staff members were at halftime themselves though they seemed unaware. Could this have been induced by external factors or just a coincidence? I wondered. There was a paradigm shift right there that got me thinking. I have focused on the transition from first to second half purely from an individual and personal perspective.

During one of the Q & A sessions, some staff raised concerns about how the company will protect their interests as they implement the transformation plan. Others wondered what the future looks like for them. Generally, I felt like the discussions about the business triggered a personal inventory for most of the staff present. I confirmed that when having one on ones during the breaks with some of them. Guys were wondering what’s next for them. Some questioned if they are the best fit for the new journey the firm wants to take. Others felt they might have interests that may not be in line with what the firm wants to achieve. For me who has been digging at this phase for a while, I immediately confirmed that those are signs of guys at halftime.

Did being in an organization that’s going through a transition trigger or enhance personal halftimes for some employees? Maybe our environment is actually a key determinant of how and when we deal with midlife transitions. I can relate with that to an extent by looking at my own journey. My business (and the environment we operate in) started changing drastically in 2013. That’s around the same time I started questioning what I was doing and yearning for something else. I knew I needed to stop what I was doing way before identifying what I needed to start doing. What I’m yet to figure out is if my business and I were going through halftime as a coincidence or did one trigger the other?

Folks maybe the lesson here is to be a little more observant of our surroundings. We might catch clues or hints indicating serious reprogramming ahead. That may help us prepare for the inevitable transition and save some time and energy. It is always better to anticipate change and prepare for it before it actually arrives. I regret being caught unawares by midlife because I had been blinded by the status quo of the nice successful life I had built over the years. Success can be blinding. In fact, past success is the biggest threat to future success. As a result, my halftime transition has been rough. It felt like I was dropped in a war zone in the middle of the night in pajamas armed with a water gun. Zero preparation. The fact that I’m still here with a semblance of normalcy, there is God-oo (as Nigerians would say)

So what’s that job, business or side hustle you are engaged in telling you right now? Could it be time to shop for a raincoat and gumboots despite the current scorching sun in preparation for the matope ahead when it rains? Listen keenly good people.

Friday, March 1, 2019 | Reflections, Travels |

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