Lucas Marang'a

A man at 40

Failure is a Springboard.

Business is not for the faint hearted. Guys who take up biashara in Kenya and succeed should get the prize just below the Nobel Peace Prize. The system here, be it kanjo, cops or KRA, all wake up in the morning with the default setting to catch you and charge you with some offence. Helping folks comply is more the exception than the rule. One is guilty until proven innocent. Extortion is the name of the game.

My brother who’s lived in the US many years has told me severally that if my business was in the states I’d have retired by now. The system there wants you to grow and they do all they can to support you achieve that growth. The government there is aware that businesses are the goose that lay the golden egg to drive the economy. Here on the other hand, the system chases the goose, slaughters it for lunch and proceeds to have the eggs as dessert. Most government agencies preach water and drink kumikumi. You can see I have issues here. But this year we agreed we shall be positive and simple in how we do life so enough venting.

I grew my business from scratch eighteen years ago and it was a very fulfilling journey until four years ago when 40 struck like a virus attacking a computer without Kaspersky protection. Yes my industry had changed considerably but so had I. I knew something fundamental had shifted but I did not know what it was. All along I thought it was the business model we needed to change and not me. I occupied a six foot tall blind spot for about three years.

When I finally realised and accepted (which was gruelling) that I had changed and needed to pursue new interests, it was like facing the scary unknown. It became clear that my business had not adapted to the new business environment and as a result wasn’t doing well. I also felt like I needed to move out of the business but leaving now would look like abandoning my teenage child at the point they need me the most. My business and I needed to go separate ways but neither of us knew how to do that. We had been together so long that the prospect of breaking up petrified me. Then add the prospect that we still needed each other financially.  Here is where I put my status as complicated. Hehehe.

I felt like a failure for being caught unprepared by this stage in my life and it’s been a struggle I have had since I turned 40. Sometimes I’m not as proud of my business as I was years back. I feel like it is a shell of its former self. I was a victim of my own success and I regret sleeping on the job because that’s how I feel. Maybe I should have quit at the top as they say in those management talks.

That’s a chip (feels like a log sometimes) that I carry on my shoulder when I’m invited to speak on entrepreneurship. I think that my business should be much bigger and thriving for me to qualify to speak. Most people know me as the tent guy who’s always been in biashara. I have been complimented a lot for being brave and refusing to be employed. So why do I feel like I have failed and I’m being an imposter when speaking to entrepreneurs. This is me being vulnerable here folks, but I believe it’s necessary for me to be able to move on from this pity party and see my business journey as a gold mine to help many. Both the highs and lows have valuable lessons worth sharing.  I actually think failure teaches better lessons than success.

I have a friend who is coaching me and a few others to become business mentors using a tool that, if followed as it should, will help us have our best year yet. The tool is actually called Best Year Yet. I was shocked to find out that after many years in business, her business stalled last year. She almost closed shop. I’m amazed at how she has now used that stalling to start a new business. She talks about her business struggles openly and even preached about it in her church during Easter. That, like Christ who died on Good Friday, she and her business too has resurrected like him on Easter Monday. She is now living in Monday every day and is full of positive vibes.

This has challenged me sana. That I should own and admit my failures. But more importantly use them as badges of honour and not scars of war to be covered.  Folks, it’s difficult to have lived 40 years without some regrets.  As much as we say life begins at 40 and we care less what people think, it may not be entirely the case. There are areas of our lives that we are more sensitive about, especially regarding failure, whether real or perceived.

Folks let us try and face our fears and failures at 40. In fact, let us embrace them. We have done well and hardly see or acknowledge it enough. The realization and subsequent acceptance of where we are at in life is powerful and can act as a spring board to jump into our second half with huge impact. So, yes my business is not where I’d have wanted it to be now but it’s still open and is turning around slowly. For this I thank my very supportive board of directors and our new CEO Jackie and her team who is like sunshine after a long cold and wet season.

Once we accept and own the good, bad and ugly scenarios in our life’s journey, we are freed to realise our God given potential. Right now I feel like I’m being released from a mental prison into a whole new free and exciting space. The mind doesn’t change overnight but it sure is a good start. Get out of jail folks. Your fourth floor should have open and beautiful panoramic views of the future and you cannot see them through burglar proof windows. You deserve to be free at 40, not perfect. You’ve earned it.


Friday, May 11, 2018 | Just @40 Things

10 thoughts on “Failure is a Springboard.”

  1. Lilian says:

    Wow! Well said! Checking out of a ‘mental hospital and occupying a new and free space’.

    1. Lucas Marang'a says:

      hehe mental hospital sis. Thats vivid.

  2. Levi says:

    Good one bro. Glass is half full. You are doing great and keep it up.

    1. Lucas Marang'a says:

      hope its heading to three quarters full bro.

  3. Nyambura Mahia says:

    Excellent read to start the week. Indeed failure should catapult you to pick up the pieces and do better. If only we heed the lessons. Keep up these African Short Stories they are EduTaining. Fantastic Chronicles Lucas.

    1. Lucas Marang'a says:

      Chronicles. Big word. Thank you Nyambura.

  4. LISA says:

    Good for you! Love your scars and embrace your unfolding.

    1. Lucas Marang'a says:

      Yes mum. Trying to do that

  5. André says:

    Great read!
    It’s quite interesting that entrepreneurs go through very similar thought processes..

    1. Lucas Marang'a says:

      Thanks Andre. Indeed we all do, just that we all suffer in silence which we need not do.

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