Lessons From Adversity

Mark Maish Hosting KENCTAD 2018

A couple of days ago I had the good fortune of hosting the fifth edition of Kenya Entrepreneurs’ Conference on Trade & Development, which is the brainchild of Sebastian Ngida, a fellow engineer whose passion in events planning has seen him build a viable branding & events business.

Before inviting the keynote speakers, I called up a few entrepreneurs to make short presentations on their businesses to not only market but also seek partnership with other entrepreneurs. As expected, lots of businesses owners came up. I was thoroughly impressed by how lots of young people in this city have been able to identify opportunities in areas we often overlook, invested their time and resources, ultimately building enviable enterprises.

One particular man in his 50’s caught my attention. He was easily the most active participant in conference. His businesses interests are in production, currently producing tomato sauce. He has tried his hand in manufacturing various products, injected substantial capital and failed a couple of times yet he never gave up or turned into a cynic like most middle-aged men.

During the networking session, I walked up to him in an effort to learn more.

“Wisdom comes from being able to pick a lesson from every terrible life experience you go through and apply it in your life.” He said to me.

These words have stuck with me since then.

See, every single person goes through a rough patch. Adversity is simply part of life. Your winning streak could extend for months or even years. You are happy, in good health, business is great and family all happy. Then someday your fortunes change for the worst.

Things you used to take for granted escape you. Your health deteriorates, you can’t seem to agree with your significant other or family members on virtual everything,  business environment gets tougher that you can barely afford to meets your recurrent expenditures. You work long hours, implement new strategies but nothing changes. Your life seem to be going down the drain.

Now most people turn to religion during such moments. Pray, fast and devote more time to whatever religion they profess. Others blame there streak of bad luck on mystical powers. Black magic. Swara. Kisirani. Bosses, family & relatives are usually the first victims. If such problems persist a good number sink into depression, alcoholism, drug abuse or turn pessimistic, spreading negative energy like a virus.

Perhaps due to conditioning by the society, outrageous testimonies,  fake happiness & success exuded on social media you feel obliged to hide news about your struggles and put on a mask of contentment. Being a whiner isn’t attractive, however, thinking of life problems as a curse, punishment or bad luck denies us the ability to learn from them.

True wisdom comes from being able to look into the mirror and see your true self-devoid of the mask you try so hard to wear.

Mark Maish, Wilkings Fadhili & Sebastian Ngida at KENCTAD 2018

I have on several occasions taunted the importance of failing and even documented my struggles on this blog multiple times.

For a better part of the last hour, I have been revisiting all the painful experiences I have weathered in an effort to pick a lesson from each. It is unbelievable how I have been overlooking such a boundless treasure of wisdom.

Losing someone I cared about taught me that we are all on borrowed time so I should do right by everyone I care about.

The painful journey of recovering from losing all my savings while attempting to go enterprise taught me that no matter how or what valuables I lose I can always bounce back on my feet.

Becoming the laughing stock while on my first attempt to public speaking made me realize I didn’t have to be born with certain skills to be great, with commitment and dedication I can learn absolutely anything and becoming prolific in it.

Spiraling out of control was meant to remind me there is no shame in asking for help. That substance abuse, alcohol or meaningless sex only provide a temporary reprieve to life problems. One has to face their demons head on if they are to break out of their psychological prison.  

Getting depressed and lonely when I was the life of the party taught me to see through the facade and extend a helping hand to the friends going through tough times.

Since bad times and terrible experiences are bound to happen, you and I need to shift our mindset in order to stop viewing challenges as problems when they are courses on life that seek to teach us invaluable lessons that will eventually propel us to greater heights.

Today, you too should revisit the not so colorful experiences you have had in the recent past and isolate lessons from each one of them.



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