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Adversity is the Catalyst of Change and Progress

Takesure loves to write about life changing lessons he has learnt over time. He draws much of his inspiration from events in his own life.

Of wasted life, blame and frustrations

The Burger Giant is a huge fast foods corporation in my country. It has dominated the market since the mid-eighties with a network of over five hundred branches nationwide. A Greek family established the business as a fish and chips joint some fifty or so years ago before making the hamburger their second name. The family has built a huge fortune through the growth of The Burger Giant business, becoming one of the richest families not only in the country but also on the African continent.

Although their core business has remained fast foods with several franchises under their belt, they have diversified into farming, manufacturing and retail of fast moving consumer goods. Their businesses are extensively integrated both horizontally and vertically to enjoy massive advantages over their competition. The Burger Giant is a huge player on the local bourse that it can almost single handedly influence the agricultural and agro-processing sectors.

The brand sadly has a notoriety for using its muscle to bully its employees, creditors and customers alike. This has angered consumer and employee rights watch dogs leading to a number of highly publicised clashes between the corporation and the watch dogs in recent years. The corporation maintains it has done nothing wrong, it’s only standing up for its rights as a business. Its adversaries, however, believe otherwise. They claim it only cares about profitability and willing to achieve it at all costs.

I worked for The Burger Giant for over twenty two years. Having studied business management in college I would’ve preferred to work in operations but was assigned to an administrative department instead. Operations gave me the opportunity to express myself in an environment that actually utilised my skills, I thought. I always hoped that someday the opportunity would arise to move to operations. It didn’t, I was fired instead!

The job was very simple; collect money from the retail branches, bank it, make payments, reconcile actual figures banked with theoretical figures posted by the retail shops and post the final figures to the accounts department. It was routinely simple, dissatisfying and boring. But it paid the bills and it’s all I did for a good two decades. No career growth, no climbing the corporate ladder, and as I realised at the end, no job security!

For all twenty two years I was there Ranga ran the department. He looked more likely to retire in the job than step down or move on to new challenges. Craig was his deputy. Ranga had been with the business for just over thirty years. He had been with the department since he was twenty. He had no education of note, he barely passed his general certificate of education exams but was quite experienced in the operations of the department.

All the years I blamed him and his bosses for the lack of progress and growth in my career. I was very loyal to the organisation yet I had nothing to show for it. It was very frustrating and demotivating. I felt the company owed me. It ought to have done more for me to progress. “How can a man work in a place for such a long time and not move an inch?” I didn’t make sense to me. Or did I misplace my loyalty all these years?

Of an eagle running with the chickens

A tale is told of a farmer who picks up an eagle egg from the forest and put it together with his chicken’s to hatch. The chicken incubated and hatched all the eggs including the eagle’s as its own. Though it looked awkward among the chicks, the eaglet didn’t see anything wrong being among them. After all it hatched in the same place as the chicks and to the same mother. The young eagle was conditioned to be a chicken. It believed it was one of the chickens and was raised as such. Like the chickens, it was content to be a barnyard fowl.

The eagle loved its home and family but still its spirit cried for more. It yearned for more than running around on the ground. It wished it could soar high in the sky. Its instincts told it that it could do it but it believed it was impossible. One day while in the yard, the eagle confessed its wishes to members of its family who all roared in laughter. “You’re a chicken and we chickens don’t soar high in the sky! We just run around picking worms and grain. That’s who we are!”

Time went by and the eagle lived and performed like a chicken and never ever tried to fly. It would feed on the grain the farmer allocated his chickens. Then suddenly someone ate grain that was left by the farmer to dry in the sun and wasn’t allocated to the chickens. The farmer got furious and chased the eagle around smacking it all over the place. In an attempt to escape the farmer the eagle instinctively took off the ground.

It was wasn’t clear why the farmer singled out the eagle for bashing. Maybe because it was the odd one out and likely to be mischievous. The eagle all along felt it was capable and deserved more but didn’t have the courage to get out of its comfort zone. It had all the inert abilities but lacked the application because life had conditioned it to be a chicken. Had someone not eaten the farmer’s grain the eagle wouldn’t have acted on the potential in itself to fly. It had to be pushed by the will to survive the farmer’s bashing for it to act on its potential.

Off the eagle took and was soon soaring in the sky. It couldn’t believe it was that high in the sky. A feeling of fear gripped it as it made its way into the clouds. This was a whole new and very scary experience to it. It was rediscovering itself in a whole new world. “All these years I spent at the farm and thought I couldn’t fly,” it said quietly. It couldn’t understand why it had spent so much time being one on them when in actual fact it wasn’t.

After leaving college with a business degree from one of the top colleges in my country, I took a clerical job. I thought at the time the position wasn’t appropriate for my qualifications but my father convinced me to take up the job. “That’s what everyone leaving college does son,” he said. “You should start from somewhere and make your way up the ladder. Nobody starts at the top. The most important thing is getting started.” He continued.

For more than half my life I ran around picking up cash from retail shops, paying suppliers and reconciling daily takings. Though it felt awkward, I didn’t question it for decades until something suddenly happened! I was let go when I least expected. It was a massive blow to me and my family. I was gripped with fear, disappointed and deeply hurt. I almost spiralled into depression as a result.

Of discontentment and change

Discontentment is the catalyst of change. It was at the moment I was backed into a corner that I became teachable and willing to take a new path. All my working life I had only known this job at the fast food giant. In the blink of an eye it was gone and I was badly exposed. In the midst of all the anger and disappointment my wife made me see things differently. I started to take responsibility and take action to change my life. I stopped blaming Ranga and his bosses for the lack of career growth. I stopped blaming the government for the high level of unemployment or poor state of the economy. With my wife’s help, I took it upon myself to change my life for the better.

Possibility always exists. Yet we’re blinded to it by our conditioning. Even when I was disappointed and hurt because I felt I was unfairly treated by my employer, the possibility to move on and do extraordinary things always existed. Unfortunately we’re always told that it’s impossible. It’s impossible to survive without your job. It’s impossible to get a job in this very bad economy. It’s impossible to get another job at your age. “You’re a chicken you can’t fly!” We’re always told. “But am I really a chicken? Or I was just raised to be a chicken yet I’m actually an eagle?”

Impossible is someone’s opinion. One of people’s all too familiar weaknesses is the habit of measuring everyone and everything by their own impressions and beliefs. If a person believes that he can’t do something he thinks everyone else can’t too. Luckily for me my wife always told me otherwise. I just didn’t believe her. Soon after I lost my job she said, “You can go on and do extra ordinary things in life. The Burger Giant is a part of your past now. Don’t let it negatively affect your future. Rather build on that experience and make success of your life!” How wise those words have turned out to be!

© 2019 Takesure Danga