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Cleaning Day

October 02, 2016

It is the first Sunday of the final quarter of the year. Not sure you’ve noticed this, but we are already in the quarter represented by double digits, and the festive season is just around the corner. This is normally a defining moment for many, where one person suddenly realizes they’ve wasted a whole nine months, while another jumps in jubilation because they are actually doing very well on their annual to-do list, or goals for the year if you so wish to call them. Not sure which category you belong to but all I can tell you is that either way, you still have 89 days to change how your 2016 ends. 

You probably don’t know this but besides writing articles for print and digital platforms, ghost writing books and proofreading other people’s written work, I also do Business Strategy. I work with SMEs to analyze various areas of their businesses and come up with strategies that can improve productivity and profitability while cutting down on the cost of running their businesses. This could be in the areas of sales & marketing, strategic business plans, employee empowerment, customer retention, public relations, information systems to mention but a few areas. I am currently working on strategies for various companies for the year 2017.

So it was that during one of my assignments this week that I encountered a very interesting situation. One of the businesses I am consulting for deals in tangible items. So in analyzing the information system being used, I realized that there was an anomaly that needed to be sorted out but in order to do so, I need to visit the store and do a physical count of every item that was there. After that, I would need to verify that the information in the system and the physical stock counted were all in sync. When I got to the store, I could barely open the door due to how stuff was put in there. I guess they used the “Random Storage” method in their store. Everything was everywhere, if that even makes sense. It took several hours to have the store sorted out but eventually, we did and now everything makes sense.

During clean up a lot of things emerged, and “those things” form the basis of my article today.

One of the things that we noticed is that there were parts of that storehouse that had not been touched for many months and as a result, termites had attacked the shelves and spoiled products worth lots of money. Very expensive products if I may add. Ever heard of the saying that what you don’t use you lose? This is a very true saying my friends. Some of the stuff we found in the store had to be taken for repairs and others had to be thrown away because there was no salvaging them. Needless to say, the owner of the business will incur a loss of quite a substantial amount of money because the messed up products had to either be thrown away, or repaired in one way or another. Whatever will be repaired may find its way back to the outlets, but of cause they cannot be sold at the full price they would have been sold at if they were still in good shape. I believe this is a loss that could have been completely avoided if the employees had been using a proper store-keeping system and a proper storage order of the products they sell.

The same case applies to our lives too, you know.

Our lives are like a store. In our stores we have good memories and bad memories. Unfortunately many people have “stuff” they threw into storage several years ago, stuff they associated with some not so good memories. Some of you dumped your broken hearts in the store and left them there to be eaten by termites. Others dumped their business ideas the day you approached one potential business partner and they said no. Some of you dumped your dreams at the back of the store because someone told you what you were intending to do is silly and will never work in your particular market. Some of you forgot the talents you placed on the back shelf of your store when you couldn’t get someone to sponsor you to develop that talent further. I don’t know what it is you dumped in the store but I can tell you one thing, as long as it is there, you ran a very high risk of losing it to termites. Again remember, what you don’t use, you lose.

I know we all go through stuff in our lives that we just want to throw at the back of the “store” and forget them. Unfortunately, unless you sort out your storeroom you might end up losing a lot more than you thought you already lost. Every minute you spend regretting the outcome of your life is every minute you’ll never recover again. Take stock of what has happened, learn from the experience and try again.

Like the repairable stuff we found in the store, you may need to do a “repair job” on your dreams and goals especially if you know you cannot do the same exact thing you wanted to do before. A repair job in this case means that you do something different with your life and emerge successful in it. For instance, if you had wanted to play football but for one reason or another missed out on joining a good team, you can still do what you love by becoming a coach or something else that still deals with football. Listen friends, it is never too late for you to start again. All you need to have is a deep desire to succeed because there will be a lot obstacles to stop you along the way. Don’t give up but keep trying. What I have realized as an individual is that each one of us has potential to become more than we can ever imagine. The only problem is that we don’t take time to do a proper inventory of the talents we have in our storehouse. For the third time remember this, whatever you do not use often, you stand a very high risk of losing it.

What pulls us back is when we start thinking of all the years we have lost, all the time we didn’t utilize our time well. Today I’d like to encourage someone by showing you evidence that it doesn’t matter how much time you have lost, what matters is what you decide to do from this minute going forward. One of my favorite motivational speakers always says this, “Don’t look at the years you have lost; look at the years you have left and do something with them”. And I say the same thing to you too. For instance….

At the age of sixty-five, after running a restaurant for several years, Harland Sanders found himself penniless. He retired and received his first social security cheque which was for one hundred and five dollars (approximately Tzs 230,000/-).  Colonel Sanders had a great chicken recipe that he believed would make him money, but only if he found the right partner. With little in terms of means at his disposal, Colonel Sanders traveled door to door to houses and restaurants all over his local area. He wanted to partner with someone to help promote his chicken recipe. Needless to say, he was met with little enthusiasm.

He started traveling by car to different restaurants and cooked his fried chicken on the spot for restaurant owners. His strategy was that if the owner liked the chicken, they would enter into a handshake agreement to sell the Colonel’s chicken. Legend has it that Colonel Sanders heard 1009 “NOs” before he heard his first “YES”. And that is how the KFC franchise started. By 1964, Colonel Sanders had 600 franchises selling his trademark chicken. In 1976, the Colonel was ranked as the world’s second most recognizable celebrity.

Is it not amazing that at the age of 65, when most people retire and forget about their dreams, the Colonel chose to follow his dream and despite the number of times he received negative feedback he never gave up? Whether you like KFC or not, the story of Colonel Harland Sanders is truly amazing. This story is inspirational because it’s an example of how perseverance, dedication, and ambition along with hard work can create success, regardless of your age. By the time he was getting that first “yes”, he was already 66 years of age. What would have happened if he had chosen to shelve his dreams in his mental “storehouse”? I can guarantee you today there would be no KFC.

Can you imagine how many great life changing ideas some of you have shelved or allowed to rot in the storehouse just because you got rejected one too many times? How many of you are sitting on ideas that could revolutionalize major industries in the world today? How many of you are sitting on books that could change the mindsets of today’s young children, preparing them to be tomorrow’s great giants as they were created to be? I can’t answer any of these questions for you but you can. It is time you took some time and visited your storehouse to do a proper inventory of the stock you have in there. You never know what is wasting away in your storehouse just because you have not visited it in a long while.

Age is not a barrier. Failure is not a barrier. Colonel Sanders proved this to us. So what’s your excuse? As we start the last quarter of the year, purpose in your heart that you will not let any more time waste. Purpose in your heart that you will revisit your storehouse, dust off the talents you have left wasting away there and start using them all over again. You may not be the next KFC, but you could be the next big thing.  

As long as you are breathing it is never too late to start over again. After all, today is the first day of the rest of your life.  

Wishing you all a great October and a powerful finish as you race towards the finish line of 2016.

PS: Article originally published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 2nd of October, 2016, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words".

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