Saturday, 24 August 2013

See you @ the top

Have you ever descended from the top of a multi-storey building using the stairway? What a pleasurable pastime it was for me in my preteen years! It still remains one of my most effortless and mindless activities to indulge in. All I have to do is to lift each foot in turn and gravity does the rest. I just keep gaily dropping and dropping and before I know it, it is all over and I’m on the ground floor.

But when the directions are reversed and I have to climb the stairs, it is as opposite as day is from the night. The first flight of stairs, say up the first and second floors is a piece of cake; it is when I am approaching the third floor that my nostrils start flaring like a horse’s that has just completed the Olympics show jumping.
Starting up the fourth floor, my heart begins to pound so hard like a jack-hammer breaking up concrete I wonder when, not if, it will rip out of the rib cage. Even climbers that are as fit as a fiddle will have their faces covered with sweat at the fifth floor and their calves and lower thighs burning with excruciating pain. By the time most are on the sixth floor, their eyes are roving hard all over the place in search of a chair to sit in and relieve the fatigue. The gravity that was a willing helper on the way down suddenly becomes the arch-enemy to defeat on the way up.

There was a time, some years ago, when most motivational gurus ended their speaking engagements with the line, “See you at the top”. We all desire to be at the top of our career, calling and financial status and we ought to be. But when the motivational sessions ended on a jubilant note, I was worried because I often expected the mood to be more solemn because of what it takes to get to the top. Using the analogy of climbing the stairs, it is evident that going to the top is hard, slow and demanding. But that’s not all, ascending is a journey, a deliberate one that tests the best of us. Some give up after climbing a few floors, some quit after all the competition have given up and yet some, who have learnt to only compete with their own potential never stop until they get onto the rooftop. But the ones to pity are those who never venture the climb.

Setting up a business is not an easy task either, it is an up-the-stairs activity that takes time, especially if you've been an employee all your life. As an employee you were concerned with only your job description but as an entrepreneur you worry about all the job descriptions of your employees. As an employee you couldn't wait for the clock to read 5 p.m but as an entrepreneur you dread as the time approaches 10 p.m and you have to leave for home. As an employee the figures you monitor are your paycheck balance and its rise was your delight but as an entrepreneur your eyes are on the company earnings and its decline gives you headaches. It is not an adventure for the fainthearted but in the end, it is more fulfilling and the price paid is all worth it; if you don’t believe me, consider all the possibilities available to an entrepreneur that an employee cannot even begin to dream of.

To readers fearful of setting out on their own businesses, “You are the most eligible candidates because your fear shows that you acknowledge that entrepreneurship is not easy and you won't lightly embark on it. Decide to take a step each week, starting from today to do something about that business idea”. To climbers already building their businesses, “Please don’t quit when the going gets tough and don’t either when you have surpassed all the competition; who ever said they were your yardstick?”

When capital is insufficient and you are afraid that you won’t meet the deadlines, it’s your nostrils flaring to get more air so you can climb higher. When there is so much tension from employees, competition and industry regulators, it’s the heart thumping to give blood so you can climb higher. When you are confused and cannot see your way, it’s the sweat needed to cool your temperature and help you climb that’s stinging your eyes. When business is slow and the elements are not in your favour, it’s your feet fighting gravity, the arch-enemy that keeps all humans from soaring the highest heights, so you can climb higher.

Don’t give up, remember that hard doesn't necessarily mean bad and fast doesn't mean it will last. On that solemn note, I drop my pen as I write, “See you at the top”.