Beyond the boardroom, lies a life we all need to re-connect with. Late 2017, I felt a near burn-out experience regarding everything. My various businesses were on auto-pilot but I felt the deep longing for something else. Something adventurous that could revive a part of me I missed so much. I had become bored sitting at mahogany tables either at my office or at your office, handling counseling sessions with clients. Everything looked the same. I needed a genuine reason to leave it all for some time and re-discover me.
My answer came in February 4th 2018 when a Canadian client and friend needed someone to source for items in Shenzhen, China, brand the items, have them delivered to a gold mine in Accra,Ghana and heading out to Guinea to see the Siguiri mines . He suggested that we hire someone locally who could run around Africa on our behalf for the project and others checking out leads received on prospective locations we could buy and trade commodity. This wasn’t a job for the faint-hearted he re-iterated because it involved a lot of travel to unknown destinations, meeting random people, occasional long distance travels to meet tribal chiefs, little or no hotel room comfort and …”I’ll do it” I said. Previous job experiences gathered over a 6-year period had given me everything I needed to get this done… I had been around Africa signing up content or selling solutions for 2 multinational companies so how different could this be. The entire month of February was spent listening to reasons why I needed someone else to do this but my mind was made up. At last we all came to an understanding as long as one condition was met. I had to tell my wife this was my sole decision and that they tried everything they could to dissuade me. “Easy”, I sorted that out, it took another 13 days.
The first week of March 2018 held the first trip into an unknown i’d come to cherish. I first dropped off the head-lamps, wellington boots, Jumbo umbrella’s and raincoat’s sourced and branded by my company at Accra, Ghana. This involved going to the gold mines to actually confirm the items were used as directed by my client. Four days later i was off to the second leg of this trip. The Siguiri gold- mine in Guinea. it was an experience of a lifetime. Rich foliage, fresh clean air from the river Niger which was not too far away & watching other humans like me thrive under tough conditions but with so much joy. From here onwards, it was Zimbabwe, Congo, Tanzania, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire to mention just a few. I could feel my joy returning, blood pumping underneath my skin with each adventure.
These journeys were all unique in their own way. Sometimes you were loved by the locals to a point you were considering a more frequent arrangement, at other times you were tailed all the way from the mines to the city but at other occasions you were learning the hard way that different jungles had their own version of natives and survival codes.However these turned out, it was always a welcome experience. I had to create rules for every region such as
lodging in hotels with two exits
traveling really light
never letting the same cab taking you to a mine pick you up in front of your real hotel and so many others.
This experience taught me in less than a year, lessons no boardroom could teach me even after 7 years as an entrepreneur. I ended up locating new mines that was business prospecting, I was scammed a couple of times so I learnt client profiling, the discussion with tribal chiefs in various countries differed so I learnt negotiation, the constant need for updates and feedback taught me communication, pursuing legal documentation for exporting commodity taught me lessons of due process per location ,seeing wild animals once more in their natural habitats taught new-found respect for nature and survival, figuring out the best spots to visit to hear stories about the mining parts of town per country taught me prospecting but lastly, leaving my business in the hands of amazing people who I have watched grow over the years taught me that a business was only as good as the people you nurture to step into roles when the need arose.
The moment we excuse ourselves from serving, we lose out on opportunities to grow and expand. It’s been an ongoing exercise that I don’t regret one bit. I made new acquaintances, I learnt new things, I met more people than i did flying to and fro meetings and I got back in touch with my core which helped me take care of the inner void I had battled with. You deserve an opportunity to go locate that thing that balances you out. I’ve been writing about these trips and lessons learnt and this has also helped me channel my energies correctly.
Guys, life is too short to be spent in a boardroom, a shop or in an office cubicle thinking of other things that could have been ONLY IF some conditions were ideal. Mine has been ongoing, yours doesn’t have to be. It could be 1 month, 2 weeks or even 3 days but do that thing that takes you closer or re-connects you to your core. That core you miss and would pursue if there were no money worries, family to cater to, mortgage to sort out etc. For some it might just be picking up new skills, for others a quest of re-discovery but whatever this means to you, NIKE couldn’t have said it better. “Just Do It”..
…Just to answer the questions i’ve had pouring in, Oh yes, i found what i was searching for at least 65% of the time.