The thing about the human mind is that it tends to sometimes promise something that is far from reality. Once the body parts are healthy, the heart is pumping, the stomach is full, and the nose is breathing normally. The body will give the illusion that everything is going to be all right. The brain will interpret that illusion as everything being fine. The reality is that no one said it would be smooth sailing because life will always have those external forces at play. Investments go sour, and the dynamics of life will result in expectations not coming true as anticipated.

Life can sometimes wrap you up in a bubble and leave you stranded on an island by yourself. It is during these moments that you get to ask yourself, “Why me?” Especially in these times of social media, when you view the status updates of your peers, they seem to have it all together. Flashes of pictures or videos that show them having a good time, travelling the world, and oozing with success are usually intentional, and it appears that they have reached the intended audience, you.

Do not shift your eyes; keep your eyes on the ball, and do not lose focus. In fact, the heavier the storm, the stronger the concentration, so that you do not miss that silver lining. When the dust settles, dust yourself off and look for what to do next in order to recover from the disaster. Just after setting up our business, thieves broke into our shop and stole the whole stock, while the bank was still demanding that we pay them back. Later, we (me and my wife) invested in a business that just brought losses, but we could not come out of it because we had already signed the contract and agreed to the terms and conditions without really having to analyse what was in it for us. At some point, we went on vacation, and being the businesspeople that we are, the proposal that was put in front of us looked promising. So, we decided to use part of our holiday money to invest, and boy, little did we know that we were being duped out of thousands of dollars in the name of investing in an overseas real estate business. Yes, I am a farmer as well. When 3000 broiler chickens started rotting right in the freezer, little did we know how fragile the birds can be, especially if the numbers are huge; caretakers are just another story. I once hired one that seemed faithful, and my assessment concluded that he seemed to be sloppy, so he could not steal from me. Before I knew it, my 250 free-range chickens, seed for the season, and farm equipment were gone in no time. Bricklayers stealing building material will indicate more materials than are required, and on top of that, they will get that which is meant to be used for the project.

Let us not leave relatives lying about having paid college fees when they haven’t even attended class. To add to the list, there are a number of people who do not simply want you to succeed. The last one seems to be an African tendency, one that I call the “bring down” tendency. always attempting to bring you down, never by your side, and appears to enjoy it when everyone suffers in unison. It is rare that those close to you will support your business. Your relatives and friends will primarily want to obtain credit or get goods and services at a discount from you while spending thousands of Kwacha in cash when purchasing from multimillion-Kwacha corporations. It may seem that our ancestors had issues seeing others prosper, so the only option to make sure that they were in the same boat was to bewitch the neighbour’s child who seemed to be breaking the norms. I guess it’s no wonder you can never develop your own village. At one point, I wondered why my own father would not allow me to build in my own village. As a Tonga, I love cattle, yet he just told me to look for another village to keep them: “Just not in our village; I don’t want to lose a son, and besides, do you think your cows will go anywhere?”

With all these challenges, you do not stop trying. Failures, crooks, and hardships make you a better entrepreneur. It is just a principle of life. It is not easy; you need a steady, fast heart. Isn’t that what life is about? The very minute you stopped dreaming was the very minute you died, so be alive; you better keep on keeping on. No one said it would be a smooth ride.

The author is a retired officer of the Zambia Airforce and an Advocate. He can be reached via email: [email protected] or Whatsapp: +260 97 9165574