Opportunity, luck and perseverance

About 10 years ago I met Elias – we cannot quite remember how, maybe via an acquaintance on Facebook, while I was on an assignment in Nairobi. What we had in common was a love of flying, but not much else.

When we met he had just found out that his arrangement to go to flying school in Australia had been canceled due to economic hardships of his benefactor. He was looking hard and praying hard. He wanted to be a pilot. I was so impressed with the power of his vision, a thing we teach about when we run our leadership development programs, and how far it had already gotten him, that I have often mentioned him as an example. I gave him the book I co-authored: Managers Who Lead, because he was such a good example of the kind of mindset and approach to life that we think makes for good leaders. He told me today with a big smile he still has it and uses it.

Back in 2007 or 2008 I tried to raise some funds to send him to Australia through my flight school in Beverly without any success. I felt I had let him down. But he didn’t see it that way, citing that the encouragement and enthusiasm of others helped him.

And while I was not being very successful in supporting him, and at times forgot all about him, he kept his eye on the prize and didn’t sit still. He took advantage of a requirement in the new constitution that reserved a percentage of every government tender for young people with no experience. He and 3 other young men created a company and applied. They have done well since. Now they are no longer in the youth category but they have established credibility and a reputation for good work. With the earnings from this work he was able to resume his pilot training here in Nairobi. He got his private pilot license, then his commercial license, and negotiated left and right to accumulate flying hours. His next prize is to be employed by an airline company.

Starting in a very poor orphanage, no shoes, and perpetually hungry, he has done well for himself. He now serves as an inspiring role model for the young kids in the orphanage. He belongs to a tribe of young people I have met from various countries who have overcome obstacles that would have paralyzed others. One thing they all have in common: they are constantly scanning for opportunities, they have a mindset that nothing is impossible; they are very good at establishing relationships quickly with total strangers (like me) and they have their eye on the prize, all the time.

Through his relationships with county officials (as a result of his company’s work), he has brought other benefactors and well-wishers to the Kapchesewes Children’s Home that is associated by the Africa Inland Church. A website of their own is his next venture. Now they only appear on other people’s blogs. The country has since connected them to the grid, making yet others things possible. This will continue the positive cycle of opportunity, luck and perseverance.

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