What would you say was your financial rock bottom? Have you ever had to just wing and hope that the chips would land in your favour?
Have you ever had to dodge your landlord/building custodian? Well, I have been in this very scenario.
A few years ago my foray into the world of entrepreneurship came to a screeching halt, let’s call it a case of naivety and bad partnerships.
Anyway, by the time the big bucks stopped flowing in consistently, I was living in a really nice apartment in Ruaka. It had everything I needed, a balcony, lots of natural light (at least before some developer decided to erect a 10-storey apartment that turned both my bedroom and kitchen view into a wall).
But, prior to that it was a really nice place, complete with a rooftop verandah section that had a view to die for. Plus, there was lots of parking space, water 24/7 you name it.
Now, you all know that in order to enjoy such things, you need to part with some considerable amount of cash at the end of each month.
Coughing up the money had never been an issue until it was.
A sudden drying up of your money well really teaches you the importance of having multiple revenue streams.
Read Also: 8 Ideas to Create Multiple Sources of Income
So, the apartments I used to live in were set up into two identical blocks (A & B), that were directly opposite each other, with a huge cabro fitted courtyard smack in the middle at ground level.
I chose to live in block B coz of all the good stuff I mentioned earlier but this eventually turned out to be a bad move.
You see, at the bottom of the staircase on your way out of my block was this apartment. It wasn’t as big as the rest and actually looked like it was hurriedly set up as an afterthought.
That was where Peter (not his real name) used to live.
Peter was the custodian of the entire place, or the authority if you like.
Having lived in the place for 3+ years by then, we had morphed into friends. Peter always came through if I needed any help relating to the house. The fact that I was never late with my payments may have helped cultivate our cordial relations
Then things changed overnight...the well was running dry and I had resorted to doing odd jobs here and there pale Nairobi downtown e.g. branding a few t-shirts and hoodies for friends, printing banners, making deliveries etc. Anything to break bread, as I looked for a new job.
The problem with inconsistent income is that it rears its complex head when it comes to planning.
Would I have gotten some help if I asked for it? Most likely. Did I ask for help? No. Why didn’t I ask for help? That’s why we are here...Some things just have to be learned the hard way I guess…
"Favour gonna kill you faster than a bullet." -Carlito Brigante - Carlitos Way
Now dodging Peter was a physically draining undertaking each and every morning. As his door opened up to the very last step on my block’s staircase, tip-toeing was the name of the game.
He soon caught up to this and made it a point to always wake up ahead of everyone else and leave his door open. This guy had dog ears, nothing was getting past him.
There was this one time I thought my cat and ninja skills had worked a treat but midway through the courtyard I heard this deep bellowing voice shouting ‘wee mzee’. My goose was cooked.
Had it not been for that ‘weee mzee’ I would have never known that Peter could actually help me negotiate with the landlord to have my rent payment date from the 5th of every month to the 10th of every month.
Sometimes all you need to do is share your truth, and ask for help, was my key takeaway from that conversation.
Much much later, I got a job and decided to move to a cheaper place. Peter even gave me this porcelain key bowl as a parting gift. I still have it.
It was during the very dark days that I mentioned earlier that I called myself into a meeting. I wanted to find out why I was where I was and how to get myself out. I needed to understand my money psychology.
You see, when it comes to money, many people focus on hard numbers and simple truths, but they ignore one key point — the way you think about money matters.
I got to learn this during my winging it phase.
This is a term that is mostly associated with leaving a carefree, gung-ho lifestyle...a sort of Timon and Pumba hakuna matata utopia.
However, it could also mean being willing to learn and pivot as you go and the explosive growth that could potentially come from high-velocity decision making.
Take Jeff Bezos (Amazon founder) as an example. He once said the following in a letter to his shareholders
Most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70% of the information you wish you had. If you wait for 90%, in most cases, you’re probably being slow. Plus, either way, you need to be good at quickly recognizing and correcting bad decisions.
If you’re good at course correcting, being wrong may be less costly than you think, whereas being slow is going to be expensive for sure.
Think about that for a second. One of the wealthiest beings on the planet made a case for winging it, but winging it smartly.
Put another way, if you think it’s probably the best thing to do then try it out, test it, and tweak as you go along.
Yes, we may not all be equipped with Bezos level risk tolerance, but I have come to learn that people who want to be competitive and forge new ground — whether in business or life — need to be willing to ‘wing it’ to some extent.
Emma Isaacs, a serial entrepreneur and author best captured what I think ‘winging it’ actually means.
Winging it means less second-guessing yourself and more going with your gut.
Winging it means less time spent trying to concoct the perfect plan and future-proof yourself for dramas that probably won’t eventuate.
Winging it means more time for going with the flow and celebrating the unexpected.
Winging it is the act of believing in yourself enough to give your dreams a go.
Winging it puts you in control, and that’s exactly where you deserve to be.
The funny thing is that while winging it puts you firmly in control, it also mandates giving up the illusion that you ever had any control to begin with. Think about it.
Accepting that not everything is in your control could work in your favour. This is where an animal called emotional intelligence comes in.
Following the dark days that kick-started this whole story, I made a conscious decision to consume any piece of money-themed literature that came my way. Some were good and insightful, while others were simply recommending impractical stuff...to me, at least.
I came across the fabled motivational speakers and their gospel of packaged hope, podcasts you name it. You can do that as well but you need to read and consume such stuff with an open mind...if something feels off, it probably is. It is not wrong to question stuff
Anyway, years of consumption and critiquing led me to one simple truth (for me at least), emotional intelligence is a vital ingredient for not only financial success, but financially as well.
Emotional intelligence is able to redirect disruptive emotions and impulses. It prevents us from jumping to any hasty conclusions.
This is a topic that would need an entire article of its own so I’ll just leave you with the 5 main components of emotional intelligence and maybe, if you like, we could examine it fully in another article.
So, emotional intelligence is made up of the following:
Before signing off, let me share something interesting I came across while combing through literature in a bid to better understand myself, the world around me and what my attitude towards money means...can I change it?
I came across something called the social comparison theory. It was first proposed in 1954 by psychologist Leon Festinger and suggested that people have an innate drive to evaluate themselves, often in comparison to others
We often judge ourselves, and one of the key ways that we do this is through social comparison, or analysing the self in relation to others.
Psychologist Leon Festinger believed that we engage in this comparison process as a way of establishing a benchmark by which we can make accurate evaluations of ourselves.
There are two types of social comparison namely;
Upward social comparison (where we compare ourselves with those who we believe are better than us with a desire to improve our current status or level of ability), and:
Downward social comparison (where we compare ourselves to others who are worse off than us, to make us feel good about ourselves).
As you compare yourself to others, consider how this might influence your self-belief, confidence, motivation, and attitude, and watch out for negative feelings that might emerge as a result of this process.
If you can, try looking inwards instead. Focus on yourself and how to make yourself better today than you were yesterday.
After my episode with Peter the custodian, and many more fumbles I’ve made along the way, I have come to learn that everything I have gone through is as a result of decisions I made or didn’t make. Either way, it’s all on me.
Having come through all that, I also believe that there’s no hole that you’ve dug yourself into that you can’t crawl up out of.
Wing it. Trust your gut and just go with the flow.