I believe that the path for personal development and growth has many stops for internal reflection. I frequently find my self grabbing a comfy chair and pouring a glass of wine for a long hard look at myself. Only when we can identify our weakness can we do something about it.

The latest one I’ve been dealing with is empathy. I know that that shouldn’t really be a problem – unless you’re that girl in X-Man, then it could be a problem… or was it Heroes? Aaah who remembers? *shrugs shoulders*

Empathy, defined by Psychology Today, is ‘the experience of understanding another person’s condition from their perspective. You place yourself in their shoes and feel what they are feeling. Empathy is known to increase prosocial (helping) behaviors.’

Looks like a good thing, so why is that a bad thing to have? In theory it isn’t, but if you empathise too much, you can’t see your responsibility in the situation.

Recently the company got into a situation where for no fault of our own we couldn’t pay certain suppliers for services they had provided. For legal reasons I can’t give too much backstory. I had the suppliers calling me and explaining their situation. Now for anyone who has worked and lived in Africa long enough, you’ll understand the cashflow cycle – we run on a cash based economy, with limited access to credit, if one person isn’t paid it trickles down the chain. We talk about developing our economy, our economy can’t be developed if businesses and individuals can’t get paid, or have access to other sources of finance.

Our business was impacted by this breakdown in cashflow. But my first thought was the suppliers who couldn’t get paid. As I argued and fought to collect the finances to pay these suppliers, I never put myself and our business in the picture, just wanting to ensure the needs of these suppliers were met – to the point where I almost tarnished the reputation of my company.

But yet, I still faced a level of abuse from the suppliers, who didn’t quite have the same level of, or any, empathy as myself. Instead the company was lumped into the category of ‘business as usual’ companies in Zambia. It was a lesson learnt by myself. You can build all the bridges you want, but when it comes to money in Zambia (and I’m sure many other developing countries), one mistake and that bridge can be burnt completely.

Yes in more developed markets it’s all about long term growth and strategy, but how can you focus on long term when the problems of today are on your doorstep? So with this in mind, what is the long term strategy for doing business in Zambia when cash is such a problem and relationships so precarious and fickle?

I am known as a very strong, passionate, and opinionated (bull-headed even) woman, but I also I am fiercely loyal, to my business, my brand, my family (and family is not only blood related). When I feel any of those things are being threatened I react like a lioness protecting her cubs (I think that’s what lioness’ do…sigh, I should watch Animal Planet more often). And when the threat is from someone I respect and trust, that’s just unforgivable.

Ok I might forgive, but I can’t forget the wrong done…. Wait… Doesn’t that technically mean I don’t forgive? Ok let’s just say that I become wary and you might find yourself on our blacklisted list.

Business is tricky and sometimes you have to work with your ‘enemies’ in taking your business to your next level, but then I’ll know you’re an enemy and won’t trust you as far as I can throw you. And that’s not how I like to work, but maybe that’s just the reality of doing business. I don’t know… As Queen Bey says ‘you can’t be nice in business’.

Anyway, that was some of my inner reflections, I need to carry on reflecting and developing myself on my journey to growth and inner peace 🙂

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