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The Elevator

July 28, 2018

Do you ever feel like life is moving too fast for you sometimes? This is exactly what I have been feeling lately and especially this particular month. Just the other day it was 1stof July. Now today is the last Sunday of July 2018. What happened to this month, where did the days and weeks in between disappear to? 

Can you imagine that 30 weeks of this year are gone, and we only have 22 more weeks to go before we say goodbye to this year? I don’t know about you but for me, this has somewhat created a sense of urgency for me to be extra careful how I spend my time from now on. Not that I wasn’t careful before but from now, I will guard my time jealously and only use it for things that are going to bring me closer to achieving the goals I had set for myself this year that I am yet to achieve. This resolution was solidified when I had an epiphany while at a certain mall.

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to visit this mall that is right at the junction of Bibi Titi and Morogoro road in Dar Es Salaam, The City Mall. I have been there before but this time I went there for a very specific reason; I wanted to experience its ambience and explore some of the facilities it has. Well, two specific facilities were of interest to me; the supermarket on the ground floor and the coffee shop right next to the supermarket. Both are so strategically placed that you can’t miss them.

After picking what I needed from the very well stocked supermarket, I decided to go to the coffee shop for a few minutes just to rest my feet because I had been standing and walking for a while. Besides, there was this tempting aroma of coffee that I couldn’t ignore, and since it has been a while since I had some nice coffee, I succumbed to the temptation. I placed my order for a nice hot mug of café latte and while waiting, I took the book I am reading for the week and continued to read. When my latte arrived, I put my book aside so I could focus on savoring every drop of the café latte. I was meant to have a meeting later that afternoon some place else, but the latte was so delicious and the ambience of the coffee shop was so nice that I decided to ask the person I was to meet to join me at the coffee shop.

Where I was sitting, I was facing the two elevators that serve visitors between the different floors of the Mall. At some point I looked up from the book I was reading and found myself staring at the elevators picking people from one floor and delivering them to another. The elevators are see through meaning when you are inside you can be able to see what’s going on outside and vice versa. It was therefore very easy to tell who was enjoying and who was enduring the elevator experience. As I sat there watching people go up and down in those escalators, I got an unexpected aha! moment right there.  

Image Courtesy of Thinkstock


Life is like an elevator. People come, and people go. Many others keep coming and going, but no matter how many of you are in that elevator, it is very rare that all of you will be going to the same place to do the same thing.

Each one of them gets into that lift for a different reason. To some, their destination maybe to the building management office on the top floor of that building, while others get in because they are too lazy to take one flight of stairs up from the ground floor to the first floor. Others get into the elevator because they have too many shopping bags to carry and so they feel going down the stairs would make them tired. To others, they take the lift just for the experience.

The reasons are many and they vary from one person to the next, but just like an elevator, people are here on earth for different reasons.

The City Mall has many shops in it, and thinking about it as I was sipping my latte that day made me realize something else; the world is our Mall. You see, a mall has many shops and offices offering different products and services, but no matter how many shops and offices there are in the mall each selling different products and services, there is only so much that can interest you as a human being. Similarly, there are many opportunities that are presented to you the moment you are born, but not all those opportunities will be ideal for you. Just like in a mall there are many shops and offices yet not all of them will have products or services that will interest you, so is life. Not every opportunity will be for you.

While I was thinking about the opportunities life presents to us, another thought came into my mind; how many Malls do we have in Dar Es Salaam alone? Counting quickly from the top of my mind, they are not less than ten, and more are still coming up. So I asked myself yet another question; why would I pass all the malls along my way to end up in a mall 20-plus kilometers away from my comfort zone or convenience zone? The answer I got surprised me. I was at that mall at that time because of one major reason;  how I felt when I was there. The service at the coffee shop was excellent, the café latte was delicious and the ambience was just awesome. It made me feel very comfortable, but the best part about it is that the staff made me feel that I mattered to them. So guess where my new favorite meeting place will be? You guessed it right; the coffee shop at the City Mall. 

Does it mean that the mall has better facilities than other places? As a matter of fact no. I can give you a whole list of areas that the mall management needs to look into but that’s a story for another day. My main concern from now on will be the service I get whenever I go into the supermarket or when I sit at the coffee shop to have my café latte. To someone else, their reasons for going to the mall maybe different. It could be they find it very convenient because of its strategic location especially considering one of the major Mwendo Kasi bus-stops is just opposite the Mall. All the same, I strongly believe that the connection between one being a regular at any place is greatly influenced by one very key factor; how you feel when you visit that place. This is the S.I. unit of measuring the possibility of converting a non-loyal customer into a loyal customer .

Thinking about it now I understand why the late Maya Angelou said this, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”.  When you make someone feel wanted, appreciated, loved, valued, etc, there is a part of their brain that will always associate you with those “feel good” emotions, and no matter where you go, they will always want to follow you. That is why many good barbers or braiders will always have a following regardless of where they go. Why? Because their customers keep following that “feel good” feeling that person gives them when they serve them. By the way, animals do the same too. They know who gives them a “feel good” feeling and who doesn’t. 

Many are the times I have followed a barber or a braider (when I used to braid my hair) or pedicurist to places where sometimes distance was an inconvenience. I used to think I was following them because of the great service they were giving me (which they always did and still do), but I realized the actual reason why I was following them was beyond service delivery; it was all about how they made me feel when they served me.  

There are saloons you’ll go to and you hear the ladies talking amongst themselves saying, “huyo ni mteja wa ngapi?” In other words, they treat their customers like statistics or just like another number. So guess what happens to that customer? Without even realizing it, there’s a part of their brain that will register the fact that they have just been made a statistic, and no matter how well the attendant attends to them, that feel good switch never comes on. It becomes permanently switched off.  

I am about to finish this article and you are probably asking yourself what my main message to you today is. Well, I have three messages:

  1. Life is like an elevator. We are all in the elevator but our reasons for being in it (life) are different. Stay focused on your reasons and don’t get swayed by the reasons of the others in the elevator with you. Remember your Why.​
  2. The world is like a Mall. Not every shop will be of interest to you. When you remember your Why, then you will be able to find your Where. In other words, knowing why you are here on earth today will make it easier for you to determine where you will be achieving your why. Of course your why will also guide you to your how, when, what, who, etc.​
  3. The last lesson is about being careful how you affect people’s feelings. Regardless of who the people are, make sure you always leave them with a feel good feeling.


This last point here brings me to the book I am currently reading in the ongoing #52BooksIn52Weeks2018 book reading challenge; Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman. This book is one of the most interesting books I have read so far on the human brain and the different intelligences that a human being has. Personally, I didn’t know anything emotional intelligence until I landed on Goleman’s book. Reading this book will give you a guideline as to how you can recognize, understand and  manage your own emotions, while at the same time recognizing, understanding and influencing the emotions of others.  

If you are in any position of leadership, reading this book will give you the tools you need to be able to place the right people in the right positions based on a combination of factors and not just their IQ. If you are a teacher, this book will help you identify the competencies and skills your students have so that you can help nurture and develop their skills early enough with an aim of guiding them to professions or careers that are best suited to their individual intelligences. 

This book will help you understand why it is not just about IQ anymore. As a matter of fact, this book made me understand where that “feel good” emotion comes from in a human being, and why it is a vital factor to anyone who is in the service industry.

As we head to the 8thmonth of the year remember time is not waiting for us. Stop wasting your time getting off the wrong floor or going to the wrong shops in life. Life is short, time is limited and so you have to make sure you are heading in the right direction always. In other words, know your purpose and go after it hard because your life depends on it. 

Be ignited. Be inspired. Be informed. Become the best version of yourself you can ever be.



PS: This article was originally published in Tanzania's Guardian On Sunday on the 29th of July, 2018, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words".​​​





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