‘Lighting Another Person’s Candle Won’t Dim Yours’ By Mwangi Ndegwa

Felista is a fashion designer not just in her hometown of Kisumu Kenya but also within the continent of Africa and around the world. The fashion bug...


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Felista is a fashion designer not just in her hometown of Kisumu Kenya but also within the continent of Africa and around the world. The fashion bug bit her when she was still young. Her mother who was also very fashion conscious, would always allow her to accompany her to the shops and malls displaying the latest fashion trends and this greatly honed her skills when it came to matters of fashion. Felista eye for detail endeared her to many people during her startup and before long, she was a household name.

Any business requires very high levels of cleanliness and hygiene and Felista was well aware of this. She would report to work very early which she still does. Her main reason for this was to supervise her employees as they cleaned her almost mall size boutique. During the earlier days, especially when it rained, she used to have a torrid time because she had to assign somebody permanently to clean the verandah. The reason for this was that though her section of the verandah was spotless, the neighbouring shop’s verandahs were not that clean and people walking along the verandah would carry the mud on their shoes bringing it right on to her verandah. This would annoy her and her feelings of helplessness made matters worse.

One rainy morning, Felisa stood outside staring at the mess that had been caused on her verandah and she looked visibly annoyed but helpless. One old man who she had helped in many instances walked over to her very concerned when he saw the look on her face. When he enquired what the matter was, Felista explained her predicament. The old man smiled and with wisdom gained over years, he gave a simple but effective solution.  “Madam, instead of killing yourself with anger, just do a simple thing. It might look odd but it will permanently solve your problem. Tomorrow when doing your cleaning, ask your employees to clean even the neighbouring verandahs. That way, people will be walking on a clean surface and your verandah will remain clean. Remember that your neighbours may not have resources to match your standards but when you assist them in this small way, it will boost your business also because the clean environment will attract more clients into this whole area. This will end up having a boomerang effect on your business. Remember that if you light another person’s candle, it will not dim yours. Indeed, it will bring more light in to the room.”

Felista was overjoyed and true to the old man’s wise counsel, a month down the line, things had completely changed and the effect was enormous. Her neighbours were so touched and offered to join her in cleaning not only their own premises but also the area outside their premises. She lit their “candles” and now the whole area was full of light.

We can all apply the same wisdom from the old man as Felista did. It may appear small but the effect will turn out to be enormous. Nothing big starts big. A hurricane starts as a small whirlwind in the ocean but as it gathers momentum, we know the end results. We can all start a small but positive whirlwind in the lives of a needy person by providing them with the basic necessities or even an unwell person by visiting them and comforting them. We can light the candle of a physically challenged or old person by assisting them to cross a busy road. We can light a candle of a child by assisting them and encouraging them in their studies. We may not get to see the results immediately but years down the line, the evidence will be all visible and clear. Begin this journey by lighting someone’s candle today. To read more posts by Mwangi, click HERE

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