Sometimes you can only see how far you’ve come once you’ve left– or in my case, are set to leave. As my days working at the lodge with this hard-working crew wind down, I find myself in reflecting on where we all started together. I came to Kenya with no expectations, no benchmarks, no demands and really, let’s be honest, no clue what I was getting into. A new career, a new continent, a new culture and a new lodge lied ahead. The path ahead rife with opportunity. I would either sink or swim.
In the thick of it, I was just treading water as hard as I could to keep my nose above the water line. As my muscles conditioned, treading became swimming, and movement became progress. I distinctly remember one of my first trips home to see my family and being asked about my job. I responded that it felt like I did a crash course MBA in 6 months. From hiring to firing, management and finance, operations and logistics, service and training, community relations and social and environmental impact, to design and structure, all of it was crammed and packed into my brain so fast, the phrase ‘on the job training’ seemed entirely inadequate.
While I still continue to learn new skills, find efficiencies, and improve on past performance, my goal of trying to master this industry was accomplished by showing up, day-in and day-out, and putting in the effort. I look at the 120+ staff within the lodge and can see that we all have developed skills, learned new tricks, and added new outputs to our resumes. I wouldn’t, however, define that as growth. To really grow at Angama took more than showing up and effort. It took courage, determination, and, maybe most importantly, a mindset that focuses on the how and the why, not the what.
People tend to correlate position and title with growth their careers. Many make jumps from company to company to find growth opportunities. In my opinion, your title doesn’t peg your position. I look at where I started with Angama and with each year that has passed, the opportunities to rise to new challenges and the lessons learned from failures along the way. Same position. Same title. But the person from six years ago is a mere shadow of the person I am today.
In year one, I was fulfilled with a 5-star review knowing that the hours of training and re-training paid off. In year 5, I was filled with an overwhleming sense of accomplishment after getting Angama Safari Camp off the ground, having never launched a mobile camp before. It was a chance to prove all I had learned. And looking back, my definition of accomplishment has grown as well. In the beginning I needed to know that I was good enough. That I could do the job assigned. Now, I feel fulfilled if I know the process was shared, the effort was a combined, and the strive for excellence continued with or without me.
As I look to pass the torch, I am eager to see the growth that lies ahead for Angama, the great opportunities that will allow the team to shine with the right mindset and a handful of grit. Change is a catalyst for growth and if anything, I know that Angama will continue to push forward, create, and develop, allowing people like me to reach a potential they didn’t know they could achieve.
What a fun ride it has been.
Filed under: Inside Angama