How to "Run Like a Kenyan" Toward Your Goals
Nearly 12,000 feet up on a jagged ridge that I shouldn’t have been on in the Dolomite mountain range of Northern Italy, I stopped to take a look at my Nike running shoes that were the closest thing to trail shoes or hikers that I packed for a 2-week European vacation with my family. I had already slipped twice and nearly rolled an ankle two other times because, well, I was wearing my old reliable Nike running shoes on a pitch that (according to a sign bolted into the rock face) required a rope, helmet and harness (which I also left on the shelf at the local gear shop). My Nike’s had already given me almost 500 miles on pavement, so not only were they no longer good for running, but they were handily proving my theory that they were never any good for mountain climbing. As I looked at the tread on the bottom, and then back down at all the jagged rocks I had clumsily stumbled over, I knew they were toast.
My Brother- and Father-in-law atop our peak in Northern Italy.
So, when I got back home, I began my brief search for new shoes. I say brief, because it was the quickest search for a new pair of running shoes I’d ever undertaken. Usually I’m fretting about things like price or the trade-off between minimal vice supportive styles. However, this time I found a pure hybrid at a good price by doing zero shopping online. All I had to do was stumble upon my pick while listening to The East Africa Business Podcast, and these shoes haven't disappointed.
Picture: My Men's Enda Iten shoe on a Salmon Bidaya Long Sleeve (Coming soon).
What is The East Africa Business Podcast? If you’re asking that question, then you might also be confused about the purpose of a 5-hour Energy Shot. If so, just Google it. If not, read on. Either way, check out their podcast on Enda here.
So, as it turns out, there is this company called Enda (Swahili for "Go") in Kenya that makes running shoes. They are pretty much the only company in Kenya doing so, which seems pretty strange considering that Kenya is known for lightning fast endurance runners. Just for context, Kenyan men maintain 6/10 of the fastest recorded times in the Marathon, and 8/10 of the fastest in the Half-Marathon distance in the world. Kenyan women hold 5 and 3 respectively as well. All of that in a country with roughly the population and area of Texas alone, in a world full of 195 countries. If you like to run, but don't yet "Run like a Kenyan", as Enda's slogan reads, it seems only reasonable to ask: why not? (Fact Check with PBS here)
Enda is still a relatively small company, who gets the majority of their orders from Western (American) runners who are looking for a more meaningful shoe purchase than what larger, less socially-conscious brands provide. With the core tenants of Honesty, Impact, and Community, Enda focuses on growing the economy to help the community by supplying jobs to locals, but also by giving back to certified organizations that are making significant impacts in the area.
So, why am I telling you about Enda? And what does this have to do with Bidaya? No, they didn't pay me to write an article. No, we're not about to start selling running shoes. But, this company and their CEO know a bit about what it takes to be healthy and happy in life – and I thought it was worth sharing.
When asked about her journey to get Enda up and running (yup, I said it), Enda's CEO, Nava Osembo, mentioned that when she was first talking about competing with the likes of Nike and other running companies, she kept getting told that she was too ambitious. People loved the idea, but said that she was wasting her time. As you can well see, she didn't listen to them for anything other than critical advice that she could use to refine her approach and improve her company. When asked about the mentality you need to adopt in order to push past such obstacles, she said it like this: “...so maybe you jump and maybe you fall. Or maybe you find other jumpers midair and you hold hands and like latch together!”
That brings me to what I think is the key takeaway from the story of Enda and where their approach to life overlaps with Bidaya. Being afraid of failure in any endeavor – be it a job interview, a marriage, a race, a hike, building a company or non-profit, writing a book, speaking out against injustice, or whatever your mountain that you've got to climb is – is exactly why most people don't accomplish extraordinary things. The funny thing is, honestly, a lot of people are quick to tell us that our big idea won't work. They do it out of love, out of worry, out of fear, out of a love of comfort and the status quo, or, well, whatever. else The thing is, if you have a goal, and you care about it, you can’t let the negative “helpful” warnings of others stop you from doing it.
Even more than that, you can gain confidence through hard work, research, and practice in anything, but the most powerful way to get through any obstacle, as Ms. Osembo shows, is with support from other like-minded people. My pastor often says, "Show me your five closest friends, and I'll show you your future." Enda didn't just spontaneously sprout out of Nava Osembo alone – she sought help and support from a multitude of people (including Co-founder Weldon Kennedy). Like water to a plant, friends, partners and mentors are there to force us into growth, no matter where we end up.
So, the only question left to ask is, are the 5 people you spend the most time with building you up?