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Finding clarity

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I went to campus with Rita, James’ wife. In 2009, I had gone to visit James when I heard that he had a KUMON school in South ‘C’. I was curious to see what KUMON was about. It was then that James told me what he was up to as a coach, mentor and motivational speaker. At that point in my life I was stuck. I had been running Winka Academy for 10 years, and I wasn’t sure how to move on.

Since I was a child in primary school, my parents had always wanted to start a school. I had graduated from campus in 1998, and I had received a mountain of rejection letters. Since I wasn’t employed and had a Business degree, I thought why not apply that knowledge and help my parents run their dream school. My vision of the school, soon overrun my parents’ vision, and I was soon running the school.

I had never been the smart student, I struggled. I won’t lie about that. I was that child teachers gave up on because I just wasn’t grasping things fast enough and my grades weren’t promising. This school was going to be a solution for kids like me; kids who struggle and learn differently. A school where it wasn’t about your grade – no positions, celebrating kids for who they are. Not just a place for learning, but make children love learning. I want to honour God through my story of schooling.

After two years of working in the family business, I discovered working for free wasn’t fun anymore. I interned for the UN for a few months and soon got a job in HR at ICRC. I loved the work for some time; it was great to earn cash. But it was during this time it was confirmed that I was not meant to be employed. In 2009 when I met James, I remember he said a story you may have heard about a trailer. He said, “When a trailer is being driven and you’re in the driver’s seat and you negotiate a turn, the head turns first and the body follows.”

That was my ‘Aha’ Moment! I was in the driver’s seat. I do have control. After that initial conversation things changed. I changed the branding of the school, set up new operational standards at the school, and some staff who couldn’t manage the new standards fell by the way side. I was ok with that; I knew it was necessary; to be able to grow as Winka Academy, whatever was holding its full potential would have to shed off on its own.

But soon, life happened; my three beautiful children became my focus. I wasn’t able to exert myself as much as I would have liked. Being mummy was my priority. In 2014, I had finally got a hang of being wife, mum and entrepreneur. I felt that it was now time to find myself. I gave James a call, and this time committed fully. Thus far I have taken four courses with James.

1. Harness Your Brilliance

2. Mentor for Profit

3. Market with Confidence

4. Clients & Cashflow – this is my most recent course.

There are times I stop and ask myself whether leaving the UN was a foolish idea. Anyone who has worked in the UN will tell you the money is great. I don’t miss the cash as much as the work environment. But just the fact that a child finds hope at Winka Academy it reminds me why it is all worth it – that makes me a millionaire.

One evening one of my children was ill, and we rushed her to Gertrude’s Hospital. In the hospital there was a teenage boy who I expected to have his earphones plugged; playing a video game from his phone slouched on a chair, like most do. This young boy was greeting kids and parents and all I thought was, “I want kids from Winka Academy to be like that.” And lo and behold, when I asked the boy which school he went to, he was a Winka Alumni.

I am glad that I finally found the clarity I needed to keep going despite the general exhaustion I felt having run a school for 17 years.

By Wairimu KanyiWairimu Kanyi

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