Run on a broken leg


Patrick Achitabwino:

Manteo Mitchell, an American sprinter, had only covered half of the first leg of the 4 x 400 metres relay preliminaries when the unexpected happened.

He felt pain in one of the legs. Speaking to the media at the end, he said: “It felt like somebody literally snapped my left leg in half.”


In the midst of the excruciating pain, 200 metres left, Mitchell had to make a choice—keep running or stop and lose the race. He was not a man who was to give up.

With pain deterring him with every step, he kept on running. He did not mind the pain; he had set his sight on his prize. He finished the lap and limped to the side to watch the Americans finish the race and qualify easily for the final.

When doctors checked him, they proved his fears right: he had run the last 200 meters with a broken left fibula.


There are moments in life when things break while we are on our path. A business gets entangled in red tape and gets affected by other macro-economic fundaments, say, currency devaluation while you had ordered goods and priced for a client.

You cannot change the price given to the client. There are moments you are well prepared for an examination; then suddenly, you fall sick or the paper that comes is contrary to your expectations.

There are times you embark on your dream in anything, then you wonder that there seems to be no support even from the people that encouraged you.

When such moments come, the easiest decision is to quit; thus, eventually losing the race to the finish line of your dreams.

As you are working hard on your dreams, a leg would break, and that is common.

The broken leg could be intensified competition on the market.

The broken leg could be increased barriers to market entry.

The broken leg could be your underestimation of customer needs.

The broken leg could be inadequate preparedness for examination.

The broken leg could be an accident; say, fire that destroys your business or water that sweeps away your produce as you were set to harvest.

Life will go through broken-leg moments. In such instances, take your mind to the heart of Mitchell and you will gather the bits of courage and run on.

The great success stories you see today have had broken legs in different aspects. Some, as business start-ups, had to book for over 40 meetings, not even securing a business.

Probably, all worked after the 41st meeting. If they had given up; their business would not have taken off.

Some corporate executives you see had to sit supplementary examinations in the university. There is an abundance of flamboyant executives who used to go to the field early in the morning, later take a shower and go to school barefoot in tattered uniform, do some manual labour jobs after school, all just to supplement a living.

They were even walking barefoot, carrying their few belongings on the head, on the way to boarding secondary school. They never gave up. They kept on running the race with the broken leg of poverty and deprivation.

Today, if they tell you their painful past, you would think they are just glorifying the story.

When tough moments come in your life, look at the vision that you have. If you are so transfixed on the vision than the temporary obstacles on your path, victory will be within sight.

Of course, it is never easy to keep on believing when the world seems to be crumbling around you. Nevertheless, remember this: the harder the battle, the sweeter the victory.

You might be broke as you are on the path to the promised land of your dreams. Keep on. Secure some more loans to invest in the dream. It will work. Giving up is no option. Be comforted by the joy you will get when you become successful.

Thomson Mpinganjira nearly gave up. Jimmy Korea Mpatsa nearly gave up. Stain Singo nearly gave up. Edward Kalua nearly gave up. Napoleon Dzombe nearly gave up. Vanda Cabral nearly gave up. Strive Masiyiwa nearly gave up. Aliko Dangote nearly gave up. Patrice Motsepe nearly gave up. Bill Gates nearly gave up. Steve Jobs nearly gave up.

All the successful and rich people you admire nearly gave up at some point when they came across moments of a broken leg. But like Mitchell, they did not give up. They kept on running and that is why they are successful and admirable today.

If anything, it is their stories of perseverance that sparkle their lives. Run on a broken leg until you win.

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