Money Lessons You Can Learn From A Mai-Guard

Mai_Guard [Femke van Zeijl/Al Jazeera]

Your Biggest Disadvantage Could Be Your Biggest Advantage

It has to be possibly one of the most boring jobs ever, having to “guard” – with air quotes – someone’s house. The routine, the perennial idleness, not being about to leave the vicinity of my workplace for hours on end? Uhn-Uhn; that job’s definitely not for me. Spending days on end, watching the world pass by while I sit in the shade, daydreaming of myself in fantastic situations, my fantasies only interrupted by the  occasional sharp car horn beckoning me to open the gate and having to tell the unannounced visitor, “Oga no dey.”

Walk past any mai guard sitting either side of the gate he is guarding and you are likely to notice a mini mart either in the form of a hole in the wall or a kiosk.

I can understand the appeal though, lounging all day, drifting in and out of sleep while a cool breeze sweetly blows me all over. I’ve spent many lazy Sundays like that and thoroughly enjoyed myself but to do it all day? Every day? It’s tantamount to resigning myself to the fact that this is as good as life’s gonna get. I would dream of a bigger house and nicer things but I wouldn’t be doing anything discernible that would move me towards those dreams, Even though, on the flip side, I would have little or no stress and my blood pressure would be waaay lower, I would essentially be a man without ambition. There’s one word we use to describe people like that, and that’s “Lazy!”

Not all mai-guards can be described as lazy however. Some are quite enterprising. It’s the nature of the job, particularly the fact that they have to stay put all day and act as deterrents for any would-be burglary that makes it difficult to run a side business. What many have resorted to doing therefore is to make the best of their situation and turn what can be perceived as a disadvantage into an advantage.

Walk past any mai-guard sitting either side of the gate he is guarding and you are likely to notice a mini mart either in the form of a hole in the wall or a kiosk. They have taken the disadvantage of not having the luxury of being mobile and turned it into an advantage. They are in the same location day and night, so for their customers, there is no better place to buy from than a neighbourhood store you know will be open.

Many of you reading this article have 9-5 jobs and you might not see any parallels between your situation and that of a mai-guard. Well, that’s not entirely true. Some of you are lazy. Yes, I said it; you know who you are. The amount of time you put into looking at and posting pictures on Instagram during working hours says that you are underutilized in your workplace. That time could be spent generating a second income stream for yourself.

My main focus for this posit though, is to speak to the readers who have what seems like a disadvantage but still have a vision of achieving more for themselves. Some of you work in operations in a financial institution. If you do, then you have so much more in common with a mai-guard than you think. Unlike your colleagues in sales who have to be up and about, you can’t leave the office. Whereas, they can take advantage of their mobility to drive a second source of income, there is no lie you can tell your boss that would justify your absence for more than one hour if you work as a teller in a branch for example.

Well, one way you can turn this disadvantage around is if you have a car that is just parked in the company parking lot all day. You can hire a driver and sign up with one of the popular ride sharing services. Since you’re not going anywhere anyway, you might as well have your car work for you.

Enough Talk, Act Now

That is just one example I’m throwing out there because I hear people complain that they are so busy with one job, they don’t have time or energy for another business or side hustle. The lesson here is that I want you to consider changing the way you think and reason for a minute by seeing how your disadvantage can actually be an advantage. This is useful especially if you have been looking to your strengths as a source of inspiration for a business but nothing has proved to be viable.


Insurance distribution professional, passionate about personal financial management. Host blogger at
Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On FacebookVisit Us On Linkedin