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Handling the 21st Century ‘Eliabs’

Have you ever met with those who think they know you, but in point of fact do not have an inkling about who you truly are, what you stand for and the reason why you are on earth? Over the years, I have met with this class of folks and it can be so attention-grabbing meeting with them. I call them the 21st century ‘Eliabs’. They are everywhere, including the work-place!

The ‘Eliabs’ of this world exude an air of confidence on who they think you are, what you stand for and the reason you are here on earth, but the truth is, they are a bunch of uninformed folks. They do not know, but they do not know that they do not know. ‘Eliabs’ speak with confidence, but the ground on which they are usually standing is unawareness.

It is very painless to teach someone who knows that he or she does not know, but it is almost impossible to teach and coach someone who does not know a hoot but believes he knows more than everyone else. A few years ago, I was teaching at a conference beyond the shores of Nigeria. I was to speak twice at the 3-day conference. After my first session, amongst those under the sound of my voice, a young man rose to speak on an area that he did not know two hoots on. I magnanimously allowed him speak for a few minutes. After that, I humbly showed him many holes in what he said, to which he disagreed with, even when other participants were trying to help him see my stance on some of the unsubstantiated issues he raised. Was I trying to show him that I was more informed than him? No. I was just trying to help him see that he did not know that he did not know what he thought he knew. This is the major reason why many folks are not moving to the fore in life.

The workplace in the 21st century is a theater of some sort. A friend of mine who owns a thriving company shared an experience with me on an executive staff of his who made the company in question lose some millions of naira. A junior staff was on his team who was supposed to handle a particular project that was given to the company I am talking about, but because the team leader did not know that he did not know his capacity, he gave the project to another person that he thought he knew his capacity, but in the real sense of it, he did not know the capacity of the staff in question at all. Consequent upon this leadership slip-up and booboo, the project was poorly delivered. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Are there people in your life today who you think you know, but who, in the real sense, you do not know? This is what I call—‘disguised-ignorance’. Ignorance is bad, but ‘disguised-ignorance’ is worse! It is terrible for one to think he knows either who or what he does not know. Buddy, when you do not know that you do not know, to learn becomes almost impossible. To be able to learn, you’d need to first of all admit that you do not know. Does this sound like you?

Eliab in the good book was on the team of a passing and fading leader. He was following a leader, who was first on the cutting-edge of what God was doing in the midst of the earth, but later he became an obsolete leader. When his leadership edge was intact, he was a star performer, whose influence covered the entire planet earth, but when he lost his leadership edge, those who used to follow him exited his sphere of influence. When he lost his leadership edge, confidence and competence gave way to fear and mediocrity. Buddy, please understand me that it is dangerous to follow a leader, who is now a shadow of what he used to be.

When you assess and appraise people from afar and you are speaking with confidence that you do know them, the truth is: the ground on which you are standing is ignorance. When you bridge the gap between you and those you are assessing from far afield, you’d realize that you are completely wrong. Over the years, I have found out that people usually detest and dislike intensely those who they are supposed to love and love those who they are supposed to distance themselves from, all because of the wrong assessment of folks. When you do not truly know folks, you’d lose true destiny relationships and it will impact negatively on everything about your life, leadership and business.

Back to the issue I earlier raised on the man Eliab in the good book. Eliab said and I quote to the letter: “Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.” Eliab said: “I know”, when he actually did not have a clue on who David was and what he came to do. David came on purpose; he did not come to “see the battle” as Eliab wrongly said. And his driving force was not pride, but passion and purpose. Have you ever thought that some folks were proud when they actually were not proud? Before you judge the next person, make sure you understand who he is and what he is passionate about.

Lastly, how do you handle the ‘Eliabs’ of this day and time? Turn away from them and face the reason why you are on earth and make sure you finish it before you move to the land of the silent ones! You do not need to argue with those who faultily think they know you. Move on with your life and prove them wrong by delivering the future.

See you where great leaders are found!