In 2008, Keith R. McFarland wrote about his encounter with Peter Drucker one afternoon in 1994 on a tree-lined sidewalk at Claremont University.
Keith was in his mid-thirties at the time and had just been named Chairman of Collectech Systems—a two-time Inc.500 technology company based in Los Angeles. At the time he ran into late Drucker that fateful afternoon, he was making the three-hour, round-trip drive to Claremont University’s Drucker Centre three times a week to take PhD classes from Drucker and his colleagues, hoping they could help him make sense of the difficult issues they were facing as a company. His frustration, however, was growing and he decided to ask the master for some help. “Why can’t I find the book that helps people like me solve the real problems of moving beyond the entrepreneurial stage of development?” he asked Drucker. After a moment of thought, he looked up and flashed his famous toothy, Zen master grin, “Because,” he granted in his thick Austrian accent, “you have not written it yet.”
Some years ago, I met with a young blood beyond the shores of Nigeria. We got talking on life generally and the nation we both passionately love. All of a sudden, he said and I quote verbatim, “there are too many things that are supposed to be in our country, but it is so sad that they are yet to be done by our leaders…” I looked into his eyes and said: “as long as you and I continue to think this way, Nigeria will never experience any genuine progress. Stop expecting others to lead and start leading. Whatever you think has not been done in Nigeria today, it is your job to do it.”
Once it comes to your mind that something is not well done or is not available, just know that it is your job to get the job done. Leaders do not wait for others to get the job done; they accept responsibility and get the job done!
Each time I am home in my beautiful country, it is my tradition to always listen to some radio shows in the wee hours of the day. One thing that is common in Nigeria is that no one wants to accept responsibility for the greatness of Nigeria. The leaders are passing the buck to the citizenry while the led are also passing the buck to the leaders. This is a very faulty mindset! And this is one of the major reasons why we are still where we are today as a nation. One of the attributes of leaders who know their onions is that they take initiative to birth what is not in existence and rise to correct what is wrong.
Followers are always looking for who can get the job done, but leaders always rise to get the job done. Our country is full of many followers who are acting as leaders. And until we get true leaders to lead every facet of our national life, we would remain as we are.
Also, it is my job here (every week) to teach you how you can become a leader who knows his onions, so that you too can teach others. Leadership can be learnt. This is the reason you’d need to walk in shoe-leather everything you are being taught here every week, so we can make leaders out of many of our people. This is the only way we can change this nation.
The more I passionately run with the burning vision of raising leaders in Nigeria and beyond, the clearer I see that the African man knows little or nothing about leadership. And the truth is no nation shall rise above the collective quality of those in leadership. Fasting and prayer without raising first-rate leaders to effectively govern Nigeria will not make this nation progress beyond where we are as a people. Leaders laid the foundation of Nigeria, not professional politicians who are in the corridors of power for what they can get, not what they can give.
In the same vein, stop complaining about what is not available in your community; it is your job to make it happen. Stop waiting in vain for someone else to lead your community. It will never happen. It is your responsibility to provide the leadership that your community needs. Remember, if it is yet to be done, it is your assignment to rise and get it done. If the book you are looking for is yet to be written, it is your assignment to write it.
The day I began to think this way, my life and leadership began to change and things that others are dying to get began to run after me and overtake me. Buddy, the day you start thinking that the future of Nigeria rests squarely on your shoulders, not on the shoulders of others, the brighter your leadership light shall begin to shine and the faster you’d start climbing the ladder of life.
About twenty-five years ago, I was taught by my mentor that each time I rise to solve a problem in my country that I am not only helping my country, he said that I am equally helping myself. Over the years, I have found this leadership counsel to be true. It was while I was solving a problem that I did know I was wired to solve that I began to find my own voice. Running with this counsel has transformed my life forever! Today, I do not wait for anyone to do what I am convinced that I have been sent on earth to do.
Lastly, look at one problem that you know you are able to solve in Nigeria and start solving it. After a few years of solving it, you shall find your own voice too as I found mine and your life will never remain the same again. Stop looking for others to lead and start leading.
See you where great leaders are found!