Leadership and the honour principle

A man’s pride will bring him low but the humble in spirit will retain honour – Proverbs 29:23

The Honour Principle is one of the most vital, yet oft-ignored tools of getting practically anything you want in life. When you master how this principle works in practice, it makes your journey to the top faster and practically unstoppable. It facilitates your access to kings and rulers who can make the things you seek immediately available to you. Conversely, not mastering it can actually ground you.

A look into the definition of the word in the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary gives six interesting meanings to the word. The first is “great respect and admiration for somebody”. Second is “privilege – something you are proud to do because people are showing you great respect”. The third definition is “moral behavior – the quality of knowing and doing what is morally right”. Fourth is “reputation – a good reputation, respect from other people” It is also defined as “something or somebody causing respect.” Furthermore, it is defined as “award – an award, official title given to someone as a reward for something they have done”.

The Webster’s Thesaurus has over fifty synonyms for the word, among which are “acclaim, credit, deference, decency, esteem, favour, homage, integrity, laudation, recognition, repute, respect”. Used as a verb, synonyms are,A  “acknowledge, exalt, esteem, observe, keep, pay homage, revere, value, remember, venerate, worship”. Of all these synonyms and definitions, one word seems to anchor all. It is the word “esteem”. Why? We behave towards people or things according to the level of esteem in which we hold them. We all honour what or who we esteem.

From the foregoing, it is evident that whatever we honour, we hold in high esteem and utmost regard. What or who we honour will always find space in our regular preoccupations, no matter how busy we may be. This was the reason why Queen Esther in the Bible could get the ears of the king even when it was an established fact that she had sought his audience at a time considered inauspicious for the king, a risk which, if not for the high esteem in which he held her, would have meant a death sentence!

In your own daily interactions with people, you would admit that not everyone rates the same on your relationship index. There are some people whose calls you cannot but answer, no matter how busy you may be when the call comes in. Or if for some reason you could not answer at the time they called, you return the call immediately you have the opportunity to do so. For some others, you may not even bother to pick the call even when you are in a position to, talk less of calling back, especially if it is from someone who is a drain on your energy, resources or emotions.

Even in sports where people compete for honours, it is not conferred if it is not earned. Honour is not demanded, it is commanded. If you get it in a competition and it is eventually established that you cut corners to get it, you are immediately stripped of your title and promptly dishonoured. An old English adage says that even among thieves, there is honour! Pedestrian respect may be given to a position a man occupies, but true honour must be earned. Unfortunately we live in a society riddled with corruption and misplaced priorities leading to a poverty both of pocket and portent. Apart from the fact that the collective has been largely impoverished by the dearth of purposeful, honourable leadership, our consciences have been largely inure to the ominous forebodings of our collective degradation. For this reason, even brazen thieves are honoured once they can pay the price. Universities even award Honorary Doctorates to people of questionable character but unconscionable pockets who can be serenaded into making “generous donations” to Endowment Funds as a catharsis for a seared conscience. Cash and carry is the name of the game. It permeates the political space where the cognomen “Honourable” is used to describe public officials like Commissioners, local government officials and “legislooters” masquerading as legislators. Consequently our warped values have seen the rise to social prominence of people who have no business with honour. Even national merit awards have been conferred on people who, in saner climes, should be behind bars! In this clime, position and power trump principles.

Our disregard for the extant principles of honour is the reason why we find ourselves in the almost hopeless, albeit redeemable quagmire we are in as a nation. No nation ignores this principle and makes progress. Even if this cathartic redemption is all that the incoming government can achieve, it would have laid the required foundation for sustainable development as a nation. Our leaders’ disdain for this principle over the years is the primary reason why many of them fizzle into oblivion soon after office. Where followers see nothing honourable in the leader, his exit is never missed, except by the sycophants who made their living by his buffoonery. Even then, these lackeys waste no time in looking for the next accolade-hungry “mugu” who now has the leadership platform. In time, yesterday’s stars soon become villains.

Leaders who have no honour are easily sacrificed on the altar of collective expediency either when a more deep-pocketed prey shows up and simply “buys” out the space occupied by the one he is displacing or the people themselves are simply fed up with the entire charade in realization of the precipitous descent into anarchy such a situation foists on them. That is when the collective cry of “Enough is enough” becomes the much needed precursor for change. I believe Nigeria just arrived at that junction.

However, a mere change of guard in leadership may not be the elixir if the replacement guard does not institute relevant value systems that strategically set out to undo the damage done by its predecessors. In no time, the people will clamour again for a change of guard! And the vicious cycle goes on until a rude shock happens in the system!

Apart from the late Chief Obafemi  Awolowo, I do not know of any of our past leaders in Nigeria who intelligently documented, personally thought-out and scripted ideas and thoughts on sustainable national development. Most of what else we have are nothing but hastily concocted assemblages of speeches by paid hagiographers who were merely doing another day’s job!…

Remember, the sky is not your limit, God is!

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