Leadership lesson from a mother hen (2)

Success is spelt S.A.C.R.I.F.I.C.E. Anywhere you see someone who has significantly succeeded or is succeeding, you are looking at someone who has made some appreciable sacrifice to get to where he is. To go up, you must be willing to give up some things. Greatness is not always about what we achieve. It is also about what we were willing to give up for us to succeed. Sometimes, it would require cutting down on our regular hours of sleep. Highly successful people can be very unsparing when it comes to relationships. Without blinking, they will opt out of any relationship that does not seem to be taking them in the direction of their goals. In all the period that this hen was incubating her eggs, she shunned the company of other hens. What that also meant was that she was able to focus on the task at hand. More on that later. One other luxury that she had to give up was regular food. For many people, their appetite is the number one saboteur of their destiny. The sage Solomon advised that when you are invited to dine with a certain class of people, you should watch your appetite. In actual fact, he uses very strong language, “put a knife to your throat” especially if you are one given to a ravenous appetite!

The fulfilment of your vision is basically your responsibility. No matter who you blame for your failure, it does not diminish the fact that YOU abdicated responsibility for certain things. As the saying goes, you have not really fallen until you claim that someone pushed you. Every leader must know that greatness is primarily an inside job. I come across people on a regular basis who would waste no time blaming everyone and anyone for their failures in life. Young people who take hard drugs because of what they claim to be the frustration they experienced from their parents. Students who blame their academic woes on lecturers who never liked them. Spouses who betray their partners because they claim that the partner literally pushed them into another’s arms or bed. People who blame their mediocrity or sorry lot in life on not having attended an Ivy League school. The list goes on.  Leadership and responsibility are synonymous. Until a man can take responsibility both for personal foibles as well as the shortcomings of the collective that he leads, he does not qualify to be called a leader. The provision of a conducive atmosphere for the hatching of her eggs, as well as staying the course of the duration of incubation was the hen’s responsibility and no other hen could have helped her in those tasks.

This is why one quality of great leaders is their ability to protect their vision through unwavering focus and commitment. All the hen’s eggs were kept under her wings throughout the period of incubation. She deprived herself of essential comfort. But it did not matter. The end would more than justify the means. The arrival of her chicks would more than compensate for all that trouble. To become significant as a leader, protect your focus more than you do your arguments. If you win an argument and in the process jeopardize the vision, you forfeit the right to be called a true leader.

The foundation of true success is laid in hope and faith. Faith in a future that excites and a fervent hope that circumstances would line up for its attainment. The conviction about a future that is only tangible in the imagination is the anchor of hope. There are no other guarantees. Every farmer ploughs in hope. There are no definite guarantees of a harvest or its quantum. Yet, year in year out, the farmer keeps planting in the hope of a bountiful harvest. The hen had no guarantees while laying her eggs that they would be preserved. There was no way of knowing if the one she laid the day before would still be there on any particular day. But she kept returning to the spot to lay more. Beyond that, she did not even have a guarantee that all the eggs would be hatched and definitely did not know which would not. She would lay and protect them all in hope. A leader has lost nothing until he loses hope and faith in his dream. Great leaders do the needful by making their plans and the corresponding strategies for making their dream happen. They simply do all that they should do and leave what they have no capacity for or control over to their hope for a positive outcome.

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