Leadership: Lessons along the way – 2

In the course of fulfilling your life assignment, many people will be engaged in the process, for good or for ill. You will be making the greatest mistake of your life by assuming that just because people gleefully got involved with what you are doing translates to their being committed to you. Those who are committed to you will literally bite the bullet for you. They don’t flee at the slightest whiff of danger or crisis. Crisis is the litmus test of the strength of a relationship. I sometimes simulate crisis around me just to know those who will still stand. Fire will always reveal the serpent hidden in a pile of dry foliage.

One quality decision is better than a million intentions. Human beings are full of desires, dreams, aspirations and intentions. Very often, people express their intentions very loudly and with such zest that you would think they would do things in record time. Sad to say, however, few people actually take the necessary decision to pursue their own expressed desires. Some years ago, a young man came to see me in Ibadan all the way from Kwara State. He was an avid reader of this column and had read a few of my books and felt that he needed to learn some things from me. He offered to work with me even if I was not going to pay him a salary. His only hindrance was accommodation in Ibadan. A few days afterwards, I decided that I would pay him a reasonable stipend, made arrangements for his accommodation and waited for him to show up. He didn’t. Three weeks later, he called me. When I asked where he was, he told me he arrived Ibadan a week earlier but was staying with his friend in a different part of the city from where I was. When I asked him why he did not resume as agreed, he kept reeling out excuses and narrating one problem after another. I never bothered to tell him what I had prepared for him. Life never rewards intentions. It doesn’t even reward decisions. It rewards pursuit!

Life is full of human leeches. True relationship is meant to be symbiotic. But very often, I have learnt that many people simply want to be parasitic consumers of value without reciprocal contribution of value. Relationship with such people is usually draining and high maintenance. I have seen too many of such in my lifetime and practice. The only time they reach out to you is when they need something from you. There are several people who claim to be my protégés but who only call me when they are in need of something, usually financial. When I get a call from them, all I need is to ask how things are with them, and I am usually regaled with stories of the recent misfortunes that have befallen them! Usually, I know where the story will dovetail into. They have never once asked if there was anything that they could do for me!

Experience has taught me that the only reason why some people mill around those they consider more successful is just for the purpose of identification and show-off, not because they intend to learn anything they have seen working in the life of the one they admire. They are more eager to take selfies with or be seen in your company than they are in learning from you. Once they have taken a picture or two with you, the next thing they do with it is name-dropping! They get their moments in the spotlight when they regale their “less connected” friends with usually exaggerated stories of their encounter with you. If you get the opportunity to stand on various platforms to speak, they love what you do and some of them say they want to be like you. Some of them even go ahead to attend your programmes, buy your tapes just so they can rehearse speaking like you even when they have no intention of paying the price you have paid and still pay. In the most, they are eager to parrot the same things they heard from you even when they have not made it their own reality. They will join every online platform and participate in a masterclass, just to accumulate materials to share on other platforms even when they don’t acknowledge the source.

There is a Yoruba proverb that says that when a particular concoction or juju is got for free, it is usually kept behind the hearth somewhere behind your hut. When I first started writing books, a large number of copies of my first two publications were given out for free. Even though each publication cost me a bomb, considering the fact that I was a salary earner when I published them, I was eager to get people’s comments and commendation. So, I ended giving several copies out for free. Months or weeks later, whenever I saw any of the people I gave the books to and asked what they thought, it almost always turned out that they had not even bothered to open, talk less of reading it. I became accustomed to comments like, “Sorry I haven’t read it but I will sometime” or “One of my friends took it away and has not returned it”. The kindest I got was, “Oh, I haven’t really had time to really go through it. But I definitely will.”! I still give out my books. But before I do, I must see a need for it. Freebies are hardly treated with respect. What people don’t give value for, they hardly value. When I conduct free courses, I see so much unseriousness in many of the participants, almost as if they believe that they are doing you a favour. Many of them get up midway and leave because they have appointments scheduled for the same period! But when it is a paid class, they sit through the sessions!

Not minding all of that, I have learnt that it is more blessed to give than to receive. I am therefore totally committed to giving of my time and resources to make life better for others. And it has been very rewarding. Not everyone is an ingrate and not all want to be parasites. I have seen my needs met and people give things to me when I didn’t ask for anything. I recall someone chatting me up a few years ago on social media asking for my account number. It wasn’t a familiar face, so, in view of the various fraudulent schemes flying around, I did not immediately respond. Sensing my reservation, she wrote to say that I wasn’t likely to know her but when she was a young girl of about sixteen, I visited their church to speak. On one of the days, I requested audience with the teenagers. According to her, what I said that day laid the foundation for what she is currently doing. I later found out that she is now proprietor of a flourishing fashion empire. She sent a sizeable amount into my account!…continued

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



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