Don’t let any mortal being dictate how your life turns out.
In the leadership journey, be sure to have hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, name it come your way. It’s one of the most challenging. A leader’s obligation is to the team and the team’s to the leader and society. Whenever anything goes wrong in the team or its activities to the society the leaders are answerable. Alongside these mishaps come criticism. If the society isn’t satisfied by whatever effort is being put to serve it, it will complain. Sometimes in bitter words when its wroth and sometimes with a little consideration for the effort being pumped into work. This more often than not puts the leader at a vulnerable position. Their feelings may sometimes be hurt especially when they put a hundred and one percent dedication into their work and it somehow ends up not bearing enough fruit in society’s eyes. They may assume that every critic out there is a hater and doesn’t want to show even an ounce of appreciation for their efforts.
I have myself been in such positions before. When you feel like quitting because no one is seeing how much sweat is dripping from your forehead or how many sleepless nights you have or how much of your being you immerse in service or how much of your time and energy you sacrifice. But my mentors have always told me that nothing done by a human being can ever be perfect because of our nature. This are the ways I salve those feelings.
1. Everything is trial and error and experimentation. In order to excel, one has to be completely dedicated, be prepared to work tremendously hard and accept constructive criticism however it slaps you.
2. In every bitter word, the least that you want to hear, extract only that which will help you build your capacity and you will grow most.
3. Everyone is a team player. A true team player will not use pretty words, because true words aren’t pretty. They’ll have the pluck to tell you what you need to hear. Not in a way to demean your spirit as an individual or as a team but to compel you to examine yourselves and find causes and solutions to shortcomings.
4. Team players will rebuke you reasonably. You just need the courage, courtesy and consideration to see that its for a reason and for a good course.
5. The leader and the team put work out in many forms and many stages. This is a representation of the extent to which they see things. If it invites compliments, comments and criticism, then there is progression.
6. Treat criticism as sacrosanct at times. Not everyone presenting it is a hater, someone out here is trying to open your eyes and clear your vision.
Leadership requires time for growth and hard thinking for development. Don’t give up yet.
Six months down the line it is
Do you know what that means?
What it calls for?
You guessed it!
Let’s revisit that long list of resolutions you made at the beginning of the year with a pen in hand
It’s time to reap some of the things you’ve been sowing.
Being the individual that does nothing by halves
I’m expecting that most of those resolutions are going to be stricken through
The short term goals that is
I will be disappointed
But hey! All will not be lost
You’ll still be the honcho because the gun is in your hands
Here’s your last bullet
You’ll still get one more shot
However keep in mind that it will be the only bullet in your chamber
And in December I’m coming to take your gun away.
The merciless beatings, heavy and brutal punishments, lack of enough food and clean water, floods, bedbug infested dormitories and the little space that has to be shared among the seventy of them in the form of a classroom. He vividly describes these experiences and as each word that is uttered amidst sobs falls on my ears,my heart literally drops. I can’t imagine how survival works in areas such as these but they have to go through it day in, day out. I think sometimes they just wait for someone to pass out and say I quit. But this are the crème de la crème. They wouldn’t give them the satisfaction of breaking them! They are broken already on the inside and quit every goddamn day just that they never said it out loud. But here he is. A child that was born and introduced to a life that wasn’t filled with as many struggles. He had studied in private schools all his life until now. Going to bed hungry, being unknown to teachers and fellow students, not given the recognition and attention these things just aren’t what he knows and they feel so new to him. Back then it was a class of just thirty students tops. He was once a class monitor, a councillor, then a sanitation Secretary before he graduated to headboy. What the seniors and teachers ate is what he ate too; good and tasty food. He slept in a isolated cube and was regarded with awe. Every Tom, Dick and Harry knew him. He was a “celeb” like that.
Here? No one gives a damn. No one wants to know who the hell you are. They’re all there for one reason and one reason alone; to succeed and join the best universities in the world. A teacher won’t recognize you if you don’t get good grades. If you don’t sit at the very front of the class and keep screwing over your mathematics problems, they won’t even know whether or not you’re good at it. They won’t look your way if you aren’t the kid that asks and answers questions in class. Maybe if you dozz off during their lesson and they gotta thwack you to pay attention and stop wasting their precious time. The staff at the cafeteria won’t bother to know who you are. Why should they? If you’re not among those people that make the loudest noises at the canteen and yell for more food each time, you’re as good as non-existent. He can’t chew on a plate of dried sardines. He doesn’t know how to swallow them with their small sharp bones that keep injuring his oesophagus each time he tries. Ugali isn’t one of his favourite dishes. Where is some fried chicken and fries?! Clothes are stolen. It doesn’t matter if the shirt or short fits, if you wash and hang them on the hanging lines and wait for them to dry, you might wait forever because they’ll be long gone. For goodness sake, this poor child doesn’t know what stealing means. I mean he was taught about it here and there, read it in the ten commandments but he’s now beginning to comprehend what a cruel verb it truly is.
His past conditioning is to blame for every time that little feeling of oppression bubbles up in his tiny body frame. He’s never been equal to anybody but is now subject to equality.
The titles have been scrapped off, badges taken down and shoes laced up. Privileges are earned here. Never about who you know but what you know and how you make your way to the top. I’m telling him that he now needs to be an astute student. That he should study assiduously. With every pain and annoyance, he’s going to take it and with a smile on his face. And one day he’ll be an icon. His testimony will encapsulate all the experiences he’s undergoing now and will give an answer to life’s most vexing question; how did you cope?! And on those days when grass will be greener, he’ll use this to attempt to resolve acute tensions that others will feel in their own lives.
“Believe in yourself because you’re the only true and original version of you. If someone has come out and looked for a successful personality such as yours and tried to duplicate it, very well! But in that case they’re just that; duplicates.
How have you reached this successful personality with people going out of their way to emulate you? Of course you’re different, unique and extraordinary otherwise a good number of people wouldn’t have been looking your way. Probably its coz you’re of high quality because people don’t make copies of cheap products. Or where have you seen that happen in this world?
It was once your goal, something you truly wanted to achieve. You took a clear-eyed look at yourself, collected your strengths on one side and weaknesses on the other, tried to turn them into strengths. Some were stubborn, others submitted. I don’t think you wasted so much time on those, did you? Of course not! Sometimes, just sometimes, when you’re poor at something, you just are.
But these people that are looking up to you now see you as that one star that has pierced their universe of darkness. They pretend to be you but I feel like in their hearts its what they really want to be. Let’s look at it as their self-realization journey and not pretence. Remember when your leadership journey began? It took you so long to see the many students who embraced and accepted you for what you were and still are because all you did was notice those who didn’t. And that pulled you down. You didn’t fully explore your ability until you realised that you can never impress everybody and not everyone will give you a thumbs up or a kudos for a job well done! Your strictness which some saw as dictatorship and as toothpicks that they had to walk on gave you a hard time. I don’t know why they wouldn’t just see toothpicks as thin wood which can easily break beneath their weight; like its not that unbearable!
The greatest moment must’ve been when it hit you that your time is way too valuable to be wasting on people who can’t accept who you are and don’t believe in your strategies. When you excused yourself from the doubtful chatters of those shallow and callow individuals, that’s when it truly kicked off. You gained skill, became stronger and developed genuine confidence in your way of tackling tasks. Pondering at the challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions that filled your path, I’m amazed at this record of successful experiences behind you! I know you’re yet to make managing partner but even at named partner, that’s such a big deal. You ran the paralegals and then the associates, trust me my badge of honour goes to you for being such a great leader because you’ve earned it! You don’t lead a mundane existence sweety!”
I answered her question as I giggled nervously. I had never been that serious! Never in my entire wonderful life, why else would people call me the flibbertigibbet? However, I hope she believed it when I said it because I meant it.
Today I swear I won’t do nothing else. I’ll just lay on this tiny little bed of mine and imagine. I honestly don’t want to, but I’ll have to. Why am I frittering away your time on what I’m going to do? I have an even better suggestion. What do you say if we do this together? Participating is more exciting than just tagging along! So, shall we?
Let’s begin here. Imagine if life was certain. That from the time we were born we’d already know what to expect from it. What if God just gave us a scrupulous manuscript of our lives? And at the time of our delivery we’d have to read it and know what course our lives would take, what ailments we’d have, what disorders and diseases we’d suffer from, the achievements and successes we’d celebrate, everything actually, all joys and sorrows, the number of years, months, weeks, days, hours and even seconds which we’d live for inclusive? Do you think life would be interesting? Would it be worth living? Would it even be possible to live it? And even after living it, would it be eminently satisfactory? Do you think we’d love it? Enjoy it? Live it to the fullest? Appreciate it? Would we treat it like the jewel that it is? Would it be fragile? Would it have the particular beauty that it has?
I’ll leave these questions for you to chew on, suffice to say, would we even call it life to begin with?
Personally, I believe permanent, intolerable uncertainty is the art that has made life possible. It’s what has proved human existence. The feeling of just not knowing has given us the curiosity and willingness to live. It has made us eager to learn, to soar to greater heights and to explore the world deeply enough. It’s like getting into an exam room not knowing what questions the examiner is going to set. I do enjoy the rollercoaster ride of emotions that comes with this. The manic-depressive like feeling. Some questions shocking me, some depressing me, some surprising me while others please me. It’s also like going for a dance competition. You get onto that stage fully prepared but not knowing what the judges will think of the moves you’ll burst or your choreography or your costume. You never know what kind of result you’ll get until you try your best, and see to it until the end.
The crucial element of doubt and uncertainty is chance. And life is just that. The exact same way there are to sides to a coin, so is how life is lived. There’s always a 50% chance. We’re always unsure of what there is to expect but taking the risk is the only way. No one can be certain about uncertainty and there’s no antidote to it, which is what life is all about -not knowing, having to change and taking the moment and making the best of it. Delicious ambiguity? To define it any other way would be difficult. It was once said; chance is always powerful. Let your hook always be cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there will be fish.
The human mind will always long for certainty but maybe certainty is just an illusion. Astronomer and writer Carl Sagan once said;
Humans may crave absolute certainty; they may aspire to it; they may pretend…to have attained it. But the history of science -by far the most successful claim to knowledge accessible to humans -teaches that most we can hope for is successive improvement in our understanding, learning from our mistakes, an asymptotic approach to the universe, but with proviso that absolute certainty will always elude us.
We will always be mired in error. The most each generation can hope for is to reduce the error bars a little and to add to the body of data to which error bars apply. The error is pervasive, visible self-assessment of the reliability of our knowledge.
To answer the many questions I had asked earlier on -in my opinion, if life were predictable there would be no spice. It would be very dull and meaningless. It would be a cheap-jack. I love the fact that I don’t know what life has to offer, and with all the surprises that come with it, I enjoy. I’m glad that with uncertainty the story of life is more thrilling. It is filled with commas and not periods. Just when you think a sentence is complete, more is added to it, a phrase that is more interesting making the sentence worth reading and analysing.
When all this is said and done. Life? Let me thank you for being a mysterious garden, for being filled to the brim with anonymous events and moments. Because I’ll face the unknown each day and everyday I’ll try to embrace it without much anticipation.