Happy Easter to all Christian readers of this column. May the significance of Christ’s death and resurrection be a reality of our contemporary conduct.
As a Christian, one of the most fascinating verses of scripture for me is found in the Gospel of John, the very first chapter, verses eleven and twelve. It describes the attitude of the Jews, the very group in the midst of which Jesus was born and ran His entire ministry. It reads, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name”
Till today, even God still experiences rejection from men. The rejection is not the exciting part of that passage. It is the fact that for as many as rejected Him, there are as many as would receive Him. The story is not different for any leader. Some of your most poignant episodes of rejection will come from people who are very close to you and whom you believe you are trying to help! Ask any successful salesman. He will tell you that the first bogey he had to contend with and conquer to make huge sales is rejection. One lesson I teach participants in my Sales training programs is that if you desire to make two sales, make ten calls or pitches. Twenty percent is hardly a pass mark. But if you make two sales out of ten calls, you are a successful salesman! My constant advice to anyone in sales is “remember SW4”. This means, “Some will. Some won’t, So what? Someone’s waiting!”
So get over your bad side and get used to the fact that even if you were next of kin to Mona Lisa as a lady, not every man would be attracted to you. And even if you were the latest Mr. Universe, not every lady you make advances to will think that you are irresistible.
Rejection therefore is nothing until you personalize it as an assault to your ego rather than what it really is, a skewed perception of your value proposition. When the perception changes, some of those who rejected you will come looking for you!
The fear of change is a real elephant in many a leader’s room. Generally, humans hate to change what they feel very comfortable with. Yet, present comfort is one of the many impediments to true progress. We love to hug status quo especially when it is meeting our current needs. Most people hardly want to venture into anything new or even do as much as try a new food. Jesus described the situation very accurately when he said in Luke 5:39 of the Holy Bible, “And no one, after drinking old wine, wants new, because he says, ‘The old is better.’”
Many years ago when I left the services of the university to join the private sector, one of my uncles took a long, pitiful look at me and asked why I wanted to leave certainty for uncertainty. One of the hallmarks of highly successful leaders is the willingness to sacrifice security, to defy status quo and embrace their ideal. They love to navigate uncharted waters and generally swim against the tide.
Change is a challenge to our current power base, an alluring status quo that we feel that if we gave it up, would leave us vulnerable, considering the fact that there is no guarantee that embracing a totally new opportunity or option would not leave us vulnerable and holding the short end of the stick! Nobody enjoys the prospect of fumbling his way through a situation as a clumsy beginner. Indeed, the only person that seems to very willingly embrace and enjoy change is a baby with wet diapers!
Yet, whether we like it or not, change is the only constant fact of our lives. Some we will have to initiate even when it looks like it may sound our death-knell. Some are circumstantial and quite a number of changes in our lives are biological. The story is told of a man who was visited by death at the age of thirty-five. He pleaded with death on the grounds that he was too young and had barely achieved anything in life. He then struck a deal with death to the effect that the grim reaper would give him enough notice before coming to harvest his soul. Fifty-five years later, death showed up unannounced and told the man that his time was up.
He laughed loud and long as he told death, “You must be joking. You have broken the terms of the agreement. You were to give me adequate notice of your coming so that I could prepare. You can’t take me now”
“Really?” replied death, “would you be kind enough to answer a few questions?”
“Fire on” said the man
Death : “Fifty-five years ago when we struck a deal, what was the colour of your hair?”
Man: “All black”
Death : “And now?”
Man : “Snow white”
Death: “How many legs did you walk with then?”
Man : “Two. And boy, those legs could run. I won a few marathons”
Death : “And now?”
Man : “Still two. Except that I have added a walking stick because the legs no longer function like they used to”
Death : “One more question. How many teeth were then in your mouth?”
Man : “Thirty-two. I loved breaking bones with them too”
Death : “And now?”
Man : “Well, I have just about eighteen left and they can hardly chew anything!”
Death : “And you still accuse me of not giving notice? When those changes were taking place in you, didn’t it occur to you that I was sending you notice? Fifty-five years is long enough. Get up and let’s go!”
Whether you are prepared for it or not therefore, change is happening to you. Since you cannot avoid it, you must learn to manage it and make the best of it when it happens. To refuse to toe that line is to sign up for a lifetime of frustration. The only way out of that cycle of frustration is to become a change vanguard. Initiate change. Anticipate it. Confront it. Embrace it. Participate in it.
Be ever willing to constantly reinvent yourself. When you are willing to embrace change from within yourself, managing the changes guaranteed to occur around you will be like a walk in the park! …continued
Remember, the sky is not your limit, God is!