The change we all have been looking for In Nigeria when you say the word change, two things likely come to mind – change, the balance of the money you exchange for goods & services or change as transformation or makeover. We never find it funny when we board a bus and the conductor attempts to hoard the change, or the market woman insists she has no change or the petrol vendor confidently withholds your change as if it rightfully belongs to them. Just recently, Nigerians voted change – a new government that has vehemently promised to bring change to Nigeria, improve lives and curtail hardship. No matter the change, we take it seriously.
A few days ago I visited Uyo, Akwaibom state for a two day training. I was invited to train some radio OAP’s and marketers on how to deliberately and effectively leverage the digital space to achieve differentiation. I had a great time of course, and I did not forget to treat myself to the legendary indigenous combo – afang soup and eba. (Btw Afang soup isn’t the change we have all been looking for). On my way back to Lagos, at the Ibom International Airport, I met a Turkish national who happened to have worked with a construction firm that just completed the Sheraton hotel at Ikot-ekpene. We chatted for a while and he shared his experience visiting Norway a few months ago – In the city where he stayed, everyone was seen as equal. Government officials clean their door steps/streets, hygiene is seen as a collective responsibility by all, everybody obeyed all laws…etc What I took away from that conversation was that everyone strived to do what was right. I think that one of the hardest things to do in life is to do the right thing.
At work and at home we face a multitude of decisions every day. Some are easy; some are hard. At times, there is no “good” or “ideal” decision just the better of two that are either painful, or wrong. Leaders face this dilemma frequently, because in the imperfect real world, there are a lot of not-so-good choices, and few really good, clear and right ones. But leaders must decide. That is their job. In fact, they are evaluated by how well they decide, by their bosses, by their peers and especially by their subordinates. True leaders will not do the “wrong thing” just to be liked. Leaders must make the best available, “right” decision, and if they do, even when it is unpopular, they will at least be respected for being a person of principle. Like Oprah Whinfrey once said, real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not. Imagine if, even in our own little way, we:
– Didn’t eat four plates of rice and 4 raps of eba+egusi at weddings when some have not even had their first plate
– Didn’t randomly throw
wraps of moi-moi dirt on the streets like it’s our right
– Constructively criticized our leaders, rather than raining insults on their mothers
– Finished up assigned tasks at our workplaces instead of continuously passing the buck
– Did not sit around doing nothing at work because we think nobody’s watching
Sometimes, we need to do what we do out of doing what’s right, not what we get for what we do. Truth is, if we all do what’s right, society improves… And that, my friend, could mark the beginning of the real change we all are looking for. We all can’t be perfect. But we can all strive to be better and do better.