The BEST of you is not ALWAYS in you

The BEST of you is not ALWAYS in you

Joseph Folahan Odunjo’s popular poem, Ise ni ogun ise (work is the antidote for poverty), written in Yoruba language popped up in my consciousness as I ruminate over life and the lessons I have learnt from my failings. It was a poem we recited in those days, schooling in Western Nigeria. In fact it was part of the Yoruba Language studies curriculum and was written in 1948. This instructive poem was also part of his collection of Yoruba poems, which was first published by Longman in 1961. As I ruminate on this enlightening work of art, a particular line of the poem speedily found its way to the front burner of my mind and remained dominant. It reads, ‘BÍ A KÒ BÁ RÉNI FÈYÌN TÌ, BÍ ÒLE LÀ Á RÍ,’ meaning, if you have no one to lean on, you share same character traits as a lazy man and you will be adjudged so by your observers.

It may not be out of place to conclude that Odunjo’s poem, which was taught in schools to millions of children form part of Yoruba philosophy on dignity of labour. If my logic here establishes common grounds of agreement between us, then permit me to share certain principles of Yoruba philosophy’s perspective on hard work, which I believe we have ignored for too long to our costly detriment. The idea really, is to widen our perception so that we can take critical instruction and subject our mentality to necessary adjustment for our own good. Remember, principles are universal, application are peculiar.

The tragedy I found is that we have presented hard work as an independent variable, which is able to deliver priceless value, when it is strictly adhered to. We have promoted the foregoing at the expense of the salient truth which Odunjo renders as ‘BÍ A KÒ BÁ RÉNI FÈYÌN TÌ, BÍ ÒLE LÀ Á RÍ.’ As I have interpreted before, it means if you have no one to lean on, you share same character traits as a lazy man and you will be adjudged so by your observers. As I gave this a deeper thought, my former experiences of failure began to tally with this priceless truth. I began to see with the benefit of hindsight that it is not enough to be hard working; it is always enough to work smart. What does it mean to work smart here? It means to seek meaningful collaboration. In today’s parlance, you may call it strategic alliances. It means, a hard working man is not man, who keeps working. A hard working man is a man, who understands how to strike strategic alliances in critical areas of his life in the pursuit of an identified mission.

Your ability to know when to seek collaboration is the true character of a tough mind. This is contrary to what many of us have believed before now. Many of us believe that a man or a woman’s measure of toughness is how much he/she is able to go without seeking for help. The Yoruba philosophy again is instructive here. It says, ‘a ni kan rin lo n je omo ejo ni ya,’ meaning, the snakes become easy preys to the hunters because they do not crawl in groups. The snake is a lone ranger. Imagine that all the species of snakes craw in group, the haunter, who will subdue them would be adjudged to have done what Napoleon could not do.

Harry S. Truman, the thirty-third President of the United States (1945–1953) submitted, ‘It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.’ President Barack Obama was interviewed by Time Magazine of December 29, 2008 and he revealed as his winning formula when he said, ‘I don’t think that there is some magic trick here. I think I’ve got a good nose for talent, so I hire really good people. And I’ve got pretty healthy ego, so I am not scared of hiring the smartest people, even when they are smarter than me.’

Strategic alliance is the way to go if we must give full expression to our God-given potentials. The movement that leads to relevance is the one that applies the kind of wisdom that serve your cause and mission—The greatest of which is God. Then find people, coaches, mentor, and value adding relationships. One of the greatest phrases you can hear is the admonition to connect for your greatest emergence. And know this: ‘The best of you is not always in you’

Posted on February 7, 2014, in Smooth-Life*Clinic* and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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