MISCONCEIVED KEYS TO SUCCESS
1. Motivation or De-motivation
‘We were not motivated… we were not motivated.’ I have heard people say and have often wondered where motivation really comes from. Employers need to pay their staff well to motivate them. There ought to be very good working conditions. We need more time off to relax and think properly… and so the cries of disaffection grows. These are not cries of poor external motivation but of no internal motivation. No matter the amount of salaries employers pay employees, they get over it in a matter of time and ask for a pay rise (believe me this is true). There also can not be the most adequate working conditions for staff as some of these conditions are external; beyond the reach of the employers or when internal; they are often overcome by unforeseen circumstances. This is why machines (which find adjustments uneasy) were not employed in the first instance but you!
Some employees find themselves in comfort zones when everything is laid out for them. They stop thinking and just get carried along. When their bosses are friendly and easily accessible they conclude that they have arrived and so sleep off. Other staff find this as an avenue to discuss improvement ideas with their bosses and therefore get the office running. Some staff wilt when their bosses smolder, other fire up just to make sure their bosses never get hot. So it ends up being a function of the staff and never the bosses.
During the setting of the industrial revolution, factory workers were known to have worked more than 12 hours per day and 7 days in a week until this was reduced under the Fair Labor Standards Act to an 8-hour per day and 40-hours per week work schedule. Workers will never get satisfied and if you ask me there were times I wished weekends started on a Wednesday.
Okay let us assume that you are an employer of labor, how far would you go to satisfy these many demands of motivation by your staff? How would you view your own requests that seem reasonable now?
Samuel Slater, the father of the American industrial revolution is reputed to have memorized to the letter textile techniques and machines specification and travelled to America. (http://woonsocket.org/slat) He was neither motivated by either Britain (they even monopolized their ideas) nor America (who never knew he existed.)
2. Success or Failure
We all know about failure and how it discourages the man or woman trying to seek success. We know how it dampens our spirits of continuity but we have never tried knowing those people who have used failure as a footing to the next level. Or like Thomas Edison said about his 1000 light bulbs tries, he learnt 999 ways not to make a light bulb. When he was making his defective light bulbs and missing it, instead of Thomas Edison to hide behind his failures, he simply noted that process and told himself ‘this is another way not to make a light bulb’
Some people do say that today’s success could be the impediment for tomorrow’s success, and I have seen it to be true. The company’s products just start selling after the team (whether new or old) decided to do things differently or persevered in what they used to do. As the sales kept on booming, so did the accolades and renown. So the company decided to continue to do what had given them the thrust in the first place, remaining largely impervious to the change swirling around them. They wake up one day and discover they have been left behind.
In an Harvard Business Review article written by Donald Sull, Why good companies go bad, (www.harvardbusinessonline.org) he opened with this clincher;
Why do some of the best companies languish when markets change?
Because they insist on doing only what has worked in the past.
Success is a sedative to some staff making them go to sleep, only to wake up after their companies have rotted. It does not go that success brings encouragement and therefore more success, neither does it follow a predefinition that failure only discourages and so induces more failure, what matters most is how we manage either our successes or failures.
3. Crisis or Calm
Go to a hundred interviews and ninety will ask you if you can work under intense pressure. The answer has always been yes. One colleague once joked that he was on an interview session and was asked if he could work well under pressure? ‘I was even born under pressure!’ was the tacky reply. Does the ability to work under pressure yield success? Rush orders and limited delivery time. The world did not develop only with this jet-paced atmosphere that has over taken us; it also grew with the calm of thought and solitude. If people like Archimedes had been in a hurry to take a bath and rush to the office, he would never had taken time out to reason why the water in the bath tub spilled out, or Isaac Newton who wondered why a mango (or was it an apple) fell from a tree.
American scientists were recorded to have worked on the atomic bomb only during the Second World War and got it right within the space of three years. They couldn’t make it in peace time!
4. Good or Bad Leadership
I have heard people say that they have bad behavioural patterns because their parents had it too. A nice and appropriate excuse! But I have also seen children who never touched alcohol because they saw it destroy the very fabric of their family life. So the question is what do you fathom from what happens to you? Do you use poor leadership as an excuse or as uplift? Growing up and witnessing the negative impact of polygamy made me resolve never to have anything to do with it. I can as well get married to two or more women and have as a ready-made excuse to shatter my future that I saw my father do so. Rather I should draw learning points from my parents’ misadventure and steer clear of polygamy. I chose the second and hope you do too.
While working I have been privileged to go through strong, capable and assertive leadership and a weak, docile one. The office gravitated around the domineering leader who wanted virtually everything to be done under his supervision. It yielded great results but also poor and weak followers who had their leader thinking and acting for them. When the baton was transferred and a new leader came on board, we (the subordinates) had the excuse to let the company crash, crying ‘to your tent o Israel’ or we get up on our feet and work like we have never done before. I thought I was going to see a group of workers that would faint and then fail but surprisingly, we realigned our responsibilities, wore the mantle beautifully well, and succeeded. Without a head of course!
The best leadership I have since come to know exists not without but within us and it is a product of our mentality. Good leaders produces good results; you learn how to do it right. Bad leaders produces bad results; you learn how not to do it wrong! You just look at them and decide which road to take.
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