LEADERSHIP AND SELF-DEVELOPMENT: THE POWER OF POSITIONING

There’s also a story in American folklore that underscores the point that people who don’t have much could still come out on top through positioning. In the old south when people claimed they could own other people, there lived a slave who went by the name of John, who was believed to outsmart anybody for miles around.  He was always making bets and he never made a bet he couldn’t win. This only made people more eager to bet with him. Everyone, including a slaver called Colonel Blake, wanted to say that he’d been the first to outsmart John.

“I’ll bet you,” John said to him one day, “that I can stand at one end of your parlor and throw a raw egg all the way across the room and onto the fireplace mantel without breaking the egg. I’ll bet you $50, all the money I have.”

The Colonel quickly agreed to the bet. He was certain nobody could throw a raw egg without having it break.

“I’ll even give you a dozen tries,” he told John. The first egg John threw smashed on the edge of the mantel. The second hit the candlestick sitting on top. The third egg smashed and smeared the painting above the mantel, but the colonel just laughed. He was happy because he was going to be able to say he was the first to outsmart John on a bet. John threw all 12 eggs, but not one landed without breaking.

“Looks as if I won the bet,” said Colonel Blake with a bragging smile.

“Yes,” said John. “Sure, looks that way.”

He paid him $50, but when John went to bed that night, he still had $50 from winning a bet. Where did it come from?

John had also made a bet for $100 with the neighbor plantation owner. He bet he could throw eggs all over Colonel Blake’s parlor and that the Colonel would only watch and laugh. By losing the first bet on purpose, John had managed to outsmart both men at the same time.

So, at the end of the day, John still won because he positioned himself in such a way that if he lost the bet at one end, it would mean he gets the upper hand on the other.

Reinhard Bonnke

The late Christian Evangelist, Reinhard Bonnke , also used to tell a story that captures the power of positioning. He recalled an incident when he was young were there was a ship that was stuck at the edge of the shore. He and his buddies had tried to move it but failed. Every time they would come back with a little more energy and attempt to push it out but they were unsuccessful. One day, the tides of the ocean were high and the shore became filled with water. So, Mr. Bonnke attempted to move the ship and he was able to do so with just the push of one foot. He said that he felt very ecstatic about that because he was able to move an entire ship which previously was almost impossible to move with just a push of one foot. Had the tides not been high and the water flood the shore that particular day, it is doubtful that he would have found success in pushing the ship. This tells us that if we are positioned with some people, life’s goals become easier to achieve. Isaac Newton actually once said, “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on shoulders of giants.” In the case I mentioned earlier of the Nigerian Business Magnate, Aliko Dangote, it was his uncle who was positioned him. In the case of Andrew Carnegie, it was a man who taught him everything he knew about business who went by the name of Tom Scott. I go on and on listing case examples of people achieved their status in life because they were well-positioned.

The bottom line

Positioning is so important in self-development that it naturally raises the likelihood of any goal to be brought in fruition. It’s not always a walk in the park to position yourself for a greater likelihood of success. Sometimes, it’s tasking because it requires you to make some pretty tough decisions. For example, it may require that you give up that best friend whom you grew up with, which you can imagine would be easier said than done. This does not mean that you should shun the people you grew up with nor does it mean you should sell your soul to the world’s elite. That’s not what I am stressing. The argument I am trying to put across is that some people in your life have reached their threshold of contribution. This also should not be construed to mean that the contribution that they have put into life is worthless. It perhaps may have made you the person that you see in the mirror today. Perhaps that best friend taught you how to read or maybe how to talk to girls. Those life lessons are priceless but I think it would be wrong of you to expect the same person to teach and help you on how to start a business. Those lessons served their purpose at their given time but now it’s time for you to move on.   Then there’s also the aspect of you going out to make friendships with people who may seem intimidating. Moreover, these same persons may not reciprocate your intentions to be friends. Let’s face it, important people have a very small circle of friends they intend to keep. In that case, I would advise that you approach the strategy of positioning not as a tool to make friends with influential people, but as a vehicle to seek advice and guidance. I have found that most influential people are quite generous in giving advice to people who truly want the knowledge they have on a matter. The only people that I know who might fuss about giving their advice freely are lawyers, (Yes, I love my own kind). But even they give advice freely as long as it’s not given out in an official capacity.

The old saying ‘the squeaky wheel gets the grease’ concludes the message I am trying to drive across here. Unless you are part of the select few who are born into prominence or with the right connections right from the bat, positioning yourself as a strategy for success requires you to be active. This means going out of your shell a little bit and forging relationships with people who can get you where you need to be. It’s a very important element in leadership and self-development and I hope your application will bear fruit. Until then, keep on positioning yourself by self-education and creating relationships that will get you where you need to be. For it is an indispensable aspect of leadership and self-development.

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