Restraint of Trade Clauses- Freedom of Contract-

Law of Contract

Assignment Question:

The difficulty which is apparent through nearly all the reported cases is the reconciliation of two principles…(1) that of freedom of contract, by which a person is held bound by an agreement into which he had deliberately entered and (2) that of freedom of work by which an employer is prevented from restraining a servant from exercising his energies in work for himself or others to an extent greater than is necessary for the protection of the employer.” Per Palmer A. J. African Lakes Corporation v Murrey (1947) SLRNR 166

Is it valid to talk of reconciliation of the two principles rather than a sacrifice of either?

Student Response:

The Law of Contract encapsulates two principles of law that prima facie appear to be in conflict: One being freedom of contract, which entails a freedom exercised by parties to a contract to decide on what terms and obligations will be therein. While the other is freedom of work, which holds that an employer is prevented from holding back a servant from exercising his energies in work for himself or others. Reconciling these two principles is the role of the courts. Although the principle of freedom of contract exists on the one hand, the courts should not be seen as to enforce illegal contracts on the other. [1] A conflict may arise if a contract which an employee deliberately entered, restrained him to work for himself or someone else after leaving the realm of his employer. In this circumstance, the issue to the court becomes of profound interest as to whether an employer can show that the restraint was to his own protection.[2] If that be the case, a reconciliation of the two principles would be eminent. If not, it must suffice that the restraint be done away with, for the courts cannot enforce illegal contracts.

People are free to contract with others and in doing so, accept to be legally bound by the obligations therein; this is what is known as Freedom of Contract. The classical Law of Contract is based on that principle, which means that the parties are free to decide for themselves the terms of a contract and it is the role of the courts to give life to the agreement that they have reached.[3] Assuming that the parties have satisfied the requirements of a valid contract, it falls on the province of the courts to enforce it. It has always been a principle of law that the courts shall not interfere with the terms or obligations of parties in a contract. Simply stated, this means that it is not the duty of the courts to decide on the fairness of contractual terms, for that it is up to the parties to decide. Professor Collins actually said that, ‘a system of contract law committed to freedom of contract must reject controls over the fairness of contracts.’[4] However, the Courts do often step in and arbitrate on contracts that are against public policy or statute and have a propensity of either being illegal or void. An example of such a contract is a contract made with minors, drunken persons or mentally-disabled persons. Another example is a restraint of trade clause that is neither justifiable nor reasonable. Such clauses are often construed to inhibit competition and often receive a considerable degree of hostility from the courts. The learned authors Catherine Elliot and Frances Quinn actually said that, ‘The court must be satisfied that the party making the restriction actually needs to protect their interests. The only legitimate interests employers may seek to protect are their relationship with customers and their trade secrets. Restrictions designed simply to prevent competition will not be upheld.’[5] In Zambia, Section 7(1) of the Competition and Fair Trading Act[6]specifically prohibits any ‘agreements, decisions and concerted practices’ that discourage competition.

Diplock LJ defines a restraint of trade clause in the case of Petrofi na (Great Britain) Ltd v Martin[7] as ‘one in which a party (the covenantor) agrees with any other party (the covenantee) to restrict his liberty in the future to carry on trade with other persons not parties to the contract in such a manner as he chooses.’ The case of Herbert Morris Ltd v Saxelby[8] gave support to the position of law that a restraint of trade clause will not have efficacy if it allows the person relying on it to have a special advantage.  However, the courts are aware that some of these clauses may be reasonable and henceforth enforceable. This serves as an exception to the fact that contracts that involve restraint of trade clauses are prima facie void. For example, in the case of Forster & Sons v Suggett[9], the court gave support to a restraint of trade clause that prevented an employee from working in the glass industry. This is because the employee had worked for a period of five years and had garnered important trade secrets. At the heart of the discussion is the question as to what exactly justifies a restraint of trade clause. The reasons postulated are that it must be in the interest of both parties and it must not be contrary to public policy.[10] For it to be in the interest of both parties, the Restraint must be reasonable. The courts generally consider the following: the interest of the employer, the scope of restraint, the area of restraint, and the length of time espoused by such a restriction.[11] The scope of the restraint must not be too wide as to afford the employer an opportunity to take advantage of the clause other than is necessary for his own protection. In the case of Home Counties Dairies Ltd v Skilton[12]the court had initially held that the restraint clause was too wide and therefore invalid. On appeal however, the superior court held that the scope was good enough to satisfy the justification because the restraint clause simply prohibited the milkman from garnering his former employer’s customers. Furthermore, the restraint clause must be in the interest of the employer. By this we mean it must be for the employer’s protection. As previously stated, this means trade secrets that if exposed to competitors, would be injurious to the employer. This of course does not apply to personal knowledge or skills that an employee acquired when he was under the employment. It is up to the employer to prove that the personal knowledge or skills that an employee acquired were actually trade secrets. To buttress this point, the case of Printers and Finishers Ltd v Holloway[13]is illustrative in that the court held that a restraint of trade clause can be actionable were an employer proves that the personal knowledge or skill that an employee has acquired during his employment, is actually confidential information.

Now that we have established the circumstances that could justify a restraint of trade clause, can we reconcile these principles? It is my submission that one principle is an extension of the other. Freedom of Contract entails that a party deliberately chooses to be bound to an employment contract. It is established that all commercial contracts restrain trade on the employee in the sense that one person binds another to work solely for him and not others during the time of his employment. The courts, however, don’t regard such contracts with the same level of scrutiny as those that contain restraint of trade clauses. The difference lies in the legal status of the two; whereas ordinary commercial contracts are not illegal, contracts that are designed to restrict an employee’s ability to work specifically to inhibit competition are illegal. The only way, therefore, that a restraint of trade clause in a contract can survive is if it’s justified in the manner aforementioned i.e. it is strictly to the protection of the employer and does not give him an unfair advantage.  To put it in broad terms, restraints are unreasonable if they fail to achieve the contract’s fundamental purpose.[14] If they do achieve that purpose, the courts find it easy to reconcile the principles by giving effect to the restraint clause in which an employee deliberately chose to be bound. The reconciliation of the principles happens because an employee deliberately chose to be bound by a restraint clause (which satisfies freedom of contract) that is exclusively to the protection of the employer (meaning it’s not illegal or void, so the courts can enforce it) and by extension, the employer restricts his employee in that regard as an exercise of his contractual rights and obligations.

ABOUT AUTHOR(S): The author wishes to stay anonymous

BIBLIOGRAPHY

STATUTES

Competition and Fair Trading Act, Chapter 417 of the Laws of Zambia

CASES

Forster & Sons v Suggett (1918) 35 TLR

Herbert Morris Ltd v Saxelby [1916] 1 AC 688

Petrofi na (Great Britain) Ltd v Martin [1966] Ch 146, 180

Printers and Finishers Ltd v Holloway [1965] 1 WLR 1

BOOKS

Beatson J & Cartwright J, Anson’s Law of Contract (29thedn, Oxford University Press 2010)

Cheshire, Fifoot & Furmston’s, Law of Contract(13thedn, Butterworths 1996)

Collins, The Law of Contract (4thedn, Butterworths 2003)

Elliot C & Quinn F, Contract Law (7thedn, Pearson Education Ltd 2009)

McKendrick E, Contract Law: Text Cases and Materials (5thedn, Oxford University Press 2010)

Suff M, Essentials of Contract Law (2ndedn, Cavendish Publishing ltd 1997)

ARTICLES

S A. Smith, ‘Reconstructing Restraint of Trade’ (1995) 15 Oxford Journal of Legal Studies


[1] M Suff, Essentials of Contract Law(2ndedn, Cavendish Publishing ltd 1997) 90-91

[2] Cheshire, Fifoot & Furmston’s, Law of Contract(13thedn, Butterworths 1996)

[3] E McKendrick, Contract Law: Text Cases and Materials (5thedn, Oxford University Press 2010) 11

[4] Collins, The Law of Contract (4thedn, Butterworths 2003)270

[5] C Elliot & F Quinn, Contract Law(7thedn,Pearson Education Ltd 2009)237

[6] Chapter 417 of the Laws of Zambia

[7] [1966] Ch 146, 180

[8] [1916] 1 AC 688

[9] (1918) 35 TLR

[10] J Beatson & J Cartwright, Anson’s Law of Contract(29thedn, Oxford University Press 2010)399

[11] Ibid 403-405

[12] [1970] 1 WLR 526

[13] [1965] 1 WLR 1

[14] S A. Smith, ‘Reconstructing Restraint of Trade’ (1995) 15 Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 569

Gender Pay Gap in Zambia

Gender Pay Gap in Zambia

In Zambia and most African states, there’s no doubt that salaries are a hot issue. They plague the news, political culture and about every other strata of life. In May of last year for example, there was public uproar following an increment of Civil Servant’s salaries by 4% despite the fact that the country had an inflation rate of 8 per cent at the time. The disparities on account of gender have not been spared in this debate. It is clear that women in Zambia, not only get less pay than their male counterparts, but are also undervalued in the workplace. If we were to compare apples and bananas here, we would obviously take the United States in comparison. The 2019 State of Women-Owned Business Report estimated a 21 per cent growth in women-owned businesses in that country. This indicates that women in America are doing fairly well in the business world. Zambia, on the other hand, seems to lag. Even though the ratio of men to women in Zambia is roughly 0.97% i.e. there are more women in the country than men, the Gender pay gap still remains intact.  

It is evident that there is discrimination. Take two people who have the same qualifications and wish to get a job as an illustration. Supposing that one is male and the other female, the common trend is that the woman is more likely to take the job on a promise of a lower salary than her equally qualified male counterpart. Experts attribute this disparity to many reasons, one of them being the social biases and stigma against women in Africa. According to the 2019 Labour Force Survey Report conducted under the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, only 33.3 per cent of 155,774 persons working in Senior and Middle Management were women. To shed a little bit of more light, we had 103,874 men and only 51,900 women. Apart from that, the same report disclosed that at National level, males among the paid employees had a higher trade union representation in collective bargaining than females. To be more specific, males were represented at 69 per cent while females at only 31 per cent. The results also showed that 40.4 per cent of the population outside the labour force was male while 59.6 per cent was female.

So what picture do we have here? The numbers obviously back up the assertion that there is something clearly wrong. There is not only a gap between the sexes in salaries but also in job availability as a whole. Hopefully, the trend may shift with more Women Empowerment Programs and Entrepreneurial workshops for women. Until then, the situation looks pretty grim.

Vigilante Scholar Heart Beat Check

Vigilante Scholar Heartbeat

I was just checking up on my website and realized that I haven’t posted anything in the past twenty three days. That’s bad. For all of you who were wondering, I am still alive. It’s just that the days have been hectic. Preparations for law exams, spending some quality time in the dungeon (Code name for library), and of course, agonizing about operation save the semester.

Friends of mine heading over to the dungeon;( I was taking the photo)

My move from Mount Olympus (code name for Kitwe) to Lusaka has been all but easy. Nonetheless, Vigilante Scholar should be back in effect soon as these exams pass by.

Me at Mount Olympus: Kitwe

I WILL BE BACK!!!

3 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD LET IT SLIDE: Self-Leadership Lesson from Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet

The great Chinese philosopher Confucius once said, “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” In recent times, this opinion has come near to extinction. To say the least, it has become outdated and replaced with a love of bloodthirsty violence. Our culture today is obsessed with inflicting pain. Clearly, we still live with the philosophy of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. How I wish this was the best way to resolve our differences!  If you are going to lead yourself well, you MUST master your emotions. The importance of this point cannot be overemphasized especially if you are leading others.

Now, let it slide when someone pushes you to it doesn’t mean that you are weak or that you can’t fight. It actually means that you are strong enough not to play by your opponent’s rules of the game. In my opinion, I think it is a great strength that deserves applause. So, the following are some reasons why letting it slide is often times the best option.

It’s not worth what you will lose

 If you are a Shakespeare Aficionado like me, I am pretty sure you have come across the screenplay called Hamlet. It was about a Prince of Denmark called Hamlet, who had lost his father and the throne to his uncle, Claudius. Claudius had killed Hamlet’s father and married his mother. A move that Hamlet calculated as an act of disloyalty. Inspired by the ghost of his father, Hamlet sought to avenge his father’s death by killing his uncle. He once had the opportunity to do so but he reconsidered it because at that time, his uncle was praying and he didn’t want to kill then, lest he goes to heaven. This shows you the utter disdain he had for his uncle. To cut the long story short, the play ends with both Hamlet and his uncle dead. In a sense, he got what he wanted but the price he paid was great. Often times, taking revenge is motivated by emotions. Most people would hardly confess that they have anything to gain beyond the emotional satisfaction of seeing the person they despise in anguish, which is really petty if you think about it… For Hamlet, I can understand his thirst for revenge but for your particular circumstance, I bet there’s little benefit taking revenge can afford you. Unless you are willing to tell me that your storyline is as messed up as Hamlet’s or worse. So, just take the emotions out of the issue and ask yourself, ‘Apart from feeling good, what will I possibly gain from this?’ If you find that its only emotional satisfaction alone, chances are that you were better off not doing anything.

Letting slide reinforces your self-respect

Now, I often talk about self-leadership and self-development but I don’t think I have ever mentioned self-respect before. Self-respect entails the level of respect that you have for yourself. You find that great leaders and other people of great stature have a high level of self-respect and this reflects in the way they treat others. Look, if a person knows who they are and how they should be treated, they will oppose anyone who thinks of them in another way. They will refuse to stoop to the level that someone else wants them to get on. Think about this scenario, one day you go to the mall to buy yourself a nice book from a book store. Now, on your way, you see a mad person, (I mean this person is literally insane!) attempting to rape a young girl. You have two options either you go ahead and help her out or just walk by like you haven’t seen anything. If you intervene, you will be praised as a hero but if you just let it go, society would look at you as a cruel and selfish Human Being. It’s the same scenario when someone wrongs you. If you just go ahead and attack them or seek revenge, you are playing their game and falling right into their trap. Your self-respect, just like the little girl, will have no one to defend it. So, it’s not a battle of whose ego is the biggest, it’s a battle of whose character will prevail. Once you protect your character, you will be your own hero and ultimately you will praise yourself for showing restraint. If you take revenge, however, you would acknowledge that you are already beaten.

It’s not worth the drama

I hate to say this but Human Beings are the most dramatic creatures that the known-universe has ever seen. Even from ancient times, you find countless incidents of unwarranted drama that could have been resolved but simply not doing anything. Let’s take the story of Alexander the Great as an example. For you who may not know him, Alexander the Great, (I know, it’s a terrible name) was a Greek conqueror who had conquered the known world in his time. It was actually recorded that after he was done with his conquests, he wept and cried saying, ’There are no more worlds to conquer’ and shortly died a while after that. Alexander had a friend who he was close to. But after drinking too much and following an argument with his buddy, he ordered his execution. The following day he asked how his best friend came to die and the guards answered him, ‘You ordered his execution yesterday, my lord.’  Poor Alexander mourned for his friend and his actions were said to have haunted him until his death. The moral of the story here is that this kind of drama could have been avoided by simply not doing anything. Remember that your emotions will not always be with you. Today is simply a remnant of yesterday and a shell of what tomorrow will bring. It is wise to keep all drama out of your life. Trust me, it’s poison.

How to handle difficult people: Self-Leadership Lesson from the Art of War by Sun Tzu

The Art of War by Sun Tzu is a classic that I would recommend anyone aspiring to lead others and themselves to read. Sun Tzu was a Chinese General who had compiled his thoughts on warfare into a single document. He saw that the study of warfare is essential in obtaining victory for any General. Although the book was written in China over 2,000 years ago, its timeless principles of leading soldiers into battle and understanding the psyche of opponents are still relevant today. In my study of leadership and self-development, I found the principles in this book to be extremely instrumental in leading oneself and also others.

There are thirteen chapters in the book but for the purposes of this post, we will only analyze the first chapter which is called Estimates…

So, let us begin:

The Importance of Self- Leadership

Sun Tzu started the chapter off by saying “War is a matter of vital importance to the State; the province of life or death; the road to survival or ruin. It is mandatory that it be thoroughly studied.” When I read this statement the first thing that came to mind was the Grim Reaper. Just to fantasize a little bit, if he came into human flesh, no doubt every person you know would want to study him. Maybe just maybe, we would find a possible weakness in him and further postpone his date with us. Who knows? We might actually study him so well that we would know how to live forever. So, anyway, in the same light, the study of leadership is very much similar to what Sun Tzu was talking about. It is of vital importance that leadership be studied because it could well determine whether your children die of starvation or feel bad that they are throwing away too much food. Although the study of leadership is important at a business level, I specifically emphasize that it should be studied at an individual level too. The study of leadership is an on-going process. It neither ends in the classroom nor at the solitude of a thinking table. It is no surprise that in life, whether we like or not, we are bound to meet some ‘difficult’ people. People we absolutely don’t like very much. It might be that co-worker who always tries to belittle the work you do or it might be your boss who clearly doesn’t appreciate the effort you put in the company. Sometimes it might be a parent or a child. It doesn’t matter. The lesson on self-leadership I learned from Sun Tzu’s book is helpful in many circumstances.

1.    Don’t be predictable but be adaptable

“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”

Bruce Lee

Water is a very interesting chemical compound. Unlike fire that is confrontational, it adapts to situations and pacifies. When it’s hot, it evaporates, when it’s cold, it condenses into ice, and when the temperature is temperate, it retains its natural position. So, don’t be predictable. It’s not that ‘difficult’ people don’t know that they are difficult, they know. That’s why they never listen even if you talk to them over and over again. They expect you to react.

The general once said, “All warfare is based on deception. Therefore, when capable, feign incapacity, when active, incapacity. When near, make it appear that you are far away; when far away that you are near, Offer the enemy a bait to lure him; feign disorder and strike him”

The key leadership lesson here is that you must never be predictable. This can be applied more specifically in the aspect of self-leadership. If you recall, in my previous post Perception Part 2, I underscored the importance of strategic thinking when it comes to self-leadership. What this point, therefore, tells us is that when it comes to leading oneself, you must not abide by the picture that you present to people. Sun Tzu further states, “When he concentrates, prepare against him; where he is strong, avoid him…Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance.” If you read the Book, Lincoln the Unknown by Dale Carnegie, you would find that almost everyone on President Lincoln’s cabinet thought that they could do a better job than him. So how did he respond to that? Through silence… Instead of directly confronting the bitter criticisms, he let them sour only to disapprove them by his actions later on. So, don’t be predictable. It’s easy to take advantage of a predictable person because you know their reactions. When you are dealing with difficult people, don’t confront them head-on. The activist Rigoberta Menchu once said, “I am like a drop of water on a rock. After drip, drip, dripping in the same place, I begin to leave a mark, and I leave my mark in many people’s hearts.” So, your actions are the drips in this scenario. Every time you keep quiet when you should react, work hard when someone thinks you are lazy, and so on, you leave a mark on the hearts of people. It’s called emotional intelligence. But we will talk about that later.

2.    Be a Visionary

Sun Tzu further listed five factors that contribute to the success of any warfare. These were Moral Influence, Weather, Terrain, Command, and Doctrine. For the purposes of this blog, we will only focus on Moral Influence, Command, and Doctrine.

He said of Moral Influence that, “…that which causes the people to be in harmony with their leaders so that they will accompany them in life and unto death without fear of mortal peril.” This talks of allegiance by the followers to a cause or vision set by the leader. People submit to a vision and not to leaders. Therefore, it follows that if a leader has no vision, the allegiance of his followers is based on variables that are likely to change. That’s why no one ever named a street after Michael Jackson. Yes, he was the King of Pop and a consequential man in his field but that’s about it. Now, compare him to Martin Luther King Jr… (the man has a street named after him). This shows that his life’s work and vision are still relevant even today. Applying this to our hypothetical ‘difficult’ person, we can come up with a lot of conclusions. One of these is that people generally respect other people who have a vision of what they want. Although you should avoid confrontations at all costs, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have your day in court. (I didn’t mean that literally!). You should have your voice heard and your vision duly recognized. The other person, no matter the level of his hostility, should know who you are and what you want. They may not like you or treat you right but you must teach them how to respect you through deliberately displaying what you would like to see change.

3.    Be Sincere

Sun Tzu said of Command that, “the general’s qualities of wisdom, sincerity, humanity, courage, and strictness.” What we derive from this is that a leader need not be the smartest but however, he needs to be wise and be able to recognize changing circumstances. His sincerity means that the people he leads should have confidence in him; That he is a man of his words and will reward those who deserve merit. Then humanity means that he should be able to empathize with people and the personal struggles that they go through. For him to understand those he leads; empathy should be a top priority. Then, in matters were courage is concerned, the leader should be able to seize opportunities whenever he can afford them. Then, finally, his level of strictness should ensure that discipline is fervently enforced. For the achievement of objectives becomes extremely difficult without the element of discipline. So, in our context, this means that you must take the first step to show sincerity if you want to win that ‘difficult’ person over. You shouldn’t be sarcastic about it. You have to show that you really do care about the person although you are not treated very well. At work, this might mean being disciplined enough to go to work on time for meetings. At home, it might mean staying true to the word you promised your son that you would watch his show. Society naturally respects people who are sincere and honest but surprisingly enough they never tell them. That is why people praise the good things a person did after they die. It’s because the guilt eats them up. And that is why Malcolm X said, “I want to be remembered as someone who was sincere. Even if I made mistakes, they were made in sincerity. If I was wrong, I was wrong in sincerity.” So, be sincere.

Malcolm X

4.    Know the Limits

Then finally, we will now analyze Doctrine. Sun Tzu said of it as follows: “By doctrine, I mean organization, control, assignment of appropriate ranks to officers, regulation of supply routes, and the provision of principal items used by the army.”

This all has to do with prioritizing. Self-leadership means knowing how to take time seriously and organizing yourself in a disciplined manner. If you are leading an organization, for example, this may mean assigning the proper tasks to people who are particularly good at what they do. If a man is good at something, give him tasks that are appropriate to his line of work. That’s how I interpret what Sun Tzu meant here. Now, going back to our ‘difficult’ person, I think this means you have to know the limits. Don’t take yourself too far but at the same time, don’t push others too much. Now, this is particularly hard to do if the ‘difficult’ person is someone you are leading. Perhaps someone in an inferior position like a child or an employee. You may assume that they are not applying themselves enough and in most cases, you may be right. However, identifying a problem is necessarily curing it. For example, I have heard a lot of parents say to their kids, ‘Why can’t you be like me, when I was your age, I used to do such and such.’ This approach almost always never works because the person it is addressed to will undoubtedly feel alienated. People like to be understood. So, just don’t talk about what you want to achieve for someone and how they should pat you on the back. But, make your voice heard to them and try to make them understand through their point of view. If you do that and they still don’t get it, just leave them alone. Now, that’s where you have to know your limits.

So, to conclude, nobody likes to deal with a ‘difficult’ person not even ‘difficult’ people themselves. Often times, it is a cat and mouse game of whose evil is the worst. Parents will say their kids are ‘difficult’ and the kids will practically say the same thing. Someone might say my boyfriend never listens to me no matter how many times I say the same thing over and over again. And the cycle goes on and on just like that. I believe that Sun Tzu’s principles can be of help. They are still ripe for application in the corporate world, family life, and on every level of human interaction. I hope that these lessons from the Art of War have been helpful to you. If not, feel free to contact vigilante scholar for more information and advice for your particular situation. Until then, Good Luck!

LEADERSHIP AND SELF-DEVELOPMENT: THE POWER OF POSITIONING

Self-Development and Positioning

Leading oneself and the quest for self-development is often a daunting task for most of us. It is fairly difficult to change your perception and the way you view the world. In a previous post, I had alluded to the power of perception and the strategies you could use to change the way you view yourself and others. Indeed, perception is the bedrock of leadership and it really matters that you maintain a good self-image before you attempt to lead others. Not only did I emphasize this point in that specific post, but I had also touched a little bit on the subject in my final conclusion of the book, The Double Win, by Denis Waitley. So, it would be safe for you to think of this as a supplementary post to the blog posts I have just mentioned. We are now moving away from an internal self-image to the application of a very important principle in self-development: Positioning.

Let’s take an Imaginary trip

Imagine if God, assuming that you believe in God, had allowed you to choose what type of family you would like to be born into. Let’s further imagine that he allowed you to choose the color of your skin, your gender, your country, and perhaps the financial status of your family. I can imagine that most of us would probably request a similar thing. We would say I would like to be born as a boy into a white American family with lots of wealth or perhaps as the son of Queen Elizabeth. Now, before you start throwing rocks at me, hold your horses. You see, whether we like to admit it or not, life on earth is tougher for some people than others. For example, women, black people, and other minorities, generally find it tougher to get respect. This is all because of our shared biased history. A lot of countries in Africa find it hard to grasp the concept of a female president and it’s really a painful sight to see. Now, I understand that not all of these assumptions can ring true to everyone because we have different preferences. But given the human tendency to avoid pain and seek pleasure, most of us would likely choose a family similar to what I’ve mentioned.

Anyway, what does this all have to do with self-development? Well, positioning is very important in attaining whatever goal you set your mind to achieve. But it’s also important that you are realistic about how you set your goals. You need to sit down and ask yourself, ‘what is my position in life and what exactly do I have?’ Knowing your limitations is very important. I mean here is a guy from a poor family in a third world country who thinks he will become a billionaire at age 30. What is he thinking? He says it’s because Warren Buffet became a millionaire at 30. I hate to sound pessimistic but chances are that he’s not going to achieve that goal. This is for the simple reason that the circumstances and positioning of life are different. But don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that some poor people from third world countries cannot become millionaires or billionaires at age 30, such people do in fact exist, but they are the exception and not the rule.

Aliko Dangote

According to Forbes, the Nigerian Billionaire, Aliko Dangote, is Africa’s richest man. I took a keen interest in finding out how he came to reach that position. His story is an interesting one. I found out that he started his business from a loan he got from his uncle. Today, this business has grown to be a multi-national conglomerate which generates billions of dollars in revenue each year. I often joke to myself that if I had a rich uncle to whom I could borrow those hefty sums of money, I also could’ve been like the Nigerian Business magnate.

Aliko Dangote was well-positioned to become the man that he is today. I believe there’s still hope for most of us in Africa who may not have been so lucky to believe in our ambitions. I have seen so many people beat themselves over the goals that they did not achieve when they were younger. They often say, “I wish I could have invested in stocks when I was 25, or I wish could have saved more money for the kids.” Such regret hits the soul with the force of a sledgehammer. It’s really heart-breaking and to make matters worse, there’s actually a quote which emphasizes this horror of life: “A man who views the world the same way at age 40 as he did when he was 20, has wasted 20 years of his life.” The inescapable fact is that people change but that doesn’t need to be a source of regret. We just need to learn a little bit more about the power of positioning.

Being realistic is not always a bad thing

When a person is realistic about his expectations and in setting his goals, seeing the importance of positioning becomes fairly easy. If you are from a third world country and a poor family, like me, you have to learn how to put yourself in a position where the possibility of failure is reduced. The ancient Chinese general, Sun Tzu once said that “Hence the skillful fighter puts himself into a position which makes defeat impossible, and does not miss the moment of defeating the enemy.”

Sun Tzu, arguably the greatest military strategist to ever have lived

THE BEMBA: A HISTORICAL STUDY OF ZAMBIA’S MOST POLITICALLY-INCLINED TRIBE

Politics in Zambia today has become a very tasking enterprise. The honorable Member of Parliament of Mazabuka Central, Mr. Gary Nkombo, once described elections in this country as a ‘dog fight’. His indignation was aroused by the seemingly unethical behavior that has soured Zambian elections for over two decades now. Politics, in general, does not receive a favorable standing in the eye of the public. Indeed, the average Zambian has a high level of political apathy. Meaning, he does not care very much about who governs this country. In some respects, I think this indifference is understandable. I was also once like that. I saw politics as a dirty game where no honorable man should indulge himself. But recently, and upon further study, I have had a change of heart. For it is impossible for you to impact people without having a tinge of politics in your blood.

Africa Democracy Ratings

Democracy and Politics

One of the main reasons that I think democracy in Zambia and Africa generally, is frail is because the idea of democracy is fairly new in Africa. Before the westerners came, Zambia observed a monarchial system of politics. Meaning, most of the tribes in the country at that time had an unelected King as a ruler. Some of these tribes are very well known such as the Bemba and Ngoni. To the casual observer, these two tribes and their kin seem to dominate the Zambian political arena. It, therefore begs the question, out of all the 72 tribes present in the country, why is it that only these few have such a flair for politics? The answer is shrouded in history and analysis of the individual political systems of these tribes. My focus will be on the Bemba because I think we can agree that there’s no other tribe in the country that has dominated politics as they have. Unfortunately, I was unable to find the title of the book that I extracted the information that will follow but it is nonetheless authentic. So, the tribal territory of the Bemba was divided into approximately 33 semi-autonomous chiefdoms, all ruled by members of one clan, the ‘Bena Nandu’ or ‘Crocodile clan’.

Chitimukulu at Bemba Ceremony of Kusefya pa Ng’wena

There were 4 major chiefdoms and 29 minor ones dependent upon them. Of these 4, about 2 were the largest and most pre-eminent; that of Mwamba and Chitimukulu. But Chitimukulu was the most senior. He had control of the military and economic power rivaled only by that of Mwamba. Anthropologists who study African people became aware that the political systems and the people, with whom they were dealing, was as complex as the system and people of Europe. This shows that politics is not a new ‘thing’ on the African continent. Initially, I took the view that since Zambia so far has had only 6 presidents, that infers that politics in this country is a recent development. But after studying history, I learned that the only political ideology that was new on the African continent was democracy.

THE DOUBLE WIN BY DENIS WAITLEY PART 3: LESSONS ON LEADERSHIP AND SELF- DEVELOPMENT

This is my final analysis of the book, The Double Win, by Denis Waitley. In this last lesson on leadership, we going to focus on what the author calls the ‘in-built Thermostat’ that every person has. He took his readers off a little into the realm of psychology on this one but his lessons were nonetheless valid. His main point was that every human being today has a self-image that is deeply embedded into the subconscious mind. The title of Chapter 4 of the book is the Win-Lose Child of your Past. In this chapter, he had talked about the power that modern television has on our minds. To quote him he said, “To live the Double Win in a Win-Lose environment, we need to realize that T.V. programming is dictated by win-lose individuals who are interested in immediate profit gratification than in the side effects of their products.”

So then, the question becomes, should you stop watching T.V. if you want to become a Double Winner?  Not necessarily.

The main point here is that it would be difficult for you to change your self-image if you are still being stimulated by the Win-Lose philosophy whenever you pick up the remote. I, personally, have undergone a major drift from being a T.V. fanatic to being one of its toughest critics. To be utterly blunt, I think most of the stuff that is on T.V. and cable nowadays is poison.  My reasoning for this is that in a world where minding your own business should be a priority if you are going to find any sense of self-worth, modern television makes that goal almost impossible to achieve. So, ultimately and subconsciously, we learn the habits of those that represent less than 10% of the general population. Denis Waitley actually said that “we learn by observation, imitation and, repetition. We seize our role models, observe their actions, imitate, then become what we see, hear, read, feel and touch.” So, imagine the tragedy of a person who is born into a poor family in a third world country imitating Jay-z or Beyoncé.

You have no idea how many girls want to be like her.

Obviously, that would engender a Win-Lose philosophy right from the start because he sees that he must trample on whoever is in his way to look like his role model. Regardless of your age or cultural background, there’s always an inclination to please the crowd that is around you. That’s what Denis Waitley called the “Inner child of your past”. To a large extent, who are you are today has been largely influenced by factors such as how you were raised, T.V. cultural indoctrination and perhaps how your teachers in grade school treated you. To illustrate this point, Denis Waitley tells a story of a married couple: Robert had been married to Pauline and had noticed that whenever she was preparing a piece of ham for him, she would always cut off both ends. So, he asked her why she always did that and she responded by saying that was the way her mother prepared it. So, on a visit to the mother’s place, he asked Pauline’s mother as to why she always cut off both ends of the ham when preparing the meal and she replied that ‘that was the way that my mother used to do it.’ Determined to bring a solution to the mystery, Robert asked Pauline’s grandmother about it and she replied, ‘I cut it that way because my baking dish is too small.’ So, we can clearly see here how a habit was passed down from one generation to another through observation, imitation and, repetition. This all comes in to contribute to what makes your self-image…

The self-image was defined by Denis Waitley as the ‘total picture of who we think we are.’

Self-Image: It’s all up to you

Until recently, I have been very much unaware of how insecure I have been over the years. It’s only when I took an introspective analysis of my actions that I realized that I had a very poor self-image. Even today, I feel my gut wrench whenever somebody compliments my intelligence or says that I have done a good job. But I was not always like this; my insecurities were a monster born from years and years of being a follower of the win-lose philosophy. In retrospect, I think I was arrogant and thought I knew everything. When push came to shove and my abilities were tested, ‘I had realized that I was not as good as I thought I was compared to such and such a person.’ This led to an inner turmoil that culminated with me literally begging and crying for people not to leave me.

So, I am a person who understands the pain of knowing that your best is not good enough. And in this Win-Lose world, chances are that you will feel the same way I felt. I am a work-in-progress, and I should say that in applying the principles in this book, I have felt my self-confidence boosted. This I attribute to the change I’ve had in my self-image and the way I think of myself before anybody else tags me in a certain group.

Abel Chungu, the very talented Zambian Gospel singer once tweeted, “If you have a problem with me, call me so that we can solve it. If you don’t have my number, then you don’t know me well enough to have a problem with me.”

I think there was a subtle message in that tweet about the self-image. You are not what people think you are. Actually, you are what you think of yourself to be. I always tell myself whenever I am in a crisis that, ‘You are stronger than you think you are’ and often, these simple words become a source of great strength. The problem is that most of us don’t believe ourselves whenever we say we are good enough. The major reason why this is so hard to believe is that it causes an internal conflict. Here is a guy who for years has been trained to think of himself as mediocre. The moment you tell him that he can do more than he does, it would spark a war of contradiction. Years and years of cultural indoctrination would fight these assumptions right off the start and it only gets worse when you get older. So, my recommendation is that you should work on your self-image and be very careful about how you talk to yourself. A part of self-respect, which helps create a good self-image, is knowing what not to say to yourself. Never judge your abilities based on other people’s words or actions.

In conclusion, every one of us should ensure to create a good self-image. An image distinct from what people or society says or feels about us. I would like to reiterate my recommendation for the readers of this post to read the Double Win by Denis Waitley. As a Vigilante Scholar, I had learned a great deal about myself and self-development just from analyzing the texts of this book. There’s a lot more that I could speak on this but save for time, I would rather leave it to you to judge. I am confident that you would reach the same conclusion I reached and indeed, find the information helpful in your life and your quest for Leadership and Self-Development.

Part 2 of Perception: The Bedrock of Leadership

In one of my previous posts, I had alluded to the importance of perception. So, in this one, we are going to take a look at some of the strategies that someone can take to change that. In order for this to happen, it’s important that you understand attitude; This is perhaps as important as any other single factor.

Attitude usually comes about as a result of cultural indoctrination and expectations. This indoctrination, often, creates a picture of oneself in what psychologists call, ‘the subconscious mind’. One of the strategies that I recommend in changing perception is to build a proper self-image. Ideally, this sounds simple but it is extremely hard to do in practice. Most of the self- help books out there would recommend repeating some mantra of some sort and keep your fingers crossed in the high hopes that you would change the way you think. However, this more than likely never works in real life. So, the question is why?

It’s because you can’t fool or deceive yourself into being something you are not. Human Beings are creatures of habit, so in order for you to effect change, habits must be formed through a repetitive process of decisions.

One of the habits that I recommend is what I call ‘Mental Imaging’. This means that you should face the challenge head on and literally take an offensive front through consistent action i.e.you should use constant reaffirmation backed up by actionable results.

For it is one thing to commit to changing your in-built perception through habits and another to repeat some magical words in the hopes that your life will change. Habituation is the key to ensure that your perceptions change. There’s actually an ancient secret developed by the Romans which holds that if you do something consistently for 21 days, then it would automatically become a habit. This ancient secret teaches that in order for you to create a habit, there has to be consistency.

So, in application to our issue here, it is cardinal that you apply the habit consistently. If you cannot do that, then there’s no doubt that your subconscious self will not believe you. Actually, all of the actions that we make each and every single day are subject to authentication by our subconscious. In other words, to some extent, the origin of all our actions are influenced to a high degree by the subconscious mind. So, if you consistently act in a way that contradicts your subconscious, it will have no choice but to comply with the new pattern of actions taking place. I can tell you my personal experience as an example. Prior to October 2016, I pretty much hated anything to do with books and reading. I could hardly sit in front of a book for more than two hours. My reasoning at the time was based on what a friend of mine told me that “it’s scientifically been proven that a person cannot study for more than three straight.” Without even checking the authenticity of this assumption, I just naturally accepted it and gave up studying soon as it ticked three hours. So, one day I decided to test the assumption by daring myself to study from 10 a.m. in the morning to 7 p.m., no matter the consequences. And guess what? I had managed to complete the task, with extreme difficulty I should say, but with a grin on my face. At that very point, I took the first step in changing my subconscious image.

So, the results would be the same for you as they were for me. You only need to make sure that’s what you want and you are willing to put in the effort. There are no shortcuts.

In conclusion, perception can be changed but it’s not easy because you are literally going against everything you have been taught and thought you knew. But however, with the right mentality and attitude, changing perception is invariably simple if you are willing to dare yourself in doing what you are not normally accustomed to.

LEADERSHIP LESSON: JAPANESE CORPORATE GOVERNANCE

Whenever the average person thinks of Japan, I bet they picture Sumo Wrestlers, Sushi, Notorious Gangs with Funny Names, Ninjas and Karate. But is that all there is to this small but powerful country? If wealth was measured by the size of a country, there’s no doubt Japan would be one of the poorest in the world. However, Japan stands today among the strong economies of the world.  Geographically speaking, the country doesn’t have much to offer; They have few, if any, natural resources and a usable landmass that is subjected to Earthquakes. Then, in contrast, let us take Zambia as an example; My country has an abundance of Natural Resources. We experience little, if any, natural disasters such as Earthquakes, Hurricanes and the like. In fact, I have never personally witnessed any of those disasters… (I know I have the memory of an old woman sometimes, but on this one? I am absolutely sure.)  So, what’s missing here? Why the stark difference?

The answer is one word: Leadership.

Japan is a country of many leaders and few followers while Zambia is a country of a few leaders and many followers. No matter how talented or gifted someone or something is, the only people on Earth that can release that potential are leaders. Now, sometimes the person with the talent also happens to be a leader; A rare circumstance but a most fortunate one. However, leaders are most of the time, the people in the sidelines facilitating and helping that person achieve their goal.

So, let us go back to Japan…

According to the book, Keeping Good Company by Jonathan Charkham, the 3 main features that affect Japanese attitudes towards Corporate Governance are their concepts of ‘obligation’, ‘family’ and ‘consensus’ all linked into one.

By ‘obligation’, we mean that Japanese workers at every level in the Company feel that their effort counts and that they have something to contribute. A good leader always communicates his vision and that’s exactly what the Japanese do.

(We will take a look at vision later on in subsequent posts).

The second is family. To use the author’s words, what that means is that the leaders create an atmosphere that ‘commands allegiance and prime attention of everyone from top to bottom.’ Which is somehow tied to the point mentioned earlier on ‘Obligation’.

Then lastly, by ‘Consensus’, we mean that immense efforts are put into building a consensus, i.e. a general or widespread agreement with the members of the company. This is fervently enforced even at the cost of a slow and often cumbersome decision-making process.

One of the main challenges of leadership is deciding on what’s more important than the other. Usually, leaders have the challenge of making the decision on whether achieving their goal should be prioritized over motivating their teams. The Japanese seem to handle the dilemma quite well. They understand what needs to be achieved, and instead of shoving the company’s goals down the employees’ throat, they make him understand his relevance to the company beyond a salary. (through consensus of course)

Although these are not all of the Principles of Leadership that the Japanese use, they are nonetheless as powerful as they are rare. Hopefully, companies and people in third world countries like Zambia could learn a thing or two from them. It’s in doing so, that I feel mind transformation and ultimately good leadership could take place.