Live for others
As a fresh graduate from university, my first port of call in the place of work was SystemSpecs. I joined the organisation as an NYSC intern and was privileged to serve and learn in one of the leading companies in the Fintech industry in Africa. My boss, the Founder/CEO, Mr. John Obaro is a fantastic leader, who was also a hard taskmaster. Early in my career, he would assign tasks to me and push me to get them done even when I thought I didn’t have the capacity. Just when I thought I was done with one task, I got another. One of those times, while he encouraged me to be dutiful and pour myself into my work, he said: “There are two types of people in every organisation – the people that are complaining and the people they are complaining about. Choose the one you want to be.” I made up my mind to be the latter.
As I made progress in the organisation, I learnt that living responsibly also involves being a good steward of other people’s resources. The truth is, everyone can show a good sense of responsibility for things that belong to them but we should also be disciplined enough to take ownership and be responsible for what belongs to others. This is called stewardship. In the words of Elden Henson, “stewardship means the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.”
Let me share with you one experience I can never forget as a young professional in SystemSpecs. I was tasked to make an important presentation to a client. Oh dear, I messed it up big time. It was so bad my boss banned me from ever presenting for the organisation. After that incident, I could have stepped back saying “well, it’s not my company, go ahead and do your thing.” Instead, it tested my sense of responsibility and from that experience, I learnt 3 important things about good stewardship.
- A Good Steward Takes Responsibility for the Tasks Given to Him/Her
On this occasion, I was responsible for a very important pitch to a prospective client. Regardless of the outcome of the presentation and the displeasure of my boss afterwards, I had to own up to my responsibility. I accepted the fact that I messed up. I admitted I should have prepared better for that pitch. Friend, the moment you begin to excuse a failure, you rob yourself the opportunity and time to make it right. A good steward takes ownership of his shortcomings in order to get better.
- A Good Steward Develops Himself/Herself to Perform Better
After that day, I did something funny. I bought myself a tape recorder, did the presentation again and recorded it. I listened and knew I needed to get better. From that day, I gathered as much information as I could about how to make compelling presentations. I stood in front of the mirror every day and practised my presentation skills, listened to the recording and identified areas I still needed improvement. The truth is, I committed to my personal development so that I could perform better whenever I get the chance again. That’s what good stewards do.
- A Good Steward Makes the Best of the Next Opportunity
Though it took a while after the last woeful performance, another opportunity came again to represent the company before a client. I recall very vividly that I initially had cold feet about it but my supervisor and friend, Duke Ekpeyong convinced me to seize the opportunity. He also convinced my boss to give me a chance again. My boss agreed and I did it. Oh yes, I did it! It was a fantastic pitch and we got the deal. You see, the opportunity came again and I aced it this time – the preparation paid off. Mehn! The joy I felt when my boss announced that I would be the company’s lead account manager and be responsible for client presentations going forward.
That experience taught me that genuine commitment to another man’s business is a key to living a value-adding life. Just as Mother Theresa advised us to be faithful in small things because it is in them our strength lies, I urge you to be a good steward for other people’s resources; whether it is money, businesses, products or properties – as long as they are in your care, manage them well. You can’t imagine the impact it will have on your life and personal development.
Always remember, You Have Only One Life to Live, MAKE IT COUNT!