It was in the early/mid 1990’s. A millionaire and one of the popular pioneers of luxurious bus transportation business in Nigeria back in the days had his first son in our boarding house at the same class in Abuja from Form One. Myself and others of our mates wondered why a millionaire dad will send his son to a rugged school as ours with no electricity or pipe borne water plus strict disciple and hard labour though of sound academic legacies to suffer instead of sending him abroad or some highbrow private school. Little did we realise what the Igbo millionaire was up to by toughening his boy. The boy was very humble and even better behaved than the average student. Years later while an undergraduate and working at his dad’s business in summer, his dad wanted to buy some brand new Marco Polo luxurious buses but he pleaded with his dad who he had earlier failed to convince to buy mini Toyota buses(Hiace), to lend him the money for one of the buses which he did. He bought the equivalent number of small(‘hummer’) buses at the cost of a Marco Polo. On the morning of commissioning, they loaded the same small buses and loaded a luxurious bus. Guess what? The 13-seater buses made much more money than the single luxurious buses of equivalent cost. That’s how the dad’s eyes opened and diversified to smaller buses and later to cargo and courier services as well. Before you know it, other transporters started copying them. Today the boy runs the transport company plus numerous other business concerns as the MD/CEO while his dad, now a philanthropist is the chairman. Today, most of the old luxury bus transport businesses are either no more or almost out of existence mostly due to tough times and poor succession plans but their transport company is getting even stronger with time as he even pioneered transnational bus transportation across West African countries from their Maza Maza terminal years ago. He is a tough businessman because he was toughened years back, so I realised. When we were returning from St Mary Catholic Church Karu to Nyanya for Catechism back then, we used to see a big man drop off his two children of about 7 and 10years of age at a local block making factory near a low-cost housing estate under construction and pick them up in the evenings during holidays. I think the ideas are the same. You see? No great leader or achiever came in a ready made 23-karat gold. They were rather heated and toughened to such. Jesus was toughened. Socrates was toughened in his youth as a soldier. Mohammed was toughened in the desert with persecution. Steve Jobs went through hell. Thomas Edison, the founder of General Electric is one who difficulties we all know. Top business leaders world over even those born with silver spoon didn’t have it easy contrary to what many would want to believe. Do you see extra works by your boss as punishment even if he or she is being deliberately mean? Do you resist giving extra or working longer to see off tasks? Do you love pampering your kids and protege? Do you enjoy things you never worked for? Do hide from work? Do you see difficulties as tribulations or as challenges to explore? Think again.
About 20years ago, Donald Trump was in so much debt that many business associates and situations surrounding him suggested him filing for bankruptcy but because he was toughened by his dad’s grooming and military education as a youth, he said NO. He pulled himself back and charged harder into recovery and half a decade later became one of the richest men in the world mostly as a realtor. Today, he is the President of The United States of America even against difficult circumstances and murky controversies that drown even the greats. Wondered why he keeps sailing without sinking? Toughness is best carried out in the formative stage of a person’s life so it grows into a person’s subconscious and reflex arc in much the same way as a metal is toughened by being given appropriate heat treatment and controlled quenching that adjust their interstitial grain nucleation to rugged microstructural constitution so that any component or machine part produced from such metal with not fail and put people’s life at risk wherever applied. Leadership is no different. Leadership is no vocation for sissies. Gbile Akanni loves to talk about the University of Hardknock. I think that’s the spirit. A metal well treated, heated, and toughened will make the blacksmith and metallurgist proud for knowing their job. The world is tough and unfair. Sometimes, might is actually right and only the strong have access or right to things. One needs to be tough to cut above the rest and survive the hard times that causes the mean to buckle. A concrete structure with steel reinforcement is the builder’s pride. A child that can hold his own is the parent’s pride. Tough soldiers that can survive even inclement environments are their nation’s pride. A house that didn’t fall after hurricane is the builder’s certificate of excellence.
Don’t hesitate to give those tough tasks you give to your house boys/girls , employees, and apprentices to your children too. They will need the spirit of discipline, resilience, self reliance, and thick skins such may endow them somehow, somewhere, and someway in future. Bella once recalled how their dad, Mike Adenuga drills them hard from tender age attending marathon business meetings and having it tough. But today they mostly run his business empire. Fifty years from now the mansions in VGC and exotic properties and businesses will be taken over from softened children by toughened children. It’s best to toughen your relationship with truth and reality so marriage will be better appreciated and minor matters will not be strong enough to break your home. The best succession plan for a business is to make leadership of all employees. A man should make his wife and children invulnerable so if the worse happens to him they will keep going. It’s good to be stern and candid with children and employees even while being fair and friendly. Inasmuch as the tender and soft touch of a mother is needed to raise humane adults, the realities out there demand that the father figure be present to instill discipline and ingrain steely toughness in a child as he or she shouldn’t expected roses or kindness from the world. A striker that only depends on passes from other players wouldn’t last. You have to be tough and able to take up leadership any given time it suddenly falls on you. You have to be tough and be able to get down from the high horse and DIY if no one wants to do it for you. It’s easier to have them do it when they know you can do it too. A General that has never seen action commanding soldiers in the field without being ready to do field work is a disaster; that’s part of the lessons from Boko Haram. Be toughen beyond what the situation around you can break. Be mentally toughened beyond heartbreaks and disappointments.
Good morning and have a great new week flourishing irrespective of the prevailing circumstances around you.
Christian Okwori 201117.1.196.