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Published on June 13th, 2014 | by Olumide


Take the Risk on People!

Timon and Pumbaa were having a fine time until Simba, a young lion showed up. He was at that point, young, harmless, destitute and homeless. But very importantly, he was a lion! And they knew that lions ate up animals like them. There was no assurance that this cute kid wouldn’t grow up and one day turn them into his evening meal.

There were two ways they could handle the problem: First, they could see him as the potential threat (that he truly was) and kill him while he was still too young to handle them. Or they could see him as a potential asset and raise him up as their “son”. That way, there was a chance that  he could eventually turn out to be their protector in the wilderness. Timon and Pumbaa decided to take the risk and go for the second option. And it payed off big, because unknown to them, they had just accepted the responsibility of bringing up the future king! Eventually, they became his trusted advisers and ministers in the kingdom.

I once had a member of staff who (I later discovered) was married to a rather young girl. One day, I asked why his wife was not in school (because she was still within the age range of secondary school students). His reply shocked me. He said, “Oga, that girl cannot go to school yet because she is very intelligent”. Hang on: I always thought intelligent girls were meant to be in school! But this man continued. He said, “if she writes the SSCE exam, she is so intelligent that she will pass the exam. That means she will be more qualified than me and I don’t want that to happen”. Wow! I never knew that there were still such small minded people.

It happens in work environments as well. Many employers find it hard to hire people who are smarter than them. Many teachers are unhappy when they find students that have the potential of knowing more than they do. In fact, many senior pastors cannot live with the thought of having junior pastors who preach better than they do. For such insecure people, meeting better people raises a red flag. They begin to think: what if he eats me up? What if I lose my job to this person?” What if he starts his own company using the knowledge gained here? What if he overthrows me from the throne?

You have probably heard about Steve Jobs, the man who started Apple Inc (that’s the company that makes many of today’s trendy devices such as ipads and iphones). Are you aware that a few years after he started the company and it had became publicly quoted on the stock exchange (which implied that it was no more a personal venture), the Board made certain decisions that forced Steve Jobs to leave? He was fired, more or less, from a company he founded! Yet, many years later, Steve Jobs was called upon to take on leadership of the same company and he led it until his death. Did he lose out by having smarter people on his team? It must have seemed so at first. But looking back now, Apple could not have become a global colossus if this risk had not been taken.

Listeners, I want you to know that it pays to take risks on people. It’s a risk because they may truly eat you up. However, like Timon and Pumbaa, you may also end up having the privilege of raising the next president. If you always wish to be the smartest person on your team, that team cannot go very far. Great men are actually great because they climb on the shoulders of other people. Never lose the opportunity for relevance; if you come across a person who has potential, don’t kill the potential. Good morning.


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