By Reylito A.H. Elbo
“WHAT makes some men chase women they have no intention of marrying?” This question cropped up in the side lines of an exclusive old boys’ club that I attended some few weeks back. (Forget about names. They’re not worth your time.) We looked at each other with a faint smile, sizing each other up until one balding participant volunteers an answer:
“Probably, it’s the same urge that makes dogs chase cars they have no intention of driving.”
More than five years ago, I was hired as a boat-rocking management consultant of one medium-size corporation in the verge of bankruptcy. I was with the chief executive officer whose mandate was to find new turnaround avenues for an organization that lost its top three major clients representing 85 percent of its revenue. During the meeting, I listened to Louie (not his real name) on how he described some of his efforts that sounded so Jurassic, that I thought I was listening to a nonperforming traditional politician.
I remember Louie once again, because he was the one who gave the answer that “dogs chase cars they have no intention of driving.” Louie, now a retired old chap, who despite the challenges of his situation, is always a practical joker who lives by the philosophy of “playing after every storm” was trying to be very enthusiastic to help a nonprofit organization regain its prominence with its foreign patron, except that no one appears to believe in him.
“Why so suddenly, he’s making a lot of noise now when he has done nothing to improve the lot of the association during his more than 10 years of administration?”—a newcomer asks his seat mate.
In the middle of my corporate career, while I was building a name in human resource management, I also became increasingly involved in association volunteerism. I reached to a point where I felt so overwhelmed with so many obligations given me by my peers that at times, when the phone rang I didn’t want to answer it anymore. It happened for about two months until I read something about change management—“politicians and used diapers have one thing in common. They must be changed regularly for the same reason.”
Mahatma Gandhi once said: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” To truly lead, and make a difference in the world, you must always start with yourself. This is a very powerful message similar in intensity to the age-old maxim: “Be honest . . . even if others are not, even if others will not, even if others cannot” that we can see in one blaring billboard by The Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals.
Since 20 years ago, I saw what happened on how “opportunity” and “obligation” can be distilled in one word—“honesty.” It made all the difference when you see some problems that could be turned into opportunities. It made all the real difference. Now when the phone rings, I respond to each call personally, because I consider it as an honest and clean opportunity for me to serve those who need it in the process of learning new things, widening my network, encouraging others, teaching things to those who are eager to listen, and of course earning a decent income.
Since then, I keep a sign over my work desk that reads: “Problem or Opportunity through Honesty” which is near another sign that says: “To win the game, change the rules.”
When you’re about my age (Forever 50), you tend to hurry up working on career milestones, because you’ll never know if your time is up. Innovation master Clayton Christensen describes this phenomenon as the “ticking clock” concept. You never know how much time you have. God gives you a ticking clock to remind you about time, but you’ll never know when the alarm is set and you can never tell at what specific time it will ring. If that moment comes, and you’ve nothing but hundreds of karma to burn in so very little time, then I’m sorry for you.
In so many ways, this was the message of our parish priest some time ago when he waxed eloquently as he envisioned the Day of Judgment in relation to this year’s mid-term election: “Lightning will flash, thunder will boom, rivers will overflow . . . Fire will flame from the heavens . . .The earth will quake violently . . . darkness will fall upon the entire earth!”
At that moment, I overheard a 10-year-old kid seated in front of me lifting his voice as he asked his father, “Dad, is judgment day also nonworking holiday?”
Now, if you have more sins that you are willing to accept, how can you build change and momentum in a very short period of time? My answer is as simple as establishing priorities and getting quick, small wins that cannot be defeated when the ticking clock strikes past midnight.
Rey Elbo is a management consultant specializing in human resources and total quality management as a fused interest. Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter for his random management thoughts.