17 April 2021

The Elephant in the Room - A Lesson in Leadership

When two elephants fight, the grass beneath their feet is crushed. The question is 'How my friends, do you keep out from under the feet of elephants?' This however, is not a question I am about to address. My focus is on a different question entirely, and it’s this: 'What if you are the elephant?'

As we know elephants have exceptionally good memories. This means that if you are one, your nostalgia, good as it may be, could stifle, if not crush the innovative aspirations of those who are trying to build the future.

I am fond of, and I believe it is crucial for everyone to submit to the discipline of history because history gives us an idea of what is possible based on the experiences of the past. History helps us to avoid costly mistakes, and it can be a foundation for laying the future. On the other hand, history could also make us bitter, angry and full of piffle from the past. While history is often a foundation upon which new things could be laid, the future is not always predicated on the past. The future has a way of inventing itself, and we should never  assume that the benefit of experience or age makes us accurate predictors of what is to come.

So, if you constantly behave, directly or inadvertently like the sage who has an opinion about everything, the wise one who hovers over everyone, correcting every mistake and proffering solutions to all ills, you run the risk of becoming the elephant in the room - an obvious, controversial problem that everyone acknowledges, yet no one has the courage to confront.  This in itself is a paradox. Your opinions and corrections may be valued. They may in fact be invaluable. However, if these opinions are frequent, and not sought, good as they may be, they become unwelcome and even resented. True wisdom therefore is not to over-shepherd people. It is much better to allow people to make their own mistakes rather than guide them like an Exocet missile.

So, when next you think about correcting someone, think also about the implications of your action. Whatever, you do, don't be the elephant in, or outside the room. PostcardfromLagos

Photocredit: wdarms.co.nz