To consistently remain a relevant leader, there must be a deep-seated longing and thirst (for relevant knowledge and relationships) that water cannot quench and satisfy. If this does not happen, he who leads today may become a follower tomorrow. And to remain a relevant leader isn’t automatic. It comes with a lot of hard-work and continuous personal development. How do I mean? For you to remain a significant leader, you’d need to remain a lifelong student in the school of important knowledge.
Over the years, I have met with many people—who were once cutting-edge leaders. The most terrible thing that can happen to anyone is for folks to refer to one as a former leader. If you do not want this to happen to you, then you’d need to take the issue I am addressing today very seriously. Buddy, the day you start seeing leadership as a destination, not a journey, that’s the day you would start becoming—a former leader. Leadership is a never ending process of personal development!
I have read about leaders, who were developing themselves till they breathed their last. A book was found under the pillow of one of the late presidents of America. He was always reading through relevant books. This is what leaders, who want to remain relevant till they take in their last air do. When I see leaders today who are not lifelong learners, I do shake my head, because I do know that their days of leadership will soon be over.
I read about Abraham Lincoln who trekked for hours to go borrow books during his shaping and formative years. Today, many youths hate to buy books let alone reading through them. Each time I remember this, I am always afraid of what the future holds for our dear country. Recently, I was listening to some of our founding fathers and I could see how strong their minds were. They were sound and strong thinkers. It is clear as water that they were men of books. In our day, you do not even want to listen to our modern day leaders. The difference between our founding fathers and our modern-day leaders is knowledge.
Our founding fathers could stand shoulder to shoulder with any leader in their day. I listened to late Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and late Chief Obafemi Awolowo and I was so proud to be a Nigerian. Today, it is almost impossible to be proud to be a Nigerian, listening to our current leaders when they speak. When a leader speaks and he or she is able to move his or her followers to action, it is a sure sign that he or she is a man or woman of books. Reading and speaking are two sides of a coin!
I have been at many leadership conferences—where leaders wouldn’t buy books, not because they did not have money, but because they just do not value knowledge. They bought food and so many other vain things, but they wouldn’t buy books. And they are having a lot of people under their leadership! The truth is; there will be a disaster when followers develop themselves more than leaders. In every generation, this is what leads to ‘followership-migration,’ people leaving one leader for another leader.
There is thirst that water cannot quench. This is what consistently propels every great leader I have met with. And it was the same thing that propelled every great leader I have read about. Dear friend, it is same thing that consistently propels me to keep panting after relevant knowledge as thirsty folks would pant after water during a dry season. Do you know why you are being coerced to buy good books today? You are not thirsty for knowledge. And if you are not thirsty for knowledge, forget about leadership.
When a leader who is not panting after knowledge builds a house, he or she will not make any provision for a functional library. I have visited many beautiful houses that had no functional libraries. Does this sound like you? If the answer is yes, then you need to change your way of life. It is not too late for you to set-up a functional library for yourself as either a leader or follower.
Recently, I sat across the table from a revered leader and we were having a mind-boggling discourse on the younger generation of Nigerians and Africans as a whole. Both of us ultimately agreed that the youngsters of our day are not thirsty at all for relevant knowledge that shall make them lead the pack in the days to come. Instead of buying books, they prefer to buy things that reduce in value with time. A hundred naira book is too expensive for them, but an eighty thousand naira shoes is too cheap for them to buy.
The quality of leaders that shall emerge in each generation depends on how thirsty the generation in question is for knowledge. The only thirst that water cannot quench is the thirst for knowledge. This is the wing behind the flight of every high-flying leader. The day a leader starts to stop thirsting for knowledge is the day that his leadership begins its end. When a mentor stops thirsting for knowledge, he begins to lose his position. One of the major reasons people come to you for counseling and leadership direction is because you do know what they do not know. The day you cannot afford to play the mentioned role again, they would stop coming to you.
What has thirsting for knowledge not done in my own life and leadership? Over the years, it makes me stay awake when others are fast asleep. Also, it has made me trek for hours because of knowledge. It makes me buy relevant books more than I buy shoes and cloths. It makes food become secondary to me. And it makes me prioritize people who are pertinent and germane to my destiny.
Lastly, how thirsty are you for knowledge? Do not forget this as long as you breathe: those who are consistently thirsting for knowledge and right relationships today shall end up leading the pack tomorrow.
See you where great men and women are found!