So there was this leadership training I registered to attend because of the reputation of the sponsoring organizations and programme content. There was a target time beyond which participants would have to forfeit their acceptance. So I pulled all the stunts I could to get there in time; child care, food for my guests, get out of home early (because I happen to be one of the very few people in Lagos who do not have to get out before 8am everyday…call me lucky?lol…yeah!).
Anyway, I beat time and hit the venue at about 7.25am. My first surprise was the little crowd at the gate looking like they were waiting for an aptitude test. They all looked so young and I was already feeling like an oldie…hehehe! Bracing up, I asked someone in the crowd if they were there for the programme and they answered in affirmative, saying they had been told to wait by the gate – another shocker – chai! What embarrassment, because of free training o! Awoof dey run bele, true true! I’m a mid-level manager and even if I went for an interview at this level, which would most likely be a chat, I would be offered a sit at the reception till the interviewer is ready to see me and that would have to be on appointment; so you get my drift.
Anyway, I joined the crowd hoping that I was done with surprises for the day, only for a young lady to show up from the building, trying to draw everyone’s attention (An alarm rings in my head: chei! another small pikin, hahaha!) As if that wasn’t enough, she began to say they had reached their capacity and couldn’t take more participants, we should put down our names so that we would be contacted for future trainings (my head just scattered). Anyway, I gave them a little lecture on giving people a little more respect and to make sure they only invite the number of people they have a capacity to cater for, in subsequent trainings because youths are engaged and usually make sacrifices to attend these events because they want to grow. We ended up exchanging contacts…lol…I can network even in a hole.
One thing caught my attention though, and it was something the lady said to express her apologies; “No matter how well the training goes, what has happened here puts a downside to the programme; we’re not happy about it and we are really sorry”. So you do awesome things and then one little silly mistake ruins your victory – the little foxes that spoil the vine. I read Don Azubuike Onyegbu’s linkedin article titled, “Competence is not enough to succeed in the workplace” which told the story of a young talented career starter who was an ardent problem solver, if there was a problem that could not be solved, it often ended up on his table and went no further. The problem: he was shy, kept to himself, rarely talked or spoke up at meetings, looked down at his shoes as he moved around and avoided anything that would put him in front of his clients. Guess what? He didn’t get his promotion because the partner who would have given him the required endorsement was rarely around but only showed up during meetings and presentations and therefore couldn’t relate with his competences. He was not visible: little foxes!
I co-facilitated a training in one of the South East states about two weeks ago and it was fantastic… feedback was awesome, participants gave a song and speech to show their appreciation (that part was hilarious…I made a video), but, we had technical issues and the very product we were marketing during the training wasn’t quite ready for use. I think of it and it’s saddening because all the money and effort invested may not yield optimum results because some tiny bits of the puzzle didn’t quite fit. The funny thing is that these little foxes come in when the vineyards are blooming . You do so much but one little gap waters down your work leading to frustration and discouragement.
The big question is how do we ward off these little foxes in our careers, businesses and generally, in our everyday lives? Here are a few tips – let’s call it PDF;
Plan with the end in mind: Endeavor to consider every tiny little goal you want to achieve through your action, project or programme. Try not to leave anything out, no matter how flimsy you deem it to be because those are the things that usually slip through the cracks and come back to haunt us as little foxes.
Don’t undermine anything/anyone: I used the word “consider” in the previous point because it’s not enough to list them, prepare for them like you prepare for the ‘bigger’ stuff. Dot your ‘i’s and cross our ‘t’s. So if you’re to move a group of people using your organization’s vehicle, don’t forget to crosscheck with driver and get his word; it would be risky to assume that because you have a driver and he’s aware of the programme, he would show up. That could just be a little fox staring you in the face.
Familiarize with all the things that matter: You don’t want to be the problem solver who didn’t get a promotion simply because he wasn’t visible. Ask people who have been there, what it takes to get there. We surely cannot know it all because no man is an island of knowledge. You’ve got to know what it take before you can even work at it. Hard work is not enough, smart work wins you the points easier and faster.
These points are not exhaustive but I believe they would help you put up a good fight. Fight your little foxes today! #WakeUpAndMove!
By OBBIE Luya
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