Each person wants greatness, even if some do not want to admit it. Deep in the heart, everyone has a secret agenda to rise to the top. That is why people scheme. That is why we network and develop contacts, why we get an education and why we look for promotions. In other words, we want greatness by all means and it is not just an ancient quest, it is just going on as I write this article. I always say that if your children or others in your environment do not desire greatness, then something is wrong with them.
If everyone desires greatness-your bosses included, then remember your boss wishes to work with someone who helps him or her maintain the position and achieve his or her goals. If for example your ideas are more creative than your boss`s, ascribe them to him or her in as public a manner as possible. If you are naturally more sociable and generous than him, reflect a lot on this and ensure that you do not be the cloud that blocks his radiance from others. Always people who hold prestigious positions would wish to appear as the sun, around which everyone revolves, radiating power and brilliance. In other words, they believe that there can only be one sun at a time. If you think you are a star in your organization, there is a lesson that the stars in the sky teach us-they may be related to the sun and just as brilliant but they never appear in her company.
I am not saying that you stop radiating your light, nor am I saying that you become subservient as the mark of humility, all am saying is that focus yourself in service and you will become great in whatever position you are in .Greatness therefore, has very little to do with the pursuit of popularity, fame, recognition, but rather it is the result of service that you offer to your institution or people who work in that institution. Many institutions witness squabbles between leaders and their deputies almost on a daily basis. In my view, these conflicts are hinged on pursuit for greatness. But much can be learnt by these leaders from what Jesus once said to His trainees,” Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant or the greatest among you should be like the youngest.”
Let me tell you my experience as the youngest. I am from a family of ten in which I am number six. For a time, I was the youngest-with five older siblings, the youngest is the one who all the other five call on to do everything. ”Go get me a jembe.” ”Bring me a glass of water.” “Go and sweep the house,” and so on. From this experience, I can conclude that true leadership is not measured by how many people serve you, but by how many people you serve. Churchill once said, “True greatness requires retaining the simplicity of a child.” Therefore if you want to be a great leader who works under someone be like the ‘youngest’ as Jesus said.
You all remember a man by the name Henry Kissinger. He managed to survive the many bloodlettings that went on in the Nixon white house in the United States not because he was the best diplomat Nixon could find-there were other fine negotiators. Kissinger got himself involved in so many aspects and departments of the administration that his involvement (great service) became a card in his hand. He served diligently until it was difficult for his boss to do without him.
As you strive to offer great service, remember to do it with great humility. Put the institution`s interest that you serve above self. Martin Luther King (Jnr) said,” An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” This quotation reminds me of a story told of Mohammed Ali flying to one of his engagements. The aircraft he was flying in ran into inclement weather and was soon being tossed about by the moderate turbulence. The passengers were instructed to fasten their seatbelts immediately. Everyone complied except Ali. When the flight attendant approached him and requested him to follow the captain`s order, Ali simply responded,” Superman don’t need no seatbelt,” the flight attendant then told him,” Superman don’t need no airplane either.”
There are many people in various institutions who behave like Mohammed Ali. They show little respect to their bosses whom they claim have less academic qualifications than they do. They feel they should be in greater positions. But greatness may be defined by people throughout history whom we consider great. Among those who would be considered great in the context of their influence and impact on human society are such names as Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr, Abraham Lincoln and Mahatma Gandhi. A careful study in each individual will reveal that greatness was not a product of academic studies or formal education or social status or superior breeding but a commitment to serve with great humility.
From these leaders, we can infer that humility is not based upon circumstances .Circumstances do not have the ability to make a person humble. In fact there are both humble millionaires and proud prisoners. Sadly, those in the greatest need tend to be the proudest of all. Therefore, the true meaning of humility is the internal quality that prefers others and exalts them while appraising one`s self realistically. From this definition I can conclude that the only way to be great is to live under your boss and be motivated beyond yourself to serve and help others to be more interested in giving than the getting.
Value has a value only if its values are valued. I learned this from an episode that I witnessed at my home. One day my mother spread millet outside our house to dry before taking it to the posh mill. All of a sudden I noticed several birds feeding the millet. Since then, I learned a life lesson that you never know how many birds are in your neighborhood until you put out the bird feeders. Similarly, you never know how many friends you have-including your boss until you let your honest and sincere dream fly. Therefore, put your dream to test and you will achieve greatness as you serve and avoid crying foul that your boss is frustrating you. Everyone has his story and hands full of life issues and are unlikely to listen to yours. Be always humble and remember all the time that humility is a condition of the heart, unrelated to position and achievement.