If a task is supposed to be accomplished by a team and only one team member rises to the occasion, if that team member was you, what would you do? Would you go ahead and shoulder the responsibility of the entire team or would you develop cold feet and retreat? If your answer is the former, then you are a corporate thinker.
Most breakthroughs and feats have been achieved by corporate thinkers. They usually ask themselves what they can do to invalidate the deficiencies of their team or their society. When others think of who will take the initiative, they’ll blatantly take the initiative. When others think of whom to blame, they’ll obligingly take the blame and see possibility in what was hitherto deemed to be impossible by the majority.
There are many companies that were on the brink of liquidation but turned around because a corporate thinker took over. When Safaricom was still a subsidiary of Telecom, it was a government’s loss making business entity till when a corporate thinker took over after Vodafone acquired a 40% stake and management responsibility of the company. Currently, it’s among the best performing companies in Kenya.
In the political front, when Kenya was being suffocated by one party rule, one politician in the name of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga rose to the occasion. He believed that democracy can only be exercised under multi-party rule. Even though majority didn’t subscribe to his ideology, he didn’t back down. It’s a result of his tenacity and non-relenting mentality that we are enjoying the fruits of multipartism.
In a community where majority leaders are self-centered and always think of how to erect sky scrapers on grabbed public land, a corporate thinker known as Wangari Maathai rose to the occasion and spent most of her life planting trees and promoting movements designed to make people aware of how important it is to take care of the planet, starting by simply being more green-conscious within their own communities. Her story titled “The humming bird” will forever remain etched in my mind. The story puts into perspective what a corporate thinker should do in desperate situations.
The story of the hummingbird is about this huge forest being consumed by a fire. All the animals in the forest come out and they are transfixed as they watch the forest burning and they feel very overwhelmed, very powerless, except this little hummingbird. It says, ‘I’m going to do something about the fire!’ So it flies to the nearest stream and takes a drop of water. It puts it on the fire, and goes up and down, up and down, up and down, as fast as it can.
In the meantime all the other animals, much bigger animals like the elephant with a big trunk that could bring much more water, they are standing there helpless. And they are saying to the hummingbird, “What do you think you can do? You are too little. This fire is too big. Your wings are too little and your beak is so small that you can only bring a small drop of water at a time.”
But as they continue to discourage it, it turns to them without wasting any time and it tells them, “I am doing the best I can.” Corporate thinkers are always like the hummingbird. Their contribution may be a drop in the ocean, but at least they are doing something to make a difference.
Nelson Mandela was the first black African to set up a law firm in South Africa. He earned a decent living from his law practice. The burden of his people’s suffering in the hands of the Boers unsettled him. He represented most of them in court pro bono. When the system didn’t flinch from his insignificant fight, he joined ANC to fight it by hook or crook. Finally the system flinched and South Africa is now enjoying the fruits of his heroic exploits.
What are you doing to make a difference? Are you among the people who are pointing fingers at the government for failing to fight corruption and yet you are paying the police to avoid arrest? Are you among the people who are lamenting on how the government is mistreating its employees and you are paying your house help pea nuts?
In the book of Esther, Mordecai said this to his niece Esther; “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance shall arise for the Jews from elsewhere, but you and your father’s house will perish.” If you do not rise to this great challenge of destiny, someone else will. Stop pointing fingers using hashtag activism, but rather stand up and be counted.