I ran behind the school block as I saw him approaching. Face towel in one hand, and his face cap in the other. The others giggled and came after me. I stood there in naked fear, like a naughty kitten that spilled the jar of milk saved for dinner. I lowered my gaze waiting for the ground to open and devour me.
“Where are you running to?” he took several steps towards me. Large drops of sweat fell from his forehead. “Look here my friend, blue house has no athlete for Discus, Javelin and long Jump, and here you are dodging behind the walls. We need a representative and you have got the physique.
I looked at him and shook my head frantically. “Sir, I have no idea how a discuss is held or a javelin is thrown. I have never done them before sir” He moved closer, dropping on one knee. He held my hands, turning up my chin to face him.
“It takes courage, boldness and willingness to achieve unusual feats. It is an opportunity to also prove to yourself that you have the capacity to do whatever you set your mind to.
“Capacity?” I queried quietly, wondering if I heard him well
“Yes, Capacity, Innate Capacity. We still have a few days of training left before the field events. If you are willing, we will unveil the innate skills, unleash the potentials and reserves within you.”
“Ok Sir.” I answered although by this time, I was lost. I was lost because I was quite young. But I liked the sequence of words, the flow of idea and the encouragement, so I followed him. I replayed the 1994 Los Angeles Olympics in my head and remembered the exploit of Innocent Egbunnike. It was good therapy as I matched after him. That day, for the first time in my life, I held the Javelin and the discuss. I ran my hands across the face of the discus and held the Javelin parallel to my arm.
It was a bright sunny day when we filed out on the field for the event. The first throw was super exciting. I watched mine wobbled out of the sector. It was a bad throw. The others shook their head in dismay. I watched keenly as the second throw began, taking note of how each athlete held the discus, stood at the line and swung their arm. And by the time it came to my turn, my throw took the wings of the winds. It kept on and on and on, all eyes pinned and all heart beating until it struck the soil. The official ran, dragging the tape. My coach ran after him, raising his hands high in victory. I was perplexed! And that was the throw that gave us victory; that was the throw that won the gold medal, that was the throw that stood me out as the best. And guess what………It was a first attempt at field events.
Leadership does not imply the best, connotes the most qualified or presages the most experience. One of the greatest asset of most leaders is their ability to take the risk at winning despite their numerous inadequacies. I had the choice of running further and farther, and maintaining that I can’t do it; But I decided to try. I had set my mind free, victory or defeat, I was willing to take a chance. When was the last time you took a chance on yourself?
We all have a large reservoir of innate capacity unknown and untapped. And every time we say I can’t., we render these skills redundant because we are afraid of failing and do not understand that we have much more than we can see. One of the numerous life lessons is never to hold back. Grab that microphone and speak, make that call for the deal, take that classes and learn the skills, sign up for that competition and win.
The next time you are given an opportunity to excel, to shine, to win, never hesitate; Grab it and win! You are made of more!
Remember, when you chase the sun, you will catch the clouds, when you long for the moonlight, stories are heralded. Never seek perfection, simply stay genuine.
Dayo Oladele-Ilori is a management consultant, trainer/facilitator, an entrepreneur, an author, a wife and mother. She is the HR Advisory at House of Procurement. She is also the convener of WELEAD -www.weleadnetwork.org