LEADERSHIP SERIES- THE UNDERDOGS: THE REAL STANDARD FOR MEASURING THE STRONG AND POWERFUL

LEADERSHIP SERIES
THE UNDERDOGS: THE REAL STANDARD FOR MEASURING THE STRONG & POWERFUL

When we think about the strong and the powerful in society we usually think in terms of those politicians, celebrities and business moguls that have a ton of cash.
The word “powerful” evokes images of glamour, stupendous wealth, fame, and complete loyalty and subservience from a coterie of aides and dependents.
It brings to mind large business empires, convoys and motorcades, red carpet treatment and political patronage. It makes us envision a select few for whom the world has gone beyond a global village to a global street; we see people who at the drop of a hat can get almost anything they want done. That is usually the life the average person thinks about when he thinks about being strong or powerful. 

It is the kind of life many of us aspire to lead.

While the above perspective of power might not be incorrect it certainly is incomplete.
We tend to view as powerful people that bark orders and get anything they want to indulge in while having others sniveling around them.
That is just the way we tend to look at the world.  

Compared to most of us Jesus had an unconventional and upside down way of looking at the world. 
It was an expression of what made Him the greatest leader the world has ever seen. It was an expression of God’s perspective of power and just what would endear a leader to both God and humanity.
It was an unfolding of God’s definition of power and what it really means to be powerful. 
How did Jesus view people? How did He treat and relate with them? And what secrets are therein for us to exploit in being the kind of political, religious, domestic, and civil leaders we ought to be?

The poor, prisoners, blind, and oppressed are all groups mentioned in Jesus’ first recorded sermon. It makes perfect sense that the people you mention are the ones that are important to you. The mention of these groups gives a very strong indication of His unconventional perspective.
Indeed, a more than cursory glance at His earthly lifestyle and His parables reveal one salient fact. 
God is usually on the side of the underdog- the unjustly oppressed, the one who has no other one to fight for him, the weak, the outcast.
And in order to be effective we must learn to think like Him.

Let’s take a look at a couple of His parables-

The story is told of two men- one was a very rich man, and the other was a beggar who lay at his gate, poor, wretched, and covered in sores. The beggar’s name was Lazarus. 
We are not told the name of the rich man.
It is not likely that many of us would know names of more indigent and less privileged people than socialites and celebrities in our cities and countries, unless of course we were working in Camps for Internally Displaced People or Homeless Shelters.

In another story we find three men, with two different responses to the same stimulus. A man on his way from Jerusalem to Jericho fell upon highway robbers who dispossessed him of his belongings and beat him till he was within an inch of his life; while he lay bruised and battered by the way two significant persons happened upon him. They were both distinguished and revered religious professionals; incidentally, their responses to the needy man were similar. 
They ignored him and walked on.
We are not told their exact frame of mind, but we have enough maneuverable room to extrapolate. 
We don’t know the nature of their engagements but we can deem it safe to infer that whatever they might have been they were considered to be of more importance than the life of a fellow human being, a life they were in a position to save.
 Another case in point is this, in those days, the members of the Sanhedrin (the Governing Religious Council) had a tradition that demanded they had no interactions with dead bodies, any one of them who touched a corpse would be considered unclean.
It would seem that these sanctimonious men were over-zealous in their bid to uphold these rules and regulations- rules and regulations that did not have a human face. Anyway, they might have taken them so seriously that they didn’t even seek to confirm if the man had any breath left in him before they crossed to the other side of the road.

There was a third man, a man from a tribe considered by the Jews to be mixed race heretics. The members of this tribe were called Samaritans.
It is this man we have come to refer to as the Good Samaritan (a term that suggests he was an exception to what was prevalent among the Samaritans, even though there is not one single mention of a “Good Samaritan”; the Bible referred to him as “a certain Samaritan”). 
This half-breed who was despised by mainstream Jews is the hero of this story and the focal point in the same way that Lazarus was in the previous story.

A certain writer said, “I have actually gone through the Gospels and placed Jesus’ contacts on a homemade graph. With few exceptions, the more upright, conscientious, even righteous a person is, the more Jesus threatens that person. The more immoral, irresponsible, social outcast a person is- in other words, most unlike Jesus Himself- the more Jesus attracts that person. (How is it that Jesus’ followers usually do the opposite?). The free gift of grace descends to whoever will receive it, and sometimes those who have nowhere else to turn are most eager to hold out open hands.”

For the avoidance of doubt the above writer is not attempting to give the impression that Jesus’ position was one of no standards; quite the opposite really. He was attracted to those who were despised and disqualified by men and so were cognizant of the fact that it was only God that could change their conditions. 
In many cases the transformation after meeting Him was so complete that there was absolutely no drive or desire to return to what they were previously bound by. 
It has been correctly said that “Jesus did not come to save us in our sins, He came to save us from our sins.”

Of all the recorded interactions Jesus had with people the one that strikes me the most is the one in which He met the Samaritan woman at the well of Sychar. What struck me most was the degrees of separation between them.
For starters, this woman was a Samaritan, and as we have seen Jews had no dealings with Samaritans. They were the descendants of Jews who intermarried with people from nations that were traditionally avoided by ancient Israel because of the multiplicity of idolatrous activities they were involved in. 
Secondly, she was a woman, and it went against conventional practice for a Rabbi to be seen in public talking to a woman.
Thirdly, if there was ever a need to talk to a woman in public it would still have been highly scandalous that it was this woman who was selected. Everyone in the community knew she was a five time divorcee and that she was not married to the man she was living with at the time.
Indeed, some scholars believe that this woman was so ostracized that she had to go get water from an open well in the blazing heat of the noonday sun when it was customary for local Middle Eastern women to draw water in groups early in the morning. 
The divide between both of them had racial, social, moral, and religious components and would ordinarily have been an impassable gulf. But for Him it was not one that could not be bridged. 

He cut through all these differences and settled on one thing they both had in common- thirst.

 Eventually the topic of discussion transcended physical water to spiritual water. 
In all the four gospels it is only here we find it recorded that Jesus introduced Himself to anyone as the Messiah. 
It is not coincidental that He recruits this woman to be His first missionary. 
It is clear that God is attracted to what is traditionally despised by human beings, and is drawn to those that have no other place to turn to. This was the case of the woman at the well of Sychar; He placed faith in her and she rose to meet the challenge. Amazing what the average person can do when a little faith is placed in them.

Another person I can think about is the person we have come to call “Blind Bartimaeus”.
 It is interesting and noteworthy that the majority will tend to refer to us by what we used to be, especially when what we used to be has a tag of shame attached to it. 
We are wont to recall as “Rahab the harlot” the lady who protected the spies Joshua sent to Jericho.
There is just something about human nature that makes us want to grade ourselves as better than others, and we are inclined towards doing so by keeping derisory descriptions of others.
 It’s not uncommon to hear something like, “Don’t you remember Loose Lisa? The one that had all those abortions before she was fifteen”, or “That’s Willy, the fellow who was dealing drugs and raping girls when we were in school.”

The name Bartimaeus literally meant “Son of Filth”, or “Son of Garbage”. Apart from being a blind destitute that subsisted by begging his name was a proclamation that not only deepened the insult but reinforced the adverse circumstances that were his daily experience.
One day, while Jesus walked on the highway out of Jericho He happened to pass by Bartmaeus who, hearing a throng and the footsteps of the crowd that surged around him, asked those beside him what the commotion was about. After he was told who it was that passed that way he cried out “Son of David, have mercy on me.” 
The people who were around him tried to shut him up. There was no doubt in their minds that he was being a nuisance and Jesus would have no time for him. However, they were wrong, just like so many that think they have all the answers.
True to His character, and to the consternation of several people, Jesus stopped, turned round, and sent for Bartimaeus. What happened next shows the tendency of the average human being to stay with one when things are rosy, and abandon when things go awry.
The people that had used hard words in their bid to shut him up were the ones that smiled at him after Jesus noticed him; they were the ones that said to him “Cheer up, the Master calls for you.” This man who was obviously persona non grata to others was noticed and promptly healed by God. 

Of all the people recorded in the Bible that Jesus healed Bartimaeus is the only one mentioned by name.
The ones that are most important to you are the ones whose names you will remember.
The most important point I want us all to note here is twofold- Not all those we call strong and powerful are actually strong or powerful (the yardsticks most of us use are defective in measurement), and to be strong and powerful the most important standard is an assessment of how we treat the weak.

We might know that the measurement of a man’s strength is by how well he treats his wife and children, but have we gone beyond this to see that the measurement of the strength of all those who consider themselves strong is in how they treat those they are better than?

CLASS DIVISION, SOCIAL STRATIFICATION, AND GOD’S POSITION (part 1)

Segregation, Inequality

CULTURE, ETHNOCENTRISM, TRIBALISM, SOCIAL SEGREGATION, AND GOD’S POSITION

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man, true nobility is in being superior to your former self.”- Hemingway

As a social scientist I like to study human behavior, as well as the theories that seek to explain them. One of such theories is the conjecture referred to as Social Stratification. 
In sociology, social stratification is a concept involving the “classification of persons into groups based on shared socio-economic conditions … a relational set of inequalities with economic, social, political and ideological dimensions.”
Stratification is the relative social position of persons within a social group, category, geographical location or social unit. It is a system of social classification that unfortunately serves for many as a basis for discrimination.

This theory is premised largely on Socio-economic conditions but the truth of the matter remains that wealth and social status are not the only indices upon which the division of society is made.

There is something intrinsic in human beings that makes us get a false sense of worth by thinking we are superior to others. There is a mentality deeply embedded in the psyche of many human beings that produces discrimination. The default paradigm for most people seems to be the conception that personal value is determined by the number or the type of indices of stratification in which one has an “advantage” over others.
The ensuing consequence is that people are now stratified on the basis of every discernible distinction and variation.
If a sense of superiority is not postulated on the basis of Socio-economic considerations like wealth and social status it will be argued on the basis of gender, or other factors like educational qualifications, race, or some less consequential things like physical features and attributes. 

It is tragic and highly regrettable that even religion is one of such social variables used for discrimination.

There are several others. It would seem that every possible variation in the human race is used to stratify people.
Let me break this down and give some illustrations.

On the average, many people measure their success and value on the basis of how much they earn compared to others. If Mr. A has a higher income than Mr. B, or has a bigger car, or bigger house, or lives in a nicer neighborhood, the tendency will be for Mr. A to feel he is superior to Mr. B. 
If he went to an Ivy League School in a place like the United States he would be “superior” to the one that went to a State College or Community College in the States who naturally would feel he is “superior” to someone educated in Nigeria for instance.
Then even in Nigeria the Private or Federal University graduate would feel in a different class from the product of the State University, who would in turn feel like he is ahead of the person who went to a Polytechnic, who of course would feel he is on a pedestal beyond the reach of the person who went to a College of Education.

Think about stratification and discrimination on the basis of gender. How many times have we seen cultures and communities that deliberately put women under? In many communities and cultures in several countries women are treated as possessions, they are flogged like animals and treated even worse than that in many cases. 
There are still communities in countries in Asia for example where widows are either buried with their dead husbands or killed through immolation or strangling. It is suggested that such women should be killed in order to keep their husbands company, and serve them in the afterlife.

Think about other forms of stratification. 
Unfortunately, there are many people who profess a creed or religion in and through which they believe themselves to be superior to others. The average Jew believes himself to be superior to others, he sets himself apart not as much because he is interested in seeking God or a higher purpose to life as he is in not associating with men of lower stock. The radical Muslim straps a bomb on himself or picks an AK 47 rifle and walks into a restaurant to kill “infidels” he is sure are hell-bound even as he is confident he is going to some kind of paradise.
The Catholic looks derisively at the Protestant and is confident his Block Rosary makes him more of a Christian and that he is more broad minded than the Protestant, who is in turn convinced every Catholic is an idol worshipper. 

Think about the catastrophic consequences of stratification and discrimination on the basis of race.
The evils of racial segregation are well profiled. Slave Trade and ownership in the U.S, the Americas, and Europe was the height of man’s abominable inhumanity to his fellow man. The South of the United States has produced monstrosities like the Ku Klux Klan which made it a project to eliminate minorities, and the African American response to this saw organizations like the Nation of Islam, and characters like Malcolm X with his message on “all white men being devils” step into the limelight.
The white Apartheid government of South Africa committed reprehensible acts against native and indigenous blacks and arrogated to themselves the right to govern the multiplicity of races that eventually made up the multi-ethnic South African society. And govern they did…with brute force and criminal ferocity. 

We have heard about the complex caste system in India, the four different classes that make up the varna classification system and then there are the Dalits that don’t even feature in that system. They are not in any class as it were.  The class at the top of the chain in the Hindu caste system are the Brahmins who are supposedly “priestly people”, then directly under them you would have those that are supposedly predestined to be warriors, rulers, and administrators, these are called Kshatriyas. 
The next class under this would be the Vaishyas  who are artisans, tradesmen and merchants. Then the last on the spectrum are the Shudras, these are those that make up the laboring class and are the last considered on the varna classification list. 

Then there are the Dalits who have no class and no caste. They don’t even make the grade. They are literally outcasts and are off the scale totally.
An example of the Brahmins would be the Bengali people, while an example of the Dalits would be the Sangli people. 
These people don’t mix as Dalit literally means “untouchable”. 

So, people are already defined by others before they are conceived. Defined by others and having their destinies set by others. Set on the basis of their skin color or caste system or some other primordial consideration. 

I see that two major evil consequences of stratification not managed properly are a hindering of potential and an inability to take initiative. The reason for this is quite simple…
Whenever you allow anyone classify you the fact is you have given him a right to cancel you.
If you allow people fix you into a category you would also have ensured they determine the way you think and behave. This is because there are pre-conceived notions of what people in a certain category can think, believe, do, and aspire to.
For instance, if you are just a black man you will likely act in the way people who are merely black men behave. You would live within the framework of the stereotype and the “generally accepted” code of conduct expected of black men.  
If you are just a sexy looking girl, you will likely behave in the way that ladies who are merely sexy looking girls behave. You will most likely give into using your body to gain some sort of significance or relevance because you would have given into the mindset of those who like to objectify women.

There is a very popular religion which has a factor in its belief system that best exemplifies this. This factor is called “kismet”. It simply means “Fate”. Invariably, there are some born to be poor; they are designed to, according to this belief system, remain as the dregs of society and thus their aspirations are already set by society…this is what has produced the Almajiri system in Northern Nigeria. 

The tragedy of the human situation is that there will always be indices for segmentation in human behavior and history. This is inevitable.
And the truth of the matter is segregation in its entirety is not a product of man’s rebellion. Man’s rebellion indubitably exacerbated segregation and stratification, but even without it there still would never have been a classless society.

There is no point in time when there will be an equal system, on earth or in heaven, which gives people equal rewards for various levels of effort.
I believe in God, and I believe in the Heaven He created. I have studied the Bible and everything I see leaves me in no doubt that the Kingdom of God is premised on a reward system. A reward system based on equity.
I make bold to say that even God does not reward or bless on the basis of equality, instead He rewards and blesses on the basis of equity.
The principle is EQUITY not EQUALITY.

There will never be a time when everyone will be rewarded equally. If this ever happens it will make nonsense of incentives. 
Equity is justice and fairness. Not everyone will make equal contributions in life, so not everyone will receive equal results.

This is why communism will always be utopian. 

It never was, and never will be practicable that everyone in a society will be on an equal footing. We see the practical out-workings of this utopia in the satirical masterpiece by George Orwell, “The Animal Farm”. It is a literary composition written to express the prevailing circumstances before, during, and immediately after the Communist Revolution in Russia. If you have read it you will remember all the commandments that were initially given to the animals on the Farm, the first being “All animals are equal.” 
After Napoleon took over at the death of Old Major that commandment was surreptitiously changed, and it became, “All animals are equal…but some are more equal than others.”
This is the contradiction of the Communist ideology and its mode of production.

There is a fundamental part of human existence and the human constitution that ensures not everyone will receive the same output. This is simply because input will never cut across board.

We will continue this series

The Transformational Leader (part 2)

Chess

We started the series on the transformational leader with the story of the Prime Minister Joseph; the first tributary of leadership we spoke about was the nature of the transformational leader. I had a number of comments on the article, and there was a reader that assumed the five or six qualities I had mentioned there were all tributaries of leadership. All we mentioned were different aspects of the nature of the transformational leader. Now we will move ahead in our study of the transformational leader.

THE CHARACTER OF THE LEADER

The next tributary I would like us to see is the character of the transformational leader. When we look at the character of Joseph, the first thing that strikes us is the man’s integrity. In my personal assessment of the lives of hundreds of leaders it has become my modest opinion that one of the major components of transformational leadership is the leader’s integrity. John Eddison gave a wonderful explanation of the word integrity; he said

Integrity is an interesting word. It means ‘wholeness’ or ‘untouchedness’, and an ‘integer’ is a ‘whole or intact or undivided number’

.
What this simply means is that a person is a person of integrity when he is “whole” with his word. You can’t be a fraction and be a man of integrity; you can’t be a decimal and be a man of integrity, you can only be said to have integrity when what you deliver is consistent with what you say.

This is a key element of the transformational leader.

We know that mathematics is a science of integrity, for example 2 plus 2 will always be 4, just like 5 minus 3 will always be 2. The results will always be consistent; they will never change. This is the point I want us to see, there will always be an element of consistency and predictability with the man who has integrity.

The transformational leader is almost always consistent; his actions and reactions can be predicted many times because he lives by principles and not by people’s opinions or some other primordial considerations. You can’t transform anything when the standards you live by are not absolute, you can’t do that when you are not principle based. You can’t be a transformational leader if values mean nothing to you.

The transformational leader is not the one who keeps changing the values and standards he lives by. I say this bearing in mind that one of the philosophies (if I may call it that) that has gained ground in our world is “situational ethics”; anyone that lives by this perception does not have fixed standards. His situation determines his ethics, so what is black today might become white under different conditions tomorrow. The transformational leader does not reason like that.
I can imagine that someone might ask “Is being consistent a good thing, isn’t it possible that people can take advantage of you if you are predictable?” Well it is possible; but I am quite sure that your consistency will mostly work to your advantage rather than otherwise. This might not sound reasonable to the Machiavellian but I’ll explain.

IS INTEGRITY RELEVANT IN LEADERSHIP?

Who was Adolf Hitler’s deputy? His name was Rudolf Hess; he was the deputy fuehrer of the Third Reich. Now the records say Hermann Goring was Hitler’s immediate deputy but Hess was the one Hitler trusted, and Goring was second in command while Hess was the one Hitler willed his power to (in the event of his death). Now this is very interesting, especially when we realize that there were more capable individuals than Hess. There was Heinrich Himmler, who was the Head of the Gestapo, a very fearful individual who was as ruthlessly efficient as he was efficiently ruthless; there was his direct assistant, Reinhard Heydrich, who was so evil that even Himmler was afraid of him; Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda chief, was another one of Hitler’s capable associates.

All these men were more capable, brilliant and ambitious than Hess, but the only person that was, in principle, his superior (other than Hitler) was Goring. Goring was very influential in post-Nazi Germany, he had a lot of contacts in Berlin’s high society and this was what Hitler was determined to exploit when he named him as one of the representatives of the Nazi party in the elections into the Reichstag. However, Hess was unofficially declared as the favorite to succeed Hitler. The question is “why him?”

THE PRINCIPLED NAZI?

It is widely assumed that what endeared Hess to Hitler was not his ability, talent or brilliance, rather it was his integrity. Hess was said to be a man of principles that had a human face, even in the midst of the monsters that made up the Nazi party. In fact, it was these principles that drove him to Scotland, without Hitler’s knowledge to negotiate a peace treaty with Britain during the World War. Hitler trusted this man and made him his right hand man.

A RARE BREED
General Robert Edward Lee, the exceptional commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia during the American Civil war, was known as a man of integrity. It is widely reported that he was asked to be the President, in name only, of an insurance company where he could earn as much as $10,000 regularly; he declined and said he would never take wages for a job he had not done. It was this same General Lee who President Abraham Lincoln, having heard about his integrity, offered the Command of the entire Union Army in 1861. Lee declined because he felt he had to stand with his home state of Virginia which was seceding from the Union despite his entreaties to them to desist from doing so.

What I want you to see here is that integrity is a major factor in the rise of the transformational leader. Very few people are born in positions of power, the majority of us have to work our way up there and integrity will play a massive role in it. For example, in the Bible, one of the reasons for which Daniel was promoted, like Joseph, was for his integrity (see Daniel 6:1-4), King Darius needed a man of integrity, just like Belshazzar before him, and Nebuchadnezzar before him.
Joseph’s first boss, Potiphar, discovered that he was a person of integrity and so he left everything he had in Joseph’s care (see Genesis 39:6), he evidently saw the transformational leader in the man.

Afterwards, the governor of the prison made the same discovery, and did the same thing (see Genesis 39:22-23). In like manner Pharaoh, who according to tradition was not the most decent man, picked Joseph as his prime minister on the very first day he saw him face to face (see Genesis 41:40).
There is one thing I am sure about, no thief wants another thief to steal from him; everybody, good or bad, wants someone they can trust. Integrity breeds trust, and for the transformational leader to have anyone to transform he must first be trusted. This trust will make those that are his superiors favorably disposed towards him.

Joseph was a model of the transformational leader. John Eddison said “And surely this is what people always want of their leaders, whether political, military or ecclesiastical. They are suspicious of the very clever, they mistrust the very charming and they dislike the ambitious; but if they know a man is transparently honest in his personal and official life, they are more than content”. This can also be applied to what a person wants from his subordinates. Hitler mistrusted most of his associates but trusted Hess because of his integrity. Hess might not have been a transformational leader but the point I want you to see is that integrity can bring you to a place of prominence, and this place of prominence is where the transformational leader should get to if his influence will increase.

A LEADER IS FAITHFUL AND DEPENDABLE

There was also another part of Joseph’s character that is worth mentioning. This is the faithfulness that the man exhibited. There was nothing that was placed in his charge that failed, and this is worthy of mention. The transformational leader is a faithful person; we find this trait of the transformational leader in Joseph when he was asked by his father to check on his siblings (see Genesis 37: 12-17), despite the fact that he didn’t enjoy the company of his brothers, and he didn’t immediately see them where he had expected them to be, he went on to search for them regardless of the difficulties involved in the search.

He did this because he had to “bring back word” to his father.
He delivered all that Potiphar, the prison governor, and Pharaoh asked of him and he was not found wanting. This reminds me a lot of the great King of Israel, David; David was sent to take care of his father’s sheep and when a lion and a bear came to eat them he put his life on the line to protect them (see 1 Samuel 17:34-35). David’s father also sent him to his siblings, but in this case it was to send them supplies and provisions; David made sure the sheep he was taking care of were adequately catered for (see 1 Samuel 17:17-20), then he went down to the camp where his soldier brothers were and made sure he left the supplies with the supply keeper before he went anywhere else.
The transformational leader does not allow what is committed into his hands fail. He is both dependable and trustworthy.

As we continue our journey into transformational leadership I’ll be looking forward to hearing from you, and reading your comments.

The Targeted Life: Success Secrets From Three Wise Little Creatures

One of the things I like most about nature is that it has a way of aptly describing some of the most profound principles that guide human life and existence. Principles such as Focus for example.
Even a cursory look at the outdoors reveals many ethics and conventions that are hiding in plain sight; ethics and conventions that are imperative for success.
These principles of success are apparent to all who will take even a desultory look.

I remember growing up and how I used to marvel at lines of ants transporting food from place to place. The level of focus they would show as they moved in unbroken lines heading toward their target. I would see how an insect or small animal would be dismembered with success within minutes by hordes of ants who would instantaneously transfer each bit to other ants through the line until it disappeared through one hole or the other.
I would see how those ants will give their complete focus and attention to the unfortunate prey as they ripped it apart with unwavering accuracy before carrying a portion of the booty and disappearing through a crevice.

I am told that an ant has 250,000 brain cells. It sounds like very much till you compare it with the number of brain cells the average human being is said to have- 10,000,000,000. This would mean it would take something like the brain capacity of a colony of 40,000 ants to produce the equivalent in one human being.
They obviously don’t have the mental capacity of a person but they still have enough sense to know to prepare for the future by investing and working today. They have enough sense to know that everyday is not summer and that one day winter will come, and with this knowledge they focus on accomplishing their objective.

I never saw an ant standing on one spot
I never saw an ant spending more time than was appropriate in interactions with other ants…it was almost always that silent conversation, “Oh, hello, how do you do? See you…” and he was off.

Ants have no rulers or guides, they have very little bureaucracy, and do not have many board meetings, yet they are able to accomplish a lot and prepare for moments of lack with success because of their unbridled diligence, focus and immense foresight. That one tiny ant you could just crush if you stepped on is said to be able to carry anywhere between ten to fifty times it’s weight. Think about a man who weighed 70 kilos carrying weights between 700 and 3,500 kilograms.
Amazing.

Ants also wear a natural armored suit. I understand that scientists call the hard, outer shell of an ant “chitin.” This armor is designed to protect them from a hostile environment and contribute to their strength. In a world where “wolves” will gobble anyone who shows vulnerability and weakness this is something we must learn from the ant. Life won’t give you an easy ride, and there is an abundance of mean people all ready to take advantage of those that lag behind the herd. The ant shows us how tough we must be if we will not only adapt to but also overcome a world which is largely belligerent and postures itself in a way inimical to any show of fragility or enervation. If we will make a success of our lives and endeavors there are one or two things we can learn from this little creature.

In just observing ants one can see how judiciously they use any opportunities that open up to them and just how resourceful they are, never letting anything go to waste.
The unfortunate insect or small animal that falls and remains in a place will have only moments before an ant sniffs it out and sends word to its companions. With untrammeled focus the ants will come in droves and pick apart their prey until there is absolutely nothing left.
In the observation of their general lifestyle one can delineate these principles that are so critical that they are fundamental to the very term success.

Another creature worth our observing is the locust. We can learn a lot from this insect on success and the principles that undergird it. Locusts are leaderless insects but they strip the field like an army regiment.
A single locust is hardly noticeable. In fact, by itself, a locust is harmless and insignificant. But when locusts travel together they become an entirely different proposition.
This principle of “joint effort” is described in the Bible in Ecclesiastes 4:9. The writer tells us that “two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.” In other words, there is strength in numbers.

The modern world refers to this phenomenon as “synergy” and many have used the following equation to define or express this concept:

1 + 1 + 1 = 4

With synergy, the sum of the parts is greater than the individual parts alone.
I will digress a bit…
I remember seeing a piece where wild geese and their behavioral patterns were being assessed; I was made to understand that a flock of geese in formation will fly 75% further than a single goose would.
I am also told that where the average donkey has the ability to pull two tons of weight alone two donkeys yoked together have the capacity to pull twenty two tons of weight.
That is the geometric progression that synergy offers.
Success is a product of several factors, and one of them is synergy.

You might have heard the popular adage, “No one’s an island,” if we will apply what we learn from the locusts and every other one of the animals we have mentioned it will be easy to accomplish very much, attain success, and get the best out of this short window we call life.

Another creature that gets my attention is the spider.
Spiders are phenomenal creatures. I have never seen any physical location so intimidating that they would not be able to make an audacious attempt to string together a web in. They will spin it in a shanty, and will not pass up the opportunity to do so in a palace.
For a spider every situation, every place, every environment is the same. The spider doesn’t seem to think there is any location he is undeserving of, give him the slightest opportunity and you can rest assured he will maximize it.
Watching a T.V interview of Zhang Xin, the 50 year old billionaire real estate mogul and the richest woman in China, who was born in extreme poverty in rural China the spider came to my mind.
When asked what one thing she would advise anyone who intended to toe her path to success she said, “When you see an opportunity, grab it.”
This seems to be how the spider thinks.

One other thing I like about the spider is the fact that it engages only on its own terms. The spider can trap insects and other animals that are between four and five times its weight. It does this and immobilizes its prey before, depending on the specie of spider, liquifying it.
The spider does not do this by allowing its prey dictate the terms of engagement, it does this by determining the terms of engagement; bringing its prey into its web. When it does this it fights from a position of strength and not from one of weakness.
This should be how we approach life if we want to make a success of it.
Face adversities and situations with boldness and use that knowledge and skill that is available to you.

In a sense, when I think of the spider I remember a quote from George Bernard Shaw.
He said, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world, the unreasonable man adapts the world to himself. For this reason, all change is dependent on the unreasonable man.”
I find that people who will live a fulfilled life and have the level of success they intend to will have to live their lives bucking the trend.
To be outstanding we must be ready to stand out from the crowd, and to stand out we must be willing to do what the crowd is unwilling to. We must take the road less travelled and swim against the tide of public opinion.

One thing that is consistent with everyone of the aforementioned creatures is their focus.

There is no discount on the price tag of success