Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Yesterday evening, after closing from work and on my way home, I met an old friend. He was so happy and elated to see me. We were chatting about life and what he is currently doing. A few minutes before he alighted from my car, he told me this “ Do you remember the message you shared with me on “how not to negotiate on an empty stomach”? It has kept me away from trouble and kept me focused. Thank you so much sir”. Such conversations always leave me happy for the rest of the day! For me, one of the things that excite me is the testimony of a changed life

Will you please permit me to share with you what I shared with this friend a few months ago? I have shared this in a few meetings /seminars and the result has been the same – people wish that I shared it earlier before they took some decisions in their lives. One Professor of Medicine came to me the 1st time I shared this and said “That was powerful. I was so blessed. I wish I heard this 1 week ago. I just finished a negotiation, and after hearing you, I am sure I could have done better”. Okay, let’s see what I am talking about

Every single second of the day, we are all involved in negotiations. You may not realize it, but you are involved in thousands of both formal and informal negotiations everyday. We are all product of negotiations. You wouldn’t be here in this world if there was no negotiation between your mum and your dad! If you got up from your bed today (and I bet you did), your were involved in a negotiation. You had a choice to continue in bed but you gave up this “pleasure” for something.
We are all product of negotiations. You wouldn’t be here in this world if there was no negotiation between your mum and your dad!
In negotiations, you give up what you have to get what you want. Someone has time and needs money. Another have money and needs time invested to do a work. Negotiation takes place when they each give what they have to get what they want.

Negotiations are very important because they determine your future. There are several negotiations taking place that has a direct effect on your future. Infact, the quality of your life tomorrow is dependent on the negotiations you are making today. While going through my notes earlier in the week, I came across a negotiation I read about and studied some years ago and the lessons I learnt from this account. This negotiation is documented in the holy creed. Can you spare a moment to read it?
“And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die; and what profit shall this birthright do to me?”
This verse is very rich. Here, a negotiation took place. Very informal negotiation. Right in the family compound. But with far reaching consequences. Esau, the older of the twins in question had gone hunting earlier in the day and returned home with nothing to show for it. Jacob on the other hand was at home and he had cooked a stew. Now, Esau returned home hungry. He needed food. He had the birthright. Jacob had food. He needed the birthright. So, a negotiation proposal was put forward by Jacob. What a proposal it was.

From this negotiation account, there are very vital lessons to learn

1. Do Not negotiate on an empty stomach

Avoid negotiating when you are hungry or tired. It put’s you at a disadvantage. Many great footballers had sold their future to their managers by signing contracts when they were “hungry”. For a young man coming from a club in Africa paying him $1000 a month, a juicy contract of $10,000 a month in Europe sounds too good to be true. Without studying the contract papers, he puts pen to paper immediately only to find out he had sold his future to his agent/manager. He negotiated on an empty stomach. He will realize later in future what a terrible negotiation he had made. A young girl who is “hungry” for a job negotiates away her virginity only to realize the colossal loss. What a shame.

2. Do Not Underestimate what you have

I said earlier on, that in negotiations, you give what you have to get what you want. In the story we are considering, Jacob simply underestimated the value of what he had. He had the birthright and the blessings associated with it. However, it meant nothing to him. His value system was wrong. According to him, stew was much more valuable than his birthright! Before you point accusing fingers at Esau, how is your value system? Are you underestimating what you’ve got? Do you value your skills and talents?

3. Do Not “overvalue” your problem

There is no problem that you currently have that is peculiar to you. The worst damage you can do to yourself when you are negotiating is to over value your problem. Look at what Esau said “ …I am about to die…” The truth is that that was far from the truth. He wasn’t about to die. Worse case, he had missed breakfast and lunch for that day. There is no way that can equal “near death”. He was overestimating his situation. No wonder he couldn’t negotiate down. Listen to some people talk about their problem/situation and you will know they are magnifying the problem. During negotiations, you will have the advantage when you learn not to overstate your problem

4. Negotiate Down

In the above negotiation, Esau didn’t do anything to negotiate Jacob’s offer down. He could have at least tried. If I were in his shoes, I would have tried negotiating for dinner for the rest of my life if I needed that food that badly. At least, dinner for the rest of his life in exchange for the birthright (though still a foolish choice) would have been a far better deal that just a one time stew. Beat the offer down. Negotiate down.
Winners do today what others won’t do, in order to have tomorrow what others won’t have.
5. Negotiate for the Future

Whatever you do, please negotiate for the future. Don’t only look out for what you will gain/lose in the immediate present. Look out for the future. What will be the consequence of the negotiation you are doing doing now on your future. Friends, I have since realized that the future is less expensive than the present. It makes a lot of sense to buy the future now. It pays to negotiate for the future now than later. A friend once told me how he spent his 1st salary of 70,000 naira. He invested 35,000 to buy a sophisticated phone and 35,000 to buy IBTC shares. He took a stock of both purchase 4 years after. The phone he bought was stolen 3 months after. The shares he bought is now worth over 250,000! Buy the future. Negotiate for the future. Winners do today what others won’t do, in order to have tomorrow what others won’t have.

In the negotiation we are looking at, it was like nothing happened afterwards. Negotiation completed. Both parties went their separate ways. However, the result of that negotiation that took place in the family compound had far reaching consequences. Esau sold his birthright….his blessings. He later sought for it with tears, but it was too late. He sold out his future while enjoying the present. Winners will rather forfeit a prefect present in order to create a perfect future. Do you want to be one?


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

2009 Vs You - What's The Score At Half Time?

One of the most unimportant statistics in a football match is the score at half time. I remember watching the final match of the Confederation Cup last weekend. The United States team was two goals up by the break. If the game had ended then, they would have been champions by now, and for the next 1 year. All that changed in the second half when the almighty Brazil scored 3 great goals to win the tournament. Last night, the half time whistle for this year sounded on all of us! The referee has called for a time out, and it provides a wonderful opportunity to review the strategies of the first half, and decide if we will still continue with it, or make some changes.
One of the most unimportant statistics in a football match is the score at half time
Every new day, new month, or New Year, provides us with an opportunity to start again, but more intelligently. Today presents such wonderful opportunities. It is a great opportunity to look back at the last 6 months and evaluate how far, or how not far, we have gone. I encourage you to take time out in the next few days to do a thorough evaluation of the last 6 months. I can predict to you what will happen at the end of the year if nothing changes now. You will get exactly the same results that you have got in the last 6 months! Remember the definition of insanity. It is “doing the same thing in the same way, and expecting a different result”. My question to you as you read this is – do you like the results coming your way in the last 6 months? Are you satisfied with the level of success you have enjoyed in the 1st half of the year? If your answer is NO, then, something needs to change in the 2nd half. Once this happens, the result at half time will be immaterial.

Take Stock

May I encourage you to balance your account for the last 6 months? Take stock of the important things in your life. How have well have you done in your relationship with God? How well is your finance doing versus your budget? Are you making considerable progress? Sometime earlier in the week, I took stock of my spending/expenses for the last 6 months. I was humbled. I saw areas where I didn’t believe I was spending as much as I was doing. One of the smartest ways to progress in life, is to take stock at intervals. That’s what a smart football team does at halftime.
Remember the definition of insanity. It is “doing the same thing in the same way, and expecting a different result”.
Focus on your strength

When people evaluate themselves in this part of the world, there is a great tendency to always focus on their weaknesses. Let me explain using this example. If you have a child that came home with the following scores - English Language (85%), Mathematics (92%), Physics (87%), Biology (50%) and Chemistry (90%)- which subject teacher are you likely to recruit for him/her soonest? My guess is that you will be recruiting the best Biology teacher in town to help your ward become “all rounder” by improving his/her Biology scores. This may be far from being right! While I am not advocating that you close your eyes to obvious opportunities in your life, I am insisting that you should also place close attention to your strengths. In the example above, the ward in question can go on and become the best engineer we have ever seen, without improving much in his/her Biology scores! What are the things you did so well in the 1st half of the year? What are the things that brought you’re the best results? Plan to focus on them and repeat them, even in a better way, in the 2nd half of the year.

Improve on your opportunities

Like I said earlier, I am not asking you to close your eyes to your opportunities. You will need to do something about them too. Write down somewhere the list of things that didn’t go your way in the 1st half of the year. Write down the things that didn’t work so well. What are you going to do about them? What skills are you going to acquires to do better? What relationships are you going to cultivate to improve in those areas? What seminars are you going to attend to bridge the knowledge gap? What habits are you going to bade farewell to in order to reach your goals? My advice is that you pick 1-2 opportunity areas that you want to focus on and deal with them squarely.

Adjust Your Sail

Have you ever wondered what goes on in the dressing room at half time? Anyone who has played a team game will remember those half-time discussions with the coach when things have gone badly and everything depends on going back out for the second half and turning the game around. It’s like being on the sea during a stormy weather. Survival depends largely on how well you can adjust your sails accordingly. Sometimes, you change strategies in the dressing room. Sometimes you change people or players. Sometimes you change the pattern of play. Sometimes, you just motivate the people to use the same strategy in a better way. Eventually, for any change to be effected in the 2nd half, something has to change in the dressing room. Do you need to change your strategies? Maybe it’s your association that needs to change. Maybe it’s just down to your attitude. Adjust your sails accordingly

Be Thankful

Many times, we think about the things we do not have and forget to appreciate God for the things we have. Someone who doesn’t have a car yet is angry. He is not thankful that he a pair of legs to walk! He is taking the ability to walk for granted! Someone is angry that he doesn’t have a job yet. He should be thankful at least that he has an opportunity to go to school and get a degree. I know you are behind on your dreams and your goals but be thankful for the ability to dream in the 1st place! Don’t forget the many things that the good Lord has done for you. He gave you life, and that alone is worth every other thing in the world. Count your many blessings. Don’t discount them! When you learn to thank God for what he has done, you compel him to do what is left. Have a thankful heart.

As we begin the 2nd half of this year, I comment you to the hand of his Grace. May the almighty God add the “extra” to your “ordinary”, so it becomes “extraordinary”. Remember that you have another opportunity to start again- albeit, more intelligently. All your sins/mistakes/errors of the 1st half of the year are hereby forgiven. Go and sin no more!