I want to once again thank Pastor Godman Akinlabi for giving me the opportunity to speak from this elevated pulpit this morning. I am billed to address all three services today. I suspect it is Pastor Godman’s bid to turn me into a pastor.
My approach to the three services is simple. We shall simply break our knowledge continuum into three parts. That way, each service can access a different aspect of the knowledge. If you want to get all three parts, please visit the tape ministry of the church.
This is the Enterprise Development Month of Elevation Church. I have titled my lecture, 7 Kilograms of Thought, One Man Named Adam and Sundry Business Knowledge. In this service you will learn the following:
- Risk-taking and the fear factor
- The importance of systems and procedures
- The two dimensions of business enterprise
- Dealing with business difficulty
- Common mistakes in business
- Effective business leadership
Our text is found in the Book of Genesis. Genesis is the beginning of all things. It has salient principles embedded. These principles have ramifications for all dimensions of human existence. The law of first mention is at play. Not surprising therefore, business principles are embedded in Genesis.
Now, in the 26th verse of the 1st chapter of this book called Genesis, we are introduced to the concluding minutes of an ideation session that took place at an unascertainable time in an unascertained location. Because of the personalities involved, it might even have taken place outside of time.
Jesus being the creative agency of the Godhead had come up with an idea to create a new species called “Man”. This creature would be higher than animals but made a little lower than angels. He would not have the full capacity of angels. He cannot fly for instance.
Having bounced the idea off God the Father and worked out the modalities with the Spirit, there was an agreement to create “man.” Different specifications were thrown up but after some deliberation on creation in general, it was agreed that the new species should have a differentiating factor. That he should be made in the image and likeness of God, hence, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” (Genesis1:26) This scripture suggests previous discussions and deliberations. The issue of dominion was part of the debate.
So here was an idea called Adam. There was the conceptualization phase, there was the development phase, and then the launch. The idea was launched.
There are too many people with brilliant ideas who never move to launch. They’ve done all the thinking, even written the business plan, but they won’t take that final step and launch. If you don’t make a commitment to launch, you won’t launch.
Failure to launch is sometimes caused by laziness – emotional and intellectual laziness. You just can’t be bothered, or don’t want to bother, or don’t want to be bothered. For some people it’s as a result of fear – fear of failure: What’s the guaranty the business will succeed? And so they become scared of the consequences of failure. They take on the mentality of the 3rd servant in the Parable of Talents, the one who didn’t want to take any risk.
Amazingly some people are scared of success. They’re comfortable where they are, with what they have. They don’t want extra. That’s like greed to them. Give me neither riches nor poverty they say. And some don’t want to risk their social security. They don’t want to risk the possibility of shame.
Many don’t commit however because they don’t want to pay the price for what it would take to succeed. They’ll rather not get involved in that level of investment, especially after a certain age.
But life has ways of forcing us to do things. We’re sometimes forced to launch by life’s circumstances. When we get sacked, or retrenched, rationalized, nationalized, disengaged, terminated, advised to leave or whatever euphemistic term is currently in vogue…then we dust up our idea, get off our butt and launch an amazingly successful business career.
If you want to start you must commit to launch. There has to be a cut-off date. Then you work things backward. But first you sit down and count the cost. What will it take? No king goes to war without counting the cost. COMMIT to launch but count the cost.
Let’s look at the potential of an idea.
You see, if an idea can generate a hundred dollars, chances are it can generate a million dollars, even a billion dollars. Embedded in ideas is an enterprise protocol. For the idea called Adam it was, “Be fruitful and multiply”. That turned Adam into an enterprising idea. To tell you how enterprising Adam was, upon setting eyes on Eve he started wooing her immediately – “Bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh…” (Now you know where men learnt toasting from). He took the initiative, calling Eve woMAN, appending her with his name. That was the way they said “Mrs. Adam” in those days. My wife would be called wo-ALDER were we in the days of Adam! Adam was fast, smooth and smart. He was very enterprising. He knew what he wanted, he knew what he needed, and he went for it. God never instructed Adam to mate with Eve. He produced Cain and Abel of his own initiative.
The proof of enterprise is the taking of initiative. If you can’t take initiative, you can’t be enterprising; and your business won’t multiply. It won’t attain its potential. Neither will you.
When things are tough you just can’t sit down, groaning and moaning, feeling sorry for yourself. Mental and emotional toughness are a requisite for business success. I know we condemn Adam a lot, and not a few people would want to fight him in Heaven, but he had some admirable qualities. I’ve highlighted some. He was tenacious for instance. Do you know that Adam named his wife “Eve” in the midst of all his troubles? He named her Eve smack after the curses. Even in trouble he kept his vision. Eve means mother of all living: mother of mankind. He still had a vision of multiplication in the midst of troubles. In fact he ramped things up. And those troubles were considerable. The landlord just chased them out. They just moved from VI to Bariga. The future was uncertain and they now live in a flat. But he kept his vision. It’s in the time of trouble that you ramp up your determination. You have to maintain focus.
I’m asking you this morning, Do you want to moan and groan, or do you want to succeed? Do you want to feel sorry for yourself or do you want to move on? You’ve got to keep pushing. You’ve got to keep dreaming. You’ve got to keep believing. Call a customer. Go and make a sale. Keep moving. Just keep moving. The opportunities are there. You’re just not asking the right questions. What demographic segment is not being served in your industry? Who is serving his customers badly? Can things be done cheaper and the savings passed on to the customer? This gives you market share. Can the product be unbundled to present a cheaper, slimmed down version to attract new customers? Can other things be bundled with the product to give more value? You’ve got to keep thinking. Follow the money. Can you create a service trail to the money? Can you make more from your existing customers? When last did you introduce a new product, or add a new feature to your product or service? When last did you visit the customers to ascertain their needs and wants? The environment is shifting. Technology is radicalizing service. Are you adapting to technology? Are you adopting technology? You have to be enterprising, to keep thinking, to keep coming up with ideas.
Sometimes people get intimidated about approaching a big corporation with ideas. There’s the fear of an inglorious executive stealing the idea. But an enterprising person finds a solution to this challenge. Yes, an organization may be big but it is made up of humans. There’s always someone who knows someone. An organization may have systems and formalities that make penetration impossible but there’s always a breach in the wall. Like David, you must go up the water duct to capture Jerusalem. If you’re enterprising you’ll find the water duct. If you’re determined you’ll breach the wall.
You can’t attain dominion without being enterprising. Pray all you can, fast all you can, go for night vigils, go on pilgrimage… If you’re not enterprising you can’t attain dominion.
Let me show you something else in scriptures.
Genesis 1:26 reads in part: “And God said, Let us make man…”
Now some people imagine that God just took some clay, sculpted something in five minutes and said “Shazam!”, and that was it! Have you ever asked yourself why God used clay? When you study science you’ll realize why. Clay has the ability to concentrate minerals. It’s not really about the clay but its concentrate capability. Now, science tells us those minerals, the ones from which man was made actually came from exploded supernovae. Only a supernova can generate the type of heat necessary to convert hydrogen into heavy elements like silicon. Hydrogen came from helium and helium was abundant in the early phase of the creation of the universe science tells us. Your body is a concentrate of minerals. It’s made up of Oxygen, Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Calcium, Phosphorous, Potassium, Sulfur, Sodium, Chlorine, Magnesium, Iron, Fluorine, Zinc, Silicon, Rubidium, Strontium, Bromine, Lead, Copper, Aluminum, Cadmium, Cerium, Barium, Tin, Iodine, Titanium, Boron, Selenium, Nickel, Chromium, Manganese, Arsenic, Lithium, Mercury, Cesium, Molybdenum, Germanium, Cobalt, Antimony, Silver, Niobium, Zirconium, Lanthanum, Tellurium, Gallium, Yttrium, Bismuth, Thallium, Indium, Gold, Scandium, Tantalum, Vanadium, Thorium, Uranium, Samarium, Tungsten, Beryllium and Radium. 60 minerals. In other words, you’re a walking Periodic Table. I honestly believe the Periodic Table should be taught in children’s church.
The point I’m trying to make is that Adam was not a whimsical happenstance. He was a well-planned creative sequence. The Hebrew word for the making of Adam is “asah”. It means to work, to labour, toil, create, make, construct, build, to accomplish, to procure, to acquire, to sacrifice, to constitute, to keep, to handle, to squeeze… Does the creation of Adam seem like shazam to you now?
If the Almighty God with all his capabilities put himself through all this just to bring his idea to function, even doing procurement, how can we then imagine that we can get away with shazam and laziness? You know Pentecostal shazam is the belief that you can become a millionaire without hard work. Just sow! But what is God going to channel the blessing through if you have no job or business?
Creation, any creation is hard work. Just to make us appreciate the amount of effort involved in creation God took a symbolic rest on the seventh day. We know God cannot get tired. He that keepeth Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps. But he consecrated a day of rest; because he expects us to work like him, only we get tired.
Enterprise creation takes a lot. In Proverbs 24:3, the Bible says “Any enterprise is built by wise planning, becomes strong through common sense, profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts.”
So there’s planning involved, strategic planning; there are common sense moves too; then you must be up to date with the latest trends and equipped with relevant statistics. But notice that it says an enterprise is built. You BUILD a business, one stone after the other. It’s like a house. No business succeeds overnight.
Let’s go into the garden.
Let’s take another look at the botanical construct called the Garden of Eden.
We often talk of the Garden of Eden as if it’s Aunty Flora’s backyard garden. But the Bible says a river went out of Eden to water the garden. A river can’t flow into Aunty Flora’s garden. All the roses will be submerged, including Aunty Flora’s house!
The Garden of Eden was a huge outlay. It had a very significant number of trees. From Ezekiel 31 we know there were fir trees and chestnut trees in the garden.
The Garden of Eden was an arboretum. An arboretum is a place where trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants are cultivated for educational and scientific purposes. In conception it was a natural history museum and school. Adam had a lot to learn – about himself, his environment, government, the social sciences, economics, physics, chemistry, biology, cosmology, his Creator and his creation. He could see Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn in the sky. These planets are visible to the naked eye. And don’t forget the sky was very clear in those early days. The stars were bright! He would have had questions no doubt, the same kind of questions we ask today. What was the purpose of his creation? Who is God? Are there extraterrestrial intelligences out there? Why was he the only being for billions and billions of miles in every direction? That must have been scary and wondrous.
The destiny of the human race was decided by trees. According to Genesis 2:9, there were four classes of trees in the Garden of Eden. The first set were trees pleasant to the sight – beautiful trees; the second set were trees designated for food; then there was the tree of life in the midst of the garden; and then the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The last two trees were unique and singular. They were special purpose vehicles (SPV).
There were three partnerships established in the earliest chapters of the Book of Genesis. The first partnership was a partnership between God, God and God. God structured a partnership with himself in his capacity as Elohim. Elohim is the plural noun of God. When God said, “Let us make man in our image and after our likeness,” that was a testament of partnership.
The second partnership in the Garden of Eden was the creative collaboration between Adam and God in the naming of the animals. God created, Adam took care of branding.
The third partnership was the partnership of Adam and Eve.
Adam was appointed managing director of Eden Enterprises Plc. God essentially made him the god of this world. (Cf. Psalm 82:6-7, John 10:34, Romans13:1).
The first mistake Adam made was to allow a fifth columnist to pump information into his system. A fifth columnist is a secret sympathizer or supporter of an enemy. The Serpent was a fifth columnist, a saboteur. A corporate saboteur starts by questioning corporate policies; he wants to know what everyone is earning. He clandestinely alerts people to their “rights”. He’s the one analyzing unfair practices, the one spreading gist in the organization. He’s a gist gatherer too – wants to know who’s sleeping with who, who’s dating who. He makes friends with junior staff to access information. A fifth columnist whittles down the values of an organization, inciting rebellion, breeding distrust. Erosion of corporate values is the easiest way to destroy a corporation from within. And to think Adam was feeding the serpent! How do you pay someone to destroy your organization?
The Serpent starts a conversation with Eve to elicit information from her. “Did God tell you not to eat of EVERY tree in the garden?” Let me illustrate what he was doing.
Imagine that you won a contract through competitive bidding and an officer in the contract awarding company wants to find out what the value of the contract is. She’s out of the loop. She’ll start by saying that the money you charged is too high and quote an outlandish figure, say 200 million. You’ll be forced to correct the impression by saying it’s just 30m. You don’t want rumours spreading that you charged a ridiculous amount of money. That’s exactly what the Serpent did. He asked Eve, “Did God tell you not to eat of EVERY tree in the garden?” He makes an outlandish claim. Eve wasn’t thinking. How can God tell them not to eat of EVERY tree in the garden? So God made the fruits to rot? And how were they going to feed? Clearly the question was ridiculous and preposterous. But Eve fell for the bait. She failed to exercise wisdom and judgement.
Wisdom is important in the running of a business. You’ll avoid traps with wisdom. Consultants talk about strategy. They don’t talk about wisdom. It’s not “corporate”. Yet wisdom is important. Wisdom is the principal thing.
Apart from lack of wisdom, another challenge in the Garden of Eden was the fact that the public relations officer of Eden Enterprises, Executive Vice-President Eve, was famed for vague expressions. She was never specific, and she stretched things a little. In her discussion with the Serpent she could not specify which tree God told them not to eat. She just said God told them not to eat from the “tree in the midst of the Garden”, or even touch it. Which tree? And we know God never said don’t touch. That was just a little touch from Eve.
Details and specifics are important in business. Use precise data, especially in your presentations to clients. Shows you’re on top of your game, that you know what you’re talking about.
Don’t accept generalizations in the management of your business. Make sure your officers use specifics in their reports. We sold 200 gallons of diesel is not the same as “market is moving”. Numbers are important in business. Insist on figures. Without specifics you can’t plan, and you can’t project. Without specifics there’ll be suppositions and information gaps. And information gap leaves room for mischief. One of the ways to plug information gap is through management meetings. The most important meeting in the week is the management meeting. That’s when you review performance, obligations and prospects. And you must operate a documented system. Don’t say I have it in my head. A management meeting is not a test of photographic memory. Tabulate and document your reviews. Literally puts everyone on the same page. It’s more about systems and procedures than any other thing. Without systems and procedures you can’t access the multiplication protocol embedded in your business.
What if I’m a one-man business? It doesn’t matter! Do the review with yourself. Just like God did at the end of each day of creation. He assessed everything he was making at definitive intervals. Do the same. Do quarterly reviews.
What is amazing in all this is that Adam was right there when the conversation between Eve and the Serpent was taking place. Eve didn’t go home to give him the fruit. The Bible says she gave “also unto her husband with her.” Genesis 3:6.
Here was a boss who was a spectator in his own organization. He’s standing right there, saying nothing. The serpent took control. Adam behaved more like an employee than a boss. A young employee for that matter. And that was because he felt he didn’t have connections. The serpent was name-dropping, talking like someone in the know: “You will not die!” he said. He spoke like someone very familiar with God, like someone privy to certain secrets: “God knows if you eat this fruit your eyes will open and you’ll be like gods.” And Adam was intimidated. He felt he didn’t have political connection.
There are two dimensions to business enterprise development. There’s the business of the business and then the political dimension. Networking and contacts is the political dimension of business. It’s the major responsibility of the boss. Business is not always about what you know, but whom you know and who knows you.
You must attend to the political dimensions of your business. It’s why we join clubs, go to social events to mark register, attend dinners. Business decisions are often taken in such informal gatherings.
The political dimension is the most difficult aspect of business. It’s how you protect yourself as well.
From the narrative of the Bible, Adam came across as a weak leader who could not assert his authority over his underlings, his wife inclusive. He was a nice guy. But he failed the leadership test.
Leadership is not always pretty. Leaders take tough decisions. Leaders take unpopular decisions. Trying to be Mr. Nice is not leadership. A leader should be more interested in being respected than being liked. Leadership is not a popularity contest.
A leader must be decisive. A leader sets boundaries. And when boundaries are breached, reprimand must follow. A leader must be constant, fair and firm. This engenders appreciation.
But leaders are human too. They need friends at work, they make friends at work. And therein lies both the danger and the comfort. First, your friendship at work must not conflict with your work. And those who are particularly close to you must understand boundaries. They must also obey the rule that you don’t put those who love you in embarrassing situations. So they must perform! In fact, they must perform more. To whom much is given, much is expected.
But you must also guard your emotions. A male leader is particularly prone to the lapses of friendship at work. Remember that the antidote to Adam’s loneliness was a woman. And so men tend to look for female antidotes to the loneliness engendered by entrepreneurship. You have to be careful especially if all is not well at home. Proximity breeds relationship. Loyalty and commitment creates likability.
There are pragmatic protective steps you can take to prevent lapses. You may choose to have a policy of no knocking on your door, or an open door policy. Some CEOs do that. Create other protective protocols.
Married bosses must not allow their spouses to run rampage over the system. You’ll breed resentment in your staff. And you’ll create fear. You’ll lose good staff as well. Maintain professionalism.
As for married female entrepreneurs, the key is to create emotional boundaries between the office and the home. You can’t take the aggression of business home. And don’t forget you’re an underboss at home even though you’re a boss at work. You have to be wise; to learn how to carry your spouse along. You need peace to function effectively.
And with that we come to the end of our second lecture this afternoon. I wish you the best in your business endeavor.
Thank you and God bless!
Delivered at Elevation Church Lekki Phase 1, Lagos
Sunday, December 1, 2013
© Leke Alder | firstname.lastname@example.org