Author: Wale Akinyemi
 The Power of One

The Power of One

How many times have we heard the news of how one driver through his recklessness drove many to their untimely deaths? One person dropping a matchstick carelessly led to a wild fire in the United States destroying thousands of acres, rendering hundreds of people homeless and costing billions of dollars in damage. On the 28th of June 1914, one man pulled the trigger killing the heir to the Austria- Hungary throne sparking off what eventually led to World War 1 which claimed over 9 million lives. One man called Nick Leeson single handedly brought down Barrings bank which was the United Kingdom’s oldest investment bank and resulting in losses of over one billion dollars. We must never underestimate the power of one.

We have talked a lot about teams but we must never lose sight of the fact that teams are made up of individuals. It takes many ‘ones’ to make a team. The power of the team is determined by the power of the sum of the individuals. One person singing a discordant note in a choir can make the entire choir sound bad. One person playing off tune in an orchestra will make the orchestra sound bad.

Life is a stage and we are all players in the great orchestra. Your level of dexterity in playing your instrument (doing what you are supposed to do) will determine the applause and reward that life gives you as well as kinds of ‘instrumentalists’ that are attracted to you. It will ultimately determine the experience of life that you live.

As individuals we need to take time to focus on that one person called ME. As employers we need to remember that one person can ruin everything and so while we have broad policies for dealing with the staff as a whole, we must also have a mechanism for engaging with and connecting with the individual. As employees we need to remember that one person can and does make a difference.

As an individual how do we develop our power of one? First we must ensure that we are adding to ourselves by increasing our value. If you were appointed a manager or a director last year and your thinking is still at the level it was when you were appointed you are a truly endangered species. What got you the promotion is not what will keep you there. Your continued relevance is what will keep you and relevance is a function of development not a function of titles. What will sustain you and take you to the next level is that your thinking goes ahead to prepare the new level for you.  There are some things that were legal for you to complain about at a certain level but a time comes when complaining reveals your incompetence. As you grow you must begin to see yourself as that individual who can be a part of the problem or a part of the solution. You must have only two ways of thinking – prevent it or fix it.

This is the stuff that leadership is made of and unless you see yourself as a leader regardless of what your job description is, you will not amount to much. It is so important that we have the right perspective of ourselves. If you are a cleaner, see yourself as a leader – the benchmark for cleaning and while you are at it, be developing yourself for your next level. Whatever you are doing today, your relevance tomorrow will be determined by how well you exercise your power of one.

Finally, before you complain even about government, fix things in your own little government. Yes. In your sphere of influence.  We may not all have columns in the paper.  Our daily events may not be the news for the evening. We may not all receive accolades and awards. We may not all have titles to our name but we all have a fundamental right – the right to exercise our power of one and how we exercise it will determine how we will be remembered – as a warning or as an inspiration.   twitter@waleakinyemi​

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