By Kayode Olatuyi – The debate on the question of whether it is possible for people to give what they don’t have has been one sided. The general consensus has been that – No, people can’t give you what they do not have”. I am here to say “Yes, people can give you what they do not have! Let me explain…
Yesterday, I listened to a conversation between my two teenage sons. I do not know what their conversation was about but I heard my older son say, “I can’t imagine him saying that. He has not done it himself so how does he want me to believe that it is okay? He can’t possibly give what he does not have”. Then the younger turned to me to ask “Dad can somebody give you something he does not have?”
I was delighted at being presented with another golden opportunity to enlighten the youngsters about another well-intentioned but often misinterpreted and misleading conventional wisdom. This wisdom has been the undoing for a lot of people. It is a concept that I have ruminated over for a long time. I now hope to highlight the dangers inherent in having such a mindset.
My mission here is to shed lights on how the phrase and particularly the word ‘give’ is misinterpreted and misused. The direct and ordinary meaning of the saying is that I cannot give you £100.00 if I do not have that amount myself. However, this saying is not interpreted in the ordinary and direct sense. It is used in the sense that only Richard Branson can teach you how to run a successful business; only Roger Federer can teach you to play tennis; only Elvis Presley can teach you to compose songs etc.
Whereas it is true that only a Physicist can teach me physics, and a surgeon can teach me to dissect an animal, it is important for me to remind you that life is not technical matter, rather it is emotional and by that fact fact does not comply with simple and straight forwards rules.
Moreover, success is more about behaviours than skills. To this end, people may not be able to teach you skills they do not have but they can teach behaviour they do not have. AA was founded by alcoholics who wanted to teach people to have control over alcohol.
Many people follow this advice to their own detriment. Perhaps it is safe to conclude that the originator of this saying meant well but he/she has often been quoted out of context. As a career mentor, I have seen people miss out just because they hold the less than direct interpretation of the saying. Many people often refuse to ask for help from somebody who they consider as not having what they want.
A few years ago, a prospective client came into my personal development bookshop to buy a book. She picked up and inquired about Napoleon Hill’s masterpiece ‘Think and grow Rich’. With excitement I said “if you read and follow the principles in that book, you will become truly rich in under 10 years”. She asked “have you read it and how long ago?” To which I replied, “I read it over ten years ago”. She then asked the clincher “are you a millionaire then?” I answered “Not yet”. She dropped the book right there, turned and walked out saying “it obviously does not work!” She completely forgot to ask me whether I had followed the principles.
In another example, recently, a lady told me that she cannot take relationship advice from another lady who has had a marriage breakdown. When I questioned the premise of her decision, she replied, “Because what I want is how to have a great relationship”. What she forgets is that the lady may have been so pained by her experience that she wishes other women learn from her experiences.
These ladies are well schooled in the convention that says ‘if she does not have it she can’t give it’. Unfortunately, these people overlook the important factors – care, awareness and the patience. People do not necessarily ‘give’; they equip, enable and support others to get what they want.
One, an important element in this dynamics is the duty of care. Does this person care enough to support your ambition to get whatever it is that you desire? It needs be emphasized that ‘it is not about one giving to the other; it is about one helping the other to get things’. “The truth is, people don’t give but they can enable and support you to get if they care”.
Anyone who has ever watched kids at play will testify to this fact. I once witnessed one little boy climbed onto his brother’s shoulders to pick a ball from on top of a high shelf when the mother refused to let them have it. Imagine if they had waited until mummy was willing to oblige them?
Awareness is also a big factor. Do the supporters have the awareness of what is at stake? Do they have any forward thinking attitude regarding the matters at stake? Do they have any experience in this area? What mistakes did they make that stopped them from achieving similar goals?
The secret for getting anything is not only by looking for those who have it, but also by looking for people who care, are aware and are supportive enough, to help you get it.
Often those who have it neither have the patience nor the care to help you get it, much less give it to you. And many who have it do not even know how to teach it. The notion that only millionaires can help you become a millionaire is false.
My parents never went to school, but somehow knew the value of education and toiled through rain and hailstorm to pay for my education. Imagine if Serena and Venus Williams had refused the mentoring of their father (Richard) – because he never won any tennis championship. Imagine if Susan Boyle had refused to come on BGT because Simon’s album never topped the charts.
Everybody who crosses your path has something to teach you towards the achievement of your goals. Jettison the idea that only millionaires can make you rich. Often look for the care quality: Do they care? Do they believe in you? Once you are sure this is the case, then you are on the right path to recruiting another great member into your fighting army.