Wednesday, January 02, 2013


Author, James Adonis

In the magnificent musical My Fair Lady, Eliza Doolittle is a poor girl with a ghastly accent and a terrible grasp of the English language who sells flowers on the streets for a living.  She meets Henry Higgins, a professor of phonetics, who makes a bet with a man named Colonel Pickering that he can turn the rough Eliza into a high-society lady of proper behavior.

During the next six months, Professor Higgins tries to teach Eliza how to speak and how to act – but his teaching style is abrasive.  He yells and insults her, calling her “infantile”, “brainless”, “wretched” and a “presumptuous insect”.  In contrast, Colonel Pickering, who’s present during the lessons, treats Eliza with kindness and compassion, with politeness and respect.  He expects the best irrespective of her background.

Eventually, Eliza nails it.  She becomes a lady admired by all, including the king and queen.  Of course, Professor Higgins takes the credit for the transformation.  But, as Eliza explains, the credit actually belongs to Colonel Pickering:

“The difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves but how she's treated.  I shall always be a flower girl to Professor Higgins because he always treats me as a flower girl, and always will.  But I know I shall always be a lady to Colonel Pickering because he always treats me as a lady, and always will.”

That story is a famous example of The Pygmalion Effect, which means people’s attitudes are often influenced by what their leader or teacher expects.  If a leader or teacher truly believes that every employee and student can be brilliant, then empirical research demonstrates that chances of behavioural change are substantially higher.

This research, pioneered by Dr Robert Rosenthal (a social scientist), revealed four key elements of The Pygmalion Effect, all of which are evident in the workplace.

Climate:   This represents mood.  If you’re like Professor Higgins, you’ll avoid eye contact, rarely smile or nod, and use condescending phrases.  But if you’re like Colonel Pickering, you’ll be genuinely focused, using positive words and open body language.

Input:   This represents information.  If you’re like Professor Higgins, you’ll share minimal knowledge to those you deem no-hopers and plenty to those you favour.  But if you’re like Colonel Pickering, everyone benefits from your teaching, clear instructions, and resources.

Output:   This represents responsiveness.  If you’re like Professor Higgins, you’ll provide opportunities only to those you admire.  But if you’re like Colonel Pickering, all employees have a chance to ask questions, to get involved, and to express what they think and feel.

Feedback:   This represents quantity and quality.  If you’re like Professor Higgins, you sparingly give praise unless it’s to someone you already respect.  But if you’re like Colonel Pickering, everyone is entitled to detailed feedback with fair amounts of praise and criticism.

You undoubtedly have expectations of the people in your team.  Those expectations subconsciously influence how you interact with them, and these interactions subsequently impact your employees’ behaviour and performance.  That’s why it’s so common for an employee’s attitude to be affected more by a leader’s attitude than anything else.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Welcome 2011

Slept and woke up 365 mornings; thank You
Hung(er) and had enough to eat at least 1095 times; thank You
Had my heart beat about 38 million times without getting weary; thank You
Had a pillow below my head and a roof over it; thank You

Headache's time eventually elapsed; thank You
Sored throat lingered and then smothered, thank You
Abdominal upsets raged but never forever; thank You
Every bodily pain was a sign of living; thank You

For payers answered; thank You
For whisperes that seemed to have gone unattended; thank You
For 2010 gone; thank You
For 2011 here; thank You LORD.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Nigeria @ 50: What Are We Celebrating?

I have attended several birthdays that the celebrant could not -if asked to- point fingers at a single achievement his entire life. But we all go ahead and bring cards and other gifts, cut and eat the cake with him and felicitate for a couple of hours. No one cares to ask, "So celebrant, what have you achieved in the last 30 years of your life that today is worth celebrating?" Haha, test yourself too, what was worth celebrating about your last birthday? It's not the case for everybody though...

But for those who really cannot point at a thing, all we are doing is celebrating their lives because we know in certainty that if there is still life there is still hope. Though the person might be a zero today he might be a hero tomorrow. I think it's worth it to celebrate the existence of Nigeria till today. Yes there is still poverty. Yes we still don't have basic amenities. Yes there has been a backward trend. Yes there is hostility and civil unrest. Yes a bomb blasted, killed and maimed people. Yes, it is one of the most corrupt countries in the  world... Nigeria is still alive and if people like you and I will contribute our quota, we will have the Nigeria of our dream. Someday.

Nigeria has not been ruling herself. It has been ruled by humans, our brothers. Your fathers and mine are the ones who made a mess of it. We celebrate those who misruled the country yet we don't see any sense in celebrating the resilience of the victim of tyranny. We should celebrate Nigeria and call the bluff of the corrupt leaders.

Nigeria has given us a place to call home. Nigeria has given us an identity. Nigeria has given us shelters oblivious of major natural disasters. Nigeria is rich in resources. Nigerians are poor but we are still one of the happiest people on earth. Nigeria has a future. Absolutely fantastic.

Happy anniversary Nigeria. Rejoice Nigerians...

Adeyemi Adeleye

Monday, August 16, 2010

Two Coaches

"Success on any major scale requires you to accept responsibility . . . . In the final analysis, the one quality that all successful people have is the ability to take on responsibility."
— Michael Korda
Editor-in-Chief, Simon & Schuster

I love football (and of course, basketball). I love it when a team plays entertaining football and of course, winning always leaves you with a cool feeling when it’s your team.
Coaches are certainly an important part of the game that we do not see so much of during the game like the players; except of course those that gymnastically gesticulate with as much vigor as the boys kicking the ball around. But because pressmen know how much a coach matters to the team they always try to get their opinion after each game. And many times, before the game.
I have listened to a number of post-game comments and I can classify what most coaches have to say after a defeat into two groups: One of them generally goes “…the boys refused to play according to instructions… and what you saw today is what happens when that occurs”. And the other, “we had a very bad day here today, we just couldn’t get ourselves right... we will go back to the drawing board and…”
The former coach is clearly letting us know that he knows his job and did it but the players were just stupid! The latter coach is saying we know our job but we didn’t seem to have done it well! The former coach is simply showing he is so good that all fingers should be pointed to the players while the latter is saying if anyone must die, kill me first.
No single raindrop believes it is responsible for the flood.
Many a time, we all behave like the blame-shifting coach who wants to appear to have perfectly played his role. “I am the coach and not the player.” We don’t want a share of the blame, “it was him- he completely jeopardized the team’s effort.” Worse still, we point fingers at our subordinates- those we are supposed to be leading. How silly!
When a leader shifts the blame to the follower he is simply saying “I’m not truly the leader, someone else is!” The coach that claims publicly his players didn’t play according to instruction is simply saying “I have no control over those boys; I ask them to do A, but they do B- I’m not in charge. I’m just a figure head!”
Leaders do not come out shifting the blame to their subordinates; they take responsibility for whatever happened. They accept the blame on behalf of the team even if they had played their role pretty well. Great leaders know this: the team wins together and losses together. When the coach says “we had a bad day”, he means “I led them and I led them wrong, I am the leader and I am at fault.” Great teams go directly at one another inside; but outside, they are a team.
I remember making a big blunder during my last full time job; I mean a big blunder. I played into the hands of a General Manager who was three positions (about 5-10 years work experience) above my direct boss. While the last I heard about that was when the General Manager made me realize I messed up, I know my boss had taken most and all of the heat. He may have even been tongue-lashed in the next management meeting for negligence but he kept all that away from me- maybe because he knew I realized the gravity of what I did. I respect you, Habila Amos!
The cool thing about the coaches that accept/share the blame for/with their team is that when it’s praise time they shower it –almost completely– on the team. When they are interviewed after a victory you hear things like “we all did our homework pretty well, the boys gave their all…” But our dear blame-shifter has just one same phrase too, however, in the opposite direction this time- “the boys strictly followed instruction and you can see the result for yourself.” Huh, infallible ultimate warrior!
Whenever we did great jobs for Habila that precipitated commendations from his bosses, we would always get the commendation forwarded to us and he tells you, “you did it, it’s your job.” Even in meetings he would not cease to sing your praise; men, that was an incentive to work harder! But he is never going to vilify you openly when you do wrong- that’s a private business.
So evaluate the kind of leader you have been? Are you taking responsibility or are you always denouncing your leadership when things go wrong? What kind of leader do you want to be? Is it the coach that points his finger outward when it’s bad and inward when it’s great? Or is it the coach that shares both the good and bad?

Yahoo! I just saw some grate examples of how we all play these coaches in Blame Shifter: Spineless Cousins of Shapelifters (

·         They spill a drink down the front of their top…. the server filled it too dang high!
·         They can’t afford something they’d like to have…. Obama! Bush! War! Wife!
·         A bad day at the office means that their co-workers are “losers” and the boss is a “jerk.”
·         A college exam didn’t go as well as hoped for…. stupid test!
·         Someone’s weight is out of control… it’s everyone’s fault except the one with the fork in their hand.
·         Their kids misbehave and/or talk back….  it’s all thanks to the school system, television, and the music they listen to.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Attraction is a response!

Living at the McLaughlin Reserve for over two months so far has brought me across some botanists and ecologists. Interesting enough, a lot of them are interested in plant-pollinator relationships. This is such an interesting topic because the relationship is so mutual one might not survive without the other.
One of the things I've learnt from them is while some plants are capable of self-propagation; the bulk of plants will only reproduce through cross-pollination. Besides, cross pollination increases genetic variation, and thus, survival.
In order to ensure cross-pollination, birds and insects (pollinators) are of utmost importance to plants, which would otherwise pay any amount to develop muscular limbs to be able to throw and catch pollen grains themselves. And to ensure the pollinators come around, the plants cook very tasty meals which the pollinators cannot resist- nectar. While having delicious nectary meals, the pollinators carry pollen grains from one plant to another- exactly what the plants need.
Different plants use different recipes for their nectar preparation hence it differs from one plant to another. The nature of the nectar determines what pollinator comes around. That is the power of choice the plants have- they choose who they want around by what they produce. That is the same power of choice you have- you choose whom you want around you by what you produce. People rarely just want to be your friend for no reason; they want to be your friend because they see in you what/who they want.
Like we all know, every lady had an idea the kind of guy she wants; just any guy wouldn't do. A guy also has an idea of the specifications he wants in his girl and he will do everything to get the one that meets them most. Equilibrium is when demand meets supply. Lol!
The kind of nectar you exhume determines the type of pollinators you attract! So just in case you are wondering why on earth you are surrounded by the kind of people that surround you, stop wondering; check inwards. And if you don't want the kind of people surrounding you, don't run away or chase them away, just change you. Attraction is not a choice, it is a response.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Ponder on This...

Dear All,

Trust today is going well!

The accompanying piece was sent in by a close friend (Adeyemi Adeleye)
and these ideas are really thought-provoking and inspiring.

Reminds me of a popular commercial that rode the airwaves last  year
and the year before it in Nigeria…

Ponder on them!

A baby is not thrown away for falling several times while starting to
walk. But learning is in fact, not limited to childhood: While many of
us learned to drive as early-privileged teenagers or late-privileged
adults, we definitely sucked so badly at first. We may have even
recorded near-fatal accidents all the name of learning to drive… So
why did you not just stop learning since it might kill?

Who ever thought humans can move at 65mph without going unconscious or
our blood freezing up with fright. In fact, speed breakers and speed
limits are today used to slow man down even though he was once
imagined not to be able to move fast at all. Who ever thought humans
could compete with the eagles in the air and beat the ‘natural kings
of the air’ to traveling speed and distance, despising gravity? Today
humans can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner in three different
continents if they so wish. Does the impossible really exist?

Like Walt Disney says: "It's kind of fun to do the impossible."

Let’s wrap it up:
That you sucked at starting it does not mean it is not meant for you.
It does not mean you cannot.
That men said it is impossible does not make it a no-go area.
Be like the bumble-bee, which totally ignorant of the laws of
thermodynamics, does not know its wings are too small to lift its body
size. In its ignorance it flaps its little wings like other well-built
insects and it does fly.
Be ignorant to the laws and principles that say ‘it is impossible’.
Set your targets, go for them… impossible does not exist.

For me, Impossible really is like the dinosaurs of the ages
past...perhaps only comfortable in our history and archives.

Step out of the hold of “Impossibility” and take charge of your
life...Steer your life to fulfillment!

(Culled from Ponder on This)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


“5 + 5 = 20” is not the type of mistake you expect from a graduate student who spent about a year learning pre-primary school Arithmetic, six years learning primary school-level Arithmetic, another six years learning secondary school Mathematics and having an A in WASSCE O-level, and an excellent year of university Mathematics, including Calculus. But such happens under examination conditions even though that is the time it just should not happen; not at all! I laughed at myself for days when I got a mid-term script and I had written that two fives will add up to twenty. I guess the other option would be to be mad at myself and for missing the answer but it is not the kind of question I cannot miss even if I just woke up from a nightmare. But I did.
We were (I think) to determine the total amount of nitrogen ions (or something) present in a water body pollutes by several species of nitrogen. My interpretation was spot on. The stoichiometry was without blemish. I had determined all the N-equivalent of all the species and just when I was to do the easiest part of the answering, my hand decided to be independent of my brain.
I’d let it go until today again something similar repeated itself: I have just missed a question in a driving test because in my mind the question had “…younger…”, but it was actually “…older…” I was expecting to miss one or two questions in all, but not the first question that I knew well like the back of my hand- asking about the BAC limit for drivers older than 21. I quickly checked the “accurate answer” but what I checked was an answer to what I thought the question was: BAC limit for drivers younger than 21. I missed no other question but that and it struck me how easy it is for us to fail exams and perform below our potential.
In both cases I will identify ‘exam tension’ as the chief suspect. That is what makes your hand shake uncontrollably when you hear “start”. That is what turns your pant to your handkerchief because you just cannot stop sweating even on this cold day. That is what pushes many people to start tilting their necks to a minimum of ninety degrees either way because it makes them even forget what they know. That is what makes you hold your pen like you are just learning how to write and all the sweat pores in your fingers just woke up from their long-time sleep. Exam tension does not only shake the hand, it also shakes the mind and you start to write, at times, the opposite of what you meant. Or the question suddenly looks twisted and there is no answer in the objectives. Perhaps, like me, you start to see something else other than what was asked and you are brilliantly answering the questions in the wrong way. Worse still, it could temporarily disconnect from your brain sockets the nerves that join your hand to your brain and connect it to your heart instead (which is beating like 500 times in a minute!)
It probably does not affect some people so badly; they just make one or two mistakes here and there and that’s it. But if you think of the fact that the difference between one grade and the next is usually a mark you would understand how important just one mistake could be. I guess I've not been badly hit thus far but it has nonetheless created a gap between my potential and my performance. And before the gap gets wider than it is already I’m going to have to plug it up! I know it affects you too every once in a while but here comes help. Yahoo!
But, I'm I in the right position to advise a victim of what I'm suffering from myself? Can I tell you how to overcome exam tension when I just fell a victim a couple of hours ago? I will assume I'm talking to myself henceforth… Adeyemi, you have to stop fidgeting in the exam hall so you stop missing questions cheaply. I will prescribe the following medicines and watch how you do in the next couple of days:
·         Study well. Study well and cover all you need to cover to increase your confidence in the exam hall. One of the major promoters of tension is lack of confidence- full confidence that you are ready for this;
·         Take it easy! You remember what you did that exam that your hand just couldn’t stop shaking? Stop writing! Drop your pen! Sit back, relax and chant some TONGUES! Ha!
·         Don’t be in a rush to finish so you can read questions and write answers carefully. But if it’s a time-constrained exam and you have to rush; rush. But ensure you spend some time going through your answers again before submitting it. When going through assume you were wrong all this while, so be on the lookout for things to correct;
·         Alright people, that’s all I know and I still need more advice from you guys. Please help so I don’t repeat this mistake again. Thanks.
·         (your comment) __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________