On my way home from work, I listened to one of my favourite tracks by Arrested Development. This was in 2008 when my office was on the Oxford Street- Osu, Accra in Ghana. It was a Friday. Most radio stations played ‘Old School’ music to whisk the week away. I enjoyed every bit of the track, ‘ People everyday’. I almost pressed on the rewind button, only to appreciate that a radio station was in charge of my mood. Luckily, the DJ read my mind and it was so soul-satisfying. He played back the track four continuous times and kept the jingle ‘when it’s nice, we play at least twice. I remembered my Radio days.

“Just like in the movies, you can choose to end it well.”

I took a reflective moment of my day and I really wanted to ask for more. It was a hell of a day. But I still wanted more. Witty, huh? I have always done enough to get enough done on my working days, but that particular one was a really hard nut to crack. To have a beautiful and a refreshing evening, I turned to use the beach road home, along the Labadi stretch to Tema just to calm some nerves. Twenty minutes into my journey home, I saw series of gatherings. There were scenes I never wish to sight often. Mourning. Men, women and children wailing…

One of the mourners cried so loud bawling to herself. Death! We are very unlucky to have you as a friend. Week in week out you visit the earth. Breaking hearts of many and destroying homes of happy families. Creating orphans and splitting relationships. We will wail, we will cry and yes! We will lower the casket six feet below for you. But some day you shall die too…

I put on an instinctive, befuddled funny smile to myself though. All I had to do was to keep stepping timely, but slowly. About two hundred metres on, I saw a colourful party and the sound was ‘blasting’ miles away so I had to turn down my radio to listen to the boys who run the town. A conserved bloke screamed; we just don’t run this town, we are the night riders. We run the night. He read my mind because I thought as much.

I switched moods within split of seconds. I just couldn’t get it. I was confused. It was so quick and there was nothing like fun anymore. In one minute, people wailing. Just the next minute, people screaming joy. So I got off my car along the beach and decided to walk as I kept reflecting. I remembered that beautiful module back at school. The philosophy in philosophy. Then I put my cap on. There is nothing like a bad day and there’s nothing like a good day. The good old days were never that good, after all. Trust me. If the good days are passed, then the better days are today. The awesome and best moments are yet to come. I could only breathe hope into my soul.

After thirty minutes I got back into my car and continued my journey and I hit a snag, all of a sudden. What a runnel? Still struggling to have a smooth ride, then it rained. I sighed, ‘today be today’. Cars were parked on the shoulders of the road for safety reasons but I know I had to get home because I wasn’t feeling safe either. After some few dirty thirty minutes, I saw clear skies showing up. At least I could see well though the road was muddy with dancing ruts. The road was slippery and couldn’t be trusted. I asked for help to get around the one long road. Some poured out allusions to say that why did I embark on a journey I wasn’t familiar with. Some also advised I used a short-cut which almost got me into trouble. Some stood there looking on. Others formed groups whispering. Honestly, I wanted to go back to where it all started. But I didn’t. I just decided not to. I was sober and coolheaded, thereon.

Later I met a smooth road. Asphalted, of course. And I made it home very tired, but I was happy I got home safely in one piece.

This was what I gathered. Some will cry. Others may be happy at the same time. Situations will make you unstable. Other days may be crazy and hazy. You may not get the needed help. Yet you have to get home, anyway. No short-cuts to success. They may say you cannot make it. Death is inevitable so what do you do with your life when you have it. The sun shall rise again. We have to go through the mill. Our greatest songs are still unsung.

It greatly revealed that after all, there is no future in the past so keep looking ahead into the future. It may seem very long yet see it very close. Let’s come home to the workplace. Moods of colleagues may swing. Some may be mourning whiles others may be cheering depending on their situations. Leaders are however expected to relate to them and also demand same results from each employee. How do you do this? Let’s place ourselves on that long road to success. Always see the end from the beginning. The road shall be tough and rough but it can also be smooth. Find out what motivates each employee and tie it to their PDP- personal development plans. Do you remember I got to the asphalted road, eventually? Sometimes as leaders, you may be down yourselves. Yet you need to put your pieces together and drive your teams. It’s part of the one long road. The leader and the followers are as important as the situation as well as the emotions of players.

On that road that night, there were twists and turns. At some point I couldn’t find my way. A very murky situation. Some roads were undulating and parts were straight. If you want to shape the edges you need to trim the hedges. Avoid spillovers. Yet, do well to always stick to the weaving. You shall commit blunders. Oh yes, you shall. But if you want different results you need to do things differently.

A baker once told me that when she started baking she observed that five out of every ten loaves she baked got burnt. So she decided to bake fifteen to obtain ten loaves. What is your conversion rate? If you convert one customer out of ten sales, then you need to do a hundred sales to convert ten customers. Simple. It’s never been easy but the only incentive is passion, as hinted previously. Working hard may be a long road but keep going on and on. A lot happens on the one long road. Know your strength, know your resources and obviously your resources for the mission. At times, you are better off developing your strength and deemphasizing your weakness. Sometimes you need to start an hour earlier than your peers before the whistle is blown depending on your strength. There are times you also need to run when your peers are walking. Timing is key. But just keep on running.

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle- when the sun comes up, you’d better be running – Christopher McDougall.

The bottom-line is that you have to run on the one long road or you’ll be eaten up if you are a gazelle or you may go hungry if you are a lion. Either way, we have to keep on moving if not running. It’s not always about what you have but it’s also about what you do with what you have. Not what we see but what we choose to see. These are the things that mar or bless human happiness. Grab your future. Some see it so far from you. Choose it. And know that it is very close to you. Use it. The Long Road is one step away. You are your long road. Bring it closer. Life is like one big stage and we are the actors, as they say. Just like in the movies, you can choose to end it well. The villain may die, the hero will live, the truth shall reign, forever young, a performing employee, a star marketer, an incredible Branch Manager, a shepherding unit head, a lazy officer, a non-performing employee, an unhappy Senior Manager, a happy team, happily ever after, a branch in sorrow, a never smiling customer service officer, horrible finance manager etc.

The long road offers opportunities. See it and take it. It may not be all wrapped up and handed to you like mum’s dinner. You need to work for it. In ancient Ghana, then called the Gold- Coast, a man on his sick bed directed his two lazy sons to dig deep and grade a twenty acre piece of land to find hidden gold bars worth millions of Ghana Cedis, three feet under the surface of the land. They graded and dug for months. After their exercise which was their one long road, they found nothing but they saw an opportunity of a cleared land. They are generationally rich, when they took to farming. The world belongs to those who are ready to think, dare and get their hands dirty.

This is all it is on the one long road. You have to work for every bit of success and there is no easy itinerary. Control the moods, work on the crooked ends, and be prepared to stretch and to die a little for your team and for yourself. On the one long road, things happen. Don’t leave. Do things. Your vision may be blurred, but you have a responsibility to see as a leader. The picture may and can always change but the frame must never change. It is just tricky how things change but still remain the same. Only leaders can control that. Be steady. Ensure you end the one long road well. Generations unborn are watching from an unnoticed distance.

For this is leadership!

Author: Richard Kwarteng Ahenkorah

Principal Trainer, Eagle Knowledge Institute || Author: Your Journey To The Top

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