By Anie Sunny Udoh

‘There is nothing more powerful than providing people with a mission.’

This book is about generating wacky responses to the very energetic, frequently frightening, and unsettled times. It advocates, strongly, for people to let go of a lot of preconceptions. Things that shouldn’t work, do. And vice versa. If you take the crazy idea that’s never going to work and put the right people on it, it could soar. People, eccentric people, make the impossible happen all the time. These people may not come with the best credentials but are blazing with drive and commitment to deliver on a mission. Few things are more powerful than providing people with a mission. The world has experienced tremendous progress and been transformed for good by mavericks, those who challenged the status quo, the nonconformist and unconventional people!

Tom Peters, the author of the groundbreaking book In Search of Excellence and another bestseller Thriving on Chaos, makes an audacious assertion that The Pursuit of Wow! is a practical guide to impractical times, containing the tactics and strategies you’ll need to get on the bullet train. It admits that the “brash and digestible book might drive you up the wall, it might drive you to distraction, but it might also drive you (and your business) to new heights in the twenty-first century global marketplace.” By way of emphasis, he captions the subtitle of the book as Every Person’s Guide to Topsy-Turvy Times.

The author shares startling and instructive perspectives on some seemingly settled knowledge. Some of the new perspectives are radically different from traditional and conventional beliefs. For instance, he counters the popular view that change takes a long time to happen. He argues that “it takes forever to maintain change; but it takes a flash to achieve change of even the most profound sort.” Notice any difference? Another one, empowerment is not the things you do to or for people, it’s the impediments you take away, leaving space for folks to empower themselves. Imagine adopting this perspective in policy making decisions to address the issue of enhancing the peoples’ welfare in Nigeria. There is a great lesson in giving value to simple and innocuous things. In the modern times, overwhelmed by new technologies, new competitors, new everything, the gift of human attention can be profound and the most munificent of blessings. This is worthy of emphasis. In the age of e-mail, supercomputers, the Internet, and the raucous global village, attentiveness – a token of human kindness – is the greatest gift we can give someone. There is helpful counsel for life combatants, all living souls qualify. Be magnanimous in victory, even more so in defeat knowing that tomorrow is another day. Be especially nice when somebody is hurting – simple human kindness has power beyond measure. And for those who get to emerge at the victory podium, spread around the glory for much of the happy outcome is a matter of favour from a benevolent spirit. Learn to stay humble knowing that today’s triumph (or setback) is just one step in a long journey.

The pursuit of wow

And in the age of the knowledge-based economy, brains are in; heavy lifting is out. The emerging economy is built and driven by knowledge, imagination, curiosity, and talent. In a world where success depends upon brainpower and curiosity, the development of knowledge and the self-managed growth of the individual ought to be given topmost priority for anyone and nation with the prospect of making reasonable progress in life and the world. There is a surprising insight on the act of excellence: the best always surprises! Surprises are largely unpredictable. So, to inculcate surprise is to inculcate unpredictability, which aligns with rule-breaking. Attaining the best may well put one on a collision course with the rules. Stop fearing risk! Dare things and situations. Strive to be different. Welcome disruption of the old order. It’s the first step in the creative process to excel. Ah, the circus of life.

There is a word of caution for those in leadership positions. It could be family, school, church, government, business, and whatever station or mission one may be leading. The unfortunate fact is that the further you are from the frontlines – particularly when haughtily detached from the people you are supposed to be leading – the more you think everything is okay. It gets worse with political office holders who sandwich themselves and the people with a partisan hallelujah crowd. Such leaders become insulated from the tensions and realities of everyday life, which can be anything but rosy. A purposeful leader worth his title must have a channel – unfiltered by sycophants and bureaucracy – to touch base with the people and get to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. A determined leader who is truly committed to deliver on his leadership mandate, whatever that may be, ought to seek and court the company of a gadfly, who will not always chorus Amen with the rest of the flock. He will remain the leader’s sparkling mirror and confidant. He will guide the leader lovingly and candidly through the minefields of arrogance, overweening pride, fixed ideas, vindictiveness, unreasoning anger, stubbornness, and egoism. It doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg to seek and retain such a saviour. Donald Duke, as governor of Cross River State had Onari Duke, his wife, who reportedly played that role effectively.

Why should anyone pay attention to Tom Peters? Please don’t answer in a haste. Peters, the book author, wants to give you the words, the tools, to survive in a tumultuous world. A dozen years ago his revolutionary book In Search of Excellence changed the way business does business. Now it’s time to take the next leap – into the world’s-a-cyberage era. You’ve got to take the leap, then leap again – catapult your imaginations, blow your mindsets, knock the sneakers off. In a word, wow! them. “It’s the wow!ers who will win in this brazen new world,” asserts Peters. He is credited for undertaking extensive field research on many practical life-situations of how things unfold in the real world. He remains ever enthusiastic and optimistic in sharing some evidence-based facts on the practicality of the “survival of the fittest” in the jet age that is fast emerging. After an extensive tour of Asia, the author was assertive in his 1994 prediction, informing America and the rest of the world (warning is more like it) that “Asia is the 21st century’s raw, voluptuous economic frontier. Period. How we respond to this challenge will determine our own future. Period.” What became of his prophecy? Use your imagination or just Google it!

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