Lessons Of My Life
I had built a reputation over the years of being punctual when I have speaking engagements. I have also been emphasising it during my radio broadcast on Quest FM 93.1 every Wednesday, 6.30 a.m. A lot of my listeners and those who relate with me have come to realise that I don’t subscribe to African Time or coloured people’s time as it is called in the USA. All those who work with me have come to adjust to my style and it is part of my brand.
Right from my days as a Sunday School superintendent, I have trained myself to be punctual especially under the influence of Bishop B. C. Edohasim. So, I always prepare in advance for all my engagements and I ensure I set out very early so as to have enough time to avoid being late.
I had two speaking engagements on Friday, 24th May, at James Welch College, Isoko North LGA by 7. 40 a.m. and Igbonine Secondary School by 11 a.m.
I had to fix some problems in the car the previous day and set out for Emevor by 7 a.m. with 40 minutes to spare for a twenty-minute journey.
After about 10 minutes into the journey, I noticed that the car was swerving towards my right-hand side. It was raining heavily, and Raymond Orogun Ugbeh had to wind down the door windscreen on his side to check on the tyres. He found out that we had a flat front tyre.
There was no way we could change the tyre in the heavy rain and still arrive punctually. I was going to speak to students and punctuality was part of the discipline I wanted them to imbibe to become outstanding. The principal was meeting me for the very first time one on one and the students must be waiting in the chapel.
I later discovered that my spare tire was flat because I hardly have flat tyres, so it had been under the car for a long while. I also later discovered that the wheel spanner had been changed either by one of my drivers or the mechanics and the one that was in the car could not fit into the mechanism that lowers the spare tyre from underneath the car.
MY REPUTATION WAS AT STAKE! THERE IS NO SECOND CHANCE TO MAKE A FIRST IMPRESSION. I COULD NOT AFFORD TO BE LATE NOT TODAY!
I hate excuses. That’s why Africans are still backward―we give a lot of excuses.
I made up my mind to drive with flat tyre to the venue about 1.5 kilometres away.
When I arrived, the principal, much older than I, ran in the rain to welcome me. He refused to leave the rain until I came out of the car. I was humbled.
After the programme, they helped me get a vulcaniser to fix the tyre and we went to Igbonine Grammar School, Ozoro. We got there about one hour before the time I was to speak.
I told the principal and his vice, when they commended me for my punctuality, what had happened and they were shocked. But I said, “A damaged tyre is less costly than a damaged reputation”. The damaged tyre was replaced by a spare, there is no spare reputation, however. A damaged tyre can be bought, but it is more expensive to buy a new reputation when the old is tarnished.
A reputation takes a lot of sacrifices and diligence over a long period of time, but it can be lost by a single tragedy. Boeing has been building aircraft for decades, but the recent air disasters involving the Boeing 787 Max has affected their reputation very seriously. A single recklessness can cost you all the reputation and relationships you have built over the years. A simple desire for immediate gratification can render your saltiness tasteless.
A good reputation is built and maintained at very great cost. It is a very durable commodity with a long shelf life, but it is also a very easily perishable item in the market of public opinion.
Special thanks to Salimo Wits Foundation, our sponsors, members of the SOS4 team, Raymond Orogun Ugbeh and Counsellor Denis Agori, and the principals and members of staff of James Welch and Igbonine Grammar School for their efforts and hospitality.
God Bless You.