What I Learnt From My First Year in Business Development
A year and a half ago, I was a Software Engineer working for a tertiary institution in the United States. However due to health challenges and medical complications, I decided that it was time for me to leave. I had always wanted to come home, and so this decision for me, while instigated by my health, was a small blessing in disguise. Hence I quit my job, packed my load, and made my way back to Nigeria.
Supported all the way by my loving family and friends, my journey home began with a mixture of excitement and uncertainty. Leaving the comfort of constant electricity, good public transportation, great health services, and high-speed internet, for PHCN, Lagos traffic, spotty networks, and often costly treatment, seemed a fool's errand. Yet it also seemed like a calling. I mean who else, if not us, can change the sorry state of affairs in this country?
So I moved back home, and after sufficiently recuperating from my ills, enjoying the healing power of family support, and getting divested of my excitement by the utter lack of it in almost everyone (outside of my family) whom I met, the first thing that hit me was a strong feeling of disorientation. Like I had lost my bearings, and knew not where to go next.
In the US, I had had a plan. I had charted a course for my life that I was steadily working towards, and while coming back to Nigeria to do essentially what I'm doing now, was somewhere in that plan, I was not yet fully prepared. So I found myself torn between my old plan, and my new life. My old mission, and my new circumstances. My old hopes and my new dreams. A situation that I have found lies at the core of Business Development in Nigeria.
Because when your circumstances change dramatically, as they did with me, and as they often do in Nigeria, almost everything else must change with them. If you still want to achieve your personal vision, you must re-prioritize, re-strategize, and re-consider, EVERYTHING that you hope and dream for, in light of your new circumstances.
Now, as I was learning these lessons in my personal life, I was also watching the senior partners at our firm (TMC), teach them to businesses: with training, business advisory, and corporate strategy sessions. I was seeing and experiencing first-hand, the difference it makes when your vision, mission, and corporate strategy are aligned not only with your ambition, but also with your condition.
I was reading hundreds of people's resumés during recruitments, and for the first time appreciating how much the words on the page reflect - even when you don't intend them to. It's amazing how the things we don't pay attention to, tell just as potent of a story, as the things that we do pay attention to. Which is why these abstract things, like vision, mission, and strategy - which we often overlook, have a profound impact on the course of our lives...
Seeing this play out in the corporate world, helped me recognise its importance in my personal life, and I was further priviledged to see what it looks like reflected in the job & business histories of others:
- The difference between a resume with purpose, and one without, was clear;
- The difference between a company with purpose, and one without, was clear;
- and the difference between persons with purpose, and those without, was clear.
Because purpose isn't just about having a dream (read vision), or goal (read mission), or plan (read strategy). Purpose is about all three, working together in unison, to one end - and once all three are aligned, it shows!