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Standing out!

15 August 2013

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Photo credit: dkstowers.com

“When was the last time…” I “…really stood out in a crowd?”

It was last Sunday, 11 August 2013. My fellow office colleagues and I had traveled 10 hours across two different regions over about 400km to attend our company chairman’s father’s 10th anniversary. That’s some distance and time, huh!

I made it as much fun for myself as possible. Without any picture-taking device of any sort, I decided to take in as many nice sights and sounds as possible. Over the smooth asphalt and the strips of untarred stretches producing blinding dust, we finally arrived at our hotel by the abundant traveling mercies of the Most High. Food was scarce considering that most vendors had either packed or were packing at the time we arrived in the town i.e. Saturday, 11:20pm. I settled for cold boiled beans and some gravy. The microwave in the hotel’s kitchen was very useful. I topped it with a tangerine-orange (blushing).

The next morning, Sunday, we went to the Freeman Society Methodist Church. It was spirit-filled and packed house.. in the foyer, main auditorium and the gallery. Priscilla would say, it was so nice! The sermon was about the reality of Heaven and Hell, and how we should each prepare individually for a place in eternal life.After the sermon and offering, it was time for announcements and thanksgiving. Before that, the catechist asked all first-time visitors to rise for a special welcome. I knew that at least, there should be three people standing, myself and two other colleagues of mine i.e. all the other people in the church at the time were either second-timers or regulars (including the traditional chiefs, drivers, et-cetera). The announcement hang in the room like a thick cloud. Perhaps it even drizzled on my head (alone), because I felt the urge to stand up, but I still sat, because none of my colleagues stood. Just as the catechist was about to continue with the day’s schedule, I felt some launch power move me to my black-shoe covered feet to reveal my white-shirted upper. Apart from the pulpit overshadowing the catechist, I really stood out i) amongst my colleagues, ii) amongst all (shy) first-timers, and iii) the entire congregation.

“Are you comfortable in that position, or do you wish you could fade into the woodwork?”

There was no woodwork. I could not think of fading. I had to keep standing out. I had to make the on-lookers rather shy. The catechist called me to the front. OMG! The point of no return. I walked about 60 steps to reach the front. “Please tell us your name, your origin, and purpose for visiting us”, she said.
“My name is Joseph Budu from Accra. I came to join the Boateng family to commemorate their father’s 10th anniversary”, I responded and gave the microphone back, whilst maintaining my composure. “Your are most welcome. Thank you for visiting us. Please take your seat”. I sighed through my palms (that’s what I remember), because my fingers forgot to move up to pull my nose or scratch my head or show any sign of nervousness. Neither did my feet forget their normal steps. I took my seat. The announcements went on.

Lesson

When every else is shy, stand out. Kind of reminds me of how everyone wants the front seat in the theatre, and the back seat in church. See even here no one wanted to say s/he was first time. It happens sometimes in our offices, everyone’s waiting for someone else to take the initiative… look out for those moments and take your chance.

Extended Lesson

Always go the extra mile, it is never over-crowded. I moved to the front.. I was the only one there. All the rows I passed were jam-packed. If there was some blessing, only I picked it up. In some sense, I told the truth – that I was a first-timer (not sounding self-righteous).

Aftermath

The following day (Monday), we went to our company chairman’s house for late morning breakfast. I felt him look at me. He asked for my name (again). [I was in his brother’s firm which was part of the chairman’s group of companies, so he didn’t know me much]. I mentioned my name. “Yesterday, you were the only one who stood up when they asked for first-time visitors, and I was really proud of you”, he said. I responded “thank you”.

Action Point

Go ye therefore, pursue your endeavours and remember to stand out!

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