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Quality Of Thought And Leadership Performance


Robert Chesebrough

Robert Chesebough

THOUGHTS are intangible, invisible and invincible. On the other hand, performance is tangible, visible and can be vanquished. Yet there exists an intricate and intriguing linear relationship between thoughts and actions.

The former is the foundation while the latter is the superstructure. One is the model while the other is the product. This line of thought is averse to the ignorant mind. The reasons for this are obvious.

First the idea that actions speak louder than words is often misinterpreted to mean that thoughts are mere words, which perish as soon as they are expressed.

The extensions of such ideas, which demean the potency of thoughts include the following statements – perish the thought. Those threats are mere words.

They are empty boasts and are therefore worthless. Again advocates of the superiority of action over ideas (words) point to the fact that several thoughts are never realised. Neither the mind, which initiated them acted nor was there any tangible evidence that such thoughts existed at all.

Yet we know that ideas (thoughts) rule the world. Every tangible and significant reality in our cosmos today is a product of someone’s thought. The Wright brothers improved on the initial ideas of Professor Samuel Langley over a century ago and the result is the aeroplane, which has transformed our global transportation system.

The mortality rate of people who sustained any type of wound used to be very high due to infections and contamination until Robert Chesebough courageously invented the vaseline jelly.

Before it sounds as if there are no modern examples of the potency of ideas, communication through phone was a nightmare a few years ago in Nigeria but today it isn’t only easy, it is efficient.

The idea of establishing private universities in Nigeria was almost impossible, but in less than a decade it has become a plausible custom. Truly, ideas rule the world. Every tangible was first an intangible, visible was initially an invisible and terrestrial existed as celestial. Let us consider this example.

A governor who receives huge monthly security allocation as well as raises funds from internally generated natural resources in his state in compliance to his election campaign promises, concentrates on the provision of two infrastructures namely establishing hospitals and building roads. Consequently, he established hospitals as well as built roads in every local government in the state.

However, the poor quality of these projects doesn’t justify the huge resources expended on them. In less than one year of building the roads, they are already full of potholes while the hospitals lack equipment and professional manpower.

In contrast to the above scenario is the case of another governor with access to less than one half of his contemporary who is equally involved in similar projects but his road construction and healthcare delivery projects are qualitative and excellent.

The difference is the quality of their thoughts. As a corollary, William James, the famous American psychologist said, that the greatest discovery of my generation is that humans can change their lives by changing the way they think. Quality, excellent and depth of thought produce quality, excellent and depth of performance, lifestyle or result.

In the contrary, inferiority of thought or idea produces inferiority, shallowness and shameful lifestyle, result or performance. Application to Human Institutions The dominant nature of qualitative thinking among Homo Sapiens becomes potent and scientifically verifiable when this principle is applied to human institutions.

Beginning from the area of marriage and home, the quality of thought determines the choice of spouse, type of marriage (monogamy, polyandry polygamy, gay or bestiality) as well as parenting style.

The quality of thought of the spouses stands out like the northern star and significantly influences every other decision they make. Their home environment, career choice, friends, relationships and success in marriage are all reflections of each couple’s quality of thought. When this mirror of quality of thought reflects on our educational system, we notice its dominant influence.

Is our educational system British, American or African? Is it relevant or a ritual macabre dance? Is it functional or dysfunctional, progressive or retrogressive, creative or degenerative? Quality of thought or idea is a major reason there exists a gapping difference in the economic and material well being of the citizenry of every nation in our globe.

Some citizens have consumers’ mindset while others are predominantly producers. Quality of thought explains the reason why many lose their productivity as well as resources through poor or wrong business decisions.

It is the reason for mistaking liabilities for assets and immediately confusion exists at the realm of the mind, it is only a matter of time before the practical failure emanates.

Perhaps there is no institution, which portrays the potency of qualitative idea than governance. This is majorly because every decision in this realm has a compounding and complex effect on human life.

One wrong decision or policy the government of a nation enacts has the capacity to destroy the lives and resources of that entire nation as well as the generation unborn. Equally, such a wrong policy will invariably affect that nation’s relationship with other sovereignties. For instance, if Nigeria legalises bestiality as a form of marriage, the consequences can only be imagined.

On the contrary, if the Nigerian leadership legalises a law that allows citizens to become bonafide indigenes of the state of their residence, (after residing there for a decade), we all know the great benefits and dividends that will accrue from such an excellent policy. A look at our world today confirms Karl Marx statement that Religion is the opium of the masses.

The quality of our religious mind daily confronts us – the hypes and hypocrisies, the lust and lucre, the halo and hatred, the murmuring and mammon-ism, the betrayals and bitterness, the cheatings and chaffs, the mudslinging and murdering.

No doubt there are many genuine and beautiful religious experiences in our globe today existing side by side against the shameful and sorrowful ones. For instance there are so many genuine testimonies of transformed lives as well as divine interventions.

Both stories on the divide prove the quality and inferiority of the human mind. The quality of our thoughts and ideas determines the utility and relevance of these human institutions.

It becomes more challenging where some individuals or personalities develop greater influence and authority than the institutions. Our society is full of such impoverished and inept institutions basically because they are built, organised or administered based on inferior ideas.

At this stage, one should be interested in how to access quality thought or ideas. How does one acquire superior or excellent ideas to lead in any of the human institutions? How does one obtain excellent ideas to run one’s own life? How does one break away from failure or mediocre performance to excellence? How does one transit from fruitless struggle to significant success? Access to Qualitative Ideas It was Zig Ziglar who said that life is about the transition from struggle to survival, from survival to success and from success to ultimately, significance.

For some people, moving from the first (struggle) to second stage (survival) is the ultimate. Consequently, one potent strategy by which mortals have access to qualitative ideas is through association.

This principle makes it possible for a piece of metal to acquire magnetic power. In the same manner it empowers the moon to acquire power to shine like the sun.

In underscoring the potency of association, Sir Isaac Newton said, if I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. Just as evil communication corrupts good manners, excellent communication enables the mind to produce great achievements. This principle of good association works both at individual and corporate levels. In our contemporary time, we hear of organizational and corporate merger, acquisition and franchising.

Instead of insisting and pursuing a policy of individualism and sole proprietorship, both individuals and corporate organizations are coming together to maximize their strength as well as explore plausible strategies to minimize their weaknesses.

Our country Nigeria as the most populous black nation in the world is significant in the comity of nations because of this principle of association or coexistence of many ethnic nationalities.

Imagine the poor level of relevance Nigeria would have garnered if it was broken into six smaller nations? Change develops into an irresistible phenomenon when it is internally propelled.

This is the raison d’etre for the potency of personal desire. A strong desire to learn, change and improve one’s life is a foundational strategy to obtain quality ideas, which will inevitably lead to excellent performance. In his invaluable text, Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill (1960) corroborates the fact that success answers to cultivating a burning desire.

Truly the prove of desire is pursuit. The crucial role of a burning or strong desire is evident in every successful endeavour such as acquiring education, building a mansion or edifice, achieving economic or character transformation.

Formal education has a definite period of time but the acquisition of knowledge and wisdom is a lifetime enterprise. Consequently, having access to excellent or quality ideas will involve developing a lifestyle of learning and being teachable.

It involves searching and researching, adaptation and adjustment to the vicissitudes of life. Rigidity is a liability to acquiring excellent ideas and performance.

It is a common axiom that readers are leaders. Reading is a serious business as well as an act, which can (and does) catalyse personal transformation.

It enables the reader to interact with the mind of the author, gain within a brief period all the experiences and expertise of the author and harness all these into novel ideas for the achievement of greater excellence. One can make bold to say that people begin to degenerate and die when they stop reading or studying. Their ideas become stagnated and stale.

We are familiar with Archimedes’ exclamation of the word Eureka. Literally, it means I have found it. Archimedes found the solution to a major mathematical problem in the bathroom. This experience underscores the significant role of meditation in accessing quality ideas. Meditation represents reflective and deep thinking. It means to ponder, or think through.

Any time one gives attention to meditation, the result is normally transformational. Someone rightly said that it is a risk not to take a risk. On a daily basis, several ideas and thoughts pass through our minds. Like Albert Einstein noted, the best of us has only used ten percent of the capacity of the brain.

Therefore, acquiring the courage to implement some of these ideas is a major strategy to attaining excellence in life. In the spirit of courageous living, John Stiedd said, “A ship in harbor is safe – but that is not what ships are. In reality, ships sail in the water. Sailors and captains of ship take the risk and sail in high troubled and turbulent waters. It is in the process of taking risk that great discoveries are made, new records are set, innovations and inventions are achieved, visions and dreams are accomplished.

So, go on and take the risk. Dr. Benjamin Carson, the retired prodigious paediatric neurosurgeon of John Hopskin’s Hospital in the United States of America chronicled this breakthrough strategy in his book entitled Take the Risk (2012).

An accomplished risk-taker Dr. Carson attained global recognition in neurosurgeon majorly because of the lion-heart he developed to perform surgery on several paediatric terminal cases most of his colleagues never attempted to venture into. • Dr. Amaraegbu, Clinical Psychologist and Author, can be reached at

In conclusion we note that neither individual nor corporate bodies, tribes, ethnic nationalities or nations can achieve any form of excellence in any endeavour of life beyond their level of thought.

Poor ideas lead to poor performance, so do mediocre and excellent ideas produce equivalent degrees of performance. Theodore Roosevelt, a former president of America, was known for this popular statement that far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirit who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.

It will demand nothing less than a personal revolution to ascend from poor or mediocre thinking to acquiring excellence of thought. It demands breaking away from the dusty and stagnant stale mindset and reaching out to a new beginning.

At every level of our human endeavour such as family, community, business, education, governance, and religion, acquiring and working with superior ideas guarantees excellent performance as well as genuine development.

This is the challenge of our newly elected politicians in the legislature and executive arms of government. It is nonetheless, the challenge that faces us all at different levels of human existence.

  • Ben Okonofua

    Thank you Dr Passy Amaraegbu, for this thought provoking thesis.
    I submit that the change we desire as a nation answers to excellency of thought pattern in the life of her leaders: parents, teachers,administrators,religious leaders,entrepreneurs and any in positions of influence

  • amador kester

    Good one there maximum cum laude! And all the kids who are born old will be wisened in a moment if only they can make philosophical contact wtth you..I dont wish to dilute your magnificient presentation with dull comments but on seeing the equally enthralling heading,one axiomatic dictum stirs up a motley crowd of memories by which i try to figure out the mindframe of a leader at the spur of the moment:.I think it is an adaptation of a quotation by german philosopher schopenhauer or so which says in effect: too much games and sports interests show the bankruptcy of the mind