Easter 2005 is coming, Sunday March 27, and Christians worldwide are warming up to celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, a great sacrifice for humanity.
What about you and your business? Is there anything the market can celebrate about any great sacrifice you have made for your employees, customers, partners, colleagues, friends, regulators and other stakeholders? Or are you in business waiting for others to make sacrifices, and then you storm as an opportunist and reap from the pains of others?
Many of us are like that. We all want to live, and maybe “die” for ourselves. Nobody or business wants to “die” for others. If everybody had an Easter, and “died” in any way just like Jesus physically died for humanity, then the world of business would be a better place for us all. And so I ask you the question, “What is the Easter in your business?”
So what is there in biblical Christianity that made the federal government of Nigeria declare public holidays for Good Friday and Easter Monday? A period of Christian festivity. Well, yes. The high point of the Christian calendar, still yes. To respect Christian sensibilities, just as the government does for Muslims, still in order. To give workers and professionals time to cool off, rest and reflect on the message and meaning of Easter, is yet another good reason.
These are all valid reasons why government declares public holidays for Christians and Muslim festivities. And the highlights of these festivities are pilgrimages, fasting and prayers, almsgiving, religious services and entertainment. But the critical question for professionals that remains unanswered is this: “Can I duplicate the message of the religious festivities of my faith, in my business, my job, my profession?” What are the application and benefits of these messages for my clientele, customers, associates, partners, investors, regulators, employees, and the communities where I do business? For Christian professionals the critical question remains: “what is the Easter of your business?”
The message of Easter is clear. It means great sacrifice, betrayal, rejection, humiliation, death, redemption and resurrection to new life.
After this process comes ascension to greater heights. The death of Jesus guaranteed salvation, safety, abundance, confident living, joy and peace for mankind. Who made that great sacrifice? Jesus Christ, son of man, a carpenter and itinerant preacher. In today’s business, Jesus would have been a professional speaker, who went about preaching His message branded as The Good News or The Gospel Message. He sold some divine products in His time. These were Love, Repentance, Salvation, The Renewed Life, God’s kingdom, and how it can be replicated on earth.
Jesus converted His divine products into messages and took it to the market place moving from place to place, market to market, teaching and telling stories about His brands. He had no office or shelter, or home. He was the Message and the Medium and the master salesman. He not only preached, he taught his audience. To make his messages more understandable, he taught in Parables, which simply means using the physical to explain the spiritual. As the workload increased, He selected 12 followers whom He transformed into Disciples and deployed to the field to do His work.
What was the result? And great crowds followed Him. Why? He cared for them; He taught them, told them life transforming stories. He live and worked by example, a divine CEO who was out there in the marketplace and did what He preached. He showed the way to eternal life; redirected the focus of His audience to their promised land; did signs and wonders; He fed them and healed them. He spoke with authority, something they had never experienced before; told value stories about Himself, His Father, His Vision and what He came to do. He demonstrated what he preached, paid tax, applied discipline when necessary, no hypocrisy, no faking. He led by serving, was humble and demonstrated leadership and teamwork through service.
Great crowds followed Jesus because they knew Him. He had vision and He repeatedly explained it; where He was coming from, where He was going, who sent Him; whose will He set out to do, and the price He was going to pay for mankind. Some believed Him, some did not. Jesus in three and a half years converted many hardliners and critics into His stakeholders. He knew his audience (customers), they knew him, and he described himself in terms of the value he adds to people’s lives. He spoke with authority: “I am the bread of life;” “I am the resurrection and the life, ” “I am the light of this world. ”
And so dear professional, who are you? “I am a medical doctor, ” Good attempt, but you have not said precisely what you can do for me. “I can cure Aids” That’s more like it. If you spread that message, great numbers of patients will follow you. What is the Easter in your business?
If Jesus were to be in business today, His brands would have been market leaders, not necessarily because of His divine nature, but simply because His strategy was simple. His communication style was unique, simple, loaded with wisdom and people oriented. He told stories that are today branded as “parables”. Though great crowds followed Him, He still went ahead to pay a great price for them, which secured eternal benefits for them and many of us today. His message was simple: Have faith in God, care for others and love your neighbor. I will pay a big price for you to empower you. That is the business strategy of Easter, if we can relate it to modern day business.
So do you have any examples of Easter in your business, your job? Is there any sacrifice you or your business has made or continues to make for the benefit of your employees, customers and other stakeholders? What is that sacrifice you make that guarantees benefits in the market place? What are the attendant benefits? Can they be quantified, seen or felt? That is what I mean by, what is the Easter in your business?
You don’t have any. Then you are shortchanging the market and yourself too. Remember you have to die to live. It is a spiritual strategy that equally applies in business. As an employee, what sacrifices are you making for your employers, and other employees? Are you just there to work for pay? When you or your business “dies” for others, you generate long lasting benefits. This is not physical death. It is professional or corporate sacrifices for the good of the market.
But what do you see in business today? Professionals and corporate bodies hardly “die” for their customers, employees, investors. Instead they are killing them with fake and substandard products, fraud, unethical and sharp business practices. See the war NAFDAC, the state regulatory body for Food and Drugs in Nigeria is waging against fake products. The fake merchants and manufacturers are even fighting back with assassination attempts on the life of the NAFDAC boss and torching of the agency’s corporate offices. These fraudulent merchants want to kill their customers with fake and substandard drugs and foods. If every customer dies, who will they sell to? What is the Easter in your business?
Check out all the markets, some producers and marketers of goods and services are either killing or ripping off their clients, customers, employees and other stakeholders. Yet they want to partake in the benefits of the great sacrifice of Easter. But it has never occurred to them to create benefits for the market. That is the tragedy of today’s market place. Also leaders in government, commerce and industry are either exploiting or killing their followers instead of serving and making sacrifices. That is why many economies are not growing. That is why there is so much hardship and insecurity in many parts of the world. . Any business that “kills” cannot grow. But anyone that makes great sacrifices for the community, for others, will reap great rewards for his business.
That is the Easter in your business. If you already have it, keep it up, God will surely bless your job, your business. If you don’t have it, please do.
At the personal level, as you write your business plan or personal development plan, please plug in your “Easter strategy”. Or if you are nursing it in your mind, think Easter. Be prepared to pay a big price for success. Ask those at the top, they will tell you what they went through – trials, setbacks, hardship, rejection, and humiliation. The message is simple! Be prepared to carry your cross to achieve success.
Eric Okeke is a motivational speaker, business writer, copywriter, and corporate storyteller. He is one of Nigeria's most experienced financial journalists. His strenghts are writing, speaking, humor, publicity, and corporate storytelling. His email: firstname.lastname@example.org