Sometime in 2010, I had invited my dad over to Abuja for a business deal. It promised to be a huge one, worth several hundreds of millions, and I needed him to come in with his technical expertise and in-depth knowledge of the oil and gas industry in order to seal the deal. I had also gotten the cooperation of two friends of mine- or so I thought….
On the appointed deal day, my dad had flown into town, my second business partner and a friend of mine had also gotten his uncle to clear his busy schedule and come into Abuja for this particular meeting. All that remained was the cooperation of our other mutual friend (whose name will not be mentioned to protect the not-so-innocent), when suddenly with no excuses or apologies he backed off the business transaction and simultaneously shut down all means of communication and access to the key individual with the final decision, who so happened to be his father.
My eyes went red as I went into blood-rage. I was fuming with anger and completely beside myself with rage. It wasn’t that I couldn’t take a bit of disappointment, but I had involved the most important person in my life as at the time- my father. And I just couldn’t bear the thought of having let him down so badly.
My dad observed the entire fiasco with a dispassionate interest, and after I had my time to rant and vent, he told me something I would never forget. He said and I’ll paraphrase as best as I can recall,
“Son, in life you would have friends like these who would disappoint you. But you must never completely severe your relationship with them. Instead relegate the importance of the relationship in your life to a much lower position. Reduce the amount of time you spend with them also. But never completely abandon a friendship or make them enemies. Even a beggarly friend comes in handy when you need to learn the art of begging”.
Fortunately I listened and heeded to his advice. The next day he flew back home and I tried my best to calm down, drink several cold bottles of Coke (my favourite poison) and tried to put the matter behind me as much as possible. I even managed to still maintain a pleasant personality towards the friend who had disappointed us at the last minute. Three years later the same “friend” did a most surprising thing and bought me a brand new car as a wedding present.
My dad is late now and never got to see the car and eventual outcome of what I once viewed as irreconcilable differences. Since then I have come to learn that human beings do the best with what they have or know at any particular time. We may never know what causes their actions or what motives inform their habits. However understanding that although we may not be able to control their actions just like the weather, we can adequately plan for it and adjust accordingly. Such flexibility in caring about the process of a deal without being strung on the eventual outcome goes a long way to ensuring we maintain our positive personality, manage our expectations and keep smiling.
And that’s a picture of my father below… Continue to rest in peace Daddy.