• Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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Go to the Ant!

Young Business lawyer – New Photo Edited

Proverbs and adages have for long been a means of communicating values as well as corporate strategies. These proverbs represent ideals that we live by and many times, they unlock our success when assimilated.

I was reading folklore recently and it exhorted on the wisdom of the ant, but I was more thrilled at the features of the ants and how they play out in their communal organisation which is described to be the highest form of sociality. One which I found very instructive on the culture of work that we imbibe as professionals is as follows: “Go to the ant, consider her ways… which having no guide, overseer or ruler, provides her meat in summer and gathers food in harvest”. My emphasis in this article will be on the phrase “…which having no guide”.

In a world where mentoring, coaching and handholding are buzz words and many people are quickly latching on without understanding the application or use of these, the lessons in this proverb are necessary.

We do not all come into the work force on a level playing field and like the proverbial Animal Farm establishes, not all “animals” are equal. Nonetheless, each one of us embodies a bundle of talents, resource and capacities that can and must be honed and optimised. Some get on quite quickly and you would call them the trailblazers, they seem to know just what to do, how and when it should be done. Others not being so graced do not and, in some cases, others choose to outsource incapacity and play catch up.

I am pro-networking, mentoring, guidance, understudy and whatever other form such relationships take. However, one thing I have since understood is that these relationships do not operate in lieu of personal responsibility. In fact, without the ingredient of self-regulation, the individual has minimum chance of levelling up or optimising capacity because it is indeed the fulcrum of personal success.

As simplistic as it sounds, there is a whole body of science built around self-regulation and you can explore it in texts and books. Albeit, I will like to establish that the journey to self-regulation is not easy for everyone and, “eye service” (which in my opinion, is the opposite of the word “self-regulation”) is not just a behavioural defect but a survival strategy for most. It may not be apparent on day one, but we spend our entire lives as professionals on this journey and it is important to adopt optimal executive function as a strategy for life.

Self- regulation speaks to mental skill and capacity to control and produce pre-determined goals and results. The more scientific definition is “Executive Function”. Executive Function is defined as mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, filter distractions, prioritize tasks and juggle multiple tasks successfully. It is more like the traffic control of our impulses.

Where reviewed literally, this is the engine room of the individual and ultimately, the core determinant of how well we do. This means that great Executive Function is equivalent to excellent self-control, organisation, prioritisation etc. Scientific indices have been outlined which show how good a person’s Executive Function is and though not exhaustive, they include:

  • Paying attention;
  • Organizing, planning, and prioritizing;
  • Starting tasks and staying focused on them to completion;
  • Understanding different points of view;
  • Regulating emotions;
  • Self-monitoring (keeping track of what you’re doing).

This list could easily be substituted with the typical appraisal checklist shared in most professional circles periodically. By implication, apart from technical knowledge in our respective fields, as professionals, our development will largely revolve around the quotient of executive function we display. The earlier we begin to improve and develop, the better our journey. Excellent Executive Function guarantees success most of the time. Executive Function could be scientific or genetic but, in many cases, it is largely impacted by our socialisation and exposure. This means that it can change, and it can be cultured. The Young Business Lawyer who wants to thrive must level up his/her Executive Function to suit the goals or ambitions that they lay claim to. Where not in parallel, the desired results will always loom far away or be compromised.

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As we begin to wind up and pull temporary stops on projects and work, it is important that we take this checklist and honestly review the components of our Executive Function. If it does not cut it then the proverb above would be useful to digest. The ant has phenomenal Executive Function because having no guide, it achieves the results even when the seasons change.


Be like the ant!


OYEYEMI ADERIBIGBE is a Senior Associate at Templars. She is also the current Vice-Chairman of the Young Lawyers’ Forum of the Nigerian Bar Association -Section on Business Law and the Young Lawyers’ Committee Liaison Officer of the African Regional Forum of the International Bar Association.

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