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Modupe Ogundare: No One Should Do It Better



As a key-staffer, you have probably spent the last two years at work non-stop without so much as a leave. Now the management has finally approved a one-month vacation for you and nothing else matters.

Of course while you curl your toes in the sand and let your hair fly on some vacation, you can’t really leave your work unattended and you most definitely cannot take the organization with you. Also, getting everything ready for your vacation only to have to answer emails and phone calls several times a day while away doesn’t sound like your idea of vacation. And you most definitely do not want to come back to an overflowing Inbox because folks on the other end don’t care that you haven’t had a vacation in years.

You are then left with the option to train some other person(s) to carry on your job, and this is exactly where your greatest challenge lies as you have no idea if the protégé will do a good, excellent or better job. Of course you don’t have a problem with him/her doing a good job. Come to think of it, you wouldn’t even mind an excellent job (after all you trained him/her). It only becomes a problem when the protégé does a better job.

You know that moment, when you return to work only to realize that your absence wasn’t really felt.Of course they missed having you around, but your job was done so well by your back-up that they hardly noticed you were away.

At this moment you are thinking of everything: your value, your position, and even your job. I mean you’ve always been a great employee, you’ve never stopped amassing knowledge, but everyone gets comfortable at some point and you certainly did not anticipate this one. Another thing is, you particularly get edgy in the face of competition, and it’s gotten even worse now that your boss seems to always want your protégé in the room when discussing projects he’d naturally just talk to you about.

And that brings me to the point where I ask if it is weird to  wish that nobody else can do what we do the way we do it or even better than we do it?

It reminds me of this dude who used to work for an organization, and on leaving for a better position elsewhere kept checking in to see if anyone was doing his former job better. In his opinion, the organization cannot should not find anyone to replace him and even if they did find someone, the new guy can’t be as good and professional as he was. Another really hilarious example that comes to mind is the classic case of checking out an ex’s new partner just to get the satisfaction that you are the best deal (like there’s some sort of measurement for that anyway) and that your ex can never get anyone as *fiiiiiiiiine* as you. Well if God is yet to answer your prayers on that, don’t lose faith – your ex might just get a troll for a spouse.

It also reminded me of the first time I heard that most people hold back on knowledge for the fear of becoming obsolete. This negated everything I knew as a youngster (giving makes you feel good). Folks are now raised to believe that letting others know what they know puts them in some sort of jeopardy when we should have been made to understand that the defect is not in watering others but in leaving ourselves dry. It’s the reason why leaders are afraid of delegating, the very reason a designer will refuse to share intricate details of their trade with protégés, the reason a photographer will hoard the knowledge on taking shots from advantageous angles (I came across a disgruntled follower saying this on one of our social media platforms a while back; and though I’m of the opinion that no one is obliged to give you anything for free, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to set up a training and share some insightful tips you know).

It got me thinking and I wondered if it is considered weird to hoard your expertise/knowledge in a particular field just so the other person doesn’t come out better? Is it even weirder to want to be better? If not, are there better approaches to being better without being bitter?

Share your views with me!

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Modupe Ogundare is a writer at heart, in her head and on very good days. Sometimes conversations, observations and deductions compel her to pen something.


  1. marves

    January 11, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    The threat of irrelevance is a credible one. Its not so easy to maintain a straight face in the face of competition, because by its very nature competition demands the opposite. However, hoarding knowledge is counter-productive as it negates what competition is all about; to grow in the face of challenges to existing notions or practice. The better approach is to embrace competition itself in its true form and pursue a deliberate program of continuous improvement upon existing skill set. That way you remain relevant and need not fear being replaced.

  2. Jagbajantis

    January 11, 2016 at 6:25 pm

    Hoarding information makes one even more insecure and paranoid. It is not even fool-proof against replacement. Anybody can be replaced. Even people who started businesses, and floated shares on the stock market to attract investors and expand, have gotten replaced.

    My mantra is – what is mine, is mine. I prefer to focus on self. Challenge myself to do the best job i can do. Have a career development plan to specialize in my field, but learn a skill set every year at the very least. Not to stagnate in a role or discipline. Be courteous and professional with everyone I can in my workplace. Research things for myself rather than depend on hand me down knowledge.

  3. bukky

    January 11, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    If i have a story for aunty bella, which address can i send it to?

  4. Blueberry

    January 11, 2016 at 7:14 pm

    The truth of the matter is, if you hoard information from someone who is talented and hard working, he/she would definitely get it from somewhere or someone else. So at the end of the day it is pointless.
    You can embrace competition to be even better in your field, or decide to be a great mentor that is devoted, speaks the truth, cares, is dicerning and stays close.

    The key here is just self-confidence.

  5. Nammy

    January 11, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    Love ur bio and i can totally relate to it.

  6. Popoola Dammy

    January 11, 2016 at 10:11 pm

    Beautiful write up. We humans love to be valued especially when we put effort, so when we live a place its expected that we Re missed..

  7. Tosin

    January 11, 2016 at 10:16 pm

    Catch-22? You would do the work, but if the work gets done, you stop getting paid. Oops.

  8. Elmago

    January 12, 2016 at 8:43 am

    I’m of the opinion that hoarding knowledge from someone who is talented, creative and hardworking doesn’t count for anything… Like Blueberry said, they’ll get it anyway – so why not give it all the same and feel good about it.

    BN, I think auto-correct did a number on you guys with the author’s name. I think you meant ‘Modupe’ not ‘Module’

    Altogether, great read.

  9. Ch

    January 12, 2016 at 10:37 am

    And this is the wrong mentality that we have as Nigerians that has refused to make us challenge ourselves to be better and reach for greater heights in whatever we do. We think we are indispensable, and we refuse to pass down knowledge, leadership skills and sincere mentoring to the next generation, yet we complain that the next generation lacks this and that. Our leaders are recycled, the management executives in banks still use obsolete ideas to run the banking system in Nig and do not take on board what the young ones with new ideas have to offer, saying “it won’t work”, “things are not done that way” ( I say this cos I work in a bank). Even the bible says “The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself” (Prov 11:25 KJV). And this is in all ramifications, including giving information. My personal belief is that when you are able to pass on what you know to someone else, it gives you a sense of pride and achievement and even if the person improves on whatever it is you have done, the foundation is still linked to you. It challenges you as well, the bible also says iron sharpeneth iron. And let’s say your company decides to let go of you cos of this new kid on the block, I believe you can only go on to something better and your time there was up anyway, you need a bigger fish to fry, something else to bring out the excellence in you. So in summary, my take is no one is indispensable, whether you share your knowledge/expertise or not, it will still be gotten from you or somewhere else. Instead, let’s be more open towards others, genuinely teach, manage, mentor those coming behind us and we will leave a lasting legacy.
    Lest I forget, nice read anyway, a breath of fresh air from the frequent gossip-related and shallow articles to bicker about, that BN has been posting of late.
    P.S. BN, ensure post my comment, I just noticed that you haven’t been doing that…

  10. Tonia

    January 12, 2016 at 7:24 pm

    I rather think sharing your knowledge makes you a resource person. I was ‘partially’ trainned too but I have trained a number that somehow I have come to be a little authority. I never refer to my trainner for obvious reason but my protégés always run to me. It makes my name relevant till date. Please share your knowledge, even your supervisor will notice the good job you have done on your protégé unless…..

  11. nunulicious

    January 12, 2016 at 11:57 pm

    tried all this knowledge impartation in my start-up. Next thing I know, one of my key staff is saying goodbye stating that she wants to go do her own ‘stuff’. it won’t change my approach with the next staff or even the one after that cos I’m the one with the inspiration, the calling and the innovative ideas. There are copy-cats and I’m the trend setter. They got nothing on me.

    there is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the almighty giveth him wisdom…

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