My hometown NBA team, the Atlanta Hawks, are currently on an unimaginable roll this season. A recent tour of the West coast saw three wins and zero defeat. The Hawks have swept the Clippers this season, defeated the Cavaliers, the Heat, The Nuggets, the Spurs – just about every legacy team has fallen to the Atlanta Hawks. In fact, as I write this Saturday morning, the Hawks won their 15th straight game last night, and impressive win over the talented Oklahoma Thunder. The Hawks are number 1 in the Eastern Conference. Unimaginable! Everything the Hawks have achieved this season was unimaginable at the beginning of the season! It is not by luck or chance; something change – a radical change in culture and attitude explains the Hawks’ winning spree.
The Hawks’ success has me thinking about Mama Liberia, a land that excels in mediocrity – a land with rehearsed expertise in failure. Liberia is a land of “unimaginables”. It seems unimaginable to offer quality, basic education to our children; it seems unimaginable to offer adequate primary health care; it seems unimaginable to correct the vices that are unquestionably evident in every sphere of the Land. These vices continue to deter Mama Liberia from making the necessary strides needed to make needed progress.
So, how do we depart from this reality of “unimaginables”? How do we position ourselves so that our dear patrimony turns the “unimaginables” into routine policy victories? I have a few humble thoughts to offer.
First, it is about leadership – leadership that inspires excellence. I mean the kind of leadership that sets expectations and demands results; the kind of leadership that inspires a team to succeed; the kind of leadership that holds people accountable for the absence of effort. Such is the leadership the Hawks possess, and such is the leadership that continues to evade Mama Liberia. Oh, and I am not just talking about executive leadership. The dearth of leadership in our country is seen in our towns, clans, districts, and counties; it is seen in our schools and faith communities; it is seen in civil society as well.
Second, we need a strong, committed team that supports the leader’s vision – a team that has a mixture of thinkers and doers. We need a team with a can-do, no-excuses, failure-is-not-an-option disposition. Anything less and victory will continue to elude us. The Hawks do not have a single “superstar” but, as a team, they have defeated every star-studded team in the NBA this season. Liberia needs a team that is tired of failure and desperately wants to win for the Liberian people.
Third, we need leadership and team that lead with policy prescriptions built on data. The time for “by-heart” policy is long over. In the 21st century, Liberian cannot afford any public policy not substantiated by data. Management by data ought to be the norm.
Finally, citizen participation is indispensable to moving to the country forward. In fact, it is an important constituent of our democracy. Citizen participation involves volunteerism and self-help initiatives in our communities. Citizens who patch potholes do their part to move the nation forward. Citizens who plug a leaking roof on their local school also contribute to our forward march.
Together, we can turn the unimaginable into routine realities, and allow Liberia to claim her true heritage. In union strong, success is sure!