Unlocking Hidden Potential - A True Story

Life calls for completeness not perfection

This is a true story and I am happy to start by saying it ended well.

It was Thursday evening three years ago that I walked into a cozy private lounge after work hours to meet my close buddie for a drink.

We spent quite a lot of time together sharing details of our work travails, achievements and frustration. It was our mutual form of emotional support and it worked quite well.

But this Thursday was a tad different. We were both having a great week and it was somewhat a celebratory mood. It was good enough reason to bask in the tingly taste of alcohol.

When the waitress approached us to enquire about our choice of drinks and food, a brief smile stretched across her

face and we instantly took interest in her.

Please permit me to describe this young lady;

Naomi (not her real name of course) was a young bubbly girl with a spring in her step, her skin a rich tan of melanin with dark spots betraying her youthful exuberance.

She was skinny no doubt, but another year and her curves would fill out just a little, just enough to give her an adult shape. Her shape already had the beginnings of womanhood, yet I doubt she was more than twenty years of age.

She carried herself with aplomb and had that shy look young girls often wear, but it was never morose.

Her English was far from flawless but it held promise. She was taller than the average girl her age and quite chatty.

And so, we (my friend and myself) decided to conduct a social experiment with Naomi.
There was no way we could do so without her consent and so we engaged her.

When we discussed extensively with her, we found out that she was the first of five children whose military father had passed on while she was in secondary school.
Her mother -a petty trader had struggled hard to pay her school tuition and she barely wrote her final exams.
She was earning a meagre N20,000 monthly waiting tables and this amount often got discounted whenever she broke a glass cup, bottle or miscalculated final bills for her customers.

On the flip side, she sometimes got lucky with generous tips from patrons, but she earned it daily by standing on her feet cladded in the waiters uniform of white shirt, black pants with matching black shoes.

Nothing about the uniform was comfortable. The unbearable heat and the undersized shoes left her more miserable at the end of her daily shift.

Permit me to describe this experiment;

Naomi seemed to perfectly fit the profile of a young person who appears to have tremendous potential but is completely oblivious of it. She was kind and clever, perhaps that’s what drew people to her. The situation life had dealt her is considered a beautiful background upon which she can not go further down but only outward and upwards.

What she lacked in education was definitely not enough to confine her to menial and poor paying jobs if she had the slightest inkling of how best to put her strength to use.

For our experiment, we planned to help her discover her potential with the intent to elevate her from her current employment. This was the sole objective. And for this, she had to be a willing participant and follow instructions.

On this fateful Thursday, Naomi stood with her hip jutted to one side, her right arm draped across her slender body, clasping the elbow opposite as we discussed our proposition with her. We could sense deep within her eyes building excitement bellied by her smile. Perhaps ‘smile’ wasn’t the right word for it — the top row of teeth was showing, and there was a faint curve to the lips, but there was no crease below the eyes, no movement of the cheeks.

It was a smile all the same!

She agreed to our experiment after we convinced her that in 1month she would change her job to a better paying one. When we asked her how she felt about waiting on tables, she minced no words as she shared her frustrations.

We then advised her to multiply her current monthly earnings by 3. Whatever the value she gets is what she should start negotiations with when the opportunity avails her of that moment. That pleased her and she obliged.

We explained to her that the next job opportunity for her would be from one of the patrons at the lounge. And she would need to show them her unique skills and how ready she was for the next level.

When we asked her about the skills she was confident that she was good at, she responded with just a few.

In no particular order, her inherent skills are listed below;

– she loved to sing
– she loved to dance
– she is a confident conversationalist
– she had high energy (good energy)

This was just enough for our experiment.

What was she to do?

– Since the lounge constantly played music during open hours, she would dance and sway subtly while she waits on customers and while she is serving them drinks.(this would guarantee that she is noticed)

-To push sales up, she would ensure to ask customers if they wanted a refill even before they asked her for one. She would suggest cold drinks and offer them finger foods. Her goal was to expand beyond the limits of her sales target.

-she would make genuine compliments randomly to females guest of patrons while serving drinks. Light comments such as “I love the color of your matching jewelries”, “Your hairstyle looks really good” or “your dress is gorgeous” were to be dished out with a smile.
As a rule, compliments must never be made to patrons directly.

The Result of our experiment

Naomi got into the swing of it and executed the plan to the letter. She was to revert on our next visit to the lounge which was in 3weeks. But we didn’t anticipate the result we got in return for our advice.

When we returned to the lounge, our dear “guinea pig” cum “friend” had the following news for us;

  • She was offered a job by one of the patrons of the lounge after he had watched her disposition for several weeks and was convinced that she had the requisite skillset and attitude he needed to sell his locally manufactured paints. He approached her and asked how much she was willing to earn to work with him. First thing that came out of her lips was an amount equivalent to 3 times the amount she was currently earning.
  • The week we were at the lounge was her last working week at the lounge . she had resigned already!
  • Over the three weeks, she had worked tirelessly and was often exhausted after her every shift. Every customer wanted her to serve them drinks. They engaged her in small talks and  enjoyed the conversations with her. She danced till her feet were sore. She would then hide in a closet to avoid customers asking for her attention.
  • She went on to sell so much drinks and finger foods that she got noticed by her supervisors. she earned so much extra and got commended by the business owners at a time.
  • Her colleagues watched as she worked hard everyday unbothered. They wondered what got into her and why she consistently did the same things every day.

They had no clue that she had a vision and she knew exactly how to get there. Even when she had no idea where her next break was going to come from, she worked hard to get herself out of her situation.

Quite a number of lessons can be gleaned here. Permit me to share a few;

No matter the situation you are in, there is always an opportunity lurking it.

-Opportunities are not some comet or golden star that appears every once in a lifetime as thought by many. There are opportunities everywhere in everything we do, we just are not primed to see it. We must come to a point of knowledge to see that what we are looking for in Sokoto in right here in our sokoto!

– We can not expect to break the barrier of limitation in our current situation by doing the same things everyday. We are enormously gifted to adapt with changing conditions.

-The wherewithal required to break the barrier of limitation in any situation is already deposited in you. We all have potentials. There is none without one!

-The first step to changing your situation is to take the very first step! Start Now!

-Finally, there is always room for a mentor, a guide or an advisor in our lives. Knowledge may be good to have, but experience can never be discounted.

Thank you for reading. If you have other lessons off this story please drop your comments in the comments section, I would really love to read your perspective.



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42 thoughts on “Unlocking hidden Potential”

  1. One should also be open and prepared for opportunities. If she was squeezing her face and doing a shoddy job you would not have engaged her.

      1. Beautifully executed experiment and the lessons are so relatable.
        If only we could all look past the downside of our situations to find the opportunities therein. Harnessing them might be a bit of a stretch but nothing good comes easy!
        It’s such a beautiful story, I enjoyed every line and learnt too. Thank you for sharing Akin!

    1. Oluwunmi Ajakaiye

      Attitude and being positive holds the key to Success.
      Great customer relation
      We create or mar our destiny as the case may be.

  2. Bakare Julius Olamilekan

    I really appreciate you turning this into knowledge. NAOMI worked hard as others did but the patrons were having good mind to put a great height for her. Unlike some unfortunate men that only thing they will do is to destroy the future of the poor girl. This is knowledge and a great Lesson. God bless you for this write up. Greater heights ahead

  3. Very Inspiring story with a good ending. glad to know it happed in real life. The beautiful experiment worked because it was carried out with the right specimen. A whole lot of contributing factors played out here: the experimenters were men of goodwill. The specimen was obedient to instructions coupled with a determination for change of the status quo hence the inevitable result. What a great story with motivating content. Thanks, Duke for sharing.

  4. Boss, more grace to ROAR and SOAR. I must admit and confess that for an inevitable success in life, Unlocking individual potentials, good character, Manners, having Mentors who are genuine and willing to guide and help, Finally seeking the Face of God are expedient. God bless you boss.

  5. It’s just as it is written…be diligent in whatever you do, you will not serve mere men. The King will definitely spot you (it’s something we all need to realise, service is a tool to take you to the midst of the high and mighty)

    Lesson learnt: Create a niche for yourself while rendering service

  6. Wow Nice one.
    Quite a piece drown, and stretched in style.
    Enough take home lessons
    1. Success begins with Beliefs
    2. Persistence would lead to Success.
    3. Success Belongs to those who are Prepared.
    4. Success Belongs to those who Dare and Pay.
    If you want a chicken soup a chicken must die
    If you want a Beef stew a Cow must die.
    No Pain No Gain.
    The Lion is the King of the jungle because it takes calculated Risk,Bold,Daring, Ready to explore the unknown.
    All these came to play in the young but daring lady. She was mentally prepared for the opportunity before it came knocking.
    Thanks for making me start my morning with strong visualisation of what is possible, with a determined mind.
    What a piece in retrospect.

  7. Pingback: Most Popular blog Post of 2021 – Akin Akingbogun

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