At Christmas time our thoughts tend to focus on helping others and often, if we act on that thought, then we give people something we think they need.
Ernesto Sirolli went to Zambia as a leader of an aid project to show the Zambian's (who had no agriculture) how to grow food. They taught the locals to plant italian tomatoes and zucchinis and of course the local's had no interest in doing that and had to be paid to do it, if they showed up at all! Ernesto and his colleagues were amazed that the local people would not have agriculture in such a fertile valley. But instead of asking the locals how come they were not growing anything, they simply said "Thank God we're here, just in the nick of time to save the Zambian people from starvation.
And of course everything in Africa grew beautifully. Magnificent tomatoes grew to bountiful sizes and the aid team turned to the locals and said "Look how easy agriculture is". When the tomatoes were nice and ripe and red, overnight, some 200 hippos came out of the river and ate everything. Ernesto exclaimed to the Zambian's "My God, the hippos!"
And the Zambians replied "Yes, that's why we have no agriculture here"
"Why didn't you tell us?"
"You never asked!"
So - if you are leading a team and wondering what they need to be successful in 2013, maybe asking them and really listening may save you a lot of time, lead to far greater levels of success and keep you safe from the hippos!