I was fortunate enough to be invited by a good friend of mine to a weekend away recently. A countryside retreat for an eclectic mind that at times, can become overwhelmed the hustle and bustle of Johannesburg, the epitome of an African concrete jungle.
The weekend away was in the picturesque setting on Dulstroom, Mpumalanga. A small town famous for its fly fishing, hiking trails and craft whiskey and beer stalls. The town, fondly reminded me of my upbringing in the small town of Vryheid and my monthly trips to Babanango to visit my grandparents. The nostalgia, put me in the right frame of mind, as I took the time to appreciate everything from the well-structured ideas of my colleagues on the trip, to the fresh air that tickled my nostrils.
One of the activities that had a profound effect on me, was a hike up a small “koppie” just outside the town. The hike had it all… From navigating through the treacherous veld mired with buck droppings, to climbing rocks and overcoming tired limbs and long-winded breathes. The view at the top, was simply breath-taking and totally worth it. A chance to overlook the rolling hills of South Africa and appreciate the vast beauty that we are blessed with in this country, my country.
One thing that was clearly noticeable at the beginning of the hike was a bundle of rocks stacked at the top of the “koppie”. They epitomised the collective efforts of individuals who collected rock en-route in order to provide those who have yet to get to the top, a chance to understand where the best view was and the route that would need to be taken to get there.
Upon reflecting at the end of the climb, I had an epiphany that lead me to draw parallels to the stage that a lot of us are in life, and our careers. That is, as young leaders, still on the path to mastery, constantly navigating through challenges that have the potential to drain our energy and confidence.
I realized along the route, that to get where we need to be, we need to look outward. We need to appreciate and understand that there are people in this world that have been there and done that and have shared their stories. Furthermore, every experience is a form of instruction – from advice and contributions -if we just pay attention.
The collective efforts of people that have ventured on before us, provide the path to greatness and clearer way to reach the top. They provide us with a clear sight for the up and comers to understand their end-goal. To realise that you will never get to where you want to be without standing on the shoulders of giants. My view is that your journey will be a lot harder without reading or listening to the advice of your peers, mentors and close friends.
I further realised then that there would be people that reach the top a lot quicker than I will and this no longer bothered me. Rather, my mind continuously ran back to being grateful to those who had laid the foundations and pointed out the right path to me upon starting my journey. I started appreciating the collective efforts of all of those people who have believed in me and given me opportunities to succeed. I now fully appreciate those who had taken the time to reinvest their efforts and experience into laying the foundations for others generations to succeed.
My conclusion is that as young leaders, we need to acknowledge those that have come before us and that have shown us the way. We need to do this early on and fight against becoming enamored by our big egos and successes that prevents us from staying humble. Finally, once we reach our end goal, it is tasked upon us to also contribute to those who have started their journey, such that they too, can contribute to making our country, and the world a better place for the next generation.
Young leader, stay humble, stay focused and be aware of every form of instruction that will enable you to complete your journey. That is, the journey towards your life’s task and remember that once you get there, it is up to you to share your successes with the world…