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What legacy are you leaving behind?

July has been dubbed Mandela month in honour of South Africa’s first democratically elected president (before you yawn, this post is not about him). On the 18thof July every year,  67minutes are dedicated to charity work to continue with his philanthropic spirit, one of the many legacies he left behind. *sidenote* July is also savings month so get to saving that moola!

I have a 5yr old brat (daughter actually but if you stay with her long enough, you will understand my term of endearment). I’m constantly thinking about what legacy I will leave behind for her and her offspring. This refers to the beliefs, traditions, morals, teachings and traits that will be embedded in her for life. I ask myself- what generational wealth am I leaving? (because wealth could be money, wisdom, life skills, etc, the list goes on but we tend to think it’s only monetary).

FYI: The learned peeps define legacy as “something acquired by inheritance” which is passed down from period of time to another period of time. Had to throw the definition in there since the owner of the blog is an academic!

I think we take for granted the impact our deeds have on the people around us. We take for granted how certain actions can alter not just our lives but generations to come. Little story, my maternal grandad is a self-made man, in every sense of the word. He didn’t complete his formal education (that being high school, his kids think he didn’t finish primary *shrugs*) and he sold peanuts and drove taxis amongst other things to make money. Met my granny and she would save a little money every month and eventually he had enough to buy a taxi and the rest is history. However I think due to his lack of education, he made it a point that his kids, the whole soccer team and reserves completed high school as well as an undergraduate degree (those available at that time to the owners of the land *wink*). They in turn also drilled down the need for education in one’s life and I can attest that as the third generation we are investing in the quality of education we want our kids to have.

My value of education has me dreaming of opening several libraries and science labs in our community schools, I’ll ask you to contribute on another post! However (really wanted to use “but” kodwa ke) it wasn’t only education that was passed on, but also being frugal with money and a proper kick-ass work ethic. It’s those intangible legacies that I am most grateful for. It’s those legacies amongst others that I want my child to know, understand and live out, even while I’m still alive. In reality, a legacy is a powerful life tool that is passed on.

So, next time when we think of legacy or generational wealth, let’s broaden that to beliefs, morals, traditions, roots and not just a trust fund or a holiday house in Stellenbosch (anything to be close to the wine!). Let our offspring inherit the compass that helps them navigate life. I would love for my kid to say “mom left me with a financial inheritance but the greatest inheritance she gave me was knowing the Lord”

So as I close off with a quote (I’m not sure by who, found it on google) “Everyone leaves behind a legacy after they die, but only few people leave behind a legacy worth talking about”

Make yours one where people smile when they reminisce on it.

Image courtesy of: Summitlife.org

 

About the Writer:

Silindokuhle Chonco is a Management Advisor/ unofficial Project Manager at eThekwini Metro Municipality. She is a lover of wine, life, shoes, pasta/starch and bags… and Phiwo the brat! Found God when she left religion.

The Future is Collaboration!

I was privileged to be part of a 2 day strategic workshop,which my friend was facilitating. Below I penned some interesting insights I gathered from the workshop.

Firstly, I want to applaud the rare species of great leaders that I witnessed in that session. Great leaders are a rare species because; they recognise that taking time away for strategic thinking is a value add. Often when leaders issue a communication about a 1 day or 2 day strategic session, people murmur saying things like, “We going to lose a day or two days of work”. However, taking two days from the busyness of our daily jobs may look like time lost, but in hindsight that could be the greatest investment for our teams and the organisation.

I was reminded of an article by Dorie Clark “If Strategy Is So Important, Why Don’t We Make Time for It? (https://hbr.org/2018/06/if-strategy-is-so-important-why-dont-we-make-time-for-it). She quotes Derek Sivers (entrepreneur and author), and he says, “busy is what happens when you’re at the mercy of someone else’s schedule.” Sometimes organisational teams may feel like they are at the mercy of their Executives schedules or their client’s schedules. However, taking time to contribute to the strategic organisational journey, can make teams realise their importance in adding value towards their organisations.

In the same article, Dorie Clark, quotes, productivity expert David Allen saying, “You don’t need time to have a good idea, you need space…” The COO beautifully captured this thought in her opening remarks when she said to the team, “…in the past we felt like we were executing somebody else strategy, but today we have taken time to be away from the office so that we have an opportunity to define a strategy that we all buy into…”

I realise something beautiful about this team. When the Facilitator asked them to share their expectations of the workshop, they all mentioned simple and common things (e.g. ‘Plan of action – where we are going and how we get there?’, ‘How will we set ourselves apart from the competition?’).

This is beautiful because, when we come to strategic workshops, we must not look for a ‘unicorn’ but we must look for a ‘horse’. What do I mean by this? Well, when we come to this session looking for profound/rare ideas (unicorn) that will affect the aftermath of what we do with the profound/rare ideas. However, if we come seeking clarity on the ordinary/common (horse), our chances of success post the workshop are higher. I love the Tranxend Consulting slogan, it reads, “Execution is Everything” the common/ordinary ideas are what makes execution a reality. The real magic lies in what the team already knows and drawing that out in open and honest dialogue through the art of facilitation.

Secondly, based on the interesting conversations that took place at the strategic session, I believe that organisational growth is a voluntary process. Organisational growth is not an organic process, it comes through deliberate actions. Great teams make voluntary conscious decisions to commit to the process of growth. Transition is the higher order of change and in transition we recognise that the process of growth can be ‘messy’ and that’s okay. Often for things to be work, we first need time to take them part.

Lastly, I still believe that teams sharing ideas, collaboration in other words and facilitation are an absolute work of art. The real aha moment for me, was recognising that, though the room was filled with a couple of brilliant minds – everyone recognised that they need to commit to something bigger than their individual brilliance. This is synonymous with the characteristics of a growing organisation because a growing organisation encourages partnership with other people for the greater good. Reality is, the more the world becomes intertwined through Globalisation and Technological advancements, the more will be demanded from teams.

So contrary to popular predictions, I don’t think the future is only about the Digital Economy. I believe the edge we need to create great organisations lies with its people, thus I believe the world will also witness a move towards the Collaboration Economy.

 

Image courtesy of: https://medium.com

Will you marry me? Well, can I sleep on it?

Of recent we have been flooded with a display of numerous marriage proposals on social media. I saw one recently on Instagram and I just had a thought. I don’t know whether the people who record the moment via video are told in advance, but I suppose so. The usual scene is; guy and girl are together in various types of settings. Then guy goes on one knee, takes out the ring, and pops the big question, “Will you marry me?” Girls vary in their responses, but the most usual responses are, girl in shock and excitement, puts hand on mouth and almost instantly after guy pops the big question, girl stretches hand towards guy as a sign of ‘I accept’ and says “Yes” on the spot!

I believe some of us have either been or have witnessed this scene sometime in our lifetime. I am sure you may be wondering ‘Bongeka, what’s the big deal with this?’ Well, let me share my thoughts and insights on this. I was reflecting on something else when I saw the marriage proposal on Instagram and I thought to myself it’s an interesting analogy I can draw from to make my point.

Recently a friend of mine asked me to help him with something and at first because of the ‘negative’ emotions I was feeling at the time, I nearly almost immediately gave him a response that was not thoughtful. But over the years I have learnt the power to say, “Let me sleep on it” even despite pressures from the external world to make an instant decision. Indeed after sleeping on it, I woke up, prayed, thought about it and re-looked at the situation with fresh eyes. I was able to fully apply my mind and see all the incredible benefits that the opportunity presented. If I had instantly responded when the request came, I would have regretted and missed the opportunity. The free dictionary describes ‘sleep on it’ or ‘sleeping on something’ as, “To postpone a decision until the following day so that one has additional time to consider it.” (https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/sleep+on+it)

There is such wisdom in actually “sleeping on it” before giving a response. I have consistently found that I make better decisions once I have slept and have had time to process things. But the pressure to say ‘Yes’ now and make instantaneous decisions is synonymous with our generation. Experts have deemed us the ‘instant gratification’ generation. We want things now and fast because we don’t have the patience. Even in corporate environments the culture of ‘instant results’ is constantly fed. I don’t know how many times I have heard people in corporates say, ‘We want quick turnaround times’; ‘We don’t have the luxury to delay adoption of this change, people need to adopt these changes in the next month’. I really don’t like these statements because I believe that nothing solid can be built quickly.

So back to the marriage proposal analogy, when the marriage question pops up; ‘Will you marry me?’, is it rude or inhumane to delay the response? After all this is a lifelong decision and surely it cannot be made on the spot. But, I also acknowledge that circumstances differ and maybe the ‘Yes’ is not always an instant response. I do believe that in some instances the ‘Yes’ is a premeditated answer prepared way before the big question. But, I do still believe there is wisdom we can draw from the marriage proposal scene. The ‘sleeping on it’ concept is powerful because it reminds us to appreciate the process of being patient and not to be hasty. I am often not too trusting of people who respond quickly to things, because to me I read it as haste and someone being too lazy to apply their mind. I think in this instant gratification generation, I want patience to be fashionable again.

I end with this, Dear future bae, please take note, if you ever do the usual knee on the floor proposal, and say to me, “Will you marry me?”, there is a huge possibility that I would say, “Well thank you, can I sleep on it?”

 

Image courtesy: https://www.flickr.com

Problem proof is overrated…

In an article by Melanie Curtin, “The 10 Top Skills That Will Land You High-Paying Jobs by 2020, According to the World Economic Forum…” (https://www.inc.com), Melanie unpacks a study conducted by the World Economic Forum (WEF), with 350 executives across 9 industries in 15 of the world’s biggest economies to generate – The Future of Jobs Report. The key findings of the study were the top 10 skills that will be most desired by employers by 2020. The top three skills were, Complex Problem Solving (no.1); Critical thinking (no.2) and Creativity (no.3).

I read this article and I laughed thinking, ‘If problem solving is ranked the number 1 skill that will be required in 2020, then why are organisations right now not encouraging of a problem-solving culture?’ I’ve heard people in organisations utter statements such as ‘We don’t want any problems in this project’ or ‘Let’s minimise mistakes or problems’ to a point that when we make mistakes we are crucified.

I could be wrong, but in my opinion, I have come to notice that organisations are obsessed with creating problem proof environments. And yet I realise that great business ideas or innovations are born from problems. I think of two cases that have always fascinated me;

Example 1: The Wright Brothers innovation of the air craft

The Problem: The Aircrafts built before the first Wright Brothers aircraft could not be controlled in the air. Before flights became commonplace people could only travel in just two dimensions, north and south, east and west.

The most common way to travel from one continent to another was via sea travel. Sea travel meant months and months of travelling; it also meant nausea commonly known as sea sickness. This is by far the worse travel related sickness. Sea traveling also meant the weather can restrict your movement.

The Solution: The invention of the air craft enabled air travel to solve some of the disadvantages of sea travel. Air travel has made the world more interconnected. It has advocated for economic and technological advancements. Air travel saves us time and it has given way to the entire aerospace business, the largest industry in the world (http://www.wright-brothers.org).

Example 2: The Airbnb story

The Problem: Two unemployed art graduates found themselves living in a three-bedroom apartment in San Francisco, and where on the verge of being kicked out because they couldn’t afford rent. They wanted to provide alternative lodging for people who couldn’t afford hotel lodging.

The Solution: Created an online lodging platform that has become, in under a decade, the largest provider of accommodations in the world. They also wanted to create a space that offered better price rates than mainstream hotels & lodges, yet still providing descent lodging that have a touch of a hotel experience and a homely experience. This came at a critical time during the recession when home owners were stretched financially thus were offered an avenue to make extra money by opening their extra home spaces for public consumption (https://www.penguin.co.uk).

There are millions of other examples of problems birthing great ideas that revolutionised the way the world operates. If problems can generate such billionaire dollar ideas/businesses, then why do we frown upon problems? Even in our primary and secondary schooling system, we don’t fully invest in encouraging a culture of ‘problems are okay, in fact we should embrace problems.’

In a way I appreciate some elements of the higher education system, because I recall that during my time as a humanities student, my University opened a whole new world of endless possibilities for me. We were constantly encouraged to re-imagine and challenge the very world we lived in. As a student we were constantly sold this notion that, you could change the world. But when I got to my first job, in one of the biggest, if not well managed Parastatal organisations at the time, was a serious reality check. I soon realised that the real “Corporate World” was not what I thought it was.

One of my biggest frustrations with corporate was it inhibited my creativity and was obsessed with problem proofing everything.

I realise that this thing of obsessing over controlling outcomes in organisations and problems is overrated. I believe that we should foster environments that thrive on making problems a norm thus fostering a culture of problem solving through creativity.

Image courtesy of http://www.armslist.com

 
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