2017 will be interesting!
It is going to be a year of change, uncertainty, politicking, and opportunity.
It might be possible to say that about most years but let us consider just some of the activities that will affect us both at home and abroad.
Globally there will be change.
Trump will bring his own form of unpredictable dynamism to bear on World affairs; we have not seen even half of the impact that Brexit will have economically and politically, not only on Europe but also on our own country and its neighbours; we are in a year of elections and election fever both in our own country, on the continent and abroad.
Our economy teeters on a knife edge.
It has often been said that killing poverty will be done by the growth of small businesses and not by big corporates and certainly not by government. Indeed we have seen in our own country how government has done much to hamper and even smother business at all levels but especially small business.
But…..there are encouraging signs of positive growth. Commodity prices have been moving upwards – this is a sure sign that the big economies are starting to grow again; civil society is becoming more and more vocal and is not prepared to be quiet when politicians and others behave badly; our press remains vocal and alert; there is significant evidence to suggest that here and overseas more and more of the important work of growing the country is being devised and executed at local level while the politicians and bureaucrats in the centre fiddle. These are good signs and creative opportunities for communities and individuals to engage and grow.
So, here are some things we can do in 2017 to grow and develop ourselves, our society and our economy.
1. Fix your Mindset; Have a Clear Vision of the Future
There is little more demeaning and self-defeating than a victim mentality! When one listens to the public discourse it often seems that we South Africans are increasingly becoming whingers and the victims of politics, the economy, crime, others who do not like us (they and them), our neighbours, other countries, the police and on and on. How does this help?
If you fix your mindset and consider what you can do to change just the space around you positively, you will at the same time be helping your community, yourself and the country. You will be creating opportunities and this is what our country needs more than anything.
Have a sense of hope, spread this hope and be joyful about life. It really is worth living!
2. Be Courageous
Leadership can be lonely but does not have to be!
Courage is required to lead, certainly, but the rewards are worth the effort especially if you work hard at surrounding yourself with like-minded people who also want to make change happen in a positive way. The intrinsic essence of leadership is to take people on a journey that they would probably not have thought of themselves but become excited by the journey itself and the destination you have defined with them. It is important to constantly challenge yourself and your team to seek new, different and better outcomes that benefit most. It has often been said that the happiest people are not those who have the most money but those who focus on doing as much as they can for others.
In fact, what may be true about great wealth is that it enables one to be unhappy in comfort!
3. Make Creativity your Centrepoint
If ever there was time for innovativeness and creativity it is now and it is especially necessary in the South Africa of today.
We CANNOT leave the future to the politicians. We know they are incapable and probably also unwilling to really work hard at creating a better future for all. This has become increasingly the domain of the private sector and civil society. Even the government when it is in real trouble calls on the private sector and civil society for help. This does not mean that we should exclude the government. No, indeed the opposite is true. We must take the lead and include, engage and involve government in building a better society for all.
Just to be clear – society starts with you. You are the centrepoint of all of society that is relevant to you so do not start your journey looking to others to provide direction for the things that are important to you. Start with yourself and engage those that want to travel the journey with you and as the journey progresses involve all the relevant stakeholders in your journey to make it a success. We need successes to share!
There is no way you would be able to summit Mount Everest unless you are prepared to persevere, hang in there, keep going. Especially when the going gets rough and tough!
It is in conditions like this that leadership really counts. Leadership is about leading. It is what leaders are called to do.
As a leader your job is to make things happen.
As a leader the most important resource you have is your team and in tough times one of your most critical jobs is inculcate this attitude of persevering against all odds. This they will do more successfully and with more determination if you continually fill them with the lightness of hope.
It is the hope of reaching the summit that has kept mountaineers going when the odds seem to be totally stacked against them.
5. Spread the Love
There is too much animosity in the world. We are all too angry about too much. Some of us are angry but we are not sure what we are angry with, or at, or about.
We really need to change this mindset. Anger is a useless emotion which usually leads nowhere, other than to some negative end. Why continue with something that offers no benefit in modern society?
We all, and especially leaders need to find ways to love and to spread this sense of love and caring as widely and as vigorously as possible. We need to build a society that looks for opportunities to be of service to others. We need an attitude of abundance as this will lead to a greater propensity to share generously, of our time, expertise and resources.
6. Live and Work IN the World
The world is truly a village. But it is a village of increasing complexity which simultaneously becomes more accessible and more opaque; bigger and smaller; faster and slower; closer and further.
Without education it must feel like a world of chaos. Even with education it is often extremely difficult to understand. And yet it is our world. It is critical that we are part of it; just as it is part of us. We cannot escape from this globalised world. It is all encompassing. We can benefit and find opportunities by working hard at looking at what the world wants and needs; and avoid looking only at the needs and wants of our village, or our country.
Be sure to be a world citizen.
7. Make sure you Stand for Something
Far too many of us concentrate on being busy. It is almost as though we believe that busyness will bring its own rewards. This may be so on occasions, or for periods of time. But busyness on its own will inevitably lead to disaster. At the end of one’s life no-one will ever ask what we were busy at; instead they will talk about what we represented; what we stood for. Make sure that you are standing for important principles; important values; important ends. These are the things that make for positive change in society. Think of global icons – Mandela, Mother Theresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Desmond Tutu. All of these individuals are known way beyond their singular area of activity or interest because of what they stood for. What do you stand for?
2017 lies ahead. It will be full of twists and turns, ups and downs. It is within your power to make it a great year of change and renewal for yourself; just as the world itself will be doing this anyway!