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Someone else to implement your ideas, what do you think?

We all know that everything we see, touch, feel experience etc. started off as an idea in the psyche of a fellow human. Ideas change the world both for the better and sometimes for the worst. What would the world be without the internet, cell phones, books, music, cars, organisations, aeroplanes, etc. and of course money, that underpins everything. Yes sure, there are generations which existed before some of these, but the point I am trying to make is most of these inventions have somewhat improved the journey of humanity on this earth.

In my silliness, I sometimes smirk at my sister that, I am so grateful for the person who thought of the idea of an indoor toilet…hahaha. In our generation there is an obsession of conceiving and birthing ideas. I think that when we think ideas, we often have the underlying objective of wanting to bring about ideas that solve issues, ideas that change the way things are done and also ultimately ideas that bring new things.

And we can all agree that we love the accolades of being called an “ideas person”, but here is a thought I have been grappling with… is it really that important or even necessary to implement the idea/s I came up with?

One of the questions I really dread being asked when I sit in interviews is, ‘So tell me, what ideas/creative things have you thought of and have implemented in your current role?

I dread this question for various reasons because in that moment I really struggle to remember some of the “big” and “amazing” ideas I have come up with and implemented. But what makes the thinking process more wrestling is I’ve never truly executed an idea all by myself, especially in the work context. Ideas are usually executed as a collective effort. I have thought of a lot of ideas but those were never implemented and what the interviewer cares about at the end of the day is how that idea improved the organisation.

There is a bit of a double edge effect in corporate around this. On the one end, there is an obsession with hiring people who seem to say all the right things and are overly confident. And I actually think this can sometimes be dangerous because sometimes people can lie and over exaggerate what they have done.

On the other end, corporate is fundamentally established through an understanding that some people/teams will come up with ideas and some will implement them. This is a continuous cycle witnessed through a lot of projects that organisations undertake.

I know that this ideas discussion is a broad one and I don’t think I can do enough justice to it in this piece. There wouldn’t be things like protection of intellectually property if people didn’t take ideas seriously.

I guess the point I am trying to make in this piece is, sometimes it’s really okay for someone else to be the one to implement your great idea. We have to bear in mind that an idea is only celebrated once it’s actually something tangible that comes to life. However we obviously have to be wise when it comes to our ideas. Every context will guide you in terms of how to approach this. There are situations where you have to own your idea, even protect it until a point where you ready to execute on it. But there are also situations, which most of us will find ourselves in, where we have to work interdependently. In those instances, when you all have a shared objective about what you want to achieve then I really do think you shouldn’t be obsessed with being the one to come up with and implement the idea.

But what do you think, should we really want so much recognition for our ideas or should we care more that the idea is executed as opposed to laying claim of who its rightful owner is?

Our democracy is…

“The people of South Africa have spoken in these elections. They want change! And change is what they will get. Our plan is to create jobs, promote peace and reconciliation, and to guarantee freedom for all South Africans. We will tackle the widespread poverty so pervasive among the majority of our people. By encouraging investors and the democratic state to support job creating projects…” Nelson Mandela Inaugural Address, 09 May 1994.

These words from our former president were received with tremendous joy by most South Africans; they spoke of a new chapter and the very essence of a rainbow nation. The ambitious Reconstruction and Development Plan that Mandela spoke of in his inaugural speech, was abandoned after two years of its inception due to its flawed implementation. Then the baton was handed over to the Mbeki administration who implemented GEAR (Growth, Employment and Redistribution) which was aimed at cutting apartheid-era debt.

The big question is, more than two decades into our democracy, how do the youth perceive the state of our nation? The real truth is that the opinions amongst South African youth are as vast as the ocean but one thing is common, the youth is angry and frustrated. Yes there is acknowledgement that so much good has come in the form of opportunities for those previously marginalised. But the struggle really continues. South Africa is divided. Some feel there is still vast inequalities, and believe that during the transition period people who had been tormented during Apartheid were asked to forgive and forget too quickly. Matters were swept under the carpet for the sake of peace. People are upset with the ANC, but they don’t trust opposition parties like the DA because they feel that underlying them is a white supremacist agenda.

The struggle continues in different forms, black youth are encouraged go to school; get good grades; get degrees but then they fall within the unemployment statistics again. Sometimes they need to fight their way into graduate programmes, just to prove themselves so that they can at least land a contract to pay off their student loans. Amongst the student loans, their salaries also need to provide for their families and in most instances the youth end up in a vicious cycle of debt.

Others believe that the new South Africa has created an elite black middle class. A lot more black people have been given access to power in the different factions of society, and the question that is being posed is what are they doing with it? But the issue is also much deeper than this, in that, this has created a unique social stratification where the poor aren’t just black and the rich aren’t just white. The rich become richer and the poor become poorer. The wealth that was meant to be redistributed for the betterment of all has been stuck with a fortunate few.

Those who have benefited from the opportunities afforded post apartheid believe that this poor political leadership crisis is not necessarily a situation unique to South Africa, but that actually there is a global crisis politically and economically and that in itself has had a tremendous negative impact on Africa and South Africa. A common perception shared by most of the youth is that our democracy is threatened. And there are three major issues which pose a threat to the very essence of our democracy; these are poor leadership; high unemployment rate and the declining education system.

Our current National Development plan (NDP) presents a sound proposal on how we can make South Africa a prosperous country, free of unemployment by 2030. It speaks to improving our education system, labour market and other spheres of society but will require much hard work. There is a shared sense amongst South Africans of every race that we need to choose a political leadership that will actively focus on the provision of basic services like water and housing; education and employment thereby restoring dignity to our people and our Democracy.  Nelson Mandela and many others who were the founding fathers of our democracy were all about that.

Perhaps we have to come to an understanding that, Our Democracy is a continuing journey of ups and downs, and right now we are experiencing some of the downs. We need to realize that it’s not just one person who can help South Africa but that we actually need an influential network of like-minded people.

Special thanks to Siphokazi Ntetha, Lihle Malwandla, Dineo Makuru, Kagiso Dlodlo, Tshepo Sesioana and Snenhlanhla Hlengwa who contributed their invaluable comments for this piece.

Hospitality is a special touch…

I was listening to a dear sister share about how her mum had these special plates and mugs which were never used by them. Her mum insisted that those plates and mugs were only to be used if really special guests came over. I just laughed as she shared this as I can relate so much and I actually think most people would also relate. When we were younger my siblings and I dreaded the thought of having a guest over. We would not sleep the night before because mum made sure that we scrubbed the house like crazy; she took out all her new linen and towels for the guest to use. And of course the special plates, glasses and cutlery which we never touch would come out of storage. When I got older I understood better why mum did these things, she was trying to instil in us the concept of being hospitable.

I take my hat off for the individuals who saw a business opportunity in hospitality because the practice itself has always existed as part of human culture throughout the world. The industry dates back to ancient Greek times and even before that. It was about this time that Greeks came up with thermal baths that were designed for recuperation and relaxation. These thermal baths are said to be the origin of what we know as a modern day spa.

The first hotel that was established was Koshu Nishiyama in Japan which is said to be over 1300 years old. The hotel is still in operation till this day and has been run by the same family for several generations. The hospitability industry is a multi-trillion dollar industry and has been a great catalyst in making our world a global village. The word hospitality is an adaptation of the French word ‘hospice’ and was adapted to form the word ‘hospitality’ that means taking care of the travellers. Hospitality in its core is about taking care, pampering and helping (

I’ve been reflecting a lot on this as I appreciate how hospitable my friends and family have been towards me. This made me realise that in the human heart there is a burning desire to be treated in a hospitable way. My faith is fundamentally rooted in servitude. I have a hospitality remembrance diary in my heart…these are all the people who opened their homes and hearts to me. Most of them I’m sure don’t know the extent of how they impacted my life…but I pray for them, I treasure them and I hope to be able to bless their lives.

Maya Angelou put it best when she said “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel”.

Come on people, It’s just me…

There’s something very interesting when a person of influence remarks ‘come on people, it’s just me’. Those words are a form of humility because when unpacked further, I believe the person is simply saying, ‘there is no need to treat me any differently, I just want the same treatment as everyone’.

My eyes were actually opened about this when I was watching an interview with a very popular music producer and DJ. He said some very powerful things to the talk show host which I believe were great nuggets of wisdom. He echoed that when his with people and sometimes people he grew around, and they just chilling, people will be shocked at how normal he is.

Shocked by their reaction, he would ask ‘what’s up?’ and they would respond to say ‘dude you are so and so, you are super successful’ and he would simply say ‘come on guys, it’s just me’.

I think his response is also tightly linked to his secret for success. He shared that when he creates and produces music he does so as a fan. He doesn’t create it with the objective of selling it to other people. His success stems from his love, it’s not only his fans that enjoy his music, but when he listens to it, he loves what he hears. It kind of cements that cliché we have all heard “do what you love and you will never have to work another day in your life.”

Carrying on with the ‘it’s just me’ undertone, he also mentioned that when he meets people and they get to know him, they always say ‘wow, you are so humble’ or when the media writes about him, they often echo that he is so successful and yet so humble. He said that they make it seem like; if he wasn’t as successful it wouldn’t matter that he is humble or not.

I really love that, because people often over-emphasise about how the influential need to be humble and for the rest of us it’s like well, it’s not that important. What keeps you humble is when you begin to separate what you do with who you are. We are obsessed with ‘making it big’ but there are many valuable lessons we can learn from the people who we perceive have made it big.

I was reminded about what my friend said when we were conceptualising PenTheVision, he asked ‘what do you want the blog to be about?’ And I kept saying ‘I, I, I’ and he said ‘remember, it’s not just about you, it’s about serving those that will read this’. I’m not completely there yet, but I try by all means to apply his advice when I sit down to pen the columns.

I observe people around me, I listen in on conversations and I share thoughts about what I believe people would love to read about and of course I write in a way that I know would enjoy reading.

The heart of the matter is this; I believe that when we have ‘it’s just me’ engraved in our hearts, it keeps us humble and we are fully able to spread kindness. Kindness doesn’t have to be huge; like giving someone money. But it can be as small as being fully present and listening when a person wants to share something, it could even be a really warm and sincere smile.

How many of us when we are in a position where we on the spot light and are constantly praised can simply say “come on people, it’s just me”.

Nike said “Just do it” and I agree…

Curious about how Nike came up with their catchy tag line ‘Just do it’? Well, let me share a bit. The slogan was coined in 1988 at an advertising agency meeting and the founder of Wieden + Kennedy agency, Dan Wieden credited his inspiration for ‘Just do It’ to Gary Gilmore’s last words ‘Let’s do It’. In 1976 Gilmore robbed and murdered two men in Utah and was executed by a firing squad. They asked him if he had any final words and he said ‘Let’s do it’. However after much creative thinking, Dan Wieden changed the words to ‘Just do it’ and presented the tagline to the sportswear powerhouse and well as they always say the rest is history ( I really like this tagline and think a lot of people also love it. It has survived for so long because it is not only catchy but it is powerful.

To be honest, I’m not really a sportswoman and I don’t wear much Nike products but my older brother is a Nike person; there is something about that tagline which resonates with people from all walks of life. These three words allow you to make the meaning personal to you.

I wanted to share about this because I’ve been having a lot of conversations with people who keep telling me “you know Bongs, I want to do that and this but I don’t have the money, no one is giving me the opportunity and I simply don’t have the energy, etc” the list is endless. The danger with this is that, since people feel that they don’t have the opportunities or the energy, they give up altogether and end up not wanting to do anything, and that my friend is a death warrant for your dreams. I completely understand when people say this because I go through that too, but I’ve also learnt a powerful principle in the process.

I’ve learnt to just do something, no matter how small or big, recognised or not, it may not even be the ultimate thing I want but I’ve learnt the principle of just sowing seeds with the understanding that I may never know where my harvest will come from. Recently, I was asked to share something at a gathering and I recited the following words I had read “the less you do, the less you want to do and the more useless you become”.

The invert of that will be “when you do, the more you going to want to do, the more useful you become”. Reality is, we don’t always feel like doing the things we meant to do, but when we fight within ourselves and ensure that we actually take the first step we gather more strength. Sometimes remaining consistent and being successful has nothing to do with passion but everything to do with action.

The authors of the book “The Daniel Plan – 40 days to a healthier life” said it best when they shared “What you do with your body sets the tone for everything else. Physical health influences your mental health, your spiritual health, your emotional health, your relational health, and even your financial health. How many times have you read a book, heard a message or attended an event that motivated you to make some change, but then you didn’t have the physical energy to do it? Instead, you lay down on your couch and watched TV. A major motivation for us to be physically healthy is that we want the energy and alertness to make other changes in our lives”.

Some people always comment about how they love reading PenTheVision columns and ask how I come up with some of the content. To be honest there are times when I don’t feel like writing, you find that I am discouraged about the challenges in my life, but as soon as I gather enough physical strength, I stand up, grab the laptop, open a blank page, pray and start writing. As soon as I start it’s like a flood of ideas begin to saturate my mind. I also fundamentally believe ideas are attracted to action.

So my enjoy life tip is this, start small, gather enough physical energy and Just do it. Maybe you need to add some sort of exercise in your life or tweak your diet a bit to ensure you are physically alert and able to do whatever it is you need to do, then do that. If you need to study, please wake up, sit up straight and grab that book. If you have to write a book, a proposal, a report, a message, a lesson; whatever it is, grab your laptop or diary and just start penning your thoughts. In the insurmountable things you need to accomplish trust me when I say, strength follows action.

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