Transformational Experiences; 5 Lessons from South Africa

There are moments in life that inspire & amaze you, and then there are those  that simply take your breath away to transform you! This past week at the EO Cape Town University I had the wind knocked right out of me.

My key take-away from the past week was;

The essence of Ubuntu; “I am what I am because of who we all are”

The following clip of Nelson Mandela speaks for itself, resonating the simplest form of Ubuntu.

What daily measures are you undertaking to contribute & share all that you’ve learned? How open are you to the endless possibilities surrounding you every day? How are you living the essence of Ubuntu?

The essence of White / Black & all of the intoxicating colors in-between

I was astonished to find how South Africans have their feet deeply planted in their traditions, yet simultaneously have an overwhelming open desire & passion to embrace the future through the power of possibilities. I found not black or white, but rather a multitude of intoxicating colors (& emotions) in-between. If there was one thing that absolutely resonated with me from the very first moment I stepped out of the Cape Town International airport just over a week ago, it was the overwhelming warmth & hospitality of the South African people. With the greatest mixture of color, culture & religion per square inch, the gratitude, warmth & generosity with which I was greeted at every turn was simply awe inspiring.

It had me reflect on a television interview when King Abdullah II of Jordan stated; “We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another”.

My challenge to you is “how can we all begin to see past the minutia that separates us, to focus more on the commonalities that bond us?

The essence of Lee Berger’s “returning home”

During the culmination of an amazing recount by Lee Berger, I was brought to tears when he ended his key-note speech by welcoming us home. He stated that anywhere we live around the globe, we are mere “illegal aliens”, as the origins of humanity dating back millions of years are in the plains we roamed through this past week.

Where is it that you find your comfort & solace? What’s that space you call “home”? Where you feel connected to your most loved ones, and more importantly, to the humanity of a stranger that crosses your path.

The essence of vulnerability

On our final night, with the tears of joyful reflection in our hearts, my wife summarized the magic of this week as “the connections made possible between human beings when they’re willing to be at their most vulnerable”. Far too often too many of us focus on what makes us different from each other, rather than the overwhelming commonalities we share.

Earlier that week I had the pleasure of sitting next to one of our speakers, Mike Boon,  who shared a divine story of confronting a Zulu chief with a declaration of their brotherhood based on the ancient African tradition of burring your umbilical cord in the soil. “My umbilical cord is buried in the same soil, just a stone throw from yours, therefore we are brothers of the same earth.” (loose refection / summary of the story Mike shared)

What powerful relationships are you missing out on because you refuse to let your guard down? How can you find the right environment & the right people that will foster your growth & development?

The essence of Human Doing vs. Human Being

Finally, I have to thank the most generous bunch of people that I have ever met in my life!

  • David & Joanne Smollan; Organizing Committee head & respective First Lady who blew the doors off of genuine love & hospitality
  • Orrin & Vivian Klopper; The passionate visionary with a determination of steel & his rock-star wife who made us feel like life-long friends, extending to us their own circle of relationships & family.
  • My EO South African 12 Apostles who made a magical week possible! You guys are beyond belief!

This group of entrepreneurs from South Africa taught us all a grand lesson is the difference between the power of “Human Doing” vs. mere “Human Being”. There isn’t anything this team couldn’t accomplish, and I feel awfully proud to now count them amongst my most intimate family!

“There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.” – W. Clement Stone

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