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Inspiring young scholars at Mandela Rhodes Foundation

Article written by Barbara Chesire-Chabbaga – Director & Lead Consultant, AB Consultants Limited

Until the lion tells his side of the story, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter. I have decided that I have a story worthy to tell, and I will share it. I encourage you to all share your story, no matter how simple or normal you perceive it to be.

On 26th September 2018, I had the honour and privilege to share my story with 68 Mandela Rhodes Scholars from 14 different countries who were completing their graduate studies in various universities in South Africa. As I contemplated what to share with them, a good friend told me that I should tell them a story that cannot be told by anyone else. It had to be a personal story. I realized that it did not matter what statistics I shared on insurance uptake, or lack thereof, they would not remember that. So, I decided to be vulnerable and share what was personal to me and what was relevant to the scholars. The scholars are really the best that Africa has to offer, and I wanted to share something that they could carry with them as they made life’s decisions.

I shared with the scholars my career journey so far, how I started and the importance of serendipity to be the wind behind your sail. I shared with them the challenges and successes I encountered in both employment and business. I told them that as they lead, they should remember that people leave people, not organizations. I shared with them the importance of achieving happily and doing impactful work. I asked them to keep doing what they were doing, because as they were, they were inspiring many people.

I shared with them some of the events that have shaped my life, including being stuck in the Westgate terrorist attack for 10 hours and thinking that if I got out alive, I wanted to live a bigger life. I told them that it is important to know your front row, and whose front row you sit on and to be careful who they allow into their lives, make sure it is people with whom you share life’s principles. This will save you a lot of heartache in the future.

My takeaways to the scholars:

  1. Look out for serendipity in your journey to enable you ride the waves
  2. Listen to what events are telling you
  3. Achieve happily
  4. Do your thing, you never know who you may be inspiring
  5. Know your front row

 

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