Saturday, the 15th of June 2013, was a day that I expected to help a group of 16 to 18-year-olds get clear on their vision for their lives, and work out a plan to turn their dreams into reality. I didn’t for a moment anticipate that they would return the gift a hundredfold.
The 16th of June is Youth Day in South Africa. The day is marked by intense memories of South Africa’s violent past, but it is also a celebration of the fledgeling democracy that the country has become today. One of In2Great Business’ values is to give back to those less fortunate. Kids Haven was chosen two or three years ago as the charity that In2Great Business supports. Youth Day gave the perfect opportunity for that support to be expressed.
The objective of the day was for 10 coaches to work with around 60 youths, who come from difficult backgrounds, many involving abuse and neglect. They live in a shelter and are clothed, fed, schooled and loved by a group of wonderful and dedicated caregivers. Our job was to work with these kids for one day, in small groups, and help each individual design his or her life.
Our role as each Coach was to help facilitate the process that would enable six incredible individuals design their lives. What I did not expect that the learning that I took away from that experience:
1. Dream, dream and dream
Having gone through untold difficulties in their lives so far, these kids are each inspired to break out of their circumstances and provide a better life for themselves, and in some cases for their siblings. They have never lost sight of their dreams. Owen wants to be a professional soccer player, Prince sees himself becoming a commercial airline pilot, and Andrew a journalist. These dreams are not dampened by circumstance. There is a real, deep belief that circumstances can and will be overcome through a combination of hard work and faith.
2. Responsibility is mine
One may be forgiven for imagining that these kids feel that they are owed something by life. I feel that way – it is beyond insane that a child has need of a shelter because those who are supposed to take care of them cannot or will not. Rather than focusing on the wrongs they have been dealt, each child is fully focused on action, without any form of ‘entitlement mentality’. They are completely bought into the notion of personal responsibility for their lives.
3. Action, action and action
What struck me the most is how committed these children are to taking action in order to change their circumstances. They seem to really comprehend that persisting with consistent action is the way to bring their dreams into their reality and are fully committed to the necessary hard work. With that approach, their belief and passion become contagious and you really start believing in the possibilities for their lives.
My life is exceptionally blessed. As a result of this, I reflect that I’ve allowed it to drift a little over the past few months. When I look at the heartfelt passion that these children speak with when they talk about their dreams and goals, there is no question that their hunger is real. It is so – because for them there is no alternative. For me, there are many alternatives and therein lies the challenge of mediocrity. And that is not something that I’m happy to settle for.
These kids have inspired me all over again to live a great life. They have rekindled my passion to be the absolute best expression of myself that I can possibly be. Although we, unfortunately, find many small-minded people in our world at the moment, they have reminded me how important it is not to focus on people who do not have your best interests at heart. These children forced me to commit to taking a step every single day towards achieving my dreams. We signed a pledge at the end of day committing ourselves to do what we said we would do. I commit!!
To Kalala, Prince, Gaamwange, Nyiko, Andrew and Owen, thank you!
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