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CHANGE THE METHOD, DON’T CHANGE THE CORE MESSAGE

So yesterday I was invited to speak to a group of SMEs and #entrepreneurs. I had prepared to talk about some of the #disruptive businesses such as AirBnB, Uber, Lyft and the like. As the delegates started to arrive it dawned on me that a number of them had never heard about Uber. Well, I knew I had to change my method.

I had put together about 10-12 slides. I decided to tell stories. I shared the story of how in the last few days we had turned a problem of waste into a great #opportunity for young people in the high density areas of Glen View and Budiriro. I also told them how the previous day I had met a delegation from Japan Embassy and told the delegation of the vast opportunities in Zimbabwe. I literally saw the energy in the room rise and in a simple story telling moment, me and the crowd went on an exciting ride for the next 45 minutes. By the time I went back to my presentation we were now tap dancing together. I also told them how I lost money in trying to do quail business. A few lessons:

1. Don’t stick to a method, if it will affect your message

2.The best presentations are those that connect with audiences

3. Audiences will love it when you show how much you care not how much you know

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HOW TO BUILD YOUR CORE TEAM & TO BE PART OF THE INNER CIRCLE : LESSONS FROM JESUS

Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already” – John 11:17
I am a corporate trouble shooter. We handle different strategic and operational challenges everyday. We have a very methodical approach to solving challenges. There is a term we call “deep dive”. When we deep dive into an issue it means we go to the root cause of the issue – we dissect, unpack and analyse an issue until we solve it. We hypothesize and test different assumptions until we solve the matter.

Now come with me to the Master Problem Solver – Jesus and see how he deals with a stinky problem of his friend Lazarus. Picture this – Lazarus was a corpse/cadaver over 4 days dead! Jesus comes and watch how he solves this dead problem:

INSIGHT

1. IDENTIFY & FACE THE PROBLEM – Jesus asks “Where have ye laid him?” You can only solve a problem you identify. If you run away from a problem you will run into more problems

2. UNCOVER THE PROBLEM – Jesus directs “Take ye away the stone”. Don’t hide a problem. What is exposed is closed. What is revealed is healed.

3. ADDRESS THE PROBLEM – Jesus commands “Lazarus come forth”. Be direct. A headache does not need open heart surgery. Be specific and relevant.

4. DISENTANGLE THE PROBLEM – Jesus instructed “Loose him and let him go”. If you don’t remove the things that entangle you, you will remain bound by a problem.

Today you could be facing a difficult situation – I want to encourage you there is no problem that has no solution. Every problem carries the seed of its solution. There is an answer for every question. Be encouraged!

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A LEADER IS A READER : INSIGHTS ON HOW TO GROW YOUR CAREER

Years ago a very successful entrepreneur shared with me that “a leader is a reader”. I took his counsel literally and each year I set learning goals.

As I write I am currently doing my PhD thesis, an online leadership course with University of Pennsylvania; a 12 month “Majoring in Men” course and an Entrepreneurship Course facilitated by my Pastor. That sounds like a lot right? But so do the demands of the things we need to accomplish in this world. Earlier this week as I chaired a weekly meeting with my team I challenged them to read and learn.

Why is this so important?

1. When you learn more you can earn more
2. You can’t receive responsibility beyond your ability
3. Learning is the carrier of your career
4. Opportunities gravitate towards those with capacity to solve problems

EXTRAORDINARY DECISIONS NEED EXTRAORDINARY REFLECTION

The New Year requires making a lot of key decisions. Your life is shaped by the decisions you make and fail to make. The quality of your decision making process impacts the quality of your decisions. Jesus chose his twelve disciples after much consideration. These twelve went on to impact the world. How did he do it?

“And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued ALL NIGHT in prayer to God.
And when it was DAY, he called unto him his disciples:and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles” – Luke 6:12-13

It’s extraordinary that Jesus didn’t go in the valley – but went to the top of the mountain. Let me unravel this.

KEY LIFE LESSONS HIDDEN HERE:

1. Never make major decisions backed by minor prayers
2. When you spend time in the night with God you will see clearly in the day before man
3. To make major decisions take an elevated view – Jesus went up the mountain

Declaration

I make sound decisions. I gather enough facts and information backed by prayer to make impactful decisions.

 

 

 

 

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EVERY OPPORTUNITY NEEDS A STRATEGY (PART ONE)

Moses sent them out with these instructions:”Go northward into the hill country of the Negeb, and see what the land is like; …what the people are like who live there, whether they are strong or weak, many or few; and whether the land is fertile or not; and what cities there are, and whether they are villages or are fortified; whether the land is rich or poor, and whether there are many trees….” Numbers 13:17-23

I rate the Bible as the ultimate strategy resource. It is interesting that before the children of Israel went into Canaan, they had to do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis.

The whole book of Numbers is about counting the children of Israel according to their “ability to fight”. They wanted to assess the depth and breadth of their military strength. Secondly they assessed the actual opportunity – the fertility of the land, the wealth, type of cities, how the people live. This was a PESTEL (political, economic, environmental, social, technological, environmental and legal) analysis.

A few lessons to ponder:

1. Without a good plan, a good opportunity becomes bad for you
2. To unlock an opportunity you need a plan
3. To defeat your enemy, you need to study their habits, strengths and way of life

Are there some opportunity or challenges in your life today. Have a plan. Assess your strength. Set aside some time to think and get it right….

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DONT MAKE SMALL DECISIONS

Ever wondered why Obama wears same suits, ties and colour shirts?

You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,” [Obama] said. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make

LESSONS

1. Take care of big decisions and the small decisions won’t matter
2. Always look at the bigger picture
3. Elephants don’t swat flies

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GRATEFULNESS LEADS TO GREATFULNESS

Gratitude is the way to altitude. What are the keys to experiencing the extraordinary? Many times we limit God by failing to thank Him for what we have. We focus on what we don’t have. Grace works with a structure (that which is there). Faced with little resources to feed 5000 people Jesus activated the key of gratitude:

“Jesus took the five loaves and two fish and LOOKED UP into the sky and GAVE THANKS; then he broke off pieces for his disciples to set before the crowd. And everyone ate and ate….” – Luke 9:16-17

A few points to reflect upon:

1. What you have may not be much, but God will multiply it with His touch
2. Jesus didn’t look at what he had (5 loaves & 2 fish) He LOOKED UP to the Father.
3. Change your perspective – say “this can do” instead of “this is too little”
4. Give thanks! If you are not grateful, you are a great fool. Be grateful and you will be ‘greatful’

Today celebrate that which you have…that job, spouse, that small business, few customers, few dollars, that small church. What you celebrate appreciates.

IT MATTERS WHAT YOU SEE : LESSONS FROM NELSON MANDELA

Eyes that look are common eyes that see are rare. I was reflecting on what a British clergyman called Fredrick Langbridge wrote ; “two men looked out from prison bars, one saw mud, the other stars”. Thinking about how Nelson Mandela managed to spend 27 years in jail without losing hope, I cant help but feel that he had a different perspective – he saw the rainbow nation beyond the dark clouds of apartheid. To get into his mind you need to read Mandela’s favourite poem by William Ernest Henley’s Victorian era poem, “Invictus” (1875), meaning “Unconquered.”

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate,

I am the captain of my soul.

 Mandela inscribed on his prison wall  the last two verses  of this poem. Before the 1995 World Rugby Cup final, Mandela gave this poem to the captain, Francois Pienaar  of the South African national rugby team the Springboks who went on to win the World Cup.

You might be faced with the biggest challenge of your life right now. There is a ‘bug bear’ which has been nagging you and you want to get rid of it? Your life feels like you are in cul de sac – just going round in circles, or you feel like you are riding a rocking horse – all motion no progress? It is time to change your perspective. Take a step out of the situation, gain perspective and approach things with fresh insight and understanding. It’s time to change perspective to alter the course of your life and that of others. To change your world you need to change your perspective.

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THE POWER OF CONSISTENCY: LESSONS FROM NELSON MANDELA

“Trevor when you packed my things where did you put my weights?” These were the words which Nelson Mandela asked Trevor Manuel (ex South African Finance Minister), a day after he had been released from jail after 27 years. ‘Your weights?’ Trevor asked. ‘Yes, my weights. I gym every morning, I need my weights!’ Mandela responded matter-of-factly. This was in a telephone call at 500am in the morning! It sounds rather surprising for someone who had spend 27 years in jail to worry about weights just a day after tasting freedom. However this was the hallmark of Nelson Mandela – consistency. He has led a life of consistency whether in speech or in action. So consistent was this democracy icon that 26 years after his Rivonia Trial (in 1964) speech he used exactly the same words to end his Freedom speech (in 1990) as follows:

‘I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die ‘ – Nelson Mandela in 1964 and 1990

Without doubt, the force of consistency has helped Mandela realize his ideals during his lifetime. This is a lesson to every one of us that if we cultivate consistency we will enjoy the fruits of our ideals, dreams and aspirations. Reflect on this:

1. Consistency is the ability to maintain a particular standard or repeat a particular task with no variation.
2. Consistency produces specific desired patterns of behaviour, intended habits and the attitudes that lead to achievement of your dreams.
3. Consistency is the force that will bring energy to stuttering goals and receding dreams.

HOW TO TRANSFORM YOURSELF TO SUCCEED (PART 1)

As a coach and mentor one of the things I have learnt is that personal and business transformation is a journey and not an event. However along this journey there are defining moments or events. A lot of people and organisations fail to make the transition from one level of success to the next because they fail to read these key stages. The world abounds with stories of people who did not get great opportunities but made great of the opportunities life presented them. An opportunity of a lifetime exists in the life of that opportunity. The secret is in understanding times and seasons. I shared recently in an article how phone maker Blackberry failed to read the times and they have paid a heavy price. To perform you need to transform. If you conform to the norms you will deform and lose your form. I am a firm believer in disruptive innovation – this requires to be misunderstood… to be a little crazy and weird in pursuit of game changing transformation. Disruptive innovation is understood in hindsight.

There is a simple story in the Bible in Mark 8: 22-26 and I want to share some important lessons on transformation:

“Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village….his eyes were opened. His sight was completely restored, and he could see everything clearly. Jesus sent him away, saying, “Don’t go back into the village…”

Jesus encountered a blind man. He took this man ‘by hand’ out of his village. The first time after being laid hands upon this man could see ‘man like trees’. The second time around his sight was completely restored. Jesus then told him not to go back to village. I want to share the 4 vital stages of transformation for your success. These stages are Passover, Makeover, Crossover and Takeover in that order.

Passover Stage – ‘Go Out’

Jesus took the matter of this blind man literally into his own hands, by leading him out of the village ‘by hand’. In order to progress in life you need to leave your village. Village represents familiarity, limitations, little exposure and limited vision. Village is not necessarily a place but is also a state of mind. Village is a place of surrender and condemnation. In Africa the old, retired, sick, rascals and hopeless folk are send to the village. The children of Israel once stayed in a village called Egypt for over 400 years until a time to ‘passover’ came.

In order for your career, marriage, ministry, business or project to flourish you need to leave your village.  A village or cradle mentality makes you a slave to the familiar, daily grind and routines. In order to experience growth you need to break out of the familiar and go out of your village. For some your job, industry or country has now become your village while others the village is in the mind – you want to stick to the familiar and you think there are sharks out there. Dare the undared, try the untried, venture into the unknown, blaze the trail, go out, break out – passover!

Dont miss out the next Blog for the Makeover Stage…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LITTLE MAN WITH A BIG IDEA: THE POWER OF GOALS

“…Zacchaues…wanted DESPERATELY to see Jesus, but the CROWD was in his WAY––he was a SHORT MAN and COULDNT see over the crowd. So he RAN on ahead and CLIMBED UP in a sycamore tree so he COULD see Jesus…”- Luke 19:2-4 (MSG)

I was reflecting on this story. Zacchaues had a simple goal – he wanted to meet the biggest celebrity of his day – Jesus. But there was a little problem – Zacchaues was a little man! Jesus rolled with huge crowds. Tiny Zacchaues had no chance of getting to see Jesus. BUT he had some idea – ‘get up the big tree little man, and grab attention’. It worked – he caught the attention of Jesus.

If you are reading this I know you have goals. How desperate are you about achieving those goals? Your frustration must be your foundation. Think about what Zacchaues did:

1. Let your desperation be your inspiration. He was desperate to see Jesus and he was inspired to do something about it. Do something about your goals.
2. Focus on the clouds not the crowds…it’s crowded at the bottom. When you look up, you will spot opportunities. He looked up and saw a sycamore tree
3. Don’t run away from problems – hidden in every problem is the solution. He “ran on ahead”
4. A problem is not solved at the same level at which it was created…Zacchaues climbed up a tree
5. Be innovative – when there is no way, create another way.

If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door. When you come short your faith makes up!

STEVE JOBS: TURNING A BASKET CASE INTO A SHOW CASE

On 5th of October 2011, co-founder of Apple passed on aged 56. He was hailed by friend and foe as a global icon who impactfully transformed multiple industries with his creative genius. In telecoms he gave us the iPhone, in music the iPod, in personal computing the iPad. An “i-conic” impact! I celebrated Steve Jobs while he lived and therefore it’s not my wish in this article to extol his virtues to fulfil mourning decorum but to share a few reflection points.

Excuses Don’t Change Your World

Steve Jobs was born out of wedlock to a Syrian immigrant father in America, adopted at birth by foster parents, a university drop out, fired from a company he had formed and lived with a rare form of pancreatic cancer for almost 10 years. In spite of such a constrained circumstances Steve Jobs changed the world. What is your excuse? His story echoes that of one Moses a ‘basket case’ who became the deliverer of Israel from Egyptian bondage. In the last 10 years of his life, Jobs virtually transformed Apple from a bottom tier hi-tech company to the most valuable technology company in the world.

Steve Jobs illustrates the ability of human beings to transcend challenges. He was fired from Apple and was in the ‘business wilderness’ for about 10 years. During that period Apple lost market share and money. Dell and Microsoft were leading and raking in the billions. Without going into detail, Apple was for years a David and Microsoft was a Goliath. Steve Jobs was rehired by Apple and transformed the business with game changing products such as the Mac, iPod iPhone and lately iPad. Steve Jobs grew the business from USD5 billion in 2000 to USD350 billion when he handed over to his successor in August 2011. To give you perspective, this is more than the value of Microsoft, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Nokia all put together. Terrific!

Never Change Your Message

To change your world and your condition you need to be fully persuaded in what you believe in. Steve Jobs was ‘brave enough to think differently’, bold enough to follow through his ideas believing he could change the world. When competitors were going for making cheaper products, Steve Jobs decided to go for expensive products. His conviction was profoundly simple – make a great product, put it before a customer and they will open their wallet. This is brave in a world which puts a premium on cost cutting and cheap to push volumes.

A pastor who does not believe in their message is like a parrot, a teacher who does not believe in their material is making a recital, just as a salesman who does not believe in their product is no different from a clown in a circus. Moses could not lead the children of Israel to the Promised Land until he was convinced that bondage was not the right place for God’s children. Never compromise your message to please people or to go with the wisdom of the crowd.

Garments of Passion and Personality

Your greatest asset is not your education, job title or size of car or office. Steve Jobs brought his passion and personality into Apple products. He turned simple products into “rock stars” He did not create the MP3 player, but gave it personality when he created the iPod. Neither did he create the tablet computer, but through the iPad, he redefined the concept of personal computing using a tablet. Images of an emaciated Jobs launching iPad 2 just shows the passion this man had for the products he created. You cannot talk of “Apple’s Jobs, but about Job’s Apple”. He earned the naming rights through his actions, not because he was a co-founder. Your actions must be clothed with the garments of your passion and scented with the perfume of your personality. Has your organisation, ministry, community or friends come to now know the typical “you-sque” performance. Passion and personality are not techniques or tools; they are about who you are.

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