How often do entrepreneurs come up with great ideas but are just not able to bring them to fruition because of self-doubt, negative belief systems or fear of failure? Many might admit to knowing, deep-down, that they were born to do great things, but keep tripping themselves up because of unresolved issues within.
Add to this the often vehement opposition to new ideas, even from close friends and family, and it is clear that entrepreneurs face some ‘giants’ along their path to success.
Some of these challenges were addressed recently at an intensive two-day leadership workshop held at New Ventures Studio, which just launched its second 8-week entrepreneurial course for young entrepreneurs.
The seminar, entitled "Transformer Leadership", was facilitated by Leadership practitioner Vicky Coates and forms part of NVS' personal development curriculum, designed to enhance self-awareness and personal leadership of its students. Over a two-month period, about 20 young entrepreneurs (aged 18 to 35) will be exposed to both business skills and personal development training to prepare them to turn their business ideas into reality.
The class is extremely diverse in terms of ethnicity, religion, educational background and entrepreneurial experiences. This diversity adds great value to the course and makes for some interesting times of sharing.
During the leadership seminar, we were provided with a set of concepts, practical tools and leadership disciplines to help deal with inner blockages and harness one’s vast inner resources so necessary for entrepreneurial success.
On the first day, we were asked to reflect on our ‘leadership signature’ and what drives us to pursue our entrepreneurial dreams. Here are a few examples shared by the current class:
Siphiwo: “I want to be a positive role-model for young men and women in the townships who are looking to me for clues on how to live their lives.”
Pearl:“You never know who’s watching you”.
Tawanda: “I believe I was created for a purpose, to make a positive contribution as a leader and entrepreneur, and this is what gets me up in the morning”
Sanele:“What drives me is wealth creation (not just making money) and constantly innovating.”
We were also challenged to live in the “Power of Now”, to get beyond wishing and hoping for better days. This was an eye-opener for many who shared they could relate to the train example, where one gets caught in the trap of waiting for the next ‘station’ instead of living in the eternal now of the journey.
The seminar also dealt with how we can allow negative words and judgments of others to determine how we see ourselves. Statements such as “You’ll never make it” or “You’re not as bright as your sisters” can leave deep emotional wounds (if we believe them!) that can have life-long effects. Vicky demonstrated this principle by pouring coffee into clean water and showing how only a few drops of the coffee discolour the liquid. Conversely, it takes a lot of pure water to purify the discoloured liquid.
We learned how important it is to take responsibility for our reactions to such negativity and not to get stuck in ‘victim mode’. The responsibility rests on each individual to acknowledge the times we were wounded in such ways, to forgive where necessary and to keep replacing these words with the ‘pure water’ of positive self-affirmation.
The more we heal ourselves from negative affirmations, the more our creativity will be restored. This is surely one of the keys for unlocking greater innovation and entrepreneurial leadership in our society. Many in South Africa are deeply wounded from their pasts, but within this problem lies a great opportunity: widespread emotional healing would bring with it a surge in innovation and entrepreneurial flare, as creativity is unlocked and self-belief is restored.
The depth of sharing and personal insights gained by the students in this seminar was quite astounding to both the facilitator and myself (New Ventures Studio Training Manager) and revealed the great leadership potential within this group.
When asked what part of the workshop had the most meaning for participants, some referred to the unforgettable exercise involving the hand-puppet snake, which can represent the powerful influence of one’s mind. This exercise showed how misleading thoughts can often trigger powerful emotions such as fear, anger, jealousy or even depression. Effective leaders are able to recognise when they are triggered and not act out on every thought or desire they experience. In doing so, they learn how to exercise emotional intelligence.
But the ‘cherry on the top’ was the module on finding one’s true identity. Realising that “I have” a heart, mind and body, but “I am” spirit and life was a life changer for many students. We recognised the value of times of stillness, living in the now, and choosing to respond rather than react. This can help us identify more with our true selves and not the damaged parts of ourselves.
To be able to distinguish between our outer self (heart, mind and body) and inner self (spirit, life) is part of the journey. But to find our identity in our true selves and keep living out of that place (in the battleground of everyday life!) is the key to accessing our inner greatness and awakening the GIANT within!