We live in extraordinary and unprecedented times. There are many things we have to deal with at the moment, not least the COVID-19 virus, but as we journey into the next 12 months, the toughest thing most of us will have to deal with, is fear.
As is normal for times like these, there are many questions being asked.
- What is real news and what is fake news?
- Is the real news fake?
- Is the fake news real?
- How serious is this pandemic?
- How worried should I be?
- How does it rate in the context of all the other diseases South Africa has to live with?
- If we are going to war against this virus, then why are we not going to war against tuberculosis, a bacteria killing 10 people every hour in South Africa?
- Should we destroy the countries’ economy to save a few people? How do we balance the economy and lives saved in the short term against the lives lost in the long term?
As of the time of writing this article, about 80,000 people in the world have died from COVID-19. This is an horrific number, until you balance it with the fact that almost 2.5 million people have died from starvation in the same time period. How will destroying multiple economies impact that number?
We might be afraid of COVID-19, but as our economy collapses around us there will be many more things to be afraid of.
I was doing a workshop for a Board of hard-nosed Directors a few years ago who were at each other’s throats and I stopped them all and said: “If you do not learn to love each other, this company will not survive.” You could have heard a pin drop for about 30 seconds.
The primary function of leadership is to love.
I was on the plane about 10 years ago flying from London to Cape Town. It was January, and there was a group of British Olympic athletes on their way to Stellenbosch to train in the sunshine.
I got chatting to one of the ladies and she was amazed to hear that I had been married for 35 years and was still happy. The next question from her was the obvious one: “How do you do it? What is the secret?”
My answer: “It all comes down to one question. If we NEVER ask this question, we will have a great marriage. If we ask the question, we are in trouble.”
The question: “But what about me?”
The moment I am selfish and want my way, or want things done for my benefit. The moment I ask: “But what about me”, I am no longer a leader. A so-called leader that is selfish and makes it about themselves is not a leader. That person is a parasite.
Let me define a leader: A leader is someone who puts others before themselves, who puts the team or the company or the country or the family before themselves. A leader is one who lays down their life for others. That is essentially what love is.
Have you noticed that people who know that they are loved are not fearful? They just seem to have an assuredness that everything will be alright.
As we as a country sail into unchartered waters, my hope is that the true leaders will come to the fore and guide us through the storm.