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Leadership at the peak – Rising above your circumstances

George Nyabadza

I HAVE a new friend. She is HIV-positive. I shall call her Tammy for the purposes of this article but this is not her real name.

Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>I met her last week after she insisted that we meet after reading about the horrible details of my marital situation in a very detailed and substantially accurate e-mail that is doing the rounds locally, regionally and internationally.

By the time of writing this article I personally have been forwarded numerous copies by colleagues from all over the world.

Apparently Tammy received a forwarded copy from a friend in the United States. Her concern and pain over the issue arose from the fact that she is regular reader of this column ever since its inception, and that she sees me as a kindred spirit in the quest for real leaders. On reading the e-mail she immediately made contact with me. Whilst a few genuine friends had made the effort to sit with me and challenge me to rise above the situation as a leader, not many strangers had called. I put her off citing the need to be alone but as she was insistent that we meet, I asked her to call me back after three days.

Much to my surprise she did call back on the third day and really insisted that we meet so I conceded to a mid-morning breakfast appointment. I arrived at the meeting really sceptical about her intentions. Little did I expect the impact this meeting would have on me.

Tammy talked at length about many issues but I would like to highlight two key leadership principles that I learnt from her:

Focus on the cause

Looking me straight in the eye she said: “There is no one worth dying for but there are causes worth dying for.” She told me that she could only guess at the depth of pain I was experiencing but that irrespective of it I should be brave enough to weather the storm and keep my focus on my life cause and purpose. She urged me to fully appreciate that my life had a greater purpose and impact beyond my present personal circumstances and to always reflect on the bigger picture which is all about fulfilling one’s life purpose and mission.

Leaders rise

Tammy told me that the reason she read all my articles was that she sensed a profound genuineness in the content and she really believed that I was a leader. She said if I was truly a leader I would have enough strength within me to rise above the current painful circumstances and move on with life.

She asked me whether I slept well to which I said I did except for the nagging questioning on why this had to happen to me. She laughed when I told her I usually woke up with the WHY questioning foremost in my mind. Her next statement really hit me hard. “There are more pressing issues concerning leadership than worrying about your broken heart!”

That hurt but before I even had a chance to retort she told me what was uppermost in her mind every time she woke up. She said: “If I notice a pimple on my body I become concerned because this maybe the beginning of the end. Everyday I wonder if I will catch an opportunistic disease which may be the beginning of the end for me. You see George, I am HIV-positive. You are the third person that I have told this. No one else knows. I have chosen to rise above this painful reality and to live life to the fullest. Your pain will go away but you will still have your health and whole life ahead of you. I seize every moment that comes by and do the best in life everyday. I have risen above my circumstances. You can do the same if you choose to, but only if you really are a leader.”

These two principles have helped me in moving on with my life. The challenge for every leader is simply to find a cause and to rise above every circumstance that threatens the achievement of that cause.

South African-based George W Nyabadza is the chief executive officer of Achievement Success Dynamics International. For more information on leadership development programmes please visit our website www.achievement-success.com or e-mail George on info@achievement-success.com

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