“The breath-taking Table Mountain climb in Cape Town on July 3, 2016, 3,563 feet (1,086 meters) up into the clear blue sky, was a majestic feat. The physical jolt between the jagged rocks on the climb back down, physically ‘stirred’ my ‘silent killer’ 18 cm ovarian cancerous tumor. One week later, I climbed Devil’s Peak, a higher, tougher, physically demanding, more difficult climb. I recited the poem ‘Invictus’ that inspired Nelson Mandela and fellow inmates, to persevere through grave adversity. I practiced ‘forgiveness’ for a disingenuous media article published that day (a payback for ‘blowing the whistle’). At the top, I took deep, slow breaths, in what MLK Jr. calls, ‘the thinnest layer between heaven and earth’. I spiritually connected with Mandela drawing strength from him and his long road less traveled. Lost in the moment, I gazed across an abundant Atlantic ocean. It was a clear day, I captured the ‘shot’ in the vibrant prism of my mind, the small piece of land in the distance, Robben Island. Once known for its’ seal population, leper colony, and prisoners, but made internationally famous for being Nelson Mandela’s prison ‘lockdown’ for his life imprisonment. I felt a sense of relief, and a renewed faith to forgive and to truly LIVE – to ‘be’ more, to ‘do’ more, to touch lives, and to lead with excellence to make an impact. It was through forgiveness, I found redemption. That mountainous climb saved my life – mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually. More significantly, it reignited my purpose and passion to truly live. I claimed a renewed determination to share the hope of Mandela’s blueprint of leadership – a new way of thinking, of being of leading, to give our fragile world a more human face.”
“We have all been called to action and to lead. Our younger generation have an unforgiving urgency to remake their nation, and to remake our fragile world.”
– Anne Pratt
Existential life-giving questions for each of us to pose and ponder in exercising leadership, challenge us in our assumed power and privileged comfort, with systemic privileges, we are not ‘all (equally) in this together’. Dealing with crisis without privilege is vastly different from adversity with privilege. Bryan Stevenson, Harvard Law graduate and Civil Rights Hero, once named the ‘Nelson Mandela of America’, personally shared with us at Harvard, the ingredients for achieving Peace and Justice, and how we transform and change the world. In a powerful, moving delivery that brought me and accomplished grown men and women to tears, Bryan poignantly illustrated that to create personal and systemic change and transformation, a key ingredient, is our willingness to be ‘uncomfortable’ and ‘inconvenienced’.
“Make a conscious decision to be willing to do uncomfortable things.” – Bryan Stevenson
How uncomfortable are we willing to be? The gift of adversity is often its’ unintended (or intended) ability to make us ‘uncomfortable’ and ‘inconvenienced’. We have a privilege, a right, and a duty, to make our contribution to ‘make this world a better place’, to ‘create a better life for all’. Some of these deeper questions rose within, getting louder with each physically demanding, exacting step, inwards, onwards and upwards. A dogged determination to transcend the fatigue, established questions now top of mind, all the way up to the peak of the mountain: All of us are called to lead, and those of you who are so young, have an urgent duty to exercise leadership anywhere and anytime. Get comfortable with discomfort to lead adaptive change and in so doing, embrace your goodness and greatness’.