“Do not judge me by my success. Judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” (Nelson Mandela)
Street children or orphaned youths reflect a trend where societies have failed them dismally and consequently these youths have fallen through the cracks. Sadly, it is the vulnerable ones who get subjected to all sorts of evils and unforgiving environments. Social workers who work with these very vulnerable people have discovered that they are far more street wise and resilient opposed to youths brought up in a healthy environment.
If you were asked to give the names of two people who on a humanitarian level have changed the face of history, while touching the lives of the less fortunate, who would come to mind? The two people who inspired me is Nelson Mandela and Mother Theresa. Their leadership skills, dedication to succor and empower the subjugated through their actions and lives, has been defined by their ability to stand despite their circumstances.
I am challenged to understand what makes them rise-up despite their challenges and push forward, making them resilient while others fall to the way side. As leaders, we need to duplicate their characteristics and change our thought processes, making us stronger to weather any storms that come our way. We need to keep standing!
Resilience can be defined as the “capacity to recover quickly from difficulties” and as “the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape.” Research has shown that the primary element to resilience is having caring and supportive relationships, which creates a safety net, thus enabling the person to stand strong and survive during times of hardship.
Resilience occurs when good or bad circumstances combine and adjust our emotional, mental and physical beings, with the ability to hold a coherent sense of self. Resilient individuals believe that they and not their circumstances are in the driving seat of their lives. As a business leader, I take two lessons from the above: first, it is important that I have caring and supportive relationships around me which create that safety net as I lead; and secondly, that as a leader I must not allow the circumstances around me to define who I am and what I do.
The Supportive Net
As a Christian, my ‘safety net’ comes from the community of Christian believers who provide me with care and support. This is why the Bible speaks about the importance of fellowship (Acts 2:42). Most importantly, my focus of control is founded on God’s presence in my life (and the aid He sends through supportive family and friends), therefore my internal focus of control is not grounded in who I am and what I can do. My relationship with God forms a solid core, which enables me to stand strong even when the storms rage around me.
My resilience is thus not founded on who I am but on who my God is. 1 Corinthians 16:13 says: “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” The Apostle Paul challenges us in Ephesians 6:13: “Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” We are called to stand firm as believers.
There are 3 certainties to life – death, taxes and trials. You need Jesus Christ for death, prayer for taxes and practice for trials. How do we practice for the latter? Well, live supportively regarding the government; live generously with regards to the needs of those around you; and live thoughtfully as you daily make the choices and decisions of life.
As leaders within our organizations, our challenge is to keep standing in the midst of the storms. As Christian leaders, our challenge is to make sure that we are not standing on our own strength or expertise but based on who our God is. As Psalm 112:6-7: “Surely he will never be shaken; The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance. He will not be afraid of evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” As you go into the week ahead, may your heart be steadfast and may you keep standing.
About the Author: Dr Alan Louis is a third generation entrepreneur in a family with a 100-year business history. He devoted his life to Christianity as a child. Awarded a PhD in Commerce, is an Ultra Ironman Triathlete Gold medallist and was inducted in the IBC Hall of Fame for entrepreneurship. Internationally he has served on more than 100 private corporate boards, and has experienced the trials and successes of commerce for 3 decades.