This post is a part of a series of my reflections from Nike’s We Run Jozi 10K 2012. Subscribe by email or RSS not to miss upcoming posts in the series. You can also check out the previous posts in the series here.
SANDTON & ALEXANDRA
We ran from Sandton and then through Alexandra, the closest Township. Alexandra affectionately called Alex by its inhabitants. Running through Alex was one of my highlights. Being acknowledged by the race route beautified the not so pretty sights of some parts of Alex.
Some of the residents of Alex appreciated the fact that some of the people who normally drive through their township mostly only on the main road linking with Sandton actually came into their township on foot. One kind gentleman offered a cold shower with his hose to runners. Welcome friendliness and hospitality.
Around the 7km mark, at one of the climbs, were children shouting, “don’t give up!” This could be my over active brain, but found it inspiring and ironic at the same time. It crossed my mind that children who are in a seeming hopeless environment were cheering a crowd that was generally more privileged than them, inspiring hope.
Another highlight in relation to Alex is that some of the proceeds from the entrance fees from the runners will go toward establishing a running club for young people in Alex. It is great that I (together with other runners) can contribute. I highly commend Nike Running ZA for this.
For some running the race, this is the only time they are going to set foot in Alex. The reason this is important to note for me is because it is necessary for nation building.
It’s easy to be insensitive to the plight of some when we don’t have a glimpse into their world
Running through Alex was a necessary eye opener and reminder. Sometimes we get so caught up in our own world and challenges, forgetting that there are other people who have significantly greater challenges than ourselves.
This is true in life in general and in leadership. As leaders we sometimes expect results and forget that the well-being of those we lead has direct impact on their performance or delivery. When dealing with your team, remember they are people first.
Empathy is necessary in understanding & identifying with those you lead
Without empathy your leadership will have no soul, seeing people as a mere means to your goal and not the value of who they are as people. Your organization is poor not matter how much money it makes if it does nothing to enrich others. Addressing the plight of the under privileged is responsibility of the privileged. This is the essence of Ubuntu.
Your leadership is weak if it does not acknowledge, accommodate and uplift others when you have the resource to do so. This is a value that all truly significant organizations and nations endear and encourage in their people.
It is easy to lose sight of what is important when you lose yourself in your own world. Part of me feels guilty at the thought that my running shoes plus the mobile phone I had on me (to track my speed and progress) is worth several months’ earnings for some of the people who cheered us on. It made me ask myself how much I have cheered others with less than me.
Encouragement does not cost anything and everyone, anyone, can give it. Inspiring hope in others does not cost money. It can be simple words uttered when needed. We must intentionally get into other people’s worlds to better understand them.
Disclaimer: this post is not been about having pity on people but a reminder to all of us of our responsibility to one another. Those of us who are privileged must use the resources they have to give a helping hand to those who are not. At the same time, no matter how little you have, you can always give something that does not cost much, something but as simple as encouraging words.
Despite our “dispositions” we all have something to give to each other and we must do so