“The greatest weapon in the hand of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”
Steve Biko epitomised a human being who understood his purpose in life: to use the gift of life to enhance the lives of those who were deprived and oppressed.
Steve Biko understood that to attain our freedom we had to rebel against the notion that we are a problem, that we should no longer merely cry out, “Why did God make me an outcast and a stranger in my own house?” that we should stop looking at ourselves through the eyes of others, and measuring our souls by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.
Entrepreneurship is a constant battle of the mind. Mental strength when things are not going well is what makes or breaks entrepreneurs.
You need to have a never-die attitude. The first battle you fight and have to defeat every morning is the mental battle. Mentally strong leaders, are not easily influenced by external and fleeting opinions and trends of others.
We are the stories we tell ourselves. We tell our stories, and a person without a story does not exist. Everybody, has a story that they follow. We tell ourselves stories. “I tell a story, and therefore I exist.” I exist because there are stories, and if there are no stories, we don’t exist. We create stories to define our existence. If we do not create the stories, we probably go mad.
When we allow other people to define us, to tell us who we are, we give up our destiny to those who define us.
Today we have allowed others to define to us that success is equal to the accumulation of material things.
We are led to believe that money gives us choice, status and increasingly an identity. But there is something hollow about all this, whose meaning or identity is it? Am I really defined by where I live, what I wear, eat or drive, or am I just another willing victim of our sophisticated capitalistic market.
Lack of a strong understanding of our identity will always result in allowing fleeting and trending ideals to define us.
Steve Biko refused to be defined by anyone or any system that subjugated him to being inferior.
Steve Biko knew his identity and remained faithful to it even when it threatened his life. “It is better to die for an idea that will live, than to live for an idea that will die” he said.
Unfortunately today our identity has been relegated to be defined by material wealth.
Thabo Mbeki in delivering the Nelson Mandela lecture said:
“Thus, everyday, and during every hour of our time beyond sleep, the demons embedded in our society, that stalk us at every minute, seem always to beckon each one of us towards a realisable dream and nightmare. With every passing second, they advise, with rhythmic and hypnotic regularity – get rich! get rich! get rich!
And thus has it come about that many of us accept that our common natural instinct to escape from poverty is but the other side of the same coin on whose reverse side are written the words – at all costs, get rich!”
He furthermore continues to say:
“In these circumstances, the meaning of freedom has come to be defined not by the seemingly ethereal and therefore intangible gift of liberty, but by the designer labels on the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, the spaciousness of our houses and our yards, their geographic location, the company we keep, and what we do as part of that company.”
It seems that today our identity as a people unlike Steve Biko’s vision is not defined by who we are as a people but it seems like we are now defined by the standard of materialism instead of manners maketh a man, of ubuntu, greeting, showing respect to elders, doing work that matters, building relationships, hard work, humility and team work.
Leaders need to espouse the identity and principles that makes us human.
To be worth something is to be loyal to principles. Not to move with the wind, not to change direction as the wind blows or relent because it is difficult to achieve the things that are right & therefore you must retreat.
Leaders must encourage and remain loyal to principles even when it is not easy, even when it threatens your own life. Steve Biko did that and his ideals continue to inspire most in the world.
The secret of leadership is simple:
- Do what you believe in,
- Paint a picture of the future
- Go there.
- People will follow.
A strong foundation of identity is crucial for a leader.
There is nothing wrong in making a comfortable living, and accumulating things that makes life easier. It is important to be ambitious and to work hard to be successful, but not at the expense of being human. Strive for success but not at all costs. What does it help to capture the world and lose your soul.
It is important to help, to connect and develop others, it is what makes us human. But it is equally important not to compromise our standards in the process.
By all means be nice, but don’t compromise your standards in the process.
When you take away your job title, your degree, where you stay or the clothes you wear, who are you?