Today’s insights are brought to you by my colleague and Future of People expert Buhle Dlamini.
In Buhle Dlamini’s book, Unleashing Your Greatness, he shares the full story of how he learnt to embrace who he was. This was one of those defining moments, where life shifted for him afterwards.
“We live in a world of comparisons. From the time you are born you are constantly compared to someone in one way or another. And as a result, we start measuring ourselves based on how we measure up to someone else. We spend too much time comparing ourselves to others. Even our decisions about what we want to achieve with our own lives are usually heavily influenced by the comparison game.
Well, it’s time for you to put on the brakes, stop and evaluate your own life. Where has all this comparison brought you to? You cannot unleash your greatness by trying to be like someone else.
Embracing who you are is the foundation of Unleashing Your Greatness. I learned this lesson when I was in high school back in Hlabisa, South Africa, where I grew up. I had won an award for a science project I did in my region and an official from the Education Department was coming to my school to present me with the certificate. It was going to be a big affair and a special school assembly was to be held for me and others to receive our accolades in front of the whole school.
Instead of being filled with excitement, I was totally mortified. You see, my shoes were torn and they were the only pair I owned. I was not unique in this regard, many other kids at our school had a similar challenge due to the financial situation of many families in the village. However, the moment you were singled out for special attention, it was common for others to make fun of you. So, I did not look forward to being on that stage.
Something in my countenance must have betrayed me, because when I got home that afternoon my Grandmother asked me what was wrong. I told her the great news about my award and the presentation that was to follow the next day. She was surprised as to why I was not as thrilled as I should have been. I told her about how I did not want to be on that stage because of my torn shoes. I was ashamed and embarrassed. Without showing too much emotion, she jumped into action and went to speak to my Grandfather about me using his shoes for the big occasion.
My Grandfather pulled out his ‘special shoes’, the ones he wore for special occasions. They were two-toned, black and white and he handed them over to me to try. I tried them on, but there was a problem. They were too big for me. Without missing a beat my grandmother jumped into action and got some old newspapers and started stuffing them in the front part of the shoes and got me to try them on. I did and they fit me well.
She asked me how they felt and I started tearing up as I said, ‘They fit well Gogo’. I didn’t know why I cried then. I think it was because I was feeling sorry for myself, that I didn’t have nice shoes like some of the other kids at school who got new shoes every year. I felt sorry for myself because I had to put on my old man’s shoes to go to a special event.
My Grandmother’s voice shook me from my pity-party when she said “Stop feeling sorry for yourself and remember that it is you who will be on that stage tomorrow and not all of those children you are comparing yourself to. You won that award. You did that and you will do more amazing things but never compare yourself to others.”
At that moment, a revelation hit me. I cannot live my life by comparing myself to others, I must embrace who I am, give what I have and excel at being me!”
Winning that prize and learning to embrace his greatness was one of those defining life moments for Buhle. And the takeaway is this:
You cannot unleash your greatness without first embracing who you are.
Embracing who you are is so important. It’s not about who your parents wanted you to be or who your society groomed you to be. You are not defined by your education or your society or your grades or your degree or your profession. While these things all shape you in certain ways, they are not meant to be the strict box within which you are defined or stuck.
Embracing who you are is what sets you apart from everybody else. Your greatness begins when you realise that you are exactly what you need to be for what you are meant to achieve with your life. You are enough.
Your experiences, even the painful ones, have brought you to where you are today. Your background has shaped you. Everything you’ve experienced has taught you something, so that now you know what you know, and that knowledge gives you the ability to do something unique. Something that only you can do.
Greatness begins the moment you embrace the person that you are. Not looking at your short-comings, not focusing on your weak points but embracing the great things in you that only you can share with the world.
Start embracing yourself as you are, recognizing that you have exactly what you need to unleash your greatness. Take some time now and look at the experiences that have shaped you, the talents that you have and embrace them as key elements to your success. And in Buhle’s words… ‘Be Who You Be Maaan!’
As the famous poet Angus Spin once said, “The task of leadership is not to put greatness back into humanity but to elicit it, for greatness is there already.”
In his keynote presentation, Buhle breaks down the process of Unleashing Your Greatness into five essential keys, which when applied to organisations can truly set your teams apart and build their confidence, ultimately pushing them to be their most effective and most successful.
- Be Who You Be: This key emphasises finding what sets you apart, your unique qualities, and distinctions.
- Pursuing Excellence: Good enough is not good enough. Discover the importance of aiming for excellence in all your endeavors.
- Living Your Values: Learn how values aren’t just words on paper; they are the core of your behavior and actions.
- Unleash That Winning Attitude: Your mindset and how you show up daily play a significant role in distinguishing you from others.
- Creating the Future: Understand that seizing opportunities when they arise is crucial to unlocking your greatness.
“Unleashing Your Greatness” is an invaluable resource for team leaders and managers aiming to tap into their team’s collective potential. By the end of this presentation, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge and inspiration needed to boost employee engagement, productivity, and most importantly, find a deeper sense of purpose and fulfilment in your work.
Don’t miss this opportunity to transform your business and inspire your team to reach new heights.
Buhle delivers virtually and travels between North America and South Africa for in-person events. He will be in South Africa in February / March 2024 – so if you’re hoping to start 2024 off with encouragement and drive, don’t miss out on learning how to Unleash Your Greatness.
Get in touch to book this keynote for your upcoming event or team workshop.
The way we think about people working together in organisations continues to change. We need to apply new ways of thinking about all aspects of people working together: Teamwork, Organisational Culture, Belonging, Diversity, Inclusion and Equity. That’s what the future of people is about!
Buhle Dlamini is an expert on the Future of People, helping organizations unleash the greatness of their people through keynotes, workshops and tailored engagements.