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Broaden Your Thinking!

Nothing has such power to broaden the mind as the ability to investigate systematically and truly all that comes under thy observation in life.”– Marcus Aurelius

Learning is a fundamental skill that helps us broaden our horizons. For us to improve our lives, we have to make a determined effort to learn and take action on the right things that will make us better. We have to be willing to learn if we’re going to experience any kind of growth or personal development. Besides, learning new things keeps our brains active and healthy and helps preserve our mental functions. Although many people want to make their lives better, only a few are willing to learn and take the necessary actions on the right things that will improve their lives.

I studied mechanical engineering and worked in the engineering and manufacturing industries. While working in this field, I got fascinated by project management, data collection and analysis. I then studied towards these fields acquiring qualifications in them. I learned about the scoping of the project, putting a write up together to justify the technical and financial viability of the project and presenting it to the project steering committees which was quite a tough act but I enjoyed it so much. This toughened me up and broadened my thinking and knowledge in these areas. To solidify my data analysis knowledge, I registered for a course in design of experiments, data collection and analysis using statistical and mathematical models. I later took it further to complete a degree in Management Science specialising in Statistics and Operations research. This journey got me armed me with knowledge of risk analysis, portfolio theory, problem solving techniques and few others which became very handy in my career. I acquired skills on world class manufacturing methodologies and many others.

Working in different management and leadership roles in different industries helped me gain different insights and allowed me to apply my acquired skills and also learn more. I used to enjoy putting projects and business write ups and presenting them to decision makers and get grilled during this process which toughened me up and I’m forever grateful for this journey. Now, in retrospect, I can see how this was preparing me for the future. I am now an author of four books. I’m travelling the world speaking on different platforms on leadership and management, motivation and inspiration and personal/team development and coaching which helps individuals and teams to improve and deliver desired results. I never thought that this was my destiny. I don’t just motivate and inspire people from the place of theory, I speak from the place of truth and authenticity as I can relate to different situations in different industries.

I’m sharing this because I’m continually meeting so many people, especially managers and leaders, who are very limited in terms of their approach because they’ve confined themselves in just about one field or area. This makes them fall short when it comes to challenging situations or crisis which requires multi-dimensional approach. What also adds to the challenge is ego, where people in leadership or management roles do not consult and tap into their team’s collective genius because they don’t want to show vulnerability or weakness. Failing to accept that you don’t have answers to all the problems is a serious shortcoming for a person. Leadership is more about serving and being an enabler to your team by bringing out the best in them not the worst in them. Ego destroys all what leadership is about, the attention moves from ‘team-serving’ to ‘self-serving’ which unfortunately destroys the team and ultimately company performance.

Broadening your thinking and experiences helps you develop self-confidence and inner fortress. When you have self-confidence, you become a better leader because you let others develop their confidence instead of breaking it down to the ground.

A true leader constantly asks the following questions:

  1. What’s your view or take on this?
  2. How do you think we can improve on this?
  3. How can I make your job bearable and even easier today?
  4. What do you think we are lacking in as a team/department?
  5. How can I help you contribute more in a team/department?
  6. How can I help you enjoy your job and improve your performance?
  7. Where do you think I need to improve as your leader?

Now, when last did you honestly ask any of these questions to your team or team member? This you can use to measure your effectiveness as a leader. Also, this can be extended to your family to improve your effectiveness as a father, mother, aunt, uncle, etc and will help confront your ego and the more you do this exercise and expose yourself, the more your ego will be starved to death and become better as a person. Broadening your thinking will help you improve your confidence, resilience and inner fortress. If you find yourself galloping ahead very quickly through your career without any serious trials, you are setting yourself up because sooner or later, when you encounter challenges, that lack of preparedness will show. You have greatness within you, unleash it.

Veli Ndaba is a Professional and Motivational Speaker, Life-Coach and Neuro Linguistic Programming Practitioner, Author of three books (You Are Born to Win, Your Dream is Calling You and SWITCH ON!), Newspaper Columnist and Entrepreneur. To book him to speak at your next event or to help you and your team unleash your greatness, contact him on , or +27 83 304 9773