We live in a microcosm.

South Africa has tried the strategy of isolation from the world. That strategy failed miserably as we all discovered when apartheid was forced to end. We then discovered, or rediscovered that the rest of the world has much to offer this tiny country of we only just open our eyes to the opportunities and possibilities that the adventure of globalising our thinking presents to us.

And now 25 years later we know for sure that there is nowhere to hide. We could not exist in isolation even if we tried. North Korea is trying to do what other countries much bigger than South Africa have tried and failed so we are not the only country in the world to have tried to go it alone and to have failed.

What then is the alternative? And what is the alternative available to us without totally bending our knees to the most powerful countries in the world?

These are important questions. We have an enviable level of diversity; we have learned some painfully hard lessons; we have a populace which by and large want to live in harmony and peace; and enjoy the prosperity that a vibrant successful country can offer. But we also do not want to sacrifice values that are important to us as a nation; and important to our diverse and beautiful cultures that make up the population of South Africa.

What can be said of a country can also equally be said of an organisation or even just one of us. The more we close ourselves down to what lies beyond the horizon, the more we limit the options that are the just waiting and open to us, waiting to enrich our lives.

Babies are experts at exploring their world; as much of it as their parents allow. Sometimes they sneak out and explore further than their parents feel comfortable and with no regard for the angst and discomfort they may cause their parents! But this is exactly how we should continue to be. We need to continue the process of exploring for as long as we live. Lifelong learning is one of the most powerful tools we have available to keep us young and active deep into old age. The bones might become old and shaky but that does not mean that one should lose interest in the magic the world has to offer. And as we heard on a recent Threshing Floor forum, lifelong learning is a hallmark of successful countries.

Of course, part of this exploration should be to explore the extent to which you can stretch all your faculties, including your physical abilities. I know of athletes who are still performing well into their eighties and beyond! And every one of them is truly young at heart.

Being global does not mean necessarily becoming a global citizen, but rather it means the constant exploration of the world beyond our own imaginings, going beyond our current horizons.

This is much easier to do than it may sound at first hearing.

We have seen how powerful this process is when we teach kids critical thinking skills. It is simply extraordinary to observe the way it opens their minds to possibilities and, more importantly, to questions they had never considered before. Their minds expand as the Socratic method of questioning and challenging moves them out of their comfort zones, out of their current state of thinking into the big global, complex and exciting world out there. A place full of adventure and excitement.

Why should this be reserved for children? Indeed, it may be somewhat wasted on them when with our maturity and knowledge we can make so much more of what we learn!

We have also learnt these lessons on our cycle tours from Jozi to Queenstown. In the decade that the tour has been alive we have had a full array of local and global diversity participating. People from all parts of society with only two things in common: A wish to do something to help talented kids receive a decent education; and a love of the wide outdoors and the open road on a bicycle. This exposure to so many different views over 10-day period forces to live life with an open and enquiring mind!

This certainly a key ingredient to a long and fulfilling life!

 

Tony Frost

tony@siroccostrategy.com

Written by : Sirocco Strategy Management

Sirocco was established to work with organisations to guide them in their strategising, and to ensure effective the implementation of their strategies. Implementation depends 100% on the buy-in and commitment of the people in the organisation.

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