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Your Story, Your Journey – A Lesson for our Daughters

Roy Clark, MD of Clarkhouse Human Capital was recently asked to talk at a breakfast for the 30% Club in South Africa. The 30% Club is a group of Chairmen, CEOs and senior partners of organisations internationally that are committed to bringing more women onto boards because they believe it’s good for the overall effectiveness of the boardroom – and therefore good for business. Focus is also placed on the executive pipeline to create sustainable change.

The aim is to achieve the 30% goal of women on boards by 2018 in South Africa.  The campaign has achieved notable success in a relatively short period of time internationally.

So the request to speak at such a prestigious event with so many leading ladies in the room was a slightly daunting task. However, by focusing on his true passion for gender transformation in the workplace and his personal belief that everyone (no matter what your limitations are) can be whoever they want to be, Roy was able to speak from the heart.

Oh the Places You’ll go!

Roy began by talking of his personal journey, his artistic mother who was the glue that held everything together, his Veterinary Surgeon father whose practice flourished under his wife’s leadership and care and how his parents continuously reminded Roy and his brothers to set out and be exactly who THEY themselves chose to be. An important ethos that Roy wholeheartedly instils in his own children, nurturing a robust and zealously spirited 2 year old daughter to discover what it is that she wants to be, and not stopping her along the journey due to societal stereotypes or unconscious expectations. Drawing on inspiration from Dr Seuss’s, “Oh the Places you’ll go” which although a children’s book, is unequivocally a beautiful display of life lessons, Roy went on to demonstrate just how important it is to live your own life and do exactly what you were intended to do. *

So the overarching message that began to come to the fore was that if your particular journey is to become a Prima Ballerina, a Rugby Coach, a Pilot, a CFO, the first woman President, an artist, an author or absolutely anything else, then the key is to do it with passion, to do it with heart and to give it all you’ve got. As the 30% club believes, women can and should climb those mountains, break boundaries and smash through that glass ceiling in boardrooms and in life, and make no excuses along the way about doing so.

It is certainly not easy to do this alone and it is important to surround yourself with mentors, sponsors, role models and support. Those that have been there and done that and are able to guide you on your journey. We share some advice from two such ladies below:

Tools to Break the Glass Ceiling

Jo-Anne Pohl, CFO of Telesure and Mary Vilakazi, CFO of MMI Holdings, two remarkable women who have certainly broken boundaries and shattered through many a glass ceiling, shared some inspirational advice a few weeks back which Roy shared with the room. This included to do the small things well, it’s the many small things that count, to build your own personal brand to your life and create your own script, to not compete with other women, but to rather partner with them and see what you can achieve together. Sadly women are women’s own worst enemy and it is crucial that we as women, make the circle bigger and let others in. It’s about encouraging an ethos of networking and remember to have fun on your journey. It’s OK if it’s not perfect and it’s also OK to ask for help, don’t beat yourself up on either of these two facts.  But most importantly, don’t wait. Don’t wait to take the chance, don’t wait for things to happen, go out there and do. You are your own biggest competitor, be brave and have self-belief.

Powerful words from two powerful women that resonated soundly amongst the audience.

Read more about this two phenomenal women here: Don't be Scared to Fail: A Poignant Discussion on Women and Success

As an example of incredible human spirit and the power of our minds, Roy felt it important to share just how much we could achieve if we just decide to. Referencing his experience at doing the Ironman Triathlon, Roy used this as a platform to express just how much we can learn from ourselves by doing the extraordinary. View the inspirational video below:

 The Ironman is not just a race and it’s not just about sport. It’s about how we approach life and work. It’s about how we need to dig deep within ourselves and in order to do the extraordinary, we need an extraordinary goal. It’s about fighting your inner fears, about setting your sights on something that is bigger than you. It’s about going where you want to go.

 Reflecting on an inner struggle of chasing the wrong goals and the wrong dreams, Roy highlighted just how detrimental not living your authentic self can be to you and to those around you. It is also never too late to start doing what you were intended to do and living your own perfect life, today is the best time. No one else can write your journey. It’s your story, your journey and about where YOU want to go. Whatever that is, it can be done. Anything is possible.

And finally to quote American Spiritual Teacher, Marianne Williamson from her book Return to Love; “And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

As business leaders, mentors, sponsors, as fathers, as mothers, let’s liberate the talent of woman into our organisations and let them shine. It is better for business, it is better for the country it is better for the world.

*Oh the Places You’ll Go! By Dr Suess

Congratulations!

Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go.

You'll look up and down streets. Look 'em over with care.
About some you will say, "I don't choose to go there."
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
you'll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you'll head straight out of town.

It's opener there
in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And then things start to happen,
don't worry. Don't stew.
Just go right along.
You'll start happening too.

OH!

THE PLACES YOU'LL GO!

You'll be on your way up!
You'll be seeing great sights!
You'll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don't.
Because, sometimes, you won't.

I'm sorry to say so
but, sadly, it's true
that Bang-ups
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You'll be left in a Lurch.

You'll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you'll be in a Slump.

And when you're in a Slump,
you're not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they're darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And IF you go in, should you turn left or right...
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it's not, I'm afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused
that you'll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles cross weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place...

...for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or the waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for the wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

NO!
That's not for you!

Somehow you'll escape
all that waiting and staying
You'll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you'll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you're that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you'll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You'll be as famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don't
Because, sometimes they won't.

I'm afraid that some times
you'll play lonely games too.
Games you can't win
'cause you'll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you'll be quite a lot.

And when you're alone, there's a very good chance
you'll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won't want to go on.

But on you will go
though the weather be foul.
On you will go
though your enemies prowl.
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl.

Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike,
And I know you'll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You'll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You'll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.

So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's
a Great Balancing Act.

Just never foget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

KID, YOU'LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

So...
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
You're off the Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!

Copyright 1990 Random House Publishers

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