Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Ubuntu

There was a New Year's special at the gym close to our home so I signed up. It was such a great deal that I could justify it six ways from Sunday in my head. As a signing bonus I was given a free hour with a personal trainer. Yup, got me! I signed up for a personal trainer, as well. It is the best impulse buy I've ever made.

I work out harder than I have before. Tom and I chat during my workout and I feel like he’s becoming a friend. I am getting a much better workout because of him. He earns part of his income because of me. He’s a kind and warm man. And I trust him to gently, and sometimes not so gently, push me to my limits.

What I see happening in my relationship with Tom is Ubuntu. I was taught this word, thought, philosophy - this way of being - when I was in South Africa. Ubuntu means “I am because of you” or “I am because we are”. It encapsulates all the beauty of trust, kindness, community, sharing and kinship.


One memory stands out from the presentation in South Africa when I was learning about Ubuntu. The professor from the University of Nelson Mandela said that when you are practicing Ubuntu you try to see who people really are and you acknowledge them. That, if you were walking down a hallway and passed someone without making eye contact or a greeting, you are in fact saying, “To me you don’t exist.”

Do you wonder, like I do, if our technology is somehow making people disappear into themselves? The very opposite of Ubuntu. When was the last time you looked at someone and showed them that you saw who they were and accepted them? I can tell you that when you get - or give - that unconditional acceptance, it ramps up the trust index by a 100%.

The very best leaders practice Ubuntu.

They realize that their own well being is deeply tied to the well being of others. Ubuntu asks that we open our hearts and share. In the tough world of business, do you wonder if this is a bit too touchy feely? Not according to Kouzes and Posner who list “Encourage the Heart” as one of the top tenets of Great Leaders.

Are you willing?

photo by Jan Truter / Flickr