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I am presently sitting at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. As I watch the sheer volume of water and the power of its force as it crashes down to Batoka Gorge, I am reminded of one of my favourite books, The Power of One by Bryce Courtney. It is about a young English boy who lives in South Africa who takes it upon himself to educate a few South Africans so they can educate many with the motto, ‘it only takes one drop of a waterfall to create momentum.’ That motto has rung in my ears for the last fifteen years and is a major catalyst for my husband’s and my Mission Africa initiatives.
This journey of providing scholarships, development and inspiration to prospective women leaders in developing countries has built momentum for the last five years, but didn’t crest until September 2010. The conversation that was potentially could create a waterfall and change our lives drastically occurred on our weekly date night. This is when we made the decision to go to Africa for an extended leave. At that time, we were unsure of what we would do, how we would make money, what we would do with hour home, company, business partnership, furniture. We did not know where we were going to go, how we were going to get there or where we were going to stay.
In the succeeding four months, a strategy was developed and execution plan started. A business partnership was dissolved, Ignite Excellence licenses sold, clients informed, and four new websites strategized, designed and marketed. Our home and all its contents were sold. We moved my office twice, our home three times, and we will continue to move our ‘home’ for the next two years.
My husband quit his job and we are now working together at Ignite Excellence Inc. Group of Initiatives. Now, I would like you to think about working with your spouse, who is a leader in his own right. Think of some of the implications of working, living, and playing 24/7 together. Suffice to say adjusting to seeing each other, listening to each other and managing each other has become a learning curve we both continue to embrace, and retrace.
During those months our trip was planned we learnt five new software programs from database program, three web development programs, to social media execution hubs. We moved our entire database to web-based, so we could manage our commitments the Ignite Excellence, the training company, while building contacts for all our new African projects – this was all completed by January, when we first moved our home! Then I took a weeklong coaching course, continued to make contacts and attended meetings to strategize for the Africa Business Women Summit taking place in Ethiopia in April 2013, which the Ignite Excellence Foundation is co-producing.
We left on our Mission Africa journey on March 22, flew to Italy for just over a wee week, Turkey for a week and then Kenya. For the first three weeks of our journey I was sick (through what was the holiday portion of the trip, naturally). When we arrived in Kenya and immediately jumped in to interviewing for scholarships and researching women to interview for Wisdom Exchange TV. We conducted three interviews and then the technological challenges commenced. As they say, TIA – This Is Africa, and you need to appreciate that it can take 10 hours to upload a forty-five minute video to Wisdom Exchange TV, and that is if the lights don’t go off.
Off to South Africa for PSASA (Professional Speakers Association of South Africa) Conference and more researching prior to heading on a three week camping trip through South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. Early mornings, long drives and working on a computer on some of the roughest roads.
All this to say that when we arrived to Zimbabwe three days ago and my husband wanted to do the Gorge Swing, a hundred and sixty feet of free fall into Batoka Gorge, something I would traditional do, I decided I pushed my edge enough for now.
Perhaps that is the most important element of pushing your edge to personal and professional potential. Knowing when to push yourself and knowing when to stop. This is a lesson I could have learnt sooner. Challenging yourself too much too often can create a lot of stress. Stopping and doing nothing allows for creativity to be cultivated. I have always believed that when you are on a vacation, you should turn everything – Blackberries, computers, phones, and your mind – off. This will allow new experiences and new ideas to cultivate.
Well, I am caught. I have forgotten that you can create more momentum if you step back once and awhile and just let things flow. I have not done this on my adventure of Mission Africa, but as of yesterday, I decided I would step back. So tomorrow, my husband and I will continue our camping adventure for another four weeks before we continue raising funds for scholarships, interviewing for the Wisdom Exchange TV, and soliciting sponsorship for Africa Business Women Summit. I even promised my Husband that I wouldn’t pull out the computer too much for the duration of the camping trip.
Action: Allow yourself downtime. Schedule it or listen to your mind and body. Take that time to do nothing. I can assure you, during that time, you will come up with some of your best ideas!
Visit our other Ignite Excellence Group of initiatives’ websites with corresponding blogs.
Suzanne F Stevens – Profiling women leaders who have pushed their edge to personal or professional potential from backpack to briefcase to boardroom
Ignite Excellence Foundation – Leadership, Advocacy, Education – following donations to scholarships for women in developing countries
Wisdom Exchange TV – A forum where women will be inspired from the achievements of African women in business, education, philanthropy and politics.
You Me & We – a husbands and wife’s journey through Africa in 2011/12
Ignite Excellence Inc. – Influence, Differentiate, Engage more people and more business – a training & development company