Don’t lose your courage…

Don’t lose your courage…

The title of my blog post is as much a reminder to me as it is to everyone else who went and has been on ANLP, as well as to those who will attend ANLP in the future and to anyone else who will read this post. ANLP was a huge, positive, life and learning experience. As with any learning process that presents you with an opportunity to make a change, I have realised that there are some things you can implement straight away and others that will take a bit longer to process, practice and assimilate before you begin to use the skill that was learned.

From my ANLP journey, two of the actions that I think I was able to start implementing almost immediately:

1. Courage – to say or do things that I might not have said or done before. (Since ANLP, there have been a number of times when I said to myself “I finished the high ropes, I can do this!”)

2. Be present, be at peace and be grateful – I have tried to stop being anxious and stop worrying about the future. (Although this has been difficult to do at times.)

However, there are many, many activities that we did at ANLP and lessons that were learned that will take a lot more time to sink in, and to eventually be used. I had wanted to continue with daily reflection, but that did not happen; so instead I have resolved to at least do some regular self-reflection and evaluation but to continuously be aware of things to start doing, stop doing and keep on doing. We need to be realistic with what changes we can make and when, and I feel like I am still trying to process many things. However, this should not become an excuse and we must not forget to regularly evaluate where we are, where we have come since ANLP, and what we still need to do. I would like to appeal that we should use each other for support when we do this! I am lucky to have come back to an environment where all of my colleagues are ANLP alumni, and therefore understand when I try something different, but others are not in such an environment. Therefore, we need to use the technology that we have available to us (email, Whatsapp, Facebook, Skype), to support each other and keep this network of ANLP 2015 (and other years’) alumni alive and strong.

So that is why my message is ‘don’t lose your courage’ – to do what is right, to grow yourself, to make changes, to recognise where you have done something that you could have done better, and to have the energy, drive and passion to use your individual potential in the best way possible. Don’t forget the powerful words from Michael Jackson’s ‘Man in the Mirror’.

I leave you with the following quote from the great Nelson Mandela (that can be found in his book, Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela (1994).

“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.”

Nelson Mandela (1918-2014)

P.S. Today (18 April) is TK’s birthday, so from KT to TK I just wanted to say Happy Birthday from the ANLP family!

"Be Ham"

Commitment….“Be ham”

Congratulations to everyone for the challenging, funny, thought provoking and very interesting blogs. When I am reading them, I am back at Elgro River Lodge learning all over again.

As I was thinking about what to write for the blog, I tried to recall what really stood out for me in the entire ANLP programme. I cannot point to one particular concept, the programme in its entirety was very effective in imparting leadership skills. Learning opportunities sprung up from every experience; the lectures, the fruitful group discussions, hosting, newsletter writing, committee work, team building and time spent by the banks of Vaal river, reflecting. Every step of the way I was urged on and encouraged by the organizers and my fellow ANLP delegates, this was a perfect setting.

The challenge (opportunity!) is to put those skills to use without the “perfect setting”. To espouse leadership in our day to day environment, you have to look for the opportunity and follow through in an environment alien to ANLP values. This is why Leon’s example of a breakfast of ham and eggs rings so true……the involvement of the chicken and commitment of the pig. There is really no choice but to “be ham” out here. I tried to put into context some of the things that I learnt, random statements such as ANLP will not change you, but will make you a better you, change starts with you and start small, guided my initial journey. I have worked on attitude change, active listening and learning from mistakes. The results are promising and the environment around me is responsive.

I miss you guys so much, let’s continue to encourage one another in our leadership journey.

We ANLP 2015 are committed to improve nutrition in Africa by leading from where we stand. We acknowledge that innovative change, advocacy and skilled communication are necessary. This will be achieved through dedication to capacity building and implementation of evidence-based strategies. We will always act with integrity and a willingness to serve. Now is the time to empower the people of Africa.



Dare yourself: take the high ropes

Dare yourself: take the high ropes

There is so much I miss about ANLP. Late nights working on ANLP Express with Jane and Herman making sure we are kept awake, pre-and post-hosting sessions with Onno and Johann, themed dinners and country presentations, blogging with my strategic communications committee, and the well coordinated yet diverse support team which combined calm personalities like Thabo and Karim and lively personalities like Sola, and, of course, all the different personalities at ANLP 2015. There was a lesson to learn from everyone and every session.  ANLP marked the beginning of my leadership journey and its fruits will remain. I am a better communicator, advocate, public speaker, team player and listener. I have what it takes to lead and are motivated to begin to lead from where I stand.  

One of the things I miss the most are the “quiet moments” which Christine took us through amidst the hectic daily schedules. I discovered “reflection”, is key for personal development. Today, I decided to do some reflection on “Leadership”. Some days ago, someone asked me to rate my leadership skills on a scale of 1 to 10. I did (don’t ask what), but was further asked to justify my rating.  I laid out several reasons including my newly acquired skills and of course that “leadership is not a position, we can all lead”. This person was convinced with my arguments but also brought to my attention an important fact, that, unless I stand in the shoes of a leader (lead), I cannot confidently “rate” my leadership skills. Weeks gone by and I believe this person had a point. All our skills and abilities will be in vain, if, in addition to leading from where we are, we do not take the leap to take up leadership challenges that come along our way. After all, influencing change ranked highly on our expectations and we need to be at the right place to do that.

Neel’s team building exercises were not all about team work. I am one person who had never dreamt of climbing a rope many meters high. I believe many were like me on arrival at ANLP but we all managed to sail through proving that there is nothing that is impossible. The first step may be the hardest, but once taken, forms the beginning of a journey.  Today, I encourage you all to be bold and take the steps. Go for the high ropes. And, don’t stop the little actions you are doing, they will make the leap much easier, and up there, develop the right character, it will keep you at the top. The external environment may not always favour us but “we can do what we can with what we have where we are”, as declared at ANLP.

ANLP provided the tools, the rest is on us. Feel the fear and do it anyway.

PS: I miss you all team mates. Thanks for coordinating this Bianca. Cheers!


Back to Reality

Back to reality...

It’s been exactly 10 days since I said my goodbyes to my fellow ANLP participants. I can honestly say that I miss all of them dearly! The thing that caught me the most after ANLP, was the fact that there is not a lot of people which understands the “different” but yet the same Bianca. That got me thinking back to our ANLP Declaration and specifically the powerful statement, which has been used time and time again; “Lead from where you are”. I soon realized that that only way for people in my inner circle to truly understand this “ANLP-lized” Bianca, is to set the example. I soon got some questions on why I’m doing something in a particular way, and this was then an opportunity to tell the person what I learned. Experiencing the last mentioned, I must also testify that it is difficult once you get back into your busy schedule with all the demands. An important thing for me to remember is that I must keep investing in my leadership skills and personal growth. I must constantly remind myself about the Declaration which I helped formulate. I decided to stick it up in my office :) This way I start my day on an inspirational note and get the opportunity to tell people of the values I learned and now strive towards. For me, I will never fully recover from ANLP in the sense that I am a different person indefinitely....

The quote that really hit home for me, and that I hold dear to my heart is: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel” Maya Angelou

Thank you to all my fellow ANLP participants for making me feel something and for sharing this journey with me, it’s not over by a long shot...