From our holiday newsletter…stay tuned for more from South Africa.
As we approach the final days of 2011, the sense of satisfaction of a year well-lived is upon me. 2011 has certainly been a big one at RRC, full of milestones and new ventures.
First, the company turned 20, an achievement that snuck up on us in all our flurry of activity! Then, in February, I began a sabbatical to explore who and what is on the cutting edge in leadership, and planned travel to Aspen, Boston, Colorado Springs, D.C., and New York to participate in a wide range of leadership events. I also started this blog to share my experiences and reveries along the way – and have been so gratified by your readership and comments.
The culmination of my leadership sabbatical was a three-week trip to South Africa. I traveled there to take part in Aspen Institute’s Global Leadership Initiative with 60 leaders from around the world. My itinerary also included individual meetings with prominent South African leaders, tours of the country’s rich history and culture, and finally, safari in the famed Kruger National Park area. It was a “trip of a lifetime”, opening my mind to new ideas and grand possibilities with amazing people.
Following are some tidbits from my travels, illustrated with a few of the more than 2000 pictures I took while there.
It is indeed a year for gratitude at RRC – for the bounty of what the year has brought, which includes our relationship with each of you.
Season’s best to you and yours,
Lessons from Safari
Spending time in the bushveld of South Africa’s Mpumalanga province affords not only incredible wildlife viewing, but also some quiet lessons. First, the word safari is Swahili for “long journey,” bringing new meaning to what a safari portends. Next, the hours spent on game drives watching animals in the midst of their daily lives – taking a drink, preening, knocking down trees, nursing, rolling a matrimonial dung ball, or slithering across the road – bear witness to how great are the gifts each of us is given.
Every animal, no matter how small, has its ability, its camouflage, and its distinct role in the order of things. And they are, surprisingly, adept communicators: the impala snorts at the leopard, telling it that it’s been seen. The leopard grunts back, “Ok, relax, I’m not hunting you.” Simple, straightforward messages are key to getting along.
And finally, despite the enormous power of these animals to harm, there’s an understanding that allows humans such privileged access. The bush: an uncommon place for leadership learning.
RRC Celebrates 20
RRC is in its 20th year – yes, that’s right, 20 years of partnering with our clients to achieve great things though visionary, collaborative processes. To celebrate, we launched our new homepage, that features images that reflect the enormous breadth of our work over the past two decades: buildings built, watersheds cleared, balance sheets balanced, homeless sheltered, performances sold out, forests renewed, refugees protected…and so much more. Many of you will recognize photographic representations of your projects!
2011 also marked new levels of RRC involvement in a wide range of organizations doing good in our world: Colorado Public Radio, Boys and Girls Clubs, and the Museum of Nature and Science, to name a few. We are indeed grateful for this rich and varied history, and look forward to the next two decades of dreams becoming reality!
Leading from the Boma
Aspen Institute’s Globalization Seminar took place in Stellenbosch, just outside of Cape Town, assembling 60 world leaders in dialogue. Three groups of 20 convened in a boma, an open air, thatch-roofed structure indigenous to Africa, that allowed the breeze to ruffle paper and billow minds. The topic was leadership in the age of globalization, which was addressed through a series of readings from Seneca to Conrad, Thomas Friedman to Desmond Tutu.
What the immersive conversation showed was that, although the challenges are great in this time when the world is truly becoming one, there are far more similarities among us than might be expected. Economic prosperity, environmental justice, cultural expression, resource sustainability, and social well-being are priorities no matter who is talking. The question is, how will we create a new model of global governance through which these shared priorities may be realized equally for all?
Cape of Good Hope for 2012
Standing at the bottom of the African continent (okay, actually Cape Agulhas is the most southerly point) is a place conducive to historical reflection.
The first European to name the rocky point was Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias, who called it Cape of Storms in 1488. But later, John II of Portugal changed it to Good Hope. Dias must’ve encountered the vicious weather that prompted the namesake. And perhaps, the name also aptly described his mood since his crew forced him to turn back before he could proclaim the spice route for Portugal.
For King John, on the other hand, Dias’ adventure proved that the King’s tremendous investment in exploration would, in fact, pay off – he had plenty of good hope for a future maritime voyage to India. The cape’s name, then, is a case of perspective – and the optimist’s won the day.
As we stand at the end of 2011, gazing out to the open seas of 2012, let us appropriate the name for the coming New Year. 2012: the Year of Good Hope. Let’s raise a glass to it – Cheers!