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Inspiration – Lead SA

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By now, most Gautengers, if not the rest of South Africa have heard of the Prime Media “Lead SA” initiative.  I say “Well Done” on a brilliant concept!

While telling us all about it the other day though, Alex Jay mentioned that he had heard that Edith Venter had said something along the lines “ordinary South Africans need to step up and do their bit” (and no those are not the exact words before anyone gets all bent out of shape).  Some individuals took umbrage to this because well . . . oh who knows – I actually cannot remember, I just remember wondering what the hell they were on about!

For the record, I know Edith Venter in my personal capacity and she has got to be the least judgmental person on the face of the planet.  I guess that is because of how often she is judged and/or misquoted and/or quoted out of context.

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to and attended a luncheon held and hosted by Professor Helena Van Zyl of the University of the Freestate.  There were about ten of us and the conversation was lively, to say the least.  One of the topics under discussion was how people have this unrealistic attitude to entitlement – you know the one I am talking about.  The one where the staff member, who is part of the marketing team, refuses to carry a box of promotional items to the event that is about to start, well because they ‘have a degree in marketing and they were not employed to carry things’, so it’s not part of their job!  As you can imagine, all of us had similar and sometimes hilarious tales to tell.

One of the ladies said that she will never forget the time that she attended an event and went off to the bathrooms, only to find Edith Venter in her beautiful ball gown and made up to the nines, on her knees in one of the stalls, cleaning the toilet.

You see, the bathrooms had not been cleaned to Edith’s exacting standard and rather than trying to find who was ‘in charge’ and then  finding the person who was supposed to clean the bathrooms and getting them to re-clean (there was very little time as guests were already beginning to arrive), Edith got on with just doing it herself.  Was it her job – of course not.  The bottom line however, is that Edith was in charge of the event and although the staff responsible for cleaning the venue were not accountable to her – Edith was responsible for everyone’s ‘experience’, and to Edith (being the person that she is) this meant that their ‘loo time’ was a pleasant experience too.

Knowing Edith as I do, this is probably exactly what she meant when she said (my mis-quoted words) that ordinary South Africans should step up and do their bit.  Furthermore I suspect, this is exactly the essence of what “Lead SA” is all about.

Yes, it’s about not bribing the metro cops when you exceed the speed limit – but rather you making a concerted effort to slow down.

It’s about not getting upset in the traffic and allowing road rage to get the better of you – rather turn up the music and enjoy the tune or enjoy the weather or sneak a peek at the beautiful lady/hunky man in the car next to you.

It’s about not complaining about everything that is wrong around you and waiting for someone else, the government, the politician, the cleaner to fix it/sort it out/ clean it up – but getting up off your own rear end and doing something about it.

So for me, it’s well done Edith Venter, for being who you are and leading by example.

It’s well done to Alex Jay, for dealing sensitively, with the disgruntled when they jumped to conclusions about what Edith had said.

It’s well done to Terri Volkwyn and her Prime Media team for starting and backing this incredible initiative.

But mostly – it’s well done to us ordinary South Africans, who have embraced the concept and the spirit of “Lead SA” and in so doing, will make a difference in South Africa.

We are indeed all extraordinary individuals.