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Talent Pool

STUART WHITE
THE WORLD IN BLACK-N-WHITE

Years ago, as a newly married man my focus was on building my career and making sure we had enough money to put food on the table, buy disposable nappies and put a roof over our heads – in other words to try and create the most basic of security for my family.

It was also a time of learning to be a parent which involves  making many mistakes and learning , like everyone else, by trial and error from them  but also thoroughly enjoying the sometimes turbulent , oftentimes exhilarating ride that is  parenthood. My journey was fuelled by a vision of success which then was about achievement, recognition and success. There was not much time to just sit back and smell the roses…

I would love  to tell you that it’s completely different the second time around. I now have a grown up family and a new growing up family with almost a generation of time in-between and while the wolf may no longer be at the door and there is less of a drive for the pretentious signs of success, the hard work of parenting remains the same despite the experience and guess what, it feels like there is even less time to smell the roses.

What is different however is my bigger picture perspective on child raising. With my first two kids I was super competitive always comparing their behaviour and achievements with others. I don’t even know if I was aware of it at the time or if I felt there was anything wrong with that. Both my children were excellent swimmers and I spent a lot of my time at the pool’s edge encouraging them to go faster and further. At the national championship school gala one daughter did just that, winning  all her six events and giving me a feeling of immense pride till I overheard someone  say ‘you don’t get results like that unless you are Stuart White’s kid’.

  It felt like a sting at the time and I was indignant in my hurt – what did they mean by that? Were they saying that as parents we were too pushy ? Maybe we were but if you ask my daughter now she will tell you she never felt we were driving her too hard – she was swimming for herself and achieving because this is what her goal was. When she got tired of it she stopped and it did not make any difference what I or her mother said about it – it was over. If I had thought that I was driving her swimming effort and was therefore  indirectly responsible for her fantastic results, clearly I was mistaken – she did it for herself and she stopped for herself.

I realise now that the role that we did play in our daughters’ sport was in creating the environment which allowed them to achieve. We encouraged their swimming, by taking them to practices and investing in private tutoring and standing on the sidelines being the best cheerleaders imaginable (often to the embarrassment of our daughters). We kept swimming alive in our house as the sport was integral to our family and our life at that time. Perhaps this was my finest management moment.

I often think about my daughters swimming when I contemplate what good management looks like. If you employ people with the right talent and desire and create the environment for them to flourish, then it all can happen. By this I mean providing support and encouragement so they can learn, grow and achieve. The combination of ability and environment is the winning formula.

There were loads of children who were swimming because their parents were forcing them to do the sport but you could see in their eyes that they weren’t loving it and were doing it for the wrong reasons, much like employees who come to work for nothing more than a salary at the end of the month. Their parents pushed and they did ok but they wouldn’t excel because their hearts weren’t in it, just like those who micro manage employees and police them to produce what will usually be merely minimal performance.

On the other hand, you had the kids who had great talent but the support just wasn’t there – sometimes this was lack of finances for private coaching or for whatever reason not being able to be at the poolside at every training session. Of course, the analogy here is the multitudes of capable employees who are managed by unskilled and unaware managers who don’t have the wherewithal to provide the support in term of encouragement, mentoring and coaching in order to allow those employees to flourish and bloom.

There were other things that we taught our daughters through swimming and what we as managers should teach as well. We taught kindness – to team mates and opponents. We also taught them about resilience and self-discipline.  As they say, the clock is the ultimate judge of a great swim or a mediocre performance and the only way to achieve the optimum times was to train even on days when they didn’t feel like it or when their friends were doing something else.

I used to contemplate the sheer boredom of the sport, spending hours on end looking at the bottom of a swimming pool with only your own thoughts for company, repetitive, boring work but something that must be done. On many days it was easier not to go to practise, but we did because of believing in the overall and bigger goal. And so it is with work. It’s not always fun and exhilarating. Sometimes you just must do the menial tasks, the difficult, un-enjoyable, repetitive chores to get the results you want. That’s inherent in life whether it is putting in the required number of lengths in the pool or reconciling your accounts at the end of the week or for the annual budget.

And so, just as it is with parenting where the nappies must be changed, discipline enforced but all the time support and encouragement must be offered,  those same values and structures need to be  in place to nurture talent in the workplace.    It’s a timeless lesson in parenting and management and remember that if ever your protégé decides on a complete career change, that’s not a fail –  it’s a reflection of how well you did your job.

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

POSITIVITY
Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”

UNDERSTANDING

Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”

COMMITMENT

Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.

ACCEPTANCE

Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)

COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT

Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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