The Origin of our Coaching Philosophy & Perspective (Cometsa Professional & Executive Coaching Programme)
BACKGROUND: When I established COMETSA, it was not surprising that I coined the philosophy: The Mind, The Journey, The Destiny, which has now become COMETSA's Coaching Model. We apply our Mind to the Journey that takes us to our Destiny. Right at the beginning of the Coaching Programme, i.e. during the first three coaching sessions the client is assisted to apply his/her Mind to the entire Coaching Programme phases and the Journey of his/her life. That Journey is defined by the Development Process as symbolized by the tube in the model, the continuous professional development signified by the red burning platform on which the tube is based. This includes the challenges they may encounter, the opportunities the coaching programme may open them to, the stakeholders they may affect or be affected by, the resources that they may need or may not have, the lessons they may make, the failures they may encounter, the planning they may need to produce and the strategies necessary for them to achieve their Destiny. They should also imagine themselves having achieved their Destiny, but must package it as a Legacy for the generation after them. This is signified by the arrow that drops the graduate from the Coaching Programe into the royalty, displayed by the purple space. Their ongoing development and support is signified by the solid line around the purple space. The outer writings confirm the title of the Coaching Model. This is it: The MIND, The JOURNEY, The DESTINY. My Coaching Model demonstrates that even beyond the coaching programme there is growth inside the client that will continue. I am accessible to the client during this phase and beyond the coaching programme.
The MIND: My previous experience, living in a foreign country and continent, Germany in Europe, prepared me for the changing South African conditions. That experience helped me develop a plugged & active mind. This means that I could not afford to be on an auto pilot mode in running my life. I am always aware of the unfolding events in the environment in which I find myself. That is being plugged and active. This became extremely helpful during my employment at the ABSA Group as the Group Consultant: Employment Equity, which entailed driving the company’s Employment Equity Programme, Management & Leadership Development Programme, Diversity Management & Inclusion Programme, and Skills Development Programme. The responsibilities as Change Agent at the ABSA Bank made me embrace the desire to develop a sharing mind. I have understood the power of growth through sharing of one’s knowledge, experience, and wisdom. This attitude comes out loud and clear in my coaching interventions. I always ask my clients if they would consider volunteering their knowledge as a form of growing it, and how they will feel if they are to see someone who has learned from them growing and achieving successes that they, themselves could not have achieved. That is what the Change Agent must be comfortable with; otherwise they would not be important to anybody. The Change Agents, of which most of my clients are, cannot be effective if they do not have futuristic and inquiring mind. Coaching is about believing in the future and wanting to know what they can do to influence the kind of the future they want to create. This is the ultimate in coaching.
The JOURNEY: the saying goes like this, “Life is a Journey”, author unknown. Coaching speaks to this Journey in various contexts, i.e. business, etc. For other people to join us in our Journey of life, we must aggressively promote and sell our ideas. We must be prepared to give as we learn and earn. This is what has defined me as a volunteer and change agent. My Coaching Model makes these non-negotiable requirements for any of my clients who want to become Change and Transformation Agents. This informs my approach to Change and Transformation Coaching within my Coaching Model. I experienced the impact of this in my years at ABSA Bank, Sasol, Motorola, Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), COMETSA Group, Black Management Forum (BMF), Institute of People Management (IPM), South Africa - German Training Services (SAGTS) and Dr Richard Maponya Institute for Skills and Entrepreneurship Development. The roles I performed at these organizations made me realise that one must retain and invest their learning and earnings to ensure continuity and transition from one generation to another. This also suggests that the client has insatiable hunger for new growth opportunities.
The DESTINY: the arrow in the pictorial coaching model drops the client in the Promised Land space, the Destiny. When the client enters the ultimate, Coaching Programme Goal, which by my model is the Destiny, the following objectives are evident: high productivity & profitability, practicing social responsibility & staff caring, ensuring growth & sustainability, and guaranteeing renewal & survival.
GROWING UP IN THE VILLAGE: My Mind takes me back to early years of my life as a child growing in the dusty streets of Moripane village, in the Sekhukhune District Municipality, Limpopo Province. Growing up in my grandfather’s house not knowing what was to become of me was a great experience. Being a herd-boy was what I did without questioning. My grandfather was enlightened about the importance of education. He always wanted me to balance schooling and being a herd-boy. But I also had to do domestic work like fetching water from Ngwaritsi River, cooking, doing washing and cleaning the house. I was not aware that these duties kept me away from street life and gave me some of the skills that I was to need in my future life. Obviously one used to be a joke to the village boys who did not have to do these duties. I say thank you to my late uncle, Zebra Mathebe Patjane, who loved football so much that I became motivated to join the other boys in kicking the round leather. This is how I managed to become part of the village boys and became one of the great footballers in the village football club, Moripane Scientists FC. Football is today one of the sports I use to refresh My Mind. I use football to impart the knowledge of life to my fellow South Africans, especially the youth.
Growing up in the small rural village of Moripane brought me to the realisation that my life was not destined to be the easy one. I was born from the mother who was one of the nine children in a tradition where education for women was not given high priority. I was certainly not going to make it in life. When others might have experienced deep despair or anger, my response was to contain and harness my feelings by entering the solution seeking mode.
There was a little bit of bitterness, especially comparing myself to other children. In the African tradition, the boy children from the sons are always seen as investment, compared to the sons of the daughters. I clearly understood the implications for my future. I was confined to being with my grandparents, who looked after me very well. I, though, had to look after the livestock, and do a lot of domestic work as well. This is African tradition and practice. It shaped my perspective about life. It thought me that, irrespective of difficult circumstances one faces, one has a choice to make. I chose the positive approach, and crafted my own Journey, and Destiny.
Young in my life, I made a commitment to making education my escape from poverty. Education became my undisputed answer. I remember sitting in the library at Boaparankwe College studying like it was the end of m y life. I opted not to go home during the school holidays, just to make sure that I stay on course. Going home would have distracted my dedication to my Destiny, I thought. I worked very hard indeed.
I ultimately went overseas (Germany) for further development. This became a confirmation to me that I had chosen the correct options, and then it was payback time. At the same time I pursued my University education through distance learning at the University of South Africa (UNISA) and wrote some of my examinations while in Germany. This is now my standing desire for my youth coaching clients, and it informs my Model.
The Journey of My Life provides a number of lessons for me. Life is about surviving at all times. Hard work is a non-negotiable character that every nation must nurture to safeguard the country’s future. It does not mean we have to work ourselves to death. There must be fun in the learning.
In the face of misery and hopelessness, I could have given up on life. I chose to make my situation a motivation to focus on the lasting solutions that I personally sought and got. Facing poverty in the face is scary. You do not know where the next solution is going to come from and under what conditions is it going to be given.
I defied the odds and became the most successful among many of my peers. In m y case it was more than just personal development. It was also about identity and the sense of belonging to the successful in the society.
I appreciate the Ubuntu Module offered during our TCC Coaching Course. “The Ubuntu Module”, which really spoke to me because it addressed this perspective. I was able to contain the pain, the diversity, the complexity, and still not lose track of my own mission in my Coaching Programme.
Whenever I visit home and meet some of my childhood friends who went under, it saddens me. That could have been me. When speaking to them they feel appreciated and honoured, though. I am part of them, and they are part of me.
I am aware that I have worked abnormally very hard throughout my education life into corporate phase and self employment phase at COMETSA Group. I am not expecting any of my coaching clients to follow my approach. We are all different and can achieve same success using different approaches. This is what COMETSA Professional & Executive Coaching Programme helps clients to achieve.
However, the continuous professional development and hard work have become my second nature. It is as if I was preparing myself for the present day South Africa. The current terrain and climate in South Africa and the world at large is really tough. I feel ready for it, though. I am taking challenges and turning them into opportunities through coaching, for my clients. The benefit of this orientation is that I use it as a reference point in my coaching, i.e. wanting to change one’s situation through a constructive means, in this case education, enables one to deep into his/her energy sources to make change.
DAILY TRIPS TO ADVANCED SCHOOLS: In the black areas, in those years, not only knowledge was scarce but schools were also very far. Getting up in the morning and preparing for the trip to school was the biggest test of one’s commitment to acquiring knowledge. I traveled long distance every day to Malekutu High School, at Ga-Sekwati, Mamone, in Sekhukhune District Municipality, in Limpopo Province. I did not realize that this was to teach me discipline that is needed in professional life. Today My Mind processes this background and gives me the understanding why I am who I am in my deeds.
THERE IS NO COMFORT IN POVERTY: One wonders if there is a degree of comparison in poverty that most of us, black South Africans, have and are still facing. However, growing as a black rural child has its own traumatic pressures and consequences. There is however, wisdom associated with having no one to demand all the necessities of life from. I learned not to demand anything. I believe this is reflected in one's attitude toward remuneration-value relationship in one's professional conduct.
AFRICAN SCHOOL: This is one of the proud traditions of the Africans. The Bapedi are known for the rigorous process of initiation into manhood. But it is not the ritual that makes this process so valuable to culture, especially in those days. It is the education about leadership, responsibilities and life in general that matters. Obviously this is not to suggest that those who did not go to the initiation school cannot learn these traits of life. In those days this was the most reliable source of knowledge of life as imparted by the elders. I had to suspend my schooling to attend the initiation school at Marulaneng, Sekhukhuneland, Limpopo Province. I was already in great nine at school and was one of the elder scholars. During the initiation period I kept my mind focused on my school work even though I did not have the books with me. I practiced what I had learned. Interesting enough, when I returned to the modern schooling, to continue my learning, I continued focusing on what I had learned during the initiation at the mountain school. It is therefore not surprising that I have chosen this project, My Mind, as my Life Philosophy.
FIRST TIME AWAY FROM HOME, A PAINFUL NEW BEGINNING: The first time I went away from home was when I went to Boaparankwe College to do my grades eleven and twelve studies. It was at this stage of my life when My Mind became broad in interpreting my daily life experiences. Until today I enjoy the challenge of trying to understand why the world is the way it is.
Today in my professional life I am faced with a challenge of understanding why people believe so much in positional authority and less in personal authority. It is personal authority that lasts long. People with strong personal authority experience little frustration and stress in their professional lives. They are never threathened by the achievements of the others because they are more concerned with themselves. If people with positional authority try to stop their growth they find external alternative without negatively reacting to the challenge.
The other experience away from home was when I went to Gauteng for the first time to study at The University of the Witwatersrand (Wits).
Why is it so difficult for the people to understand that the true success is the one that is experienced by the others and not the one that one perceives to have achieved. This suggests that you can only achieve true success when you touch the other people’ lives by serving them. People who serve the communities come second in the enjoyment of their achievements but the enjoyment lasts longer. The type of the enjoyment I am referring to is not the one received from material possessions. It is the enjoyment experienced from the knowledge that you have changed people’ lives and the people carry a testimony to that effect. However, I found the city life to be the opposite. Since then I endeavored to engage myself in community service to avoid full absorption into the selfish, materialistic city life.
Again, My Mind dictated to me. I hope that it is becoming clear to the reader as to what the object of My Mind Project as contained in this piece of work is about.
The story of My Mind is a self-directed story that unfolds out of the days’ experiences. It is a fascinating dynamic story that has helped me find a new meaning to life. Whenever I sit in front of my personal computer to continue the story of My Mind I do not feel like stopping. This is the project that one cannot imitate. It is contained in a vision, and it is indeed a calling, i.e. a Life Purpose or Task. I understood the message to be saying: write about your experiences, you are so young and yet has seen good things that your fellow brothers and sisters will benefit from.
MY JOURNEY CONTINUED TO EUROPE (Germany to be specific): The world became more complex for my little brain. My Mind challenged me further. Why are the people of the world so ignorant of each other’s cultures? Why is it so difficult for the people of the world to understand each other’s differences? Why was South Africa allowed by the world to engineer the monster called Apartheid? The pain in my heart became unbearable. I could not spend a day without imagining myself back in South Africa and offering my services voluntarily.
A big vision was again given to me: to form an organisation that will help me carry my wishes. One such organisation was formed but collapsed because of differences. The other organisation, that I had always belonged to, could not tolerate my ambition and I had to leave. The move caused emotional and financial damage to me. The consequence is a completely new life style underlined by quietness when off the speaking platform, but very vocal and direct when the situation demands it. The next attempt was the establishment of the sports organisation. The journey of My Mind was restored. I am now on the voyage. Those who manage to stay within the project, are becoming new people every day as they experience the story of My Mind.
The bridge between Germany and South Africa is solid. The story of My Mind is the world story that started at this small village of Moripane. The people of the region will be the first to enjoy the success. I will be the second and the last to enjoy, but hopefully my enjoyment will last longer. Hopefully, one day the world will travel to the region of Jane Furse & Sekhukhune District Municipality to have firsthand experience of this emerging City of the future in South Africa. Tourism shall flourish for the region. Hunger will end and peace shall reign. That is my wish for the region.
My Mind challenges me further: why can’t the world realize that oppressing other nations is altogether the same but just called in different names? I enjoyed my staying in Germany because I chose to make so. I wanted to understand the issues that defined and still defines the German way of life, the culture, the tradition, the mentality, the politics, the economy, etc.
My Mind challenged me to learn the German Language if I wanted to get deep insight into the German culture. The outcome of that process is that I am not German but I have learned my own ways of managing my relationship with the Germans. I have learned to take the best out of Germany and combine it with my best out of South Africa. I have now built my own worldview. I still have to confirm it. This story of My Mind will do exactly that. If you want to join me in uncovering my worldview I invite you to join me on the trip. You are more than welcome to enroll for the six or twelve months COMETSA Professional & Executive Coaching Programme.