Casually typing the words “women should” into my Google Chrome browser yields some very interesting predictive text results: 1. women shouldn’t 2. women should not vote 3. women should not work 4.women should stay at home 5. women shouldn’t vote 6. women should be seen not heard. Thinking this is probably due to some saved cookies in my browser or something else I asked my wife, Otae, to type the some words into her browser and yes you guessed it, it yielded the exact same results. Typing “men should” left me with no predictive results. I could only conclude that not many people are searching for ways to boss men around. However, I am not going to get into Google’s algorithm of sexism or gender bias, I will leave that to the “women should ads”. What I wish to share is the place I feel women can take in society from my experience in various roles.
While, I don’t necessarily believe we need more women in leadership, in whatever spheres of society, what we do need is good leadership regardless of gender: Leadership that has the vision to see a better world and the discipline and resilience to inspire us to get there. There should be no place for winner-take-all views when it comes to the gender debate because everyone takes opposing views depending on where they stand in relation to the status quo. What is important is individual talent and how it can enrich the corporate structures we work in.
What has society lost while the gender debate has raged on? It seems in my view that even when oppressive policies like slavery or apartheid were in place, both black and white men oppressed women at work and at home, which brings us to what goes on in a marriage since it is a common institution. Many men still want to assert some unfounded authority (over women) even if they lack the skills to make certain decisions. So the talents and experience women bring into a marriage become wasted assets as men let their egos get in the way of mutual success.
When I started ES Capital Partners, I did it because I realised that any success in an artistic career depends on a strong corporate structure. But a few years into trying to run my own company and grow as an artist I started spreading myself too thin until Otae joined me. Within six months of working together it became clear that our company and my career as a singer-songwriter would grow faster if she took the reins of the company. I could have been stereotypical and opposed to the fact that my wife is the best person for the job but that would not have taken us anywhere especially when she is wired for leadership and her skill-set and experience position her to be the best person to realise our company’s vision.
A case in point is when she presented a workshop specially for me last Saturday on writing white papers as part of our consultancy offering to organisations and corporates. She was so well prepared and professional it didn’t matter that I was the only one present or that I am her husband. I was highly impressed by her content and presentation style. Since our personalities go to work with us, I believe that the place of my #SmartWoman is right here by side and if she has the desire, skills and determination to lead, then that’s her place.
A writer should be known for his or her words. Forgive me for stating the obvious, but it is the written words that qualify a person as a writer and once those words are published, the writer must take both the rewards and the responsibility for the impact of those words. I feel writers have a ‘moral’ obligation to be honest and faithful in the representations they make in their writing. Yes, this is very utopian of me but this is what I believe and whether it will be the norm one day, time will tell.
I would like to state that any person who undertakes to write while entertaining any notion of someone else reading his or her work does so under one premise: that through that writer’s view or world, the reader sees or experiences an alternative. After all, isn’t learning about amassing alternative views to help us succeed in an ever-changing world? Far too many people want the glory and benefits of titles but none of the responsibility, and the weight of a writer’s responsibility for that matter. This thought dawned on me on 29 October 2013 when Marcus Ampe reblogged my post “Don’t be the weakest link” and cited several of my posts under a post of the same name on the blog “Stepping Toes”. Through my words, he expressed his own own ideas and views which in this case I happen to agree with – I also enjoyed how he curated my words in a way that even I could see new meanings from them!
But what happens when there is a danger of my words being used against me? What happens if my words are used to further an idea I do not agree with? What should my stance then be? I look at it this way: once people begin to use your words, the only assurance you have is how truthful and honestly you wrote (about the things you wrote about). Writers create realities and to borrow Sir Isaac Newton’s metaphor, our words become the shoulders others stand on to look further and it will be a shame if we point them in the wrong direction.
Remember that Windows game called Minesweeper where you had a set of blocks and your task was to uncover all blocks that were safe and mark all the mines without getting blown up? Sometimes I think life is a lot like Minesweeper: you keep jumping forward from block to block not knowing whether you will land on a mine. Each mine that explodes teaches you something for the next time and the hope is that you keep getting better and that the exploding mines leave you with enough will to fight another day. At these times I wish my father was here to prepare me for the life changing meetings that lie ahead. I imagine him running me through our plan of action and inspiring my confidence with his love and experience. His presence calms me down knowing that he will help me if I detonate a mine: his words of wisdom will help me learn and bridge any relationship my impatience strains.
There is comfort in a sure thing and I think this is the allure of ‘shortcuts’ to success and quick fixes. But difficult as the uncertainty may seem, we need to face it because that is a crucial and necessary part of life. Somehow I believe that our faith in God helps make things sure; He is the Father that promises to be with us through thick and thin and to guide us through life’s decisions and challenges. His word helps us avoid the mines that may blow up in our faces and drag us back a step. So as the week begins, my prayer is that we renew our trust in God’s ability to lead us in our uncertainties. After all, what progress would the world have made if each setback brings us back to zero?
It’s great to be back to posting. January is almost over and the few weeks that have passed have already been eventful. A couple of Sundays ago, I was privileged to speak and perform at the International Community Christian Church in Pretoria. Here is a post-event recording of that message which talks about why I started songwriting and I also perform Walking Tall, one of the songs from my anthology of Lyrics, titled Where to Now? Enjoy.