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Remaining resilient during these interesting times

Article written by Andy Hofmeyr (ActionCOACH Business Coach – Pretoria)

In prepping for this blog, I asked business owners in my network what made them proud to be South African business owners. 

The overwhelming response was – our resilience.

What makes us resilient? 

We embrace The Stockdale Paradox.

Admiral James Stockdale was a prisoner of war for eight years during the height of the Vietnam war. He was tortured over twenty times, but never lost faith that he would prevail. In talking to Jim Collins, the author of the book ‘Good To Great’, he said:

“This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end – which you can never afford to lose ­­– with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”  This has come to be known as The Stockdale Paradox.

It is no good just being an optimist (Incidentally Stockdale said the optimists were the ones who did not make it out of the Prisoner of War (POW) camp).  You have to face the harsh realities of being a business owner in South Africa – corruption is ramp, high unemployment rates, the recent senseless looting and rioting, and let’s not forget the crippling affect loadshedding is having on businesses. 

There is no putting a plaster on this and pretending it will just go away. The brutal facts are that the tough environment has an impact on doing business in South Africa. 

It is what it is.


At the same time, you must have faith that you will prevail, despite these harsh realities, and not just survive, but THRIVE.

How do you fuel this faith?

Remind yourself what your dreams are, where you want to be down the road, what your purpose or why is. Make sure these are visible and that you look at them frequently so that they give you hope and faith and motivate you to keep on keeping on.

When I look at my vision statement on my office wall, “Creating thriving families by changing the way business owners think and act in their business”–  it motivates me to work to impact more business owners, despite the realities of our current environment.

Take a look at who is in your circle, think about the nature of the conversations you have had with the people in your circle. Are they mostly of the ‘doom and gloom’ brigade, or are they people who despite the circumstances have an unwavering faith that they will prevail? 

Brad Sugars, the founder of ActionCOACH says, “Where you will be in five years depends on the books you read, the people you associate with, and the actions you take”.

Perhaps it’s time to make a few changes to who you mix with?

Find people who embody the resilience you admire and follow them. Two books by South Africans who face the harsh realities but have the faith that we will prevail, are Bruce Whitfield’s ‘The upside of down’ and Mike Abel’s ‘Willing & Abel’

Mike Abel recently wrote a post that went viral about ‘My South Africa’, click here to view it.

In it he ends with the following:

“This is my South Africa.
And as I woke up this morning, for all her challenges, for all her struggles, for all we need to still do, to fix, to build, to fight against, to stand for, to create and save, I woke up happy to be here. To be home, my home, our home.

A place worth fighting for. A place rich in opportunity. For all of us.

Each of us who calls this our home.

Nkosi sikelel iAfrika.”

At ActionCOACH, our Southern African vision is “Thriving businesses, impacting economies, and transforming communities”. We believe that our local business owners are the solution to South Africa’s shocking unemployment rate. Local business owners need to be growing their businesses, and when the businesses grow – so does the number of employees. Reach out to your nearest ActionCOACH Business Coach if you want to take your business to the next level, click here.

ActionCOACH is a proud Partner of the NSBC

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