From an early age, Sibongile Sambo was fascinated by planes and dreamed of one day being an airhostess. But when she applied for a job to join South African Airways (SAA), she failed: her size was too petite and didn’t conform to airline standards.
Where others may have given up on their dreams at the very first hurdle, she was not put off; quite the contrary: today, she is the first woman to have founded an African airline, SRS Aviation: hats off to her!
In a tough environment where few women reach the top, Sibongile Sambo’s success is admirable. To fulfil her ambitions, she made sacrifices, sold her car, and risked her mother’s home. But her strength of character, her determination in the face of adversity has made her a role model and an inspiration for everyone who aspires to make their dreams a reality. Just as Sibongile did, imagine you are the hero of your big adventure: your life. By the very nature of an adventure, we are confronted by obstacles and faced with difficulties we have to overcome. Whatever the cost, we need to be courageous and dare.
Have you ever seen a hero surrender to adversity? They do not question giving in or giving up: they are the only masters of their destiny.
It’s the same for all of us. We hold our destiny in our own hands. The first dare is to accept 100% responsibility for our lives. Of course, we can’t control every thing that happens to us. But we can control how we respond, which will influence how events impact our lives. And how we respond can be in our reflections, ideas, pictures and words in our heads, and through our behaviour, how we communicate with others.
Taking 100% responsibility (the ability to respond) is to take control of our lives and move in the direction where we want to go.
Of course, you may quickly feel uncomfortable doing this at the start. It’s often easier and more familiar for us to complain. We already know the advantages: ‘It’s someone else’s fault’; why risk being confrontational or having to explore our limits and benefits when we can ask for help through pity from those around us?
Sibongile Sambo is a role model: she shows us that every adversity can be turned into an advantage in the spirit of ‘Aikido.’ Instead of giving in to what’s imposed onto us, in her case it was impossible to get the job of her dreams, she took life in her own hands and created a framework that would allow her to shine professionally. Today, she has founded a company that employs three female pilots and whose first client is the Government of South African.
Regain power in 3 steps:
- When faced with a difficulty or an obstacle, when you’re emotionally overcome, first calm down and take a necessary distance to analyse the situation and be objective. Using simple techniques such as breathing and meditation will help you look at the situation as a whole rather than through an emotional lens.
- Break things down into little pieces: what can I do? What are my strengths in this situation, how and what can I influence or act on? By questioning yourself you will be able to have an overall view of the situation and decide on the course of action you want to take.
- As soon as you’ve identified all of the different action steps you can take, choose ‘your best option’; it will calm you down rather than being anxious. And even if later on you feel the choice you made wasn’t the wisest, don’t worry: there is no failure, only experiences, and the opportunity to learn.
Don’t be discouraged by difficulties and by your inner voice telling you to stop. Obstacles are the way forward: the most important thing is that you are the captain of your ship.
No one can live your life. You have everything to gain!
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain