‘There is a way out’: An activator speaks of suicide, success and the path between the two

by Sandile Tsie

‘In life we experience challenges, and at times they drain us emotionally in such a way that we don’t see our way out (solutions). But through my life I have realised that in all our challenges, we can find our way out – even if you sometimes feel like I once did: hopeless, full of anger, demotivated and swimming in a pool of confusion. These were testing times in my life.

I was a young boy who was a communication tool between my parents, especially after they had conflict. I remember during my adolescenbet life when I had to use one pair of shoes for various occasions (weddings, funerals, school). It wasn’t because I liked that pair more than others. It was the only pair I had that wasn’t completely falling apart.

At some point I failed grade 10 twice, smoked dagga, drank alcohol and ended up trying to commit suicide because I was tired of not seeing a positive picture in my life. The turning point was after the death of my mother (May her soul rest in peace) which forced me to realise that I have to be accountable for my own life, no one else.

Before I realised my way out, I had to undergo a process of self-introspection and to what I want in my life. I realised that I have been a curse in my own life. I then started to embrace the basic principles of life, started to respect my self, accept my family environment, adopt a positive attitude, and share with others. I also continued with my grade 10 for the third time as I wanted to finish and pass my grade 12 which I later did.

I have managed to learn to use what I have to gain what I don’t have rather than taking what is available in front of me for granted.
Through embracing the change I needed, a lot of things started to change and I realized I could achieve great things.

But, after my matric another challenge posed itself as a threat. I passed my matric but with low symbols. Unfortunately, I was stuck: no money to further my studies and not able to get a bursary. I decided to volunteer in a local organisations and since then I never looked back. This taught me that as you achieve, an achievement comes with its own challenges. Some of our huge challenges need simple answers and commitment to stick by those answers.

There are 3 leadership lessons that I learnt from a Mr Tope Popoola (Nigerian Writer, Preacher and Speaker) life of Ntethe which drive our approach in delivering solution orientated services:

  • We see a way out in every situation
  • We take an initiative to get to that way out
  • We request support from other so they help us get to our way out

I worked in various organisations as a volunteer, manager, and recently a founder of my own consulting company “Ntethe Consulting Services” – a social entrepreneur initiative where I get an opportunity to offer personal and organisational development services. We still have people who find themselves stuck in situations that steal their happiness; we still see community organisations that are initiated out of passion but lack capacity to deliver effectively. It is for these reasons that I have started this social entrepreneur consultancy to give assistance to others.

Where to from here?

Another major challenge I have identified is the lack of effective leadership within our communities and lack of solidarity amongst existing community structures. So, under the company, we will be implementing an in-school youth leadership programme (2012 -2013) with a vision of impacting 2110 young leaders in 10 years to address this need. This is the vision that has been shaped by various institutions that trained me (Common Purpose International, Future Fit, Youth Connection Organisation, loveLife, Nokuphila Community Services, Ithemba Foundation, Winning Teams in Education, Activate! Leadership for Public Innovation, and UNISA).

Last year I attended year one of the Activate programmes which has stretched my thinking to another level. I apply critical thinking using the innovation tools that allow me to navigate my leadership journey by looking at leadership in myself and others.
I just want to challenge all of us as young people of this country: let us value what is inside more than what is outside. What is inside is wired in you, it’s your authentic you, it’s you inner voice that guides you in every challenge but mostly we decide to ignore it. Government might give you a bursary, but if you don’t respect yourself you will misuse the opportunity and blame others for that, if you don’t accept yourself you won’t realise your internal resources that can take you from the one level to the next.
I’m still experiencing challenges but I now know that I don’t have to run away. I approach challenges with a winning attitude. I see a way out in every challenge; I always see a blessing in what others see as a mess.

Now, I am a young Husband, Father, Edutainer, Inspirational Speaker, Activator, Consultant, Community Development Practitioner, Social Entrepreneur and a Networker.’

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