Dear Dalitso

Everyday lessons for tomorrow

Chenga Wose Mananga Hapana Risina Mhonzi (There is not a pumpkin without seeds, so value them all)

November 22, 2023
Letter #

Chenga Wose Mananga Hapana Risina Mhonzi (There is not a pumpkin without seeds, so value them all) 
This is a deep Shona proverb. It literally means all pumpkins regardless of size are worth collecting from the field. At the very least, their seeds could be put to good use (  

I was pleasantly surprised to find that this proverb/saying is now available on the internet. I have learnt to apply the wisdom contained over the years. My take is- do not be too quick to discard/disregard a team member, an opportunity or a partnership based on the immediate disappointment. It is possible that at first you may not find what you were expecting from a person (member of staff). It could have been a rash decision to hire. Advantages of a relationship or a partnership may not be immediately apparent. It may look like you are the one doing all the work. The value of a conference/workshop maybe unclear. Now and again, I ask myself why did I travel this far to attend this? 

The proverb is exhorting us that there is not a pumpkin without seed. Remember we have always been agrarian communities. Historically we did not buy seed from the shops. We kept seed from one harvest to the other in our local seed banks. So seed is wealth, and we rarely used to sell that seed- we would exchange with others. 

Back to the leadership lesson- every person (like the pumpkin) has a purpose and strengths. I may not immediately see the strength or capabilities within the person, but my immediate reaction should not be to cast aside, but rather to keep/ nurture (chenga wose) the talent because there is something unique about each one of us. I have been amazed at what happens when we move people around. We have discovered great skills within the team literally by accident. Moving people from positions that they would have initially applied for into roles that emerge within the organisation. We have not done Psychometric tests such as Strength Finder, but instead we keep on allowing people to experiment, test things and see what they like.  

We have entered into partnerships with an open mind. At times we have made the mistake of looking for immediate results especially when analysing value for money. But I have come to learn that everything worth doing will take time. We are better off when we invest in relationships of partnership with others instead of being transactional. I no longer ask, ‘what’s in it for me’ but instead I always ask, ‘how can I be of value/service to everyone else around me’. My opportunity is the relationship, and I can shape it positively when I add value.  

The leader’s task is to trust that there is something unique about an individual. It is all about matching those skills with the tasks at hand. Some are just rough diamonds (chisel with care), others are coal (apply pressure) and others are olives- they just need some cold pressing. That is the leader’s responsibility- to understand the team and put them in their right places.  
Finally- value each day. All days are different and within each day is a unique opportunity to be a better person. Value every opportunity. Chenga wose! 

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