I had the recent privilege of traveling to Johannesburg, South Africa, and Victoria Falls and Hwangwe National Park in Zimbabwe. In and among meetings, speaking and training, I had the opportunity to be immersed in a beautiful culture, get to know some amazing women, and connect with animals in the wild.
To say it was life-changing is an understatement.
The takeaways from this experience are still unfolding for me, and it's going to take some time for me to process it all. However, here are two immediate takeaways that can speak to all of us:
We entrepreneurs in the west don't always take our businesses seriously. The women entrepreneurs I met in Victoria Falls have no other choice.
They work in the curio market from sunup to sundown. Some of them walk three miles each way to get from their homes to the market and back. They are single mothers, widows, grandmothers and great-grandmothers, and the work they do in the market is the only thing that puts food on their tables. If they don't make sales, they don't eat.
This market is their livelihood. It's also much more than that. It's their legacy.
Most of them began working in this market as young girls with their mothers and grandmothers, and while they do bring their children with them when school is out, they also want the work they are doing to create something better for their children than this. They strive consistently to make each day more successful than the one before so they can finally pay for running water or electricity in their homes or so they can buy their own plot of land to build a house someday. Some of the women put every cent they can save away so that their children can get an education and have opportunities for a life that the women, themselves, never had.
Every day it's serious commitment. Serious business. If it isn't, then there are dire consequences. So that simply is not an option.
The women I met in the market are faced with challenges I can't imagine. No running water or electricity, shortages of food and medical care, diseases like AIDS that impact so many.
And to meet them face-to-face, you'd never know it because they are happy.
They radiate happiness in everything they do. They love without reserve. They are at peace within themselves, and their very being brings peace to others. They are lights that shine a bright beacon of hope.
They are everything that is true beauty. Especially when they sing and dance. That is pure joy come to life.
They are proof that happiness isn't something that life gives you. It's something you create for yourself.
My hope for each of you as you read this is that you take time, as I am doing myself, to consider what it is that you truly want to create for yourself with your business.
Once you get clear, give it everything you've got. Don't do it halfway.
And always remember that happiness is a choice. It is within your power every moment of every day.
P. S. Special thanks to Suzanne Evans, who first introduced me to this opportunity, and to Sandy Salle of Hills of Africa Travel, who organized the entire experience and introduced me to the amazing women of Victoria Falls. To Sandy, Isabella and Elise (my traveling comrades)...words can't express my gratitude to all of you for sharing in this experience with me.