Start main page content

A personal GPS on the path to significance

- Wits University

Isaac Shongwe's life lessons guides students to reaching beyond success.

There are four principles that you should stick to in life that would lead you to beyond success, into “significance”.

These principles, according to Isaac Shongwe, former Executive Director and Board member of Barloworld Ltd, and founder of the Letsema Consulting Company, are: Self reflection, balance, true self confidence and humility.

“First of all, be humble. Arrogance will keep you from being significant,” he said. “People who are significant are people who reach beyond success, like former President Nelson Mandela.”

Shongwe addressed graduands of the Wits Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management on Tuesday, 29 March. He said these four principles were his “personal GPS” throughout life.

You must have the ability to reflect on what you stand for, and strive for greater awareness; you must have the ability to view situations from mulitiple perceptions and appreciate different viewpoints and you must be able to accept yourself for who you are – even though there will always be someone more gifted and more successful than you; and never forget who you are and where you came from.

“Value and treat each person with respect,” he said.

Shongwe grew up in Alexandra, and, along with a number of his cousins was brought up by his grandmother. He left the house when he was 12-years-old to fend for himself. He said, however, that your circumstances of birth should not determine where you end up in life, but that one should always stay true to who you really are.

“It is very important to know yourself. It sounds simple, but it is very hard to do,” he said.