What does the challenge of being a challenger actually mean?
Well, to the group of us (including myself) travelling out to Durban, South Africa this summer as part of the South Africa Challenge, it will mean a number of things.
Firstly, I’ll be challenging the status quo. When I first mentioned that I’ll be travelling to SA to my friends and family, their immediate reaction was a mixture of concern for my safety, and confusion over why I wanted to spend part of my summer in a country known for a number of problems. Spending two weeks working on a social project whilst you’re developing leadership skills isn't everyone’s cup of tea, but to me this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to do something a little bit different.
More importantly - I will be challenging myself. We all have a preconception of South Africa, its people and culture; it’s formed from what we see in the media, what the people around us tell us, and often our lack of knowledge. I want to challenge my perceptions to see what the country is really like, and see the issues for myself gaining the knowledge first hand.
I also want to challenge myself to develop new skills; being in an unfamiliar environment, with a group of people you don’t know is probably the best way to start. As part of the leadership development programme, we will be looking at what makes us think and act in a certain way. It’s easy to point out the good and bad points in others, but the challenge is to look critically at yourself.
Lastly we’ll be challenging each other within the group to make the most of the experience. Getting to know a group of people with different backgrounds, experiences and attitudes will be exciting and daunting at the same time. Learning how to work as a team will be a challenge in its self.
So in answer to the question of what does the challenge of being a challenger mean - to me, it’s a mixture of challenging yourself, your preconceptions, your team and what others expect of you. The journey so far to South Africa has already gone some way to challenge a challenger, and I'm excited to see what else the experience throws at me.