Columnists Features

Kalungu-Banda reflects on life’s opportunities in Driftology

GLOBAL action researcher and senior lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston, United States, Otto Scharmer says Martin Kalungu-Banda’s themes of leadership reminds him of those espoused by Apple founder Steve Jobs in his famous commencement speech at Stanford University.

BOOK REVIEW

Title: Driftology – How to Access Life’s Greatest Opportunities by flying on the wings of others
Author: Martin Kalungu-Banda with Mbololwa Kalungu-Banda
Publishers: Author House
Pages: 280
Price: £12.95 (paperback) and £23.99 (hardcover)
GLOBAL action researcher and senior lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston, United States, Otto Scharmer says Martin Kalungu-Banda’s themes of leadership reminds him of those espoused by Apple founder Steve Jobs in his famous commencement speech at Stanford University.
Well, for those who are new in town, although Jobs did not discuss his life or his unconventional choices that often, he did make one very notable exception with his speech to Stanford’s 2005 graduating class.
This is where he laid out his philosophy as lessons anyone can follow.
Two of those lessons, no doubt, this reviewer’s favourites are to “Stay hungry. Stay foolish” and “You are already naked”.
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.
“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart,” he said on You are always naked.
Anyway, Scharmer, who in collaboration with his colleagues, introduced the concept of “presencing” – learning from the emerging future – in his bestselling books Theory U and Presence (the latter co-authored with P. Senge, J. Jaworski, and B. S. Flowers), provides the foreword to Mr Kalunga-Banda’s new book Driftology – How to Access Life’s Greatest Opportunities by flying on the wings of others.
This book will be launched today by Vice-President Inonge Wina at the New Government Complex in Lusaka at 18:00 hours.
The first time he met Mr Kalungu-Banda was in 2006 near Johannesburg, South Africa, at a workshop on leading profound change.
“After introducing some principles and practices pf ‘presencing’ (leading change by sensing and actualising one’s highest future possibility), I asked the workshop participants to volunteer some of their own experiences,” he writes.
“A young man from Zambia stood up and shared his story about drifting and flying on the wings of others, which drew us in quickly and left us enchanted. He took us from a small village in Zambia all the way to the Cabinet table of the Zambian government and to the boardrooms of multinational companies and international NGOs. His name, of course, was Martin Kalungu-Banda.
“Since then, I have seen Martin rise from a remarkably gifted young man to a masterful and highly accomplished practitioner and thought leader in the area of learning and leadership.”
Mr Kalungu-Banda, author of Leading like Madiba: Lessons from Nelson Mandela (2006) and It’s How We End That Matters: Leadership Lessons from an African President (2009), served as special consultant to President Levy Mwanawasa from 2005 to 2008 with a brief to help re-establish the position of Chief of Staff at State House.
Some may remember him, when in 2007, it was reported that he had given an interview to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Newsnight Programme and allegedly posed as an advisor to the Zambian president.
The Zambian High Commission in London released a statement saying an article under the title of Vulture Fund Threat to Third World was wrong to refer to Mr Kalungu-Banda as advisor to the president.
But of course he had given the interview in his capacity as Global Advisor for Leadership and Capacity at Oxfam Britain and had told the interviewer that he had left his post as advisor to the president six months earlier.
Anyway, that is another story.
But this is the same man who has come back with Driftology in which he talks about human conditions faced in today’s troubled times.
Scharmer puts it well.
“One, the world is moved by forces beyond our control; that is, we have to continuously suspend our habits of judgment in order to cultivate our open mind (drifting). Two, we need to re-direct our attention in order to connect to the ‘highest future possibilities’ that the various guardian angels help hold for us (attending). And three, we need to learn to connect with the present moment, and let come what wants to emerge (flying on the wings of others).”
For anyone reading the book, Scharmer recommends that you use the stories to look at your own life’s journey.
“What is the drift you are experiencing right now? What guardian angels do you see? If none, what is it that you are missing right now? What do you need to let go of? What do you feel wants to emerge? What is the larger purpose that you want to be in service of, and that, if connected to, might elevate you onto ‘the wings of others’?” Dr Scharmer, who works with leaders in government, global companies, and NGOs to achieve profound innovation across sectors and cultures, says.
In the book, dedicated to his father and mother, his first guardian angels, and also to the children and young people in Africa and other developing regions of the world, he starts with a chapter on how all can access great life opportunities. He asks whether there is a recipe and secret for accessing great opportunities in life or not. He then talks about what has been guiding his reflections.
In the next chapter, he explains what drifting in life means, your role in the process of drifting, how to work with guardian angels, what living the moment means, what acting with spontaneity means and whether great life opportunities are fortuitous or not.
In other sections of the book, he talks about how teaching is more than downloading information, the courage to try new things, hanging in there in the face of temporary setback, and listening to the voice from within.
He also talks about being each other’s keeper, how great coaches help others overcome their fears, how one opportunity leads to another, how questions are more important than answers, how childhood fantasies can be lived and of course 10 ways to lead like Madiba.
It is a book in which Mr Kalungu-Banda, who holds professional qualifications in organisation development and coaching, and academic qualifications in public affairs, philosophy, development studies and anthropology, shares his personal stories.
He reflects deeply on his life’s greatest opportunity, and recognises those that have helped him become an international consultant in organisation and leadership development.
It is a good journey to ride on!

KK

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