Up until a week ago, I thought Ubuntu was just another Linux distribution. I did know the roots of the word Ubuntu meant community, but that was a deep as my understanding went. I recently had lunch with a local minister. I had known him from some of the activities I have done in the community and had been to his church a few times. We crossed paths at the local “Living Bethlehem” presentation around Christmas time. At the time, he asked me to tell him about my Transformational Coaching and suggested that we have lunch to discuss it even deeper.
When we finally sat down for lunch, we had a good conversation, catching up on each other’s lives and activities. He took an interest in my Transformational Coaching and then began to tell my about Ubuntu. He told me the deeper meaning of the community described by Ubuntu, a community in such we celebrate the connection between all people and not the differences. When one person in the community hurts, everybody hurts. He talked about that even though there are different religions in the world, at the core, they all talk about a connected community, one of love and respect for everyone.
He pointed me to a book, “Ubuntu: An Inspiring Story About an African Tradition of Teamwork and Collaboration”. It is a story of a manager, who are a great individual contributor, but is failing as a manager. The story begins around a long weekend, where the manager realizes that he needs to work the entire weekend to “fix” his team’s work. As he shows up for the weekend, one of his employees shows up to help him. This employee, one of his star employees, is from Africa and begins to tell the manager about Ubuntu as they work on correcting the issues with the work and from there Ubuntu unfolds.
Ubuntu is something that is engrained in the African colture. Ubuntu is how South Africa went from Apartheid to Democracy without a civil war thanks to leaders like Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, who embodied Ubuntu and kept Ubuntu in the forefront in the transition.
“Ubuntu” is a wonderful story about how we are all connected. I picked up the book on the evening after my lunch with the minister and could not put it down. I would recommend it to everybody. As a manager myself, I was reminded that if there are problems with the work my employees produce to not associate the problem to the employee and look for the behaviour that can be corrected. Too many managers believe the problem is the employee and use it as a personal attack on the employee, which does neither any good.
We all need to remember that we are all connected and stop looking for things that make us different, but to look for things that bring us together.