We had the privilege of being part of the panel speakers at the recently concluded Africa Inuka Forum. Hon Johnson Sakaja who gave the key-note speech, highlighted that while Africa obtained physical independence from colonialists over 50 years ago, many of us are still mentally emancipated. We believe this to be true. The mindset of many Africans is still caged-up and restricted. Many of the issues facing this continent can traced back to this mindset.
Proverbs 23:7 says, ‘For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he’. At Lapid Leaders, we believe that the greatest investment we can make to a young adult in Africa, is to transform his way of thinking, it is to equip his mindset into that of a leader.
We believe that a well-tailored Leadership Experience, is a powerful tool that not only enhances the skills of any young adult, but expands their way of thinking. The Lapid Leaders Experience therefore provides various “heat experiences” whose aim is to enhance the way of thinking of each Lapid Leader. This ensures that the Lapid Leaders are not only work-ready graduates but also world-ready graduates, the kind of graduates that Africa needs today.
Heat experiences have been known to transform how an individual thinks, they develop the greatest leadership skills. A research conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) shows that leaders develop most rapidly when facing “heat experiences.”
What then are heat experiences and why are they important? Why should you also get involved in heat experiences? What benefit would this have to you?
What are heat experiences?
Simply put, a heat experience is any experience that stretches an individual beyond their comfort zone. The Centre for Creative Leadership has defined a heat experience as any task or assignment that meets the following conditions:
- It is a first-time experience
- Results matter: There is a chance of success and failure
- Important people are watching
- It is extremely uncomfortable
Some of heat experiences that I have gone through in my life include serving in a male prison ministry, taking up new roles that are outside my training, and even working outside the country.
Why are heat experiences important?
Isaac Newton’s first Law of Motion provides an apt answer to this question. Newton says. “Every object continues in its state of rest, or of uniform motion in a straight line, unless compelled to change that state by external forces acted upon it.” Human beings are wired to love comfort. Individuals will happily continue in a state of rest or a straight line unless they are compelled to change by external forces. Heat experiences provide this external force that compels change.
Leaders don’t grow because they like to; they grow because they have to. This growth begins when an individual faces a challenge that is so difficult to solve from their current stage of development, that the individual has to grow to survive the challenge. When leaders look back at their careers and describe their time of greatest growth, they invariably tell stories of their most intense heat experiences.
The individual who faces a complex situation that disrupts and disorients his habitual way of thinking, becomes a leader. He discovers that his current way of making sense of the world is inadequate. His mind starts to open and search for new and better ways to make sense of his challenge. This is a point of true transformation, a man’s mind is open to anything.
How we deliver Heat Experiences
At Lapid Leaders, we provide many forms of Heat Experiences to the young adults we work with. They are opportunities that stretch the individuals and in the process they learn that they can be great swimmers (you can read about some of these great swimmers here or here).
We begin this Heat Experiences through delivering intense classes that are shaped to ensure that the students are stretched beyond their comfort zones. However, we know that “classroom learning” on its own is not enough, as not enough gets transferred back to the real world. The mind forgets ‘classroom learning’ fast enough.
We have therefore tailored various other tools that aid in further enhancing the Heat Experience. We create experiences that produce ambiguity, uncertainty, and confusion for leaders— not comfort. Often, this is very uncomfortable for even us as the facilitators, as we are often blamed for the confusion. However, when we watch the Lapid Leaders learn to swim (here’s another swimmer), we remember that for development to occur, we must learn to stop teaching and step aside. We also use Project-Based Learning as a tool for Heat Experiences (we will share more on this tomorrow).
Why you too should engage in Heat Experiences
The greatest developmental advantage I’ve seen is a leader who has learned to love the heat. While we are naturally immune to change and uncertainty, great leaders learn to uncover and unhook from what holds them static.
While most people work hard to avoid the heat, learning agile people actually seek it. They realise that in order to grow their leadership edge, they have to grow their capacity for discomfort, as discomfort results in growth and inevitably unlocks potential.
This people realise that their real value is only unearthed when heat experiences have peeled the true worth and in the process unlocked the real potential of the individual. Only then can you develop a growth mindset that adds value to the continent, an uncolonised, unshackled mindset. Only in that space can Africa’s youth begin to fully be the gold-mine that they are.