de Klerk’s Powerful Message: Conquering Fear in The Quest for a Shared Future

de Klerk’s Powerful Message

I was honored to hear F. W. de Klerk speak in person February 22nd at the Jepson Leadership Forum at the University of Richmond.  In his remarks about his role in ending apartheid in South Africa he said many powerful things about leadership in a global society. The one that struck a chord with me most was about “radical change.”

Confronting Our Fear of Change

He said that we must “confront our fear of radical change, accept the need for real change, and then make the change. ” He said that “resistance to change is deeply ingrained in all of us. There is an inborn fear of the unknown.”

de Klerk shared that he and Nelson Mandela and the others trying to end apartheid in South Africa were doing it because they had confronted the fact that apartheid no longer worked in South Africa even though it was all they had known and it was familiar.  “We had reached a place that was morally unjustified” he said.

The Lesson for Us as Leaders

It is easy for us to ignore the need for change. Sometimes we do nothing because change is so difficult for us.  The world is becoming a global society and there will continue to be changes that make us uncomfortable and make us feel determined to cling to the past.

de Klerk eloquently shared how important it is to get over the resistance and fear that are “inborn” and to take the necessary risks to “struggle with what is right and what is wrong.”

We must get past the human tendency to think that anything unknown is the wrong way to go. While we are resisting the unknown, we may be left behind while others change the world.

Jepson Leadership Forum Biography: Frederik Willem de Klerk, Former South African president and Nobel Peace Laureate

 

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For more, see Linda’s book 7 Lenses and the 21 Question Assessment: How Current is My Message About Ethics?
 
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About Linda Fisher Thornton
Linda Fisher Thornton is Founder and CEO of Leading in Context, and author of the award-winning book 7 Lenses. She teaches as Adjunct Assoc. Prof. for University of Richmond SPCS. She is leading a movement to help leaders and organizations Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership.

One Response to de Klerk’s Powerful Message: Conquering Fear in The Quest for a Shared Future

  1. Josette says:

    I definitely learned about almost all of this, but having said that, I still believed it had been valuable. Beautiful post!

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