A message to the Youth, doors will only open if you move

A message to the Youth - Kevin Saunders

To be honest, starting this article was tough. In a time where things seem pretty dark (no pun intended), we find ourselves faced with profound inequalities in our modern age. High rates of unemployment, crime on our doorstep, gender-based violence and the list goes on.

As depressing as the above might sound, I  think that there is virtue in realising the reality we find ourselves in and making the mindful decision not to allow those thoughts to hinder our dreams of a better future. Yes, we are indeed living in interesting times, but in the same spirit of feeling hopeless, I can’t help but at the same time feel a sense of pride, pride in the realisation that we are not alone.

This is not a  foreign battle to us, and the youth of 1976 are a testament of that. It is not a matter of race or culture, but instead of the mere self will we as humans demonstrate when we stand together for what is right and prosperous. In this short article, I touch on some of the practical aspects we can encompass to thrive as young professionals in the modern age and how we can bring real value and meaning to the people and spaces around us as the next generation of leaders.

How many of you have heard the saying “where one door closes, another opens?” When it comes to opportunities, we have to be proactive in pursuing things that challenge us and engage our creativity. I’ll give you this example; when you walk to the front of a shopping centre, you will probably find that the doors are closed. Once you walk towards the doors, they open. For the door to open, you have to move.

Opportunities don’t just show up out of thin air; they will happen when you decide to step out of your comfort zone. Engage with people who have walked in the same path to learn from them. After all, experience is a master teacher, even when it’s not your own.

Involve yourself in the community or even join an outreach. In the words of Denzel Washington: “The most selfish thing you can do in this world is helping someone else”. Why is it selfish, you may ask? Well, because of the gratification, the goodness that comes to you, the good feeling, nothing is better than that. When you start doing things for others, you are already building a culture of dignity and compassion. This is the one recipe we need at the core of leadership in South Africa.

One of my earliest community experiences was an early work engagement with a colleague who gave me the nickname “Skokho”. This word literally translates to the hard part of pap that’s leftover in a pot after it’s cooked. I was slightly confused and did not understand what this meant at the time; as time went on, I embraced my new fate as a Skhoko because it was symbolic of the very thing that binds us together – Ubuntu.

Lastly, never doubt your abilities and never underestimate your potential to do great things, have patience, even though it’s tough in a world that survives on instant gratification. Don’t listen to the voices that say, “you can’t” or “it’s too late”.  Never let your situation be an excuse or an obstacle for greatness. Trust in your abilities – self-belief is the most potent force in this world because it projects you to become anything you want.

The future lies in the present, that is, the Youth. I wish everyone out there a blessed Youth Month!

Kevin Saunders

Civil Engineer: Real Estate Directorate
Head of Innovation: CESA YPF Gauteng North Branch Committee