The opportunity business


Bhekinkosi Moyo

Bhekinkosi Moyo

Bhekinkosi Moyo

So the EFC  conference has started with a big bang and one can comment on a number of sessions that have really been insightful and very informative. From the Ray Murphy lecture to the risky business session, the level of debate and engagement has been thorough and rigorous. I was particularly intrigued by the risky business session, both in terms of content but also because of the way it was presented. I found myself agreeing with everything that was presented and this got me thinking. The more things looked familiar, the more uncomfortable I became. Simply because by nature I  don’t feel comfortable in a comfort zone. The more the risks presented and discussed became familiar, the more I worried that I was in my comfort zone which happens to be my most uncomfortable position. I tend to vacillate in this position. So I immediately got into my resistance mode and began feeling that the language in use was limiting to our analysis and imagining. This is why.

The term ‘risk’ is by nature very limiting in the sense that it connotes a negative
mindset and perhaps even outcomes. It forces players involved to be very
calculative, cautious, mindful and by default averse. It is as if one begins
planning or programming already with a ceiling on what is possible. Yet if thought
or imagined differently say from the perspective of ‘grabbing opportunities’, one
plans and programs with limitless imagination. I wondered during the session whether
or not it would not help foundations to think about taking opportunities within what
is possible and that way calculate risks as opposed to thinking about risks and then
grab opportunities. This is my layman’s frame of mind. This reminded me of the
analogy in the book The Leader who has no title about a young man who was taken to
two graves by his mentor. In the first grave were ten regrets that the dead person
had written down before he died and wanted to be hurried with. In the other were ten
successes that another dead person had included in the grave. The mentor then asked
his protégée which grave he would prefer to be hurried in. Needless to say he wanted
to be in the second grave with successes. The point is we can worry about risks and
miss the opportunities or we can grab opportunities and celebrate what we could
achieve while we were at it.

I would have wanted to end my contribution here but two things happened after the
risky business session that I just have to share. So it happened that I had a meeting
with a potential partner immediately after the session. I had just been handed the
risk medical kit. In it were risk taking tablets and I gave a few to my potential
partner to encourage risk taking. I am still to get the results. The second event
was more sentimental than the question of risk. I joined the group that visited the
Crescent Arts Centre. Upon arrival, the Open Arts Choir took on the stage and their
first song just mesmerized me. From among the 54 African countries and a quintillion
of languages, the choir just happened to sing their song in two of the languages
that I grew up speaking, Zulu and Shona. How coincidental? Only in Belfast at the
EFC conference can such mystery happen. So I found myself translating the song for
the choir.

Bhekinkosi Moyo is program director at TrustAfrica

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