Lions, Business Teams and High Performance

IAN THOMAS is recognised internationally as one of the world’s top keynote speakers and is the author of the bestselling book Power of the Pride – How Lessons from a Pride of Lions Can Teach You To Create Powerful Business Teams.

His work combines a detailed understanding of nature linked to clear insights into the conditions under which business teams thrive.

Grant Ashfield caught up with Ian to better understand the link between lion prides and high performance teams.

WHY LIONS AND HOW DID YOUR FASCINATION WITH THESE SUPER PREDATORS DEVELOP?
IAN:

I studied business at University and then went to Londolozi Game Reserve and worked as a guide. All the tourists were keen, even desperate to see lions and over time I came to love the art of tracking and finding them. Many of my guests were business people and one day after the local pride had successfully hunted a zebra, one of them made a significant comment. He said, “I wish my team worked together as well as that pride of lions”.

This led to a deeper conversation about how and why lions work so well together. Later he returned with his business team and asked if I could re-tell the story of the business hunt with particular emphasis on the ‘teamwork’ lessons we had witnessed. I reconstructed the ‘zebra hunt’ in story form against the stunning backdrop of a flickering camp fire. I told and re-told that story and it had a significant impact on the teams that listened. It was out of this that the connection between lions and business teams was made.

YOU HAVE ALSO SPENT MANY YEARS WORKING WITH BUSINESS LEADERS AND THEIR TEAMS. IN A WORLD WHERE THERE IS TREMENDOUS PRESSURE TO PERFORM DO YOU COME ACROSS MANY EXAMPLES OF TEAMS WORKING AT THEIR HIGHEST POTENTIAL OR ARE HIGH PERFORMANCE TEAMS UNUSUAL?
IAN:

High performance teams are rare! There are a number of reasons why this is so. Firstly many people do not have a good in-depth knowledge of the basic principles that separate superb and dysfunctional teams. So they grasp at ‘quick fixes’ when often the team is only ‘fixable’ over a period of time. People hope that I can transform their team in an hour. I can shift their understanding of the root causes of good and bad teams in an hour, but most of these principles take time to be put in place. It is only after the presentation finishes that the real work begins.

Many of the dysfunctions in teams are deeply embedded. For e.g. are incentives directly linked to results? Is the selection process rigorous? Does everyone have a crystal clear understanding of what the goal is? Many team members are unsure of what their real skills are and find that they are unsuited to the roles that they play. I come across many people in teams where the personal fire that comes from a passion for the work is missing. Unfortunately this results in average performance often with people only making the minimum contribution.

YOUR TEACHING IS ESSENTIALLY ABOUT HOW THESE GREAT CATS – LIONS – USE TEAMS OR PRIDES TO RULE THEIR WORLD. WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM LION PRIDES AS A BASIS FOR THINKING ABOUT BUSINESS TEAMS DIFFERENTLY?
IAN:

I have always noticed how powerful each individual within the pride is. This power is only partly due to the fact that they belong to a strong pride, most of it is because they are superb hunters in their own right. A big lioness can weigh in at 145 kg and will run the hundred metres in five or six seconds! These are strong individuals who can stand up for themselves. They know what they are superb at and their abilities match their goals.

If our goal is to catch buffaloes we must be certain that the individuals in the pride are buffalo hunters with the abilities to match. Some lionesses that consistently hunt buffalo even undergo physical changes; they develop stronger chest muscles in order to wrestle the buffalo to the ground. Not to mention the mental changes that must take place in order to go after extremely dangerous prey. Many business teams are under prepared, both technically and mentally.

WHAT DOES A STRONG INDIVIDUAL MEAN IN A BUSINESS SENSE?
IAN:

The goal and your role in achieving that goal is clear. You have impressive skills and abilities that line up with your role and you have the mental strength to do what is needed. With these in place you will do the job well and have the ability to stand up for what is right when it is required. What’s more you are a confident contributor. If you know what you are good at and do it, you get recognized.

This builds your confidence, making you better at it – a virtuous cycle is created. For high performance teams you need strong, powerful, competent people who know what they are good at as the basis of the team.

IN YOUR PRESENTATION YOU TALK ABOUT THE CRITICAL IMPORTANCE OF DEMANDING PERFORMANCE GOALS. I THINK YOUR EXPRESSION IS, “GREAT TEAMS NEED GREAT ENEMIES.” CAN YOU EXPAND ON THIS FURTHER?
Ian: Even strong individuals, though they are powerful and competent, are often not pushed and fall into comfort zones. If the goal is demanding and attractive enough and requires high levels of skill, effort and energy, its effect can be to pull exceptional performances out of both the people and the team.

In lion terms, in order for the pride to perform at its peak it needs prey that is difficult to catch. Lion prides that hunt buffalo are forced to become powerful, because the buffalo are brawny and dangerous adversaries, hence the idea that great teams need great enemies to literally pull and inspire the performance out of them.

SO BIG GOALS ARE A CATALYST FOR GREAT BUSINESS PERFORMANCE TOO?
IAN:

Yes and these goals often carry a fear element with them. The risk is that in going for them – your business buffalo – your capabilities will be tested. Some fear they will be exposed, others even fear how their world will change through success. When the goals are demanding all the emotions of fear, adrenaline, passion and excitement will be present.

This may be why great teams are rare and unusual and exist for only brief periods of time. But to belong to such a team represents a memorable, even dramatic, period in one’s life which will certainly change you.

THE #1 ISSUE WHICH ALWAYS SEEMS TO BE AT THE HEART OF TEAM PERFORMANCE IS THE ABSENCE OR PRESENCE OF TRUST. HOW DO LIONS BUILD THE TRUST AND CONFIDENCE IN ONE ANOTHER SO ESSENTIAL TO HIGH PERFORMANCE?
IAN:

In one hunt I witnessed, a lioness had knocked down a zebra stallion. He was on the ground and kicking wildly. She only had a weak grip on the animal and was barely managing to hold on. The stallion launched a vicious kicking attack on the lioness. She lowered her head, flattened her ears, closed her eyes and hung on for dear life, while the stallion’s hooves whistled millimeters above her skull.

The only reason she continued to hold on under these desperate conditions was her knowledge that the other six lionesses were coming in hard to help her. She had total belief in their abilities and the confidence that upon arrival something would happen to the zebra. In times like this I do not believe it even enters her mind that she might not get back-up. She has 100% trust that her teammates will pull her out of trouble. The practical result of this trust was that the whole pride got to eat and eat well.

If we analyze this story, the successful hunt is caused by a number of things:
The entire pride has the same goals; they all want and believe in the same thing. This means that no one is holding back, which is essential for success and crucial for trust. Every lioness in her pride is an extremely skillful and powerful hunter. Competence is an essential element of trust, because you can’t trust someone who cannot perform in the job.

Finally, because they helped one another in a dangerous situation they caught the zebra and got to eat. Trust in one another had a practical outcome; a successful hunt and food to eat. If the pride trusts one another, if they stand together as one they are more powerful and successful.

MANY TEAMS STRUGGLE TO DEAL WITH NON-PERFORMANCE. LEADERS FIND IT HARD TO BE DIRECT AND CANDID ABOUT EXPECTATIONS. FEAR OF SPEAKING UP AND THE FEAR OF CONFLICT PROMOTE MEDIOCRITY AND A ‘HAPPY WITH AVERAGE’ MENTALITY. WHAT DO YOU OBSERVE IN LION BEHAVIOUR THAT PROMOTES ACCOUNTABILITY AND INTOLERANCE OF PASSENGERS?
IAN:

Lions hunt because they are hungry. This hunger forces them to develop the ability to catch prey that is both elusive and formidable. In human terms they operate on a 100% incentive scheme. If you don’t catch you don’t eat! They do not think that because they hunted hard or long last time, but did not catch anything, that they now deserve something to eat: you eat what you catch. You can’t eat working hard, but you can eat results.

Lions that do not keep up with the pride do not get to eat, or eat very little. If this ‘passenger’ behaviour is consistent they die of starvation. Contrast this in business where non-performers can hide and still get paid. In business teams it is important to confront non-performance. This dysfunctions goes so far that some teams even believe that the team exists for some other purpose than producing results!

LIONESSES TAKE GREAT CARE WITH THE CUBS – WHAT LESSONS CAN WE LEARN FROM THEM ABOUT TALENT DEVELOPMENT AND HOW THEY GO ABOUT PREPARING THE YOUNGER GENERATION TO BE GREAT HUNTERS?
IAN:

As soon as the cubs are strong enough they begin to wrestle one another. As they get older and more mobile they accompany the hunting lionesses. The cubs are so keen to participate in the stalk that the lionesses are forced to discipline them; to make them wait and stay hidden while the adults hunt.

Occasionally when the lionesses have eaten well they allow the cubs to attempt their own hunts. This is usually a complete mess, but making mistakes is part of how they learn. They watch the lionesses carefully and practice again. This pattern repeats itself over and over. These females are very protective and supportive and serve as superb role models for young lions to observe, imitate, and admire.

The young males observe how the pride males secure territory by scent marking the boundaries and roaring to intimidate rivals. Occasionally they witness brutal fights as territory is defended against hostile intruders. This is inspiring to testosterone laden young lions and soon extends to extensive bouts of semi-serious brawling where the youngsters hone their fighting skills.

Young lions, both male and female, thrive on this training and everyone knows that when training is serious, but fun – people learn. It also has a direct and practical link to what they will need in their future roles as hunters and fighters.

Business teams need to create secure environments where inspiring role models take time to teach learners in an atmosphere that is serious, competitive, and fun. The purpose should be to surround the team with powerful well-balanced individuals who inspire great performance.

IAN FINALLY IS THERE A MAGIC FORMULA FOR BUILDING GREAT TEAMS?
IAN:

There is but it’s not a magical one. Great teams are built on sound principles. The most important of these are:

  • The team consists of powerful individuals who know what they are superb at.
  • The goals are demanding and crystal clear.
  • Incentives reward success.
  • Non-performance is confronted and rectified.
  • Trust is built on consistent, practical, behaviours.
  • Training is serious, but fun and directly linked to essential skills.If there is any magic it is that these principles must be put into practice. The fact that they are talked about, or written down in some company statement only means that someone has recognised their importance. You don’t learn to hunt or fight by reading a book.

To learn more about Ian Thomas and the Power of the Pride visit www.ianthomas.net

We love hearing from you. Please comment below or email me at grant@leadershipworks.co.za.

64 Comments

  1. Michael Awoke 31 August 2015 at 10:26 am - Reply

    Dears,

    I want to thank you a lot for the articles you send out. Conflict (challeging ideas) I believe are very important and associates must not be scared of them. In my opinion, if associates understoond why conflicts are important and how to manage them, then and only then “fake harmony” can be avoided in the workplace.

    Please keep on send the artilces.

    Best,
    Michael

  2. Attie van Wyk 31 August 2015 at 10:28 am - Reply

    It eliminates complacency, focuses attention and effort on objectives and goals, drives creative and innovative thinking and promotes ongoing improvement.
    The inverse results in group think, stagnation and a false sense of business health.

  3. Ref Makoloi 31 August 2015 at 10:45 am - Reply

    One can learn a thing or two from this team. We tend to pussy footy around issues, walking on eggs shells when it comes to certain individuals, so much so that important issues remain unresolved. What happens is that we end up with side room meetings, excluding the individual, and solving nothing at the end of the day.

  4. Joe 31 August 2015 at 12:37 pm - Reply

    Brilliant piece. As Patrick Lencioni suggests, it all starts with trust and this is how I define TRUST:

    Telling the truth – being honest
    Revealing your authentic self – acknowledging your weaknesses, failures and mistakes
    Uttering your emotions – expressing your feelings and fears – not holding back
    being Sincere – not pretending and admitting the truth about oneself
    being Trustworthy – being transparent and showing integrity and commitment to do the right thing

    • Grant Ashfield 31 August 2015 at 1:06 pm - Reply

      Thanks Joe – I love your definition of trust. Mostly I appreciate your definition of sincerity and making that an element of trust.

  5. Annalise Scholtz 31 August 2015 at 6:13 pm - Reply

    In a team where conflict has been mastered by all, there will be less time wastage and ultimate higher productivity as per the article. It requires strong and emotionally mature leaders and team members. Very important ingredients of such a team are trust (as Joe said), respect and organisational focus. Without that it will be difficult to sustain the team.

  6. Willem Coetzee 1 September 2015 at 9:39 am - Reply

    All very true and relevant comments. I do however think it is not an easy thing to do as people can take things personal very easily. This is where EQ and absolute focus on the business results, values and vision come in.

  7. Graham Vercueil 1 September 2015 at 12:22 pm - Reply

    Hi All

    I also like the TRUST definition and have worked under greatly varying degrees of trust and seen the effects. If we can’t trust the leadership to manage conflict consistently, there is too much risk involved for team members in pitching their efforts in at 100%.

    One of the key issues in gaining trust is really listening, very well describe in ‘Time to Think’ by Nancy Kline,
    ISBN 0-7063-7745-1

    without well developed conflict management it seems that we are at risk of some version of schoolroom bullying at the cost of service delivery.

    Thanks for the posts, very interesting.
    Graham.

  8. eric 2 September 2015 at 12:45 pm - Reply

    I wish we had a lot of such well motivated and focused teams/individual. We always invest on time wastages – really we need to identify & eliminate wastages. That action will take us closer to a WIN WIN environment.

  9. Victor Kpentey 3 September 2015 at 3:49 pm - Reply

    Very nice piece. Openess among executive team is crucial to success. Options and choices will have to be hardly challenged. this will certainly create discomfort for some team members. however, the tone needs to be clear to provide some ease for the members. Corridor talk breaches the trust and affects creativity. Mastering how to deal with the confilict will improve the productivity and ensure only the best choices are made based on the available facts.

  10. Ivy Morulane 1 October 2015 at 10:16 am - Reply

    I also think that trust, honesty and transparecy are the fundamental issues in reducing uncertainty in the workplace. Learning again to validate your facts before one spread information to avoid unnecessary doubt.

  11. Percious 20 April 2016 at 11:16 am - Reply

    Great article. I will certainly use all the learnings of this article with my employment equity committee who are struggling with diversity and seeing that South Africa is diverse this cannot be escaped. I love the “No politics, no bureaucracy, no poison” insert. We really need to work on that.

    Thank you for the great articles and thank you for resource centre.

    Percious Mokoena

  12. Attie van Wyk 20 April 2016 at 12:33 pm - Reply

    With a constant increase in the rate of change in tactical, and sometimes even strategic, business models, restructuring of businesses has become an increasingly regular occurrence. Unfortunately not all affected individuals respond to change in the same way. Inherently change, in most cases where people are involved, has a short-term disruptive effect, where new teams need to go from the “forming” of the restructuring event through the “storming” and “norming” development stages before they can start “performing”. In this regard I have found value in a lecture by Conor Neil, where he had very similar views as the CEO in your article.

    Very valuable, thank you.

  13. Gordon Reddy 20 April 2016 at 1:01 pm - Reply

    I am a leader, I am constantly looking for literature, real life examples and experiences pertaining to all aspects of a dynamic leader.

    This analysis is so vital to me and I believe it is on point.

    I will definitely be embracing these proposals.

    Regards
    Gordon

  14. Athenea 20 April 2016 at 2:18 pm - Reply

    Hi there

    One of the key themes we are driving this year for our Leadership team is Courageous Leadership. There are times when our leaders need to have those difficult conversations and make decisions that serve the business and it is not always easy. We are trying to build a culture within our leadership where they can take accountability, responsibility and have the courage to lead our staff courageously, regardless of the changes that take place. It’s not easy, but vital.

    Regards
    Athenea

  15. Brett Nicolson 20 April 2016 at 3:13 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this article, Grant – nice to be refocused on what the right kind of leadership is all about. ‘The business of business is people’ … captures the essence!

  16. Johan Coetzee 20 April 2016 at 3:46 pm - Reply

    Very true. I believe that listening to people cannot be overestimated. We have to recognise that the discretionary effort and goodwill that people give, they give by choice. If they do not feel valued and/or heard they will choose not to contribute these to the organisation. Without that we will fail.

  17. Kobus Bezuidenhout 20 April 2016 at 5:24 pm - Reply

    HI Grant
    Very insightful article which makes one look again at the people you have chosen to be on the bus with you.

    We have recently appointed 2 senior people and will soon look at recruiting another manager. The last thing you need is people with a fatalistic view on life.

    I also like people who are self starters and people who poses questions to him/herself on how to improve, but also poses questions to the management team to challenge the status quo, challenge mediocrity and start discussion on how to improve performance.

    Greetings
    Kobus

  18. Naz 20 April 2016 at 10:38 pm - Reply

    Great article. Totally agree with the 4 vital qualities being embedded in leaders in order to make businesses a success

  19. Nischal 22 April 2016 at 11:26 am - Reply

    Concur that picking the right leaders is key. I was once advised that as a leader, I could “change the people or change the people” – guidance that supports having the right leaders in the right roles. And of the 4 vital qualities, I can resonate with the 4th being especially applicable for myself. But I really believe the first one, given our challenging times, is very relevant in selecting the right leadership team!

  20. Witness Mahlangu 22 April 2016 at 4:39 pm - Reply

    Very interesting article on leadership the business world is changing fast what worked in the yester year is just that. Quality number 1 is fascinating every leader and employee need to I grain it in their psyche to deal with change in the work place

    There are complex and intertwined changes that require resilience, changes in customer needs, markets, systems, skills set, organizational structure and the need to balance all this with personal life

    Leadership takes a very interesting dimension in that leaders have to be selfless and rise above all these challenges and carry the hopes and dreams of their employees while delivering value for the business. It a big calling to lead in the morgen day business world

  21. Rich Rabi 26 April 2016 at 11:59 pm - Reply

    Personal gain is the biggest destroyer of great teams not jelling together, firstly recognition of the team is very important to show that the effort made is taken to consideration. Secondly is to listen to the team members about work related advice to make things easy in the team. Celebrate team achievements by all members. Thank you Grant.

  22. Danie 31 May 2016 at 10:00 am - Reply

    We have had some excellent results in as far as team work is concerned which was accomplished through a structured intervention around 2 – 2.5 years ago and still holds. The aspects that are described resonates and are aligned to the important aspects that we focussed on. Humility is very important and through that ensuring that the team goals are superior to the individual’s. “Whatever it takes” is embedded in our language and I hear it being used very often. The third aspect that we focussed on is having a “responsible” rather than “victim” mindset. This has served us well and we are busy working with the wider organisation on this.

    • Grant Ashfield 31 May 2016 at 6:32 pm - Reply

      Hi Danie – thanks for your comment. Moving from the victim mindset on a team to really throwing your hat in the ring and adding value is a huge shift. I am interested to learn from you how this is going with the wider organisation.

  23. Ivy Morulane 31 May 2016 at 10:02 am - Reply

    I believe humility is the key to great teams, I really didn’t know of smart team members till today although I have always believed that listening skills also adds value to being a great team leader.

  24. Elma Potgieter 31 May 2016 at 10:12 am - Reply

    Humility is definitely the most important quality and the most neglected one which should be harnessed to its fullest extent

  25. Manuja 31 May 2016 at 10:52 am - Reply

    I feel that to be a team player, you must be able to work with people and be able to reach out to them with good listening skills.

    Having their best interests at heart will help both the team and the organisation. Spending time with people to understand them goes a long way.

    A great deal of diplomacy also helps a great deal!.

    • Grant Ashfield 31 May 2016 at 6:34 pm - Reply

      Thanks Manuja – you raise the issue of spending time with people. I think this is vital – its hard to build a team unless you’re willing to spend more time with each other. And not only task time but also time to show that you really care.

  26. Steve Hall 31 May 2016 at 11:40 am - Reply

    I would love to read up more on this, but it is heartening to see the affirmation of humility as a core anchor for team players. I wonder if for too long, those with a more introverted approach have been almost sidelined when perhaps humility comes more naturally to them. It is of course a grand generalization.
    Perhaps the word hunger could encapsulate the concept of energy. I certainly wouldn’t want anyone in my team who had no spark in their battery – despite how effective their engines may be !!!

    • Grant Ashfield 31 May 2016 at 6:41 pm - Reply

      Hi Steve – its great to get your post. Thanks! I think hunger does encapsulate the concept of energy. On a team its a hunger (energy) for results. It’s having an external focus on things … there are few teams that I can think of that exist purely for their own sake. The whole purpose of a team is to do something that can’t be done alone. And its being hungry to be a part of this. All this takes energy … a real spark in the battery!

  27. Julie Hulme 31 May 2016 at 12:12 pm - Reply

    I often have seen hunger and wisdom in teams; the one that most eludes us, is humility. You can argue that humility comes with great wisdom and it can certainly be perceived that way. Though more and more I see less and less humility. The needs of the individual are greater than the success of the team. Recognition, praise, knowing that you individually add value, appears to supersede all else.

    Maybe it is a generation thing (I dislike saying that it makes me feel old!) or possibly that we encourage reward and foster this behaviour. Either way, encouraging a mix of qualities, behaviours and personalities in any team will foster diversity and a chance for each team member to experience and grow with others. Looking forward to reading this book!

    • Grant Ashfield 31 May 2016 at 6:45 pm - Reply

      Hi Julie – your experience with humility is very interesting. Is it just a generational thing or do you think it is a values thing. I love the quote from CS Lewis on humility … humility is not about thinking less of yourself .. it is about thinking of yourself less”. I know you will enjoy the book.

  28. Dale Hillary 31 May 2016 at 2:09 pm - Reply

    What powerful replies to such sensible questions. I woul like to read the book and will certainly acquire a copy. Working with business leaders as I do, the importance of an effective and committed team very frequently manifests itself. The key ingredients are all there in the answers to the questions. Perhaps another key ingredient is real leadership…someone who has the ability to identify the latent skills and bring them to the fore!

    • Grant Ashfield 31 May 2016 at 6:48 pm - Reply

      HI Dale – I agree – the response to the questions has been so enlightening!

  29. Willem Coetzee 31 May 2016 at 5:10 pm - Reply

    I’m sure everybody has heard the African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” I believe in teamwork and humility in business. We are constantly looking for people with these qualities when we do new appointments. They are more important than qualifications and also more than experience at our interviews. It does however remain very difficult to identify and ensure that we do put “the right people on our bus”.

    • Grant Ashfield 31 May 2016 at 7:01 pm - Reply

      Hi Willem – thanks for your comment and reference to the proverb. Its a beauty! I am interested to hear that you value these qualities more than qualifications and experience and that you have a way of looking out for these at interviews. I would love to learn more about how you do this. Thanks once again.

  30. Michael Awoke 1 June 2016 at 9:07 am - Reply

    In my opinion humility is a key behavior. A real team player will prioritize team success before their own personal success. Next is being emotionally intelligent, understanding team dynamics and drivers of individuals within a team.

  31. Craig Bouchier 12 June 2016 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    Most books around team speak from the leader or managers role. What I like about this is the responsibility is being placed on each team player. This gives you the greatest possibility to succeed as each one needs to take responsibility. The fact that Humility is the first virtue is fantastic as today this seems to be a forgotten virtue. I look forward to reading this book.

  32. Dale Hillary. 30 January 2019 at 3:34 pm - Reply

    Brilliant article! so relevant to today’s world and challenges!
    Best regards,

    Dale Hillary.

  33. Pamela 3 February 2019 at 11:53 am - Reply

    Love this Grant. Thanks so much for sharing!
    Regards
    Pamela

  34. Morgan WIley 18 February 2019 at 8:48 pm - Reply

    Insightful and applicable. Thank you!

  35. Steve 27 February 2019 at 10:59 am - Reply

    Great letter thanks Grant, and what a character Herb Kelleher was!
    There is much more to that arm wrestle than winning or losing a tag line – it was one of the great stories of marketing, mergers and magnanimity that the business world has ever seen !!
    Well done !

  36. Div de Villiers 27 February 2019 at 11:01 am - Reply

    Humility and hunger as mentioned are important and needed for building a good team with good team playing members.
    What is also important to me is to be truthful, do not hide a mistake, tell upfront if one made a mistake, not only for others to learn from it , but also to foster the drive for continuous improvement as well as to build on the humility concept.
    Basic discipline is not negotiable, if you promised something, or made a commitment, keep to that. It enhances the principle of having respect for people and their time, another build on humility.

  37. Louis Hattingh 27 February 2019 at 11:26 am - Reply

    Loved the piece about Mr Kelleher. Must be amazing working for and with someone with his attitude & love for his people. The practical ideas are actually so simple, yet so tough to implement successfully! A saying from the aviation industry, is that the attitude will determine the altitude. Clear to see why Southwest keep on going north…

  38. Clive Hawkins 27 March 2019 at 9:27 am - Reply

    What a wonderful and inspiring story which applies across all aspects of our lives….

    • Grant 27 March 2019 at 9:48 am - Reply

      Thank you Clive

  39. Dale Hillary. 27 March 2019 at 9:54 am - Reply

    WHAT A WONDERFUL STORY.
    THANKS FOR SHARING.

    • Grant 27 March 2019 at 11:39 am - Reply

      Thank you Dale

  40. Jeff 27 March 2019 at 10:00 am - Reply

    An illustration of collaborative effort spawned by humanity, shared value system and absolute trust.

    • Grant Ashfield 27 March 2019 at 3:17 pm - Reply

      Thank you Jeff – their humanity shines through brightly

  41. Jacques Lambert 27 March 2019 at 10:05 am - Reply

    This is a great inspirational story reflecting the importance of finding common ground through communication and bridging rational differences. Ultimately culminating into deep relationships and mutual respect.

  42. Roz Dunkley 27 March 2019 at 10:46 am - Reply

    An inspiring and heartwarming story, crossing divides between race and culture. Many thanks for sharing.

  43. Ian Schubach 27 March 2019 at 1:26 pm - Reply

    Alex and Renias are an inspiration. They are testament to the idea that powerful personal relationships can transcend many of the limitations society attempts to place on us.

    Thanks Grant for sharing their terrific story!

  44. Holger 27 March 2019 at 2:02 pm - Reply

    Thank you for such a positive story on how relationships cross borders, races etc. Such a welcome relief, compared to reading our newspapers earlier today

  45. Kenny 27 March 2019 at 6:43 pm - Reply

    Dear Grant,

    This is very wonderful story. Developing trust and respect within teams is very critical for team spirit. Thank you grant for sharing, hope to connect with you again some day in future. kenny

    • Grant Ashfield 27 March 2019 at 8:21 pm - Reply

      Thank you Kenny. I look forward to meeting up again too.

  46. JudybGuffey 27 March 2019 at 8:07 pm - Reply

    So many great things happen (and start) at Londolozi. Thank you for sharing this ‘love story’.

    • Grant Ashfield 27 March 2019 at 8:28 pm - Reply

      Thanks Judy. Londolozi is a very special place indeed!

  47. Frances Fish 27 March 2019 at 8:28 pm - Reply

    Thank you for sharing this heartwarming, positive and uplifting story of opportunity and possibility in reaching across wide divides to find we are all only human after all! Thank you for sharing it with us. In times of uncertainty these rare and special connections encourage and give hope for our future.

  48. Georgiana Ngeri-Nwagha 27 March 2019 at 11:31 pm - Reply

    This is a heartwarming story of a close bond between two persons which supersede barriers of race and color of the skin. If only people of various races could get to know and relate closely with each other, there would be little or no discrimination or hatred based on suspicion and fear of the unknown.

  49. Brad Waldron 28 March 2019 at 1:11 am - Reply

    Wonderful, poetic crossing boarders words Grant. Thanks.

  50. CRAIG BOUCHIER 4 April 2019 at 1:44 pm - Reply

    Beautiful story, thanks for sharing.
    Heartlines is an organisation that has a campaign around the power of story and this story illustrates that so well. Personal storytelling gives us a non-threatening foundation from which we can have authentic conversations that help us understand each other better. It’s a simple way to start breaking down the suspicions and prejudices that divide us, so that we can work better together towards the hard work of reconciliation.

    Imagine a South Africa where, instead of creating more negative stereotypes about others, we start getting to know each other better by sharing our stories …
    Will you join the storytelling revolution?

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