I believe s good way to start off a New Year is with a thought that both inspires and motivates. I want to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela and it turns out that his birth name gives me such an opportunity. Nelson Mandela’s birth name was Rolihlahla, which in the Xhosa language means, “pulling the branch of the tree.” In a word: Troublemaker. Indeed the man spent his 95 years creating glorious trouble for oppression, all in the service of justice.
While working in China recently I was referred to as Maa Faan, which roughly translates as annoying or troublesome. The reason for the reference was that I had the habit of asking questions that people found difficult to reply to. This got me thinking about how powerful questions can be, especially questions that spur someone to think outside the box and leave their comfort zone.
I feel very proud to share the moniker of Troublemaker with Mr. Mandela. I agree with Charles Schulz who said: Life is like a 10-speed bike. Most of us have gears we never use.” I firmly believe that the ability to ask thought provoking questions is one of the finest gears a person possess and the world is a better place because people dare to ask the difficult questions.