There are so many great examples across the continent. Examples, in my view, are people whose lives, whose actions serve as a guide for how to live as part of a broader society, in whatever sphere. People who through the sheer force of their will and personality have forever altered the trajectory of their lives and those around them. When we see them reaching dream-level in their lives, we often do not see what it took to get there and assume that it was an easy journey. We package their stories neatly into ‘overnight success’ when, perhaps, it took fifteen years for them to get where they are.

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a house with a father who has served as a great example not just for me but for so many people in our broader community as well. I watched my father go from the safety and comfort of lecturing at a university to starting up and running his own business while putting five children through school and life. I remember waking up in the middle of the night and seeing the soft glow of his bedroom light gently cutting down the passage, a sign that he was working. He would start his Saturdays at the office before we went out to do family stuff.

It is that willingness to do everything in his power that has ensured that I could start my life a couple of notches up from the circumstance he was born into. But, I was never allowed to be complacent and had to start working at an early age. One of the main things I have learned is that, while ‘working smart’ is essential to peace of mind and progress, it doesn’t replace working hard. I’ve come a long way from working relentlessly, always feeling like I didn’t work hard enough in trying to measure up to my father’s immense work ethic. I have become much better and finding the balance but I still believe that there are times when you have to truly put in work while also embracing the breadth of your talents.

Dr. Lerothodi Leeuw, the subject/star of a Profmed video, epitomises the willingness to put in work to ensure that you can build beyond your circumstances. An astrophysicist with multiple post-graduate degrees in Physics, Astronomy, and Astrophysics (as well as an MFA degree in Creative Writing from Columbia University), this man, who was born in Taung and matriculated from Mmabatho High School, has travelled, worked and studied around the world and is a true leader in his field.

Profmed is positioned as an interesting healthcare business because they provide medical aid services solely to professionals who have “obtained a minimum of a four-year degree or equivalent from a technical university offering these individuals exclusive yet affordable medical cover.” In aligning themselves with examples such as Dr Leeuw, they, in a way, contribute to the creation of an enabling environment for the many who have to take the hard route to success and are driven by belief and commitment.

2 Comments

  1. Siphelele Ngema

    Inspiring story . I have developed this belief that “smart work is a perfect substitute for hardwork.” Today I have to confess there is no substitute for hardwork . Ever since I adopted this concept of smart work I have seen very little result compared to the days when i would put in hard work. I think almost all the best achievers in the world share similar sentiments about their success, they all dedicate it to hard work. Hard working doesn’t neccessarily mean that you neglect a working smart approach , but rather combine the two. Thanks for sharing this piece

  2. Kojo Baffoe

    Thank you for your comment.

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About Kojo Baffoe

Of Ghanaian/German heritage, raised in Lesotho and currently based in Johannesburg, South Africa, Kojo is the proverbial slashie, the professional ‘jack of all trades.’ He is an entrepreneur, writer, facilitator, content architect, former men’s magazine editor and speaker. He has a Bachelor of Commerce (1994) with majors in Economics, Marketing and Business Administration from the former the University of Natal (Durban), now University of KwaZulu-Natal.

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