The word "Ubuntu" is a combination of two terms: "Ntu" meaning person and "Ubu" meaning to become. This philosophy reveals a centrality in the person in his/her uniqueness and, simultaneously, proposes a path: to become a person. The Ubuntu philosophy makes it evident that human nature has, at its core, relationship, "being-with-the-other." We become people when in relationship with each other.
This path, which begins in the "I" and is completed in the "We", inspired the promoters of the Ubuntu Leaders Academy in helping each participant in seeing himself as an Ubuntu leader. Endowed with self-knowledge and aware of one’s own skills and strengths - the first three steps - the move towards the other - two last steps, in a perpetual and circular dynamic, where one always returns to the center of one to meet with the other in a renewed and improved way.
The practice has confirmed the potential of this method which, although still open to improvements and contributions, has been sufficiently tested, evaluated and consolidated, so that it can be offered to anyone who wants to apply it.
UBUNTU AND THE 5 PILLARS
The Ubuntu method focuses on the development of five core competencies. At a first level, focused on the individual: self-knowledge, self-confidence and resilience and, on a second level, the most relational skills such as empathy and service.
While focusing on these five pillars, the Ubuntu Leaders Academy promotes skills such as teamwork, critical and self-reflexive thinking, communication and problem solving encouraging and nurturing participants’ self- empowerment.
“He who is not able to manage himself, will not be able to manage others."
More than an intellectual self-analysis, self-knowledge implies the internal recognition of psychological and emotional processes, of passions and motivations, of fears and dreams. The experience at the Ubuntu Leaders Academy reiterates the idea that the first step towards true life transformation involves the start of an inner journey: the knowledge of oneself.
To help with this inner journey, the Academy proposes moments of individual reflection, varied dynamics and storytelling techniques helping to adjust the perception of self in each participant. It promotes the awareness of the present self, transformations and personal growth, and the projection of the future self, identifying strategies focused on the development of individual potential in each participant. Realistic awareness of individual strengths and weaknesses is essential for empowerment and leadership.
“Everything seems impossible until it’s done”
One of the positive consequences of self-knowledge, driven by a true and humane look, is the recognition of individual strength and potential. Self-confidence is understood as the ability to attain or fulfill a particular goal, based on individual competencies. This belief in self is not taken arrogantly but humbly, as a personal intrinsic value. As Prof. John Volmink defends, self-confidence speaks of focus and courage. Focus on the path you want to tread and the courage to, despite obstacles, criticism and difficulties, still tread it.
Self-confidence is strengthened when we recognize ourselves capable of achieving the goals we set in fulfilling our purpose to serve . The participants are encouraged to refuse narratives of resignation and self-victimization. They are encouraged to see themselves as the authors of their own life story, - “I am the master of my fate I am the captain of my soul” (William Ernest Henley – Invictus).
“Hardships often prepare ordinary people to an extraordinary destiny”
Overcoming obstacles is a universal, daily and unavoidable challenge. Resilience materializes in the ability to turn these same adversities into opportunities for growth. Difficulties, be they large or small, simple or complex, challenge each one to overcome, to persevere, and to grow. The capacity to transform obstacles into opportunities, not to be overwhelmed by discouragement or despair, overcoming them in a healthy and constructive way, emerges as a central element during the training at the Academy.
Resilience allows you to look at setbacks with the certainty that once overcome, you will strengthen your ability to strive for goals and dreams. Thus, every challenge or difficulty faced successfully strengthens the will, the confidence, and the power to overcome future adversities.
“To be empathetic is to see the world with the eyes of the other and not see our world reflected in his eyes”
Empathy synthesizes the ability to see and understand the world from the point of view of the other. It implies being available to recognize the other person in his/her uniqueness, to put yourself in the other's place. Each participant is invited to decenter, to become more capable of listening to the other, of feeling with the other through encounter. It is fundamental to promote encounters, to bring realities closer, to deconstruct prejudices and to combat individualism.
It is through encounter and relationship that better understanding, acceptance and respect arise. Thus, it is intended that each one can understand the essence of Ubuntu, to the extent that we become more human when we allow ourselves to be completed by the other. Empathy is "the art of putting oneself in another's place to transform the world" (Krznaric).
“I know that my work is a drop in the ocean, but without it the ocean would be smaller "
Service is an essential dimension that encompasses a concrete way of being in relation. It is hoped that every Ubuntu participant, aware of his/her responsibility in the world, will be able to acquire the human skills and the necessary technical tools, to become an active servant leader in the struggle for the creation of a better world.
Knowing yourself, relying on your talents, believing in your ability to overcome adversity and feeling with the other, each participant is ready to serve by leading, promoting, and restoring human dignity. Service is the starting point, and also the finishing line of a circular, growing and always incomplete individual construction process. I have become a person.