Leadership is a big word with many connotations. Often, during Q&A sessions after my talks or in workshops, the same question pops up: “Are leaders born or are they made?” I firmly believe in the latter.

My own life is an example. I come from a family of five children. We were taught the same principals, values and morals; yet we all turned out very different.

What are the key points that influence your ability to master personal leadership?

What are the things that influence and direct your final destination?
The answer is not a simple one but I do believe there are a few key moments – and choices – that will define you.

Braam Malherbe Quote - Victim or Victor

1. Victim Versus Victor Mentality

It all starts when you first answer this question: “Am I a victim of circumstance or a designer of my own future?” Whilst circumstances influence our lives, both positively and negatively, it is the internal decisions and dialogue we undertake that ultimately defines us. These decisions revolve around the key word of choices. It is said, that what you choose to believe, for long enough, will become your reality. This is personal ownership. You cannot be a leader unless you have the courage to see the big picture, take full accountability of your life and even be vulnerable.

I remember clearly, when Wayne Robertson and I rowed our little boat, Mhondoro, from Cape Town to Rio de Janeiro last year, how frightened I was at times. I was incredibly vulnerable in the raging 30 feet breaking swells, especially at night. I had three words written inside the tiny cabin above the hatch: Strength, Courage, Faith. The strength of mind and body to believe we would reach Rio safely. The courage to face my fears in death-defying situations, The faith to believe it will be so.

What are your thee life-defining words?

Braam Malherbe Quote - Resilience

2. Embracing change for personal mastery

In life there is no constant. In fact, if there is, the only constant is change. The leader knows this, accepts it and embraces it. Change is often painful and a form of suffering since it implies loss (losing the past to move on to the future). Resilient individuals learn to not only cope with change, but to anticipate it and understand it’s value in building character.

In Victor Frankl’s famous book, ‘Man’s Search For Meaning’ he explains life in a concentration camp and the variety of ways the men coped… or didn’t. One point that resonated with me is how he spoke about suffering and how vital it was to ‘sit with the suffering’ (become comfortable with it; own it). It was in these deep dark moments, uncertain even that he would survive, that Frankl would talk to his co-inmates in the barracks, and motivate them to go another day. This is real leadership and transcends the world of logic.

3. Real leaders create leaders

People look up to leaders, yet the true leader empowers those very people to look up to themselves. As a leader, which you absolutely are, even if you don’t feel it, it is imperative that you see yourself as a leader, a person with influence, then take daily actions of change and evolve into a greater and greater version of yourself. Not big change, just small things, continuously. Those small things turn into big things.

Braam Malherbe Quote - Leaders Look Up

I would love to hear your thoughts on personal leadership and mastery and especially your stories of defining moments in your life. Make contact with me on my social media channels: