In my business I have the privilege of coaching quite a number of young Chartered Accountants.

Part of my program is to get my clients to see their own unique strengths. I then coach them on how to take these strengths confidently into the work place and use them to their advantage.

You might find this interesting as I did:

In a recent survey done by the HBR, CEO’s were asked what the most important attribute was of a prospective executive:

  • skill
  • character
  • cultural fit

Surprisingly, where cultural fit was expected to be the predominant characteristic, character came out on top.

This is a vital bit of information, especially as far as CA’s are concerned –  by their very qualification they present a number of solid character traits.

To pass the CA course is probably one of the most difficult on offer. Anyone who has achieved this amazing feat can almost certainly be defined as a person with character. If it’s not determination and tenacity, it’s high ethics, stay power, focus and raw grit!

Not to say that other people lack these qualities – it’s just that the CA(SA) qualification says it all.

But that is not what this article is all about.

There is a level that is a lot deeper and more awesome.

It prevails particularly in this part of the world.– and every time that I come across it, I am always profoundly moved.

So this is it.

  • A disproportionate amount of my black clients overcame immense difficulty to obtain their degrees.
  • Often they had been schooled in rural areas on a farm school that had a standard of education well below the likes of the average public schools in the cities.
  • They walked to and from  school for sometimes up to 4 hours a day.
  • They studied by candlelight in a crowded shack with their siblings and family all around them – no privacy.
  • Their parents were poor and struggled to put them through their studies.
  • They could only attend university if they managed to obtain a bursary.
  • They had to study at university level in a language that was almost totally foreign to them.
  • And they passed each year without failing and got through the Board Exams on the first attempt.

Now I don’t know about you, but to me any part of this presents an amazing success story– it is an incredible display of personal character.

And why so?

Besides anything else, usually their fellow class mates remained in squalor, subject to the usual social ills that accompany poverty.

I think that the part that really gets to me, though, is that when it comes to a job-search, no part of this incredible success story seems to matter. It’s never shown on a CV or even raised in an interview.  There is no recognition given to this amazing show of character – strength, determination and perseverance.

And in my view it has to count – this amazing success story is the best part of their CV!

So I tell my clients that the next time they are sitting in a meeting with a bunch of puffed-up self serving executives, they should ask themselves who is the most successful person the room!

It might just be themselves!


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