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Sunday 18 March 2018
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In Pursuit Of Character: Keep Your Feet On The Ground

In Pursuit Of Character: Keep Your Feet On The Ground


What do Cyril Ramaphosa, Travis Kalanick and Paul Wolfowitz, have in common? All three are very successful entrepreneurs who`s characters and conduct have come into question in recent times. Media is awash with strong and elaborate condemnation of their shortcomings.

Entrepreneurs like these often complain about the scrutiny they face. They claim to want a quiet life like any other citizen. Unfortunately, if you are going to be a successful entrepreneur you have no choice but to pay the price of having your movements tracked by someone. Character failings become fodder for the press. So, the question that begs is; why do so many entrepreneurs continue to be found in compromising circumstances despite them knowing fully well that someone could very well be watching them? What leads to their fall from grace? As a consultant in business management I will share a few of my observations.

Successful entrepreneurs yield a lot of power and often are not held accountable for their actions. Because of this they tend to get away with things most of us wouldn`t. For example, if they are stopped by the police for a traffic offence they are most likely to be let off. There is also no shortage of favours they receive from different people from all walks of life. They hardly have to lift a finger to get their children into prestigious schools or to get their passports or driving licenses renewed. Just one phone call and everything falls into place. It is these seemingly small things that sow seeds of invincibility. They twist the law as and when they want and often people turn a blind eye.

This leads to them having an inflated image of themselves. Who doesn’t know the proverbial question often asked when they want to get things done, “do you know who I am?” I must hasten to say though that these egos are also often stroked by hordes of different people who dish out to them endless praises.

Something that happens to mostly male entrepreneurs is the over the top attention they get from unscrupulous women who care little about their marital status. Things fall apart when these relationships are exposed and become public knowledge. Oh, by the way, even the successful woman entrepreneur seems to be getting the same kind of attention these days.
Greed is another factor that so often affects the entrepreneur. They may have an insatiable desire to have more than you can already contain. This leads to many entrepreneurs pushing boundaries leading to them committing crimes and then ending up in jail.

To be fair to our entrepreneurs their shortcomings do not only affect them but anyone who is in the limelight. Celebrities and politicians have been known to suffer similar fates. Failure to pursue that most important quality of humility has seen many a person who is in the limelight fall from grace.
My advice to those who are public figures is to continuously go through regular times of self- awareness. This will include a time of meditation and reflection. Having close friends who help you keep your feet on the ground is absolutely necessary. These and more we will explore in our next instalment on character.



Stirling Gapara was born and raised in Zimbabwe. In Zimbabwe, he worked for Universal Leaf Tobacco, a leading international tobacco company where he rose to the position of Sales Leader. In 2007 Stirling moved to Uganda to work for another international tobacco firm, Leaf Tobacco and Commodities. There he held the position of GLT Operations Manager until 2014. After leaving Leaf Tobacco, Stirling founded Stirling Leadership Consults where he is the Managing Director. Stirling has always had a passion for leadership. He has held several leadership positions in both the corporate and non- corporate sectors. Currently, he sits on the board of Acacia International School in Kampala and is also President of the Parents Council. He is the vice president of Kampala Toastmasters. He also sits on the alumni board for the Institute for National Transformation. Stirling is a member of the John Maxwell Team. He is an avid reader, a keen sports fan and a keep fit enthusiast. He is married to Vimbai and together they have 3 children.