Leadership Nuggets

"But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave." Jesus Christ (Matthew 20:26, 27 NLT)

Monday, 5 May 2014

10 Fantastic Life Lessons I have acquired on my life’s journey by Scientist Tozama Ogunleye-Qwebani


 Tozama is completing her PhD in Organic chemistry at the University of Witwatersrand (Wits). She is passionate about science, media and leadership.  She has been in a number of leadership positions including chairperson for CSIR (Biosciences) student forum 2012, chairperson at the 3rd BIT symposium in China-Xi’an (2012) for emerging scientists, one of the founders of Bizana Alumni Society (BAS), vice-chairperson for postgraduate students association (PGSA) at the University of Cape Town 2008. She was featured in a number of educational programmes including SA FM’s educational programmes (Science Matters), Channel Africa radio with Dr Izak Khomo and SABC 3Talk hosted by Noleen Maholwana-Sangqu. Tozama was awarded the Fogarty Fellowship Institute at the International Centre for Public Health (ICPH) New Jersey medical school USA 2013 on Global Infectious Disease. She is a recipient of woman in science award sponsored by DST and TATA Africa (2011) and CSIR Biosciences student of the year 2011. Her work is included in 4 scientific publications.

Tozama will be sharing twenty leadership lessons that has enhanced her life journey in all it’s different dimension; professionally, wife, mother and mentor to young aspiring scientists. Be inspired by her first ten fantastic life lessons;


Lesson one: Permit yourself to live
Living is not just about being alive; it is about embracing your all with great tenacity. It has been said that most people die at the age of 21 and are buried at the age of 65. What happened to the 44 years of their lives? They let life pass by and went with the flow as we sometimes do. At a point in our lives we need to awaken our spirits and make a conscious decision that will make us to be awake come rain come shine. This is about our authentic self and learning from both victories and failures. Living is about growth and continuous improvement of one’s attitude.

Lesson two: Belief
The way we operate is the manifestation of our belief system. Our actions can be tracked down to what we believe in and what we believe to be true about ourselves. We limit ourselves because of what we believe to be true about us and the following have the major influence on our belief system.
Ø  Culture
Ø  Childhood
Ø  Education
Ø  Friendships
Ø  The people in our sphere.
Ø  The books we read.

Lesson three: Self Leadership
Leadership is influence and Self-leadership is the greatest of them all. Self-leadership is leading oneself from one point towards a continuous growth, improvement and excellence. It is about demanding excellence from yourself before you can demand it from others.

Lesson four: Be a student
Be the student of the area you want to impact in. Most of us have ideas, ideas that can make a very significant contribution in this world. This is laudable; however, the challenge is we all want to teach without going through the process. We found the world in existence and we can’t add value or change that which we don’t really understand.

Lesson five: Psychological strength and attitude
Everyone in your field is clever, that is why you all have degrees. Note two things that will distinguish the champions.
·        Positive attitude is very vital to keep the office mood productive and fun to work around.
·        Psychological strength is all about interpreting what one hears and see. When your boss says this is not good enough, it means it’s not good enough but if you can try again and apply more of yourself it will be better. But sometimes when we hear this we think she means I am not good enough and never try anything again and we stay in our shells.

Lesson six: People
This is a very important point.  People are very important because we cannot survive in this world without them.  We gain from other people and we must learn to appreciate them. No one has ever made it as an island. Also it is very important to have mentors in order to grow, we learn from people and mentors are very crucial. However, we also learn what not to do from people. We learn to stay away from practices that don’t yield the results we want sometimes through people.

Lesson seven: Practice
Practice makes IMPROVEMENT, not perfect. You become a better you and one improve by the choice she makes daily. It is very vital to apply what we have learnt otherwise it becomes irrelevant and a waste of time to learn just for the sake of learning.

Lesson eight: Time; a tool and a resource
There is a time to listen to most people, there is a time to listen to some people and there is a time to hear the noise but not listen at all, however one has to understand the times.
For example, when one is running a race, you take
1. Time to listen to your coach, family and friends.
2. Time to listen to the whistle blower on the day.
3. Time to run.
While running, one can hear the noise but can’t hear the conversations because at that significant time no amount of talking can make him a winner if he is not well prepared. It is also like this even in our lives and it is our responsibility to distinguish the times in any season.

Lesson nine: Fail forward
When you fail that does not make you are a failure. We all sometimes are faced with failure, what is important is to learn from one’s failures so that we are better equipped for our next project.

Lesson ten: ‘But’- A dream killer
We all have big dreams and what determines if we will see them through is our internal conversation and most of the time it is our But that kills our dreams.  A ‘But’ is a dream killer; it is like an argument for our limitations.

Let’s embrace our unique stories, life is a journey. 



Tozama Qwebani-Ogunleye

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