Since we created the Anything is Possible workshop in 2012, we have run programmes in the UK with primary schools, secondary schools, and youth groups. And in 2014 we ran the same programme with our 62 sponsored students in Kenya.
Our aim during these sessions is to encourage students to develop the anything is possible mindset – if you do the right things often enough, you give yourself the best chance of the life you want. No guarantees. No false promises. We encourage students to think of the things they want to be, do, and have in their lives and to take the initiative rather than waiting for things to happen.
We share simple messages – recognise that not everything will go your way; and if there’s something you want, keep going. There’s no great myth or mystique, just a pragmatic approach to life.
So, I was delighted when we were asked to extend this programme and work with students at the University of Namibia (UNAM).
So in late January we worked with a group of 140 students, elected by their peers to the Student Representative Council (the SRC). With a population of just 2.4 million in Namibia, of which around 20,000 are at UNAM, these will be not just current student leaders, but future leaders in all aspects of Namibian life – education, business, politics, sport …
At the start of their year in office, they were given guidance on the role, expectations, and procedures, but they had never before received any leadership training or support. That’s where we came in.
We were greeted by an enthusiastic if slightly uncertain group of students. This would be a step into the unknown, for them and for me! The brief followed our usual approach – the coaching skills of an encourager: choice, passion, vision, and action.
We showed videos, including the amazing TED Talk from William Kamkwamba of Malawi; a young boy from a poor, rural community who built a wind turbine from scrap materials and a book borrowed from the library. His story epitomises the ‘anything is possible’ mind-set. If he can, anyone can. We shared tools, like our 4-step approach to problem solving. We played games and found 140 Namibian teenagers to be extremely boisterous when they won, and even louder when they lost. And we answered their questions from my own experiences – practical ways of dealing with fears and doubts, pressures and uncertainty, influencing others and addressing conflict – intelligent, mature questions from students keen to learn.
And they all took away at least one action that they could take to move them a step towards one of the goals or ambitions they have.
Life is what you make it.
It was a long day. They were tired, but I had hoped they had found it worthwhile. Their questions and eagerness to share their own examples, suggested they had.
When we were finished, I was happy to receive their thanks and, like back home in the UK, a round of applause. What happened next was most definitely not like back home. It began with a song of thanks from the SRC students from one campus. They were soon joined by all the SRC students from every other campus, as they sang and danced around the conference hall and down onto the stage. It was a carnival – very moving and great fun. Just like the Kenyans before them, Namibians certainly know how to party!
In November/December of 2018, we hope to run the Anything is Possible programme once again in Kenya for our new sponsored students – about 100 this time. If you would like to join us and be part of what promises to be another memorable event, please get in touch.