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Daphna Horowitz Launches Courage to Lead: Leadership Lessons from Kilimanjaro

Daphna Horowitz

The Courage to LeadThe beautiful hall at Villa Arcadia on the Parktown ridge, once the Jewish Orphanage and now owned by the Hollard Group, was well filled for the recent launch of Daphna Horowitz’s debut, The Courage to Lead: Leadership Lessons from Kilimanjaro.

Former actuary, leadership coach and public speaker Horowitz was inspired by a client’s ambition to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Although she admits she is not the sporty type, although she does try to keep in shape, Horowitz says she loves a challenge and decided that she would climb Kilimanjaro herself. The climb was challenging and difficult, but day by day she was struck by how the metaphors and symbolism the climb revealed resonated with real life, and on her return home she needed to stop, reflect on and derive meaning from her experience. Horowitz never planned on writing a book, but she kept a blog during her climb, which was the genesis for the project.

Horowitz began her launch with a slide show of the Kilimanjaro journey, which conveyed the feeling of camaraderie among the climbers and of course the wonderful views as they neared the summit, including an incredible photograph taken from high above the clouds.

The key message of Courage to Lead: Leadership Lessons from Kilimanjaro is that everyone is a leader, and that leadership can be made practical and simple – and that it can be learnt. We all know of great leaders we can learn from. Horowitz’s message of leadership does not only relate to business; there are four parts to this book: Doing, Being, Relating and Meaning. Each part tells a short story, followed by a leadership lesson with questions and exercises. The book challenges readers to take the lead in their own lives and to get to a level of fulfillment rather than just going with the flow. “Be conscious of the choices you make,” Horowitz says.

Horowitz shared an extract from her final, and favourite chapter, Meaning, which outlines her thoughts and reflections on her return from the Kilimanjaro. She mentioned that her book does not have to be read from beginning to end but can be read in any order, depending on the reader’s sphere of interest.

To achieve anything in life, one needs good preparation, the correct tools, the right people and faith. Good leaders also need courage, vulnerability and soul. Horowitz challenged the audience to find their Kilimanjaro and find out how to derive meaning from it. She described her biggest personal lesson as the “lesson of being slow”. Kilimanjaro contained so much peace, solitude and connectedness that she wanted to try and keep hold of those feelings when the climb was over. Horowitz says she only managed to hold onto the feelings for about a month, even driving well below the speed limit on Joburg’s busy roads, before the fast pace of life in the city claimed her back. Since returning , this driven woman has written a book and completed her master’s degree. As the first Mount Everest climber Edmund Hillary said, “It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”

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