Prof Jonathan Jansen is the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State. He is also the Honorary Professor of Education at the University of the Witwatersrand and Visiting Fellow at the National Research Foundation. Jansen also serves as an Independent Non-Executive Director for Advtech Limited and is the Chairman at the School Evaluation and Teacher Appraisal. He is a Fulbright Scholar to Stanford University (2007-2008), former Dean of Education at the University of Pretoria (2001-2007) and an Honorary Doctor of Education from the University of Edinburgh.
My Measure Of Success | Is the extent to which I am able to make a difference in the lives of others; there is an impossible-to-explain joy and fulfillment to be able to feed a hungry student, fund a poor learner, offer a shoulder to a hurting teenager, and inspire a generation of youth.
I Am Driven By | A simple and singular sense that the future of our country and continent, and the world depends on the quality, depth and meaning of the education we provide youth as the next step-up leaders. Knowing that I am privileged to lead thousands of young people, and influence many more, gets me out of bed and, some would say, keeps me out of bed as I drive myself to live this one life fully for others, and for our young people in particular. There is no other way to secure the future.
What Distinguishes Good People From Really Great Ones | Is a sense of passion for the one thing you really, really believe in. Find that one thing, and putting all your energy and imagination into it, is what makes people truly great. Great people therefore have this uncanny trait that they can see further than others, and move heaven and earth to get there.
A Key Talent | I am told by close friends that my singular talent is that I do not believe what others say about me. Those who damn me, I tend to ignore them and prove them wrong; that means I do not get easily deflated by negative judgment. Those who praise me, I tend to ignore them too and keep my feet on the ground all the time; that means I acknowledge but do not get carried away by well-meaning praise.
In other words, know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, and do not let anyone disturb your sense of self. This will not be easy, but practice listening to your own heart first before you listen to the counsel of others. After all, who knows you better than yourself.
Habits & Actions That Led To My Success | First, I work harder than most people. You simply will not get anywhere, no matter how smart or resourceful you are, without learning the discipline of hard work. Second, I believe in what I do, and that brings so much joy. I do not find any fulfillment at all in material possession. Third, I made peace with my bitter past, and that enabled me to discover great joy and fulfillment in our common humanity as black and white South Africans.
Critical Skills |The ability to listen to the hearts, not the words, of others; to feel the pain of old and new political and economic minorities; to sense the fading hope of hurting people, and to do something about it with the position and resources I now enjoy. Human emotions remain at the center of my leadership, and being able to “read” those emotions is the key to connection with hurting and hopeful citizens. There are few management books that teach you these critical skills for 21st century leadership.
How I Ensure Success | I choose a few things that are important to me to do, normally no more than three. And then I organize energies, resources and people behind that goal, and drive it relentlessly, until it is achieved.
Lessons I Have Learnt | That I am weak and not strong, that at the best of times I am vulnerable and uncertain, and that in being “okay” with weakness therein lies your greatest strength. It is a Pauline doctrine that only now makes sense to me, “when I am weak then I am strong.”
I Perform At My Peak | By making sure that I surrounded by people who are smarter than me and who complement me and who challenge me. Without this sense of distributed leadership, I simply cannot achieve all the things we do; it is as simple as that.
Resources I Use To Stay Inspired | Finding Nemo is still the greatest movie ever made; that sense of the little fish defying authority, venturing beyond the limits proscribed, and getting lost in dangerous adventure offers powerful lessons for living and leading that speak to everything I believe in. You will be found, and in the process find yourself. Cartoon movies do it for me.
Dreams And Ambitions | To Teach.
The Meaning Of Life Is | Custard and sweet potato on a cold winter’s night.
The Best Advice I’ve Ever Received | Not to take it.
Advice On Building Wealth | Get a life.