Last month I had the privilege of travelling to Ghana with my daughter Carly. We spent an unforgettable week working alongside Genevieve and her remarkable social impact platform, Elev-Eight, exploring various community projects.  It was a life-changing experience. Here are some lessons I learned.  One for each day.

1. Small steps. Big impact.

I witnessed the profound effect of small actions. Ten water filters, a single computer, one ball, and a  set of buzzers, each contributed to transformative outcomes.  The gift of ten water filters ignited a sense of happiness and fostered a spirit of ownership and entrepreneurship within the community. The provision of one laptop sparked excitement at the local school, revealing the potential for IT learning beyond the confines of textbooks. The addition of a single ball brought unbridled joy and one set of buzzers in the classroom amplified the fun in learning. As one of my wise clients recently reminded me: “inch by inch, it’s a cinch, yard by yard, life is hard.”

2. How little we all need to be happy.

My sixteen-year-old daughter, despite sleeping in a tent, enduring an outdoor toilet, cold showers, and mosquito bites, proclaimed it as the best experience of her life. It dawned on me how minimal our needs are for true happiness. We all yearn for attention, to be heard, to feel free, and to be embraced by authentic, compassionate individuals united in their pursuit of doing good.

3. The art of asking powerful questions

Discovering the essence of happiness, I was reminded of the power of conversations, asking the right questions, and listening. So simple, yet so hard. We followed the flow, asked the community Chief and the teachers at the local school what they needed, and we put our heads together. We didn’t have solutions. We found the solutions together with them. As Genevieve reminds us “we empower ourselves and we grow together”.

4. Have a plan. Then let go of it.

Nothing went according to plan. “Ghana time” introduced me to a whole new dimension of timing, where everyone seemed laid-back and unpredictable. Plans were subject to last-minute adjustments or even complete disregard. Amidst this apparent chaos, something remarkable happened. The local school, contrary to our tardiness, flawlessly performed for us on time. Similarly, the plumbers installing water filters into community containers managed to synchronously complete their work while we scrambled to locate them in the bustling local market. Astonishingly, everything effortlessly fell into place, epitomizing the beauty of embracing the unexpected.

5. There is no coincidence.

That’s my favourite saying and our time in Ghana reaffirmed the truth of this statement. As if orchestrated by fate, synchronous moments surrounded us, echoing Frans Johanssen’s concept of “click moments” from his book of the same name. By chance, I attended a talk by Johanssen the night before our departure to Ghana and purchased his book, which accompanied me on the plane. Every event seemed to unfold precisely as it was meant to be.

On our very first day, en route to a farming project, armed immigration soldiers halted us at the Togo border, forbidding our visit. Though unsettling, this unexpected “click moment” redirected our attention to initiatives such as water access, school IT development, and artisan crafts. A remarkable twist emerged when the teacher who exuded captivating energy during a dance show turned out to be the Head of IT.  Now, she will lead the way in implementing connectivity and spearheading the online mentoring program with Elev-Eight.

6. The power of community

In a world that often glorifies individual achievements, I was reminded of the remarkable strength that lies within the concept of community. The collective mindset, fuelled by teamwork, the relinquishment of ego, and a shared sense of ownership and responsibility, propels communities forward towards progress and success. 

The Chief assigned roles and responsibilities within the various community members, with regards to the water and school projects, we helped kickstart. This ownership fostered a deep sense of commitment and accountability, where each person strives to fulfil their duties to the best of their abilities. With shared responsibility comes a shared investment in the community’s well-being.  In the same way we celebrate our own Adaptaa community,  we truly cherished the connections we made along the way. 

7. The awesome art of gratitude

Life throws curveballs at us, but guess what? We can smack them out of the park with gratitude! Embracing gratitude not only helps us triumph over adversity, but it also sets us up as a leader to our children, our employees, and our peers. As we elevate ourselves, we become a role model to others.

It takes courage to focus on the positive, while acknowledging the negative. But here’s an universal truth: we become what we focus on. So, let’s get intentional! Picture this: our Ghana adventure. My daughter goes with “Life,” I choose “Bonding,” Genevieve picks “Possibility,” and our buddy Leticia claims “Love.” Guess what? We nailed it! We achieved all that we set out to do. And for that we are very grateful.

Thank you for reading thus far.  If you want to be part of something extraordinary, you can contribute to the local school IT project, by making a small donation here:

Remember that “inch by inch, it’s a cinch, yard by yard, life is hard.”