Lucy Mbabazi recently published a series of blogs on the Rwandan spirit of Agaciro (loosely translated as “dignity”), achieving success and creating conducive environments. Here we share the last of her three articles. You can visit her blog to read more of her writing.

To me, Agaciro means treating others with dignity and supporting them in realising their dreams. Success is sweeter and more rewarding when it is shared, which makes us our brothers’/sisters’ keepers. Therefore, I can’t be a stumbling block in someone’s path to success. It is part of living a dignified, happy life.

Last week, mum hosted a Christmas lunch for sixty men and women who’ve been building for us, to thank them for their hard work throughout the year, and wish them a happy festive season. All year, we’d watched this team work diligently, never once seeing a quarrel among them. One morning after my morning run, I passed by mum’s house and heard a beautiful chorus of “What a friend we have in Jesus” in Kinyarwanda. I asked where it was coming from and was told it was from some of the builders who arrived early to kick off the day in song and prayer for safety, good work and peace among them – this was certainly a first for us. I digress.

After they each enjoyed a small mountain of food – what’s a party without one of these, right? 🙂 – and a cold beverage, it was time to end the day. Jean-Marie, the foreman, thanked his team and mum, telling her their gratitude can only be expressed with good work, and their happy smiles that day. Vincent, the engineer, also spoke to this great team made up of mostly youth, encouraging them to invest their monies wisely to grow themselves/their families. He thanked mum for this great honour, saying in his nearly fifteen years of building, never once has someone hosted them to lunch, let alone say thank you in this big way. He turned to his staff and thanked them for their patience and commitment, even when they were pushed to the limit. He also apologised for any time he may have yelled at them or offended them in the course of work, saying it wasn’t his intention and was simply pushing for great results and wanting to see them succeed. He shared his journey, having started the same and has worked his way to leading construction projects through his own company, able to hire and propel others to success. This is when my eyes welled up and was reminded of the great spirit of Agaciro.

We need more leaders like Jean-Marie, Vincent and mum who ensure a friendly work environment in which everyone thrives and shows positive solidarity. This is a great way to achieve great success.

Speaking of success, our household endeavors to have an end of year review to reflect on what went well, what was achieved and identify at least one area to do better in the next. This year was extra-special because our domestic help (Claver) informed us that he added a rental apartment to his house and now has tenants. My husband and I clapped with pride. You see, Claver has been with us since 2010 and we have watched with pride as he purchased land, build a home (long before us), marry his beautiful bride and now becoming a tenant. What a heartwarming high note to close the year! I can only imagine the possibilities, when we all work to ensure an environment in which we can all thrive and grow.

My hope and prayer is that we use each day as an opportunity to be vessels of what is good in our society by creating a positive environment for all of us to thrive.  We cannot be people who conceive the work environment in zero-sum terms. Negative competition is simply ugly and benefits no one, not even you who go out of your way to be selfish by thinking only of yourself, or sabotage growth and success for others. It can’t possibly feel good to be the reason why someone fails, why lose sleep or deny yourself the joy which comes with success. You shouldn’t be consumed with taking someone’s job, surely, there’s plenty for everyone. Instead, focus on doing your best. If you are lucky to be in a position of leadership, LEAD. Be the leader who brings the best out of the team so they produce their best work because when they shine (guess what?), you shine even brighter – TRUTH.  If you are a part of the team, be a team player, only way to rise up. Positive solidarity WINS and brings with it the best rewards. Let’s embrace and live this in 2017 and beyond.

This article originally appeared on the author’s blog.

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