Thursday, March 1, 2012

2012 Nobel Peace Prize Forum: Day 1

As expected, the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize Forum held at the University of Minnesota and Augsburg College has refueled my tanks and left me inspired...The "Price of Peace" has been the theme interwoven in three days of meetings, presentations, music, art, discussions and informal networking. Here's a taste of what I experienced.

BUSINESS ROLE IN PEACEMAKING. On Business Day, participants were led to think about and discuss the role that economic stability and development play in creating/maintaining peace. Alf Bjorseth introduced the plenary session participants to Scatec whose commitment to solar/thorium/wind energy is attempting to "make the world a little cleaner." He shared how they supplied 100 houses in Rampura Village in India with electricity. Before the solar panels, the school served only K-Grade 3; now children through 7th grade and GIRLS get an education too. Education leads to peace. With the ability to provide lights, the silk reeling business can work during evening hours which are cooler and more productive. Economic security helps to ensure peace. He shared a vision of private*public*people partnerships to provide the 1.3Billion who currently do not have electricity with clean, sustainable energy. What if we could increase the standard of living in rural areas of developing countries, stabilize political situations by removing dissatisfaction... And just as important, what will the status quo get us? My summary: IYAD WYAD YAG WYAG If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got. Business can be a force for good if we have the eyes to see and the courage to act. There is a price for peace. Are we willing to go with ethical companies that have big vision even if it literally is more expensive on the front end?

Workshop 1: Achieving the Impossible: Leadership Challenges of Mandela &
De Klerk in Ending apartheid
. The class was taught by Dr. Kevin Kelley & Dr. Ron Ratcliff who are professors at the Naval War College in the National Security Affairs Department. Tehey teach a class examining the challenges faced by these two Nobel laureates as they brought their constituents to the negotiating table to end apartheid..."a seemingly impossible task." Some of my take homes from the lecture: 1) Know their enemy. Mandela chose to befriend his jailor during his 27 years imprisonment to avoid becoming bitter and over time mastered a new language and learned about their history, sports, culture. 2) Use "dead time" and unpleasant jobs wisely. Find ways to develop elements of strategic leadership skills, even while treading water. Rather than being bitter, he exercised daily, developed relationships while providing pro bono legal advise. 3) Discern when you can't reach your aims without a partner on the opposite side. Described as shackled together, Mandela and de Klerk represented far ends of the continuum but they recognized that they could not achieve either of their goals alone.

After learning about the personal price that many strategic leaders have paid in the pursuit of peace, we were challenged to think about what we would give up if we knew that we could have the desired results. Both lost numerous friends & colleagues, labeled as traitors and sellouts. Both were hated by people they were trying to serve. Both spent considerable amount of time away from family (even beyond time Mandela spend incarcerated) and had strained marriages that ended in divorce. De Klerk even lost his presidency.

Ebrahim Rasool, South African Ambassador to the United States, addressed the group after lunch about the interconnectedness of peace and justice. When Mandela was released and the government was crafting the "Rainbow Nation" they faced incredibly sophisticated challenges. Could the country transition from one world view to another polar opposite world view WITHOUT VIOLENCE? There were those who wanted justice before they would agree to lay down weapons. The thought that was without justice, peace was meaningless. But the leadership chose to first pursue peace, assuming that over time justice would happen. Ambassador Rasool shared that the lesson learned was to reward the patience of the poor and marginalized for choosing peace while they wait and hope for justice to finally emerge.

The last speaker of the day was Sakumzi Macozoma, a successful politician turned businessman, also from South Africa. In his own words... Bad news: He was imprisoned for 5 years, starting at age 19. Good news: He was imprisoned with Nelson Mandela. After sharing about his perspective of his country's transitional process, he closed with a very profound thought that I've been churning on for several hours: "When you're doing the right thing, it doesn't matter if it takes longer than a lifetime."

Are we working for things that are good and noble, the right things? Are we willing to do our part even though we may not personally see the fruits of our labors? Are we willing to pay the price for peace?