An Ode to my South African Friend

Just when you think you’re comfortable with your leadership and your career path someone steps into your life and challenges everything. This happened to me. It wasn’t that this person challenged my values but at the core of who I am he made me think deeply about how important my values are and how to live my life in alignment with them, authentically.

I was blessed to have had someone jump into my life…not quietly…who pushed me to a new and a somewhat more brilliant level than I ever imagined. Someone who questions most things you say and do and yet positively influences you along the way. Someone I have disagreed with, debated with, laughed hysterically with and cried with.

Jean Paul Mouton did this to me. A self disclosed globe trotter who makes waves just standing still. When you sit beside him you can feel immense energy coming off of him. His passion for social justice and making a difference in this world blew me away. 

JP has an innate ability to discover problems with the world and instantly view solutions as opportunities.

This man has no idea the impact he has. His life sits in a challenging place that I identify as ‘shit disturber’ space. A type of person who sees that things aren’t right and stirs things up so that the problem is identified. The difficulty is that these types of people are often not understood, can feel lonely and rarely feel welcomed.

It is hard for many of us who live in the same community for our entire lives to see our status quo as anything but normal. We don’t want to change it, we’ve worked hard to get it this way. We don’t understand people like him and we don’t always like them. It’s hard to see yourself as part of a problem that exists in your community or organization but JP makes it clear where the problems are and does not leave your side if you choose to improve them. You can’t help but become a better person for having known him.

JP parachutes into any situation and can see what isn’t working with more intense precision than I’ve even experienced. I’ve learned a tonne. I’ve gained confidence. I’ve changed.

This is someone who will simply make a difference everywhere he goes, he doesn’t know any other way. He profoundly impacts the life of anyone he comes into contact with. I’m unable to put into words how deeply my life has been changed by him.

So today I toast my morning coffee to a wonderful guy who is moving on across the ocean to embark on yet another journey that will no doubt change other people’s lives. To those he will meet, hold on tight, put on your seat belt, it will be a fabulous ride!

To JP and D….you’re great, amazing and life changing. I will forever be my new me, thanks to the both of you!