It seems an unlikely match to pair trainee accountants and an actor and adventurer who cycles over 12 000 kilometres through the harsh terrain of Africa for fun in the same category. But you’d be surprised how much the two actually have in common: both parties share a degree of madness and that good old ‘gees’ for tackling a rough and difficult journey that most would rather avoid.

For trainees, it’s the long road of mental gymnastics towards qualifying for and becoming a CA (SA). For Ivan Zimmermann, it’s the epic trip armed with not much more than a bicycle from Cairo to Cape Town in the Tour d’Afrique race. While the journeys themselves may not resemble each other too strongly, they share common characteristics that set each person involved in the expedition apart as leaders and winners – commitment, dedication and a never-quit attitude that may see them temporarily knocked down, but never defeated.

This is precisely why SAICA partnered with Zimmermann, because they knew he could provide you, the trainees and future CAs, with the inspiration to keep your head down and keep slogging when the going gets tough. At the same time, you also came forward to help Zimmermann with his journey by offering motivation from the start to the finish line.

Throughout his 121 day journey that ended with a third place victory on 9 May 2015, Zimmermann engaged with trainees on SAICA’s social media channels to share his lessons and prove why leaders never quit. “Ordinary people can do extraordinary things,” he shared. “There’s no greater feeling than achieving your goal. Always challenge yourself and do not compare yourself to others – real leaders never do.”

Going through the Zambezi Zone at the end of April also taught Zimmermann important lessons that you will be able to identify with as trainees: “I am tired and my body weary. But somehow I am still very focused and very determined not to quit. I have managed this by adjusting my strategy – I realised that to succeed and also keep my third overall position I will need to have more fun. So, from now on through the final two sections, I will learn how to have more fun without losing focus.”

Adjusting his strategy to include more fun obviously worked for Zimmermann as he was able to maintain his spot in third place until he crossed the finish line. The important lesson in that is balance, and he illustrates that the journey doesn’t always have to be serious and that there is place for more than work, as long as you remain focused on the end goal.

Ultimately, Zimmermann reflected, overcoming fears is a lifelong process, so you need to recognise the milestones along the way and also realise that throughout all of the challenges thrown your way, it’s always possible to improve your situation. “Don’t sit back and let things happen to you. Go out and make happen to things,” he advises.


Epic Discussion

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