At the age of 17, I read The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren. With over 30 million copies sold, it’s thoughts about leadership and a life of purpose are some of the foundations on which I have tried to build my life. What an honour it was to be able to tell Rick this in person in Washington early in February this year.

As part of a large gathering of leaders from all over the world, Rick addressed a small group of about 12 Young African Leaders in the Africa suite of the Washington Hilton. He shared his life story, his success and his failures and some key insights with us intimately. After this, the suite flooded with more than a hundred of the African delegation’s leaders. We stood there in awe listening to Rick for over an hour more. The room was too full for anyone to sit. You could feel the weight of the moment in the air.

We were challenged to take a deep look at our calling. We need to find that one thing to which we can say: “I will give my whole life to this”. Going deeper into this, he said:

“When you have found that one single purpose, stay with it. Great things take decades. Don’t be discouraged by small wins. Don’t change your strategy too fast or back down. We overestimate what we can do in a year or two but underestimate what we can do in ten or twenty years. Set BIG goals. Goals that will take the rest of your life to achieve.”

His words on leadership were:

“Keep growing your own leadership attributes and keep learning. Never compare yourself to other leaders. God makes originals. If you do so you will only get either discouraged or arrogant, and neither are helpful.”

Rick Warren’s thoughts and story is truly inspiring. He has planted in our hearts vision for what is possible. The relationships built across the African continent has ignited new hope for where Africa can go and for the purpose of entrepreneurial success in its story.


Rick Warren