Overcoming Adversity – Reon Schutte’s Story in a Zimbabwe Prison

Tonight I had the honor of listening to Reon Schutte at an EO (Entrepreneur Organization) Seattle event. Reon was on a cross-border mission for the South African Defense Force, when Zimbabwean forces caught him and he was sentenced to prison for 26 years for being a spy. Reon is a man that has survived 12 years and eight months in the notorious Chikurubi prison which essentially is a death camp with a 10% survival rate.  While in prison he was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer and was told he had six months to live, which is now seven years ago.  The torture, pain, horrendous prison cell conditions are beyond what I want to write about. Reon is beyond a doubt a living testament of the human potential in all of us to overcome, to rise above, to persevere, to transform.  There’s too many things to take away from his experience, but, I’m sure that the one thing that will continue to heal him is how he learned the power of forgiveness, hope, and perseverance.

The event was unlike any other kind of motivational business speaker that I’ve heard. He’s not a mega successful business person. He even told us he’s not going to tell us how to grow our business or make our business better.  He just shares his story and inspires. In prison he changed from asking “Why me?”, to ask “What for?” The “What for?” became Reon’s reason for living. As I am challenged with the difficult things that come at me in my life and business, I am sure I will look at them through a different lens as this definitely puts a different perspective on things. After hearing what Reon went through, I’ve got to be much slower to become angry or get upset at things.

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