Strength in Unity

by Johann Strauss, SAISC Board Member and CEO of KRU Detailing

Unity is Strength is an old proverb. It holds as true in the current times as it did when it was first introduced. It implies that we become stronger if we stay united. This is a commonly used proverb that holds good in almost every sphere of life – be it a person’s professional life, relationships or the society as a whole. It is passed down and taught from generation to generation but do we practice what we preach? We would like to believe so, but take a step back, look at South Africa; the construction sector; the steel industry; or even in our own companies and the answer is clear. Right now and every day we have a choice, we can blame and deny or we can take ownership and responsibility. In other words, we can sit back and wait for others to change (while we judge with a skeptical eye from afar) or as Gandhi said: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

We are who we are today because of our past. The current economic crisis, corruption and whatever blame or denial you want to add to your reasoning to why we are not united are the reasons we will not find strength in unity unless we let go of our past and base our actions today and every day going forward on the future we want. Albert Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” I doubt that our industry is a collection of insane people yet we continue doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

We, as a structural steel detailing company, have little influence even though I feel we play a very important role in the construction process. This industry (and the world) tends to determine influence by who has the most “meat” in the game. In our company, we did a small case study and found that on a R400m shopping center the steel contractors portion was only 3.33%. Our portion is 1.98% of the steel contractors portion which comes to 0.07% of the overall cost. Based on my previous statement, we as a detailing company would then have less than 0.1% possibility to bring on change. With that conclusion on the table, you can decide if I am crazy, a sucker for punishment or as I like to believe an extreme optimist. The point I am trying to make is that as individuals we cannot change the industry; the country; the world; but unity is a choice individuals make that lead to actions individuals take to strengthen unity.

If you Google the proverb “Unity is Strength” you will find references like:
“All power is weak unless united” (1668),
“Unity makes strength, strife wastes” (1685),
“Strength lies in union” (1867),
“Strength is in unity” (1887),
“Unity is strength” (1894),
“Union is strength” (1912),
“In unity is strength” (1919).

I only listed references more than a century old because in the last century there are more than I can mention. This means that as individuals we have believed Strength lies in Unity for at least the last 350 years but what have you done today to strengthen unity in your home, family, company, industry, country and in the world? Strength in Unity, unity starts with you.