Lee Jacobs, Mr South Africa runner-up, describes himself as determined, creative and a leader. He grew up in the local Paarl community with his parents, brother and sister. Lee describes his upbringing as humble and joyful. However, despite his family bringing him joy, he makes it clear that he didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in his mouth, and just like any other family, he also had trials to face.

“As a child I didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth and just like other families, we’ve gone through our own trials and tribulations. The key and lesson here was to stand strong together as a family and make the best of what was available to overcome life’s challenges.”

Lee might be a confident Mr South Africa finalist, but this wasn’t always the case. He explains how he struggled with a low self-esteem as a child.

“When I was a young boy I never had self-confidence. I lacked self-belief because I thought I wasn’t good enough and that I wasn’t worthy of greatness.”

Lee decided to stop listening to the negative comments around him and changed his mind-set.

“I forced myself to step out of my comfort zone and do things not only for me but also for my community. That’s when I decided to enter Mr South Africa 2020.”

Lee explains how entering Mr South Africa came with its own challenges. What many don’t realise is that it’s not simply a beauty pageant, but it is a huge responsibility to represent South Africa and be a role model many can look up to.

“The Mr South Africa journey has been challenging both physically and emotionally, because we do have to complete some challenges and work hard towards the title. You are not just going to be another pretty face. The Mr South Africa Organization is looking for a role model and not a model. However, it’s also an exciting journey of self-discovery and lessons being learned.”

“Last year, after much doubt and pondering I made a decision to just take a leap of faith and chase whatever dream I had or have no matter the consequences. I had a quote playing repeatedly in my mind … “You are never too young to start an empire and never too old to dream a new dream.””

Lee then quit his day job and took a leap of faith to start his own business and did the extraordinary by taking part in the Mr South Africa competition. Lee is currently among the top 60 finalists, in which he expresses is a great honour and achievement to represent both young and old.

I asked Lee, if he ever gets discouraged, and with all honesty, he said:

“Yes, I do sometimes. I think as humans we tend to doubt and overthink, and we get discouraged by negative words and our circumstances. However we should not let these things disrupt our path or futures, we are overcomers. So take your time to process whatever might discourage or demotivate you and try to look for the positives or lessons you will take from it. Even now with the Mr South Africa competition, I sometimes personally get demotivated because I doubt that I am enough. Then I tell myself I AM; I remind myself why I entered.”

He reflects on the reason why he decided to take part, not only to get out of his comfort zone but to make a difference in the lives of people, especially children:

“I have always been a person who has the community’s best interests at heart and always had a hunger to have a greater purpose to do good and serve in my community, especially for children. I have a dream where South African children are protected, showered with equal opportunity and empowered by education for I believe that the children are our future, and by giving love and support to a child we will foster better societies. This is exactly why I entered Mr South Africa to strengthen my voice and to use this platform to tackle the problems or social issues they face today to create a better tomorrow.”

Lee ends off with some encouraging words of advice to those wanting to pursue their dreams:

“No matter who you are, no matter where you from, if you can dream it, you can achieve it! What you need to accomplish your dreams are already within you. Reach for your strengths, believe and work hard at it, and you will live it.”


If you enjoyed this story check out another one on confidence here

Tell us: Do you ever feel like you are not good enough? How do you deal with those feelings?