Pushing my limits; What can YOU Learn?

Table mountain

The last few months have been incredibly introspective for me.

Spending the bulk of my time alone on the mountains, in preparation for climbing Table Mountain every day next year, has allowed quality ‘me’ time.

It’s been interesting to watch myself see-saw between feeling inspired and feeling disheartened. I’ve been working aggressively through old negative behaviors – specifically self sabotage. It can creep up on you quickly and once your mind has hold of it: becomes diarrhea.

No one ever said self development was easy, and as with most things we tend to want the optimum results now without walking the path. Once again I am being taught patience and to choose gratitude for the learning’s instead of beating myself up for the fact I don’t already know it.

Over sixty hikes have taught me that and more; and I’ve quickly realised the similarities of conquering an obstacle every day, to the path of life.

Here are five insights I’ve gained:

1. One step at a time

We somehow create mountains out of molehills. Obstacles always seem to be harder, longer or even insurmountable. The trick?

Just get started.

It’s just one foot in front of the other that gets you up Table Mountain. Know your end goal but don’t focus too much on it otherwise it becomes daunting. Having an understanding of smaller targets that are easily achievable (where half way is; how many turns there are going up) diverts your attention from the total task at hand.

Interestingly enough, doing it this way has resulted in some of my fastest times up Table Mountain. You become enthused about hitting and reaching the smaller milestones rather than constantly overwhelmed by what still needs to be achieved.

2. Remain focused

I’ve almost twisted my ankle on the final few steps coming down after completing nearly 7 000 steps – why? Because I became cocky in a sense of thinking ‘ag just the last few steps who needs to concentrate’ and its exactly in that moment something happens.

Never take any step for granted.

I’m learning to become mindful not mind full. Many people have asked about what happens if I get injured next year. I believe injury happens when we are not prepared, we lose focus or is a manifestation of our own self doubt in our abilities to do what’s in front of us.

That last one I know because as a twelve year old I broke my arm two days before a football final while practicing. Why? Because I didn’t believe I was good enough to be in the team and contribute meaningfully.

Watch your thoughts carefully.

Every step we take in life must be with purpose and focus towards what we want. The moment we take our eyes off what we doing in the moment or allow self doubt to creep in is when we invite the mini disasters into our life.

3. Be grounded in appreciation and gratitude

Every climb I connect with the first step of the mountain in a show of gratitude for the fact that I not only have able legs, but a healthy body to support my climbs safely.

I have family members who’ve had to spend afternoons in bed because their bodies have been a debilitating drain on their energy. Most people I know suffer with illnesses throughout the year; some have chronic back pain. Some in wheelchairs. A few examples of things that others have to deal with daily that most take for granted.

Our bodies are our temples and one of the most sophisticated pieces of equipment on this planet. Being mindful of each step allows me to fully be present in my body and feel each step; how one tiny adjustment means I don’t feel niggles in my knees. It allows me to listen to my body and go at a pace that tests me but doesn’t put unnecessary stress on it.

To me, being active celebrates the gift this body I’ve been given is.

4. Becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable

JT Foxx stresses this point and this practice is helping me realise why it’s so important. Often the body feels under duress or that it’s tiring. I’m learning how we can push ourselves past that initial ‘pain’ which enables us to achieve more than we dreamed. This has helped on the really hot climbs where, taking an hour versus two, in searing heat doing strenuous exercise makes a huge difference.

It’s amazing that often my mind feel my body is on the brink of ‘sorry buddy – we need a break or we shutting down’ and yet; on most occasions doesn’t come and you can push through it.

I can tell you that this alone is the biggest lesson I’ve learned that will help me when those dark days come next year. When my body perhaps feels like it won’t manage and yet, will make it so long as I just start.

Uncomfortable just means we outside the range of what we know as normal. What we’re used to. Means we’re challenging what our own minds deem possible or impossible.

In our own minds.

Nelson Mandela said ‘it always seems impossible until its done’

Like I said – just take the first step.

5. Reward equals the risk we take

This is a biggie.

If you playing it safe and expecting to get massive returns; you living in a dream world. Small step outside comfort zone equals small reward on the other side.

Huge strides pushing your own boundaries and limitations means there’s an equal reward of learning and growth on the other side of that.

Ultimately we need to all learn to forget about everyone else (when it comes to growing) and focus on ourselves.

Am I better than I was yesterday?

What have I learned this day/week/month/year that helps me become a better person for tomorrow to push the boundaries even more?

Don’t just live with purpose – live on purpose. There’s a word we can all use every day that could transform everyone’s lives.

Believe.

In yourself.

In each other.

In a better world for all.

I do. So don’t take my word for it – rather watch how I create that reality and decide if you prepared to take action for yourself.

You won’t regret it. Of that I’m certain

You

You won’t regret it. Of that I’m certain.

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I’m having a Bad Day

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Bad days are just like commercials; they annoy everybody but eventually they go away.

Don’t you hate it when something goes wrong and someone says ‘everything happens for a reason’?

Yes they’re right – but it’s not what I need to hear in that moment.

The focus is largely always on the positive side of life, as if that’s the constant normal state that exists. The ‘bad days’ are neatly forgotten or ignored when they are an important part of our lives.

How do you generally feel about negativity or the ‘bad days’ you have? Most of us try and push through or suppress them and pretend everything’s ‘fine’. Get on with it, so to speak.

I know this. I’ve lived it, but the reality is we wouldn’t know what a good day feels like if we didn’t have the bad. We wouldn’t know what happiness is without experiencing sadness and pain.

I know what you thinking – do I really need to have bad days?

Short answer: yes.

Long answer: Try this

  1. Get a blank piece of paper.
  2. Draw a Y and X axis – 0 being sad and 100 happy on Y axis and 0 to 100 being years on X axis.
  3. Think of your earliest happy memory and plot that.
  4. Now think of a sad time after that and plot that.
  5. What was the next happiest memory after that? Plot that too.
  6. Keep going until the present day.

Welcome to the cycles of your life.

Point number one: Every bad experience is always followed by a good one. And visa versa.

You might still be asking ‘Yeah but do I really need to experience the bad??

Absolutely! Why?

Appreciation

If happiness was just dished out willy nilly no one would appreciate it. Just look at this planet we’ve been given: pollution and abuse run rampant.

Think of someone who just gives their children whatever they want whenever they want. On a scale of 1-10 rate how highly those kids appreciate what they have… or are they always asking for the next thing?

Life becomes easier when we accept there are going to be bad days; maybe weeks (Anything longer than that and deeper questions need to be asked – nobody is supposed to have sustained misery)

I’d like to offer you my tip when these bad days roll in.

Embrace them. Don’t fight it. If it becomes the absolute worst day ever, let it. Swear at the world if you have to. Curse everything and everybody out of frustration. Be the spoilt toddler that isn’t getting their ice cream.

It’s like doing a controlled burn so you don’t have a runaway fire later on.

Get. It. Out. Of. Your. System.

Deep down you know it’s not going to last and that when the sun shines tomorrow it will be better (even if its just a tiny bit) Allow yourself to feel what its like to be down, depressed, angry, hopeless, fearful and disillusioned.

You give yourself such a hard time when these days occur and feel you should push it down; put on a brave face and soldier on. Tell everyone how ‘amazing’ life is while secretly dying a slow death inside. I’ve even told a friend to rent ‘Schindler’s List’ just so she could cry even more and really release everything that was bottled up inside. (It worked by the way)

By embracing these days you allow yourself to move on quicker. All the while moving forward with less baggage. We’re ‘human beings’ not ‘human nofeelings’.

What have I learnt by doing this when others are having a bad day?

Listen.

Too often we try (and I’ve been guilty of this too many times) and jump into solution mode. When actually maybe all they need is an empathetic ear to listen. I’ll never forget my mom telling me ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’.

Just remember there’s a difference between sharing and whining; this isn’t about having a pity party and bemoaning how tough your life is – because then the next question coming your way is: ‘okay, so what are you going to do about it?’

You have all the strength and power within you. Believe in that. Empower yourself when times are good so that you know you can make it through the bad ones.

You going to have another bad day. Make peace with that, and don’t get stuck thinking that it’s going to last forever. Who knows – maybe there’s a lesson in those days that will change your life forever.

You’re allowed bad days, so don’t be so hard on yourself when the next one rolls around. One magical thing this mind-set allows you is perspective; it allows you to look deeper at what is happening and why.

After all; everything that happens to us is based on a decision we’ve made at some point.

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Becoming a Global Player with JT Foxx

Blog cover page JT Foxx

It only takes a moment to change your life.

In this story—I didn’t realise the extent of that moment until a month later.

Today I’m speaking at the Money Wealth Business Conference hosted by JT Foxx (the worlds number one wealth and business coach) a month after first meeting him. Besides the nerves and intense excitement, I can feel in my gut that my life will never be the same again.

I just had no idea to what extent.

Where it all started.

I’ve seen JT’s ads and heard about him vaguely before. I believe everything happens exactly when it’s supposed to; and having just been retrenched twelve days earlier—I get an invite by a friend to attend his seminar in Kyalami Johannesburg; my mind already open and looking for ways to expand my business ideas.

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My first introduction to JT

At this point, maybe you know him, maybe not; perhaps you’ve got an opinion of him, or not. The reality is, the attitude you bring to the table is the truth you will identify with. The day proves incredibly insightful and a wealth of information is shared by him and his team. He has my attention.

 

My gut told me to stay out of corporate and see what opportunities arise from being retrenched (with great success by the way) and now it’s excited again – about the prospect of partnering with the JT organisation; especially as I had just started thinking about taking my idea globally.

Here’s the reality though: its one thing to think it – it’s another to make it happen.

Low and behold, here I’m presented an opportunity, not just for coaching, but to speak at his conference the following month and share my vision with people from thirty one countries.

Global: Check.

The speed with which I’m able to execute this scared me a bit; but JT constantly talks about what separates you from others: Speed to implementation.

A massive growing week

The week leading up to the Money Wealth Business Conference, I’m a bundle of nerves. It’s the largest crowd I’ve ever addressed. As positive as the message of my talk is, my mind quickly spirals into a whirlpool of uncertainty and fear.

Fear.

False Events Appearing Real.

Thankfully, I have a great support network in friends and family guiding me through the week.

Why not just go up there, be me, share my story and have fun?? This question snaps me out of expectation mode and into appreciation mode.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I need to embrace it. The excitement and anxiety breathed through my body every day and helped me sharpen my talk and presentation. Nerves are good – they mean you not letting your guard down. In the end it helped me achieve a 9.4 rating on the day.

Friends and family alleviate my doubts; and JT’s coaching team are the professionals fine tuning my message into a meaningful and powerful ten minute talk.

One comforting piece of advice comes after chatting with my coach in America, Marcus Geier, using his previous experience at conferences he explains things from the crowds perspective – that they’re excited to hear the talks and the energy is electric. He’s right about that.

The thing about partnering with the right people or organisations, is that experience counts for everything. It instils confidence via osmosis. Whether via email or on our telephonic chats; Marcus is there to guide me and I feel like the JT Fox organisation is the hand behind my back as the training wheels come off; constantly wanting to me to cycle like the wind.

D Day

I arrive early as JT wants to chat with all the speakers. He has a wonderful way of instilling some calmness in us and removing some pre talk jitters: don’t stress if it doesn’t come out exactly as practised – just have fun!

He spends some time chatting about how to use the stage and we get briefed on where we need to be and when throughout the day.

IMG_6600My talk’s just after the lunch break. I can’t sit in the crowd and watch the others, so I spend 45 minutes pacing in the ‘holding area’ before getting backstage and micro-phoned up. He walks past and gives me a reassuring fist bump. I slowly start converting more nerves into excitement, especially as I stand backstage with my slot being next.

Sometimes you have to push yourself so hard, that you have no choice but to grow into the person you need to be.

In the last two years I’ve started allowing myself to dream big. I think that’s what separates people from believing someone can help you get there from those that don’t. If you don’t believe you deserve something – anything – you’ll never have it. It’s constantly referred to over the conferences’ three days: mind-set.

As if that reassuring fist bump backstage wasn’t enough, JT’s introduction before my talk pumps me up even more. Walking on stage is one of the greatest honours of my life to date and my two favourite moments were:

1. When the crowd erupts after saying ‘I’ll be walking up Table Mountain every day in 2018’ to raise money and awareness while doing my part to eradicate negativity, and

2. Their reaction to my goal to positively impact 1 million peoples lives by doing so.

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View from the top: looking down Platteklip gorge that snakes its way up Table Mountain with     2 579 ‘stairs’ which will be the equivalent of summiting Mount Everest 71 times in 2018

 

I’m reminded why we must relentlessly pursue our dreams and forget about the naysayers.

What do you place your trust in?

It’s funny, isn’t it? We ask for something; like meeting a man/woman, and the universe gives it to us and then we go ‘naaaaaaaaaaaaaah it’s too good to be true’

It’s always ‘one day’, tomorrow, when ‘X’ takes place—THEN what I want will happen. The message from JT Foxx, Jenna Clifford (local billionaire business woman), Hugh Hilton and Patrice Motsepe (South Africa’s wealthiest man and possibly most generous too) has a common thread running through their talks. None of them believe they have something special that others don’t: they just believe.

Think of it as instead of ‘why me’ its ‘why not me?’

There’s something else that impresses me at this conference; the number of female speakers. I bring this up because it speaks volumes about JT’s commitment to making that a reality. This is results. Besides coming from nothing – when you have such a varied array of testimonials that means one thing: you get results.

When he says he’s going to do something – he does it.

I don’t want to wait until I’m 50 to get results (I’m 37 now in case you wondering) Case in point – I had another business idea thanks to our marketing coaching sessions on the weekend. The ideas are now not just flowing, they have a strategic element to them.

I said I want to become global – but it doesn’t just happen. It’s where so many fall short. They want different results but, doing nothing different to get there. This is where JT stepped in to help make it reality.

I’m committed to my dreams and taking action has set my soul on fire – I know that my life is never going to be the same again. I have no doubt about that now.

Talking at the conference is proof.

Talking about how 365 UbuntuClimbs was hatched so soon was a dream. As far as I am concerned; the more people I can tell about why I’m walking up Table Mountain every day in 2018 the better. I’m looking forward to creating a community around positivity.

After my 10 minute talk, I now have a media company wanting to film behind the scenes footage; international people interested in partnering with me; 4 corporate talks lined up and a connection to take this to government and make it national—not to mention a host of individuals donating money through their companies or privately.

And this is just the start.

I know JT hates South Africans using the word ‘can’t’ – but I can’t WAIT to head to America in November for the Mega Success conference and then spend three days at his home afterwards to fine tune my business strategies even more.

In the past, it was me holding myself back. Since I got out of my own way – amazing things have happened.

My personal and business growth has been exponential since I invested in myself with JT Foxx. I only have one question:

What future are you dreaming of?

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Courageous Conversations

You open your mouth to say something, perhaps challenge someone; but instead you gingerly close it shut.

We’ve all had these moments.

There’s a saying that says ‘he who is silent, agrees’.

Worth keeping that in mind for next time.

From snide racist remarks to men being sexist; I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat idly by while someone mouths off about something I strongly disagree with.

I didn’t want to make it awkward at the dinner table or even worse – offend them.

The problem is, not only are you going against yourself and creating an internal dialogue that your opinion isn’t worthy; but whomever is doing the spewing will keep on doing it.

We need to be having more courageous conversations. A term a coach of mine, Simon Ekin (author of ‘The art of courage’) has coined for his new workshops. At my first one, I was inspired by the others who shared their stories of being courageous in every day conversation – and even speaking first at a ‘SaveSA’ forum with some of South Africa’s top minds.

I get the feeling that our society is in the grip of their own downward negative spiral and allow external forces, outside of their control, to affect their lives. And yet, when it comes to things they can change, they shy away.

Changing South Africa doesn’t need massive action – if every individual makes small changes, these added up collectively have a massive impact on society.

Simple case in point, I hike with a bag now because there’s rubbish on our mountains. It’s quite easy to fill a bag in forty minutes, especially on the more popular routes like Lions Head. Biggest culprits are smokers, there are hundereds of butts littering the beautiful landscape. Now imagine if each person who carelessly throws their rubbish down simply kept it in their pocket or bag until reaching the dustbin at the bottom? 

We wouldn’t need big co-ordinated clean up efforts.

Question is: surely people see these miscreants littering?

If we don’t speak up they’ll just continue to do it.

We have two great challenges in life:

  1.  To find our own voices
  2. Finding the courage to use them

Having the courage to use your voice doesn’t mean simply arguing for the sake of it or challenging everything people do because you can. It means when someone’s clearly doing you, others or the environment harm – you take a stand.

Courage is speaking to your partner about what’s not working to fix it and avoid divorce; instead of quietly hoping it gets better and get divorced anyway.

Courage is speaking out against a video of an idiot pulling women’s tops down while being filmed under the guise of ‘pranks’; instead of saying nothing at all.

Courage means being honest with friends and family if their behavior is not a positive influence anymore. 

Courage is challenging an antiquated racist mindset and getting to the root of their fears and ending the cycle of projection.

This means opening yourself up to criticism, ridicule and gossip. But you know what? I heard this from JT Foxx and I loved it: If people are talking about you behind your back – it’s because they’re behind you.

We fuel problems by constantly talking about them. If you break that cycle and focus on the positive things around us – how dramatically would this world change?

More importantly: how would your world change?

I attended a finincial education workshop for Non Profit Organsiations hosted by the Sustainable Development Network. What a privilege to be in a room with twenty six individuals who’s work is all about make other people’s lives better.

It was a double edged sword – one side I was inspired by what great work is being done in this country; but on the other dismayed that for the most part, goes unheard. Because “good news” doesn’t sell? Bullshit. 

It’s because you and I are not asking the right questions about our country, our cities, our communities.

It’s shifting though.

I feel it with my friends and the interactions I have at workshops Simon runs (worth getting hold of him to discuss) and nights like PechKucha (Japanese for chit chat) where anyone can share their passions and work they do. Starting courageous conversations. And this is happening in over 900 cities around the world.

We can change the world – you and I – let’s build on all the amazing work already being done.

All it takes is one decision. I hope you make it today

Stressed Out? Try this…

Nature

There aren’t too many things I enjoy more than being in nature.

For the first 16 years of my life I was blessed with a wonderful garden and a large park across the road from us in Sandringham. I spent most of my free time running around these open spaces barefoot having competitions with myself to see how green I could make my feet and trying to dodge massive rain drops as a thunderstorm started its onslaught..

Nowadays my challenge is how brown I can make them:

 

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What my feet look like after camping

 

With that as my life’s foundation, I’ve always found time to be outside (okay there have been some big gaps in-between) – and I definitely feel it when too much time has passed since my last date with nature. It’s usually at this time I organise a trip to a wine farm: to walk barefoot on their manicured lawns – what were you thinking?!

I believe many of our problems in the world today stem from the fact that we’ve become so disassociated from nature. Disconnected. Case in point we’d rather pop some pills than sit quietly in a garden.

 

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My folks garden

 

I’m in week two of my new found freedom and one of the benefits is more time for dates with nature. Just this morning I sat in my parents beautiful garden. I felt so much peace listening to the birds, watching bees fly around me from flower to flower. Just being an observer as life happened around me.

This after I met a friend for lunch at The Country Club Johannesburg in Woodmead yesterday; another oasis of peace in a bustling vibrant city. With glorious winter sunshine and a view of the Magaliesburg mountains in the distance, it was another opportunity to connect in nature. After a delicious meal she had the brilliant idea to go for a walk on the golf course. Great conversation coupled with the soothing sounds of nature meant I left feeling incredibly happy.

It’s one of the reasons I’m grateful to live in Cape Town – we have an endless supply of venues to eat and catch up with friends outside; not to mention all the hikes at our disposal.

Watching the bees I was struck by the amount that came to the flowers next to me. Us humans would have a report on how ‘inefficient’ this sales force is with more than one bee calling on the same batch of flowers. Each bee would probably be tracked and monitored with the amount of pollen brought back.

James, your performance is dipping, you’ve brought back 2% less than this time last year. You’re gonna need to work overtime this weekend to catch up.

Said no queen bee ever.

We’re all different and all have varying needs. Some people thrive on pressure that working creates for them; but we talking about the exception there not the rule. I find myself fascinated by the way life ‘just happens’. When you take a moment to watch life in motion you realise just how much of it happens every moment. Moments we’re usually absorbed by phones or glued to keyboards running reports.

I mentioned how I love to bare my feet on grass. Heaven to me quite frankly. According to Dr. Tracy Latz, M.D., M.S. on http://www.shiftyourlife.com; being barefoot is a natural stress release and health booster. Makes me wonder why people don’t go for more barefoot walks first instead of paying loads of money to see a doctor only to pay even more for pharmaceuticals which, I believe, cause more harm than good.

How much time do you spend outside in green spaces?

Not everyone is blessed with gardens – true. I myself don’t have one. It just means we should make more of an effort and why not?

Just look at the amounts of categories with research that’s been done below. You can click on this link to learn more about each one of them:

https://www.asla.org/healthbenefitsofnature.aspx

Adults

Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Asthma & Respiratory Disorders
Cognition
Depression
General Health
Heart Health
Hospital Recovery
Obesity
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Stress
Stroke
Type II Diabetes
Well-Being
Children

ADD/ADHD
Autism Spectrum Disorders
Cognition
Depression
General Health
Nature Deficit Disorder
Obesity
Stress
Type II Diabetes
Well-Being

I’m not saying its the best for every case; just asking what you have to lose trying it first?

How fortunate that I’ll get to be outside in nature every day next year. I might even have to try walking up barefoot on one of the days.

Nature is home

Climbing Table Mountain every day in 2018

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I have a dream to help South Africa.

I have a dream to inspire people to discover what it feels like to live with passion.

I have a dream for love to fill people’s lives in spite of what life throws at them.

What is your greatest dream for your life?

 

Next year I’ve decided to climb Table mountain every day . That’s 365 ascents come rain, shine, heat, snow, hail or wind.

 

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The route I will take up each day – Platteklip Gorge

 

The idea was inspired by three main things:

1. Recently retrenched I, with no desire to head back into corporate, have no time restrictions any more.

2. I’ve been raising money and awareness for worthy causes actively for the past four years now and I want to do it every day.

3. I was introduced to a woman a month ago who’s climbing Table Mountain 67 days in a row for Nelson Mandela day.

On the 22nd June 2017 my idea was born as I drove past Table Mountain.

It’s a spectacular sight. It’s even more of a privilege to live in it’s protective shadow. What an honour it will be to face it daily and be tested.

I’m already learning lessons and I haven’t even taken my first step.

I’m raising money and awareness for three organisations that build homes; educate children and build on the existing database for Leukemia. Empowering people to take ownership of their lives.

I resonate with people that have taken tragedies and turned them into positives; improve peoples lives by not just giving handouts – but teaching them to become self sufficient. There are initiatives I’ve recently heard about in our townships I’m excited to learn more about and work with. I’ll keep you posted on who the twelve organisations will be.

Where do ideas come from?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this and how some people have amazing ideas that launch companies or products that change the world. Internet, flight, Virgin, medicine, take your pick there’s tons. These were all just thoughts in someone’s head that they then materialised.

I remember a colleague at The Pro Shop (a golfing sports store) constantly walking around proclaiming “all you need is ONE idea… ONE IDEA!!”

He’s right.

They don’t even have to be complex – like this one.

Just do one thing consistently for a full year.

I’m 37 now and I have no doubt that my life experiences (good and bad) and beliefs have shaped what, is for me, this perfect opportunity to do all the things I love.

This statement rings truer than ever now:

When the voice and the vision on the inside is more profound, and more clear than all the opinions on the outside, you’ve begun to master your life. ~Dr John Demartini

Powerful.

 

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The view from my 3 Peaks Challenge January 2016 (Lions head / Devils Peak / Table Mountain all in one day)

 

Self Belief

Last week I talked about ‘what defines your self worth’ and that plays a big part in this too. How many times have you had an idea, shared it, and been shot down by someone? Most likely you suddenly lost your shine and the idea started to fade. Ag it probably isn’t a good idea anyway We’ve all told ourselves that.

We allow others fears; their anxieties and their way of living to become our own – and it will cripple you if you keep allowing it. That’s why its important to surround yourself with people that continue to inspire you and share your passion and enthusiasm for life and support your dreams. Not their version of them – but your dreams; whatever they may be.

There’s no right or wrong way really; there’s just your way.

It’s like someone telling you who you should date based on what their own criteria is. You wouldn’t do that, would you?

The converse is just as important; it’s not just about how you are supported – but how you support others.

This idea opened a door to a new way of thinking. I stood on the balcony of my friends holiday home this past weekend enjoying the sunset. Surrounded by his best people for his 30th celebration, I took a moment to watch it alone. As if one of the mighty waves in front crashed over me; I realised all the work we put into ourselves – physically, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually – eventually pays off. It’s like making a cake, it only tastes great when it’s finished – not when you’ve mixed half the ingredients.

Impatience is our false shepherd. We want results now and the “success” of having our dream job or home. We lose sight of the fact that all our perceived failures and disappointments are helping shape who we are; that we’re learning from them.

I’m one of the lucky ones – I absolutely love my life and have pursued it with gusto and relentless passion. I’ve dreamt big; still dreaming big! I’ve learnt to forget about worrying ‘how’ something will happen and just keep moving forward and try new things and explore. Even through the difficult times. In fact it’s in these times I’ve come to realise how we don’t need much to be happy either. My measurement of success has been how much I’m fulfilled and the positive impact I can make in others lives. In fact, I prescribe to the new definition of a millionaire:

The number of lives you’ve positively impacted.

Let’s change the World.

Our actions always have consequences. Just look at some of the pain being experienced right now. People are dying of starvation and yet half the worlds food is thrown away? We’ve ignored the negative consequences and now profit is more important than people.

What is your dream at the moment?

Do you feel you’re doing whatever you can to achieve it? Even discover it?

Does your soul feel like it’s on fire when you think about your dreams?

What’s stopping you?

I think we believe we have to do massive things once to achieve our dreams; I, in fact, think the opposite is true.

We need to do little things consistently every day – and the cumulative actions generate massive success.

Start today

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What defines your Self-worth?

Self worth

We live in an increasingly fake world and I feel like it’s getting out of control.

Photoshop – one of the tools contributing to our ever-more counterfeit society.

Staring longingly at the latest cover of Vogue, she reminds herself why she’s putting her finger down her throat.

What if this was your daughter?

Kids, teenagers and adults are continuously bombarded by this ‘fake’ world. And this isn’t confined to females. Publications targeted at men do it too.  Should companies not be held accountable for misrepresentation? Surely if the models themselves don’t actually look the way they’re being portrayed, that’s false advertising?

I for one feel strongly that it has to stop.

Some positive steps

Thankfully some countries, such as Israel and France, have started seeing some sense by introducing measures to prevent models from being underweight. This is a step in the right direction.

Nevertheless, I think we as consumers from a grassroots level need to start holding companies morally accountable for their behaviour.

If you alter in any way, shape or form the way a person’s body or face looks – that’s fraud. Why even use a human model then? Why not simply electronically create the perfect model out of thin terabytes?

I get it – sex sells magazines, articles and products. But at what cost? Forget about teenage eating disorders and suicides; what about the number of adults suffering from depression because they feel they fall hopelessly short of the prescribed ‘look’?

Models have unsustainable routines before photo shoots: regular steam room visits to shed excess water weight; crazy ‘diets’ and pre-photo shoot pump sessions – which all gets airbrushed anyway. All to create a look that no one can sustain.

Even body builders gorge on food laced with oil, sugar and calories post competition – why? Because our bodies are not designed to run on 7% body fat.

Why then, are we relentlessly trying to sell the image that is unattainable? Funnily enough, just as I typed that the answer came to me. It gives companies the perfect combination:

That which is both desirable and unattainable.

Which is – Big. Business. $56.2 billion in the US alone.

fake-photoshopped-social-media-images-6Problem is this is starting to spill over into everyday life. This picture (left) is one of many on this link on how ordinary photos have been retouched to get a sense of why you shouldn’t compare yourself to anything on social media too.

I remember joining a dating website seven years ago and giving it a bash to see if it would work. I had my reservations BUT I truly believe you can’t have an opinion about something until you’ve tried it.

On one meet up I arrived early having finished errands quicker than expected. I glanced around the mostly empty restaurant and surmised that I’d definitely arrived first.

I was wrong.

Looking at the menu I suddenly realised there was an arm waving at me from across the room. It was the woman I was meeting from the dating website. I apologise in advance, as I’m going to be brutal here – but I do believe that one shouldn’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.

She looked like the woman who ate the woman I was supposed to meet.

I have a simple question: why lie?

By posting false pictures of herself she did more damage than owning who she was. One of the sexiest attributes I look for in a woman is confidence.

Truthfully, the website didn’t work for me because I prefer to be intrigued by someone enough to challenge myself to make an introduction and go from there – ask questions about them and who they are; learn about their essence rather than be told we’re a 92% match based on our profiles.

It’s easy to hold my gaze; it’s harder to hold my attention and I live by ‘how you look might attract me; but who you are is what will keep me’.

Can you really blame these women though (and guys for that matter) when so much emphasis is constantly placed on looks?

Where do we go from here?

We all have our own choices to make and when I get chubby around the edges it’s through no one else’s fault but my own. So it’s in my hands to change that. How I look is derived by what makes me comfortable. When I was 18, having a great body was the only way I thought a woman would be interested in me.

How grateful I am I realised what a lie that was.

I’ve never bought a Men’s magazine since.

What can you do for yourself and your children in a society still obsessed with looks and body image? Great question.

  1. Build your self-worth based on who you are inside – not what you look like on the outside.
  2. Avoid beauty magazines at all cost. There are far better places to read articles – trust me.
  3. Be comfortable in your own skin; if you aren’t, think about what (healthy) steps you might be able to take to get there.
  4. Ask yourself: Is there any real benefit to looking different? Is looking different moving in a healthier direction? What type of person are you trying to attract by changing? (If that’s a motive) Does looking a certain way impact on who you’re trying to be as a person?
  5. IF I look a certain way, is my confidence changed to such a degree that I will act in the way I wish I would now? Second to that is ‘can I act that way now simply because I make a decision to do so?’
  6. The overriding question I believe you should ALWAYS ask is: Is this making me a better person? And am I adding more value to those around me (okay that’s two questions, sue me).

Instead of waiting for companies to exercise better ethics – let our own life choices dictate how we’re fulfilled and not allow our self-worth to be shattered at the end of a Photoshopper’s death brush.

 

Is Change really ‘As Good as a Holiday’?

Change & Holiday

Where did this saying come from??! I ask this because, based on University Hospitals website, I’ve had two out of the five ‘Most Stressful Life Events’ in the space of a month:

  • Moving home
  • Job loss (retrenchment in my case)

With an overseas holiday as recently as December 2016 in the memory bank, I can safely say this move hasn’t left me feeling like I’ve had a holiday.

Or has it?

I can’t deny that my move was probably a far cry easier than 90% of people who move. Three months back the owners told me they were moving back into the apartment. Incredible how six and a half years can evaporate in an instant – and the hunt began.

Thanks to AirBnB, Cape Town rentals have gone through the roof AND the number of properties available is drying up like the dams in the Western Cape. Pickings are slim and what is available is tiny and waaaaay overpriced.

Two weeks before I was due to move, and still without a new abode to call home, I was sent a message from the agents for my building. It seemed like it was heaven-sent:

813 in your block is available from June.

Happier: yes

Holiday vibes: nada

After inspecting the apartment I was happy it ticked most boxes. Not only was I moving into a bigger place with better views, all my furniture fits and cheaper than anything I’d looked at – it was six stories up from my current location and more importantly directly opposite the lift. A godsend when moving furniture!

Enter Gratitude on levels never experienced before.

Still with a degree of stress though, mind you. With minor renovations needed to the new apartment overlapping with renovations starting in the old apartment, I effectively lived out of three apartments for 10 days staying in a friend’s spare room while betwixt abodes. I’m only now, as I type this, 100% in 813 having had my first night’s sleep there.

Still, no holiday vibes yet.

The person who invented this saying lives where? I’ll be there in 5 minutes”

If moving is not stressful enough, how about we throw in a lapse in brain functions resulting in locking myself out of the new apartment for good measure? Even after being so vigilant and ALWAYS checking my pockets for the new keys and yeah, this is one of those ‘dream’ holidays you wake up from and exclaim ‘Thank f@#k’.

But you know what? While moving ranks up there with death, divorce, disease and destitution for stress – now that I’m in, I finally see what the proverb is trying to teach us.

Different scenery evokes excitement for what will happen. It ignites our soul. It brings the promise of new experiences. A time to reflect on our power to create new experiences.

  1. The start of a holiday brings back memories of previous holidays; moving reminds you of all the great memories you created inside of those previous four walls (apparently it triggers the same parts of the brain as when you actually experienced it too, so no wonder)
  2. A holiday gives you a break from the bustle of life and a chance to rejuvenate; moving shows you that even though it’s stressful – that stress does, in fact, end and calm is restored.
  3. Holidays remind you what you love about your life and what you are thankful for; moving reminds you that while your house is made of brick or stone, it’s love that turns it into a home.

Thank you, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, for your quote. Understanding change and the opportunities it brings can – in fact – be as good as ‘rest’ as you may (or may not) have said 122(ish) years ago.

Sometimes the best insights will only come long after the fact. Don’t get caught up in life’s shenanigans to throw you off being you and enjoying all that life has to offer.

Everything in life is a choice – these experiences help remind us to choose to focus on the positive side. It’s contributing to my feelings of invigoration and inspiration at the moment.

That being said, I can’t wait for my next overseas trip!

Change inspiration

 

If you Want it; Go and Get it

goldfish jumping out of the water

I think I could be a serious contender at the Procrastination Olympics. Oh – the snooze Olympics too. Or maybe snoozing would be an event like long jump is in the decathlon?

As with most things, there is a ton of information around ‘how to beat procrastination’; but if we really honest with ourselves we usually procrastinate when we have to do something we don’t enjoy doing.

Have you ever procrastinated before doing something you adore? I doubt it.

I’m not interested in the daily things we all know we need to do – wash up, make the bed, take out the trash, exercise… I’m interested in the things we all proclaim we want.

Dream job

Happiness

Fulfilling relationships

Loads of money

(Not necessarily in that order)

This question is particularly interesting to me now because I have the time to do what I want; what has made me happy for years – and make money from it.

“Not enough time” is usually all our excuses around not having what we want.

What’s interesting about procrastination and my new found freedom is that it will really test whether I truly want this. I think when it comes to big decisions procrastination shows us if we’re prepared to do the hard yards.

It’s easy to think about being a successful writer – but are you prepared to write at every opportunity?

It’s easy to think about being a successful business owner – but are you prepared to have a few sleepless nights wondering where your next client is going to come from?

Two *family men I deeply respect have said things to me that resonate.

‘To be successful you need to be happy doing what others don’t want to do’. This isn’t the only thing he’s told me and by far not the only thing he lives by to be successful.

However, what stands out for me about this statement is doing what others won’t do. I think about people on Idols or The voice saying ‘I’ve wanted to be a singer my whole life’ but have never had the struggle of singing to 3 people in a dingy bar or even just doing what’s necessary to sing as often as possible.

It’s easy to want the fame and money – but have they really done everything necessary to succeed? Case in point – where are any of those winners now? Where was the drive to push past the 15 minutes of fame?

Another *family man when asked ‘when did he decide he wanted to be successful’ responded that for as long as he can remember he always wanted to be the best at what he did – whatever that was. That drove him to put in the hours to learn any new skill and master it. If you master something – people take notice. Look at Stephen King. Michael Phelps.

This might be a massive oversimplification and yes there are many interlinking facets to being successful – but at its essence if we want it:

  1. What does success look like to us?
  2. We need to decide that’s what we want.
  3. Work out what to do.
  4. Practice it as often as we can.
  5. Take massive action (I’ve heard this from so many top performers worldwide recently)

The question is – are you able to take the action that’s required at each step? That last step feels like the heartbeat throughout.

In matric I worried too much about which cricketer I could replace in the 1st team. I should’ve practiced every day to be as best prepared for that. Instead, that fear kept me from even picking up the bat once and not making it became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

That lesson has stood me in good stead.

Worrying about whether I will be ‘good enough’ or not can be demolished by action.

If your training includes cycling 300 kilometres a week for three months solid – would you worry whether you’d be able to finish a race of 110km?

And that leads me to my last point: quality.

We can go through the motions and do the steps necessary but if it’s the bare minimum it will never be enough and we will probably say something like ‘luck wasn’t on my side’.

Cycling 20 kilometres every week seems like action – but we just fooling ourselves.

The quality of our destiny is the result of the quality of our outcomes.

The quality of our outcomes is the result of the quality of our actions.

The quality of our actions is the result of the quality of our mental state.

The quality of our mental state is influenced by the quality of our mental preparation.

How we put this all together determines where we’ll end up.

I hope you’re as invigorated as I am at that thought.

*I make this distinction because I think being involved and present in your family’s life is AS important as being successful in business. We need more men to think of their family and success in those terms. I believe the world will be better for it.

Quality Actions

 

Retrenchment or Rebirth?

Rebirth

Even after the most destructive fire – life finds a way and transforms the landscape.

On the face of it – being retrenched sounds like a disaster.

But why?

We get accustomed to a way of being. We become settled in our comfort zones. We settle for ‘this is the best we can do’.

We also prefer to listen to all the talk from everyone about ‘how tough it is out there’ and take on everyone else’s fears. And THAT is where we make our biggest mistake.

We listen to other people’s fears.

True – I don’t have kids to worry about and I’m sure that would have an impact on my outlook, but I believe retrenchments are a fantastic opportunity to truly take stock of what we want.

I’m being retrenched. Fact; but now more than ever the phrase ‘we get what we focus on’ is important.

I have a choice: focus on how difficult things could be or choose to believe in the abundance of the universe and do what I need to and allow opportunities to flow.

It’s incredible how people come into your life to help you. I’m already experiencing this. I also love how an idea will suddenly appear in my head. The incredible start to what’s step one in creating a better life.

Thoughts create words

Words create actions

Actions create habits

Habits create character

Character creates destiny

Positivity is my filter I choose to look at everything that happens to me. If your mind is not a fertile breeding ground for positive thoughts to appear then how can you create a positive life?

I’ve been through worse, eight years ago the company I worked for was liquidated. I had no job, limited experience and no vision to create a direction for my life. The world’s economy was in free-fall and my friends in the recruitment industry told me they had no prospects for me. Thankfully, I had tremendous support from my folks to help me through that difficult time.

Jump back three more years and having no idea about who Distell actually were, when recruitment companies asked ‘who are the top 5 companies you’d like to work for’ I listed them every time. Even with a conscious wonder of how I could add value to them.

Enter that loss of my job and I was propelled into a career that enabled me to do just that in a specialised field to not just Distell – but Coca Cola as well.

We can’t see into the future and we have no idea who we’ll meet and what opportunities will present themselves to us.

And therein lies the lesson from that experience: we don’t have to know all the answers; we just have to be open to and believe they will, in fact, happen.

My last day is incredibly on my mother’s birthday – the woman who gave me life.

When I look back to that day in years to come I will see that this was my rebirth.

 

I see my life  like Lego.

Only we don’t have the instructions.

Every experience, work related or otherwise, is another building block added to help create my masterpiece. Each on its own apparently meaningless but truthfully a beautiful opportunity that releases my ability to think creatively on how they fit together; and release the potential to shape my own future.

And together – builds my own unique fun design to play with every day.

I can’t wait for my next block to play with.