I write this as I wing my way back to Cape Town having spent a soul feeding week in the African bush with my family.
My dad reminds me today would’ve been gran’s 100th birthday. I don’t believe in coincidences. I’m about to embark on an ambitious year – and this is another heart warming moment of synchronicity to experience.
2017 has been one heck of a year.
I love the opportunity of hindsight to explore the events of the previous year. To “connect the dots” as Steve Jobs once said.
Here are the six most impactful events of my year and what each of them taught me.
1. Starting my year in Jokulsarlon, Iceland
I chose to spend New Years in Iceland, in a tiny village called Vik. I shared the most incredible NY eve of my life with two other intrepid travellers from France. Never in our wildest dreams could we have predicted we’d see the northern lights dance above our eyes as Icelanders set off fireworks lighting the snow covered mountains up in red. Nature and man combined to create a show I will always remember.
They suggested I visit the area further east called Jokulsarlon, Glacier Bay.
A drive that belongs in the National Geographic Hall of fame awaited me and my prize: a receding glacier that’s created a deep bay filled with icebergs effortlessly floating. Ice that breaks off is ushered out to sea where the Atlantic uses its creativity to place blocks of ice across the black sandy beach as if it is it’s private art gallery.
Here – some 15 906 kilometers away from home as near to the edge of the world I’ve been – I feel for the very first time a tremendous love of my home. Our home. Earth. What a gift this planet is for us. My heart was expanded standing mesmerised by the beauty around me. Being so alone and yet incredibly connected all in an instant.
What changed in me: alone and in the harshest conditions I’ve ever experienced, I felt a realisation that we are never lost; just temporarily unsure. All it takes is asking for help and we can immediately be back on track. That sometimes its in being lost that we get to experience incredible surroundings with heightened senses that we’ll look back on with fondness and appreciation.
2. Having to find a new place to stay
This would be my seventh year in my flat and around February/March I had a thought “at some point I’m going to have to find another place to stay”.
I had no idea a few weeks later my owners would message me to say they needed to move back in and I needed to be out by end of May.
The rental market in Cape Town, and specifically the Atlantic Sea Board, has become a nightmare. Rental prices have sky rocketed and availability of units has all but dried up like our water due to people preferring AirBnB instead.
A dear friend suggested I write down absolutely every detail of what I wanted in my new flat. I was incredibly specific. After two months of searching with no success, it appeared I may have to take friends up on their offer to put my stuff in storage and stay in their spare room.
I looked at my list often and held steadfast in my belief I would find a place that met ALL the requirements. I had some wobbles where I thought “maybe I should just be happy with a few?”
Two weeks before I need to be out the managing agents of my current building send me a text “813 will be available beginning of June – do you want it?”
This came moments before I left for a weekend away. I was desperate to see it soonest and had to be happy with arranging a viewing Monday night. It was dark and with belongings all boxed up I didn’t quite fully grasp how perfect the flat was. I did get a good feeling about it and immediately messaged to say I’ll take it.
Only once they’d cleaned carpets and repainted and I moved in did I fully grasp how much of my list it satisfied – one of my favourites being able to lay in my bed and see Lions Head (those who live in Cape Town will understand what a rarity that is)
What changed in me: my absolute faith and belief. I was tested for sure; but being tested is how we gauge where we are in life. That I’d be in my same building, six stories up (literally moving up in the world) with my flat directly opposite the lift to move my furniture into is almost too good to be true and yet – here I am.
It’s been another massive stride for me to completely accept that whatever we want, we can get. Which is especially important for point number 4 coming up.
3. Going through a retrenchment
I was emailed by a head hunter barely an hour before our department was going to hear what changes were being made. Before that point, based on the importance of my role, I confidently assumed I was going to be safe. That email triggered an immediate awareness that not only was my role in the firing line – but that this was the end of my time at Distell. My gut was speaking loud and clear.
My role had become a ‘promotion’ and even as others confidently suggested there was no one else qualified to do the job; I just knew it wasn’t going to happen.
I was right.
I was offered other roles but knew it would be disingenuous to myself and Distell to take them. I had lost faith in the company and didn’t feel any of the other roles suited my career progression. I’d just be taking it to have a job. I had a funny feeling something big was coming from this. I was terrified, especially at the fact that my future’s slate had been wiped clean.
I trusted it would be the best thing that ever happened to me – and I was right.
What changed in me: I started trusting to my gut and I also made a conscious move to start making decisions based out of love and not fear. Worrying about a pay-check and where money was going to come from was staying out of fear. I was done with that.
With uncertainty abounding I was a week from leaving when an idea dropped into my head that would (and subsequently already has) change my life.
4. Receiving the simplest idea
Driving past Table Mountain the idea to hike up every day for a year was given to me and so 365 Ubuntu Climbs (Ubuntu is the spirit of humanity) was born.
Henry Ford said ‘whether you think you can or you can’t – you right’
I believe I am the luckiest traveller in the world, and that is why I saw the northern lights on New years eve. I have countless stories I can share about that. If you believe nothing good ever happens to you guess what…… nothing good ever will.
Taking the retrenchment with the faith and knowing that something amazing was going to come from it was rewarded a mere 8 days before my final day.
The idea set my soul on fire. Even when most people couldn’t grasp the enormity of what this meant, it didn’t waiver me from the endless possibilities it would create – both for me and others.
The idea was a simple one and using it as a platform to show people how easy it is to give by sponsoring me R1 a day would later develop into an audacious goal to use that money to positively empower 1 million people. Even as I sit here I can tell you that with each day that passes new ideas and exciting ways to achieve this goal flood my brain.
What changed in me: For the first time in my life, nothing but absolute self belief in achieving this feat existed in my psyche. This would be tested as the six month countdown began to such a degree that I almost allowed myself to get talked out of it from people who hardly know me. This taught me about how others can only see things from their perspective (which is based on their value system and experiences). They were looking at a piece of the puzzle telling me why that piece was a waste of time; while I was looking at the finished picture. It’s like arguing with a baker that egg, flour, milk, coco powder and villa essence mixed together will taste disgusting. Until they eat a slice of the cake created.
The greatest gift of all this year has been born from this idea. A deeper understanding of human behaviour, and not taking on others limited beliefs as my own. Just because you don’t believe you can do something doesn’t automatically mean that I can’t. In fact, I can see all the naysayers faces when everything I can see crystal clear in my mind comes into physical form.
It’s not about proving how right I am – it’s about following through on a simple idea that has the power to change a million peoples lives. Isn’t that something worth pursuing and being part of in 2018?
5. Speaking in front of 2000 people
Once the 365 Ubuntu Climbs idea was given to me, I believed I could take this globally never mind to the rest of South Africa. I was introduced to a pioneer called JT Foxx, a man no stranger to naysayers and trolls, blazing trails across the world and giving people opportunities to elevate their success. A man who’s organisations credo is ‘powered by your success’.
He was hosting a Global event called ‘Money Wealth Business conference’ in Johannesburg on August 12th. People from as far as North America, Australia, Europe and Asia attended with the many local South Africans. It was the opportunity I’d asked for.
Not only had I spread my message to Johannesburg, but I now also had international supporters donating in support; even travelling from Switzerland to walk up with me.
What changed in me: I realised the power of following your heart and what you can accomplish when your soul’s been set on fire. What can feel like simple self development choices a year ago; like doing the “Courageous public speaking course” with Simon Ekin, could turn out to be instrumental later on. Like giving me the platform to speak in front of such a large audience. Passion speaks louder than being polished – and authenticity creates connection.
This has become the catalyst to show me how important to it is to have the courage to follow our hearts desire. That sometimes the worst thing we do to ourselves is over think things and the best gift we can give ourselves is to go for it. Take action. Move forward. That stumbling is better than standing still.
Nelson Mandela – who’s 100th birthday would’ve been in 2018 — said “it always seems impossible until its done”
My question is: Why couldn’t you be that person?
6. Traveling (again) to America over my birthday
JT Foxx hosted the Mega Success event at Disneyland in November and I’d have the opportunity for more coaching at his house afterwards. With no travel in 2018 I took the plunge and dipped into my bond to pay for the ticket. Something most people would frown upon as careless; but my gut said there was opportunities waiting for me I’d never otherwise get staying behind in Cape Town.
Ten months after arriving back to the day from my European vacation, I boarded a plane on my 38th Birthday bound for the US for the second time in my life.
Thanks to an amazing human being, Jessie Stuart, I was able to extend my trip by a week and stay with her in San Francisco. She’s an incredible human being that does fantastic work with Pencils of Promise, a non-profit dedicated to building schools in the poorest countries around the world. Her passion and enthusiasm for life, travel and focusing on what we can do instead of what’s wrong – is what we need more of in this world. Throw in the opportunity to travel with one of my best friends Lisa and without stepping foot off the plane, I already knew what a transformative three weeks these would be.
What Changed in me: my openness to listen to people with varying opinions to my own expanded. Life is about evaluating all the available information at our disposal and making our own informed decisions. Too often we follow one set of principles blindly or as gospel (religion, politicians, self help gurus, business giants, health experts) instead of understanding there is no one right way; but there is a right way for us – listening to our intuition and developing a deeper trust in our own decision making.
Success, much like happiness, is not a destination but rather a result of what we do and how we live our lives. Chase excellence, and success will follow. Chase fulfilment in everything that you do and happiness will abound.
We’ll never live in the absence of fear, of pain, of doubt, of difficulty.
But we can choose to push through bravely with love in our heart; with an understanding that pain can create drive to improve our lives; doubt is is just a made up ; difficulty is essential to develop appreciation and gratitude.
Stop hoping trying and wishing and start doing.
2018 will be a success because I will work and act in a way that I will create it. I won’t try I just will. Thoughts are nothing without actions. I am climbing Table Mountain every day in 2018 as living proof that powerful ideas while powerful – are meaningless without doing something with them.
If you had challenges in 2017 – be grateful for them.
My wish for you in 2018 is not just to feel inspired; but to feel inspired enough to act.