5 Essential Lessons for any Challenge

Orange Breasted sunbird2 climb 272 365 Ubuntu Climbs
Sunbird (male) quietly surveying the city below                      Photo Credit: Natalie du Preez

As I sit here I can’t believe nine months of the year have come and gone.

Thirty nine weeks have rocketed past and being in an extreme challenge like this, climbing Table Mountain every day, brings with it extreme learnings.

Observing  how many people focus, even 277 days into my challenge, on what could go wrong and ‘negative aspects’ – weather, injury, sickness, ‘stuck in Cape Town’, you name it, it’s been said.

It’s the perfect mirror of life.

Few think about all the positive aspects – seeing the mountain in every way imaginable; the phenomenal views from my office; the personal growth; the extraordinary people I get to meet; and the conversations that brings with it.

Ignoring the difficulties I face would be fool hardy. It’s important to understand all the aspects of a challenge including difficulties – just don’t focus on them.  This reality of potential dangers was given to me when Gert, challenging himself to climb Table Mountain every day in September, sprained his ankle badly with just five days left. It can happen that quickly.

My focus cannot waiver for one second.

What a Week

This year, last week was the second longest amount of time spent climbing the mountain – but because of the extreme weather differences; my toughest to date.

Thankfully, I only had two solo hikes and five amazing groups to pull me through. Not just any groups:

Top of Table Mountain Heritage DayMonday: two special men, Bulelani and Siyabonga, started a tour group called Corner2corner tours and arranged a group to climb up on our National Holiday – Heritage Day. Not just hike up though – clean the mountain too. They believe the mountain gives us so much that they wanted to give back to her. It was 30 degrees at 11am and after a bitterly cold month, a bit of a shock to the system. Everyone made it up and we walked off with three full bags of rubbish removed.

VML Foundation Day climb on day 270Thursday: VML, a creative agency worldwide with offices here in Cape Town, have a yearly day to volunteer with various organisations – I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of them. This day was windy, icy cold, wet and downright miserable for a tricky ascent and descent. This usually deters people, but fourteen amazing people came and challenged themselves for the benefit of others. They had wonderful smiles, never complained and helped each other get down safely. Real team spirit.

Family climb 271 365 Ubuntu ClimbsFriday: I’m blessed with an amazing family and Aunty Di and Uncle John have been terrific with their support. Having seen them (they live in Durban) in February they promised they’d be back in September and would join – this was the day. After loads of rain, they were treated to the spectacle that is Table Mountain with rivers in full flow and waterfalls galore; even paths become water features. Their spirit and tenacity to get up adds to my memories of people who’ve pushed their limits; and chatting about all their holiday ‘s overseas is how I get to travel this year: vicariously.

Climb 272 365 Ubuntu ClimbsSaturday: a fellow blogger for Future Females and friend, Natalie, joined with her husband. We had a hot day again; thankfully with a breeze. My legs were taking strain, and they were happy to stop often and get pictures (picture above is hers!) much to my weary legs delight. Hard to fathom the previous 4 days were all cold and wet, and tomorrow is going to be even hotter…

Tibetan Monks on top Table Mountain 365 Ubuntu Climbs

Sunday: Lisa, Amanda and Alice brave a 06:30 start – always impressed by people willing to do that on a Sunday. Its Amanda’s birthday too! We start early for two reasons – on hot days sunrise hikes equal avoiding the heat and we have the privilege to host four Tibetan Monks, an astrologer and a healer all the way from India at the top. It felt as if the monks were already at the top and hauling me up step by step as we ‘rushed’ to ensure we didn’t keep them waiting. Thankfully we made it up in time meeting them at the cable car. This experience would never have happened without this challenge happening and my good friend Nicci connecting us. Something I could never have predicted.

Although I’m not a practicing Buddhist – I resonate with their desire for peace and love to permeate this planet – the reason they’re here, creating colourful sand mandalas.

Experiencing another belief and cultures ritual and respect for nature and our mountain was beautiful. Seeing them in their robes and prayer flags flapping in the wind was soothing and even though I had no idea what they were saying in prayer – felt at peace.

Being the end of the month too I chose rock number nine: a physical representation of another month completed.

I was originally keeping these but before meeting the monks, had the idea to rather take them all back at the end of the year and create a memorial pile on the Platteklip Gorge hiking trail. Hearing him speak about releasing attachment reinforces the idea.

Geshe wished to hold it and shared some beautiful words with me about what I’m doing. Though our time was brief together, it was reminded of quality over quantity.

What Can You Take Away from This?

As I said extreme challenges bring extreme learning and realisations after this week some are becoming ingrained in me:

  1. Focus on today. Even the toughest week came to end and the same is true for great weeks. Simply focusing on today’s climb means I give it every opportunity to become one of the most memorable ones.
  2. Lose attachment. Weather, health, mementos, even people. Things can change so quickly and holding on to something keeps you rooted in the past. A perfect follow on to point #1 because this keeps you grounded in today and what you can
  3. Find the flow. This has been one of the unexpected challenges of the year. I had grand designs of what needed to happen and what I needed to organise; yet the best experiences have all come from allowing the climbs to happen with whomever is supposed to join. Set your intention of what river you want to use, and let it take you where it needs to. Stop trying to control everything. This becomes the difference in creating meaningful experiences as opposed to a bucket list tick box exercise.
  4. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Everyone’s in a rush: to find a partner; to be successful, to be first, to get up the mountain. All this means is you miss the opportunities along the way to see the beauty in each step, in life. Why do people burn out? Feel disconnected? We’re rushing to this appointment while making the next. Slow down. If I’d come out the gates trying to do every climb as fast as possible my body would’ve shut down months ago. My legs may be fatigued – but my heart and soul are energised.
  5. Gratitude is not important; its essential. Every climb starts with gratitude for my health, my legs that work and are strong enough to do this every day; my eyes to see the beauty around me and my mind that is actively learning every day from this experience. Gratitude for the mountain being so close to where I live and providing me a spiritual path to walk every day and always teaching me. It takes less than five minutes to show gratitude and once you start? You realise all the ways you’re blessed. Family, partners, friends, their support, and it helps spot the greatest beauty in the tiniest moment. Beauty is not one big thing – it’s an endless string of moments.

 

See you on the mountain

Andrew Patterson is climbing Table Mountain in Cape Town every day in 2018 helping raise money and awareness for Habitat for Humanity (housing) One Heart (teaching children to read) and The Sunflower Fund (increasing the donor database for blood diseases like Leukaemia) To donate visit http://www.365climbs.com

A Week to Remember

365 Ubuntu Climbs Halfway view
After several days in rain and poor visibility – this greeted me on my halfway hike

Week 27 sees me starting on a memorable day – exactly halfway.

182 days behind me.365 Ubuntu Climbs halfway mark

182 days ahead of me. 365 Ubuntu CLimbs halfway mark up

Half way rock’s where my moment takes place (albeit that I must hike back down due to strong icy winds.) It snowed up top this morning but due to constant waves of rain predicted I chose the drier afternoon. After three days in the wet, I can safely say I loved being dry and having a view up top as well. Hard to believe I’ve climbed the equivalent vertical kilometers of 37 Mt Everest’s and raised R226 000. I’m very proud of what has been achieved with the help of all of you.

Interesting thought is that in life, we have no idea of when halfway will be. At any moment we could have less days ahead of us than we’ve got behind us.

I celebrate with two of my favourite ladies – Lisa and Jessie – at Mykonos in Sea Point. My brain still doesn’t compute that I’ve done 183 days (at that point) which is the equivalent of thirty-seven Mt Everest’s. How appropriate too then, that they’ve both done the most number of hikes; Lisa 19 Jessie 13 (at the end of her week here from San Francisco)

There isn’t enough paper in the world to talk about how special these two are and how they define support. Perhaps a chapter dedicated to each in my book is needed.

Wednesday Bonus

Joined by Carrey and her son, the four of us including Jessie on her second consecutive day, end up chatting to a tourist wondering if he’s on the right track.  William is from Holland and three days into his month-long visit.

We welcome him to join us instead of hiking alone. I’m rewarded with his tales of why he chose South Africa and that he spent a month in Nepal the previous year. I might not be able to travel this year, but with all the tourists that have joined me thus far? I feel I’ve been to many distant lands.

At 24 this man already is far wiser than his years.

Sharing his experience of acclimatizing to Nepal’s food, culture, altitude and being alone reminded me of my trip to Iceland and the value of traveling alone. His plan is to get tattoos from each place that speaks to what he learned while there.

His Nepal tattoo is incredible.  Just the story on the tiny village it was done in would be enough. Written in Nepalese, its one of their beliefs: Everyone you meet is superior to you in some way.

Gold nugget: In writing this I’m making notes to do my best to listen (not hear) more to understand what people share instead of just trying to respond with what I already know.

We head to Mojo market for a drink to chat more. San Francisco, Cape Town and Leiden only needing one beautiful thing to connect: our travels.

William enjoying the view on 365 Ubuntu Climbs Hike 185

Non-Profits versus For Profit companies

Jessie, who’s also involved in empowering others around the world by building schools with an organisation called Pencils of Promise, and I head to my dear friends 40th. I pick empty seats next to gents that own a gift store in Cape Quarter called Baraka. Incredibly, this happens to be the store where Jessie bought me gifts last year before she left.

Conversation was great all night and later that evening, one’s whole demeanour changes at the mention of my project and raising money, due to one question: ‘how do I know where the money’s going?’

Excellent question!

Simple answer: always ask – reputable non-profits won’t have any issue sharing all their info.

It’s something I’m trying to instill with people this year; to do their homework. Habitat for Humanity, The Sunflower Fund and One heart are all registered Non-Profits as well as certified with SARS (South African Revenue Service) to provide donors with Section 18A’s – a document that allows you to claim your donation back from the tax you owe.

What’s more interesting though, is where the discussion went after we answered his question. He wasn’t satisfied that not 100% of funds raised always goes to said causes. This baffles me. If 80% of funds raised goes to the cause and 20% to administration costs which allows the organisation to help people, isn’t that great? (Disclaimer here – check with each individual organisation what their percentages are – some guarantee 100% of donations go to their cause)

Why is it we so quick to judge where and what the money’s being used for with non-profits; and yet have no problem with business practices of For Profit companies?

There’ve been some serious abuses of money management in Non-profits, but there’s been just as many cases of fraud and unethical business practices in for profits.

Whether you donate money or buy from a company – is it not fair to say we know both have running costs?

Jessie put it beautifully when she said, ‘we vote with every dollar we spend’.

My wish is we’d hold more companies accountable for their business practices. We forget we have the power. If a company still tests on animals – everyone choosing not to buy their products because of that means they’re out of business.

When faced with deciding whom to donate to, here are some tools to help you separate the cheaters from the world beaters:

  1. Ask for Financials. Reputable companies will have these available for you.
  2. They are vague. Perhaps their websites don’t give too much information about what they do, how they do it, when they started, who the Directors are etc – but that could mean they inexperienced and simply use it as a funnel supplying emails and contact details instead. However, if making contact via these channels is difficult and vague, trust your gut as it will certainly alert you.
  3. Any organisation should be able to supply you with references for what they do. If a charity builds homes; ask for details of where and who received it. Again, if people get uppity with you on the phone to supply this and your gut sounds alarm bells – You have the right to say no. It shouldn’t be difficult to get info like this.

 

I said it twice already but its worth telling you again. Trust your gut.

The reality is we live in a society where scams are something to watch for, but just because one woman cheats on you doesn’t mean the rest will.  If you hear about a non-profit being ‘dodgy’ don’t paint all of them that way.

Be vigilant.

Ask questions.

Vote for a better world with how you spend your money.

See you on the mountain.

If you’d like to invest in 365 Ubuntu’s Project, please click on http://www.365climbs.com and you’ll be kept up to date with who we empower. Stay tuned for our delivery of books to help teach children to read coming up this month at two schools.

Renaissance Guy Andrew Patterson

Hiking and Life’s Connection

Highs and Lows of Life and hiking
Even reaching the top of a hike doesn’t guarantee a view

Week 25 – The parallels of life and hiking

First up – special thanks to Wings Herbal Synergy for sponsoring me with supplements to keep my legs and body in the best health possible. Amazing because they didn’t want a big announcement about it, they are doing it simply because they believe in what I’m doing and want to help. Huge respect to them for that.

Whether hiking or living; you’ll experience highs and lows. The only difference between the two: hiking generally starts at the bottom for you to climb up.

Some days though, you can start extremely high. Recently though, my day started as close to the bottom as you can get with the news of my dear friend Joshua’s death.

Week begins with high and low

Monday the 18th is my grans 94th birthday and Joshua’s funeral in Melbourne. It’s one of those crazy days where you feel two opposite emotions simultaneously.

My gran and family still live in Johannesburg and this is now the longest I’ve gone without seeing her. She’s unable to travel so I’ll only see her again when I’m finished with climbing Table Mountain 365 times this year. I miss her.

Speaking to her before my hike, I can hear the sparkle in her voice as she sat comfortably in her new chair that had arrived earlier. A comfy lazy boy with massage function. Its great to hear her voice and it always leaves me incredibly grateful that at age 38, I have the privilege to speak to her still. Especially on a hard day like this.

Memorial hike

I promised Joshua’s mom and brother I’d hike at the same time his funeral and wake took place so in some small way, I could be ‘present’ from across the oceans. Fittingly, the weather is glum and overcast, almost as if the weather was mourning with us. I took a candle with me to light and sit with his rock. I picked up one on the day of his death to honour him. High winds meant the cable car wasn’t working and I hiked back down.

I chose to sit quietly on Ubuntu rock with the candle fluttering next to ‘Josh’. Amazingly – Ubuntu rock had not a breath of wind for the candle to burn uninterrupted. There we sat. As if inside a cloud, on one of the most recognised mountains in the world. Honouring a beautiful soul that now lives inside all of us that knew him.

He had endured such tragedy this year and I will forever be grateful for his incredible support for my project. I take solace knowing that he found some peace.

With the last quarter of the hike left, the biggest rain drops I can remember since running around in our garden as a child, descended on me. I tried to capture it in a photo to no avail. Felt like the last perfect send off to Josh. Lifting my face up, I felt rain against my face for the first time. Usually the peak of my cap and hood of my jacket serve to shield my face. It was the type of experience I would have jumped on to Whatsapp to tell him about because I knew he’d appreciate that.

Fittingly, the 365 Ubuntu Climbs shirt he wore with such pride went with him.

We all miss you my friend.

My friend Joshua crook supporting 365 Ubuntu Climbs

A break in the weather

In 34 days I’ve only had a view from the top 13 times. In the past 11 days, once. One of the greatest lessons to date is understanding that there’s no bad weather; just bad preparation. Thanks to Cape Union Mart and their brand K-Way – I’m prepared, and I’m kept warm and dry which translates into safe.

The rain pants in particular, are amazing. The day Josh passed I made the mistake of not wearing them and a serious downpour happened in the first twenty minutes. Now they’re on even  if there’s a remote chance of rain.

Rain is glorious news and I get excited every time for it. We’re in the grips of one of the worst droughts Cape Towns had in a century. Our dams collectively, have just squeaked past the 40% full mark. This is why I said at the beginning of the year I hope to hike in rain for 200 days.

You’re probably thinking “Whaaaaaaaaat?!?! Hiking in the rain is dangerous surely??” I think the mountain is more dangerous on clear warm days than on windy rainy days; because people think it’s a playground and don’t pay enough attention and respect to the mountain. Many rocks are slippery even without being rained on. Being in nature requires presence, in every moment and step. I believe injuries come from two things: fatigue and lack of respect.

Even today as I start my 176th hike this year, I pretend it’s my very first one. Every step is closely monitored, and I even check to see what rocks have changed position, look loose and are cracking open/off.

It’s a gift being on the mountain around the time of these storms passing through. To see the mountainside alive and water flowing in the most unexpected places is phenomenal. Summer hikers would walk past without ever thinking twice about a waterfall. What a privilege to get to experience it in every way.

My latest understanding

I was given an opportunity to speak to the South African Property Investors Network (SAPIN) again on day 171 having spoke on day 73. This gave me a unique opportunity to gauge who’d heard me speak then and whether they thought I’d be back having not missed a day on my quest to complete 365.

I admire their honesty, pretty much all of them said no.

I always knew most people would think that way and the only way to build trust is to keep doing what I’m doing. People watch your actions more closely than your words – and rightly so.

I’ve come across many talkers proclaiming to support, and they disappear into the distance like a tumbleweed blown across the desert floor.

These talks give me a great opportunity to share the purpose of climbing a mountain daily: to show the power we have as individuals and collectively when we stand together.

Why donate money at all? Well – having been involved in various projects since my high school days with King Edwards and their KESFAM drives, I can tell you there’s nothing like seeing the gratitude in the eyes of those you empower.

Just because we’re not responsible for others suffering, doesn’t mean we can’t be part of the solution to help them.

I don’t believe in charity – that involves keeping people out of their own power. Working with Habitat for Humanity; One Heart and The Sunflower Fund means we collectively empower those we help to take ownership of their lives.

Empowering those without the means to empower themselves now.

Speaking on Wednesday I realised that most people look at themselves as a Mt Everest of donating. In other words, it must be large sums of money to be meaningful. What they don’t realise is that even Mt Everest isn’t just one mountain: its made up of thousands of individual stairs from base to summit; each stair as important as the next.

Think of yourself as a stair to someone else’s Everest.

If every South African gave me R1 – we’d raise R56 million.

If 50 000 Capetonians donated R30 a month (not even 2 coffees) we’d raise R1.5 million a month

Ask the 2.5 million people in the UK that didn’t bother voting on the Brexit issue if they still feel their vote wasn’t important.

Our power lies in our collective efforts. Don’t ever say “I can only give….” Because your act of giving has the potential to change another human beings’ life.

Just ask each of 365 Ubuntu Climbs donors whether they thought they’d:

  • Add 20 people to the donor registry and potentially save 20 fathers, 20 mothers, 20 friends lives impacting all their families, friends and colleagues;
  • Help two of the largest primary schools in the country teach thousands of children to read and track the children’s progress
  • Help 10 families improve their living conditions to feel safer, warmer and drier.

And we not even half way yet.

Final thought for the week

My 300th climber to join me was Iona this past Saturday and her takeaway was Ubuntu rock and the accumulation of love that makes the walk into a prayer of love, hope and connection.

It was the first time I’ve asked for feedback like that and what an incredible answer to get first up.

Why? Because its what this is all about summed up perfectly. Life’s shorter than you imagine, don’t waste it living in fear. I promise you – I’ve never been more inspired by how much good there is in this world with all the people I’ve met thus far and through all the donations received.

I’m grateful to each and every one of you. Creating a better world requires active citizenry. As Gandi said – be the change you wish to see in the world.

Try it – I’ve never been more fulfilled in my life.

See you on the mountain

Andrew Patterson is hiking Table Mountain every day in 2018 (175/365 completed thus far) to build homes; teach children to read and build a database for Leukaemia. To become part of the Ubuntu Family (ubuntu is the spirit of humanity and compassion towards one another) head over to http://www.365climbs.com share your contribution.

Focus on the Journey

Journey

The journey of life has infinite experiences – and yet we tend to focus on a finite amount of them.

Destinations have somehow become the focus; and that’s as good as looking forward to death.

My path in the last eight months has given me great insights into what happens when you shift your focus to the journey and the path versus the end result or destination.

Climbing a mountain has a result of getting to the top and experiencing a phenomenal view; but that only happens when you climb the path to get there. The experience is in enjoying what the path has to offer. How different it is as you start compared to half way. Absorbing the changes in vegetation and elation.

There’s a difference between taking a 5-minute cable car to the top and seeing first-hand the layers that make up the mountain in a one hour hike.

Giving back

One of the aims of climbing Table Mountain every day in 2018 is to use it as a platform to raise money and awareness for those born into far more challenging circumstances than you and me. I’m working to empower one million peoples lives and that requires a lot of support and money to raise.

That brought many limiting self-beliefs to the forefront. One of which has been my hopes of always finding that ‘one big win’. Waiting for the lottery of life to land me my big break.

I had that exact hope for this challenge. I was introduced to a connected and wealthy philanthropic individual that I could see help me explode this across the world making it a huge success. Reflecting on my pinned hope showing no interest at all, means I now understand something very important. Had he jumped on board so early on: I wouldn’t have been learning what I am now about building this support network. I wouldn’t be focused on one avenue and be thinking about new ways to get the message out there. I’m not sure I’d be meeting the incredible people I am as well as being grounded in what a gift it is for them to come into my path.

Being taught to read instead of being read to.

The greater the lessons we learn the better equipped we are to empower others. My experiences are becoming far more valuable than my degree.

By not getting what we want – we get exactly what we need.

I certainly got what I needed by starting on zero instead of 90%.

They say you need to set goals so big that you can’t achieve it until you grow into the person who can. How true that is, and what they don’t mention is how much fun it is learning all the new skills and meeting all the new people to help you get there.

Things I may never have experienced if my ‘knight in shining armour’ had rode in on day one.

When things don’t work out exactly as you want stop worrying why, trust the process and smile knowing that all will be revealed at some point. You don’t need to see the oxygen in the air that’s helping you live – just be the lungs that breathe in the air never doubting its filled with oxygen.

Andrew Patterson is climbing Table Mountain (Cape Town) every day in 2018. His aim is to raise money and awareness to positively empower 1 million South Africans born into more challenging circumstances than ourselves. He’s doing this by channeling the money raised to

Habitat for humanity to build homes

– One heart for kids to help under resourced schools teach children to read

The Sunflower Fund to build a bigger database for Leukaemia

To be part of this movement DONATE HERE:

https://www.backabuddy.co.za/365-ubuntuclimbs

do for others

I’m having a Bad Day

bad-day2

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.

bad-day

Climbing Table Mountain every day in 2018

IMG_6233

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.

 

IMG_6170.JPG
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.