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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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

 

Running (out of) Water

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I didn’t believe this would happen. Or perhaps, in all honesty, I didn’t want to believe it would happen. But the likelihood of the Western Cape running out of water is now a very real scenario.

Lack of appreciation

Theewaterskloof comparison

Rainfall has been steadily declining the past few years and dams like Theewaterskloof, the biggest supplier of water to the Cape, have dropped by 20% each year since 2014. 20% is not a small number, which ultimately begs the question why weren’t these conversations happening sooner? And if they were, why have we been so slow to react?

Nevertheless, I’m not here to harp on about that. Instead, I’d like to focus on three questions:

  1. What happens when we do in fact run out of water?
  2. What contributed to us ending up in this position?
  3. What changes in our collective attitude do we need to make?

1.Life without water

As always, the hardest hit would be the impoverished in the region who already have limited access to water. The majority of us take it for granted that we can just open a tap and, whammy, there it is.

Those of us in more privileged positions would at least be able to buy bottled water to drink. It’s the bathing and keeping clean which would no doubt affect people the most as well as sanitation.

Necessity is the mother of invention, maybe a good month or two will show us all how we can be more resourceful with our water and use it sparingly. Water is life and such a jolt to our systems to remind us might do the trick.

In my opinion this isn’t a ’recent’ problem though. I think this has been developing for quite some time.

2.Where it began

Before I go further, I’d like to mention the meat industry. They use a tremendous amount of water amongst other key problems they contribute to. You can read an informative article HERE for an in-depth look.

My focus is more on our lack of respect for the environment. It isn’t just South Africa – all around the world our cultures are ever more inwardly focused. Selfies, obsessions over more post likes, the boom in cosmetic surgery and dissociative behaviour towards any crisis not affecting people personally.

It’s no wonder our collective disregard for any water source has become normal.

Exhibit A: Just look at how few Americans (besides Native Americans) are fighting to protect the Missouri River from an oil pipeline.

Take for example any river in and around Cape Town – would you drink out of it? I definitely wouldn’t. Yet settlements all around the world that became large cities were all originally chosen for their proximity to water – Paris, London, Berlin, Baghdad, you name it. Communities need these types of water sources in order to survive.

Now think of the streams around Table Mountain that, as yet, are still so clean and tasty they put any bottled water to shame. Imagine Eerste Rivier and Black River were just as sanitary.

Everyone’s going to be affected; although I’m sure the exceptionally wealthy will come up with ways to ship in water for use. What a wonderful opportunity for us to work together on solutions going forward which will benefit everyone in our communities.  This brings me to my next point.

3.Collective changes needed

We really need to work on how we:

  1. Store more water
  2. Respect where we live and not pollute our existing water sources
  3. Maintain our reduction in water use post-drought and water restrictions
  4. Educate our children about water

As our population continues to grow and weather patterns become more and more erratic, thanks to global warming and climate change, we need to be thinking not just about this year. Or the next. Or even a decade into the future. This is a long term plan.  Thirty years down the line. Maybe even more.

What are we doing to protect our water for the next generations? Because if we know generations fifty years from now are sorted – that means we’re sitting pretty.

Global phenomenon

One down side to industrialisation is the fact our collective efforts have allowed us to become lazy. Unless you live in rural South Africa of course and are one of the c.74% who only have access to ground water (from wells, pumps etc.) But for most of us urbanites, we simply switch on a tap and voilà. If we had to walk, carry and then treat the water ourselves perhaps we’d be less inclined to litter and pollute our water sources. (It varies from country to country, but even in these cases we can see high levels of pollution). Just take a drive past Black River to get a sense of how bad we are.

WWF Journey of Water
Black River near Cape Town

Moving forward

Our biggest challenge is that this is a collective effort. It’s no good if some aren’t on board. This is where we as citizens must rise and step in when people so blatantly litter. For example, something as seemingly small as a smoker dropping their butt out of a car window. If I’m at a traffic light and I see this happen, I get out and hand it back: “Sorry – I think you dropped this”.

Obviously this is not a quick fix. We need to be realistic and understand that the majority of societies have zero regard for the environment.

At Afrikaburn, an event in the desert that has radical self-reliance as a core principle, there are 13 000 partakers and they need 4 000 volunteers. Their motto is “One burner, one shift” and it works.

Conceivably mandatory community service (whatever your social status is) will start changing attitudes? This isn’t a complete solution to the very grave issue we’re facing, but perhaps four hours a week picking up litter and trudging through our polluted rivers that smell to high heaven will start us down the right road? How long would it take to improve the environment around us?

We’ve lost touch with nature. We’ve been lost for more than a century, I think.

It’s time to start reconnecting; before it really is too late.

My favourite line in Bruce Almighty, is when Morgan Freeman (playing God) declares ‘No matter how filthy something gets, you can always clean it right up’

Our situation is no different.

Clearest Lake
The dream

Insecurity – A 20 Year Journey

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I’m not entirely sure what I’m expecting heading back to my hometown Johannesburg for my 20 year reunion; but there’s definitely butterflies floating around in my belly.

Not everyone’s keen on returning to reunions though for various reasons, perhaps bad memories from high school – some mates have never been back to their school never mind aspirations of attending their reunions. There’s the possibility of not being as successful as others? Maybe our relationship status makes us nervous. Society creates ‘templates’ and if you’re not following it; ‘what’s wrong with you’ or ‘why’ are generally the recipient’s responses.

I’m incredibly proud that I’m a King Edwards old boy and even more so seeing that the traditions and ethos of the school haven’t just been maintained – but elevated to new levels.

Attending is also a great opportunity to put some of my beliefs into practice too. I’m grateful I did, visiting the school that shaped me into the man I am today was insightful.

We joined the assembly before a tour of the grounds; followed by golf and then what became a very entertaining dinner. My day starts at 06h30 driving to school the exact way I did back in 1997; only I’m not in the passenger seat. All the emotions and feelings of being at school come flooding back – the good and the bad. I had a mixed high school but I’m thankful for that. Life isn’t all roses.

I didn’t slot into any one specific group back then. I played a variety of sport and as such interacted with some of the more popular boys but was also in the Latin class. We were a small class that had a mix of everything. Academics, the deputy head boy and prefects; some of the best actors and debaters too. We had guys playing cricket, rugby, rowing, squash, basketball and athletics as well as some that played no sport. A mixture of boarders and day boys all from diverse backgrounds.

This all worked to shape my young mind, I was also getting the added benefit of a life education in people skills.

Twenty years evaporate in an instant

How I’ve changed since matric (thankfully, otherwise that really would’ve been a failure on my part) I’ve been blessed to live in three cities; work abroad and travel to fourteen countries. My mind’s been opened significantly through all my travels and I’m richer for it.

I’m also four inches taller and twenty kilograms heavier than my younger self; a completely different hairstyle too with less of it to boot and not as many greys as I’d like (yes, you read that correctly) Needless to say, some of the guys take a while to remember exactly who I am. But for the most part, strap on our uniforms and we may as well be in matric again.

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Lesson #1: Self Development pays off

I was terribly insecure back then. Just walking into the school every morning was a struggle; fast forward twenty years and walking into the quadrangle seeing familiar faces is actually a great experience. Talking to guys I’d either been intimidated by or perhaps wished I could be more like was now as easy as brushing my teeth.

What I learned: How I felt back in school was completely my own doing. My insecurities about being liked or being good enough to want to be friends with was all in my head. My behaviour was created by my thoughts, making me seem aloof or distant to those around me so the cycle continued.

Greatest transition from young Andrew: learning that it’s okay not to be liked by everyone and the best you can do is be yourself. That’s how you attract and become friends with those that will matter in your life and vice versa.

Do everything required to be the person you’d most like to spend time with and be friends with.

Lesson #2: Success is different to everyone. Avoid comparisons.

One of the first questions asked is ‘Are you married’ and if you nod your head quickly followed by ‘kids’?

I’ve come close but as yet haven’t been married and currently single too. (I think my wife’s playing the world’s greatest game of hide and seek.)

What I learned: Everyone’s path is different and there’s no ‘right way’. In fact the best response from one of my classmates was ‘Are you happy’. I most certainly am. ‘Then that’s all that matters mate’

Greatest transition from young Andrew: Up until I had my first kiss at 19, I wondered if any woman would ever be interested in me romantically. Now I look back on some profound relationships with exceptional women that, just as King Edwards VII School, made me a better person. Combined with the first lesson above, I’m comfortable walking into a situation where I know I’ll be the only guy in my position – and be okay with that. Whatever traits you wish you had, you can have them it’s never too late.

Measure your progress against yourself, not anyone else.

Lesson #3: Our school years are so important

I was fortunate to go to such a great high school. In fact my Latin teacher is the one who inspired the name of my blog when he told us ‘dare to be Renaissance Men’. This meant that between school and home I was challenged to be my best; always be a gentleman and have an unwavering respect for myself and others.

It’s fascinating to hear all the stories of where everyone’s paths have taken them. It’s inspiring to see how they’ve become champions in their various fields but more importantly: life.

What I learned: It doesn’t matter who you are on this planet, we’ll all experience utter moments of bliss, death and setbacks. The sooner we realise that it’s not what happens to us that defines us – but rather how we choose to move forward that does; our lives change.

Greatest transition from young Andrew: I decided one drive back from school that what I was doing wasn’t working. I wanted my life experiences to be better. It’s taken years of trial and errors and looking back on how I’ve progressed, I’m eternally grateful for that decision. None of us are perfect; we all have hopes and dreams; all of which can be achieved.

Figure out what’s most important to you and never compromise on that.

My biggest change in those 20 years?

In Matric I was consumed with me. How will I make the first team; why am I not as popular as other boys? Whereas now, I’m more externally focussed on what I can do for others while constantly working on being the best person possible. A far better balance and focus that has allowed me to cultivate some truly incredible friendship groups that add such colour and value to my life experiences.

Bottom line: Stop worrying about what others think and make sure what you think, is partnering with where you want to go.

Your twenty year future self will thank you.

 

South Africans, Time to Wake Up

reality-check

South Africa is on a precipice; and how we decide to move forward together is how history will remember us.

Where are we now?

I still see a country so divided on an issue that really we should all be standing together on; holding those in power accountable for stealing our resources.

So why aren’t we seeing that?

South Africa feels like a married couple – where either the husband or wife has been caught cheating but they are still living together. They’re staying together for the children; but because they haven’t dealt with the cheating, the fighting is incessant.

And now they’ve both lost their jobs.

It should stand that they do whatever they can to work together to survive the challenges ahead; but because the cheater is unable to fully understand the damage they did and wants to ‘simply move forward’ as though nothing happened, they seem to be a stuck record.

South Africa needs to listen right now to the few credible leaders we still have left, but there are two major issues we have:

  1. A credit downgrade tied to state capture and looting of our finances serves no one.
  2. We need to reconcile our past and forge a better way forward together.

Pravin Gordhan is not mincing his words anymore. Not only is he asking for an uprising, he’s doing so in a calm, collected and concentrated manner because he’s focused on what’s right for the country. For all 55 million people.

In light of his courage I think we can all follow his lead. It’s why I’m writing this. I think we should all (regardless of what party or race we belong to) ask ourselves an important question:

What type of country do we want for our children? ALL of our children.

The roots of such division

I can’t speak for the majority of this county but as a white male I can share thoughts as to why our country is still so divided from a white perspective. Why a crisis as big as a credit downgrade and our national treasury being looted doesn’t have everyone up in arms; why we aren’t all joining hands in unison to say “enough is enough”.

This next bit is specifically for whites in this country (and the migrators too actually) I hope this reaches the best part of your humanity and you go away thinking deeply about this. Our future depends on it.

If you’re wondering why we don’t understand why more black people aren’t standing up to Zuma; it’s because we don’t understand them.

And we’ve never really made an effort to either. I’m 37 and I’ve only started to try now.

So understand now that the deep seeded problems we have aren’t going away with a cabinet shuffle or new president for that matter.

We’ve all been on a sinking ship; it’s just that the previous cries of ‘we’re drowning’ below are being heard as the feet of the middle class start getting wet.

The purpose of this is to stimulate dialogue. Not to offend or make you feel guilty – if you do I think you need to look inside and ask why.

Let’s keep using the married couple analogy.

In this instance the major pillar of a relationship has been broken: trust.

Trust is not something you can easily get back. It takes time and commitment to build that back up. From both sides. It also takes an immense amount of communication to talk about everything from the honest truth of why you cheated, to how you felt being cheated on.

This takes adult conversation. It’s raw, hard, and will feel like pouring chili powder on an open gash.

Take the first step

The older I get the more I realise how many whites in South Africa (the cheaters) have never truly understood what pain and mental torture black people experienced during apartheid. Recognising my part in our society’s current ills, I’ve started speaking openly to friends and colleagues to ask what their personal experiences during apartheid were. I can’t change the past and that’s not why I’m doing this. I do feel, however, that understanding what they went through helps me understand actions and behaviours today.

That means I can be part of the solution and not a blockage in the system.

In every case, I could feel how those memories were still fresh in their minds. My skin went cold hearing what they experienced. Whether it was being scared of white people walking down the street; or simply playing outdoors and having to run inside because a cop car drove through the neighbourhood with policemen and their guns loaded firing shots.

There are many who spout forth how Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) is terrible and that they didn’t ‘benefit’ from apartheid. Maybe even express that they were poor under the old regime and feel now they are being ‘doubly punished’. Let me first clear up this confusion between your personal circumstance and white privilege.

  • You may have been poor, but you could still choose what schools to attend and get fully educated (not a state forced bantu education); choose a hospital to be treated in; place to live.
  • You may have been poor, but you were still issued a birth certificate with easily traceable paths to your family and your identity intact.
  • I doubt you were kicked off your land/ out your home in the middle of the night and shipped off somewhere completely foreign to you; in the process potentially being separated from your family.
  • You were never told that you were ‘less than’ another race and emotionally tortured.

Using personal circumstance to argue that you didn’t benefit from apartheid is like saying you also can’t swim but you’re the one with a life jacket around your neck.

If you read any of those (and there are countless more I can cite) and felt yourself saying ‘yes but…..’ or ‘I’m sick of being made to feel guilty’ then you are not reading (this article or any other for that matter) to learn and understand; but rather to simply reply. Probably to put forth your point of view which you believe is right.

Listen to understand. Not just to respond.

This is another symptom of why I think we are where we are. People want to be right rather than what’s right for the situation. The WHOLE of South Africa.

What can we do now?

This is another great article posted around what whites need to do in this country (read the full article here) and it talks about four mind set changes whites need to make, which I have summarised here:

  1. Farewell to innocence. Focus on fully understanding our dark past and the impact it’s had even if you personally didn’t do anything ‘bad’ – you were still a positive recipient of the principles in place. Admit that.
  2. Farewell to ignorance. “Ignorance of the law is not an excuse” and so too with racism and past injustices. Begin to understand.
  3. Farewell to arrogance. Stop posting replies online and using “Yes but…” when discussing current issues. It’s all connected; our current state didn’t ‘just happen’.
  4. YES to Africa. But finally, brother and sisters, compatriots, we as white South Africans not only need to say farewell (or NO) to these racist assumptions and habits. We also need to say YES to a new way of life, YES to our fellow South Africans.

All these things will help open proper dialogue channels instead of trying to justify one’s own innocence. Zuma is actually doing one thing right.

He’s like Aldara – a cream that draws cancer deep within the skin to the surface, revealing all the ugliness that was sitting beneath the surface.

Any discussion around Zuma should ordinarily be about him, but because our race issues and past haven’t been openly healed any discussion around him quickly becomes a race war. I don’t condone it – but I can understand why some black people sit back and, knowing he’s breaking the country, want to do nothing.

It’s the same reason people voted for Trump; why UK voters opted out of Europe.

When you’re already living in a world of shit, and someone comes along to shake up ‘the way things are normally done’, wouldn’t you also want to give it a try? I mean – when you have nothing to lose, why not?

Think about where you are reading this. Safely in a home you live in by yourself with running water and electricity.

Should you feel guilty about those luxuries? Nope, but understanding other people’s frustrations means we fight for everyone’s rights, not just when ours have been bumped.

Start understanding that in a marathon race you had a head start. Yes, we live in a world where we all have to work for what we want. I don’t live in a mansion because I can’t afford it; but then again I never studied my entire school career under candle light sharing a room with my brothers and sisters.

Thought for the article

You can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it. You can’t understand someone else’s circumstances if you’ve never lived them. How often do we hear white people explaining what black people should do and thereby tell them how they should feel? Too often.

If you’ve ever been through our poorest parts of our cities at midday where unemployment and crime are rife, then ask yourself one question:

How strong would YOU be to be able to overcome your surroundings and get out of there if the tables were turned?

I have. And I don’t know if I’d be where I am today had the roles been reversed.

I personally believe now, after some deep thought, that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission missed an important part for this country to heal. ALL whites needed to go through it. To understand on a personal level the conditions people were subjected to. How they felt.

Think about how Germany sends all its children to concentration camps (even to this day).

Maybe then we wouldn’t be making such sweeping statements from behind our positions of privilege. I often feel people’s responses are like that quoted in pre-revolution France after hearing the poor people were starving because they didn’t have bread;

“Then let them eat cake”.

Privilege creates barriers to reality.

One of my colleagues told me I was the first person in 26 years to ask him questions about his background. That’s almost 10 000 days. I get it. White people are scared to broach a subject that implicates us in current day suffering. It’s easier to ‘get on with it’ and say the current government should do better thereby absolving ourselves of past injustices. Again – I don’t condone the government’s mismanagement of funds and corruption – that’s a separate issue. Understand how we got here and our roles in it.

Maybe taking a scientific approach would help people have dialogues rather than mudslinging contests. There’s always plenty of mud to throw and no one’s innocent. Remember the phrase “Let he who is free of sin cast the first stone”? I dated a wise woman who also taught me: “Throw a piece of dirt; lose a piece of ground”. These are all things we need to develop and understand before we enter difficult discussions because emotions are always going to run high.

And rightly so.

We all love this country and that is what we should be building the foundations on.

Love.

But if your son had been murdered and the murderer got a light sentence you would also find it difficult to ‘carry on’ with life.

Instead of being so quick to point out others’ ‘faults’, question why they don’t agree with what you believe to be right. Perhaps take some time to listen to them to understand how deep-seated racism has affected their lives – and still does today.

Let’s stand up and take step #1 and be accountable for the fact that we have privilege.

Then (and only then) can we walk side by side and work together to stitch up this fractured country and stand beside Pravin Gordhan against those trying to divide us further while they slink away into the darkness with all of our resources.

Is it worth arguing you’re right only to sit on the rubble of what’s left with a smirk on your face? Why not concede to what’s right for the country while you and everyone smile?

I vote for everyone smiling.

We need a revolution in our thinking – not just our government.

We need a revolution in our own behaviours – not just BEE in companies.

Who’s with me?

 

How can Adversity lead to Opportunity?

Adversity

Adversity is opportunity dressed in disguise.

It sometimes feels like it follows us around though, doesn’t it?

People who overcome adversity, particularly in a larger sense, are often like inspirational or motivational speakers. Their stories are inspiring but we fail to connect with their accomplishments to incorporate into our daily lives.

I hope we can change that today.

This past Sunday I was due to ride my 8th Cape Town Cycle Tour (formally known as the Argus – I still call it that it’s so much easier) and my 4th year raising money and awareness for *The Sunflower Fund; an organisation formed out of tragedy that now helps so many.

Alas due to extreme wind the race was called off.

The previous day; however,  a fire had ripped through Hout Bay destroying countless homes leaving thousands of people with nothing but the clothes on their back. With the race being called off, food and water from the race’s unused hospitality section was donated to the victims; as was the prize money. That alone meant my heart was happier Monday morning than if I’d raced and gotten medal #8. Example number one.

The Sunflower Fund

Tina Botha lost her son, Chris Collett to Leukaemia at the age of 17 – a month shy of his 18th birthday. Read their story here

I personally can’t imagine too much worse than this. Death is never easy but to lose your child? How incredible then that she took their experience to generate this organisation to tirelessly work to increase the database of donors for people with Leukaemia.

This is one of the reasons I support them the way I do (and became a donor). The strength it took to overcome heartache has now generated something special that helps saves lives.

She wasn’t defined by what happened to her – she’s defined by how she reacted though.

But how does that help you with your daily adversity you face?

The Gray’s story

Brian took some time to chat to me about when their daughter was diagnosed with Leukaemia seven years ago – she was only three.

When they got a phone call like this they suddenly realised how limited their knowledge on the subject was; it just sounded like death.

Living in Pinelands turned out to be a blessing as treatment took place at the Red Cross hospital just five minutes away. The news meant both Brian and Sharon’s thoughts were running away with them. Thankfully the doctor and staff at hand were outstanding.

It was carefully explained that firstly, until the doc says panic there was no reason to. He meticulously went through the protocol of what would happen during the typical two and a half year process for girls this age; what each drug was and what it would do to her system (good and bad). They were also given great advice on how to keep her isolated when her immune system would be at its lowest.

Even in these darkest times they were blessed with being able to do everything in the best possible way to support her recovery.

“If you ask me a question, I will answer it honestly” he warned. “I won’t just tell you things you may not want to hear – like what is the survival rate”

They would still ask him that question.

Somehow just having a plan in place helped Brian in particular, and they had a purpose and short term goals to work towards. All welcome distractions from the worst outcome a parent can imagine.

It may have been over five years ago, but I could feel the emotion of what they went through. Hearing how Brian and Sharon fought through this time and the strain it put on each of them and in their lives, showed that even with a positive outlook it doesn’t change the fact that we are negatively affected by such experiences; physically and emotionally.

Adversity doesn’t keep time and they would sometimes have to rush their daughter to the hospital at 2am when her temperature soared; only to get home at 5am get changed and head to work.

Initially they thought that the staff were uncompromising – but soon realised they were committed to the kids first and foremost; not worrying about the parents feelings. As the treatment progressed they would see ‘new’ parents expressing the same frustrations and finally watch their penny drop that the ‘abruptness’ was because their job was to save these kids – not pander to what the parents were experiencing. The Gray’s would later be grateful for this.

Thankfully, little Ms Gray responded well to treatment and is now a happy ten year old with an added dimension to her very being. She’s a fighter who soldiered through her treatments; what at the time ended up being half of her life. I look forward to seeing how she uses that strength in the rest of her life.

Here’s the twist.

Having registered as potential donors for their daughter (they only start doing searches and comparisons if response to treatment doesn’t go well), Brian was contacted six months later to say he was a match.

Just try imagining this. You are watching your own daughter go through treatment – and you hear you can help someone who didn’t respond to it.

Adversity had inadvertently enabled him to save another human being.

He underwent two more tests to ensure he was a perfect match. Almost a year after his daughter had been diagnosed; he would become a lifeline.

For a week he got two injections a day to stimulate his body into making additional stem cells and pushing them into his blood stream. The day finally arrives and he sits quietly for seven hours as they draw his blood, and use a centrifuge machine to spin the blood and collect the stem cells.

There is no pain

Read that as everyone has no reason not to sign up to the registry and potentially save someone’s life.

In South Africa we have 73 500 people registered (about 0.14% of the population) versus a country like Germany, where being a donor is entrenched in their culture, has 9 million people registered (11% of the population)

To this day his recipient is doing well and now that the five year mandatory waiting period is up; Brian and his donor recipient can meet up. He hopes to meet the person and see them healthy and strong.

The family experienced tremendous hardships through this but learnt some valuable lessons.

  1. Time offers wonderful perspective. And these perspectives will always be revealed to you.
  2. Seek help. Brian openly expresses to me how he tried to be too strong for too long and eventually broke down. Speaking to a professional he was able to process this ordeal and now has a healthy respect for seeking help and often guides people today to seek the same. There is no stigma or shame in doing so.

Adversity means different things to different people.

It can change the course of our lives or just the course of our day. What stands out is no matter what it is – it’s the same mind-set we all need to push through to change it into an opportunity. Even if we don’t know what that opportunity could possibly be. We simply have to have faith that it’s there.

I believe part of getting through adversity is a belief that it’s more than just about us. Believing that we’re all here to help one another – in whatever way – cultivates a mind-set to push through darkness towards light. Look how the Grays overcame everything to help their daughter.

Once we overcome adversity we come out the other side a changed human being and that benefits everyone – not just ourselves. Case in point: Tina & all the Grays.

Some things to think about before adversity strikes:

  1. It takes time. Be kind to yourself and take the time you need to process what happens.
  2. Let go of attachment. Holding on to what we want versus what is reality will drive you mad.
  3. Only deal with what’s in front of you now. Your doctor may have found a lump but until you get the test results back it could just be benign.
  4. Don’t be a pawn, be a player. Decide whether you going to let it stop you, or you going to move forward the way you choose to. Players make the move.
  5. Feel your inner strength. We don’t give ourselves enough credit. Start feeling your inner strength and stop believing others ‘just happen to have it’ more than you do. Just ask Tina and Brian and never be afraid to ask for help. Asking for help is one of the true signs of strength.
  6. Learn from others. We are not meant to do everything alone. Ask for help, get advice, and surround yourself with people who contribute to a positive mind-set rather than constantly berate you.

These can take time to build up so I found a great table with a way to frame questions you’d usually ask yourself to be more positive:

AdversityTable

Courtesy www.rebootauthentic.com

I hope you can find a daily practice that allows you to take the shit you’ve been given and use it as fertilizer to grow something new; something beautiful.

Maybe even a sunflower.

 

*If you’d like to register as a donor visit them at www.sunflowerfund.org.za  and if you’d like to contribute to their cause and help people get type tested – a cost of R2000 per person; their details are as follows:

The Sunflower Fund

 ABSA

 Account No: 405 183 4719

 Branch Code: 632005

 Hope begins with you

2017 – Building on 2016’s Lessons

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December is an interesting time of year for me. Within a week you have Christmas: a time to take stock and be appreciative of family, friends and your life as it is; and New Year: a time to reflect on another year passed, plan towards what you want and get excited about what lies ahead.

I feel being overseas gave me an advantage over both and to be alone in Iceland allows a rare opportunity to have an inordinate amount of time to think. Surrounded by immeasurable beauty, it’s wonderful to get lost in my own thoughts evaluating my life. Where I’ve come from; how I’ve changed and what my intentions for my future are. I’m struck by the deepest sense of calm and connection in that week and I’m filled with appreciation.

Pure contentment.

Absolute admiration for this life we have and the experiences we can create.

My 2017 begins with this incredible sunrise.

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I was originally going to spend today writing and have a ‘quiet one’. With new information, however, I’m on my way again with another two and a half hours’ drive. Every turn around the next approaching mountain brings a new feast for my eyes. Iceland is like an experienced waiter; constantly bringing a new dish just as your current one is finished, complemented with a fresh glass of wine to create a taste sensation.

My eyes are twinkling with delight.

Just take a look at this terrifyingly beautiful glacier that looks like a sweeping tidal wave cascading over and between the peaks; frozen in time, their rich blue demonstrating their purity. I wish the scale could be truly conveyed in this picture.

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I’ve been blessed with many memorable New Year’s days; such varied and notable experiences like being with my family high in the Swiss Alps (also surrounded by snow) and dancing in the summer heat of Franschoek surrounded by happy smiles, authentic human beings and nature.

Today I get to add to this list: Jökulsárlón – Glacier Bay.

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I haven’t actually gasped out loud many times in my life. This is one of them. As a result of global warming this glacier has retreated nearly 4 km creating a lagoon filled with docile icebergs. It’s not that wide but its damage is not visible from the shore – it’s 250m deep!

Glaciers, icebergs and fragments of ice keep my soul captivated every second.

A stroll down to the beach (also black), brings a contrast to these sleeping giants: chunks of ice litter the shore as the sea declines its gifts.

Time is the sculptor; the beach is the gallery and the ocean the curator meticulously placing them across the dark sand for our delight. I could spend hours here in summer; but conscious of the time and not wanting to drive in the dark I reluctantly trudge off taking it all in one more time.

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This is the start of my year.

A thought from the beach starts to echo in my mind:

Without emotion and experiences, essentially each day is the same. If we can control how we react to our surroundings we have the power to shape our days so that there are far more good ones than bad. The only reason we say a day (or year for that matter) is “good” or “bad” is because of the lens through which we look at it – a lens which is ultimately created by the experiences we have.

As if the day isn’t to be outdone, I get to drive back and see the stage from the other side with another masterful sunset as my companion.

………………………………………………………………………………

This fortuitous man has the pleasure of being ‘introduced’ by one of my Austrian hosts K to three Icelanders: I, H and S. Incredibly, S had just recently spent three months travelling around South Africa. I consider this a real treat to be able to chat to them about their homeland and get an understanding of their culture, as well as experience their love of their island. Nothing better than feeling the passion that shines through people’s eyes as they talk fondly about their home.

By the end it’s settled: I’m coming back in summer and they are coming to Cape Town in 2018.

I look forward to both.

Slightly apprehensive about the 29 hours journey heading home having never done this length before, I wake up at 03:30am. Not being a morning person I’ve realised certain things are easy to get up early for and travel is definitely one of them.

I needn’t have worried; it was surprisingly breezy (barring an almost faux pas in Copenhagen resulting in me reaching the plane just in time to board). Perhaps it’s because I have twenty one days of experiences to reflect on. The special people I’ve met. The breathtaking beauty of three previously unexplored countries. Or calculating the distances I’ve travelled.. In the end I cover 26 643km by air; 1 832km by road and 84km by foot.

With so much time alone to reflect on my travels together with the varied array of experiences I have had means I get some incredibly valuable insights.

This is what I’ve learnt (or reaffirm in some cases):

  1. Positivity. A simple smile, hello and “how was your day” can kick start some of the great conversations of your life. Don’t be shy to take the first step with this. Small gestures can transform your experiences; you don’t need to make huge changes or seek out the best guru.
  2. Be still. Being completely alone in silence and solitude (no one in sight) is an invigorating feeling. I love this – the other day a friend of mine typed alone as All-one. When we get in touch with our true inner essence we experience our connection to everyone and everything. We are, in fact, never alone because we are All-One.
  3. Road trips. There’s nothing quite like them! Make sure you have a decent soundtrack to match – music can play such a key role in your experiences; especially if you are alone.
  4. Be open to asking, all knowledge is learnt. We’re not supposed to figure everything out on our own. Getting help and asking for it should be normal but most of us don’t do it. Don’t be afraid to ask. We can’t know everything.
  5. Duality of life. Everything can be a double-edged sword depending on your circumstance or view point. Snow is great to ski on but scary as hell when you need to drive on it. Learn to be cognisant of the bad side of the coin; but focus on and appreciate the good.
  6. No excuses. Don’t let ‘oh it’s so expensive’ stop you from exploring your home. You’ll figure it out. I ate 1 meal a day for 4 days in Iceland (maybe that’s why I’m actually 1kg lighter after my holiday). No one ever regrets the experiences they have.
  7. Travel alone at least once in your lifetime. Many may find this vastly outside of their comfort zone, but you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to meet interesting people along the way and experience adventures you might never have had if you were travelling with someone.
  8. Human beings. Culture, language, geographic location actually mean nothing. We truly are all the same. Embrace that. Start thinking of Earth as your home and not just the country you live in.
  9. Real connection. True connection could be the next revolution. Looking people in the eyes; seeing smiles; hearing laughter and different accents; hugging people – this is true connection and what feeds your soul. Technology has its place; creating deep meaningful connections is not one of them.
  10. People watching. Being alone means you have no one to talk to. Avoid your iPad or phone and watch people instead. Learn to sit in your discomfort and that being alone can be really fun. Watch how people interact, recognise your own behaviours in others and get an outside perspective on what you are like. It’s also interesting to see how differently we behave in the presence of beauty: some quietly admire the view; others try find their special pose in pictures to be forever remembered; others methodically try to achieve the perfect scenic shot with no humans in frame.
  11. Appreciation. Iceland could change in no time at all from a wonderland to a harsh intimidating and unforgiving place that I sometimes battled in; when this was the case it made me think of how tough it must be for those with disabilities. Difficult suddenly becomes near impossible. Twenty minutes for you could be an hour for the same task for someone else. Be grateful for the blessings you have.

This was an incredible journey. A real blessing to see old friends and make new ones. My travel bug has definitely grown with the feeding it got in 21 days – I look forward to the next adventure. But the best gift I’ve been given is a running start in 2017 and I’m truly excited about the milestones for this year. Writing two more books and preparing a Ted Talk just to mention a few.

I’d like to take a moment to thank you all for your support and taking time out of your days and lives to read my thoughts and experiences. My wish for all of you is that you find fulfilment in your daily life. Whatever fulfilment means to you; and perhaps that’s something to think deeply about? Learn to experience magic every day. I feel blessed that one of my ways to experience this is taking a blank page and transforming it into pieces like this. I love writing and I’m truly grateful for this gift each day.

Let’s see what richness 2017 brings for us to share.

Live with passion.

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Speaking for those who can’t speak for Themselves

pregnant

You never know when a profound moment is going to happen in your life.

This would be one of those days.

The unseasonably late snow meant there was a sharp bite in the air but provided a beautiful backdrop of lightly dusted mountains.

Worcester summoned six of us from Distell so we piled into the minivan for the ninety minute journey. Feeling honoured but not entirely sure why I’d been asked to join the others; I asked the question and they jokingly admitted it was to be the spokesperson. We all laughed – but they weren’t kidding. Thankfully this was the case because what an eye opening and educational experience this was.

We were on our way to meet with the CEO and founder of FASFacts, Francois Grobbelaar, to hand over money we’d raised earlier in the month at a golf day.

What an incredible man and what a company.

It’s why I’m compelled to share their story.

Who is FASFacts?

FASFacts (Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Facts) is a Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) committed to eradicating FAS by educating mothers not to drink while pregnant. They were born out of a growing epidemic in South Africa that started during apartheid with the ‘dop system’ – paying labourers on farms with wine. With little to no education many women would then drink while pregnant.

Don’t be fooled into thinking this is only a problem affecting disadvantaged areas – this is a problem across all races and sectors.

There are currently between 2-3 million people in SA with all the symptoms of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and another 5-6 million people with some of the symptoms. Sadly, this means there are 7-9 million people in SA are permanently brain damaged by prenatal alcohol exposure.

FASFacts vision is for all children to be born without FAS and they’re working to achieve this by implementing programmes and campaigns in affected communities to decrease the prevalence of FAS.

Francois shared his journey through life and how he came to know that this is what he needs to do. It’s amazing how much power is behind an organisation when you hear the personal story of why someone does what they do. When you look into their eyes and feel their passion. Sitting next to him I was humbled to be in the presence of such an incredible selfless person.

What impressed me about their organisation is the fact that their program is about empowering communities with education and ownership. It all starts by educating children in schools and getting them to pledge their commitment to making positive choices in their lives. Secondly, through their ‘Train the trainer’ program, mentors are educated on the devastating effects of alcohol on unborn children. Then, armed with knowledge and tools, these mentors go back into their communities and walk, door to door, talking to each and every woman who’s pregnant.

At times it must feel like a far more insurmountable climb than the mountains that surround Worcester, but each interaction is another step closer to zero babies being affected.

Just think for a moment from the perspective of the child whose life is spared from this dark path.

Is it worth chancing? In life we all have to go through the same challenges – why put your child on the back foot from day one?

The simple fact is there is no known ‘safe’ amount of alcohol you can consume during pregnancy. Fact

Foetal Alcohol Syndrome is 100% preventable. It’s also 100% incurable. Fact

Effects of alcohol on the unborn child

Permanent Brain damage. There’s no need to sugar coat here and this alone should be reason enough for no woman to drink.

fas-brain

Here are other problems associated with FAS:

  1. Poor growth. New-borns may have low birth weights and small head sizes. They may not grow or gain weight as well as other children and may be short as adults.
  2. Birth defects. Developing babies may have heart, bone, and kidney problems. Vision problems and hearing loss are common.
  3. Seizures and other neurologic problems, such as poor balance and coordination.
  4. Delayed development. Kids may not reach milestones at the expected time.
  5. Behavioural problems. Babies may be fussy or jittery, and have trouble sleeping. Poor concentration, stubbornness, impulsiveness and anxiety are also a potential problem.
  6. Older children and teens may have:

* A lack of coordination and poor fine motor skills

* Poor social skills (difficulty getting along with friends and relating to others, etc.)

* Learning difficulties, including poor memory, difficulty in school (especially math), and poor problem-solving skills

Source: www.kidshealth.org

What can we do?

Educate and support.

It starts with each individual. You’ve already started here and so share what you know with as many people as you can.

Supporting FASFacts will be greatly appreciated. It becomes difficult to truly quantify what the impact of FAS has on society as a whole because of all the physical, emotional and physiological disorders listed above existing sans drinking during pregnancy, but with Distell’s commitment to working closely with FASFacts, a study was conducted to see what impact these programs have had.

Behold South Africa Consultancy (Pty) Ltd were commissioned to conduct social impact analysis to determine the social value of FASFacts work. Here is the report:

  • Of the 120 women who were mentored through the program during the period of the review 76 (68%) reported to have stopped drinking during pregnancy all together and another 16% reduced their alcohol intake.
  • 21 of the women were teenagers. 11 of them (52.4%) also reported to discontinue their use of alcohol during pregnancy completely.
  • 13 of them (61.9%) were attending school and six of them went back to school
  • An additional spin-off is the fact it increased responsible parenting in the affected communities. There was an increase in women who felt empowered to take control of their lives and found employment after participating in the Pregnant Women Mentor Program (PWMP)
  • The lifestyles of the mentors who form part of the PWMP were positively affected too, as 55% of them reported to have stopped drinking themselves and felt uplifted by making a positive contribution to their communities.
  • Other effects of increased awareness around FASD included enhanced mental and physical health, an increase in positive behaviour and more stable families.
  • These reductions in drinking behaviour reflect in sharp increases in employment after PWMP (60%) as well as cost savings in the household and reduced future health related costs.

*Source: Distell Transformation Handbook – Behold South Africa Consultancy (Pty) Ltd social impact analysis

Proof is in the pudding and these are all outcomes worthy of our support.

Help a worthy cause

FASFacts goal is to have an office and staff in each province by 2020 (they are currently only working in the Western & Northern Cape). To achieve this they need all the help they can get.

No amount is too small so pledge your support and make a difference to the well-being of our society.

FASFacts

Bank: ABSA

Cheque Account #: 40-5648-4460

Branch: Worcester (632-005)

Visit them on www.fasfacts.org.za to see more of what amazing work they do and become a donor.

How much will it cost you to share this story? You might only be able to help one child in this world; but to that child?

You’ll become the world.

…Even if they never get to meet you.

fasfacts

Pray for Something Bad

Blog post 7

The heading sounds counterintuitive doesn’t it?

Why on earth would anyone want to pray/ask for something bad to happen to them? Especially in this day and age where pain and suffering seems to surround us?

Hear me out before you close this tab down and move on to another article.

We all strive to live happy lives. The reality is that nobody on this planet has ever lived a life without experiencing pain. Fact. That means the heading is actually rhetorical – and what the heading actually speaks to is changing the way we look at and experience ‘bad things’. The heading got your attention though didn’t it?

I look at my life and think about how the toughest times have been my greatest teachers. I still consider my biggest blessing being born about 40% deaf in my left ear. My luck improved at age 5 when I had mumps and subsequently lost the remaining hearing in my left ear; but left all my hearing in my right ear.

This gift allowed me to experience a valuable lesson from an early age: How people focus on the negative.

Peoples focus would always be about the deaf ear whereas it hit me to be grateful I could still hear at all.

I use this lesson to this day to remind me how to look for the positive in life. Look for the lessons in the bad that is happening to me which, in some cases, has even proved to be the best outcome for me years later. Living in Cape Town is just such an example.

I find experiencing difficulties early on as a tremendous positive in relationships too; friendships and partners. The sooner something difficult disrupts the honeymoon phase the better for me. It’s so easy to be with people when times are great; life is good and smiles abound. The true test of peoples characters though come in to play when the shit hits the fan.

You lose your job.

Somebody dear to you dies.

A bad break up.

You learn very quickly about people in your time of need and who is prepared to sit with you until 4am for no other reason than you just need someone to be with. Who calls you? Who checks in to see if you okay? Who brings you food after you’ve had a shoulder operation? Who actually offered to take you to the hospital and who brings you flowers to help you smile on the anniversary of a death?

When did you ever think about this question..

When last were you that person for somebody else?

I want to share my time with people that are genuine and we have a mutual respect that allows us to explore who we are and challenge each other to do more. To be more. These difficulties that life throws us are a fantastic way to learn about ourselves and others. Don’t you want to become stronger? Mentally and emotionally? Most people jump at chances to exercise physically it’s a shame these two get neglected by most.

These tough lessons build our character which gives you another opportunity to be a pillar for someone else when tough times strike. Ties back to questioning ‘what are we doing for others’?

One of the greatest pieces of writing I have been sent about this is:

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen

~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Beautiful people do not just happen. I love that. It’s such a powerful reminder that even the happiest people you come across or interact with, have been down. Have experienced loss; but haven’t let it define them.

This is why I invite you to ‘ask for bad things’ to happen to you. It’s a total change in mind-set to view them as an opportunity to learn and grow, because let’s be honest about one thing – they are certainly going to happen whether we want them to or not. It might sound weird but some of my worst relationships actually turned out to be my best, because of they showed me who I am (good and bad) and how I changed because of them. The Andrew you would meet today is very different from even just one year ago.

A great exercise you can do now, is look back on your life and on a graph, plot your earliest happy memory. Then plot a low point that happened after that. Then? The next happy memory you had and keep going until the present day. What jumps out at you is that just as the tide comes in every day and then goes out; just as the sun sets only to rise the following day; so too do we have cycles of experiences. The trick is not to get caught up in them but enjoy the flow and know that many more good and bad things are indeed going to happen. That there are lessons in each.

It’s not what happens to us that defines us; but rather what we decide to do afterwards that does.

The choice is yours. Choose wisely.

Enjoy the journey.

Missed Opportunities

Missed Opp

Shew – what a week!

Big world events like Brexit give me an opportunity to reflect and put my own beliefs and ideals into practice. For example, not making assumptions and getting all the facts before I form an opinion.

Boy did I fail miserably with this!

As time has worn on I have been exposed to more information and different intelligent discussions around the exit. A must watch is a British European Parliament member, Daniel Hannan, speech at Oxford (see it HERE) on the benefits of leaving. Interesting too was a panel talking about current issues in England like housing that can’t happen without EU approval. Imagine asking the African union permission to build low cost housing for our people?

It’s such a complex decision with far reaching consequences that I don’t think most people can comprehend it right now. It’s going to be interesting to watch this unfold over the next few months and years. What IS interesting is seeing people’s reactions; says a lot about them than the actual discussion at hand. Most fail to see that the aim of any argument or discussion shouldn’t be victory – but progress.

I don’t have enough information to provide an objective opinion about whether this is a good or bad decision; but the reason I brought it up is because of this specific thought.

People make their minds up without hearing all the information.

Even more amazing is how people treat opportunities differently in their personal capacity versus business.

Let’s say someone recommended a restaurant (maybe you even heard it from a renowned critic) and they raved about it; you’d want to check it out and see for yourself yes? Unless absolutely everyone you spoke to had a bad experience, you’d still want to check it out.

Compare this to a business opportunity. I find people choose to focus on the negative rather than the positive information. It’s almost as if we’ve been programmed to believe negativity, and any negativity I might add. Whether it’s true or not.

Why is that? If you really think about it – ANTHING can have a negative aspect.

Are we so scared to take a chance?

Have we become a society drenched in fear?

Petrified to fail?

Are we THAT sceptical?

Don’t get me wrong, a good dose of scepticism is healthy and I believe if it sounds too good to be true – it usually is. However, I think this problem starts with our education system. We aren’t cultivating minds to think outside the box; to be enquiring; to question things.

To arm ourselves to make informed decisions.

There are many business opportunities out there and no not all of them will work for you; but don’t you owe it to yourself to get all the information from credible sources to make that decision? I think so.

What’s sad is that most people who listen to a sliver of negativity to make up their minds are usually quite unhappy. Nothing seems to go right for them and you’ll hear ‘Woe is me – life isn’t treating me fair.’

Life isn’t fair and the sooner we accept that the better.

This reminds me of the story where there’s a flood and a man prays for help and waits on his roof for God to save him. To paraphrase:

A man in a canoe comes past to rescue him and the man replies, ‘NO THANKS – God will save me’

The police arrive in their boat to save him and still, he replies, ‘NO THANKS – God will save me’

The water level continues to rise and a rescue helicopter hovers above but he stands true, ‘NO THANKS – God will save me’

Eventually the flood waters overcame him and he drowned.

As he entered heaven he asked to speak with God and his wish was granted. Perplexed he asked, ‘Why am I in heaven? I prayed to you to save me!’

‘You did, and I’m not sure what more I could’ve done, I sent you a canoe, a boat AND a helicopter, but you never got in’

How many times have people offered us an opportunity in one way or another? Even after we’d probably ASKED for it? Yet we don’t invest time into it and ask the right questions. For instance asking more about the credibility of what the source is (think renowned food critic) and what if it genuinely has the potential to change your life.

Don’t let the opportunity, like a saucer of water in the hot sun for the thirsty traveller; evaporate because we don’t grab it in time.

I think people are afraid to commit because they worry about saying ‘No thanks – this is not for me’. Are we scared to say ‘no’ and worry about hurting the other person’s feelings? The irony is most people ending up behaving in a manner which simply ends up making themselves look rude. Just be honest. If someone gets offended it’s a great sign you made the right decision in the first place! You’ll find the response ties into what your answer was to the question around their credibility.

I empathise with parents trying to explain outcomes to their children who just don’t want to listen because they think they know better. In contrast to what I’ve spoken about, kids actually DO something and then learn lessons the hard way. Whereas adults choose inaction as their path and as such – never know the true potential something may have.

Don’t you deserve to give yourself the best possible chance?

Remember – if you’re worried about failure? Stop right now. If you were a born failure you would’ve given up as a toddler and you wouldn’t be walking right now.